Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homeless veterans "ain't too proud to beg" but too proud to ask for help

America we have a serious problem in this country when a veteran is not ashamed to ask for spare change or beg for a place to sleep when the shelters are full but they are too proud to ask for help to heal, stop self-medicating themselves to death and do whatever it takes to hold their families together. What's wrong with us? As the media reports more and more on PTSD how is it that the numbers of homeless veterans, attempted suicides and successful suicides goes up instead of down? How is it that with years of covering the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, they have not managed to get it into our brains that this nation needs to fully mobilize to help them come back home? Read this from July.

Homeless veterans face new battle for survival
Story Highlights
More veterans are facing a new enemy on the nation's streets
Veterans make up almost a quarter of homeless population
Homeless rate among veterans expected to rise

By Mike Mount

(CNN) -- "I can't find the right words to describe when you are homeless," says Iraq war veteran Joseph Jacobo. "You see the end of your life right there. What am I going to do, what am I going to eat?"

Jacobo is one of an increasing number of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who come home to life on the street. The Department of Veterans Affairs is fighting to find them homes.

Veterans make up almost a quarter of the homeless population in the United States. The government says there are as many as 200,000 homeless veterans; the majority served in the Vietnam War. Some served in Korea or even World War II. About 2,000 served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The VA and several nongovernmental organizations have created programs that address the special needs of today's veterans returning from war. In addition to treating physical and mental injuries, there are career centers and counseling programs. But the VA still expects the homeless rate among the nation's newest veterans to rise because of the violent nature of combat seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials say many more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer post-traumatic stress disorder than veterans of previous wars. The government says PTSD is one of the leading causes of homelessness among veterans.

"They come back, and they are having night trauma, they are having difficulty sleeping. They are feeling alienated," says Peter Dougherty, the director of homeless programs for the VA.

The VA says 70 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan saw some form of combat, either through firefights, rocket attacks or the most common strikes on troops -- roadside bomb attacks on their vehicles.

That is three times the rate of combat experienced by Vietnam veterans, according to the VA.
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Maybe it didn't matter than much back then because it was the summer after all and the weather was warm. We tend to not think of the homeless when it's not freezing outside but we never stop to think about things like them swelter in the heat of a summer day and not having enough fluid in them to stay alive. Well this is approaching winter as snow comes into parts of the nation right now and ski enthusiast take to the slopes. Better start to think about them if you managed to forget about them the rest of the year.

We really have a bigger problem than we know about. It's because of the attitudes of so many disinterested people in this country we have the veterans and their families falling apart with so little help from their own communities. Sure things are better than they were when the veterans came straggling home from Vietnam one by one, but National Guards and Reservist go straggling back to jobs and businesses one by one. Veterans go back to school or begin civilian jobs one by one. They are left to wonder if they are the only one going through what they are going through. Wouldn't it be great if they had a friend to talk to who knew exactly what the "thing" was when their friend mentioned it? Wouldn't it be wonderful if a wife confided in a co-worker or parent about the changes in her husband and have the person respond with "It may be PTSD" instead of silence or "you should leave him" the way people will use blanket responses instead of informed ones. It would really be even better if no one ever had to wonder what PTSD was because they had been exposed to it so much that it was as obvious as talking about any other illness from erectile dysfunction to bone loss in women. But it isn't and it isn't very likely to happen unless all the information out there gets as much attention.

The obvious answer would be for the pharmaceutical companies making the drugs to treat PTSD to do what they do for the other illnesses they push pills for and make people wonder enough to learn. That would be a great place to start to stop the veterans from being too proud to ask for help but not too proud to beg for pocket change. When you think about it, think about the lack of commercials on it, it's easy to understand why most of this is happening and will very likely get much worse.

Chaplain Kathie
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

Chambliss sees "win" when he's a loser for veterans?

I thought Georgia cared about their veterans but when you think about the two senators they have voting against veterans, they must not really care that much. Just look at this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GOP image goes from bad to worse, even Lincoln would have switched
Senator Saxby Chambliss D-
Senator Johnny Isakson F

I guess that in the case of veterans, and the troops when you get right down to it, Georgia must not rank veterans very high on their list of priorities. Maybe Chambliss thinks he deserves to go back to the senate since his counter part is even worse when it comes to veterans. I wounder if he would appear to be so smug if he had to look a veteran in the eye to explain his voting record against them?

Chambliss predicts victory in Georgia
By David Edwards
Sen. Saxby Chambliss told Fox’s Chris Wallace that he would “win again” in Georgia’s runoff election. Chambliss appeared on Fox News Sunday.

“If voters turnout in the same ratios and same numbers we’ll win again,” Chambliss said.

Projections suggest that black voters will only make up 23 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s runoff election. African American voters made up about 35 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4th general election. The high black turnout was credited with making Chambliss’ opponent, Jim Martin, competitive on Nov. 4th.

Chambliss doesn’t concede the black vote. “There were an awful lot of African Americans that voted for me,” he said. “I’ve reached out to the African American turnout and I continue to do that.”

This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast Nov. 30, 2008.
click link for video and watch for yourself.

This must come from the fact that Chambliss didn't go when it was his turn. Remember the attacks against Max Cleland? As Max points out in this, Martin did serve but Chambliss had better things to do.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Cleland criticizes Chambliss over Viet Nam
Former Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia is accusing Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of avoiding the Vietnam War "with a trick knee." Cleland, who lost his seat to Chambliss in 2002, has pointed to Chambliss' lack of military service before, but his criticism Friday was unusually direct. In a conference call with reporters, Cleland said Chambliss "got out of going to Vietnam with a trick knee and in many ways he tricked people." In contrast, Cleland said, Chambliss' current Democratic opponent, Jim Martin, served in the war. Chambliss' campaign did not immediately respond. Chambliss received a student deferment from the draft and later was turned down for service because of a bad knee. Martin worked as a noncombat personnel officer in Vietnam, while Cleland served in combat and lost three limbs in a grenade blast during a 1968 mission.

(Associated Press)

Too bad that the people of Georgia don't value the veterans enough that they matter more than keeping these two senators on their jobs when they keep voting against veterans and attacking them when they want to. Let's see what happens on Tuesday with the runoff election. I really hope Georgia plans on making something so wrong finally right. kc

“I asked for an Xbox 360 and I got a 12,500 square-foot building" for Fort Sam wounded

$5M oasis for war wounded to open at Fort Sam

By Michelle Roberts - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Nov 29, 2008 14:30:03 EST

SAN ANTONIO — Judith Markelz has relied on volunteers for years to help the war wounded and their families. They’ve brought meals, DVDs, event tickets and an endless supply of cookies to help comfort those whose lives are suddenly upended by a bomb or a bullet.

So when a new volunteer, Les Huffman, arrived at the chaotic 1,000-square-foot room used for the Warrior and Family Support Center in January 2007 and asked what Markelz needed, the program manager said a new video game system.

But Huffman, the president of a small commercial development firm, wanted to do more. And when Markelz conceded she could use a little more room, that’s what she got: a $5 million building designed like a Texas Hill Country home with a therapeutic garden, classroom, video game room and kitchen — all paid for by private donations. It’s the first center of its kind built on an Army post.

“I asked for an Xbox 360 and I got a 12,500 square-foot building,” she laughs. “Nice trade-off.”

Markelz gets the keys to the new place, built at Fort Sam Houston, on Monday.

Cash donations to the Returning Heroes Home, the nonprofit Huffman Developments set up to oversee the project, were supplemented by subcontractors eager to give their time and by suppliers willing to give materials for free or at steep discounts.

“Whenever we’ve needed anything, things have just come together,” said Beverly Lamoureux, the Huffman Developments executive vice president who helped oversee the design and building of the new center.

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Licking ground was idea of troops, police say

Licking ground was idea of troops, police say

The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Nov 29, 2008 14:38:14 EST

MADISON, Wis. — Two police officers accused of forcing two Iraq war veterans to lick what the officers believed was one of the men’s urine claim it was the veterans’ idea.

The National Guardsmen, Sgt. Anthony Anderson and Spc. Robert Schiman, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for the June incident in the Wisconsin Dells. It names Officers Wayne Thomas and Collin Jacobson as well as another officer, the chief and the city.

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VA has a history of losing papers

While it is not a new problem, it is a larger one than ever before. There is a saying among veterans trying to have claims approved. "It was lost in translation." In their case, they are talking about how the VA requires veterans to have their papers and claims all in within a certain timeframe, but the translation on the VA end is "whenever" they process it. We've heard stories of lost files for years.

VA has a history of losing papers - St. Petersburg,FL,USA
By William R. Levesque, Times staff writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Air Force veteran David Chini has lost track of all the times the Department of Veterans Affairs lost records he sent to it.

Registered mail? A VA worker signed, and the paperwork vanished. By fax? Chini, 69, of St. Petersburg said the VA claimed it never arrived. Regular mail? Don't even ask.

And if something doesn't arrive, the agency threatens to discontinue his medical benefits because Chini isn't sending the papers it needs.

"It's just totally demoralizing," he said.

Recent revelations that workers in 41 of 57 VA regional benefits offices, including St. Petersburg, improperly set aside hundreds of claims records for shredding came as no surprise to veterans.

The VA, critics say, has long operated in a veritable culture of lost paper and was losing records many years before this latest scandal. Lost paperwork sometimes leads to delayed, denied or abandoned claims for medical or financial assistance.

And it leaves some questioning if workers lose it deliberately to ease workloads. At least two VA employees outside Florida are being investigated for just that.

"I remain angry that a culture of dishonesty has led to an increased mistrust of the VA within the veteran community," said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The VA notes it is the most paper-intensive federal bureaucracy, sifting through 162-million pages of claims documents a year.

And while the VA hopes to have largely paperless claims filing by 2012, the size of the agency makes computerization a challenge.
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The usual explanation for lost files when it comes to Vietnam veterans is that the papers were all lost in the fire in St. Louis. Read about it here.

Veterans Still Burned Over 35 Year Old Fire
For more than 30 years many a veteran has been faced with the chilling reality of discovering that their military service records had gone up in smoke in a St. Louis fire.
Since that time countless numbers of veterans have been fired up by responses to inquiries and benefits applications that include the now infamous "Your records were burned…" statement.
To this day among many veterans the standard wisecrack upon being told that a service or VA document of theirs has been misplaced or is temporarily unavailable is- "Must have had another fire in St. Louis." More skeptical vets feel that the fire offered a convenient opportunity for covering up long standing mismanagement of important records and offered the system yet another means of dodging the benefits bullet.
What about the fire? And what was burned? The only answer is the official one and official answers tend to serve only as confirmation to the believers and fuel for fire for the skeptics. Nonetheless, here it is:
"On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) in St. Louis destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files."The National Archives
Just as important an issue is- Which records went up in smoke? Once again, the official word from The National Archives:
"Army records: Personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960. 80% estimated loss.Air Force records: Personnel discharged, September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.). 75% estimated loss."
click link above for more

The problem with this is they don't seem to talk very much about all the unit records that were not destroyed. Most of the bases kept the same files because the DOD does everything in multiple copies. It they really wanted to find the files they needed, they could but that would take too much time and too much manpower to do it. Wouldn't it be worth it to the veterans if they did find the copies available to speed up some of these claims? Wouldn't it be a better idea for the VA to hire enough workers so that these claims are not trapped with all the new ones? After all, we're not just talking about claims. We're talking about veterans and their families waiting to have their claims honored.

Demand up for mental health care

Demand up for mental health care
Denver Post - Denver,CO,USA
Although no one can say for sure, anecdotal evidence lays blame on economic stress.
By Kevin Simpson
The Denver Post

They come in for counseling related to a DUI, but it turns out the alcohol was meant to kill the depression of a lost job, a lost house, a lost spouse — or maybe all three.

They ask for help with gas money or car repairs so they can make their therapy appointment.

They struggle to make co-payments.

They rush to take advantage of employee assistance programs — sometimes fearful they might lose their job, sometimes trying to grapple with their job loss before employee benefits expire.

Layoffs, corporate cutbacks, a tumbling stock market and the credit crunch have ratcheted stress to new levels, prompting many experts to connect the economic downturn to a recent uptick in requests for mental health services even as some patients can hardly afford them.

Although most say it's too early to pinpoint the precise cause of the jump, anecdotal evidence from both caregivers and consumers suggests the failing economy has pushed more people toward therapeutic relief.

Variations on the theme have emerged all across the country — muted only slightly in Colorado, said George DelGrosso, executive director of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, a statewide association of community mental health centers.
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Excessive force lawsuit in Florida after Hurricane Ivan

When you think of what life is like after a hurricane comes thru, houses destroyed after neighborhoods have been evacuated, it's easy to understand how people can be hyper-vigilant. This sounds as if everyone was trying to do the right thing when all hell broke loose.

We moved to Central Florida from Massachusetts right before all the hurricanes hit. Charlie was the worst for us. I remember walking around, looking at all the damage on my street, in shock. None of my neighbors evacuated because Charlie was not supposed to hit here. None of us bordered up our windows either. Adding in all that stress, topping it off with an evacuated neighborhood, it's easy to understand all that happened that day to the people involved in this.

'Excessive force' lawsuit filed over post-Ivan confrontation (with documents)
Andrew Gant
Daily News
A federal lawsuit is stirring in Santa Rosa County, four years after the plaintiffs say they were beaten - one Tasered - and wrongfully arrested during post-Hurricane Ivan looting.

Daniel and Cathy Thompson of Navarre and former Navarre resident Edgar Knowling are seeking unspecified damages from Sheriff Wendell Hall and seven others for "blatant use of excessive force," according to their complaints.

"Since the incident ... (the Sheriff's Office) has also engaged in a course of misconduct to cover up, conceal and/or manipulate facts surrounding the case," according to the plaintiffs' complaint.

One defendant, former Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Farnham - accused of being the main aggressor - already has been convicted of civil rights violations in his own trial.

The Sheriff's Office, the Thompsons and Knowling all declined to comment on the case, but the complaints are long and detailed.

The facts

Knowling spotted two strangers near a neighbor's garage on Tidewater Lane late Sept. 20, 2004, four days after Ivan struck and knocked out power and devastated homes in Navarre.

Knowling, a retired Air Force colonel, was armed with a long-barreled shotgun that night. He fired a warning shot into the ground and told the men to get away from his evacuated neighbor's home.

Nearby, Daniel Thompson, a retired New York City police captain, heard the gunshot, woke up and came outside with his chrome revolver.

But the men in the garage weren't looters. They were sheriff's deputies investigating prior reports of looting, according to court records.

What happened next is disputed.
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PTSD and John 3:16

By Chaplain Kathie
from web site
As we enter into the Christmas season, while we begin our shopping for family and friends, it is too often forgotten what this time of year actually means. It's not about long lines at the mall or holiday parties. It's not about sending Christmas cards to people you don't think about the rest of the year. This is what it's all about.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It's about love. Why is it that we can remember people we love outside of our own family during Christmas but we can't seem to think of them the rest of the year? Donations to charities go up this time of year. We dig into our pockets when we hear the bell of the Salvation Army ringer sitting by the red kettle, often too embarrassed to simply pass by. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we see the advertising in our local papers to donate to the paper's Christmas fund for the less fortunate. We think about the kids who have very little during the year and we want to make sure they have something for Christmas morning. Come New Year's Day, all that sense of compassion and random acts of kindness get replaced with our own needs and wants.

For some, it never goes away. In my case, hanging onto it was not a noble undertaking. As a matter of fact, it was selfish. Because we suffered so much during the years of our marriage with PTSD eating it alive, I grew more determined to not let "it" win. I'm stubborn. My father said it was the Scottish blood in my veins and my mother said it was the Greek nothing is impossible attitude. Having that combination must have made me unable to surrender. I will not surrender to PTSD. I'm going to fight it until my last breath. Not just for my family but fall all families. "It" wins if we forget, stay silent and ignore what needs to be done to defeat it. While love alone cannot conquer this enemy of all we hold sacred as humans, it must be fortified with it.

Picture PTSD as Satan's foot. When men and women come back from combat, they come back with the events they endured ingrained within them. Some change is very small ways but it all came home with them. For others, their character, all that made them who they were inside, is being infected by trauma. For the families and friends loving them becomes very difficult when they are no longer the same person. That's Satan's foot. It causes sense of self to get in the way when they act differently. If we take a leap of faith, understanding that there is a reason for the change, then we explore it until we can understand it. Understanding what PTSD is, why the person we thought we knew could seem more like a stranger, we kick Satan's foot out of the way and begin to help the veteran of combat heal.

Our eyes are as open as our hearts are willing to allow. Instead of thinking they want to hurt us, we see how much they are hurting inside of themselves. Instead of thinking they are selfish, we understand that deep inside of themselves, they regret the fact they came home when others died. Instead of allowing them to believe God judged them and condemned them by supporting that thought with the way we treat them, we can instead show love, compassion and forgiveness. They are able to see God's love thru our actions and thru the eyes of love.

Love is not supposed to be temporary or seasonal. It is not supposed to end when our feelings are hurt or we don't get what we want. It should not be surrendered as easily as we return the gifts to the store the day after Christmas because we thought we deserved better. It is a commitment that we take all too lightly.

Think of it this way. How much time do you spend looking thru sales flyers to make sure you get the best deal for what you want? How much time do you spend going thru the newspapers looking for coupons to save? Have you spent nearly as much time in learning about PTSD when you have someone serving in your own family? Are you afraid to do it? Do you think that you have enough to worry about and don't want to even think they could have PTSD? Well, I have news for you. If you think you've got enough to worry about and they do come home with PTSD, the troubles you think you have will be minor in compassion to what PTSD can do to your family if you don't know what it is or how to fight it.

My videos above will explain what it has taken me over 25 years of constant study and living with it took to learn. There are two I want you to watch about this for a start. PTSD Not God's Judgment and PTSD I Grieve. Begin to learn in this season of love to awaken a part of your heart that has been asleep.

Let's make this Christmas a time when we change our hearts and minds to understand that love is a gift to be cherished and invested in.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Soldier found dead in Richardson barracks

Soldier found dead in Richardson barracks
The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Nov 29, 2008 15:54:00 EST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Army has launched a criminal investigation into the death of a 25-year-old soldier whose body was found in his barracks at Fort Richardson.

Army officials say Spc. Blake A. Bronaugh of Wichita Falls, Texas, was found dead of unknown causes on Thanksgiving Day.

Bronaugh was a construction equipment operator assigned to C Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion.

He joined the Army in September 2005.

He received his engineer training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and arrived in Alaska in April 2006.

Officials say Bronaugh’s next of kin have been notified of his death.

Military Bases brace for surge in stress-related disorders

Bases brace for surge in stress-related disorders
By LOLITA C. BALDOR (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
November 29, 2008 10:24 AM EST
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky - Some 15,000 soldiers are heading home to this sprawling base after spending more than a year at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military health officials are bracing for a surge in brain injuries and psychological problems among those troops.

Facing prospects that one in five of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers will suffer from stress-related disorders, the base has nearly doubled its psychological health staff. Army leaders are hoping to use the base's experiences to assess the long-term impact of repeated deployments.

The three 101st Airborne combat brigades, which have begun arriving home, have gone through at least three tours in Iraq. The 3rd Brigade also served seven months in Afghanistan, early in the war. Next spring, the 4th Brigade will return from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. So far, roughly 10,000 soldiers have come back; the remainder are expected by the end of January.

Army leaders say they will closely watch Fort Campbell to determine the proper medical staffing levels needed to aid soldiers who have endured repeated rotations in the two war zones.

"I don't know what to expect. I don't think anybody knows," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, as he flew back to Washington from a recent tour of the base's medical facilities. "That's why I want to see numbers from the 101st's third deployment."

What happens with the 101st Airborne, he said, will let the Army help other bases ready for similar homecomings in the next year or two, when multiple brigades from the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division return.

Noting that some soldiers in the 101st Airborne units have been to war four or five times, Chiarelli said he is most worried the military will not be able to find enough health care providers to deal effectively with the troops needing assistance.

Many of the military bases are near small or remote communities that do not have access to the number of health professionals who might be needed as a great many soldiers return home.

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Linked from RawStory

Our Lady of the Angels: The fire that 'changed everything'

Firefighter Richard Scheidt rushes from the school with John Jajkowski, 10. (Steve Lasker / Chicago American) More photos

Our Lady of the Angels: The fire that 'changed everything'
By Rex W. Huppke Tribune reporter
November 29, 2008

On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire consumed Our Lady of the Angels grade school on the West Side of Chicago, killing 92 children and three nuns.

A wire story from that day captured a fragment of the desperation:

"Max Stachura stood outside the burning building, begging his little boy, Mark, 9, to jump into his arms. Children were falling all about the father and he caught or stopped the fall of 12 of them. But little Mark was too frightened or he didn't understand his father. Mark didn't jump."

Fifty years later, Mark's mother has the day in crisp focus, and adds a missing detail.

As Mark stood at that second-floor window, fire to his back, he held a small statue in his hand and waved it proudly through the black smoke, hoping his father would notice. Mark had won the statue that day — a figure of an infant Jesus — for being first to answer a quiz question.

"I guess he was just so proud of that prize," said Mary Stachura, now in a retirement home in Bartlett. "I don't think he really understood what was happening."

Few of the children trapped in the school could have grasped the enormity of the danger they faced, and few of the panicky adults on the ground — parents and neighbors and firefighters — had time to reflect. They acted, grabbing ladders of all lengths from garages, reaching through broken windows to haul small, waterlogged bodies from the flames.

Max Stachura watched as other children pushed his son back, away from the window and into the flames. The boy was later identified by a homework sheet crumpled in his pocket.

Max rarely spoke of that day. He died suddenly of a heart attack at 52.

"He was much too young," said Mary, now 85. "That fire. It changed everything."

The fire at Our Lady of the Angels remains one of the worst tragedies in Chicago's history, a ghastly few hours on a cold, sunny afternoon that shattered families and knocked a hopeful, growing community forever off its path.

The cause of the fire was never officially determined, and no one was held accountable. Some parents who lost a child--or children-- found ways to blame each other and wound up divorced. Others sold their tidy two flats and moved away, hastening the flight of the middle class from the city's West Side.
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2 heroes risk life to save soup kitchen manager after firey crash

SNN PHOTO / CRAIG BURDICK A soup kitchen manager died Friday morning when her car was rear-ended in front of Wal-Mart near U.S. 301. The driver that hit her is charged with DUI manslaughter.

Woman killed in fiery crash

Published: Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.

MANATEE COUNTY - Two witnesses fought flames spurting out the back of a car that was crumpled by an alleged drunken driver in a rear-end collision that killed a local soup kitchen manager around 6 a.m. Friday.

One man reached into the car to check for the occupant's pulse and felt nothing, while the other used a fire extinguisher from their Waste Management truck to douse the flames.

The two then smashed the window and cut off the 77-year-old woman's seat belt to remove her because the blaze continued to flare.

"We weren't sure if she was gone," said Charlie Hall, a driver for Waste Management. "And even though she was, I didn't want that lady to burn up because that would have been more horrific for the family."

Hall and co-worker Lorne Hancock were two of the first people at the fiery accident on State Road 70 and 30th Street East -- a busy intersection of retail hubs on the biggest shopping day of the year.

A 20-year-old Bradenton woman was the driver of the midsize sport-utility vehicle that plowed into the rear of the elderly Bradenton woman's car, Florida Highway Patrol said. Both vehicles were headed west in front of the Wal-Mart.

Mary DeLazzer -- the manager for more than 20 years at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in the 1400 block of 14th Street West -- died at the scene. She was most likely on her way to the kitchen when she was hit, a friend said.
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Chicken soup for a complex problem, homelessness

Maybe you're like I was at a time in my life when I thought the homeless people received enough help so they didn't need me. I was actually afraid of them when I was walking around. My excuse, well I was just a teenager at the time. When I grew up, my attitude did too.

I started to see them as people that once had families and friends, jobs, places to live and bank accounts. After all, my father did. He was a Korean War veteran and 100% disabled. He was also an alcoholic. My father never ended up homeless but spent about a year in a project living in a tiny apartment. Because of him, I understood how families could turn their backs on one of their own. Having a parent come home drunk with half the neighborhood talking about him was not something to be proud of. There were constant fist fights and shouting matches. He stopped drinking when I was 13 and joined AA. My parents separation ended and he moved back home.

His alcoholism and recovery changed my mind about homeless people. I understood that my father could have been one of them. Then as I grew older, they captured my heart.

It was not until my husband's PTSD got so bad that I was considering sending him to the homeless shelter in Boston that my eyes were fully opened. Homeless veterans also walk the streets with all the others. Imagine being willing to lay down your life for the sake of the other people in the country only to be left abandoned by them, homeless and walking the streets for the rest of you life. Fighting for a bed to sleep in or someplace out of the snow, rain and freezing temperatures. Wondering when you'll eat next or when you have taken your last chance. While all homeless people mattered to me, the veterans being homeless broke my heart. Considering I almost had two of them in my own life, it isn't hard to understand why that is.

Some use drugs and alcohol to the point where their lives fall apart but others see hard times come into their lives and they cannot cope with them. There are as many reasons for homeless people as there are homeless people. Some never had a close family to take care of them. Some have mental illness and there are no jobs for them even if they could work.

What really go to me is that there is the most famous homeless person in the history of mankind. His name is Jesus. Remember He didn't really have a home to go to at the end of working a long day spreading the word of God. He didn't have a stock of food to eat whenever He wanted to or clothes in suitcases. He had to rely on the kindness of strangers to take care of His needs. His Disciples gave up their homes, families and livelihoods to follow Him. They were taken care of by the people in the towns they traveled to. No one asked them why they didn't have a place to live. No one asked them why they couldn't find real jobs to take care of their own needs. No one judged them. They just took care of them.

Think about it the next time you find nothing wrong with homeless people walking our streets with not enough people to take care of them, feed them, shelter them and clothe them.

Senior Chaplain Kathie "Costos" DiCesare
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

Chicken soup for a complex problem

By Cristina Silva and Austin Bogues, Times Staff Writers
In print: Sunday, November 30, 2008

Laura Lanciotti was hooked on cocaine and liquor, unemployed and living under a highway overpass in downtown St. Petersburg when advocates for the homeless told her about Pinellas Hope.

She moved into the outdoor tent shelter in unincorporated Pinellas County in October, quit the booze and drugs and got a job as a security guard at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Pinellas Hope "helped me put my life back together," said Lanciotti, 55.

Once regarded as an experimental, quick fix to the area's growing homeless problem, Pinellas Hope has quickly become Pinellas County's leading social service provider since the shelter opened 12 months ago.
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Darryl E. Owens: Salvation Army needs your sweaters, not just pennies

A couple of times a year I go thru what we don't need anymore and donate them to the Vietnam Veterans. After reading this, I'm going to do it one extra time this year and drop them off at the Salvation Army. How about you? I know times are tough and you may want to sell some of the things you don't need at a yard sale, but you do get a tax deduction with donating to the Salvation Army at the same time you're doing something good for someone else.

Darryl E. Owens: Salvation Army needs your sweaters, not just pennies
Black Friday

with shoppers lining up at ungodly hours to nab heavenly deals -- traditionally starts the winter-holiday shopping season.

Traditionally, it has also marked high tide in the flood of donations to charitable groups such as the Salvation Army, as enlightened altruists think end-of-the-year tax breaks.

But then, traditions are made to be broken.

If the past six months are prologue, the group known for trotting out a red kettle during Christmastime may need to pass around a tin cup to scare up enough donations to serve the swelling ranks of the needy who depend on its thrift stores to clothe their families.

From the beginning, donated items plunged. Daily donations that once averaged about 8,000 pieces of clothing have slumped to between 4,000 and 5,000.

"We don't know if people are wanting to hold on to items or stretch the life of their clothing or bric-a-brac," says Justine Birmingham, a spokeswoman for the charity.

Meanwhile, the plunging financial markets sparked soaring thrift-store sales, Birmingham says.

Only supply isn't meeting the record demand.

"While we have large numbers coming in wanting to purchase, wanting to make their dollars stretch more, unfortunately, we don't always have the products," Birmingham says.
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3 killed by Amtrak train after their car bypasses crossing gate

3 killed by Amtrak train after their car bypasses crossing gate With Video
Willoughby Mariano | Sentinel Staff Writer
11:11 AM EST, November 29, 2008

Two men and one woman died Friday night after the sedan in which they were riding bypassed crossing gates and flashing lights and was hit by a passenger train in south Orange County.

The crash occurred about 7 p.m. at east Lancaster Road and South Orange Avenue, as the occupants of a four-door, 1994 Buick were traveling between the homes of friends, said Sgt. Kim Miller, a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman.

The sedan was crossing the tracks eastbound on Lancaster when a northbound Amtrak train carrying about 170 passengers crashed into it. The car went airborne, landing hundreds of feet away near a warehouse parking lot. It smashed into a parked tractor-trailer before overturning.

Driver Walter Martinez, 22, was pinned under the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Cristina Rosa, 19, and John Penaloza, 27, were pronounced dead at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Victor Carrillo, 22, was in serious condition at ORMC.
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War-zone accidents down; off-duty wrecks rise

War-zone accidents down; off-duty wrecks rise

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Nov 29, 2008 7:15:20 EST

Fatal accidents in the war zone declined sharply and claimed fewer soldiers’ lives in fiscal 2008, but the number of soldiers dying in off-duty accidents back home continues to creep up.

Motorcycle accidents once again top the list of off-duty killers, followed by accidents in sedans and other privately owned vehicles, according to data compiled by the Combat Readiness/Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.

Of the 130 soldiers who died in privately owned vehicle accidents in fiscal 2008, 48 were in sedans, compared with 38 last year, and 51 were on motorcycles, up from 38 in fiscal 2007.

Sport bikes — lighter, more powerful motorcycles that accelerate faster and cost less than heavier cruisers — are the most popular motorcycles among soldiers, according to Army safety experts.

Of the 51 motorcycle accident fatalities, 37 occurred on sport bikes, compared with 29 in fiscal 2007.

Soldiers receive free basic and experienced rider courses through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and dozens of rider mentorship courses have sprung up across the Army. A new sport-bike course was launched May 30 and motorcycle simulators are being installed at several posts.
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Grace After Fire, online group for women after war

Grace After Fire
Grace After Fire is a resource solely for women veterans to support their need to connect with each other and share yet remain anonymous. These women can reach out to others who have experienced the same concerns of re-entry, alcoholism, drug addiction, or prescription addiction due to chronic pain, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), incidents of service time rape, depression, unwarranted anger or traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to wartime trauma.

Go to

1SG, USAR (Ret)
Author and Speaker
Researcher and Consultant

My video Women at War

My video, The Voice, Women At War

This video shows the rich history of women in the military. I used some of Noonie's information in this video.



David M. Bresnahan
Posted; 1:05 AM Eastern
February 9, 2006

VERSAILLE, Mo. -- The American Gulf War Veterans Association, in conjunction with The Power Hour Productions, is giving away 10,000 DVDs of the video documentary "Beyond Treason" to veterans who simply ask for them.

Winner of the Grand Festival Award at the 2005 Berkeley Film Festival, "Beyond Treason" documents over 50 years of neglect and abuse of veterans by the DOD, VA and government officials. Using Senate reports, Congressional transcripts, military records and veteran testimony, the documentary explores the history of chemical warfare, Agent Orange, secret experiments, Gulf War illness and depleted uranium exposure.

"We are making this effort to reach out to veterans and their families, because hundreds of thousands remain ill and untreated by the VA. They are being denied any explanation or causation. ‘Beyond Treason' provides answers to questions that government officials and the DoD don't want asked, said Joyce Riley, RN, BSN, narrator of the documentary.

Riley, who is also spokesperson for the American Gulf War Veterans Association, said that "Beyond Treason" is sent at no charge to any veterans who request it. Details of the offer can be found at the web site

The video contains actual documentation from U.S. government records giving the details of experiments on military and civilians. It also contains interviews with scientists, veterans, and government officials who verify the claims and describe a government cover-up for the past 60 years.
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Memories of Maggie—Martha Raye: A Legend Spanning Three Wars

Saturday 29 November 2008
9:00-10:00 AM Eastern

Since just before World War II, the USO has been the bridge between the American people and our men and women in uniform, conveying the heartfelt appreciation and support of a grateful nation. Whether it is a quiet place to go for rest and relaxation, movies, refreshments, or a friendly face, the USO delivers its special brand of service to the military.

For over 67 years the USO has been there for us.

Join Veterans Radio and our guest John Hanson, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications as we talk about some of the history and stories of the USO.

One of the best known and loved performers on the USO circuit for over fifty years was Martha Raye. From the deserts of North Africa to the jungles of Vietnam , Martha(Maggie)Raye entertained America’s finest.

Join our guest Noonie Fortin, retired Army Reserve First Sergeant, and author of Memories of Maggie—Martha Raye: A Legend Spanning Three Wars. Did you know that “Maggie” was an honorary member of the Special Forces. She received her cherished Green Beret and title of Lieutenant Colonel from President Lyndon Johnson? And that she was buried with special permission at Ft. Bragg?

Tune in Saturday morning to learn more about this incredible American heroine.

Call us with your USO or Martha Raye story at 877-573-7825
Tune in Saturday morning on
WDEO (990-AM Ann Arbor/Detroit),
WMAX (1440-AM, Saginaw),
WDEO-FM (99.5 FM, Naples, FL),
KAGY (1510-AM Port Sulphur / New Orleans, LA),
KIXW (960-AM, Apple Valley CA) and
KMRC (1430-AM Morgan City, LA)…
…or, at

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brenden Foster's last wish for homeless already raised $95,000 in cash plus truck loads of food

Brenden's mom: 'Amazing what he accomplished'
Watch the story

BOTHELL, Wash. -- The truckfuls of food donated in Brenden Foster's honor are now in the hands of the hungry.

The beloved boy lived long enough to see his final wish to help the homeless come true. After he died, his mother was able to see what he had accomplished.

Wendy Foster hadn't left home since her son died in her arms last Friday. But this week, she and her family went to Food Lifeline to see what a difference he made just one day before he passed.

Wendy saw boxes stacked to the ceiling marked with her boy's name to be shipped to shelters and food banks.

"This is amazing," Wendy said. "This is the biggest gift. I couldn't ask for a better gift."

And what Wendy saw was only a small part of what was left. A food drive in Brenden's honor collected enough food to fill seven semi-trucks as well as $95,000 in cash donations. And this week, Wendy herself delivered a huge check to Food Lifeline.

"I am very pleased to hand this over to you -- $43,300," she said.

"Oh, my gosh," said Camilla Bishop of Food Lifeline as she accepted the donation.

Wendy herself has needed help feeding her family. Caring for Brenden became her full-time job and wiped out the family's finances.

"We've been very close to being on the streets ourselves," she said.

All memorial services for Brenden Foster will be closed to the public. However, those who wish to send flowers can do so to Evergreen Washelli at 11111 Aurora Avenue North Seattle, WA 98133 on Dec. 6, the day of his funeral. Red roses are said to have been his favorite.

Donations can be made to the Brenden Foster Cancer Fund at any branch of Washington Mutual Bank.
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Related Content
Brenden Foster: 'I had a great time'
Brenden Foster: 'I could have done more'
Dying boy inspires goodwill in people near and far

Moses hailed for turning in $10,000 cash, Moses Baraunic that is

Grocery bagger and Sunday School teacher named Moses does the right thing turning in a bag with $10,000 in cash! Now that's a leasson for all of us.

Moses Baranuic
Teen hailed for finding -- and turning in -- $10,000
YouNews™Story Published: Nov 27, 2008 at 10:43 AM PST

By Keith Eldridge Watch the story FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- A local teen is being hailed for his honesty this Thanksgiving holiday for finding -- and returning -- a large sum of money he found.

How large? Try $10,000.

For Moses Baranuic, a tough decision presented itself while he was on duty as a bagger at the Top Foods Store in Federal Way.

He was heading to the men's room on break, and he had no idea what treasure he'd find in there.

"As I walk in right here on the floor, I noticed a bag of money," he said.

But he had no idea yet how much money was in there

So he washed his hands, thought about it, and did the right thing.

"I just grabbed the money, walked outside and gave it to the manager," Baranuic said.

His manager was impressed.

"His name tells it all," said store manager Etray Hudson. "With a name like that you can't go wrong.... Moses."

Moses says there's something biblical about his decision to turn in the cash.

"Because I teach a Sunday school with 10-year-old kids and I always tell them to do the right thing," he said.
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Quilters give injured veterans their handmade, heartfelt warmth

Quilters give injured veterans their handmade, heartfelt warmth
By Jia-Rui Chong

In one corner of the classroom at Prince of Peace Episcopal Church, a group of women knotted blue thread atop layers of star-spangled fabric and cotton batting. In another corner, a sewing machine hummed over floral-patterned strips.

About a dozen ladies gathered that day in Woodland Hills for the monthly work party of the L.A. Veterans Quilt Project. Volunteers have stitched about 600 quilts for the project and donated them to local veterans wounded in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We want them to feel loved," said Karen Van Den Brink, a 61-year-old Encino resident who coordinates the project. "This is the way quilters do it. We don't write speeches. We sew."
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Bus carrying Bellevue High football team overturns on I-5 near Des Moines

Bus carrying Bellevue High football team overturns on I-5 near Des Moines
A bus carrying members of the Bellevue High School football team overturned on its side on Interstate 5 this morning.

A charter bus carrying 38 people, most of them members of the Bellevue High School football team, overturned on its side on Interstate 5 after it swerved to avoid a ladder that had fallen from another vehicle onto the freeway.

Injuries are believed to be minor in the crash, which happened at 10:56 this morning in the southbound lanes of I-5 south near Des Moines. The bus was one of two carrying coaches, players and others to the Tacoma Dome, where the team was scheduled to play Capital High of Olympia in the Class AAA semifinals. The game was canceled and has been rescheduled for Monday.

According to the State Patrol, eight people were transferred to hospitals, including six football players. The most serious injury was a concussion.
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In Mumbai hospital, dying and maimed ask: Why me?

In Mumbai hospital, dying and maimed ask: Why me?
Wards fill with victims of massacre as doctors struggle to cope with aftermath of attack
Randeep Ramesh in Mumbai,
Saturday November 29 2008 00.01 GMT The Guardian,
Harishchandra Shiverhankar scribbled furiously on a notepad, gesturing with his fingers to explain his last bloody memories of Wednesday night before waking up in an unfamiliar hospital bed.

The 56-year-old was walking towards the Metro cinema when he felt his legs collapse - a bullet had been shot through his lower back. A hand then grasped his hair, pulled back his head and a blade slit his neck. He had been caught in the vortex of violence unleashed by people who wanted to murder, not just maim.

Setting down his pad he manages to croak: "This should have never happened to me."

The office worker's story, told from his bed in Mumbai's JJ hospital, is part of a largely hidden tragedy - that behind the headlines of wealthy westerners fleeing Mumbai's terror frontline it was ordinary Indians who bore the brunt of the bloody attack on this city of 19 million people.

Next door to Shiverhankar lies Jayaram Chavan, his leg shattered by bullets. He had been running for his train home to the western suburbs amid the Victorian splendour of Mumbai's main Chhatrapati Shivaji rail terminal when two young men with guns in their hands opened fire. "I wanted to go home, that's all. Why me?"

Outside the private Bombay hospital journalists jostled for news of the three British nationals inside, but little was heard about the 70 Indians that lay next to them. Part of the reason for the lack of publicity about local casualties is that hospitals themselves have banned journalists, pointing out that the militants had targeted wards in the first wave of attacks. No one, unless they could prove they were hospital workers or related to the victims, was supposed to be allowed in. But the Guardian was allowed access by doctors keen to publicise Mumbai's suffering.
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Man almost bashes Turkey Trotters with Bible

Man almost bashes Turkey Trotters with Bible, police say
CLEARWATER -- A man arrested for disorderly conduct on Thanksgiving almost hit several Turkey Trot 10K runners with a Bible during a street sermon, police say.

Mark Alan Sutto, 48, was delivering a street sermon at South Lake Avenue and Nursery Road when he interfered with the event by shouting at runners, getting in their way and waving a large Bible in their path, police said.
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Thanksgiving night for heroes

Honoring the Fallen
Dan Rooney pays tribute to servicemen and women by sending their families to college
Aug 25, 2008 - pg. 72
As Dan Rooney's flight landed at the Grand Rapids airport on a rainy June night in 2006, the pilot made an announcement: "The body of an American hero is onboard. As a sign of respect, please remain seated." For the next 30 minutes, Rooney watched as soldiers carried the flag-draped casket of Cpl. Brock Bucklin onto the tarmac, where his 4-year-old son waited in the arms of his grandmother. Rooney, an F-16 pilot and Iraq war veteran, wept quietly, thinking of his wife and two daughters back home. "What if that were Jacqy and the girls," he thought. "I had to do something." In that brief moment, Rooney's life changed.
The Oklahoma Air National Guardsman and golf pro decided to provide college scholarships for the kids and spouses of service people killed or disabled in the line of duty. Enlisting the support of the PGA, Rooney, 35, launched Patriot Golf Day last Labor Day and raised $1 million by asking golfers at 3,400 courses to kick in an extra dollar in greens fees. Since then, through his nonprofit Folds of Honor Foundation (go to for info on this year's Patriot Golf Day), he's handed out 200 scholarships. Though Ginger Gilbert Ravella received death benefits and is eligible for educational grants from the Veterans Administration for her five kids after her husband, Troy, died in Iraq, Gilbert Ravella thanks Rooney from the depths of her heart: "I don't know how I would have paid for them all."
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CNN Heroes list of the ten
Liz McCartney
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Liz McCartney is dedicated to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors in St. Bernard Parish, a community just outside New Orleans. Her nonprofit St. Bernard Project has rebuilt the homes of more than 120 families.

Viola Vaughn
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
A group of failing schoolchildren in Kaolack, Senegal, once asked Viola Vaughn to help them pass their classes. Today, her "10,000 Girls" program is helping girls succeed in school and learn business skills.
Carolyn LeCroy
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
After serving time in prison, Carolyn LeCroy started the Messages Project to help children stay connected with their incarcerated parents. She and volunteer camera crews have taped roughly 3,000 inmate messages.
Marie Da Silva
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Marie Da Silva has lost 14 family members to AIDS. Today, the Los Angeles nanny funds a school in her native Malawi -- where half a million children have been orphaned by the disease.
Maria Ruiz
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Several times a week, Maria Ruiz of El Paso, Texas, crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico, bringing food, clothing and toys for hundreds of impoverished children and their families.
David Puckett
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
David Puckett started PIPO Missions to bring ongoing prosthetic and orthotic care to those in need. Since November 2000, he has helped more than 420 people in southeastern Mexico, free of charge.
Phymean Noun
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Growing up in Cambodia, Phymean Noun struggled to complete high school. Today, she offers hundreds of children who work in Phnom Penh's trash dump a way out through free schooling and job training.
Anne Mahlum
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Anne Mahlum used to run by homeless men each morning. Today, she's running with them, and others, as part of her "Back On My Feet" program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Tad Agoglia
Story Video Extra 1 Extra 2 Get Involved
Tad Agoglia started The First Response Team to provide immediate help to areas hit by natural disasters. Since May 2007, he and his crew have aided thousands of victims at 15 sites across the United States -- free of charge.
Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Moved by the lack of children's books and literacy in his native Ethiopia, Gebregeorgis established Ethiopia Reads, bringing free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of Ethiopian children.

Father and son receive simultaneous Silver Stars

Father and son receive simultaneous Silver Stars
By KRISTIN M. HALL – 1 hour ago

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) —Jonathan Harris, a Blackhawk pilot who withstood enemy fire to save a wounded crewmember in Afghanistan, was awarded a Silver Star on Friday. Not to be outdone, his 60-year-old father was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star in a simultaneous ceremony honoring his bravery in Vietnam.

The two generations watched each other through a video teleconference between Fort Campbell, where the elder Gary Harris was honored, and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where Jonathan is completing a tour.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told retired Staff Sgt. Gary Harris via video that he hoped the special ceremonies repaid the Army's failure to give him an official ceremony nearly 40 years ago.

Gary Harris, of Corbin, Ky., originally received his medals in the mail. He was officially pinned with a Silver Star by the deputy commanding general-rear for the 101st Airborne Division for gallantry in action against an armed hostile force in Vietnam. He also received a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement during his time in Vietnam.

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also from the Orlando Sentinel
Orlando-area man receives Silver Star for Vietnam heroics 40 years later
Gary Taylor | Sentinel Staff Writer
November 28, 2008

For decades, Frank Ambrose never questioned why he didn't receive a medal for a firefight in Vietnam that killed or wounded everyone in his 15-man patrol.

After all, a medal wouldn't bring back the friends he lost that day outside Da Nang when his group of Marines stumbled upon two battalions of the North Vietnamese Army.

"We didn't care about medals back then," Ambrose said. "That was the last thing on our minds."

The enemy soldiers were just as surprised as the outnumbered Americans that day -- Feb. 7, 1968 -- which might be the reason Ambrose lived to talk about the ordeal and to hold the Silver Star he was recently awarded 40 years late.

About half his patrol was killed that day, including the Marines on either side of Ambrose when a rocket-propelled grenade hit as they took cover in a roadside ditch. "It blew all three of us out of the ditch."

He was hit above the eye by shrapnel that is still there. "My face was covered with blood," he said.

"I was the only one left conscious in the front group," he said, recalling how he stood his ground with a machine gun until another group of Marines arrived, alerted by a call from the patrol's radio man just as the attack began.

Although Da Nang was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army, it was the only major city in South Vietnam that didn't suffer a major attack, and Ambrose thinks it was because his patrol interrupted the enemy as they were preparing to launch it.

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Black Friday Wal-Mart rush killed employee

What is wrong with people? It's shopping! Is buying something so important the shoppers forgot that they are humans and not animals? I really hope buying what they wanted was worth the life of someone else and then they can go to the funeral to explain how much their purchase was worth this person's life. Top that off with a pregnant woman lost her baby in the same madness.

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

Updated Friday, November 28th 2008, 10:19 AM

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Nassau County Police are still investigating and would not confirm the witness accounts. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Police did say there were several injuries but weren't more specific.
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Linked from RawStory

UPDATE To this story
Cops hunt Wal-Mart shoppers after worker dies

Charges possible after Black Friday crowd tramples employee at N.Y. store

Sat., Nov. 29, 2008
NEW YORK - Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

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UPDATE to this story 12/2/08
Customers injured in crush suing Wal-Mart
Video showed that as many as a dozen people were knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the store. The employee was "stepped on by hundreds of people" as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, said Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming.

Story Highlights
Men suffered injuries after being carried along in rush for bargains, suit claims

Customers also filed claim against police, say they didn't maintain order

One store employee killed in post-Thanksgiving rush for bargains

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two customers are suing Wal-Mart for negligence after being injured in a mad rush for post-Thanksgiving bargains that left one store employee dead, the men's attorney said Tuesday.

Temporary Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed to death as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a store on Long Island at 5 a.m. Friday.

Attorney Kenneth Mollins said Fritz Mesadieu and Jonathan Mesadieu were "literally carried from their position outside the store" and are now "suffering from pain in their neck and their back from being caught in that surge of people" that rushed into the Wal-Mart.

New York Newsday reported that the Mesadieus are father and son, ages 51 and 19.

The lawsuit alleges that the Mesadieus' injuries were a result of "carelessness, recklessness, negligence."

In a claim against the Nassau County police department, the men also contend that they "sustained monetary losses as a result of health care and legal expenses ... in the sum of $2 million."

"This is a tragic situation that could have and should have been avoided with the exercise of reasonable care. There are very simple measures that could have been put in place to avoid this, such as barriers along the line to spread people out, extra security and a better police presence," Mollins said.
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Karzai: U.S. and NATO aren’t succeeding

Karzai: U.S., NATO aren’t succeeding

By Jason Straziuso - The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s president sharply critiqued the seven-year Afghan war Wednesday, complaining that U.S. and NATO troops haven’t made life better. The criticism came a day after he accused foreign forces of undermining him with a “parallel government” in the countryside.
The back-to-back barbs aimed at the international community’s handling of the fight with the Taliban and the rebuilding of Afghanistan underlined President Hamid Karzai’s increasing frustration with a conflict that has gotten bloodier each year.
“We haven’t accepted the international community so our lives would get worse. We accepted them so our lives would get better,” Karzai said Wednesday. “We can accept some destruction — even some civilian casualties — if we have hope for a future of security and peace ... but this (style of) fighting can’t be the only way forever.”
During a meeting Tuesday with a U.N. Security Council delegation, Karzai called for the international community to set a timeline for ending the war, although he didn’t mention a specific date. He asked how — given the number of countries involved and the amount of money spent in Afghanistan — “a little force like the Taliban can continue to exist, continue to flourish.”
The president expanded on that idea Wednesday during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, saying he was not asking for a withdrawal date, but rather a “date for your success.”
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Police: Guardsman kept donations for families

Police: Guardsman kept donations for families

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Nov 27, 2008 9:48:49 EST

HYDEN, Ky. — A Kentucky National Guard soldier was arrested Wednesday on charges that he kept money that he solicited as donations for the families of dead soldiers and others.

Jonathan Reed Morgan, 28, of Hyden in Leslie County, was charged with three counts of theft by deception. He was being held at the Clay County Detention Center in Manchester on $25,000 bond.

The Kentucky National Guard and state police received numerous reports from businesses and people who had been solicited for donations, police said. The money was solicited for families of dead soldiers and to buy care packages for deployed soldiers and children’s Christmas gifts, police said in a statement.
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NJ official accused of falsifying military record

NJ official accused of falsifying military record
Newsday - Long Island,NY,USA
November 26, 2008
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ An official in the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has been accused of falsifying his veteran and government records in order to receive a tax exemption and medical benefits.

William Devereaux, the department's director of veterans programs, was arrested Monday, issued a summons and released. A court hearing has not yet been scheduled.

In announcing the arrest on Wednesday, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said the 63-year-old Laurel Springs resident invented a false history of combat heroism in the Vietnam War. The prosecutor's office said its investigation was prompted by information provided by the county Office of Veterans Affairs.

Prosecutors said Devereaux falsely claimed on military benefits forms for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that he served as a paratrooper and artilleryman during the war and was injured multiple times. He also claimed to have received medals including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with "V" device.
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The New Team Max Cleland

The New Team Max Cleland
New York Times - United States

As he prepares to take office, President-elect Barack Obama is relying on a small team of advisers who will lead his transition operation and help choose the members of his administration. Following is part of a series of profiles of potential members of the administration.

Being considered for: Secretary of veterans affairs or senior defense post

Would bring to the job: A strong military background as a former Army captain in Vietnam, where he was gravely wounded and became a triple amputee, and federal experience in veterans affairs under President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Cleland is viewed by some people, particularly liberals, as a hero for his vocal condemnation of President Bush after an onslaught of negative Republican advertising helped cost him re-election to his Senate seat in 2002.

Is linked to Mr. Obama by: Early support for Mr. Obama’s Senate campaign in 2004, as well as for his presidential run. The relationship became awkward in July when Mr. Cleland was disinvited from an Obama fund-raiser because of his role as lobbyist, but an Obama spokesman said the campaign still had the “utmost respect” for Mr. Cleland.

Used to work as: Senator from Georgia, 1997-2003; Georgia secretary of state, 1982-1996; administrator of the United States Veterans Administration, the predecessor to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1977-1981. Mr. Cleland was appointed to the Sept. 11 Commission but resigned after accusing the Bush administration of “Nixonian” efforts to conceal crucial evidence.

In his own words: “The Bible tells me that no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends. ... There is no greater act of patriotism than that.” (Introduction of Senator John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.)

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for the Montana National Guard and Major General Randy Mosley

I am thankful for President Elect Obama going to meet with Matt Kuntz and see the outstanding work being done there to help the Guardsmen with PTSD. Major General Mosley is also a hero in my book. Because of the suicide of Chris Dana, they are moving mountains out of the way and came up with their own program. Here are just a few of the stories on the work being done. Click the links if you want to read more.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama promises to repeat Montana's National Guard PTSD work nation wide
Obama Pledges Nationwide Use of PTSD Program
Eric Newhouse
Great Falls Tribune
Aug 28, 2008August 28, 2008 - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama promised Wednesday to expand Montana's pilot program to assess the mental health of combat vets nationwide, if elected.The Montana National Guard has developed a program to check its soldiers and airmen for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder every six months for the first two years after returning from combat, then once a year thereafter. The program exceeds national standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense.The pilot program was created in response to the suicide of former Army Spc. Chris Dana of Helena, who shot himself on March 4, 2007, days after being given a less-than-honorable discharge because he could no longer handle attending drills following a tour in Iraq."He (Obama) told me he understood why we need to have additional screenings for PTSD," said Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, who was among a small group invited to meet with Obama on Wednesday in Billings. "And he told me when he is elected president, he will implement Montana's pilot program nationwide."Kuntz, who recently gave up his job as a lawyer in Helena to advocate for the mentally ill and their families, said he was invited to brief Obama on how Montana had become a national model for assessing the mental health of its combat vets.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Matt Kuntz of Montana NAMI took up PTSD cause after death of stepbrother
Fighting for proper care - State NAMI head took up cause after losing stepbrother to PTSD, suicideBy MARTIN J. KIDSTON of the Helena Independent RecordHELENA - As a child, Matt Kuntz lost a friend to an eating disorder. When he entered Capital High School as a teen, he lost classmates to suicide.Mental illness had always been there; it was always something he'd seen. But it wasn't an issue Kuntz stopped to consider for very long.Then last spring, he watched helplessly as his stepbrother, Chris Dana, lost a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and ended his life in suicide. That, Kuntz said, changed everything.More than 17 months into his unplanned but energetic campaign to improve mental health care in Montana, Kuntz is working to change the way mental illness is perceived by the public.

Spc. Chris Dana's story told to Obama by step brother
Stepbrother tells guardsman's story to Obama Helena soldier took his own life after tour of duty in IraqBy LAURA TODEOf The Gazette StaffMontana National Guard Spc. Chris Dana will never know the impact his life and ultimately his death may someday have on the lives of veterans nationwide.Dana took his life in March 2007, less than two years after returning from a tour in Iraq. His family believes he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by his combat experience.Since Dana's death, his stepbrother Matt Kuntz has campaigned for more awareness of the costs of untreated post-traumatic stress syndrome in Iraq war veterans.Wednesday, he was invited to meet with Sen. Barack Obama to share the message he's been spreading statewide for more than a year. At a quiet picnic table at Riverfront Park, Obama sat across from Kuntz, his wife, Sandy, and their infant daughter, Fiona. click post title for more

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Montana National Guard Maj. Gen. Randy Mosley moving mountains
I think I have a crush on Maj. Gen. Randy Mosley of the Montana National Guard. I love to post about what he is doing on PTSD. Spc. Chris Dana's suicide caused massive changes instead of just talking about "doing something" and much of it is owed to Mosley. I think above all, the frustration that comes with the fact taking care of the troops and the citizen soldiers should have been a guarantee. With some of the best minds in this country when it comes to waging war, you'd think they'd be able to put that kind of brain power behind taking care of the wounded caused by war, but they didn't think of any of this. The warriors are the ones who have been paying for it simply because they survived. I know I've been proven wrong before when I found hope in what some commanders have said they would do only to find they have done nothing more than talk about it but this time, Mosley has earned it already.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Montana National Guard, Picking Up The Pieces
Picking up the Pieces (PDHRA)
This is the link to the video the Montana National Guard is showing. I've been posting about it for a couple of days now and it is very important that it not only be seen, but duplicated across the country.
Guard stresses PTSD symptoms at meetingsBy ERIC NEWHOUSE • Tribune Projects Editor • May 21, 2008
LEWISTOWN — Montana's National Guard expanded its PTSD outreach efforts this week, hosting a series of 20 public meetings in armories across the state.As part of its effort to familiarize the public — and veterans in particular — with post-traumatic stress disorder, it played a video produced at Fort Harrison entitled "Picking Up the Pieces." That had Tiffany Kolar wiping her eyes."It raised a lot of questions for me," Kolar said after Monday night's meeting. "I have a brother who served with the Idaho National Guard and who later committed suicide. Now I'm learning a lot about what must have been happening."

Thankful for General Carter Ham

I am thankful for all of the men and women serving this country and those who served coming forward to talk about PTSD. All these years later after the first studies were done, there are now so many that soon no one will ever wonder again what PTSD is. There are literally hundreds of their stories on this blog but the most magnificent thing about all of them is that they were willing to talk about it no matter how much others wanted to stigmatize them. Their courage is a testament of the human spirit.

When commanding officers are willing to say they have PTSD because of their service, it sets and example for all others to follow. Because of General Ham, his willingness to face this wound without any kind of shame will allow all others to come forward to seek the help they need to heal.

Thankful story two belongs to General Carter Ham. As you read his story think of all the others coming forward and know we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

PTSD:General's story highlights combat stress
Gen. Carter Ham, to call him a hero would be putting it mildly. He's a hero to the troops not just because he's a high ranking officer, but because he is willing to speak out on having PTSD. That is a kind of courage very few in his position are willing to do.When men like my husband came home from Vietnam, they knew something had changed inside of them but they didn't know what it was. They suffered in silence just as generations before them suffered. When PTSD was first used in 1976 with a study commissioned by the DAV, news was slowly reaching the veterans. While they fought to have it recognized as wound caused by their service, it was very difficult to talk about. The perception that there was something wrong with them kept too many from even seeking help to heal.

Thankful for Brenden Foster, 11 year old angel opened eyes and hearts

11 year old Brenden Foster's dying wish, feed the homeless
Brenden Foster said he wants to be an angel so that he can help the homeless from Heaven. Get ready to cry for this sweet child when you watch this video. He's proof there are angels here on earth already. He's one of them.

This is the first post on this giving thanks day. Brenden Foster was the first wonderful story that came to mind. While some will read this story and think of how this child died at the age of eleven from Leukemia, they need to see how wonderful Brenden was and be thankful for him coming into this world as an earthly angel and for his Mom Wendy who gave him the love he needed so when it came time for his dying wish, he thought of others.

Brenden managed to care about people we so often find it so easy to avoid. The homeless people he saw, were not people to turn away from. They were people to turn to help. His unselfishness was a lesson to people around the world. This first post on Brenden brought in the most hits out of almost 5,000 posts on this blog. It received as of this posting 75 comments. Truly beautiful postings from people touched by his compassion.

Of all the stories I've posted on this year, Brenden's is was the most rewarding spiritually. Many conversations I've had over the years have come from people who see the world and what God has not done, children dying and suffering as innocents, crimes and acts of pure greed. I will remind them that those are the reason good people were created. They we sent into this world to offer kindness, mercy, gentleness and compassion. God cannot overrule freewill by His own rules but what He did was send into this world others who can show the love God has. How can anyone read about Brenden's story and not find love there? How can anyone read what his gesture changed for the forgotten and not see miracles?

Read the rest of the posts on Brenden but then click back on the link to this first post and read some of the comments there. They will help you to believe in miracles again.

11 year old Brenden Foster sees his dying wish come true
This is the third post on this little angel. He's only been here for 11 years and has already managed to change this nation and how we look at homeless people. To think this wonderful child could have asked for anything for himself and it would have been given, he asked that we take care of the homeless and feed them. There are angels among us!I was in the site for KOMO looking for an update and discovered this.Go to the Problem Solvers donation page and select "Brenden Foster Food Drive" from the donation options list.

Dying boy inspires goodwill in people near and farWatch the story By KOMO StaffWatch the story BOTHELL, Wash. -- An 11-year-old boy's dying wish to feed the homeless has taken on a life of its own, sparking a movement to help the hungry nationwide. Doctors gave Brenden Foster two weeks to live. His time was up last Wednesday. "I should be gone in a week or so," he said last Friday. On Monday, groggy and medicated, Brenden was having a rough day. "Tired," he said, visibly weak. "(You) need some more medicine," said his mother, Wendy Foster, stroking his head. Leukemia halted the young life of Brenden, who once dreamed of becoming a marine photographer. Brenden has relapsed for the last time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

11 year old Brenden Foster: 'I could have done more'"
Brenden Foster: 'I could have done more' Watch the story The local boy whose dying wish to feed the homeless inspired thousands across the world has taken a turn for the worse. Brenden Foster is growing weaker. His body is failing, his skin yellowing. His mother is trying to decide on the wording for his grave marker. BOTHELL, Wash. -- The local boy whose dying wish to feed the homeless inspired thousands across the world has taken a turn for the worse. Brenden Foster is growing weaker, but his message is growing stronger. His body is failing, his skin yellowing. His mother is trying to decide on the wording for his grave marker. "B-Man is his nickname, or Mr. B. But most people call him B-Man," said Wendy Foster. The end is near, and Brenden has one question for God. "Why at so young an age? I could have done more. But if it has to be now, it has to be now," he said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Angel to homeless, Brenden Foster died in his mom's arms
May the Good Lord comfort Wendy and Brenden's family. This little angel changed the world for the better.Brenden Foster: 'I had a great time'Brenden Foster, who inspired countless people around the world with his wish to feed the homeless, died early Friday in his mother's arms. He was 11. Read more »By Elisa Jaffe BOTHELL, Wash. -- The day I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11 year old's body."I should be gone in a week or so," he said calmly.When I asked him what he thought were the best things in life, Brenden said, "Just having one."I didn't understand how this child, who was a year younger than my own son, could be so courageous facing death."It happens. It's natural," Brenden told me.