Saturday, May 31, 2008

Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker:PTSD Help Not Adequate



"As a nation, our mental health capability is not adequate

to the need," and the Army suffers from the same problem.

Wartime PTSD cases jumped nearly 50 pct. in 2007


WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of troops diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007, the most violent year so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon records show.

In the first time the Defense Department has disclosed a number for PTSD cases from the two wars, officials said nearly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with the illness since 2003, though they believe many more are likely keeping their illness a secret.

"I don't think right now we ... have good numbers," Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said Tuesday.

That's partly because officials have been encouraging troops to get help even if it means they go to private civilian therapists and don't report it to the military. The 40,000 cases cover only those that the military has tracked.
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Stand Down Tucson for Homeless Veterans

Saturday Stand Down helps homeless vets
Tucson Citizen
Homeless Army veteran Joseph Battle said he’d rather keep on living in his pickup truck than give up his dog to get into subsidized housing.
“This is companionship,” he said Saturday morning at a Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored “Stand Down” here.
Saturday's Stand Down, underwritten in part by Wal-Mart, Tucson Electric Power and Tucson Truck Driving School, was organized by the local group Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans.
Stand Downs give homeless vets a chance to rest, get in out of the heat, shower, get a haircut, a meal, a sleeping bag, new boots and sunglasses.
Perhaps more important, the Stand Down Saturday gave veterans access to about 20 social service providers and to employment services.
A banner reading “Welcome Home Veterans” was draped across the entrance to the event at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, 1750 E. Silverlake Road. It began at 8 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 2 p.m.
“We want you to be happy, safe and healthy,” said Mary Pat Sullivan, director of Comin’ Home, a nonprofit that provides housing to homeless vets.
She welcomed the veterans after a Color Guard ceremony in the building’s cafeteria.
Battle, 49, said Buddy, his 14-month-old Shepherd-Chow mix, is important to his wellbeing and said most landlords won’t rent to him because of the large dog.
Battle panhandles for a living.
He said he has emphysema – though he still smokes – hepatitis C, arthritis and two compressed discs. He’s been trying for years to get on Social Security disability, he said.
He collects food stamps and gets his medical care at the Veterans Affairs hospital.
He has a 14-year-old daughter living in the Tucson area and he hasn’t seen her in about 10 years. “I’d like to see her,” Battle said.
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A shoulder to cry on in Baghdad

A shoulder to cry on in Baghdad
The US military says levels of violence in Iraq are at their lowest for four years, but what psychological effect has constant unrest had on ordinary Iraqis? Caroline Wyatt returns to Baghdad after a 10-year absence to find out.

The Baghdad I remembered was a sprawling city, a place of honking horns and barely-controlled anarchy on the roads.

Amid the narrow, uneven pavements of the gold market, I jostled for space with shoppers peering closely at the gold necklaces given to brides at their wedding.

As a Westerner, I felt safe. After all, the secret police were everywhere. My government minder was never more than two steps behind, sometimes so close he would trip over my microphone lead, apologising profusely.

There was no forgetting who was in charge in those days.

Every government building bore images of Saddam Hussein, in all his guises... holding the scales of justice at the courthouse, cockily brandishing a shotgun as an Austrian-style huntsman in lederhosen, or my personal favourite... the massive poster on the telecom building showing a grinning Saddam chatting on a bright, pink telephone.

This week I have been driving through Baghdad in the back of an armoured vehicle.

No government minder this time. Four British security advisers instead.

The traffic around us is as anarchic as ever, now jammed together as cars approach the frequent armed checkpoints and the old bustle starts to return.
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New veterans cemetery a 'national shrine'

New veterans cemetery a 'national shrine'
Burial site for region's veterans to be dedicated after six-year campaign
By Kim Hackett
Published Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last updated Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 7:14 a.m.

SARASOTA COUNTY — Sarasota County is poised to become a resting ground for thousands of military veterans after Sunday's groundbreaking and dedication of the 295-acre Sarasota VA National Cemetery.

The ceremony at the new site on State Road 72, east of Interstate 75, is expected to draw 1,000 people, including local politicians such as U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and former U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. The Navy Band from Jacksonville will play and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office will have a helicopter flyover.

"It's the culmination of a dream," said , president of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, who started the campaign for the cemetery six years ago and got Harris to push it through Congress. "We need it now to properly recognize and bury Korean and World War veterans who are a vast aging group."

The Sarasota County cemetery will be Florida's sixth national cemetery. Its addition is part of the nation's biggest expansion of cemeteries for veterans since the Civil War.

More than 400,000 veterans live within 75 miles of Sarasota. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated the cemetery will accommodate more than 10 burials a day, and up to 50 a day, once it opens.
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Agent Orange Quilt of Tears Memorial Day Display

I hope everyone has had a nice weekend and that Memorial Day has brought all of you a heart full of pride & love as you reflect upon the ones we honor & remember today. God bless all our heroes…past, present & future…every one!

Henry & I are still trying to catch up after our journey. We spent two days displaying The Quilt Of Tears on the East Knoll just a few hundred yards from The Wall. What an incredible two days! The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend.

The first picture below of The Quilts was printed in the Monday edition of the Washington Times.

The photographer from The Times spent a really long time hanging out looking at The Quilts, reading the blocks, taking pictures & just basically taking in the effect of it all...I think she was very intrigued by it all. Before she left she told me that one of the pictures might be used in the paper & it was.

I really like the picture that was chosen & I think that it speaks for itself. I think by using the picture she took through the leaves of the near by trees sort of sends a unique message about herbicides... don't you?
When the page is loaded go over on the right hand side where the picture of the Vet with the flag is... just below the picture you will see a button that says "enlarge"... please click on it & scroll thru the 4 pictures...Picture # 4 is of The Quilts & was printed in the Monday edition of the Washington Times.

As people leave The Wall they are automatically attracted to the blazon orange.... The Quilt Of Tears just beyond,that are displayed adjacently on the East Knoll.

On Saturday I don’t remember a time all day that there weren’t people standing shoulder to shoulder at the foot of each row of Quilts reading & looking at everyone single block.

Sunday was pretty much the same with the exception of a short slow down when the Rolling Thunder Ride started.

Home Of The Agent Orange"Quilt Of Tears" A Traveling Tribute, Honor & Memorial to VeteransTo Visit Our Site! Click Here!

Agent Orange Victims & Widows Support Network, Inc.

Army Continues Fight Against Soldier Suicides

Army Continues Fight Against Soldier Suicides
May 30, 2008
BY Elizabeth M. Lorge

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 30, 2008) - Despite a new report showing that 2007 had the Army's highest suicide rate since record-keeping began in 1980, Army officials told Pentagon reporters Thursday that new prevention and mental-health efforts are helping Soldiers.

There were 115 suicides last year in the active Army, with two cases still pending, according to the 2007 Army Suicide Event Report, compiled by Army medical officials and force-protection reports. This was up from 102 suicides in 2006. To date, the Army has 38 confirmed suicides for 2008, with 12 pending.

The 2007 numbers include 93 active-duty Soldiers and 22 mobilized reserve-component Soldiers. When not mobilized, the National Guard and Army Reserve track suicide numbers differently, and lost an additional 53 Soldiers.

There were also 935 active-duty suicide attempts, which Col. Elspeth C. Richie, psychiatry consultant to the Army's surgeon general, said includes any self-inflicted injury that leads to hospitalization or evacuation. This number is less than half of the approximately 2,100 attempts reported in 2006.

Richie and Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, assistant surgeon general for force protection, didn't like the upward trend of the past few years, and said the Army is making huge changes in its culture and the way it perceives mental healthcare to help Soldiers.

"Army leadership is committed to taking care of every Soldier regardless of whether they are ill, injured or have a psychological diagnosis," said Cornum. "But our responsibility really doesn't start and stop there. Just as we don't wait for Soldiers to get malaria when they deploy them, we employ the full range of prevention, mitigation and treatment strategies...We do all the things we can to prevent and reduce risk and then, if they still get the disease, we apply scientifically-tested and specific treatments to cure it, with the expectation of full recovery and return to the force.

"We need to approach the maintenance of good mental the same way, by preventive education and by applying risk-mitigation strategies in order to increase resilience and hardiness in our Soldiers before they are exposed to those environments associated with a high risk for mental health issues," she said.

The majority of the Soldiers who committed suicide, Richie said, had not sought psychological intervention, so it's vital that Soldiers know it's okay to ask for help.

Part of that education is Battlemind training, which teaches Soldiers and their Families about readjustment issues and mental-health problems they could face after a deployment, danger signs and how to get help. There are also two videos to help children deal with deployment available on

According to Richie, Battlemind has been particularly successful in reducing anxiety and depression. She said the fifth-annual mental health advisory team, which deployed to Iraq in the Fall, found that 12 percent of Soldiers who said they had received the training reported post-traumatic stress symptoms, versus 20 percent who had not received the training. She added that the rate of stigma attached to getting help went down on four of five markers.

The Department of Defense recently revised a question regarding mental health on national-security questionnaires, excluding noncourt-ordered, nonviolence-related marital, family and grief counseling, as well as counseling for adjustments from combat. This, Cornum said, should help alleviate concerns many Soldiers have about their security clearances or ability to work in sensitive jobs.

The Army is also working on training primary-care providers to recognize and diagnose combat-stress injuries and other mental-health problems, and has hired 180 additional behavioral-health providers in the United States, although Richie acknowledges this is not enough and the Army has requested more.

Since July 2007, more than 900,000 Soldiers have been trained under a chain-teaching program designed to educate them about post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and the Army has formed a General Officer Steering Committee to target root causes that may lead to suicide and change the behavior of Soldiers and leaders to recognize and intervene when they see someone with risk factors.

"One of the things that I believe is happening, looking at these reports, is that the Army is very, very busy and perhaps we haven't taken care of each other as much as we'd like to. So if somebody's stressed next to you and you're stressed yourself, you might not have the energy to reach out to them...How can we take care of each other better?" Richie said.

"A good first sergeant is one of the best screeners there is," she continued, and stressed that staying connected is vital. Forty-three percent of the Soldier suicides last year took place after a deployment, and Richie said many of these took place when Soldiers changed units and lost connectivity.

Failed relationships, she said, are the biggest risk factors for suicide, and while deployments can and do contribute to relationship problems, she cautioned against blaming higher suicide numbers on deployments alone. Twenty-six percent of the Soldiers who committed suicide had never deployed. The Army's active-duty rate of 16.8 per 100,000 is also lower than the national average of 19.5, among similar age and gender demographics.

For more information, visit

If it worked the suicides would not have gone up since they started this. Why can't they understand this?

Less than 20 percent of VA facilities use Chaplains

In addition, less than 20 percent of facilities reported utilizing the Chaplain service for liaison and outreach to faith-based organizations in the community (e.g., inviting faith-based organizations in the area to a community meeting at a VA Medical Center (VAMC) to explain VHA services available, having a VA Chaplain accompany the OIF/OEF coordinator to post-deployment events in the community). Although facilities would need to tailor strategies to consider local demographics and resources, a system-wide effort at community based outreach appears prudent.

Less than 20% use Chaplains! As posted several times on this blog, the VA needs to change the rules of who they will allow to be Chaplains when you consider how few Chaplains they use. They need to be all over the country, especially in rural areas where help is hard to find. They need to be in every community doing the outreach work that has to be done to catch up to the need. One day we may actually get ahead of this but right now, we need to do everything humanly possible on an emergency basis just to catch up to the need. It is ridiculous that the tool of Chaplains is there, trained and ready to go but while the International Fellowship of Chaplains is good enough for the police, fire fighters and emergency responders, they are not good enough to take care of the veterans that are not being taken care of right now, today!

Everything that Dr. Michael Shepherd recommended is exactly what I've been trying to do since I started doing all of this. It is exactly what frustrates me the most. We know what needs to be done but they are not doing it. How many lives, marriages, families, careers and futures could have been spared needless suffering if they implemented all of this years ago when we finally understood what needed to be done?

This is the whole testimony

Testimony By Michael Shepherd M.D.
Physician, Office of Healthcare Inspections
Office of the Inspector General
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on suicide prevention and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, Implementing the VHA’s Mental Health Strategic Plan Initiatives for Suicide Prevention. My statement today is based on that report as well as individual cases that the OIG has reviewed and reported on involving veteran suicides and accompanying mental health issues. In the process of these inspections, clinicians in our office have had the opportunity to meet with and listen to the concerns of surviving family members, and to witness the devastating impact that veteran mental health issues and suicide have had on their lives.

The May 2007 OIG report reviewed initiatives from the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) mental health strategic plan pertaining to suicide prevention and assessed the extent to which these initiatives had been implemented. In prior testimony, we have stressed the importance of the need for VA to continue moving forward toward full implementation of suicide prevention initiatives from the mental health strategic plan. In terms of other changes VA could make, we would offer the following observations:

Community Based Outreach – In our report, we noted that while several facilities had implemented innovative community based suicide prevention outreach programs, (e.g., facility presentations to New York City Police Department officers who are Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) veterans, participation by mental health staff in local Spanish radio and television shows) the majority of facilities did not report community based linkages and outreach aimed at suicide prevention. In addition, less than 20 percent of facilities reported utilizing the Chaplain service for liaison and outreach to faith-based organizations in the community (e.g., inviting faith-based organizations in the area to a community meeting at a VA Medical Center (VAMC) to explain VHA services available, having a VA Chaplain accompany the OIF/OEF coordinator to post-deployment events in the community). Although facilities would need to tailor strategies to consider local demographics and resources, a system-wide effort at community based outreach appears prudent.

Timeliness from Referral to Mental Health Evaluation – In our report we noted that while most facilities self-reported that three-fourths or more of those patients with a moderate level of depression referred by primary care providers are seen within 2 weeks of referral, approximately 5 percent reported a significant 4-8 week wait. Because these patients are at risk for progression of symptom severity and possible development of suicidal ideation, Veterans Integrated Service Network leadership should work with facility directors to ensure that once referred, patients with a moderate level of depression and those recently discharged following hospitalization are seen in a timely manner at all VAMCs and Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).

Co-Occurring Combat Stress Related Illness and Substance Use – Substance use may contribute to the severity of a concurrent or underlying mental health condition such as major depression. The presence of alcohol may cause or exacerbate impulsivity and acute alcohol use is associated with completed suicide. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Longitudinal Assessment of Mental Health Problems Among Active and Reserve Component Soldiers Returning from the Iraq War, Milliken et al., found that soldiers frequently reported alcohol concerns on the Post Deployment Health Assessment and Reassessments “yet very few were referred to alcohol treatment.”

Regardless of why a patient begins to abuse alcohol, with frequent and/or excessive use, physiologic and psychologic drives develop until alcohol misuse ultimately takes on a life of its own that is independent of patient history and circumstance. Functional ability and quality of life become dually impacted by both underlying anxiety and depressive symptoms and co-morbid substance use issues. For patients with concurrent conditions, an effective treatment paradigm may require addressing the primacy of not only anxiety/depressive conditions but also of co-morbid substance use disorders. VA should consider augmenting services that address substance use disorders co-morbid with combat stress related illness for inclusion in a comprehensive program aimed at suicide prevention.

Enhanced Access to Mental Health Care – Treatments for mental health problems may take time to show effect. For example, antidepressant medication, when indicated, may take several weeks to several months to effect symptom reduction or remission. For some patients, treatment may necessitate multiple visits that occur consistently over time and may entail multiple modalities including individual and/or group evidence based psychotherapy, medication management, and/or readjustment counseling. Therefore, efforts that enhance patient access to appropriate treatment may help facilitate both patient engagement and the potential for treatment benefit.

For example, ongoing enhancements in the availability of mental health services at CBOCs may help mitigate vocational and logistical challenges facing some veterans residing in more rural areas who otherwise may have to travel longer distances to appointments at the parent VAMC.

In certain locations, the VA may want to consider expanding care during off-tour hours to increase the ability for some transitioning OIF/OEF veterans to access mental health treatment while minimizing interference with occupational, and/or educational obligations. This would be consistent with the recovery model for mental health treatment which emphasizes not only symptom reduction but also promotion and return to functional status.

Facilitating Early Family Involvement – Mental health symptoms can have a significant and disruptive impact on family and domestic relationships. Relational discord has been cited as one factor associated with suicide in active duty military and returning veterans. In addition, some studies indicate that family involvement in a patient’s treatment may enhance the ability for some patients to maintain treatment adherence. VA should consider efforts to bolster early family participation in patient treatment.

Coordination between VHA and Non-VHA Providers – When patients receive mental health treatment from both VHA and non-VHA providers, seamless communication becomes an increasingly complex challenge. This fragmentation of care is particularly worrisome in periods of patient destabilization or following discharge from a hospital or residential mental health program. VA’s Office of Mental Health Services should consider development of innovative methods or procedures to facilitate flow of information for patients receiving simultaneous treatment from VA and non-VA providers while adhering to relevant privacy statutes. In addition, VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service and VA’s Office of Patient Care Services should pursue further efforts to heighten communication and record sharing for patients receiving both counseling at Vet Centers and treatment at VAMCs and/or affiliated CBOCs.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for this opportunity to testify. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you or other Members of the Committee may have.

Here are some more links to the hearing

Opening Statements
Hon. Bob Filner Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Hon. Steve Buyer, Ranking Repubican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana
Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota
Hon. Harry E. Mitchell, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona
Hon. Shelley Berkeley, a Representative in Congress from the State of Nevada
Hon. Jeff Miller, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida
Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida
Hon. Timothy J. Walz, a Representative in Congress from the State of Minnesota
Hon. James P. Moran, a Representative in Congress from the State of Virginia
Witness Testimonies
Panel 1
The Honorable James B Peake M.D., The Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Accompanied By:
Gerald Cross, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration
Ira Katz M.D., Deputy Chief Patient Care Services Officer for Mental Health, Veterans Health Administration
Panel 2
Stephen L Rathbun Ph.D., Interim Head & Associate Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Georgia
M. David Rudd Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University
Ronald Wm. Maris Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina

Marine dies in non-combat incident in Iraq

Marine dies in non-combat incident in Iraq
5 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. military says a Marine has died in a non-combat related incident in Iraq.

The announcement pushes the monthly American death toll to 21 as May draws to a close. It's the lowest number since February 2004, when 20 troop deaths were recorded.

That's according to an Associated Press tally based on military figures.

The brief military statement says the Multi-National Force — West Marine died on Friday and the incident is under investigation. It doesn't give a location but the division operates west of Baghdad, primarily in the Anbar province.

Agent Orange, the killer that keeps killing
Vietnam Vets, Experts Urge Government to Do More for Agent Orange Victims
Friday, May 16, 2008 : infoZine Staff - by Michele Byrd
One day before the 33rd anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, one of the war's most controversial subjects - Agent Orange - is still the subject of debate.

Washington, D.C. - Scripps Howard Foundation Wire - infoZine - At a hearing Thursday before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, witnesses said the U.S. needs to spend more money to help victims of the toxic defoliant, some of whom are the grandchildren of U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese who were exposed.

Agent Orange is a weed killer used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War to destroy the jungle providing cover for the Vietcong, Communist guerillas who fought against the United States. It contains the chemical dioxin, which can cause reproductive problems, birth defects, cancer and other diseases.Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, head of the Women's Health Department at Ho Chi Minh City Medical University in Vietnam, recounted her experiences delivering children to mothers exposed to Agent Orange since the late 1960s.

"When I was an intern, I delivered a severely deformed baby with no brain and no limbs," she said. "Since then, every day or two, I have witnessed such birth defects and mothers' sufferings."Scot Marciel the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Asian affairs, testified that the U.S. government is cooperating with the Vietnamese government to provide at least $3 million for "environmental remediation and health activities" at "hot spots" in Vietnam.

Delegate Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, chairman of the subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, said there are at least a million victims, meaning the government is spending only $3 on each.Richard Weidman, executive director for policy and government affairs of Vietnam Veterans of America, said the federal government hasn't done enough research to help U.S. war veterans while it was helping Vietnam rebuild and improve health care.

"While we wish the Vietnamese people all the best with their problems due to Agent Orange," Weidman's written statement said, "it is a fact that American veterans of Vietnam, and our families, are being cast aside by the way things have developed in the past seven years or so."Marciel said that the United States does not recognize legal liability for the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam and neighboring countries, citing a lack of scientific evidence."We continue to stress that the discussions of the effects of Agent Orange need to be based on credible scientific research that meets international standards," he said.

Faleomavaega disagreed with the U.S. position on legal liability, but he said it is not about finger pointing."It's there, and we should find a solution," he said.According to several witnesses, that solution begins with the allocation of more money and legislation aimed at cleaning up the environment and addressing the health issues of both Vietnamese people and U.S. Vietnam veterans. However, they said the hearing is just the first step."We're building a record. We've barely even started," Faleomavaega said. "I'm very hopeful that whoever the next president is going to be will pay more attention to this."

500,000 at Camp LeJeune may have been exposed to tainted water

May 28, Associated Press – ( North Carolina )

Money dispute threatens toxic tap water study. Continuation of a long-running government study on whether contaminated water harmed babies at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, hinges on a half-million-dollar payment that is due Sunday. The Marines estimate that 500,000 Camp LeJeune residents may have been exposed to the tainted water, including thousands of Vietnam-bound Marines. Federal health investigators estimate the number is higher.

The U.S. health agency conducting the study, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said its research would be jeopardized if the Navy does not pay $522,000 to keep the study going beyond Sunday.

Health problems blamed on Camp LeJeune ’s contaminated water were the focus of reporting by the Associated Press in June 2007 and congressional oversight hearings.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Strange case of Pvt. Jeremiah W. Carmack

Details surrounding soldier’s death emerge
GI’s odd behavior, procedural errors revealed in report released by Army
By Kevin Dougherty, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Saturday, May 31, 2008

His relationship with the girl of his dreams was on the rocks. He attempts suicide, but fails. Then he learns his own roommate is dating his dream girl, and things are serious between them.

"I’m going to kill you," Army Pvt. Jeremiah W. Carmack reportedly said to the pair March 8 as they prepared to drive away from him and the Bamberg PX.

Five days later, Carmack is standing in his dream girl’s home, in the shadows, brandishing an Army rifle. She doesn’t notice him until she is on the phone with her new beau. The boyfriend hears her pleading, and then the line goes dead.

In an Army 15-6 investigation report released Friday, the Army said Carmack acted with premeditation when he took a weapon off post in Schweinfurt and drove to his former girlfriend’s house. After briefly taking her hostage, German police fatally shot Carmack in a nearby field a few hours later when he leveled his gun at them.

The purpose of the report was to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding Carmack’s death, particularly how he managed to smuggle the M-4 carbine and ammunition off of Conn Barracks. While not a criminal investigation — that is being handled by German authorities — the investigating officer determined that Pvt. Carmack acted in a premeditated manner," according to a V Corps news release.

"The investigation also revealed procedural errors in the unit’s arms room and in the management of Pvt. Carmack’s personal information," the release stated.

Citing current Defense Department policy, the report does not identify the investigating officer by name, or anyone else for that matter, including Carmack and the more than 20 people interviewed.

According to his uncle, Carmack evidently struck a superior, which probably explains why he left with the rank of private in January 2003.

Last July, Carmack was allowed to enlist a third time, despite a previous finding that found him "not qualified for continued service." The report indicated a doctor with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command granted Carmack a medical waiver. There was also mention made of Carmack attending anger management courses.

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Rep. Steve Buyer kills bill to protect deployed in child custody cases

Bill would safeguard child custody rights

Measure dropped from ’08 defense act
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday May 30, 2008 16:50:39 EDT

A controversial measure that would protect deployed service members from losing custody of their children because of their military service was approved by the House in a pile of veterans-related bills passed in a pre-Memorial Day rush.

The bill, HR 6048, is a response to several cases in which state courts changed service members’ child custody arrangements, sometimes without notice, while the members were deployed.

“Many cases have come to light where service members who have been deployed have had their military service used against them in custody hearings,” said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, the chief sponsor of the bill, which would amend legal protections in the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

“Recently, my office learned about a service member who, during her custody proceeding, was told by a judge that the mere possibility of her deployment weighed against the best interests of the child in denying her custody,” Turner said.

“Much is asked of our service members, and mobilization can disrupt and strain relationships at home,” he said.

His bill, he said, would provide them “peace of mind that courts will not take away their children” while they are deployed.

Other bills passed by the House would:

• Provide the annual cost-of-living adjustment in veterans benefits in December.

• Authorize construction and renovation of veterans facilities.

• Expand substance-abuse treatment and counseling for veterans.

• Ensure the housing needs of disabled veterans are met.

• Study the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation programs.

• Authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to advertise in national media to inform veterans about benefits for which they may be eligible.
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Camp Pendleton Marines deserve better

BRETT: Shutting out help at Camp Pendleton
For the North County Times Friday, May 30, 2008 2:27 PM PDT

In a June 19 interview, Camp Pendleton's Lt. Gen. James Mattis described what Marines experienced in Iraq as being "the most morally bruising kind of combat you could ever be in."

Yet in July, base officials claimed that less than 1 percent of its troops were suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In August, I interviewed Dr. Dennis Reeves, retired Navy commander, neuropsychologist and former head of mental health at Camp Pendleton's Naval Hospital, who spoke about a "human tsunami" of men and women returning with undetected and unreported post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It is impossible to return from multiple deployments and not be seriously affected," he said. "Their nervous system is drastically altered, their emotions are out of control and a variety of symptoms begin to emerge: a need for high-risk activities, self-medicating with alcohol to take away some of the anxiety; or they're isolated, depressed and numb and wanting to recapture the adrenaline rush of combat."

That same week, when I learned that 19 Marines had died in motorcycle crashes during the year, I asked Camp Pendleton's base safety officer Charles Roberts to what he attributed the sharp increase in Marine motorcycle fatalities. "No one knows why the number of motorcycle fatalities is going up," he said.

When I asked whether it might be linked to troops returning from combat, he said the base had no way of tracking it. Neither is there any way of tracking how many Marines have been involved in motorcycle accidents that have ended in serious injuries, he said.

With this reluctance to either disclose or face the truth, perhaps it should come as no surprise that a letter from a base chaplain was circulated to his colleagues last year, strongly discouraging the attendance at the 15th Annual International Civilian and Military Combat Stress Conference founded by Dr. Bart Billings, a retired colonel who served in the first Persian Gulf War.

The reason: Billings' "advocacy" for Critical Incident Stress Management, the letter said, "runs contrary ... to USMC combat stress control practice." Despite the discouragement, the conference ran and I was able to attend part of it. I gathered a wealth of information from a wide range of speakers and experts, not only about combat stress but traumatic brain injury, domestic violence, substance abuse and other issues facing today's service members and their families.

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I left this comment

I am posting a link to this on my blog. I've been working on PTSD for over 25 years and tracking just about everything going on with it all this time, as well as living with my husband. He's a Vietnam vet with PTSD. He's the reason I got into all of this.

I am also a Senior Ordained Certified Chaplain with the International Fellowship of Chaplains. I can tell you that CISM, Critical Incident Stress Management, is one of the pieces of training Chaplains receive that is highly regarded. It is used when we work with police officers, firefighters, emergency responders and individuals after trauma. All of the organizations use it because it works. Even the Army is using it in Iraq and Afghanistan when they rush in response teams after hard fought battles. The problem is there are not enough of them to go around.

To read about a Chaplain discouraging this is appalling and removes a critical tool from their efforts to alleviate the suffering that will follow when this is not done. All experts agree the sooner trauma is addressed the wound is stopped from getting worse. The Marines deserve better than this kind of attitude.

How is this possible? Given what the rest of the crisis responders know across the nation, what the emergency responders know, the police departments know and what the fire departments know, how can it be the military does not have a clue? How can a Chaplain even think it's a good thing to discourage CISM? It's what we train with! It's part of who we are to be able to respond to traumatic events in order to minimize the wake of effects on the survivors and care givers.

Some of us work with the victims. Some of us work with the responders. Each one of us are able to provide the assistance as we are called to do. I'm beginning to think the military brass needs a few training lessons in this to be able to understand how important it is. The Marines at Pendleton deserved so much more than this kind of response to their needs. This is a time when every resource at our disposal needs to be in place yet attitudes and rules get in the way of healing.

These are the requirements for a VA Chaplain,,,needless to say, I would not qualify even though I've been doing this work for 25 years!


To qualify for VA Chaplaincy, you must have completed 2 units of CPE, or have equivalent training. Units of CPE completed and certified by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, The National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy count toward this requirement.

Equivalent training is not less than 800 hours of supervised ministry in a health care setting, such as a hospital or nursing home, which incorporated both ministry formation and pastoral care skills development.

To be considered equivalent to CPE, training must include the following components:

1. It must be a formal educational program, with curriculum, theological reflection, and evaluation components, which includes a component of performing health care ministry.

2. The program must include 400 hours of supervised education, training and ministry for equivalency to one unit of CPE.

3. The educational supervisor(s), preceptor(s), teacher(s), or coach/mentor(s), responsible for the program must be qualified to provide the supervision.

4. The educational model must include an action/reflection component (that may vary from one program to another) that may have included but not be limited to: verbatims, case conferences, worship seminars, spiritual assessments, theological reflection, and group process.

In describing supervised ministry that you would like to be considered as “equivalent training” please include the following information for each period of training

• The beginning and ending dates of training

• The name and location of the institution(s) in which the supervised ministry was performed

• The name(s) and title(s) of the educational supervisor(s)/instructor(s)

• The total number of hours of performance of ministry, classroom or didactics, and individual meetings with the supervisor/instructor

This is a sample of what is required for Police Chaplains
Police/Fire Chaplains Requirements

For Chaplaincy Applicants
Download application for ecclesiastical approval or endorsement in the following ministries:

Institutional/Occupational Chaplaincy Application

These forms (in PDF format) require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view, fill-in, and print the forms. Please sign and return completed forms, discussion materials, $45 application fee and a current professional quality photo (4x6 or 5x7). Remember to have official transcripts from all colleges and seminaries sent to us as well.

Police/Fire Chaplaincy Requirements

Chaplains serving with fire and police departments often work alongside the fire fighters and police officers they minister to in situations that threaten their own safety. These chaplains also minister to victims and families of those in trauma situations. Today, more than ever, these people need spiritual guidance, counseling for themselves and their families, and assistance coping with stressful occupations.

Ecclesiastical Endorsement

Ecclesiastical endorsement is the written acknowledgement by a faith group/denomination that an individual is in good standing and meets the qualifications for clergy credentials with their faith group/denomination. Generally speaking, major institutions, federal/state correctional systems, and healthcare facilities require that chaplains and pastoral counselors have the endorsement of their respective faith group/denomination. At the May 2004 meeting of the Commission on Chaplains adopted the following criteria for endorsement.

2 years pastoral experience
MDIV (or its equivalent) with an institution accredited with Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
4 Units of CPE preferred, amount determined by hiring agency
Active, full-time paid chaplaincy position
Eligible for certification with professional organization
References including one from their District
Background check
Credit check
Approval by Endorser
Interview with the Commission on Chaplains

2 years pastoral experience
Education as required by hiring agency
CPE as required by hiring agency
Be an active, paid chaplain working full or part time in a chaplaincy ministry.
References including one from their District
Background check
Credit check
Approval by Endorser
Interview with the Commission on Chaplains

BASIC CHAPLAINCY ENDORSEMENT General Council or District level credentials
Ministry experience
Education as required by hiring agency
References including one from their District
Background check
Credit check
Personal interview with a representative of the Department
Approval given by endorser
Ratification by Commission on Chaplains

Police and Fire Chaplaincy

Police and fire department chaplains should generally meet the following requirements. However, it is understood that all police and fire departments do not require their chaplains to meet these qualifications.

Credentialed by the Assemblies of God.
Two years of ministry with experience in conducting: baptisms, communion services, weddings, funerals, and death notifications.
Willingness to provide spiritual support for individuals of all faiths.
Make application to the National Chaplaincy Department for Endorsement. Level of endorsement is determined by the Chaplaincy Department and is based upon education, ministerial credentials, and employment status. (See Endorsement Levels.)
Interview with Commission on Chaplains or Chaplaincy Representative, depending on Endorsement Level.

War-zone nurses put their skills on the front line

Sunday, May 25, 2008
Angels of the battlefield

War-zone nurses put their skills on the front line


Severely injured with a tunneling wound through his liver, the Marine lay sedated, clinging to life, in the intensive care unit at the 399th Combat Support Hospital in Al Asad, Iraq, under the care of U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Melinda A. Nekervis of Sterling.

“He ended up getting well over 100 different blood products,” said Lt. Nekervis, a soft-spoken Army ICU and flight nurse who returned in October from Mosul and Al Asad, Iraq. When everything but whole blood was exhausted, Lt. Nekervis asked if the Marines keeping vigil would donate their own.

“They were more than willing to do that,” she said. “We transfused the buddies’ blood into the patient. It was quite a moving experience. We were very lucky not to lose him. He was pretty sick. They had to do surgery right at the bedside, and he survived.”

Stabilized, the Marine was later sent to Germany aboard an Air Force medical evacuation flight.

“I know that the doctors, from the extent of his injuries, didn’t know if he would make it and what his deficits would be,” said Lt. Nekervis, 32, who in civilian life is a registered nurse working in intensive care at UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus.

“I had him for four long days,” she said. “I will never forget him, but he will never remember me.”

Military nurses in Iraq and Afghanistan are a critical link in a chain of medical care that has enabled more soldiers to survive injury than ever before in the nation’s history of warfare. In World War II, about 30 percent of soldiers died from wounds, a rate that fell to 24 percent in the Vietnam War. Since the start of combat seven years ago in Afghanistan, and since 2003 in Iraq, more than 32,000 service members have been wounded in action. Statistics recently released by the Department of Defense show that 4,579 have been killed in action or died under non-hostile conditions during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

But the survivability rate — the portion of people dying from wounds on these fronts — has fallen to about 10 percent.

“We are doing such a good job saving soldiers that there is a much higher rate of survival,” said Col. Andrea J. Wallen, chairperson of the Department of Nursing at Worcester State College and chief nurse with the 804th Medical Brigade at Devens, which oversees the 399th and 12 other medical units.

Nurses and military medical experts say the survival rate is higher because soldiers wear more and better equipment, and because medical help has been pushed closer to the battlefront and dispersed into smaller teams reaching more locations. More people are being trained in lifesaving procedures, specifically in response to trauma; surgery is done earlier; and better communication has allowed medical equipment and supplies to be quickly sent where needed.

But most important is the speed at which the wounded are attended.

People are moved in record time by helicopters, aircraft and specially fitted flying hospitals — in C-17s and KC-135s — to higher-level or more specialized care in Germany and the United States, including Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, known for its burn center.

“The goal was to get the critically injured to Landstuhl (Regional Medical Center) in Germany within 72 hours,” said Lt. Nekervis, who also logged 50 hours of retrieving and nursing the wounded aboard a Blackhawk helicopter medevac air ambulance and earned a Bronze Star Medal for her service.

Much as Civil War soldiers called Oxford’s Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, “angel of the battlefield” for care she gave the injured in makeshift hospitals close to the battlefront, military nurses, often working under fire, help make the difference between life and death. Most are in the National Guard or Reserve on deployment from hospital and health care jobs. These weapons-carrying nurses, wearing Kevlar body armor, helmets and dressed in desert fatigues, are combat-ready professionals who, faced with the terrible consequences to flesh and bone of roadside bombs, guns and rockets, save lives under challenging conditions and at risk to their own safety.

Many have been deployed several times; most would go again in a moment.

“Battlefield nursing is about service, and if you can serve your country, make a difference and be a powerful force on the battlefield helping people, that is life-changing,” said Col. Bruce A. Schoneboom, a nurse anesthetist and acting dean of the Graduate School of Nursing of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. The school specializes in military and public health medicine and trains people for battlefield medicine in Iraq and Afghanistan.
go here for more

500,000 PTSD cases? Not even close but half way there.

Report: More Army Troops, Vets Committing Suicide

The following is a transcript of a report by medical editor Marilyn Brooks that first aired May 29, 2008, on WTAE Channel 4 Action News at 5 p.m.

Disturbing details released by the Pentagon show the number of U.S. Army troops committing suicide is at a 20-year high.

Pentagon reports said 108 soldiers took their own lives in 2007, which was six more than 2006. About a quarter of those deaths occurred in Iraq, too.

But its not just active duty soldiers that are taking their own lives. National Guard and reserve troops are as well.

The need for help in the emerging mental health crisis is high, but the military is short on therapists and must rely on outside help

"We've deployed a million and a half men and women to the global conflicts around the world," said Dr. Mary Davis of the American Psychiatric Society. "Maybe up to 500,000 individuals are going to have mental health issues when they return."

Thousands of private counselors are offering free services to returning troops. They said America's armed forces and veterans need help coping with depression, family, marital and job problems and suicide on a scale not seen since Vietnam.

"We must expand mental health services for both military and dependants for their spouses, for the families," said Dr. Richard Harding of the American Psychiatric Foundation. "It's something we just have to do."

go here for more
500,000? Nope, not even close. Try double it. They need to use the data from Vietnam and then increase it to cover the redeployments and then they may come up with the right number. By 1978 a DAV study had already reached 500,000. The numbers went up after the study was published, as they predicted it would. Last year alone, a report came out that there were 148,000 Vietnam veterans seeking help for PTSD in an 18 month window from 2006-2007. In 1986 a report came out that 117,000 Vietnam veterans had committed suicide. Other studies put the number between 150,000 and 200,000. The experts need to start using what we already know so history will not be repeated.

Sgt. First Class Jason Dene "was in no shape to return to the war."

Family Mourns Loss Of Soldier From Vermont

The Department of Defense said Thursday Army Sgt. First Class Jason Dene died in his sleep Saturday while serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.

His aunt and uncle told Newschannel Five the soldier was in no shape to return to the war. They say Dene was depressed after being injured by a roadside bomb last summer.

His uncle, Patrick Farrow, published a letter in the Rutland Herald expressing his anger with the Bush administration.

Dene is also the nephew of actress Mia Farrow, who wrote on her web site about Dene and her disatisfaction with the war.

go here for more

PTSD:Fix Tri-Care or hire more VA doctors

Military Insurance Falls Short on Mental Health Care

Halimah Abdullah

McClatchy Newspapers

May 29, 2008
May 28, 2008, Washington, DC - Across America, soldiers, veterans and their families are running into red tape and roadblocks when they try to use their military insurance to get treatment for ailments such as post traumatic stress disorder.

Since 2003, some 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD. The number of cases rose by roughly 50 percent in 2007, according to Pentagon statistics released Tuesday.

The deployment of hundreds of doctors and therapists to Iraq and Afghanistan and the shortage of military health care providers has forced patients at U.S. installations to wait for months for appointments — and longer if they need to see a specialist, according to advocacy groups for members of the military and their families.

Meanwhile, civilian doctors and psychiatrists say they're often faced with tough decisions about whether to turn away patients on Tricare, the Defense Department program that insures 9.2 million current and former service members and their dependents, because its reimbursement rates are low and its claims process is cumbersome.

Others volunteer their time and services rather than navigate Tricare's red tape for what may ultimately prove to be a small reimbursement for services.

"We do have a lot of doctors who are seeing Tricare patients almost on a pro bono basis because they care and for the love of their country. But it's easier to do that if it's a dozen patients than if there are 100 patients," said Steve Strobridge, the director of government relations at Military Officers Association of America.

Tricare's reimbursement rate are linked to Medicare levels. Health care providers who treat patients on both programs will take a 10 percent pay cut on July 1 and a second, 5 percent, pay cut on Jan. 1, 2009.
go here for more

Clinton not first woman to run, that happened in 1870

“There is no escaping the fact that the principle by which the male citizens of these United States assume to rule the female citizens is not that of self-government, but that of despotism…

King George III and his Parliament denied our forefathers the right to make their own laws; they rebelled, and being successful, inaugurated this government. But men do not seem to comprehend that they are now pursuing toward women the same despotic course that King George pursued toward the American colonies”

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, from her speech And the Truth Shall Make You Free: A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom, 1871

The first woman to declare herself as a candidate for president, Woodhull announced her run on April 2, 1870, by sending a notice to the New York Herald. This was an absolutely astounding thing to do: women only recently received the right to vote in the two relatively obscure territories of Wyoming and Utah, and it would be another fifty years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment that assured the ballot to all American women. Moreover, she took this step without contacting any leading suffragists, who by then had been well organized for more than two decades. Susan B. Anthony and others were stunned by the action of this controversial woman, whose “open marriage” was the talk of New York City.

The next presidential election was two years away, and Woodhull used this time to bring attention to women’s issues, including the right to vote. Undaunted by the fact that women could not vote and that she was not yet old enough to legally become president, Woodhull traveled the country campaigning. Her speeches not only advocated the vote, but also birth control, “free love,” and other positions that were a century ahead of her time. Many listeners were surprised to find themselves more sympathetic than they had expected: her beauty, soft voice, and reasoned arguments took the edge off of such shocking statements as her belief that marriage was “legalized prostitution.”

Woodhull and her sister, Tennie C., were in jail, however, when the 1872 presidential election occurred. Because they wanted to draw attention to the era’s hypocrisy on sexual matters, their newspaper published the facts about an adulterous affair between the nationally popular Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and a leader of the women’s movement, Elizabeth Tilton. It was true, but not politically correct, and the sisters were indicted for both libel and obscenity. The charges eventually were dropped, but the scandal was enough to end Woodhull's presidential aspirations, as she spent election day in jail.

Click here to read more interesting information on Victoria Woodhull

The only reason I know this is playday is today and we went to the Hall of Fame President's Museum in Clermont today. The tour guide pointed to her picture. This makes me wonder why all of the historians in the media have not mentioned her name in all of this. There were a lot of women who ran for president. Click above for more of them.

Russian army: nearly a battalion a year commit suicide

Every nation, every generation, faces traumas that cause suicide. The world needs to deal with this and it is one thing that the world can come together on.

Russian army: nearly a battalion a year commit suicide

May 29, 2008, 15:41 GMT

Moscow - The Russian army lost near a battalion, 341 servicemen, last year to suicide, the chief military prosecutor said Thursday.

'Almost a battalion of servicemen was lost last year,' chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky was quoted by Interfax as saying at a news conference in Moscow.

Fridinsky called for 'urgent reforms,' saying that though the total number of suicides had fallen 14 per cent from 2006 it had risen as a proportion of non-combat losses.

'We cannot but worry that suicides make more than half of all non- combat losses,' he stressed.

Violent hazing of conscripts by older soldiers, experts say, is the main cause of high the suicide rate.

The army began addressing bullying in 2005 when the media gave wide coverage to the case of Private Andrei Sychyov, who had his genitals and legs amputated after being beaten and tortured by older soldiers on New Year's Eve.

Top military brass have repeatedly vowed to fight high suicide numbers that have caused embarrassment to the army, which flush with state money is working on reforms after being stripped of resources at the end Soviet Union.

The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, which campaigns for the rights of Russian servicemen and their families, however, said hazing was difficult to abolish because it is tolerated by army superiors as part of the same experience they lived through as recruits.

'Since Stalin's times nothing has changed: a single soldier does not count for anything,' committee head Valentina Melnikova told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Capt. Luis Montalvan PTSD for 17 years of service

After returning from two tours of duty in Iraq, Capt. Luis Montalvan is the highest ranking member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Despite post-traumatic stress disorder, he is campaigning to expose the Iraq War's grim realities. He has been branded a coward and traitor, but this recipient of the Purple Heart is on a mission to expose what he calls "incompetent" leadership in the highest ranks of the military.
Watch the video below on the side bar of this blog.

Capt. Luis Montalvan's site

This site is created to chronicle my experiences, both in Iraq and in the United States, ever since the Iraq War began. It's also part of an ongoing effort, including recent articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post, to distinguish the truths about the War in Iraq from the demoralizing and damaging illusions that obscure its realities. Those realities include a significant number of American leaders who have compromised our national security to further their own self-serving agendas. The resources here are dedicated to the memories of Iraqi and American patriots who sacrificed all for duty, honor and country and for the many civilians who have suffered.

May we never forget that for virtue and humanism to prevail, deeds must follow thoughts and words. Citizens must stand and speak their minds to hold those leaders accountable for their actions. Indeed, that is the only way we will ever hope to have a society that reflects our principles and ideals.

17 Years of service, medals and now he's called traitor.

VA retaliated against employees who did not comply with denials

CREW and VoteVets to VA Inspector General: Investigate PTSD Misdiagnoses; "This practice is widespread and systemic."
Submitted by crew on 28 May 2008 - 11:42am. PTSD Veterans Affairs
CREW and requested that the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) open an investigation into the process and manner by which the VA makes a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. The letter to the VA, which we sent today, can be found here.

In the wake of the disclosure by CREW and of an internal VA e-mail advising VA mental health staff in Texas to consider a diagnosis of adjustment disorder in place of a PTSD diagnosis as a cost-cutting measure, both organizations have received new information from VA employees and veterans attesting to the fact that this practice is widespread and systemic. VA Secretary James Peake has repudiated the email as not reflecting VA policy.

The VA has adopted incentive programs that, by rewarding those employees and hospitals that distribute lower levels of compensation to veterans, encourage adjustment disorder diagnoses rather than the most appropriate but also more costly diagnosis of PTSD.

In addition, the VA's internal computer system permits medical files to be changed by health professionals who did not conduct the initial examinations, a practice that appears to have resulted in changed diagnoses from PTSD to adjustment disorder, even where there is no additional medical evidence to support the downgraded diagnoses.

CREW and also heard from VA employees who suffered retaliation for their failure to support these practices.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said:

It is unconscionable that the VA would actively encourage its staff, through monetary incentives, to misdiagnose our veterans’ mental health. Add to that the mind-boggling disclosure that medical files can be altered to downgrade service members’ conditions, and we have a VA that is betraying those it is supposed to serve. The VA Inspector General must spearhead an investigation into these abhorrent practices immediately.

Jon Soltz, Iraq War vet and Chair of, added this statement:

Despite what Secretary Peake said, the misdiagnoses being encouraged at the Temple, TX VA Center were not an isolated incident. The only question now is: How widespread is this, and how high up does the problem go? Those of us who served this nation in war deserve to have full confidence in the programs set up to help transition us back to civilian life. These new revelations personally give me zero confidence in the mental health screening and care system the VA oversees.

On May 14th, CREW also sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the VA asking for all records pertaining to any guidance given regarding the diagnosis of PTSD.

While it sickens me greatly reading this from CREW and Vote Vets, I have to admit it does not shock me. How could it? Given the fact the DOD is still using Battlemind, which has been proven to be of little good if at all, along with everything else going on, it appears to have been lip service in support of the wound and then sharpening the knife to stab them in the back.

According to the BBC report, the new arrivals in Iraq and Afghanistan are shown Battlemind for "11 1/2 minutes to learn about the psychological impact" as if that is supposed to prepare them for anything. Why is this not working? Simply because it is no good. The rate of suicides has gone up since they began to use it, not only while actively deployed, but the suicide rate has gone up back home as well. What they are doing is not working. If it was, then the rates would drop, not go higher.

Now we learn from the investigations like this one from CREW and Vote Vets, the law suit filed by Veterans For Common Sense, this has all be a fraudulent claim of care. How dare they not only deceive the American people, but further damage the troops as well?

Female veterans are told they will not receive the treatment they need because "they cannot afford the money" when the senate said they would have funded even more if they had known there was a problem.

Dominic DiNatale did the report for the BBC from Afghanistan. He interviewed Sgt. Bruce Cantral, a medic on his 4th deployment between Iraq and Afghanistan, at Bagram Air Base. The Sgt. has already been diagnosed with PTSD and is on a mix of medication and therapy.

Back to Battlemind, again, while only in country a few hours, the new arrivals have to spend two days worth of briefings, which include a lousy 11 1/2 minutes of Battlemind, to prepare them for the psychological impact of war. A very lame attempt to prepare them for the fact 1 in 5 will develop PTSD in theater and later half of those deployed will develop it later.

There are now combat stress teams being airlifted in to try to face this crisis. Yet there are not enough of them. A case in point comes from Fort Warrior.

At a chapel in Afghanistan's Fort Warrior, Chaplain Hill recounts a unit that had been through a terrible fight and arrived at the chapel still covered in blood.

While many will have to live with PTSD, there is also combat stress that is immediate and happens under extreme stress. How is 11 1/2 minute going to prepare them for any of this?

Physical and psychological conditions do not seem to matter as long as they can get them back into combat. This again will only harm them further. The "relentless deployments" and stop loss add to the development of PTSD. This the Army knew years ago, yet the warning fell on deaf ears.

DiNatale tried to interviews at FOB Warrior, but the commander told him that he thought it would harm the careers of anyone he interviewed. Imagine that a commander still thinks it will harm the careers of his men if they talked about being human. Yes, this still exists and give the above report from CREW, it is alive and well no matter how much reassurance the public is given that this attitude no longer lives in the minds of those in charge.

One last thing came in the last few minutes of this report. Congressman Filner was interviewed. He stated that 1/3 of the already diagnosed have committed felonies and there have been 200 homicides, mostly committed against family members.

Go here and watch the interview for yourself and see how seriously this all needs to be taken.

Now you can see that the troops are not getting what they need while deployed and then are greeted with more of the same from the VA afterward. Yet they seem so surprised there is such a huge problem. The right-wing bloggers are attacking the media and Peake is telling them that the problems reported are overblown!

Senior 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

Miracle Drug, Poison or Placebo?

Miracle Drug, Poison or Placebo?
Do antidepressants work?
Effectiveness may vary from person to person
By Maia Szalavitz for MSN Health & Fitness

Modern antidepressants have been blamed for deadly shooting rampages and violent suicides. At the same time, they’ve been hailed as miracle drugs that transform baleful Eeyore-types into bouncing Tiggers.

Now the latest review of the research claims that the effects of the drugs are only marginally different from those of placebos or sugar pills.

It seems impossible that the same substances in the same dosage ranges could simultaneously be poison, miracle drug and placebo. But the diversity of responses is remarkable—and it points to the possibilities and pitfalls of personalized medicine.

For example, Stacy*, a 48-year-old woman who works in public relations in Ohio, describes her experience with Zoloft like this: “It felt like water after being in the desert. It wasn't an experience of elation or anything bi-polar … I'm far happier, more confident, far more relaxed.”

Lisa*, a 33-year-old business consultant from Maryland, had experienced severe suicidal thoughts as early as kindergarten. She says of taking Effexor, “My entire life is different and I finally feel like a normal person with normal emotions. These days I can honestly say I am a happy, well adjusted person.”

But JoAnne*, a 35 year-old educator and dancer living in the Washington, D.C. area, reported that both Zoloft and Prozac produced muscle weakness and excessive sweating—and no benefits.

And Bernice*, a 53-year-old science journalist in California, described her experience with a Prozac-like antidepressant this way: “It made me feel disconnected from myself and my family, so that I no longer felt any empathy and did not really care what happened to them or to me. It was a terrifying sensation of flatness and I definitely felt depressed and hostile in a way that I had never felt before.”

Bizarre experiences abound as well: Bernice had “a vivid nightmare of being shot in the head,” and the sensation she felt of dripping blood did not immediately disappear on awakening. Others report elimination of sexual desire, weight loss, weight gain, heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure.

go here for more

Lip service for PTSD From Peake and Stevens

VA: PTSD and TBI "Overblown"; Like "Football" Injuries
by Brandon Friedman
Tue May 27, 2008 at 03:38:47 PM PDT
VA Secretary James Peake continued to show little respect for the service of America’s newest veterans yesterday by dismissing concerns about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking alongside Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) in a remote Alaskan village, Peake first used the word "overblown" when discussing PTSD and TBI and then made a "football" comparison.
go here for more

Maybe Peake thinks this is a game, like high school football, and maybe he thinks it's overblown but what he fails to see is that THIS IS HIS JOB! It's his job to take care of the men and women who are risking their lives, and I don't mean just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but still risking them when they come home. What the hell is wrong with this administration? How can they take such a callous attitude when they could be saving lives? What about getting ahead of the curve instead of being stuck out waiting behind the opponents goal post? That is what they have been doing. They are supporting the enemy by ignoring PTSD and TBI, attempting to minimize this crisis instead of doing something about it. Sure they can say they take all of this very seriously when they are in front of congress with the cameras rolling, pretending to really give a crap about what's going on, but when you get right down to it, they have a totally different attitude when they are in front of their base. It shows!

It shows when the suicide rate goes up instead of down this long into all the reports of what they have supposedly been doing to address the crisis. It shows when there are still far too many waiting for appointments, for claims to be processed and approved, when workers have not all been hired, when psychologist have to donate their time to address this without pay because the VA is not able to deal with any of this. Given the tone from Peake it's obvious why all the problems are still ongoing. Overblown!!!! He called it overblown and the right wing bloggers have jumped on board this fantasy flight claiming the media is playing it all up instead of looking at the facts. This is a national disgrace but they take it as a slam against their hero Bush when the real heroes are dying for their attention.

Tim Bowman's boots painted white for battle he fought at home

Parents of National Guard Soldier Trying to Open Eyes to Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran Suicides

Mark Brown

Chicago Sun-Times

May 28, 2008

May 25, 2008 - Timothy Bowman, 23, had been back from Illinois National Guard duty in Iraq for eight months when he drove to his father's electrical contracting business on Thanksgiving Day 2005, got a gun and shot himself in the head.

Last week, his parents, Mike and Kim Bowman, made the 85-mile drive to Chicago from their home in Downstate Forreston to try to save other military families from experiencing the pain they have endured every day since.

Nobody can tell you definitively how many men and women have committed suicide since returning home from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Bowmans can tell you for a dead certainty that it is too many and that we're not doing enough to prevent the next one.

On Friday, the Bowmans added a pair of their son's combat boots to the American Friends Service Committee's "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit, which already displayed 144 pairs of boots representing Illinois' official war dead.

Timothy Bowman's boots were painted white to symbolize a too-often-overlooked group of casualties from the war -- those who have taken their own lives.

go here for more

Feb. 2007
Timothy Bowman committed suicide during Thanksgiving 2005 after returning from Iraq.

When Timothy Bowman committed suicide, or Jonathan Schulze committed suicide, or any of the others including this un-named one, it is easy to understand there are a lot more we will never hear about.Un-named storyUS Marine commits suicide in ‘Amiriyat al-Fallujah Sunday.The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that a US Marine took his own life by putting a bullet through his head on Sunday morning near the city of al-Fallujah, according to a local police source.“Early in the morning, a marine took the pistol of an Iraq policeman in the police station of ‘Amriyat al-Fallujah, just south of al-Fallujah, and put a bullet in his head,’ the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

“The soldier uttered words saying he was sad and miserable,” the source said.We didn't' hear most of the stories when they came home from Vietnam. We didn't hear the stories of how they could not get into the VA or the ones who did not know they brought the war back home with them. The difference is the net.

When you think of the word "net" wouldn't it be wonderful if it actually worked like one?I don't know that much about how this all works but there has to be someone out there with the knowledge, talent and time to put the resources together in one place. They should be able to find the information in one place and this place should be well advertised. I have a long list of links and sites I go into all the time and still too much gets missed.I get emails all the time from veterans and families dealing with PTSD finding my site by accident. There are a lot better sites than mine with a lot more information on them. So why do they have to find help on accident?

Would Tim Bowman have committed suicide if he knew where to get help? We know Jonathan knew where to get help but couldn't get to it. What if they knew right were to go to fill in the gaps until they could get to the VA?

We have the Army, Marines bearing most of the PTSD burden, but we also have the National Guard in large percentages all needing help. We have the Navy and the Air Force dealing with it as well. So why can't they all just go to one place for help?So come on bloggers! Come to the rescue here! Isn't that why we do what we do? To share information, to change the world into a better place, to help? Don't look to me to do it because I know very little about doing something like this other than I know it can be done and needs to be done. Bloggers have been doing the work of journalists for a very long time now so let's do it all the way. Turn the net into a safety net for our troops and veterans dealing with PTSD! They are dying for our attention!

The worst thing about all of this is that there have been too many put into a grave with wounds they received in combat and the lack of help they received back home. None of them are counted in the official death count.

War Illnesses Fester

War Illnesses Fester

By Thomas D. Williams
The Public Record
May 29, 2008

Favoured : 2

Published in : Nation/World

"The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own." - Aldous Huxley, English Writer

Ever since the Persian Gulf War 15 years ago, countless spokespersons for the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs have insisted they are intent upon giving hundreds of thousands of soldiers, veterans and war veterans the best medical care available.

Meanwhile, scores of US, United Nations and foreign politicians and military officials have constantly expressed immense concern for potentially millions of innocent civilian victims of the wars in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, relatively little has been done worldwide to track their deaths, console family survivors or obtain health care for the wounded, maimed and sick. The combined ill and the dead from those four wars are estimated in the millions with no exacting figures available. Knowledge about sicknesses caused by the war in Bosnia-Serbia is scarce.

And, what makes US and allied officials far more culpable is this. The environmental hazards foreign civilians and US and allied service members have been exposed to and sickened by are largely generated by US and allied bombings, munitions and even medicines aimed at protecting service members. They include: radioactive dust from depleted uranium munitions, deadly chemical warfare gases released by US bombings of Iraqi bunkers, oil well fires during the first Gulf War, pollution of European and Middle Eastern foreign air and water supplies from wartime explosions and fires, pesticides, fumes from specialized military vehicle paint, and disease carrying insects.

The Pentagon's and the British military's mandatory use of the controversial anthrax vaccine and other experimental drugs, including US use of pyridostigmine bromide pills to protect against gas attacks, on troops have resulted in thousands of adverse reactions, many serious ones, some even listed on drug labels as possible but not provable fatal reactions.

The air and water hazards have had untold deadly impacts on innocent civilians in both Europe and the Middle East for more than the past decade.

Here is but one lone example of the lack of emphasis on care for wounded or sick wartime civilians: "A survey of Medline (a database of medical and health-related research articles) for articles on the Gulf War revealed 368 articles that covered the health-related issues. Only 4 out of these 368 articles were on how the 1991 Gulf War affected the health of Iraqi people."

Yet, the International Red Cross reports these realities: "[Iraqi] Medical-legal facilities are struggling to cope with the rising influx of bodies, contending with insufficient capacity to store them properly or to systematically gather data on unidentified bodies in order to allow families to be informed of a relative's death. In 2006, an estimated 100 civilians were killed every day. Half of them remained unclaimed or unidentified. Thousands of unidentified bodies have thus been buried in designated cemeteries in Iraq. Meanwhile tens of thousands are being held in the custody of the Iraqi authorities and the multinational forces in Iraq. At the same time, tens of thousands of families remain without news of relatives who went missing during past and recent conflicts."

Today, after two wars in Iraq, one in Bosnia and another in Afghanistan, involving hundreds of thousands of US troops, neither the Pentagon nor the VA, by their own admissions, are close to giving thousands of soldiers and veterans even adequate health care for potentially deadly illnesses.
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Soldiers' fight persists post-war

Soldiers' fight persists post-war

Nearly half the US soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer some form of post-traumatic stress, according to the US military.

Now there are efforts to find new ways to deal with the 60,000 cases of combat-related stress diagnosed since the conflicts began.

Dominic Di-Natale reports from Afghanistan.
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They are still using BattleMind training when it does not work. It has not changed anything. More suicides and still too many do not seek treatment and when they do, some are still being told to "suck it up" and get over it.

War’s Stresses Take Toll on Military’s Chaplains

War’s Stresses Take Toll on Military’s Chaplains

Benjamin Sklar for The New York Times
Chaplain Richard Brunk watching as soldiers enter a briefing at Fort Hood, Tex., before they are sent to the Persian Gulf.

Published: May 29, 2008
KILLEEN, Tex. — On a recent morning, an Army chaplain, Lt. Col. Richard E. Brunk Jr., met with a suicidal soldier who had served in Iraq, drove across Fort Hood to greet 70 activated reservists, attended meetings on future deployments and then retreated to his computer to counsel members of his military flock around the world.

Finally, just before 4 a.m. the next day, after stealing an hour’s sleep, Chaplain Brunk stood on a tarmac shaking hands with soldiers bound for Iraq, murmuring words of encouragement and offering an occasional hug.

As a casualty of war himself, he knows what soldiers can experience. Injured in Iraq in January 2005, Chaplain Brunk suffers from moderate brain trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. “I’ve been really pushed to my limits and beyond,” he said. “At times, I’ve really wondered if I could get through.”

Just as it has claimed so many other members of the military, the war in Iraq has taken a toll on chaplains. Although they do not engage in combat, chaplains face the perils of war as they move around Iraq to visit troops. None have been killed, but some, like Chaplain Brunk, have been wounded. Many report post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress problems.

In the past year, the Army has begun to recognize those problems among chaplains and is ensuring that those suffering from stress disorders receive medical treatment at military hospitals.

The Army’s chief of chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver, has mandated that every military installation offer programs to ensure the mental well being of its chaplains. A spiritual center will open this summer at the chaplain training headquarters at Fort Jackson, S.C., and chaplains will be invited to retreats.

“We are doing more for the chaplains because the chaplains are doing more,” said Lt. Col. Ran Dolinger, a spokesman for the chief of chaplains. Because of multiple deployments to combat zones, Colonel Dolinger said, “they just needed more help.”
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Rep. Dan Boren: Helped soldier being deployed after tornado

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 9:32 AM CDT
Veterans Meeting Slated

By Wanda Freeman


A veterans advisory meeting open to U.S. military veterans in LeFlore, Latimer, Haskell and surrounding counties is scheduled Thursday in Poteau, with Oklahoma’s 2nd District congressman as one of the hosts and speakers.

The meeting will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bob Lee Kidd Civic Center. From 10 a.m. to noon, veterans administrative personnel and case workers from Muskogee and Tulsa will be available to meet veterans and discuss their individual needs privately.

During a free lunch period, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, will update attendees on current veterans legislation.

Boren, who has a veterans advisory panel that meets quarterly in Washington, said the Poteau event is a bipartisan meeting focused on area veterans and their needs. His office is working with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as the U.S. and Oklahoma departments of veterans affairs, the U.S. National Cemetery at Fort Gibson and AES Shady Point.

In a telephone interview last week, Boren said the advisory meetings don’t focus exclusively on medical benefits.

“All sorts of issues come up,” he said. “Someone feels like they’re not getting the exact benefits they deserve ... or sometimes people didn’t get their medals that they earned all the way back in World War II ... or a family has someone serving in Iraq and they want to send them things or feel they’re not being treated right. Last week, we had someone who lost his home in the tornado in Picher, and he was being deployed two days later to Afghanistan, so we were asked to help give him some extra time to help his family.”
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Australia: Compensation for suicide soldiers prolonged agony

Compo claims drag on for families of suicide soldiers
Posted Thu May 29, 2008 10:04am AEST

David Hayward committed suicide in 2004 (ABC TV: 7.30 Report)

Video: Army failed suicidal soldiers (7.30 Report) It seemed that David Hayward was a young man with everything to live for. In 2003, he completed his Army training and he topped his class.

"We actually came from England 11 years ago and David absolutely loved Australia and he said he wanted to fight for the country he so dearly loved," mother Wendy Hayward said.

But if this young soldier loved the Defence Force, it now appears that love was not fully returned.

In January 2004, after allegedly being bullied, David Hayward went AWOL from his barracks near Darwin. Two months later he was found dead at a backpacker hostel in Perth.

He had taken his own life.

For his family, the first hint of trouble came when a policeman turned up in their front yard.

"[The policeman said] Mrs Hayward, I've got some really bad news for you. Your son, he's been found dead in Perth," Mrs Hayward said.

"That was it. [The policeman said:] 'I've had a phone call from the Army to come and tell you he's been found dead'.

"To be quite honest I can't remember a lot after that."

The Haywards had every reason to be shocked. Although their son had been on the run for two months, the Army had told them nothing.

This was a clear breach of regulations that demand the family should be informed if a soldier goes AWOL.

Mrs Hayward says she has no doubt her son could have been saved if the Army had told them he was AWOL, and her husband Adrian agrees.

"I am just very annoyed," Mr Hayward said. "I just cannot believe that an organisation like that do have protocols in place and they didn't follow it."

But this was not the end of their torment. Had their son been working for a civilian employer, the Haywards would have been entitled to sue or to seek compensation.

But as they soon discovered, despite the Army's failure to follow its own rules, they had no grounds to make any claim against the Defence Department.
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