Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Florida leads nation in attacks on homeless

Florida leads nation in attacks on homeless
Kate Santich Sentinel Staff Writer
April 30, 2008

Florida leads the nation in the number of violent attacks against the homeless -- a trend called "bum bashing" fueled largely by teenage boys targeting homeless men for sport -- according to a new study.

The increase nationwide in violent attacks, including a 40 percent rise last year in the number of homeless people killed by such violence, was detailed in a report released Tuesday by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

"If these brutal attacks were committed against any other religious or minority group to the same degree, there would be a national outcry," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the national coalition.

He and other advocates for the homeless urged federal and state lawmakers to classify violence against the homeless as a hate crime, which would carry stiffer penalties and help keep better track of the problem.

The report's authors say their numbers likely underestimate the problem because they had to rely on tracking down the details of individual news accounts of attacks against the homeless. Yet in recent years, those numbers dramatically outpaced all categories of hate crimes combined.

Last year alone, there were 29 attacks on homeless people in Florida -- six of them fatal, the report said. Only attacks perpetrated by people who were not homeless themselves were counted.
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Yes but, this is such a "Christian" state the legislators think we should all drive around with the cross on the ass end of our cars!

No it's not a joke.
Florida's 'I Believe' plates hit roadblock
Story Highlights
Religious license plates not in legislation passed Tuesday in Florida

Proposed "I Believe" plate would feature cross, stained-glass window

Similar plate being considered in South Carolina, recently won state Senate approval
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There was a time when being a Christian was something so sacred that it lived within us, in what we did and what we said as well as how we treated each other. No one needed to slap a fish on our cars or a bumper sticker to prove we were "Christians" at the same time we flipped someone off on the road, ran a red light because we were in a hurry or refused to stop and help someone who was unfortunate enough to break down in our lane.

There was a time when we really noticed the fact that Christ said out of his own mouth that he was the new covenant between God and man and he was dying for our sins because no one sin was worse than another but yet again Florida legislators would rather take the easy way out and appease fraudulent advertisers wanting to make a buck off a "show of faith" instead of actually supporting things that Christ stood for.

They should all be ashamed of themselves. I guess it wasn't bad enough the police were ordered to get the homeless off the streets and out of sight so that the tourist wouldn't have to see how little this state takes care of the most needy among us. Now we have one more sign of just how low these people are willing to sink.

Maybe they figure that homeless people cannot donate to their campaigns and the probability they would vote is far fetched but what they don't understand is the rest of us are paying attention and we're tired of being humiliated on the national news. This may be the land of Disney and amusement parks but this is not fantasy land. It's about time they started to act like the good Christians they pretend to be and actually live up to what Christ taught. Drive down any main street in Florida and you'll see more churches than you can count. Don't they understand that most of those churches have real Christians in them who actually do care about the homeless, the poor and the needy? Isn't that what being a Christian is supposed to be?

Chaplain Kathie Costos

Chaplain and King in Iraq

Chaplain would like to keep ministering to troops in Iraq, but knows a tribe in Ghana wants its king back Chaplain Nana E Kweku Bassaw joins the small circle of downcast, sun-beaten soldiers. The unassuming Army major slips into the conversation. Although it is early in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division’s deployment, and the fighting is yet to start, Bassaw wants to check the spiritual pulse. “So how are you doing?” he asks one soldier.

In his native Ghana, he is the king-elect of one of the country’s largest tribes. His official title is paramount chief of the Sekondi region, which includes about 500,000 Fanti tribe members.

Deployed civilians face hurdles in getting medical treatment

Deployed civilians face hurdles in getting medical treatment
April 30, 2008 - 3:30pm

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Civilians deployed to war zones often encounter problems receiving medical treatment and are hesitant to seek help for emotional stress caused by their deployment, a new congressional report finds.

Federal policies on the treatment of nonmilitary personnel _ particularly medical screening before and after an individual deploys _ are not clearly articulated or widely understood, prompting cases in which some civilians have had trouble receiving benefits or filing claims, the bipartisan report by the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee says.

Civilians also seem less likely receive help for post-traumatic stress syndrome. The Labor Department says only 11 mental health claims have been filed by federal personnel serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, despite a recent survey of foreign service officers that found more than 100 officers deployed in hardship posts may have symptoms of the stress syndrome, according to the report.

The findings shed light on the complexities of an emerging new phenomenon in federal government: the reliance on its civilian work force to aid a war effort. In recent months, the Bush administration has pushed hard to expand involvement by such agencies as the Agriculture Department and Health and Human Services in rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Linked from

I received a phone call today about a veteran who had worked as a contractor in Iraq. He developed PTSD and sought help for it. The VA turned him away because there was nothing in his service record to show it was caused by his service. He needed help so urgently that my friend feared for his life. He is no unlike so many other humans who go into combat zones and come out forever changed. How is it that no one is forcing the defense contractors to take care of their wounded? This report shows that even the government does not take care of the people they have working for them either. Is anyone doing the right thing for anyone in all of this?

Another non-combat death

Latest Coalition Fatalities
04/30/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. William T. Dix, 32, of Culver City, Calif., died April 27 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident...

04/30/08 MNF: MND-N Soldiers attacked in Ninewah Province
A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed as a result of an explosion occurring near the Soldier's patrol in Ninewah Province, April 30.

04/30/08 MNF: MND-B soldiers attacked by IED (Baghdad)
Two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers were killed when their patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device in southern Baghdad at approximately 4:15 p.m. April 30.

04/30/08 MNF: MND-B soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldier was killed from wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device during a dismounted patrol in northern Baghdad at approximately 1 a.m. April 30.

04/29/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. David P. McCormick, 26, of Fresno, Texas, died April 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his forward operating base came under rocket attack. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team...

04/29/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by small arms fire (Baghdad)
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed from wounds sustained when he was attacked with small-arms fire by insurgents at approximately 8:50 p.m. April 29 in northwestern Baghdad.

04/29/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED (Baghdad)
A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed after the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device at approximately 10:15 p.m. in northwestern Baghdad April 29.
Killed in Iraq

Senator: Focus on mental-health costs of war

Senator: Focus on mental-health costs of war

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 30, 2008 17:16:39 EDT

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is calling on President Bush to issue a directive making it clear that veterans’ mental-health issues will be fully addressed.

“The buck stops at the president’s desk. The president needs to issue a directive that the costs of the war, particularly of mental health, is an issue we’re all going to deal with,” Murray said following an April 30 press conference at which senators called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to be honest and forthcoming with their data, and to start an extensive outreach program to encourage veterans to get help.

Murray and Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said they’re concerned that VA is withholding information about rates of suicide and attempted suicide among veterans, which they said hinders lawmakers’ efforts to give VA the funding needed to help those with mental health issues.

Murray called this one more sign of “a lot of downward pressure from the administration to downplay the costs of the war.”

At a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing April 23, where senators learned that 17 veterans a month commit suicide while under VA care, Murray and other senators demanded the removal of VA’s mental-health chief, Dr. Ira Katz.

Earlier that week, a lawsuit against VA brought to light a series of e-mails from Katz about high suicide numbers.

Murray quoted one Katz e-mail in that hearing: “Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans in our medical facilities.”

VA officials declined to comment on Katz’s status, citing the ongoing court case and upcoming congressional hearings.

But spokesman Phil Budahn noted that the number of mental-health care professionals in VA has risen to 9,000 in the past three years, a 50 percent increase.

Mental-health services are provided at all 150 VA medical centers and at most of the 720 outpatient clinics, he said.
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Army to work with media on Arlington access

Army to work with media on Arlington access

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 30, 2008 17:54:26 EDT

The Army says it will work to give news reporters better access when families grant permission for coverage of their loved ones’ funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

Stephanie Hoehne, principal deputy chief of Army public affairs, said she thinks there is a way to improve such access, when permission is granted, yet also guard family privacy by not going overboard.

“I think there’s some middle ground here,” said Hoehne, who along with Arlington officials met with Pentagon reporters Wednesday. “There are ways we can address both the families’ and Arlington’s needs to keep this a dignified ceremonial event, and address your needs to be able to cover it adequately.”

Currently, Arlington rules keep the media at a distance that varies with the terrain, but is typically out of earshot. Families that ask for or agree to media coverage presumably want to publicly honor the veteran being buried, and news organizations consider the words spoken at the service to be important components of such news stories.

The Arlington rules also make it difficult for photographers to get a clear photo of, for instance, the folded flag being presented to a family member.

Hoehne said the Army, the executive agency for Arlington, will review its procedures there, consider possible adjustments and review those with reporters from a variety of media in an attempt to find common ground.
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New Video for Point Man Int. Ministries

One of the greatest blessing in what I do is coming into contact with people from all over the country and in many other nations. People who work on PTSD do it for one reason and that is to help people who have survived trauma. Some do it because someone they know was wounded so deeply they developed PTSD, as in my case with my husband. Some do it because they survived trauma and felt blessed they did not develop PTSD. Others simply do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Whatever the reason, all of us agree that each part that makes us human has been wounded and needs to be taken care of to heal as well as possible. The mind, body and spirit are all connected. This I know very well and so do groups like Point Man International Ministries.

There is a lot of talk in the news about the soldier who is an atheist being treated badly because he does not believe in God. As a Chaplain it is not our duty to convert anyone or force anyone into anything. We are supposed to be there to help as humans. Oh, sure our faith is the basis for what we do, but Chaplains come in all faiths. More on this later.

For most who offer their spiritual guidance and support, nothing else matters but the need for help, healing, forgiveness and compassion. That is what Point Man has been doing since 1984.

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.
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)

So this new video is for them and all the work they do. It is what they are about. From WWII and Korea, to Vietnam and the Gulf War and into Afghanistan and Iraq, Point Man is reaching out to help the wounded warrior's spirits heal. If you think you need help, you are pretty much 100% correct. You need all the help you can get right now, not tomorrow and not waiting for the VA to get in gear to be able to take care of all of you. Call Point Man Ministries and begin to heal now instead of waiting.

I posted earlier today how the bulk of the troops and veterans with PTSD are afraid to seek help because it will hurt their careers. This is not the case but the fear is still very real and keeping them from getting help. They are suffering while waiting. Show them the way and tell them to call Point Man Ministries to begin to heal. Speak to other veterans who have been there and done that.

These are some pictures of members of Point Man Ministries I met at the Traveling Wall in Florida for the reunion in Melbourne.

This is the President of Point Man Dana Morgan

And this is my friend Mike Harris

If you are a wounded veteran who wants to know how much you are loved, call them and know what pure love is.

Study finds troops shy away from mental health care

Study finds troops shy away from mental health care
Story Highlights
NEW: Gates to announce efforts urging troops to seek more mental care

Military personnel fear seeking help for mental health problems could harm careers

APA survey: 3 out of 5 military members fear consequences of getting help

RAND Corp. study: 1 in 5 Afghanistan or Iraq war vets has psychiatric problems

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military personnel fear that seeking help for mental health problems could harm their careers, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Three of five members of the military worry that it would have at least some impact, according to the small online survey conducted for the American Psychiatric Association. About half said they thought other people would think less of them if they sought help for mental health problems.

The report was released a day before a scheduled announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates aimed at encouraging more service members to seek help for post-combat stress.

Pentagon officials said troops who file for security clearances will no longer have to answer a question on the standard application about whether they have been treated for combat-related mental health issues. Currently, if service members say they have received treatment, they must answer the question in an in-depth interview with a security agent.

Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz, president of the APA, called the figures in the survey "alarming" and urged Congress to devote more money to treating mental health problems arising from service in combat zones.

One in four of the troops surveyed said he or she knew "nothing at all about effective mental health treatments for issues that may arise from their service in a war zone," Robinowitz said.
She said a military culture that emphasizes toughness could hinder efforts to get troops to seek help.

"The military has done a good job of having a lot of educational materials around," she said, but she is not sure the information "filtered down" to the people who need it.

An Army psychiatrist admitted that it is a challenge to get people to seek help.

"Stigma is a problem. We recognize that," said Col. Elisabeth Cameron Ritchie of the Army surgeon general's office. "Anything we can do to decrease the stigma, we want to do."

A clear majority of troops rated their own mental health as good or excellent, but many reported regularly experiencing common symptoms of mental illness, including difficulty sleeping at least twice a week and a lack of interest in daily activities at least twice a week.

The findings came on the heels of a much larger study by the RAND Corp., which found that nearly one in five service members returning from Afghanistan or Iraq had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, but only about half of them sought treatment.

That study, "Invisible Wounds of War," also said troops feared that seeking help could harm their careers.
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Experts say millions more could seek help for PTSD

Posted on Mon, Apr. 28, 2008

The War Within: Experts say millions could seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder

Forget what they say about time healing all wounds.

More than 57 years have passed since Phil Heath, 76, of Granite City, served with the Marine Corps in Korea. But he can't shake the image of the first Marine he saw die in combat.

It was April 24, 1951. Heath's company was trapped on a hill, defending it from communist attackers.

Fallen Marines covered the hillside, and stretchers were scarce. So Heath and his comrades used an old tarp to carry away the soldier's body, he said.

"But in order to put him in there, I had to pick his intestines up off the ground and put them on him," said Heath, a retired steel mill supervisor. "So his intestines were just laying open."

Neither can Heath forget the last Marine he saw die five months later.

That was Sept. 15, 1951. Promoted by then to platoon leader, Heath was fighting to survive on an outpost nicknamed "Starvation Hill." He had taken cover in a foxhole when Chinese mortar shells began raining down on his unit.

"And a young 18-year-old boy in my platoon had the left side of his head blown off," Heath said, his voice quavering. "I'll never get over it, you know."

'People who deserve help'

Heath is one of hundreds of thousands of aged veterans seeking help for the nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety they have battled for decades. They are spurred by a growing public awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) wrought by tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking help.

And experts predict millions more World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans will join them.

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Twin Ports VA wants women to seek help

News From 91.3 KUWS
Twin Ports VA wants women to seek help
Story posted Tuesday at 6:22 p.m.


Veterans’ outreach workers are planning a workshop for women veterans. Danielle Kaeding reports services in the area are lacking for women in the military.

The Twin Ports VA Clinic in Superior sees 6000 veterans for care in the region. Jeff Hall is a retired major who served in the Persian Gulf and is now a social worker with the clinic. He helps women vets who were victims of sexual assault. “They generally come in for other reasons, seeking healthcare or something. The VA has computerized records, and, on the computerized records, there are assessments. You know, questions they’ve got to ask everybody: questions about depression, questions about PTSD, questions about military sexual trauma.
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40% Military Spouses See Mental Health Harm

Wars Harming Mental Health
Of Soldiers, Spouses
Problems Present
Long, Hidden Toll;
Help Often Avoided
April 30, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused heightened stress, depression and sleeplessness among some military personnel and their families, a new report says.

The survey by the American Psychiatric Association, set to be released Wednesday, found that 32% of military members believe their tours in the two war zones had "at least some negative impact" on their mental well-being. Among military spouses, 40% believed their mental health was hurt by their husband's or wife's service overseas.

Many members of the military community remain reluctant to request counseling, the report found. Almost 75% of the military personnel felt that seeking help would harm their careers, while 66% of the military spouses worried that looking for assistance for their own issues would harm their loved ones' chances of promotion.

"The old beliefs remain in place in the military, and there's a real fear that admitting to mental illness will mean being stigmatized," said Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz, president of the American Psychiatric Association. "The risk is that mental-health issues can go untreated, which has the potential to really hit families hard."

This is the first time the APA has commissioned such a survey, making it hard to judge changes over time in the mental health of military personnel. The survey of 183 military members and 164 spouses was conducted online by Harris Interactive. The report didn't give a margin of error.

The report adds to concerns that mental-health problems will be a long-term and largely hidden cost of current conflicts.

Because of advances in medicine, many military personnel are surviving physical injuries that would have been fatal a few years earlier. But the grinding nature of the counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no clear front lines and where civilian casualties are common, means that more veterans might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression than in conflicts such as World War II.

"The young men and young women today spend 365 days on the front lines, and I think that has the possibility of a serious toll on someone," Rep. Ike Skelton (D., Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters Tuesday.
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One of the greatest strengths there is to help veterans seek help for combat stress or PTSD is the family. They are on the front line of the battle for peace, yet too many don't know it or even come close to understanding the vital role they play. Soldiers are trained to do their jobs but the spouse is expected to just stay home and wait instead of being trained to take on the war they bring home within their minds. Even today, thirty years after this wound was called Post Traumatic Stress, far too many are not aware of any part of this wound. While they may know something is wrong, the majority of the spouse population come under the false hope that their spouse will "get over it" and go back to the way they were. This false hope is too often deadly.

As time is lost waiting for them to return to "normal" PTSD claims more territory within the mind of the soldier. More time is lost as the spouse struggles to figure out what they themselves did wrong and eventually without intervention, marriages fall apart. Depression increases and hope of healing or "getting over it" evaporates. All of this needlessly because as soon as they seek help for PTSD it stops getting worse. Yet when you ask a spouse if they love their husband or wife enough to save their lives, they would say they would do anything. So where is the disconnect?

When it comes to PTSD they simply assume their spouse just doesn't love them enough anymore. They assume their soldier spouse is acting like all other people do when they no longer want to be married and the impression of the rate of divorce clouds their view of the man or woman they fell in love with. While the affects of PTSD create havoc in the home, they cannot see the wound that has created all of it.

Combat veterans cannot be viewed as normal people. There is nothing normal about combat. There is nothing that goes on that is part of normal life. When you think about the fact there are over 300 million people in this country yet only about 24 million veterans with less serving in combat zones.

Veterans Day 2007: Nov. 11

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has evolved into also honoring living military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

23.7 million
The number of military veterans in the United States in 2006.
(Source: Table 505 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

Female Veterans

1.7 million
The number of female veterans in 2006.
(Source: Table 505 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

Percentage of Gulf War veterans in 2006 who were women.
(Source: Table 506 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

Race and Hispanic Origin

2.4 million
The number of black veterans in 2006. Additionally, 1.1 million veterans are Hispanic; 292,000 are Asian; 169,000 are American Indian or Alaska Native; and 28,000 are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders cover only those reporting a single race.) (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)

When They Served

9.2 million
The number of veterans 65 and older in 2006. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.9 million were younger than 35.
(Source: Table 506 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

8 million
Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2006. Thirty-three percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975). In addition, 4.6 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 3.2 million in World War II (1941-1945); 3.1 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 6.1 million in peacetime. (Source: Table 506 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

In 2006, number of living veterans who served during both the Vietnam era and the Gulf War.

Other living veterans in 2006 who served in two or more wars:

350,000 served during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

78,000 served during three periods: World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

294,000 served in World War II and the Korean War. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)
The documented number of living World War I veterans who served with U.S. forces as of Oct. 2, 2007. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs)

Where They Live

Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2006. These states are California (2.2 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1.1 million), Pennsylvania (1.1 million) and Ohio (1 million). (Source: Table 505 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)


Percent of veterans 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2006. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)

Percent of veterans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2006. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)

Income and Poverty

Annual median income of veterans, in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)

Percentage of veterans living in poverty, as of 2006. The corresponding rate for nonveterans was 12.3 percent. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)

On the Job

11.1 million
Number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2006. (Source: 2005 American Community Survey.)


6.1 million
Number of veterans with a disability. More than half this number (3.5 million) were 65 and older. (Source: 2006 American Community Survey.)


17.4 million
Number of veterans who voted in the 2004 presidential election. Seventy-four percent of veterans cast a ballot, compared with 63 percent of nonveterans. (Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004, at

Business Owners

Percentage of owners of firms that responded to the 2002 Survey of Business Owners who were veterans. Respondent veteran business owners totaled 3 million. (Source: Characteristics of Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002 at )

Percentage of veteran owners of respondent firms who were 55 and older. This compares with 31 percent of all owners of respondent firms. Similarly, in 2002, 55 percent of veteran-owned respondent firms with employees reported that their businesses were established, purchased, or acquired before 1990, compared with 36 percent of all employer respondent firms. (Source: Characteristics of Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002 and Characteristics of Veteran Business Owners: 2002, at )

Percentage of all respondent veteran owners who were disabled as the result of injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. (Source: Characteristics of Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002 and Characteristics of Veteran Business Owners: 2002, at )


2.7 million
Number of veterans who received compensation for service-connected disabilities as of 2006. Their compensation totaled $26.6 billion.
(Source: Tables 508 and 509 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

Jan. 21, 2007
The date of death of the last World War I veteran receiving compensation or pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs)

$72.4 billion
Total amount of federal government spending for veterans benefits programs in fiscal year 2006. Of this total, $34.5 billion went to compensation and pensions and $31.3 billion for medical programs. (Source: Table 508 of the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008.)

How could anyone ever look at veterans as "normal" when they are unlike the rest of us who have never had to do what they have had to do?

There is a training procedure the Pentagon has never even contemplated tackling when they train the soldiers to take care of their weapons and use them. They never thought about training the families to love them proactively. They never trained them to watch over them and know when they need help. Yet as this report provides even more support to the claim it is the spouse who is the one who notices the affects of combat, they are the last to understand what it all is and what needs to be done about it. If 40% see the mental health changes and harm, then why is it less than 40% of the veterans seek help? Why isn't it 100% of the veterans with PTSD seeking help when if it had been a bullet wound, they all would be treated? It's because the military has yet to treat PTSD like all other wounds.

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Father's Fort Bragg video causes Army wide inspections!

Army-wide barracks inspection ordered

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Apr 29, 2008 18:26:05 EDT

The Army’s senior leadership recently ordered a service-wide barracks inspection to make sure its billets are in better shape than the dilapidated quarters 82nd Airborne Division soldiers just came home to from Afghanistan, Army installation heads said today.

The impromptu walk-through carried out by all major commands occurred this past weekend in response to a video posted recently on YouTube that shows peeling paint, mold and a bathroom drain plugged with what appears to be sewage in the barracks that paratroopers from the Fort Bragg, N.C., unit were housed in after returning from a 15-month combat deployment.

“Folks, we let our soldiers down; that is not like us,” Brig. Gen. Dennis Rogers, the deputy director of Operations & Facilities of Army Installation Command, told reporters. “There is no good excuse for what happened.”

While the walk-through is not yet complete, Rogers said that garrison commanders have reported so far that “soldiers are being housed to the Army’s standard,” but stopped short of describing the poor barracks conditions some soldiers are living in at Fort Bragg as an isolated incident.

“I would hope that it is an isolated condition, and we will figure that out,” Rogers said. “If there are issues; we’ll fix them. That’s what we are going to do, we are going to fix them,” Rogers said. “We are still going through the data, and we will know by the end of the week.”

In addition to the walk-through, Army installation officials have stood up a Senior Non- Commissioned Officer Facilities Forum to make an assessment of Army barracks conditions. The forum, which will meet monthly, will be chaired by Command Sgt. Major Debra Strickland of Installation Management Command. It will inspect barracks and make recommendations for correcting current and future upkeep problems.

The video, shot by the father of Sgt. Jeff Frawley on April 14, caught the attention of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., on April 25. She said she contacted the Army secretary after learning of the barracks’ condition.
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Don't anyone ever say it with a straight face again that one person cannot make a difference. This father just did!

Military reports 4 deaths and 13 wounded

6 soldiers wounded in Iraq fighting

By Hamid Ahmed - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Apr 29, 2008 10:07:30 EDT

BAGHDAD — More than two dozen people were killed when Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s embattled Sadr City district, bringing the death toll in area on Tuesday to more than 30, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said.

The clashes broke out at 9:30 a.m. after U.S. troops were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, spokesman Navy Lt. Col. Steve Stover said.

Six American soldiers were wounded in the fighting. As the troops were leaving the area, a vehicle was hit with two roadside bombs, Stover said.

The attack occurred along a road on which the U.S. military is erecting a concrete barrier to try to cut off the militants’ ability to move freely into the rest of Baghdad and hamper their ability to fire rockets and mortars at the Green Zone, the central Baghdad district where government offices and the U.S. Embassy are located.
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Seven soldiers injured in training mishap
The Associated PressPosted : Tuesday Apr 29, 2008 15:25:24 EDT

FRANKFURT, Germany — The Army says seven soldiers have been injured in a training exercise in Germany and two of them were flown to a hospital intensive care unit.
The soldiers, none of whom has been identified, were injured in a vehicle accident Monday afternoon at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in southern Germany, the Army said Tuesday.
The other five suffered injuries and were taken to another hospital. Three have been released and the other two are set to be released later Tuesday.
All seven soldiers are part of V Corps, U.S. Army Europe.

4 soldiers killed in Baghdad fighting
April is deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq since September
By Slobodan Lekic - The Associated PressPosted : Tuesday Apr 29, 2008 5:48:57 EDT

BAGHDAD — Bombardments by suspected militants killed four U.S. soldiers as troops tried to push Shiite fighters farther from the U.S.-protected Green Zone and out of range of their rockets and mortars.
At least 44 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since September.
The military said three soldiers were killed Monday in eastern Baghdad by indirect fire, a reference to mortars or rockets. The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of intense fighting recently with Shiite militiamen.
A fourth U.S. soldier was killed by a shell in western Baghdad, the military said.
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Ex-Marine wants to start area chapter of Women’s Marine group

Ex-Marine wants to start area chapter of Women’s Marine group

WELLSBORO — A former Marine wants to join with others to form a chapter of a Marines association here and has invited another former Marine from the Reading area to help her.

Naudette Baldwin, 60, who was in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970 in the midst of the Vietnam airlift, contacted Kathy VanGorder, liaison officer to the Pennsylvania Department of the Marine Corps League. VanGorder is a Wellsboro native and the daughter of Earl Russell.

The two women are planning a recruiting meeting Saturday at noon at the Babb’s Creek Inn in Morris.

Baldwin, a lance corporal, went through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., and went to Aviation Supply School in Memphis, Tenn. She was stationed at El Toro Air Base, Santa Ana, Calif.

A life member of the Women Marines Association, Baldwin said she wants to belong to a local chapter so she can participate in national events.

In order to participate in any local group activities, she would have to go to New York state, something she doesn’t want to do.

Baldwin joined the military during an era when women were rare in the armed forces. But, she said she had no problems with any of the male officers or other Marines because, by the 1960s and ‘70s, things had changed quite a bit.

“By the time I went through Parris Island, we were more or less accepted,” she said.

Baldwin was discharged in 1970 after serving her stint in aviation supply.

“If a mechanic came in for a part, I was there to supply it and had to order the parts needed, as well as help with keeping the inventory,” she said.

Her group was the last platoon that went through Parris Island before the basic training for women became the same as it is for men, Baldwin said.

“The ones right behind me had to go through the same basic training as the men,” she said. “It was still tough, which is the reason I went in, plus Vietnam was just starting and I wanted to help with the war effort.”

VanGorder, 67, told a different story of how women were treated in the military.

She also was a lance corporal when she was on active duty in the 1950s and was discharged in 1960, spending two years with the Air Wing at Cherry Point.
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Marine Corps still investigating puppy tossing video

Marine Corps still investigating puppy tossing video

Associated Press
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April 28, 2008

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) — It’s been nearly two months since a video appeared on the Internet showing a U.S. Marine tossing what appeared to be a live puppy into a ravine.

The Marine Corps says it’s still investigating, with no charges and no disciplinary action so far.

A new statement from Marine Corps Base Hawaii calls the video “appalling, deplorable and contrary to the high standards we expect of every marine at home and abroad.”

The corps says it first learned of the video appearing on the Web site YouTube on March 3.

The statements says the investigation will confirm authenticity of the video and identify those responsible.

The announcement says the vast majority of Marines conduct their duties with honor and compassion. It cites numerous incidents of Marines adopting pets.

Veterans dept. says ex-marine owes nearly $4,000

Veterans dept. says ex-marine owes nearly $4,000
• But Carl Diekman, who served on Iwo Jima, doesn't agree.

By Jim Holt
Signal Senior Writer
661-259-1234 x527
Posted: April 28, 2008 2:14 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Picture in your mind the iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph of the Second World War.
One of the proudest moments in American history - five brave U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy serviceman working together to erect the Stars & Stripes atop a strategic island in the West Pacific Ocean.

Now subtract one of those six flag bearers from that mental snapshot.


Yet, for a Canyon Country family of a World War II veteran, that's exactly what the Department of Veterans Affairs did when it cut off veterans checks to a highly-decorated U.S. Marine who served in Iwo Jima that flag-raising day.

Retired Staff Sergeant Carl Diekman of the U.S. Marines 5th Division was one of 110,000 Marines on one of 880 vessels sent to Iwo Jima in the closing months of the Second World War.

Cutting him out of his monthly VA check this year was like cutting a Marine out of the famous Iwo Jima photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal more than a half century ago.

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Bush Goes to Court to Deny Mental Care for Veterans

Apr. 28, VCS Lawsuit in the News: Bush Goes to Court to Deny Mental Care for Veterans

Peter Collorafi

American Chronicle

Apr 28, 2008

April 25, 2008 - A wise President, who was also a veteran of multiple wars, once said: "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they preceive the veterans of earlier wars were Treated and Appreciated by their nation."

The issue of veterans affairs has seen an upsurge of interest in the past few weeks, as Dr. Ira Katz, an official in the Veteran's Affairs Department, is coming under fire from Congress, after giving misleading information to a CBS reporter, who was researching for a story about sucide rates among veterans.

During an interview given in November for the original CBS story, Dr. Katz told reporter Armen Keteyian that "There is no epidemic in suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem." When pressed for an answer to explain the VA's inability to come up with any suicide statistics among veterans, Katz replied "That research is ongoing."

However, "After a public records request, the VA provided CBS News with data that showed there were a total of 790 attempted suicides by VA patients in the entire year of 2007." This number does not match up at all with a private email sent by Dr. Katz to a colleague in which he states that the VA has identified "about 1000 suicide attempts a month in patients we see at are medical facilities," a far cry from his public estimate of 790 a year.

Compared with the number of suicide attempts, the number of actual suicides is monstrous in comparision. CBS news identified a total of 6,256 suicides in 2005 among veterans of the "war on terror" [VCS Note: this should read 6,256 suicides among all veterans], double the national average, although that number does not include the 5 states who refused to provide their suicide statistics for the CBS report.

As he did with the statistics for attempted suicides, Dr. Katz again played a two-faced persona. Katz declared that the "number is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of the rate."

Nevertheless, Dr. Katz told colleagues in another private email that "There are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans," and "4-5 suicides per day among those who receive care from us [the VA]." Katz goes on to add that his figures are ironically "supported by the CBS numbers," which he disparaged previously in public.

In his later email titled "Shh!" Dr. Katz asks colleagues if the suicide statistics should be buried by dropping them into "a general release about our suicide prevention efforts," "before somebody stumbles onto them."
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Army Enforces Christianity?

Army Enforces Christianity? Soldier Sues Army After Recieving Threats for His Atheism
Neela Banerjee

The New York Times

Apr 28, 2008

April 26, 2008 - Fort Riley, Kan -- When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, declined to comment on the case, saying, “The department does not discuss pending litigation.”

"This inter-faith shrine...will stand through long generations to teach Americans that as men can die heroically as brothers, so they should live together in mutual faith and good will."
President Harry S Truman

Rabbi Alexander Goode
Reverend George L. Fox
Reverend Clark V. Polling
Father John P. Washington
During World War II some 8,000 Army chaplains dedicated their lives and service to the fighting men of The Greatest Generation. Though these chaplains earned 2,453 high military awards for their valor, none received the Medal of Honor. Four of the seventy-seven who gave their lives in service received one of the most unusual and distinct medals in history. Ordered by special Congressional action, its intent was to carry the same weight and prestige as the Medal of Honor.
It is known simply as The Four Chaplains Medal, and calls to memory four men of God, one Jewish, one Catholic, and two Protestant, who overcame the boundaries of denomination to become brothers serving the same Father.

Today they would have to add a Muslim Chaplain to the picture of those serving.

This whole thing is very troubling. I am working on a new video for Point Man Ministries and rediscovered some history of Chaplains in the military. They came from every faith in every war. The role of the Chaplains was to take care of the spiritual needs of people, not just the ones who practiced the same faith or people they wanted to covert.

I am a Christian and I am a Chaplain. I will help no one if I ask them to show me their baptism certificate before I help them. I will help no one if I only take care of Christians or if I only take care of people of faith. Christ didn't pick and choose people out of a crowd and He didn't tell any of His followers to do it either. He said to take care of them all.

Admittedly I don't understand atheists, but they still have a spirit and they still have needs as any other human does. To do this to a soldier who does not believe in God under any banner of faith is an assault against the soldiers who have no faith but have lives, hearts, minds and risk their lives serving in the military. What is happening in the military by a handful of people is appalling.

If I drive down the road and come up on an accident, I am required to help if I can do it without getting in the way. If I do my job correctly, the victims will feel calmer and know someone cares about them as a human. The same must be done in times of war as well.

Chaplain Kathie Costos

News has been replaced by gossip

When it comes to the political battle between Obama and Clinton, I've tried to stay out of it. Politics is something I have to keep up on because it is the politicians that will either take care of the veterans or not. To me, personally, I don't care if they are Democratic or Republican if they do not take care of the veterans. Yes, I've supported some Republicans who do in fact take a strong stand for the sake of veterans but there are very few who actually do it instead of talking about it. The only purpose for posting this latest political round is what the media has been avoiding reporting on.

Last night I put on CNN getting ready for bed. Tornados struck Virginia and there were over 200 wounded and massive destruction. Normally, the media would have had something like that covered from every channel. When I turned on CNN, they were talking about Obama's pastor Wright, instead of the tornadoes. Anderson Cooper did end up talking about the tornadoes but he gave that topic about three minutes, then went back to Wright.

I was wondering who is supporting Wright? Where is he getting the money to travel all over the place and who is acting as his publicist? After all, you don't get that kind of attention for just being captured in a You Tube video. He's one of thousands of pastors across the country who say a lot of things that their parishioners do not agree with. Most people go to church for the sake of going to church and fellowship and if they go for the sake of Christ, then they already know what is right or wrong. In my own life I have heard many religious representatives of Christ and raised my eyebrows many times over things they said. So is Wright getting the attention for what he said or the fact one of the members of his congregation happens to be running for the presidency?

No one would really care if Obama was not a member of the church he preached at. Yet this "story" should have died a long time ago because it really doesn't matter to the rest of us. Obama didn't say God damn America or anything else even like it. He is the one running for the office and should only be held accountable for what comes out of his mouth and what comes out of his works. Who is behind the attention Wright is getting?

What is wrong with the media when they do this kind of gossip work instead of reporting on the tornadoes and the lives destroyed by them along with all the wounded instead of gossip? What is wrong with them when they give hardly no reports at all on the lives of the troops in two occupations, their deaths, their wounds and the fact there are so many suicides and attempted suicides? Where are the reports on the law suit Veterans For Common Sense filed against the VA and the discovery of the data that had been hidden from the public all this time? Where are the reports of the money, tax payer money, blown in Iraq on construction projects that have never been completed but we paid for anyway?

When and who decided that the news would be reduced to a tabloid with an occasional report on actual news? This nation has a heap load of troubles facing us. Seems to me that what one pastor has to say does not really match up with what is being reported on. Instead of reporting on the fact that a lot of members of the Virginia National Guard just got back from Iraq and then faced with the catastrophic emergency like what the tornadoes left behind would be a lot more important to report on that what Obama's ex-pastor had to say.

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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coming Home From Combat To Cop

Cops returning from war zones: 6 keys to easing back to the street

10-8: Life on the Line
with Charles Remsberg

Editor's Note:

This series deals with the potential problems of LEOs attempting to reintegrate into domestic policing after serving military combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our reporting is based on the presentations of experts at a unique, invitation-only symposium for law enforcement and mental health professionals at the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Police Academy, organized by Dr. Beverly Anderson, clinical director and administrator of the Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program. PoliceOne was the only communications agency permitted to attend.

In Part 1, we explored the battlefield culture, the mental injuries war commonly inflicts, and the fact that returning veterans will inevitably be changed, sometimes in negative ways, by what they have experienced. Part 2 outlined a variety of post-combat symptoms frequently evidenced after vets reach home that may negatively impact their performance in policing if not recognized and resolved.

Most law enforcement agencies seem to have given little formal thought to how best to reintegrate combat veterans back into domestic street assignments. Those that have addressed the problem have put measures in place that run from the simplistic to the sophisticated.

At one end of the spectrum, a chief in South Carolina is alleged to have said that he simply doesn't bring any officer veteran onto his force until he or she has been back from a war zone for at least three years. Period. On the other hand, the Los Angeles County (Calif.) Sheriff's Dept. processes returning personnel through a four-day "repatriation" program, developed under the agency's chief psychologist, Dr. Audrey Honig.(For a day-by-day description of LASD's program, go click here.)

Another psychologist, Dr. Ellen Marshall, a traumatic stress researcher and criminal justice instructor at Delaware Technical & Community College and the Union Institute and University, attended the Washington symposium as part of her research in assisting the Delaware State Police to design a cutting-edge reintegration program. The symposium's organizer, Dr. Beverly Anderson, is updating and expanding procedures and services for the Washington Metropolitan Police Dept., which already offers confidential debriefing and therapy to returning cops and their families.

And a fourth psychologist, Dr. Laura Zimmerman, who researches police issues for the consulting firm Applied Research Associates/Klein Associates Division, is collaborating with the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police on a project aimed at fully exploring the issues involved in hiring or reintegrating combat vets. The goal is to make recommendations for future research and training and to provide resources to veterans and agencies confronting reintegration challenges.

"Reintegration procedures should be part of an on-going comprehensive plan that all law enforcement agencies put in place to take care of their officers," Anderson told PoliceOne. "Short-term strategies produce only limited results and high officer turnover. An effective, well-implemented, long-term post-deployment program is what's needed. Started today, it will help prevent problem behavior in the future."

Whatever the details end up being, the seminar presenters offered six fundamental concepts that should be considered when formulating a reintegration plan:

1. Pre-briefing/debriefing. Preparing an officer to return to the streets should begin even before he leaves for combat duty, advised Maj. David Englert, chief of the Behavioral Analysis Division of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Among other things, in addition on realistic information on what to expect in the war zone, the officer can be referred to CDs and websites that offer practical instruction on stress management. Family members should be included in pre-briefings so their concerns can also be surfaced and addressed.

On return, the officer should be debriefed in a process similar to that which occurs after a critical incident. ("If being in Iraq is not a critical incident, I don't know what is," one speaker observed.) "The debriefing should include specific education on post-traumatic stress disorder and on other potential problems encountered by returning combat vets," said Dr. William Bograkos, a colonel who heads the Warrior Transition Division of the military's North Atlantic Region Medical Command.

Capt. Aaron Krenz, a criminal justice-trained reintegration operations officer and Iraq veteran with the Minnesota National Guard, recommended discussing in detail what he called the "reintegration cycle." This consists of six phases that combat veterans may transition through as they adjust from battlefield to home front:

• The Honeymoon
• Disillusionment
• Alienation (including frustration and anger)
• Re-engagement
• Acceptance
• The New Normal.
While not every returning officer will necessarily struggle through this cycle, many will, and it helps to know that these are normal reactions to the abnormal circumstance of being in war.
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Storms leave 200 injured in Virginia, officials say

Storms leave 200 injured in Virginia, officials say
Story Highlights

NEW: Injuries in Suffolk, where a tornado destroyed homes and businesses

A second tornado struck Colonial Heights injuring at least 18, an official said

Video shows roofs torn off, cars flipped, trees snapped in half

An emergency shelter will be open by Monday night, an official says

(CNN) -- At least three tornadoes caused massive damage in Virginia and injured more than 200 people on Monday, officials said.

At least 200 were injured in Suffolk where a twister destroyed several homes and businesses, said Bob Spieldenner of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The storm hit the 138-bed Sentara Obici Hospital, though Spieldenner said the facility was still operational and accepting patients.

A second tornado struck Colonial Heights -- about 60 miles northwest, near Richmond -- injuring at least 18 people, he said.

A third twister damaged several homes near Lawrenceville, about 70 miles south of Richmond, said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, which confirmed all three tornadoes.

Gov. Tim Kaine declared a Virginia-wide state of emergency as hazardous weather continued through the central part of the state.

The Suffolk twister touched down just before 4 p.m. ET and plowed its way east into Norfolk, damaging scores of homes, stores and cars and downing dozens of trees and power lines, Jackson said.

Video footage from the scene showed roofs torn off homes, cars flipped over, trees snapped in two and a caved-in section of a newly constructed shopping center.

Furniture, fences and mounds of other debris were tossed in streets, parking lots and lawns. Watch the storm's massive destruction from the air »

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Local Headlines

"My Kitchen Window Blew Out"

Suffolk Public Schools Closed Tuesday

UPDATE - Mandatory Neighborhood Evacuation

Tornado Photos From Hampton Roads

More Viewer Storm Pictures

Storm Cloud Photos From Hampton - Langley Air Force Base

Storm Shots In Pungo - See The Pictures

Tornado Damage - Photos Sent In By Viewers

Tornado Pictures Near Obici Hospital in Suffolk

Tornado Spotted Near King's Fork High School

April 23, 2008

Virginia Defense Force- ready to respond in 2008

Courtesy of the Virginia Defense Force

RICHMOND — National Volunteer Week will be celebrated April 27 to May 3. It recognizes the many volunteers in our state that contribute individual time and efforts that benefit the citizens of the Commonwealth. This effort is exemplified by many organizations in communities throughout the state. The Virginia Defense Force is just one of many volunteer organizations involved in support to our citizens.
The Virginia Defense Force is an all volunteer force that is a member of the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. It provides support after disasters, specifically when authorized to assist citizens throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia whenever and wherever relief is needed in support of the Virginia National Guard under the command of Maj. Gen. Robert Newman, the Adjutant General.

The volunteer members are located in over 38 Virginia Army National Guard installations throughout the Commonwealth. They support the Virginia National Guard in performing state missions to provide interoperable communications, less-than-lethal security, emergency medical triage, traffic control, fix-wing aviation flights, and general manpower support as specified by the Governor of Virginia.

The division headquarters is located in Richmond and there are three operational brigades- Lafayette, located in the Tidewater area; Black Horse, located in Northern Virginia; and the High Land in Roanoke. Two new battalions will be activated on the Eastern Shore and in Northern Virginia in this year.

The division currently has a total of over 700 members and in 2007 they contributed over 7,500 mandays of volunteer service. This resulted in a financial contribution to the Commonwealth of over $1,000,000. The future trend is for the VDF to exceed the past year’s mandays for volunteer service to the state based on the increase in new members throughout the Commonwealth. The long term goal is to have 1,200 volunteers in four to five brigades and 12 to 15 battalions.

For more information about the Virginia Defense Force go to; or contact by e-mail at; or call the Division Headquarters in Richmond at 804-228-7018 or 866-791-9164.

Will the National Guard be able to respond?
April 22, 2008

Charlottesville, Leesburg and Woodstock area Va. Guard Soldiers return from Iraq

Soldiers from infantry companies headquartered in Charlottesville, Leesburg and Woodstock assigned to 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team returned to the United States April 20 and 21 after serving in Iraq and Kuwait since September 2007. The Soldiers flew into the demobilization station of Camp Shelby, Miss., and will conduct a number of different administrative activities to transition from active duty back into traditional National Guard status prior to returning back to Virginia. Approximately 150 Soldiers are assigned to each company.

The units will spend four or five days at Camp Shelby, but the exact arrival date for their return back to Virginia has not been determined at this time. The Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office will issue a follow up advisory once the return date has been set.

All three infantry companies were assigned to convoy escort duty in Iraq and had numerous enemy engagements via improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and complex ambushes. A and B Companies operated in Al Anbar Province or Multinational Division West. A Company operated and in some of the most dangerous areas in Iraq to include Fallujah and Ramadi, and B Company operated in hot spots west of the Euphrates River and the far western portions of Iraq near the Syrian border.

C Company provided convoy escort in Multi-National Division North and operated in some of the more recent danger areas around Mosul and Kirkuk. Nine of the 10 Soldiers wounded in action from the battalion were from C Company. The battalion had no fatalities.

In addition to the three infantry companies, the Battalion is made up of approximately 100 Soldiers from the Winchester-based Headquarters Company, approximately 125 Soldiers from Fredericksburg-based D Company and approximately 125 Soldiers from Fredericksburg-based F Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion. These three units will return to the USA in the coming weeks. Additional information about their return will be provided once the units have landed at their demobilization station.

Two Vietnam veterans, one from Pasco, reunite 40 years later

Two Vietnam veterans, one from Pasco, reunite 40 years later

Published Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:56 PM

PORT RICHEY — They had cleared this path the day before, so they expected no trouble. It was the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the Hail Mary pass for America to try to win the war, and these Marines were boys, most just out of high school. Many were the sons of World War II veterans and enlisted because they believed it was the right thing to do. They knew each other by nicknames and, during lulls, talked of their hometowns and families. They read letters out loud and talked of their dreams.

As the voting age was 21 then, most had never voted. They'd never been able to legally buy a drink. Many had never yet been in love. Most of these men never knew each other's last names, but those who survived would later say these were the best friends they ever had.
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Swindling disabled Vietnam vet lands woman in prison

Swindling disabled vets lands woman in prison
LARGO – A St. Petersburg woman was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for swindling more than $100,000 from a disabled Vietnam veteran. Helga Scott, 59, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of exploiting a disabled adult. She will serve 15 years of probation after she is released from prison.

Scott befriended 56-year-old Cary Gammon in 2004 after the veteran had to move from an assisted living facility that was closing. Scott gained power-of-attorney over Gammon and nearly drained his bank account.

She used the money to buy a house and furniture and pay bills, authorities said. Scott put Gammon, who had a mental disorder, in another ALF while she lived in the house purchased with his money.

“It was victimizing our most vulnerable of veterans,” Prosecutor Bill Burgess said. “She drained his money. He never lived a day in the house.” While police investigated, Gammon was found dead in a lake on Christmas morning 2005.

Police said he had wandered from his ALF and drowned. Police said there was no connection between the drowning and the fraud case. Scott must pay $55,000 in restitution to Gammon’s estate after her release from prison.

-- Chris Tisch, Times staff writer

Orlando heartless "evicting" already homeless

Eviction from shanties leaves homeless looking for new spots
Kate Santich Sentinel Staff Writer
April 27, 2008

Darlene and Michael Downs might sound like a lot of struggling couples.

He is chronically ill; she doesn't work so she can take care of him. And now they're faced with losing their home -- a four-room place where they hang their wedding photos and snapshots of the grandkids and snuggle up before their 27-inch color TV.

Except home in this case is a shanty in the woods off John Young Parkway. And the Downses, like their neighbors amid these vine-covered oaks, have just gotten notice that they're about to be evicted.

"We're not bothering anybody," Michael Downs said. "And the doctors told me I can't take no more stress."

These days, even the woods are no haven for the homeless.

Orlando police officers, who first handed out trespass warnings in mid-April, said the crackdown stems from a nearby neighborhood group that "bombarded" police with complaints about registered sex offenders living in the woods.

"There were probably two or three out there, but even one is too many," Orlando police Lt. Robert Anzueto said. "There's no way to regulate them if they're in the woods. . . . And there is trash and debris all over the place. If I were a neighbor, I would be concerned."
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4 U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad attack

4 U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad attack
Rocket or mortar strike kills troops around the capital

BAGHDAD - Four American soldiers were killed Monday in rocket or mortar attacks in separate volleys in Baghdad.

The attacks raised the monthly U.S. death toll to at least 44, making it the deadliest since September.

Three of the Multi-National Division — Baghdad soldiers were killed just after 1 p.m. in an eastern section of the capital, the military said.

The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the area has been the scene of intense fighting recently between Shiite militiamen and U.S.-Iraqi troops.

Another soldier was killed by indirect fire in western Baghdad, the military said separately, using its term for a rocket or mortar attack.

In all, at least 4,056 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
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Service-related stress builds for veterans

Scott Adler, 36, of Brillion, is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm who is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. A nationwide survey of 1,965 service members by the Rand Corp. found nearly 20 percent of those returning from war report symptoms of PTSD, but only about 50 percent seek treatment. Post-Crescent photo by Patrick Ferron

Service-related stress builds for veterans
Survey: Growing number of troops reports symptoms
By Steve Wideman • Post-Crescent staff writer • April 28, 2008

BRILLION — Scott Adler's face grew tense and his gaze distracted as his cell phone's ring tone pierced the otherwise quiet atmosphere of his living room.

Adler deliberately ignored the ringing as he talked about his experience as a military police officer in the Army.

The tenseness disappeared when the ringing stopped. A message left no doubt the caller was trying to reach a church, not Adler.

"It's a wrong number," Adler said as he smiled for the first time since telling of a July 2001 telephone call that ended with his friend and fellow military police officer committing suicide with a gunshot wound to the head.

The suicides of three fellow officers in 18 months contributed to Adler joining a growing number of military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve members, being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A nationwide survey of 1,965 service members by the Rand Corp. found nearly 20 percent of those returning from war, or about 300,000 soldiers, report symptoms of PTSD, but only about 50 percent seek treatment.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., joined two other Democratic senators last week in introducing legislation calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to track how many veterans commit suicide each year.

The legislation request came after the VA disclosed that 12,000 veterans attempt suicide annually while an average of 18 war veterans kill themselves each day.

That's no surprise to Adler, 36, who served two tours of active duty, from 1990 to 1995 — when he deployed for Operation Desert Storm — and again from 2000 to 2003. Between those tours Adler served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Adler was discharged in 2003 for medical reasons related to a PTSD diagnosis.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride

Marine Cpl. Chad Watson (left) and Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Kinard (center) lead the group of veteran and civilian cyclists in the White House to Lighthouse Challenge. (Sun photo by André F. Chung / April 26, 2008)

Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Kinard, 25, jokes before the start of race, which began at Jonas Green Park. (Sun photo by André F. Chung / April 26, 2008)

Honoring their sacrifice and spirit
About 50 people ride from Washington to Annapolis as part of a national event that empowers, challenges injured vets

By Tyeesha Dixon | Sun reporter
April 27, 2008

Chad Watson's Marine Corps unit encountered a bomb in November 2006 while he was serving his first tour in Fallujah, Iraq. The 25-year-old corporal lost a leg and has been in physical therapy ever since.

But, like the 24 other military veterans who participated in a three-day regional bike tour that ended yesterday, a physical disability wasn't going to stop Watson from living his life to the fullest.

"To me, it means getting to know the guys outside the hospital," Watson said. "It just means a lot to be with these men and women."

About 50 people biked through Washington and Maryland as part of the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride's White House to Lighthouse Challenge, which ended in Annapolis yesterday. Many of the participants with leg injuries and amputations used hand-operated bicycles. Military veterans wore matching shirts with an American flag motif.
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Floor collapses at Christian rock concert

Dozens injured as floor collapses at Christian rock concert in Abbotsford
Glenda Luymes and Erik Rolfsen , Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, April 26, 2008
Stage scaffolding fell and knocked approximately 70 people through the floor and into the basement at a crowded Christian rock concert in an Abbotsford, B.C. church on Friday night.

Thirty-two people were injured and treated at Central Heights Church by ambulance, police and fire personnel from several Fraser Valley communities. Twenty-two of them had to be taken by ambulance to hospital, said Const. Casey Vinet of the Abbotsford Police. Three were seriously injured, although Vinet did not know their ages or conditions.

"This was a rock concert and it was attended mostly by youth," Vinet said.

About 1,000 people from around the Lower Mainland and Washington were enjoying the concert by Christian rock band Starfield when light fixtures and scaffolding above the stage crashed down at 9:17 p.m. It landed on a crowd of people dancing in front of the stage and knocked them approximately 12-15 feet through the floor to the basement below.

Alyx Peckinpaugh, 13, was distraught and crying after narrowly averting the fall.

"People were jumping and I started to jump," she said. She then saw a security guard gesturing and all of a sudden the floor gave way. "I ran to the wall and yelled for my friend. I couldn't find her, and then I saw her. I ran out to the hallway and then outside."

Groups of people, including parents of youth who attended the show, huddled outside the church crying and praying after the incident, as the injured were treated and rushed to hospitals in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Langley.

"Most of the injured were walking wounded, but some were taken away in stretchers," said Chris Douglas, senior pastor of Central Heights Church.

Ryan Collum and Troy Grenier were at the chaotic scene trying to locate a friend who had been inside.
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This is another way PTSD can happen. Imagine being at a church and having something like this happen. There were over 1,000 people there and the normal rate of PTSD is one out of three. Do you think everyone there knows what PTSD is?

Green Zone hit during sand storm

Sandstorm aids insurgent attack on Green Zone

By Sameer N. Yacoub - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Apr 27, 2008 13:12:52 EDT

BAGHDAD — Militants fired a salvo of rockets or mortar shells into Baghdad’s Green Zone Sunday, apparently taking advantage of a sandstorm that blanketed the Iraqi capital.

There was no immediate word on casualties or damage.

At least eight rounds hit the heavily guarded section of Baghdad that houses the Iraqi government and U.S. Embassy, said a police official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Alarms could be heard and loudspeakers warned residents to take cover.

The Green Zone has been regularly shelled during the past month. In March, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched a crackdown against Shiite militias in Baghdad and elsewhere.

James Sperry's nightmares always take him back to Fallujah

Zia Nizami/BND
Iraq War Veteran James Sperry looks at a display of his medals and other artifacts from his time in Iraq.

Posted on Sun, Apr. 27, 2008
The War Within: Post-traumatic stress disorder

James Sperry's nightmares always take him back to Fallujah.

There, he saw his friends blown apart. There, his best friend died despite his best efforts.

And there, Sperry himself nearly died on Nov. 9, 2004, when his platoon took part in the fiercest battle of the Iraq war.

Trained as a medic, Sperry, of Belleville, was taking cover behind a tank when a rocket-propelled grenade ricocheted off his Kevlar helmet, smashing it to bits and leaving him with a permanent brain injury. As Sperry lay in an alley, an insurgent ran up and fired two rounds from an AK-47 at his chest at point-blank range. Because of his armor, Sperry survived with a cracked sternum. His platoon sergeant shot the insurgent dead a moment later.

But the insurgent returned to haunt Sperry's dreams, always standing over him, firing into his chest.

Lately, however, the shadowy figure has been replaced by a different nightmare.

In it, Sperry watches himself from above. He is driving a minivan through Fallujah. His wife and 1-year-old daughter are with him.

"We're driving through," he said, "and we get all shot up."

'A headful of bad memories'
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PTSD: An interactive timeline
PTSD Resources: Help is available
PTSD: A short history
Graphic: Number of PTSD cases reported by U.S. Army
Graphic: Number of U.S. active duty military
Graphic: Mental problems
Graphic: Number of psychologically wounded
Graphic: Number of PTSD cases diagnosed
Graphic: PTSD cases growing

Suicide death of Spc. Chris Dana causes change in Montana National Guard

Montana Guard confronts post-combat stress head-on in wake of suicide
Tribune Projects Editor

HELENA — Montana's National Guard is becoming a model of how to help service members adjust to post-combat stress.

"Montana has gone beyond the level of other states in the country, and I applaud that," said Capt. Joan Hunter, a U.S. Public Service officer who was recently designated the director of psychological health for the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.

"They saw an emergency need, studied the problems and make some significant improvements," Hunter said Friday.

State Adjutant General Randy Mosley said that the effort stems from a former Montana soldier who didn't get the help he needed and who killed himself a year ago.

"We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to help our people and their families pick up the pieces for the problems that may have begun during their deployment in Iraq," Mosley said last week.

"The Guard has done an unbelievable job in changing," said Matt Kuntz, a Helena attorney and stepbrother of the late Spc. Chris Dana, who killed himself March 4, 2007. At the time, Dana was having trouble handling weekend drills after returning from combat in Iraq. He was given a less-than-honorable discharge and then shot himself a few days later.

"It takes a lot for a big organization that does a lot of things right to look for what they did wrong and address those flaws," Kuntz said. "I'm really impressed with what they've done."
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