Thursday, July 31, 2008

Landstuhl says Obama could have media with him, but he didn't want them

Landstuhl clarifies press rules for aborted Obama visit
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, August 1, 2008

LANDSTUHL, Germany Although news outlets have reported charges that Sen. Barack Obama canceled his trip to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany because the media weren't allowed to cover the event, U.S. European Command officials say plans were in place to allow limited press coverage.

All media, including local press and the more than 40 journalists accompanying the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on his eight-day international trip last week, would have been able to photograph the Illinois senator entering and leaving the hospital, said Air Force Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. European Command spokesman.

Defense Department public affairs policy guidance on media coverage of candidates visiting military installations states "under no circumstances may a candidate receive approval to make a campaign or election-related statement or to respond to a campaign or election-related media query."

The guidance also states that "the candidate may appear on camera and in photographs as an official participant and may make a statement or answer questions about the official business being conducted."
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Aside from McCain having two scripts ready to attack Obama no matter what he decided to do, McCain decided to not tell the truth about any of this and that's a real shame. The shame does not belong to Obama, who did't want the media with him even though he could have them there, but McCain decided to use the wounded troops no matter what happened. Sickening!

"Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008," H.R. 6562 needs tweaking

Received by email

Hello Friends,

Please Can You Help?!

A lot of conversation has been circulating in regards to Rep. Bob Filner's (D-CA) "Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008," H.R. 6562.
Some think this will resolve the exposure to Agent Orange issues because it includes those exposed in "the inland waterways of such Republic Vietnam, the waters offshore of such Republic, and the airspace above such Republic." While this solves the problems of the "Blue Water Navy" veterans...the fact is it leaves others out such as those exposed in nearby countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Korea, Okinawa, the Phillipines. It also doesn't include other areas through which large quantities of Agent Orange were shipped (and used) such as Guam & even right here on military bases in the U.S.

I think the saddest part about herbicide issues/exposures is the fact
that so many years has gone by, too many lives lost & so little has
changed. The cases are presented, the facts are there to back them
up, but no justice prevails. Somehow, together we must find a way to
change that!
Please Can You Help?!

HELPPP!, the Herbicide Exposure Legislative Proposal & Promotion Program, is a Yahoo Group created with the purpose and mission of establishing a forum to support and advance the passage of legislation submitted by Blue Water Navy veterans and introduced in the Congress by the Chairman, House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The Group includes all those exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides: While serving in the Military or as a civilian, in combat or in direct support of combat, from any service, including but not limited to Blue and Brown Water Navy, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Okinawa, Guam, Korea, and the Philippines or other places from the Lane Evan's list and/updates from 'The History of the US Department of Defense Programs for the Testing, Evaluation, and Storage of Tactical Herbicides by Alvin Young', between 1962 and 1975, during the period known as the Vietnam War, the War in Indochina, or the War in Southeast Asia.

The Group does not segment, discriminate, or differentiate between services, categories of service, countries, MOS, or rank and will not discuss political parties, candidates, or other subjects other than to determine legislative sponsors, co-sponsors, and strategies to ensure passage of this legislation submitted to clarify the service-connection of veterans as it applies to P.L. 102-4, the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

Bush threatens to veto veterans again!

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report

Administration News White House Threatens To Veto $118.7B Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill
[Jul 31, 2008]
The White House on Wednesday said that President Bush will veto a $118.7 billion fiscal year 2009 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill (HR 6599) unless Congress finds $2.9 billion in offsets in other appropriations bills to meet the overall spending level he requested, CQ Today reports. In addition, in the event that Congress cannot find the offsets, Bush might veto the other 11 appropriations bills, the White House said. The Military Construction-VA appropriations bill includes $72.2 billion in discretionary spending, an $8.8 billion increase from FY 2008 and $3.4 billion more than President Bush requested (Johnson, CQ Today, 7/30). The bill would provide VA with $47.7 billion in discretionary spending. Under the legislation, VA would receive a $4.6 billion increase in discretionary spending from FY 2008 and $2.9 billion more than Bush requested.

The White House Office of Management and Budget in a letter said, "If Congress determines that additional resources above the president's request are needed, Congress must provide reductions in other appropriations bills to offset this increase and meet the president's top line (discretionary spending cap) of $991.6 billion," adding, "If Congress ... does not offset this increase with spending reductions in other bills, the president will veto any of the other bills that exceed his request until Congress demonstrates a path to reach the president's top line." According to the letter, the current spending level for VA is "104% above the level when the president took office" and "provides ample resources to ensure veterans receive the quality care they deserve" (Sanchez, CongressDaily, 7/30).

House Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Chet Edwards (D-Texas) said, "I do not understand the values that would suggest, during a time of war, we provide tax breaks for people making over $1 million a year, but we cannot afford to provide the health care our veterans deserve and the housing our troops need. I believe our veterans, military families and the American family will be as offended by this veto threat as I am" (CQ Today, 7/30).

A Democratic aide to the House Appropriations Committee said, "This Congress is dedicated to meeting the needs of our nation's veterans, no matter the political maneuvering of a callous president," adding, "Veterans are not political bargaining chips" (CongressDaily, 7/30).
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UPDATE 8/1/08

This was on the Huffington Post claiming Bush did not threaten Veto on this. Your guess is as good as mine.

House set to pass budget bill today before recess

ANDREW TAYLOR August 1, 2008 07:41 AM EST

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Compare 07:41 AM EST07:40 AM EST07:36 AM EST and 07:41 AM EST07:40 AM EST07:36 AM EST versions

WASHINGTON — The House took up its first spending bill Thursday after weeks of delays that have left efforts to pass next year's Cabinet budgets in shambles. The bill is slated to pass on Friday as the House leaves Washington for a five-week recess.

The measure _ one of just a handful that may become law before Congress adjourns for elections _ awards generous increases for veterans medical care and military base construction and base closures. It is easily the most bipartisan of the 12 annual appropriations bills since it funds politically sacred veterans accounts, despite exceeding President Bush's already generous budget increase for veterans and military construction by $3.4 billion.

The measure calls for increasing spending on Veterans Administration health programs by $3.1 billion over current levels, some 9 percent. A $1.8 billion increase for military base construction is 20 percent above current levels. There's also a $2 billion increase in base closure accounts for items such as improving conditions at bases slated for troop increases and assisting states and localities in preparing closed bases for economic development projects and other uses.

Despite the increases, the White House has not threatened a veto, even though Bush has taken pride in clamping down on domestic spending accounts funded by Congress each year and generally has promised to veto bills that exceed his request.
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DoD official Michael Dominguez booted from sex assault hearing

DoD official booted from sex assault hearing

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jul 31, 2008 14:19:16 EDT

The Pentagon’s No. 2 personnel and readiness official was admonished and dismissed from a House subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military Thursday after admitting that he had directed a key subordinate not to appear.

“Mr. Dominguez, I notice that Dr. Kaye Whitley is not in her chair,” said Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s national security and foreign affairs panel. “Is it under your direction that she has not shown for testimony this morning?”

“Ah, yes sir,” replied Michael Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

“Do you have an executive privilege to assert?” asked Tierney.

“Ah, no sir,” Dominguez replied.

“Mr. Dominguez, this is an oversight hearing,” Tierney said. “It’s an oversight hearing on sexual assault in the military. As such, we thought it was proper to hear from the director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. ... Inexplicably, the Defense Department — and you, apparently — have resisted.”

Tierney said Whitley would be subpoenaed and that Dominguez’s decision showed disrespect to the two women who had testified moments earleir — one a rape victim, one a rape/murder victim’s mother — as well as other victims and the subcommittee itself.
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Children see man decapitate fellow passenger on Greyhound bus in Canada

Children see man decapitate fellow passenger on Greyhound bus in Canada
Elana Schor in Washington The Guardian, Friday August 1 2008

It came out of nowhere, passengers on the Canadian Greyhound bus said. A young man was sleeping, head against the window, when the man sitting next to him began stabbing and then decapitating him as other travellers looked on in horror.

The grisly and apparently random evening attack, on a bus bound for Winnipeg, ended with police apprehending the assailant hours later.

The 37 passengers who witnessed the carnage, including several children, were left to relay their shocking tale of the man wearing sunglasses who suddenly pulled out a hunting knife.

"We heard this blood-curdling scream and turned around, and the guy was standing up, stabbing this guy sitting next to him repeatedly, like 40 or 50 times," passenger Garnet Caton told the Canadian press.

"When he was attacking him, he was calm - it was like he was at the beach," added Caton, who was sitting in front of the victim. "There was no rage or anything. He was just like a robot stabbing the guy."

The severed head of the victim, described as in his 20s, was then displayed to the stunned passengers.
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Boyfriend held after British girl's torso found in case in Brazil

Boyfriend held after British girl's torso found in case in Brazil
· Police say body was chopped up in bathroom
· Alleged drug dealer said to have confessed to killing
Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro Vikram Dodd The Guardian, Friday August 1 2008

Police and firemen in Brazil are searching for the remains of a British teenager who was murdered and then dismembered, with parts of her body found in a suitcase by a riverbank.

Police say that Cara Marie Burke, 17, who was from Wandsworth, south London, was killed by her Brazilian boyfriend, who they allege has confessed to the gruesome killing.

She was killed in Goiania, a city 130 miles from the capital Brasilia, on Sunday night. Police found the victim's torso in a suitcase dumped beside a river on the city's outskirts on Monday night. They are still searching for the dead girl's head, arms and legs.

Police said yesterday they have arrested a 20-year-old, who they named as Mohammed D'Ali Carvalho dos Santos, in connection with the murder.
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UK:Ministers seek curbs on internet suicide sites

Ministers seek curbs on internet suicide sites
Websites which encourage vulnerable teenagers to kill themselves are to be blocked under plans by the Government to tackle the dozens of suicides that have been linked to internet chatrooms.

Ministers are alarmed that pages inciting young people to take their lives – and even giving advice on suicide methods – are too easily available online.
They are urging internet service providers (ISPs) to veto "harmful or distasteful" suicide sites, and to provide automatic links to such organisations as the Samaritans or ChildLine when users try to find information on suicide. ISPs already warn website managers that "offensive" material will be automatically taken down from the internet.
However, the Ministry of Justice believes more must be done. It is even examining whether the legislation controlling assisted suicide websites is strong enough.
Despite initially being linked to the social networking site Bebo, police have said that there was no internet "pact" between the 17 young people from Bridgend, north Wales, who have taken their lives since January 2007.
However, campaigners have identified 30 suicides in which the internet has played a significant role, either by providing details of how to do it or where people are encouraged by visitors to chatrooms to kill themselves.

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DAV agenda to address underfunded VA and honor Tammy Duckworth

DAV National Convention to Push for VA Funding Reform

Last update: 1:14 p.m. EDT July 30, 2008
WASHINGTON, July 30, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Presidential Candidate, Key Officials Scheduled to Address Disabled Veterans
The Disabled American Veterans will once again convene its national body to address the needs of disabled veterans, including those who have served and sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere when the organization meets at the Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas for its 87th National Convention Aug. 9-12.
More than 4,000 DAV delegates will review important legislative initiatives aimed at building better lives for disabled veterans and their families. The major issues to be addressed by the Convention include the need to improve mental health care for the psychologically wounded and their families, eliminating the lengthy delays veterans encounter when submitting disability claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs and guarantying full funding for veterans health care.

A special moment will be the presentation of the DAV's Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year Award to Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, whose remarkable accomplishments in service to veterans, despite suffering a double amputation and other grievous wounds during combat duty in Iraq, inspired the nation and advanced the causes of America's disabled veterans.

The 1.4 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation's wartime disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization's Web site
SOURCE Disabled American Veterans
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Department of Veterans Affairs had 621,000 claims backlog

House backs VA benefits bill; No Senate bill yet
Hall and GOP challenger differ on details of plan
By Jenny Lee • Poughkeepsie Journal • July 31, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of veterans' claims could be cleared more quickly if a bill sponsored by Rep. John Hall, and passed by the House of Representatives Wednesday, is enacted.

The Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Modernization Act of 2008 passed unanimously in the House Wednesday, the Dover Democrat said. The House bill has been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

"The VA is in dire need of change and it is time to modernize the disability claims system," Hall said in floor debate.

As of July 26, the Department of Veterans Affairs had 621,000 of those claims pending, with almost 23 percent of them more than 6 months old. The VA's New York region had about 10,700 pending with almost 27 percent more than 6 months old.

Veterans who become paralyzed or lose their limbs in combat usually have to go through the claims process to receive compensation. Under the bill, veterans could receive payments right away for undisputed injuries, Hall said. If a veteran dies, the surviving spouse could continue with the claims process without having to start the process over, Hall said.

If the legislation does not get approved in the Senate, the number of claims could surpass one million next year, Hall said.
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Iraq's Burn Unit Working Miracles at military base

Iraq's Burn Unit Working Miracles
Tough Volunteers At Military Base Have Helped Heal At Least 1,000 Iraqi Children

SCANIA BASE, Iraq, July 31, 2008
(CBS) Sgt. Joe Barzeski is the closest thing in Central Iraq to a miracle worker.

And 11-year-old Ali is going to need a miracle to get over burns from a kerosene stove.

When starting the treatment, Barzeski said: "It has to come off so that the medicine will work. Plus this will get all crusty - and scab up and that will be an ugly scar."

The soldiers turn up the radio to drown out the crying, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports. Conditions are primitive. But even so, the burn unit is filled to capacity.

It's tucked away on a U.S. base that's known as the biggest gas station in Iraq. It's where military convoys refuel.

While on the far side, Iraqi families - as many as 80 a day - wait patiently to be admitted to a clinic that's more MASH unit than E.R.

Barzeski had no medical training before he joined the Army - so he's been learning on the job.
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Preacher killed wife, stuffed body in freezer, police say

Preacher killed wife, stuffed body in freezer, police say
Story Highlights
NEW: Anthony Hopkins denied bail at initial court appearance

Preacher is charged with murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and incest

He was arrested after delivering sermon at his Alabama church

Case began when daughter told police she'd been sexually abused

(CNN) -- An evangelical preacher killed his wife several years ago and stuffed her body in a freezer after she caught him abusing their daughter, according to police and court documents.

Anthony Hopkins appeared in court Thursday to face murder, rape and incest charges.

Anthony Hopkins, 37, was arrested Monday night at the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Jackson, Alabama, just after he had delivered a sermon to a congregation that included his seven other children, officials said.

He faces charges including murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and incest.

Hopkins was denied bail Thursday when he appeared before Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty. The case is set for arraignment next week, Hardesty's clerk said.

The case began Monday, when the daughter, now 19, went to the Mobile Police Department's Child Advocacy Center and reported that she had been sexually abused by Hopkins since she was 11 years old, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant of the preacher's home in Mobile.
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2,212 reports of military sexual assaults in 2007 alone

Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach said she was raped by a fellow Marine. A Marine has been charged in her death.

Attacker 'still comes after me in my dreams'
A lawmaker says she was shocked when told 4 in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military. "My jaw dropped," Rep. Jane Harman says. "We have an epidemic here." A government report indicates the numbers could be even higher. One woman today told a congressional panel: "I was raped while I slept." full story

Story Highlights
Official: "My jaw dropped" after women described rape, sex abuse in military

Hearing prompts allegations of "cover-up" after top Defense official doesn't show

Mom of slain pregnant soldier: Victim shouldn't have burden to "generate evidence"

Woman describes rape: "He still comes after me in my dreams"

In 2007, Harman said, only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted.

Defense statistics show that military commanders took unspecified action, which can include anything from punishment to dismissal, in an additional 419 cases.

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NAMI and MTV looking for PTSD veterans

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MTV True Life: I Have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

This hour-long MTV documentary will chronicle the lives of three young veterans of the Iraq War who have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. It will follow them for approximately five months as they attempt to treat or live with the disorder.
We will film and tell these stories with the utmost respect for the veterans and their families. The documentary has no political agenda whatsoever; our goal is to describe PTSD to our young audience and inform them through our subjects' stories.
About True Life:
True Life is a documentary series that's been on MTV for 10 years. Each episode of "True Life" is about a different topic. Most of the topics have some global, social or personal importance, like this one. Some of them are about youth culture, like episodes about gamers or cheerleaders. All episodes aim to tell deeply personal stories. There is no host, reporter or narrator. The young people tell their own stories in their own voices.
Our goal is to put young people across the country in our subjects' shoes. We hope that by portraying our subjects' lives, we will help young people understand complex issues.
Who We're Looking For
We're looking for veterans of the Iraq War who appear to be 28 years old or younger and have either been diagnosed with PTSD or have symptoms of PTSD. We're looking for veterans who are willing to share their struggle with PTSD with a national audience.
How We Make "True Life" & How We'll Film This Episode
Once we've determined whom we're going to follow, we begin filming them at moments and events that are important to their story. We don't film them all the time and everywhere – we try to select dates that are relevant to their struggle with PTSD. We try to be as unobtrusive as possible by filming with only a two-person crew and a small digital video camera. Our goal is for people to forget we're even there. We don't influence our subject in any way. We typically film between 25 and 35 hours of each person we're following. We'll get those hours two or three days at a time over the course of three to four months. Our subjects can stop filming if they're uncomfortable or if there's a problem. We edit the stories ourselves, with input from executives at MTV. The executives never ask us to include anything that isn't thoroughly fact-checked.
Punched in the Head Productions
We are a small independent production company that's been contracted by MTV to produce certain episodes of "True Life." We're usually asked to produce the more "weighty" episodes, like "I'm Home from Iraq," "I Have Autism" and "I Have Schizophrenia." Many of our previous episodes are online at in the "Videos" section of the site.
Contact Information
If you or someone you know is interested in speaking with us about participating in this documentary, please contact us at: or
Please include your name, contact information, and a description of your story. Please tell us about your military experience and your current military status. Please tell us if you've been diagnosed or treated for PTSD.

Christine Armstrong
Media Relations Associate
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Combat Operational Stress Control Conference

Conference targets war-born stresses
Second annual 'Marine Corps Combat Operational Stress' gathering set for San Diego

By MARK WALKER - Staff Writer

Confronted with rising rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, hundreds of Marine and Navy officers meet in San Diego next month to address ways to limit war-born physical and psychological damage.

The officers, along with military and civilian medical specialists, are meeting Aug. 12-14 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt to discuss the latest treatments for troops suffering as result of their combat experience.

The conference also will focus on the children and spouses of troops who have been disabled by post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

In its first-ever such conference last year, Marine Corps leaders vowed to eliminate an institutional mind--set that prevented some troops from seeking help for stress-related problems.

This year's "Combat Operational Stress Control Conference" includes updates on what service leaders have done in the months since last year's inaugural symposium in Washington.

Among the brass making presentations are Camp Pendleton's Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert, commanding general of Marine Corps installations throughout the West, and the top enlisted man in the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent.

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School bus, semi crash on I-4

School bus, semi crash on I-4
Jul 31, 2008 15:43 -0400

('Jul 31, 2008 15:43 -0400', '3:43 PM');

Updated: 53 minutes ago
The Florida Highway Patrol is reporting an accident between a school bus and a truck on Interstate 4 in Volusia County. Eastbound traffic is blocked.

Operation Homefront moving in wounded and families

Veterans moving in and up
by Shawna Ohm
Jul 30, 2008

Shawna Ohm/MNS

The Woods talk about their experiences and their future

Last week, four veterans and their families moved into new, furnished apartments... for free. The veterans, all severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, had been living with their families in cramped temporary housing at the Walter Reed Army Hospital. Now they will live in Silver Spring, Md. in two-bedroom apartments with views and pool access.

The move was organized by Operation Homefront, a Texas-based non-profit. The organization uses money from corporate sponsors to pay rent and furnish the apartments. The occupying families pay no rent and are allowed to stay for as long as their treatment requires.

Since last week's opening four families have moved in to the 15 available apartments. Housing is meant to be used for three to six months, but can be extended as long as necessary.

For Travis Wood, who is still recovering from severe injuries sustained in Afghanistan, the stay could be as long as two years.

"It's a dream come true," Wood said. "(Here) you feel like you’re living your own life a little bit. I mean, I’ll still have to report to people and I'll still have to keep tabs, but at least I can come home to this."

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Someone tell McCain wounded troops are not fair game

The following is very good and goes a long way in showing that the troops should never be used in anyone's campaign, especially wounded ones. Obama has never allowed reporters to cover his trips to see the wounded and as far as this trip goes, reporters were never under the impression they would be going to Landstuhl this time either. It was to be a private visit but even at that, the retired General he was taking was told that his visit would appear to be political. It made Obama aware that his visit would be seen that way as well.

What McCain managed to do was use wounded troops in Landstuhl as part of a political game. Not just in the lie created in his commercial, but by also saying that McCain has been any kind of a champion of wounded troops or veterans. His record shows how little he manages to support them when it counts.

The biggest indication of this is the fact the DAV has given McCain such a deplorable grade on veterans issues. Keep in mind that while the DAV as an organization stays away from taking political sides, the majority of people in the DAV are Republicans. They put wounded and disabled veterans ahead of any kind of politics and proved it when they ranked McCain at 20%. Most of the highest ranks from the DAV have gone to Democrats simply because it is not the majority of Republicans supporting the veterans when it counts, but it is the Democrats.

If Obama had used his trips to Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval Hospital as a political stunt, I would have come out against using the troops. If McCain ever does manage to support the wounded, it would go a long way to proving what he says. Someone really should tell him that the troops, the wounded and the disabled veterans are not tools he can use in a political game. Obama has to run on his record and what he does. McCain has to run on his record and what he does but especially because McCain is a wounded veteran, what he fails to do carries a lot more ramifications.

Fact Check: No evidence that Obama troop visit was to be media event

10:10 AM CDT on Thursday, July 31, 2008
By Robert Farley /

A John McCain campaign ad claims that Barack Obama "made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras." Mr. Obama's campaign denies the Democrat ever planned to take reporters with him, and The Washington Post reported Wednesday that there was no evidence that media would be invited. Some background:

In an effort to shore up his foreign policy chops, Mr. Obama took the unusual step of making a trip overseas — to the Middle East and Europe. The idea, in part, was to show the presidential candidate's gravitas as an international leader.

But the strategy backfired a bit when Mr. Obama canceled plans to visit wounded troops at a military hospital in Germany.

Mr. Obama had been part of a congressional delegation that visited Iraq and Afghanistan, but when that trip ended Mr. Obama stayed on the road, spending several days on a campaign-funded tour of Europe. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, was supposed to be one of the stops.

The decision to cancel was made after the Pentagon raised a number of issues about its policy against campaign activity at a military base — including visits by campaign staff or any media coverage or speeches. As a sitting senator, Mr. Obama was welcome to visit troops, but no one on the campaign trip with him, including a retired general who is advising his campaign, could go along.

Body of soldier found at Hood identified

Body of soldier found at Hood identified

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jul 31, 2008 10:05:33 EDT

The Army has identified the soldier whose body was found Tuesday at a training area on Fort Hood, Texas.

Spc. Donald James Scott, 28, of Boyceville, Wis., was a biomedical equipment specialist with 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

The cause of death was not reported, and the incident is still under investigation.

Scott’s body was found in a training area, though no training was taking place in the area at the time the body was found, according to brigade spokesman Maj. Raul Marquez.

Scott joined the Army in November 1999 and had been assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, since December 2005, according to an Army news release. He had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003.

Priest sues over care at Manatee Memorial

Priest sues over care at Manatee Memorial
He claims the hospital believed he was trying to get powerful pain medication
By Frank Gluck

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 2:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 1:25 a.m.
BRADENTON - Emergency room physicians must tread carefully when patients come in seeking pain medication. All too often, those patients are addicts simply looking for a narcotic fix.

But that caution may have led staffers at Manatee Memorial Hospital last year to miss the serious injuries of a Catholic priest who had just fallen more than eight feet from a ladder at his home.

Now that priest, the Rev. Charles Jackson, 57, is suing. He claims the hospital erroneously believed he was trying to get powerful pain medication while overlooking multiple bone fractures that ultimately left him permanently incontinent and barely able to walk.

The hospital's chief executive, who said Jackson's behavior was suspect that day, said the emergency room physician made a mistake.

Jackson's Bradenton attorney, Richard Shapiro, called the episode "a crime against humanity."

"I don't care whether he was a priest or a bum from the streets, he had a right to a decent, reasonable amount of medical care," Shapiro said. "They have ruined his life."
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St. Pete to homeless: Move your stuff

St. Pete to homeless: Move your stuff
The city has ordered about 100 homeless people living under Interstate 375 to remove belongings that have accumulated there. The order is based on a city ordinance passed within the past year that requires public property and rights of way to be clear of private belongings.

After outcry, event to help Sanford's homeless moved to Longwood

After outcry, event to help Sanford's homeless moved to Longwood
Kate Santich Sentinel Staff Writer
July 31, 2008
First, Sanford officials decided they didn't want 200 homeless people flocking downtown for a daylong event that would offer them medical care, showers, meals, employment counseling and identification.

Then the city's mayor showed up Wednesday at the rescheduled event -- moved to Longwood's Northland church -- to show her support.

A mixed message?

"We're not really evil, mean and wicked," said Sanford Mayor Linda Kuhn, who, at the urging of the City Council, had asked if the event could be relocated. "I believe in what they're doing."
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Flurry of bullets near Orlando playground kills three

Flurry of bullets near Orlando playground kills three
Vincent Bradshaw and Willoughby Mariano Sentinel Staff Writers
6:10 AM EDT, July 31, 2008

Gunfire erupted only a few feet from a crowded playground Wednesday, leaving a man and two teenagers dead.

The 5 p.m. triple slaying outside The Palms Apartments on Mercy Drive occurred as the complex's courtyards were jammed with playing children and residents returning from work.

Witnesses reported that as many as two dozen shots rang out, sending residents running for cover.

Police this morning confirmed two of the victims as Carlos Patterson, 16, and Cedric Garrett Jr., 18. Relatives identified Marcus Lorenzo Hayes, 29, as the third victim. Investigators with the Orlando Police Department have not released the motive in the slayings.
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Group gives three veterans honor burials they deserve

Group gives three veterans honor burials they deserve
Dwight Lewis

They won't be sending Frank Murray to the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility, better known as the Body Farm, after all.

Instead, Murray, 65, a Vietnam War veteran found dead June 30 in the trailer where he lived in Murfreesboro, will be given a military burial Tuesday in the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on McCrory Lane.

"Our goal is to make sure no veteran ends up at the Body Farm,'' William J. Burleigh, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and executive director of Operation Stand Down Nashville, told me Tuesday.

That goal is one that Operation Stand Down Nashville, which helps the community re-establish ties with its veterans, can't accomplish by itself. And it's a goal that's being achieved not only with Murray's burial at 9 a.m. Aug. 5, but that of Dennis Gill, a homeless veteran, at 10 a.m. and Jerry Moran, a veteran who was formerly homeless, at 11 a.m.

"This is an extreme message,'' John Furgess, who served as assistant state commissioner for veterans affairs for 20 years before retiring in 2002, said by phone Tuesday. "When a veteran leaves the military he carries a lifelong record of service to his country. … Many times experts talk about the emotional effects on a veteran. You and I know it as post-traumatic stress disorder. …''

Furgess went on to tell me about the death and life of Jerry Moran, 61, who like Murray was a Vietnam veteran.

Eastland Funeral Home, which is owned by the Dignity Memorial Network, is providing free burial preparation for all three men, Burleigh and Furgess said. And officials with the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery are making burial arrangements.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

US Navy fires two over George Washington Carrier fire

U.S. Navy boots captain after fire on carrier
Story Highlights
Navy fires captain, executive officer of carrier George Washington

Practices on officers' ship led to massive fire on board, Navy believes

Flammable liquids, cigarette smoking were allowed in prohibited areas, Navy finds

From Mike Mount
CNN Pentagon Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Navy fired the captain and executive officer of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington on Wednesday because of a massive fire that damaged the ship in May, Navy officials said.

Capt. David C. Dykhoff and his executive officer, Capt. David M. Dober, were relieved of duty while the ship is in port in San Diego, California, for repairs.

The two were fired because of practices on their ship that Navy investigators believe led to the fire, Navy officials said.
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Seven flight medics receive Combat Medical Badges

First Army flight medics receive Combat Medical Badge recognition
Seven Army flight medics in northern Iraq this week became the first aviation crewmembers to be awarded the Combat Medical Badge under new Pentagon rules. The seven soldiers, all assigned to Company C, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, received the awards at a ceremony on the U.S. base near Tikrit.

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The seven soldiers are:
Staff Sgt. Kory Werts
Staff Sgt. Lanier Patterson
Sgt. Ethan Rogers
Sgt. Jovan Salazar
Sgt.Tyrone Jordan
Spc. Nathaniel Northrup
Spc. Stacey Dill.
Based in Fort Riley, Kan., they deployed to Iraq last fall.

Warning issued over bad wiring long before soldier's death

Wiring warning came long before soldier's death
Sgt. Justin Hummer says he filled out a work order in 2007 that warned of his quarters in Iraq: "Pipes have voltage, get shocked in the shower." Months later, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in a shower in the same quarters. A follow-up investigation "found nearly all of the same problems" also reported previously by a contractor, a House panel report says. full story
Inspector: $560M 'wasted' on Iraq repairs

Forces may have to rent helicopters for Iraq and Afghanistan

Forces may have to rent helicopters

By Kim Sengupta
Thursday, 31 July 2008

British forces are so short of helicopters in Afghanistan and Iraq that they are considering renting them from other countries, or even from the controversial US security contractor Blackwater.

As a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Helmand province claimed the life of another UK paratrooper, The Independent has learnt that the Ministry of Defence will hold a crisis meeting at 5pm today to discuss leasing helicopters from former Warsaw Pact countries as well as commercial companies.

Chaired by the Defence Secretary Des Browne, the summit will be attended by senior military and government personnel who will be expected to solve the acute helicopter shortage.

Nato, but not Britain directly, is believed to be negotiating with Blackwater, which has come under fierce criticism from the Iraqi government and the US Congress after 17 civilians were shot dead in Baghdad last year. Another option being explored by the MoD is leasing Cougar helicopters from oil companies involved in offshore production.
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Australia:Soldier should not have been sent

Soldier shouldn't have been sent: report
July 30, 2008 - 9:08PM

A soldier who committed suicide after serving in Afghanistan should never have been posted to a special forces unit which was deployed to a war zone, a new report has revealed.

The report said Signaller Geffrey (Geffrey) Gregg of Perth believed he may have shot a child or teenager during a particularly harrowing patrol and subsequently developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was discharged from the army and killed himself in September 2006.

He was 25.
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A Mother's Sorrow: One Soldier's Suicide

A Mother's Sorrow: One Soldier's Suicide

Posted by Garland McLaurin, American News Project at 3:09 PM on July 30, 2008.

Marine Corporal James Jenkins is one of the many unsung casualties of war.
Suicides among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are reaching epidemic proportions. More than 6,000 veterans took their lives in 2005 alone, according to a study by CBS News. By some estimates, veterans are attempting suicide 1,000 times a month.

Marine Corporal James Jenkins of New Jersey was one of these unsung casualties of war. A decorated veteran of the Iraq invasion and the Battle of Najaf, he took his own life after serving 22 months overseas. His mother, Cynthia Fleming, shares his story with ANP -- a tragedy that is being repeated 15 times a day in this country.
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House passes 8 veterans’ benefits bills

House passes 8 veterans’ benefits bills

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 30, 2008 17:26:37 EDT

Veterans with disabilities clearly connected to military service, such as amputated limbs as a result of combat wounds, would get speedy approval of claims to receive veterans’ benefits under a bill approved Wednesday by the House.

The Disability Claims Modernization Act, sponsored by Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., is one of eight veteran-related bills that the House of Representatives rushed to pass before leaving town for a summer break that will stretch into early September and feature a lot of campaigning by lawmakers seeking re-election as well as the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions.
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DoD IG backs off Iraq electrocutions report

DoD IG backs off Iraq electrocutions report

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 30, 2008 18:33:10 EDT

An interim Pentagon investigation found no “credible evidence” that contractor KBR, Inc., was aware of life-threatening conditions at the Baghdad building where a Green Beret was electrocuted in January while taking a shower.

At a Wednesday hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, however, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general backed off that report, which had been released to Congress this week, trumpeted by the committee’s Republican staff and reported Tuesday by the Associated Press.

“We have absolved no one,” said Gordon Heddell. “Let the record be clear on that.”

Heddell admitted that his investigators had not known of new evidence that the committee’s Democrats said demonstrated culpability on the part of KBR, which holds a multibillion dollar contract to provide a wide variety of services in Iraq, including building maintenance.
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Preacher arrested in pulpit after body is found in freezer

Preacher arrested in pulpit after body is found in freezer
Alabama authorities suspect victim is evangelist's wife, who hasn't been heard from in 3 years
By GARRY MITCHELL Associated Press
July 30, 2008, 5:13PM
MOBILE, Ala. — Police believe a body found in a small-time evangelist's home freezer is his wife and a mother of eight, and arrested him on a murder charge as he preached at a south Alabama church.

Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.

Police said no one reported 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins missing, even though she hadn't been heard from in three years. The body was discovered covered in a freezer in a utility room during a police search of the home in Mobile after a relative of the preacher contacted police.

Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said Hopkins was arrested Monday night at at a revival in Jackson, a town in rural Clarke County where he has roots. The pastor of Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Beverly Jackson, told reporters that Hopkins told her he was a single parent because his wife had died in childbirth.
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Tyrell Dominique Taylor's Suicide prompts review of jails

Suicide prompts review of jails
Arundel officials examine methods to screen inmates
By Justin Fenton | Sun Reporter
July 29, 2008
Jail officials in Anne Arundel County said yesterday that they are reviewing how facilities screen inmates' mental health after a Towson man apparently killed himself in his cell over the weekend, the county's fourth inmate death this year.

Tyrell Dominique Taylor, 31, was found Saturday morning hanging from bedsheets affixed to a bunk bed. Taylor had been arrested two days earlier on robbery charges and was being held at the Jennifer Road detention centeron $1 million bail.

Before this year, the county jail system had not recorded an inmate suicide since 2003, said Robin Harting, superintendent of Anne Arundel's two detention facilities. But Taylor is the second inmate in seven months to kill himself and the fourth to die while in custody this year.

Harting said she believed the department's policies for screening inmates are sound, but that it is routine to conduct a review after an inmate's death.

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Houston family seeks helping finding dad's killers

Houston family seeks helping finding dad's killers
By KEVIN MORAN Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
July 30, 2008, 3:26PM

Nadir Ijaz spent his 24th birthday trying to help track down his father's killers.

"My dad was my angel," the Texas A&M University student said Wednesday as he joined with family members, Houston police and Crime Stoppers in appealing for information about the men who killed Mohammad Ijaz Mahmood.

Investigators are seeking the public's help in solving the July 7 killing of Mahmood, who was attacked while going about his routine in his job with a mobile paycheck-cashing service.

Mahmood, 67, was shot about 3:30 p.m. and taken away in his van from a warehouse area on Turning Basin Drive in east Houston, where he had parked to cash workers' paychecks, police said.
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Swampscott MA Firefighter to receive Liberty Mutual Award for rescue

Swampscott firefighter honored for rescue

By Debra Glidden / The Daily Item

SWAMPSCOTT - A 31-year veteran of the department is being hailed a hero for saving a woman in a house fire on June 26.

Firefighter Robert Randall, who was assigned to the ladder truck, said en route to the scene he heard people were trapped in the inferno so he wasted no time getting into the building upon arriving at the scene.

"Search and rescue is my primary responsibility," he said. "It was bad when we got there. I jumped off the truck and looked at the smoke rolling out. I knew I didn't have time to wait for them to run lines or anything. I got on my hands and knees and started in."

For his heroic efforts, Randall is slated to receive the Liberty Mutual FireMark Award early next month.
The award, which is only given to between 25 and 50 firefighters a year, "recognizes firefighters throughout the country who best represent their communities through their valor and selfless spirit."

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A soldier shares his life after combat deployment

The more I read their stories, the more I am amazed with the human spirit of kindness in all of them. They want nothing of us when they tell their stories, except they may motivate us to take care of them, but more, that we take care of the other veterans like them. Inspiring.

A soldier shares his life after combat deployment
Bob Ray Sanders • Fort Worth Star-Telegram • July 30, 2008
It was a lost high-school class ring that eventually put me in touch with Mark Sewell, a 1980 graduate of Union High School in Tulsa, Okla.

The ring had been stolen in a burglary more than 12 years ago when Sewell lived in Wylie near Dallas, and it was found on the streets of Fort Worth about three years ago.

With the help of readers, we finally found the right Mark Sewell in Fredonia, Kan., and during our initial conversation it was clear that the Persian Gulf War veteran was still suffering from his experience in the U.S. Army.

I tried several times to get him to discuss his injuries, but he refused.

"I don't want to talk about it," he told me more than once.

I issued a final plea last week when I told him that I was planning a follow-up column about him getting the ring back.

Last Tuesday, in an e-mail message sent at 12:47 a.m. with "Insomnia as usual" as its subject, Sewell opened up, perhaps more than he has in years.

Here is that message in its entirety, which Sewell said he wrote to help other men and women returning from war.

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Eric Hall's family raising money for veterans causes

Eric Hall's father said what is very true. "Teaching families how to deal with the disorder is as important as making sure the veterans themselves get treatment," he said. “If I’d had any counseling, my son wouldn’t be dead right now,” he said.
How many times do I have to say that if I didn't know what I knew all these years, I would not have been able to stay married, help my husband and get through all of this? Trying to educate has been my passion for over 25 years now, but reading stories like Eric Hall's reminds me of how little I've accomplished in all these years and how little we as a whole have really done for them. Very depressing, yet at the same time inspiring to do more, reach out more, do whatever it takes to get people to understand what PTSD is and what can be done to help them heal.

I hope David Mann, the reporter on this forgives me for posting this whole article. Please click the link to make sure he gets the credit for people reading it.

Late Jeffersonville Marine’s family raising money for veterans’ causes


The family of Eric Hall — a Marine from Jeffersonville whose death earlier this year was attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder — plans to create a nonprofit organization in their son’s honor.

Kevin Hall, Eric’s father, said the money would be used to aid veterans who suffer from the same illness as his son.

A charity motorcycle ride is scheduled for Saturday morning, leaving from Faith Lutheran Church on Allison Lane in Jeffersonville and ending at Pirates Cove in Charlestown. It’s $15 per rider, $5 per passenger for those interested in participating. Registration is at 11 a.m. and the ride begins at noon.

“We really do not know what to expect,” Kevin Hall said.

At a similar event in Florida, 270 motorcyclists participated.Eric Hall was found dead in March at the age of 24. His body was located outside of a Florida town from which he had disappeared while he was said to be experiencing a war flashback. He was a Clark County native who had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2002 after graduating from Jeffersonville High School.

In June 2005, Hall was injured when a bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq. A fellow Marine was killed in the same blast.

Hall spent 13 weeks in a hospital recovering from injuries caused the blast. He was believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing hallucinations and flashbacks.

After his hospital discharge, Hall relocated to Deep Creek, Fla., to stay with relatives and get a fresh start. Two weeks into his stay, he disappeared during a flashback.

Kevin Hall said the money raised at Saturday’s event, and that which was raised during the Florida ride, will go toward a number of veterans’ related causes. Some of the money raised in the Florida ride will go toward furnishing an apartment at a veterans’ building there.

There are also long term plans to create post-traumatic stress disorder crisis centers in Indiana and Florida. Kevin Hall said he wants a place where veterans and their families can go to work through symptoms with trained professionals.

Teaching families how to deal with the disorder is as important as making sure the veterans themselves get treatment, he said.

“If I’d had any counseling, my son wouldn’t be dead right now,” he said.

Other long-term projects for the to-be organization include study of how post-traumatic stress disorder interacts with pain medications taken for serious injuries and research on closed head injuries.

The paperwork creating the charity organization has not yet been completed. Once that’s filed, the family hopes to keep overhead costs low, so that the money it raises goes overwhelmingly toward veterans.

Parents to take wounded soldier off life support

Parents to take hurt soldier off life support

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 30, 2008 13:02:14 EDT

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The parents of a Fairfield soldier who was critically injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq are expected to take their son off of life support Wednesday.

Army Sgt. Jimmy McHale, 31, has been in a coma since the July 22 bombing of his Humvee that also injured the driver.
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Man attacks homeless group outside St. Petersburg City Hall

July 30, 2008
Man attacks homeless group outside City Hall
ST. PETERSBURG -- A group of homeless people subdued a deranged man who violently interrupted them as they waited to be fed by a church group outside City Hall late Tuesday, police said.

A man identified only as John Doe approached the line around 10 p.m. and punched 24-year-old Richard P. Gibson, Jr. with a closed fist "for no reason at all," said police spokesman George Kajtsa.
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Longwood FL church helps homeless

From haircuts to counseling -- event at church will help the homeless
Adrian G. Uribarri Sentinel Staff Writer
July 30, 2008
LONGWOOD-More than 150 volunteers will gather at Northland Church in Longwood today to help the homeless. Services will include showers, medical care, haircuts, employment opportunities, substance-abuse and mental-health counseling. Homeless Services Network of Central Florida is organizing the event, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 530 Dog Track Road. For more information, call 407-893-0133 or visit,0,4657931.story

300 to 400 homeless female veterans in Tampa area

'Faces Of Athena' Show To Benefit Homeless Female War Veterans

The Tampa Tribune

Published: July 30, 2008

A group of about 30 artists will offer works for sale at a benefit Saturday to aid homeless female war veterans.

Called "Faces of Athena," the free exhibition opens to the public at 6 p.m. Saturday at Romeo's Art Gallery, 1515 Seventh Ave. in Ybor City.

"These are people who are having trouble fitting back into society and getting on their feet. Some are withdrawn and depressed," said Rich Frederick, an artist and U.S. Air Force veteran who co-chairs the event with Sara Romeo, co owner of the gallery and executive director of Tampa Crossroads, the beneficiary of the exhibit.

Tampa Crossroads, a nonprofit agency begun in 1977, provides a wide range of rehabilitative skills to adults. Through its Athena Program, it will provide housing and a variety of support services for 16 female veterans by November.

Toward that goal, the group has renovated a two-story red brick building in the Ybor Historic District that once housed returning World War II veterans.

"The building is 100 percent renovated, but we need to add some safety features to meet code," said Romeo, who wishes she could offer the services sooner than November. "We know there are about 300 to 400 homeless female vets in our community right now,"

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Cause of arrest-PTSD

Orrin McClellan sits in the back of a Humvee in Afghanistan in June 2005. At that time he had been in the combat zone a little more than two months.
Photo courtesy of Orrin McClellan

Man involved in Choochokam brawl suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder
MICHAELA MARX WHEATLEY, Langley, Island County
Published: July 30, 2008 12:00 AM

LANGLEY — The man who allegedly attacked Langley Police officers during Choochokam Arts suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. And his family says the altercation with police was the result of nearly two years of suffering by a young veteran.

Orrin McClellan, 23, was arrested July 12 after he struggled with officers and threatened to kill them after police tried to stop him from kicking down barricades at the festival site.

“The period between Memorial Day and July 4th was torture for him. He was in Afghanistan,” said Judith Gorman, McClellan’s mother.

“He hasn’t taken off his combat fatigues since Memorial Day,” his mother said.

According to the police report, a Langley officer caught McClellan kicking over barricades at the festival. After a short foot chase, McClellan ambushed officer Corey Mills. A struggle ensued and McClellan yelled at the officer that he would kill him.

He shouted at Mills, saying that he was in the Army and that he was trained to kill people like him, the report said.

When another officer got involved, McClellan allegedly stuck his thumbs in the officers eyes. The officer had to seek medical treatment.

It took several officers to control McClellan.

The young veteran also asked police repeatedly to kill or shoot him, according to court records. Police finally gained control of McClellan and arrested him.
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This could have happened if McClellan was having a flashback. His body may have been at the arts festival, but his mind could have been in Afghanistan.

1,250 Florida Veterans called VA suicide hotline in six months

VA Gets 55,000 Plus Suicide Calls
A Suicide Hotline Is Turning Into A Life Line For Veterans In Crisis.

July 28, 2008

(CBS) CBS News investigative producer Pia Malbran wrote this story for

More than 55,000 people - including about 22,000 who identified themselves as veterans - have called the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide hotline during its first year in operation and CBS News has learned that many of the calls, in recent months, have come from the mid to south central part of the country.

According to the VA’s own count, during a three month time period between March and May of this year, the regions where the highest number of calls originated include the states of Texas, Tennessee, Illinois and Florida among other surrounding areas. (California and Florida have the nation's largest veteran populations.)

Other data, obtained by CBS News, shows that during the first six months of the hotline’s operation, the state of Texas had more callers than any other state with 2,102 out of 21,439 calls. California came in second with 2,088 calls, then Florida (1,250 calls) and Massachusetts (1,051 calls.)
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Groups Ask Court to Expedite PTSD Care

July 29, Lawsuit Update: Groups Ask Court to Expedite PTSD Care
Audrey Hudson

The Washington Times

Jul 29, 2008

July 29, 2008 - Two veterans groups have asked a federal appeals court to force the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expedite disability claims and treat troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The groups - Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth Inc. - filed a notice Monday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn a lower court ruling in their lawsuit. Filed in July 2007, their lawsuit claims that the VA system that identifies and processes sufferers of PTSD has collapsed.

Judge Samuel Conti, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, rejected the lawsuit on June 25, saying the claims were outside of the court's jurisdiction and would require a complete overhaul of the VA by Congress.

The veterans groups contend that the VA and Congress do not have the exclusive right to decide due-process issues and that the courts have a pivotal role to help improve the lives of veterans suffering from the mental disorder.

"We think the judge's ruling is wrong, and where there is a wrong, there is some remedy," said the groups' attorney, Gordon P. Erspamer of the law firm Morrison & Foerster. "Look at all these soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with horrible psychic wounds getting turned away from VA facilities."
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Again, all you have to do is think about the fact the suicide and attempted suicide rate has gone up in order to know someone else has to be the authority in this and make sure what needs to be done is done instead of someone just saying it is being done.

What are we doing when the citizen soldiers return?

Returning Troops Blunt Iraq as Campaign Issue in New Hampshire

By Hans Nichols

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Sergeant Brian Moore had one foot in his bunker in April when a rocket exploded, spraying his back with a dozen bits of burning shrapnel. His spine swelled, paralyzing the New Hampshire National Guardsman for two days.

Two months later, back in New Hampshire from his second Iraq deployment, Moore, 47, told Republican presidential candidate John McCain that, even with his wounds, the U.S. troop surge has tamed the ``wild West'' conditions of Moore's first tour in 2003 and 2004. Now, Moore told McCain in a meeting before a town-hall meeting, Baghdad streets are as safe as ``downtown Nashua.''

Combat Troops

National Guard members, from military reserve units in every U.S. state, provided a bigger share of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than they have in any other overseas conflict. Since hostilities began, almost 200,000 Guard troops have served in Iraq and more than 25,000 have been in Afghanistan.

At the peak, more than 95,000 Guard soldiers were in Iraq and 10,000 were in Afghanistan, said Major Randal Noller, a National Guard spokesman. Today, the force has fallen to 25,887 Guard troops in Iraq and 5,189 in Afghanistan -- the fewest since the march on Baghdad began in 2003.

Returning National Guard soldiers influence public perceptions of the war because most go directly back to civilian life, said Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

``Communities know when someone from the Guard is out, like a sheriff, a police officer or a doctor,'' Cordesman said. ``The whole community is likely to know it.''
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I want to focus on addressing the National Guards unique issues here.

While they train to deal with emergencies in their own states, prepare for combat, they are not like the other members of the armed forces. For the branches of the regular military, living on bases, living in units, it is a lot easier for them to be deployed. They are leaving behind families, but the citizen soldiers also leave behind their jobs and their incomes as well. They do not return to bases. They return to work. A great deal of them are in the service to their local communities. Some in law enforcement. Some in fire departments. As this report points out, ``The whole community is likely to know it.'' This leaves a question needing to be answered. When they come home, does the community remember it?

Many of these citizen soldiers need help to heal from their wounds, physical and emotional. Many need help catching up on bills that they could not pay while living on military pay when they made more money in private life. Doctors and other highly paid people, along with blue collar workers and business owners, base their budgets on what their professions pay. With a year or more of deployment causing financial hardship, it only adds to the stress they and their families are under. There have been far too many reports of families having to rely on food stamps and being foreclosed on.

225,000 National Guard citizen soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. We can think of how they have been affected but we need to remember the families as well. Without the proper support of veterans centers and community involvement in taking care of their needs, they are falling thru the cracks. These men and women are our neighbors. There is a saying the military takes care of it's own but do communities take care of their own?

What are you doing in your community for them? Are there support groups set up for them? Are churches stepping up to help them heal the spiritual wounds? Are the police departments educated on what PTSD is and how it causes a unique issue when they come into contact with a combat veteran? Are employers aware of the need and are they doing anything about it?

There are communities across the nation preparing for the veterans to return. There are some courts addressing the unique circumstances of veterans but there are not enough of them. This should be done in every state and especially in states with sparse populations. Every community should not only be aware of what PTSD is, they need to set up programs to help them heal. If you are a community organizer, work in a City Hall or Town Hall, find the people with the power to begin the programs to address the needs of the citizen soldiers. If you attend a church, make sure your pastor, minister or priest is aware of what PTSD is and what they can do to help members of their church family. If you are involved in hospitals, make sure nurses and doctors are aware of this and the hospital chaplains are capable of serving the veteran and the family.

I belong to NAMI and the IFOC, among other organizations. There have been too many people telling me there is nothing being done in their own communities. Right here in central Florida, I visited over 20 churches to make them aware of the needs our veterans have. Only one pastor contacted me and he happened to be a chaplain as well. They need to step up or they are not really serving their congregations. We notice when someone in the National Guard has been deployed and they notice when they come home and no one seems to care. Let's get this right for them.

Senior Chaplain Kathie Costos
International Fellowship of Chaplains
"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

South Florida Veterans Center Grand Opening

DAVIE, FL 33314















PLEASE RSVP TO 954-791-8603


I was honored to have been invited to this but unfortunately I cannot attend. They are showing some of my videos. My heart is tugged but I cannot get out of a prior commitment. If you live in Florida, please go to the Grand Opening and show your support of this. Veterans centers are vital in the healing of our veterans. There is not enough help to go around for them and many do not want to turn to the VA for help and support. Please support all veterans centers, not just for the new veterans, but all veterans.

Davie is near Fort Lauderdale.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flag-raising Marine recognized as an American citizen

Flag-raising Marine recognized as an American citizen
WASHINGTON — The flag raising at Iwo Jima has become an iconic American image, so federal officials were surprised to learn recently that one of the men was never fully recognized as an American citizen.

Sgt. Michael Strank, one of the Marines immortalized while struggling to lift Old Glory, was officially honored as a U.S. citizen and hero at a ceremony Tuesday in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Virginia. It was long overdue.
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Church shooting witness screamed "why" in gunman's face

No matter what Adkisson uses for an excuse of why he did this, it will never make sense. That's what happens when someone does such an evil act.

Witness screamed 'Why?' in gunman's face
Story Highlights
Eric Dixon was watching daughter in church play when shooting began on Sunday

Dixon and other church members rushed the gunman and subdued him

Shooting killed two, injured seven; suspect says hatred of liberals was motive

Police chief says more might have died without church members' action

(CNN) -- Eric Dixon was watching his daughter act in a church production of the musical "Annie" on Sunday in Knoxville, Tennessee, when paternal pride turned to horror.

"We heard a loud boom. I looked up at my daughter on the stage and she was looking up at the lights and I figured a light blew up or something," Dixon said. "I looked up and then the second shot happened."

The 12-gauge shotgun blasts were the opening rounds of an attack that killed two people at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Six people were wounded by gunfire. A seventh person was injured diving under a pew. Four patients remain hospitalized.
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Man arrested in death Spc. Megan L. Touma

Man arrested in death of pregnant soldier

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 29, 2008 21:48:35 EDT

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Police in North Carolina say they’ve arrested a suspect in the death of a pregnant soldier whose body was found in a motel bathtub.

Fayetteville police said Tuesday that 27-year-old Edgar Patino has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Army Spc. Megan L. Touma.
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PTSD on Trial: Iraq vet with PTSD "had big plans for violence"

Pewaukee Tactical Suspect Had Big Plans For Violence
Today's TMJ4 - Milwaukee,WI,USA

Mick Trevey
Katie DeLong
Erin Drew Kent

PEWAUKEE - New information about the man behind a bomb threat at Pewaukee’s City Hall Tuesday: he claimed to have big plans for violence.

Suspect Malcolm Richards, 26, told Pewaukee police he wanted to steal a gun and a squad car and go on a shooting spree.

Richards told officers he wanted to shoot lawmakers in Madison and Washington, D.C.

Richards doesn't fit the profile of a typical criminal. He's a college graduate. He's an Iraq war veteran. His mom told officials he has post traumatic stress disorder.

Richards was in court Tuesday on charges he locked himself in a City Hall bathroom claiming to have a bomb.

We learned Tuesday that the SWAT unit used pepper spray to get him out.
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Report appears to clear KBR in Sgt. Ryan Maseth's death

Report appears to clear KBR in soldier's death
The Associated PressPublished: July 29, 2008

WASHINGTON: An interim Defense Department report has found no evidence KBR was involved in the death of at least one U.S. soldier electrocuted in Iraq.

The inspector general's report said while electrical systems in Iraq were known to "pose a hazard to personnel," there is no evidence Houston-based KBR Inc. was aware of any life-threatening hazards at the Army barracks where Sgt. Ryan Maseth died.

Maseth, an Army Ranger and Green Beret from Pittsburgh, was electrocuted in January while showering.

Details of the IG report explain that an ungrounded water pump on the roof of Maseth's barracks failed and electrified the water pipes. Additionally, a circuit breaker failed because tar from roof repairs appeared to have leaked into the panel.

Maseth's mother, Cheryl Harris, has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against KBR over her son's death. Her attorney, Patrick Cavanaugh, said the inspector general's conclusions do not change their position that KBR is at fault in Maseth's death.
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Candidates’ forum at Fort Hood is scrubbed

It will be very interesting to find out why Senator Obama thought doing something else was more important. Don't get me wrong. I think he'd make a fine president but this was very important to the troops. I hope he plans on doing it another day and I hope Senator McCain does as well. The future of the troops depends on who takes the chair next and they should be able to ask all the questions they want.

Candidates’ forum at Fort Hood is scrubbed

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 29, 2008 15:52:57 EDT

A proposed Aug. 11 town hall meeting near Fort Hood, Texas, in which it was hoped that the two presidential candidates would talk to audiences of military members, veterans and retirees is off, the event’s chief organizer said Tuesday.

But whether the event is canceled or simply being postponed is unclear.

“We are open to rescheduling, if they want to, but it was getting to close to Aug. 11 to leave it open,” said Carissa Picard, managing director of the Fort Hood Presidential Town Hall Consortium that was planning the event, planned for the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Texas, near Fort Hood, the largest U.S. military base.

Picard had announced July 11 that the town hall meeting would be televised by CBS and that aides to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential candidate, had indicated McCain was willing to attend.

Picard tried to bring pressure to get Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic presidential candidate, to agree to attend, but campaign officials said Obama had another event previously planned for that day.
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August 9 - 12, 2008 Bally's Hotel Las Vegas 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89109

But Senator Obama will not be able to go to this either. This is from the DAV site.

Delegates to DAV 87th National Convention to
hear from Presidential Candidates

Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is tentatively scheduled to address the delegates at DAV’s 87th National Convention on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democratic presidential candidate, will be unable to attend the convention because he is travelling out of the country. He will provide a taped message to delegates however.

DAV's 87th National Convention is being held at Bally's Hotel Las Vegas Aug. 9 - 12.

Bill to aid paralyzed vets blocked in Senate by GOP

Bill to aid paralyzed vets blocked in Senate

By Cristian Hernandez - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 29, 2008 16:45:16 EDT

A bill promising more money for programs that help paralyzed veterans is part of a bundle of legislation tied up in partisan bickering in the Senate.

The Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve Act, which includes money for research into spinal cord injuries, is one of about 36 bills combined by Senate Democrats into what they are calling the Advancing America’s Priorities Act.

The bills have been bundled in an attempt to bypass objections from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has used senatorial privileges and procedures to stop action on several bills, including the spinal cord injury bill.

The Democratic plan failed Monday on a 50-42 vote, leaving them short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the package.
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Ky. weapons depot confirms mustard gas leak

Ky. weapons depot confirms mustard gas leak

By Jeffrey McMurray - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 29, 2008 18:54:33 EDT

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The first mustard gas leak in three years was confirmed Tuesday at a chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky, less than a month after workers there found a leak inside a separate storage igloo housing a deadly nerve agent.

But officials said the latest leak poses no danger to the community nor the surrounding atmosphere.
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Body of soldier found at Fort Hood

Body of soldier found at Fort Hood
By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writerPosted : Tuesday Jul 29, 2008 17:24:57 EDT

The body of a soldier with 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), was found Tuesday at a training area on Fort Hood, Texas.
There was no training taking place in the area where the body was found, brigade spokesman Maj. Raul Marquez said.
The incident is under investigation, and the soldier’s name is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.

Troops who served in Basra Iraq may have contamination from water plant

Guard warns soldiers of possible chemical exposure

Associated Press

JASPER, Ind. - The Indiana National Guard is notifying nearly 600 soldiers who served in Iraq that they may have drunk water tainted with a carcinogen at an Iraqi treatment plant.

During a U.S. Senate hearing in June, senators learned that sodium dichromate -- a cancer-causing chemical that can also cause breathing problems -- was used at the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra, Iraq.

Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Deedra Thombleson told The Herald of Jasper on Monday that the Guard has sent letters to most of the 140 current and former soldiers known to have been at that treatment plant between May and September 2003.

The addresses for 18 of those soldiers could not be found to send them letters notifying them of their possible exposure.

Thombleson said 448 other Guardsmen are also being contacted to determine if they were ever at the plant. Of the 588 soldiers being sent letters, she said 138 are back in Iraq.
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This means not just the National Guardsmen but all the people in the area may have been exposed.

City needs donations for Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall

Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to return to Lynn

By Robin Kaminski / The Daily Item

LYNN - The "Wall That Heals," a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C., will be on display at Fraser Field next year.

A beacon of hope to aid the healing process for thousands of veterans over the years, the wall has also acted as a voice for the names of the souls on the memorial to exist once more.

A success the first time it rolled into the city in 1999, the Lynn Department of Veterans' Services will once again sponsor the event from Aug. 27-30, 2009.

Fundraising to help defray costs for the event has already begun, and a raffle will be held tonight prior to the North Shore Navigators game at Fraser Field.

Michael Sweeney, director of Veterans' Services said Solimine Funeral Homes has partnered with the city and Lynn veteran organizations to help organize the event.

"Along with Lucia Lighting and Design, they have donated two pairs of Red Sox vs. Yankee tickets for the last game of the season, Sept. 27, to be raffled off," he said. "And Bob Hulgren, a Vietnam veteran, and his wife Adelle really deserve credit for helping sell raffle tickets at every Navigator game." For $10, tickets can be purchased at City Hall in the Veterans' Service office or at Fraser Field. Proceeds will help pay for the costs associated with bringing the wall to Lynn and other veteran programs.

Sweeney said tickets could also be purchased through the Lynn Veterans' Council, and the Vietnam Veterans of America, Lynn Chapter 908, and through other veteran posts throughout the city.
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For those of you who read my book, you know I'm from Lynn. I remember going to see the Wall and the reaction of the veterans as moving as ever. Years never seem to change the way they look at the Wall no matter how many times they stand in front of it. Now, it's not just for the Vietnam veterans but for all veterans. Much like the Vietnam veterans have fought for benefits for all veterans, this Wall serves as a testament to their compassion for each other and all who have worn the uniform. Politics gone. Pro or Con gone. All that matter is the lives lost for the sake of serving this nation and each other.

I've seen Iraq and Afghanistan veterans approach the Wall the same way I used to see the Gulf War veterans approach it. They stand in awe as they walk past the panels. Are they thinking of the men and women they served with who are no longer here? I believe they are. No matter what or where they served, this Wall has managed to touch all of them. It helps to heal the families of the fallen as well. If you live in the area, please help Lynn out with a donation to host the Wall.

Gospel singer dies in Tampa shooting

Gospel singer dies in Tampa shooting
By Thomas Lake, Times Staff Writer
In print: Monday, July 28, 2008

TAMPA — A young gospel singer died Sunday morning. His name was Levi Dixon Jr. He was alone in a friend's house on Walnut Street in West Tampa about 4 a.m. when someone kicked open the front door and shot him, police said. He was 17.

No arrest had been reported by late Sunday. Relatives thought the shooter might have mistaken Levi for someone else, and Tampa police Lt. Ronald McMullen acknowledged that possibility.

"By all accounts, he was a good kid," McMullen said.

Levi went to Blake High School, and he loved animals. His MySpace page was covered in pictures of Simba, the young lion from Disney's Lion King.

Relatives said he was on the verge of musical success. His uncle, Ricky Pearson, said Levi wrote his own music and sang in local clubs.

"I just keep seeing his face," Pearson said Sunday afternoon, outside Levi's mother's house in Tampa Heights, as friends and relatives came in their church clothes to grieve with her.
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Man shoots girlfriend and co-worker, kills self Tampa Sonic Drive-In

July 29, 2008
Tampa police: Man shoots girlfriend and co-worker, kills self
TAMPA -- Upset about a disagreement with his girlfriend, a Tampa man shot her and a co-worker outside a fast-food restaurant this morning and then killed himself, authorities say.

The shootings stemmed from an altercation Monday night at the the Sonic Drive-In at 4411 W Gandy Blvd., where police say the man argued with a female employee whom he had been dating, identified as Cassandra Gorham, 21, of Seffner.

Shortly before 2 a.m., after the restaurant had closed, the man returned with a handgun and opened fire on several people sitting inside cars in the parking lot, said Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for the Tampa Police Department. Gorham and another Sonic employee, Michael D. Stephens, 24, of Tampa, received nonlife-threatening injuries, police said.

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Words From War Stories Online

For father on 3rd tour in Iraq, family separation the hardest"Like anything in life, the military comes with its advantages and disadvantages. I know we've enjoyed the different cultures and personal relationships we've experienced in the U.S. and abroad. But this is my third tour in Iraq, and this month is the third of my daughter Claire's seven birthdays that I've missed, and the second in a row. Everything has its price."
— Army Maj. Matthew Phelps

Click above to read more of this.

Click the (links) pictures below to read all "Words From War" stories (listed in alphabetical order):
R. Ball Jr
J. Barker
D. Bates
The Berrys
C. Billingsley
M. Bonner
J. Bradley
S. Burgos
The Burleys
H. Butts
J. Cadenas
G. Calhoun
L. Caroe
K. Cate
R. Cortez
W. Crews
W. Dalla Rosa
S. Dearduff
D. DeKoeyer
T. DeKoeyer
R. Dukes
L. Ebert
I. Elbahtiti
M. Forester
J. Fox IV
A. Garrett
S. Gilpatrick
J. Harris
J. Henry
J. Hoffman
M. Howard
T. Hughes
P. Imhoff
R. Jarrard
L. Jean
D. Johnson
P. Johnson
D. Kelley
K. Kravchak
S. Lawson
K. Lewis
R. Lewis Jr.
K. Linderman
B. Mau
S. Maxwell
N. McDonell
D. Miller
S. Mislan
K. Mitchell
R. Mitchell
R. Morris
J. Neilson
D. Pack
T. Padgett
M. Phelps
J. Page
A. Rager
B. Ray
J. Riggs
C. Salvia
W. Schaeffer
S. Seymour
I. Talarico
J. Teasley
J. Thomas
R. Walton II
A. Witters
This is a great series I didn't even know was there.