Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ex-soldiers surviving post traumatic stress disorder

Once were warriors
After the horrors of war, many servicemen and women find themselves facing another battle: post-traumatic stress disorder. But a radical programme involving t'ai chi, meditation and Hawaiian "forgiveness" therapy is helping many of them find peace

• This article appears in Sunday's Observer Magazine
Louise Carpenter The Observer, Sunday 1 February 2009

Peter Stone was approaching the end of a long career in the army when he witnessed an event in Croatia in 1995 that was to ruin the next decade of his life. Walking through a village, he came across three Croatian children, aged 11, nine and seven. A father of four himself, Stone's instinct was to talk to them. He even reached into the pocket of his uniform and offered them some chocolate. Later, passing back through the village, he saw them again. They were lying in pools of their own blood by the roadside, their throats cut - punishment for speaking to the enemy.

Stone was an experienced soldier. He had served in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Croatia. He had seen death and despair, and he had endured and pulled through explosions himself. And yet it was this singular, horrific event that was to be his unravelling. "Those children were innocent," he says, his voice faltering, "and I could not get the memory of them out of my mind, I could not get the thoughts to go [away] that I was responsible, that if it were not for me, they would still be alive today."

Years later, Stone was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common problem that usually becomes apparent in soldiers years after the experienced trauma. It is often triggered by a second, unrelated trauma. In Stone's case, it was the death of his son in a car crash, two weeks before his son's 21st birthday, in 2001. He had been out of the army for a year then, his marriage having broken down due to the stresses of his job.

click link for more

Program aims to help vets get good jobs

Program aims to help vets get good jobs
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jan 31, 2009 8:55:50 EST

Sgt. 1st Class Chad Sowash never stops working for soldiers.

The Indiana Reserve senior drill sergeant is in his second mobilization at Fort Benning, Ga., in four years.

When Sowash isn’t shaping civilians into soldiers, he spends his time finding job opportunities for veterans in the nation’s top-rated firms.

About 18 months ago, Sowash launched VetCentral, an Internet-based program designed to help veterans find success in the civilian workforce.

“It focuses on connecting Fortune 500 companies with veterans,” said Sowash, vice president for business development for Direct Employers Association, a nonprofit group that works with major corporations to help them recruit more effectively. “The jobs have always been there, but there has never been a pipeline in place to funnel those jobs to the veterans.”

This is particularly important now given that the country is in one of the worst economic crises in history, resulting in hundreds of thousands of layoffs across America.

At the same time, the Army is less willing to pay out large bonuses to keep soldiers in the service.
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Iraq vet helps others adjust to civilian life

Iraq vet helps others adjust to civilian life
The Oregonian - - Portland,OR,USA
by Barry Finnemore, Special to The Oregonian
Thursday January 29, 2009, 3:00 AM
Joshua Ray joined the Army in fall 2001, motivated to follow in relatives' footsteps, take care of his family financially and serve his country.

He served with the 101st Airborne and was deployed to Iraq before and during the first year of the war.

When he was discharged and moved back to Oregon in 2005, Ray, 28, suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries so acute that he isolated himself from others.

"I basically locked myself up in my bedroom for two years," the Fairview resident and father of three young girls said. "I couldn't find the drive to do anything. One day I said, 'Enough of this.'"

Ray sought help and enrolled at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, where he is working toward degrees in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship.
click link for more

IG report:No harm done on infamous PTSD email.

Why am I having a hard time believing this report? How do they know for sure this email did not change the outcome for veterans? Personality Disorder discharges were supposed to be appropriate too. Remember them? Diagnosing troops with PTSD as having the pre-existing condition of personality disorder made sure the government had no responsibility in the fact they were having flashbacks and nightmares along with the rest of the symptoms of PTSD. I really wonder how many of them had TBI on top of it but were cut loose by the DOD. As of now, no on knows what happened to the over 22,000 this happened to or if they ever received any justice, or ever will. Now the Inspector General report says the email sent had no bearing on the diagnosis of our veterans. This is really hard to swallow.

Inspector General Releases Investigation on VA Staffer's Email ...
Hawaii Reporter - Kailua,HI,USA
Chairman Akaka remains concerned that VA is overburdened and underfunded
By Jesse Broder Van Dyke, 1/29/2009 9:06:10 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, commented today on a new VA Inspector General (IG) report into an email sent by a VA psychologist last year that appeared to discourage health care staff from diagnosing veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The IG investigation, requested by Akaka and released today, found that while the email was poorly written and inappropriate, it did not result in a change in diagnoses at that VA facility.
“I appreciate the IG’s investigation into this matter. It is fortunate that the actions of a single health professional did not result in an artificial decline in the number of veterans diagnosed with PTSD. I remain concerned that VA’s health care system is overburdened and underfunded as the needs of veterans grow greater and more complicated. I will continue to work towards making VA funding more timely, predictable, and robust,” Akaka said.
Chairman Akaka requested the IG’s investigation when the email was brought to light last year. He held a hearing on systemic indifference to invisible wounds on June 4, 2008.
The VA IG report is available here. VAO report
Jesse Broder Van Dyke is a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weakened Warriors?

Weakened Warriors?

by Chaplain Kathie

Iraq, Afghanistan VA Patients Exceed 400,000

Thursday 29 January 2009

by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t Report

As the number of veterans seeking health care continues to rise, the VA is straining to meet demands.

Amid talk of a drawdown of troops in Iraq, new statistics from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) show that US casualties are still climbing quickly. Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield injuries and deaths number 81,361, up from 72,043 last January, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Veterans for Common Sense (VCS). Veteran patients - including those who didn't seek care until their return home - shot up to 400,304 (from 263,909 in December 2007).

For the thousands of soldiers flooding the VA, mental illness tops the list of ailments. Forty-five percent of VA patients have already been diagnosed with mental health conditions, including a startling 105,000 diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These data do not include the incalculable number of mentally ill veterans who have not received a diagnosis or haven't sought treatment at the VA.

Health care for veterans has improved substantially in the past year, mostly due to legislative changes and funding boosts, according to Raymond Kelley, legislative director of AMVETS. The recently passed Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act entitles veterans to up to five years of free health care for military-related medical conditions. Other legislative victories include improvements to VA facilities, increased mental health care research and a boost for the claims processing system, which has been vastly understaffed and overburdened throughout the "war on terror."

However, many barriers to adequate care and compensation remain, particularly for veterans filing for disability benefits. Delays and denials of those claims are routine. Among vets with PTSD, 59 percent have not been approved for benefits, meaning that their claims are pending or rejected - or that, due to any number of deterrents, they have not filed a claim.

According to Paul Sullivan, executive director of VCS, the average wait-time for veterans to receive an answer after filing for disability compensation is more than six months. A recent VCS lawsuit against VA showed that PTSD patients face even longer delays.

click link for more

Suicides are up again. The cases of PTSD are going up and up, which is not totally a bad thing because it means more are seeking help for PTSD. The bad part of all of this is that the DOD and the VA are still not able to take care of all of them. They keep saying they're doing more but over and over again we find their "more" is not even close to what needs to be done.

For years they've relied on a program called "BattleMind" that was designed to prepare the warriors for combat and then casually addressed the fact that they could be wounded by PTSD after they told them they needed to mentally prepare for combat. The problem is how they did this ended up telling them that if they were weak, their minds not toughened enough, it was basically their fault they ended up with PTSD. This was not the intention of the program but the message was received this way.

That is one of the problems. The fact they have yet to understand what causes PTSD in some and not in others has been another problem. They don't understand there are basically three different types of people. One may be more self-centered. I have yet to hear from a veteran that was self-centered before combat developing PTSD. Another is the middle type, a little self-centered and a little sensitive. Some of them can and do become wounded by PTSD if their exposures to traumatic events happens one too many times. The other group, they are more sensitive and compassionate types. They seem to be wounded the most and the deepest. Being sensitive has nothing to do with not being courageous. Often it's the other way around. They see someone in need and because of their compassion, they do things no one else would dare to do in order to help.

The other thing that needs to be pointed out is that when they are deployed into combat, they do what needs to be done out of that same courage. They know lives depend on them and they set themselves aside to live up to the challenge. They put their own pain aside thinking of others. It is not until the lives of others are out of danger they crash. Most will not acknowledge they need help until they are far from danger. It's one of the biggest reasons they do not commit suicide while in a fire fight or on duty. They do it when they are in their bunks or back home.

While the Army study showed the redeployments increase the risk of PTSD by 50%, the DOD and the VA failed to do anything about it. Units are redeployed over and over again. Then there are the National Guardsmen and Reservists, also redeployed and on top of the stress of going into combat, they have the added stresses of trying to come back to their "normal" lives into a nation that has been oblivious as to what was expected of them and the hardships they had to endure.

BattleMind made them feel as if they were "weakened warriors" unable to cope with what was asked of them. It was not their fault. It was total lack of knowledge of what makes them so different.

I'll never forget a Marine I met at the VA in Orlando. He was trying to fill out paperwork to begin a claim with the VA as he sought treatment. He saw the Chaplain shirt I had on and we began to talk. The Marine put his hand over his face so that I would not see the tears coming. He said he was ashamed. He said he was a Marine and trained to be tough. He was falling apart because no one told him that he did his duty and was able to do whatever was asked of him because of his courage and was sustained by the dedication he had to his brothers. He didn't understand how much courage that took. There he was wounded by PTSD yet he was able to go into battle, able to overcome his own pain until he was no longer needed and back home.

This is what BattleMind should have addressed so they would not feel as if they were weak and it was their fault. They returned home feeling as if they just couldn't cut it.

Then when they came home, they realized they could no longer stuff the pain in the back of their minds. They knew they needed help but when they went for it, either their commanders belittled them or help was not able to keep up with the need. No one was prepared and they still are not even close. The VA is not able to help all of them even though data was known and there is no excuse for the lack of preparedness except the fact the people in charge thought they could get away with turning veterans away, denying claims and breaking them to the point where they simply dropped their claims. This is not a new attitude. It's been going on for a long time. What is new is the total contradiction of actions taken.

On one hand the VA and the DOD are reaching out to raise the awareness of PTSD, but the other hand is doing very little to be able to deal with the influx of new disability claims and treatment programs.

The VA and the DOD will pat themselves on the back for their suicide prevention programs but they will not address the fact the suicides have gone up every year or the fact that they are even brought to that point when treatments are supposed to be available so that no one should ever feel so hopeless they even contemplate suicide.

If people look back at what happened to Vietnam veterans they would have known exactly what was going to happen, but they didn't. Over and over again, I read "new studies" being done that were done over 30 years ago. I keep hoping for something new but they are wasting time.

This only address the issue of PTSD but then you have to add in Traumatic Brain Injury, other illnesses caused by contaminated water, depleted uranium, white phosphorous, Agent Orange and the host of other factors contributing to Gulf War Syndrome. The suffering of our veterans goes on and on. When they file a claim for what they know was caused by their service to this nation lead to being denied treatment and compensation for their condition, it dishonors the service they gave to the nation.

It is time we got this right or stopped pretending we are a grateful nation to them. We failed them and will keep failing until we do all that is necessary to meet the challenges we have when they come home, when their duty is done and their own challenges have been met because they did their duty.

"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

Army says body armor is "safe" for soldiers in combat

Army: Body armor safe for soldiers in combat
By Richard Lardner - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 30, 2009 5:58:09 EST

WASHINGTON — No U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan because their body armor was flawed and failed to protect them, a senior Army official said Thursday as the service defended how the lifesaving gear is tested before being used in combat.

A new audit by the Pentagon inspector general said the specially hardened ceramic plates from one body armor manufacturer — Armor Works of Chandler, Ariz. — were tested improperly and may not provide troops adequate protection.

The audit recommended that nearly 33,000 of the Armor Works plates be withdrawn from an inventory of about 2 million produced by nearly a dozen different companies.

Army Secretary Pete Geren disputed the inspector general’s findings, but agreed to withdraw the Armor Works plates as a precautionary step. In a move underscoring the tension between the inspector general’s office and the Army, Geren has asked a senior Pentagon official to settle the disagreement.

In a separate action, the Army in December voluntarily withdrew just over 8,000 plates because of testing gaps. Those plates were made by Armor Works and other manufacturers, including Ceradyne of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Simula, which is part of BAE Systems.
click link for more

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sen. Claire McCaskill wants answers on military substance abuse program

When they have an addiction and want help, that takes courage. I know because my father was not only a disabled Korean War veteran, he was also an alcoholic. It took a lot for him to get to the point where he wanted to do whatever it took to stop drinking. To have them made to feel as if they should have never sought help if appalling.
There is one more thing that needs to be considered here. That's self-medicating. Most of the time without the diagnosis of PTSD, self-medicating can appear to be the same as an addiction. The problem is, they are not addicted to the chemicals but addicted to killing off feelings they don't want to feel and claiming themselves down. Too many have been treated for addictions when they were not addicted and PTSD had gone untreated, so the treatment for addiction was worse than a waste of time. It prolonged the agony.
Senator wants substance-abuse program review
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jan 29, 2009 17:31:54 EST

A Missouri lawmaker wants service members who seek help for substance abuse problems to be shielded from disciplinary action.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is pushing for a review of military treatment and prevention programs for alcohol and substance abuse to look at whether the threat of punishment for admitting a problem is discouraging people from getting help.

She also is concerned about mismanagement and chronic understaffing of substance abuse programs.

Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Army Secretary Pete Geren have promised McCaskill they will investigate problems, but she is pressing ahead with legislation calling for a comprehensive review of current programs, new research into substance abuse treatment and an independent study of substance abuse in the ranks.

In a statement, McCaskill said her concerns come after looking into whistle-blower complaints involving the substance abuse program at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where the Army employee who pointed out problems said he later suffered reprisals. click link for more

DOD names soldiers from Kiowa Warrior helicopeters that crashed

Latest Coalition Fatalities
DOD names soldiers from Kiowa Warrior helicopeters that crashed
01/29/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 4)
Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, of Colville, Wash...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
01/29/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 4)
Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M. Tillery, 31, of Beaverton, Ore...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
01/29/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 4)
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley, 30, of Cameron, Mo...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
01/29/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 4)
Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski, Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minn...assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Reg, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed...
click link above for more

Body of Central Coast soldier who died in Afghanistan returns home

Body of Central Coast soldier who died in Afghanistan returns home
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Reported by: Danielle Lerner

Dozens of people gather to honor a local soldier who died in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Joshua Townsend served in the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. Two weeks ago, the 30-year-old was found unconscious in his room and rescue crews were unable to revive him. Wednesday, family and friends gathered at the Santa Barbara Airport to receive his body.

For those who knew the Santa Ynez Valley High School graduate, it was another step on their long road to recovery. Many people in the crowd never met the soldier, but they say every hero deserves a homecoming.

The charter plane carrying the body of Staff Sergeant Townsend taxied on the runway as a patriotic crowd waved the American flag and saluted the fallen soldier. His brothers in green were waiting to receive him.

"We're here to honor him, and his sacrifice to this country, and to support his family at this time," said Chaplain James Rose of the U.S. Army.

click link for more

PTSD new pin coming soon

I received permission to post on this now. A member of NAMI designed a pin to honor the PTSD veterans. As veterans seem to be divided on awarding the Purple Heart for PTSD (and TBI) none of them seem to be confused as to what PTSD is and that is a wound.

It is my strong belief that we need to get this right. From the beginning of time people have been wounded by traumatic events. Regular people, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time often walk away changed in profound ways. Police and firefighters, facing traumatic events in the line of duty, exposed to the traumas of nature and man, often face them one time too much and end up wounded by PTSD. When it happens to them, well it seems to be easier to understand than when it happens to a combat warrior trained to go into where others run from. It is not just the attitude of the "tough" Marine or the "Army strong" soldier that gets in the way. It's the total disconnect between society and them. It's almost as if we want to be able to depend on them to defend this nation but want to avoid any knowledge of what they have to do in order to do it. Then we say we don't want to be bothered when they come home with wounds that need to be taken care of and lives to be provided for financially since their wounds prevent them from earning the wages they could have if they had not served.

Coming up with an award to show understanding of what they went through, giving them the honor we should show out of appreciation for what they went through, is only the right thing to do. I don't know if this pin will begin a wonderful action, inspire others to come up with an award the military can accept to honor the wounded with or not, but I have a feeling it just got us closer to it.

Max A Gabriel from NYS NAMI - I am designing a PIN for Vets who have PTSD...I would like to know if you feel this would be a good idea to send out to the body of the National for their comments...I am looking at presenting these to Veterans who are rated with PTSD but are not getting any awards for it...such as the Gov't is not giving purple hrts for it... but will give a rating...this pin is 1 1/4 " round with a crouching black figure head in hand/ at the top -Cap letters PTSD...curved from left to right the words - wounded internally in the mind.
I would sell them for $2.50 a pin postage included to wherever they would be sent...production time for these is about 3 1/2 weeks and my 1st
order is for 1500..if you think it would go.....Sooooo I am asking if you would send out a blanket E-mail and get a response. I also got hold of a Gov't Contract Mgr/GSA and am looking into a 1.25" medal w/red white & blue 2" ribbon antique brass finish octagon...again with PTSD...
hoping to do this as a NATIONAL campaign ..............again looking into a grant for this one....thanks MAX

Tyler Boudreau: Troubled minds and Purple Hearts

A member of NAMI designed a pin for PTSD veterans. The other day, I posted how it would be great if someone could come up with an award instead of the Purple Heart for PTSD wounded. I believe this is a good start. I also believe that if the military really wants to get rid of the stigma of PTSD, they should honor it as well as honoring all the wounded no matter if you can see the wound or not.

Max Gabriel designed one. I'll post it as soon as I have permission to post the picture of it.

Tyler Boudreau: Troubled minds and Purple Hearts
Dallas Morning News - Dallas,TX,USA
04:18 PM CST on Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Pentagon's recent decision not to award the Purple Heart to veterans and soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress has caused great controversy. Historically, the medal has gone only to those who have been physically wounded on the battlefield as a result of enemy action. But with approximately one-third of veterans dealing with symptoms of combat stress or major depression, many Americans are disappointed with the Pentagon's decision; many more are downright appalled.

As a former Marine infantry officer and Iraq war veteran, I would urge the Pentagon to consider a different solution altogether.

When I was in Iraq, the most common wound behind the many Purple Hearts we awarded was the "perforated eardrum," an eardrum punctured by the concussion of a nearby explosion. In the vast majority of cases, no blood was ever shed. Seldom did these Marines ever miss a day of full duty. And yet they were all awarded the coveted medal.

A year later, back at Camp Lejeune, N.C., I was making calls to the families of wounded Marines – a difficult duty even when the wounds are minor. But I noticed during that time that I never once made a call to a family about a Marine's psychological wounds. I never got a casualty report for post-traumatic stress, despite the rising number of veteran suicides. Never once.

Why, I asked myself, if a combat wound is a combat wound no matter how small, shouldn't those people suffering from the "invisible wounds" of post-traumatic stress also receive the Purple Heart? Difficulty of diagnosis is one of the central justifications the Pentagon has given, citing the concern that fakers will tarnish the medal's image. Spilt blood cannot be faked.

But this seems an unconvincing argument not to honor those who actually do suffer from post-traumatic stress. For example, the possibility of fakers has not prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from awarding disability payments to service members who have received a diagnosis. Why should the military itself be different? click link for more

Army finally waking up on what does not work

The good news is that they are trying to come up with another program to address this. That must mean they finally understand that BattleMind does not work. The bad news, well they are still trying to pin the suicides on other problems other than PTSD. I'm no rocket scientist but when you have PTSD, you do have all the other problems because you have PTSD and are unable to deal with the "usual" problems the same way you used to be able to deal with them. The Army also seems to be unable to explain how it is that a lot of the suicides happened while being treated for "mental health issues" at the same time.

Did they look at troops deployed on medications for PTSD? I bet this plays a role as well considering they are supposed to be getting help with therapy and monitored by a doctor when they are on medication.

Officials: Army suicides at 3-decade high
The Associated Press
By PAULINE JELINEK – 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose last year to the highest level in decades, the Army announced Thursday. At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said.

A new training and prevention effort will start next week. And Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made a plea for more U.S. mental health professionals to sign on to work for the military.

"We are hiring and we need your help," she said.

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980. Officials calculate the deaths at a rate of roughly 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers — which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, officials told a Pentagon news conference.

"We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this disturbing ... number," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said.

Officials have said that troops are under tremendous and unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stress has placed further burdens on an overwhelmed military health care system also trying to tend to huge numbers of troops suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and other mental health problems as well as physical wounds and injuries of tens of thousands.

Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 — only about half the number now. And they've occurred despite increased training, prevention programs and psychiatric staff.

When studying individual cases, officials said they found that the most common factors for suicides were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job. click link for more

Ohio family found dead in suspected murder-suicide

I have all the compassion in the world for people suffering so much they feel the need to end their lives, but I will never, ever understand what brings them to the point where they feel their families are better off dead as well. Please pray for the rest of the family members and friends coping with this.

Ohio family found dead in suspected murder-suicide

Story Highlights
NEW: Brother says, "There was no indication of anything like this coming"

Man, woman, two children shot to death in home, police say

Suicide note found, but police decline to reveal contents

Killings took place in Whitehall, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus

By Emanuella Grinberg

(CNN) -- A family of four has been found dead in a suburban Columbus, Ohio, home in what's believed to be a murder-suicide, authorities said Thursday.

Police in Whitehall, east of Columbus, responded to a call around 2 p.m. Wednesday and found the bodies of Mark Meeks, 51; his wife, Jennifer Dallas-Meeks, 40; and children Jimmy, 5, and Abbigail, 8.

"We're confirming all four victims had gunshot wounds, and a gun was found at the scene," Sgt. Dan Kelso said.

A suicide note purportedly written by Meeks also was found at the scene, but police are not releasing the note's contents, Kelso said.

Authorities believe Meeks shot his wife and two children and then himself, Kelso said.

It was the second time this week that a family died in an apparent murder-suicide. On Tuesday, the bodies of Ervin Antonio Lupoe, his wife and five children were found in their Los Angeles, California, area home after Lupoe faxed a letter to a local television station explaining that he and his wife had lost their jobs and felt it was better to end their lives.
click link for more

Wainwright GI on Iraq leave dies at family home

Wainwright GI on Iraq leave dies at family home
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jan 29, 2009 6:56:24 EST

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska — Army officials say a Fort Wainwright-based soldier has been found dead at his parent’s home.

The Army says 28-year-old Spc. Cody L. Lamb was discovered Sunday morning at the family home in Johnson City, Tenn.

Officials say the cause of death is pending autopsy results.
click link for more

Fort Carson looks at plans for PTSD and TBI

When Graham took over Fort Carson, I had high hopes, but since that day there have been too many reports of PTSD wounded being treated like, well, crap. I really hope he finally gets it and what he had to say about taking care of PTSD wounded is not just more empty words.

JANUARY 29, 2009

Fort Carson's top commander talks about mental-health care, classrooms and more
In general's terms

by Anthony Lane

The Army and its Mountain Post were taking heat in the form of allegations from combat veterans, who said they were being punished, ignored or even discharged as they struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological traumas. The Army soon calmed that furor, largely thanks to Fort Carson rolling out the promise of enhanced screening to identify soldiers with PTSD symptoms.

Another issue, however, has flared: In 2008, a string of local homicides and other violence tied to combat veterans from a single 4th Infantry Division brigade made national news. Then-U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, now secretary of the Interior, called for a task force to seek explanations for the violence.

It's been rough publicity for a post that's only getting bigger in this community, the result of an Army realignment plan announced in 2005. The 4th ID, which had been based at Fort Carson from 1970 to 1995 before moving to Fort Hood, Texas, is bringing thousands of soldiers and their families back to Colorado Springs and the region.

Three of the 4th ID's brigades are already here. The final brigade and division headquarters will return from Iraq to Texas in coming weeks, then make the move to Fort Carson as schools let out and through the coming summer. Combined with an additional aviation unit, Fort Carson should see 5,500 new soldiers by fall. Counting spouses and children, that should add up to about 10,000 new residents for Colorado Springs and the region this year.

Beyond that influx, the Bush administration's "Grow the Army" plan calls for other additions, including a fifth brigade for the 4th ID, which will bring 3,400 more soldiers to the post by 2011. All told, Fort Carson, which now has about 18,000 soldiers, should grow to nearly 30,000 by 2013, with as many as 45,000 of their family members living in the area.

Indy: How will you handle the increased demand for medical care that Fort Carson growth will bring?

MG: We're doing a few things. One, we're expanding our hospital. Plus, we're also renovating our emergency services area in the hospital to make it more modern and increase its capacity. We also are working on a TBI [traumatic brain injury] clinic. We're continuing to work PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], behavioral health and TBI very closely.

Indy: Has the approach changed for soldiers getting mental health care?

MG: We want to make sure soldiers know it's a sign of strength, not weakness, to come forward and get help. We have seen that our medical professionals can give them help, but we've got to get them to come forward. That's why you have an increased number of soldiers that we're showing to have PTSD. The earlier they come forward, the sooner the medical professionals can start helping them get better. click link for more

Man Scared Woman to Death, Police Say

Man Scared Woman to Death, Police Say
RALEIGH,N.C. (Jan. 29) -- Larry Whitfield was on foot, his getaway car wrecked, his rookie attempt at robbing a bank thwarted by a set of locked doors, according to detectives. Looking for a place to hide, police say, he found himself inside the home of a frightened old woman.

There's no evidence Whitfield ever touched 79-year-old Mary Parnell. Authorities say he even told the grandmother of five he didn't want to hurt her, directing her to sit in a chair in her bedroom. But investigators have no doubt he terrified her so much that she died of a heart attack.

Now Whitfield, a 20-year-old with no prior criminal record, is charged with first-degree murder, a rare defendant accused of literally scaring a person to death.

"He could've avoided all this by turning himself in, and life would've went on for Mrs. Parnell," said Capt. Calvin Shaw of the Gaston County Police Department, which handled the investigation.

Under a legal concept known as the felony murder rule, it's not uncommon for prosecutors to bring a murder charge against a defendant who doesn't intentionally harm a victim. The rule exists in some form in every state and lets authorities bring murder charges whenever someone dies during a crime such as burglary, rape, or kidnapping.

"If you're committing any of those offenses and a person dies, that's first-degree murder," said Locke Bell, Gaston County's district attorney and the prosecutor in Whitfield's case.
click link for more

Army IDs soldier found dead in Fort Hood barracks

Army IDs soldier found dead in Hood barracks

Staff report
Posted : Thursday Jan 29, 2009 10:45:10 EST

A soldier who died Jan. 25 at Fort Hood, Texas, has been identified as Sgt. 1st Class Christoffer Hans Tjaden, according to a press release.

Tjaden, 48, was found in his barracks room by fellow soldiers who were conducting a morale check. Officials are investigating the death; the press release said the cause of Tjaden’s death is unknown.

Tjaden joined the Army in January 1987 as an infantryman. He had been assigned to 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade since November 2007.

EXCLUSIVE: Army to recall armor

EXCLUSIVE: Army to recall armor
Sara A. Carter (Contact)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Army will withdraw from service more than 16,000 sets of ceramic body armor plates that the Pentagon's inspector general believes were not properly tested and could jeopardize the lives of U.S. service personnel, The Washington Times has learned.

A Defense official, speaking on the condition that he not be named, said the Army is acting proactively while challenging the contention of Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell that the armor could be unsafe.

"This decision reflects the Army's commitment to do everything within its power to be sure only the very best equipment is fielded to its soldiers," the official said.

He said, however, that there have been no reports of defects in the plates or deaths or injuries resulting from their use. The plates are being recalled so that soldiers will not worry that they are wearing unsafe armor, he said.

The equipment in question was manufactured between 2005 and 2007 and accounts for 1.6 percent of the 1.9 million plates that the Army has purchased to date, he said.

The recall was announced a day before the inspector general's office is to brief the chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter. Mrs. Slaughter, New York Democrat, has focused on the issue of body armor failures and procurement.

"Two years ago, I asked the Department of Defense Inspector General to make sure that the U.S. Army was doing their due diligence in ensuring that the quality of body armor being used by our Armed Forces meets the very highest standards to save lives," Mrs. Slaughter said in a statement.

click link for more

Iraq, Afghanistan VA Patients Exceed 400,000

Iraq, Afghanistan VA Patients Exceed 400,000
Thursday 29 January 2009
by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t Report

As the number of veterans seeking health care continues to rise, the VA is straining to meet demands.

Amid talk of a drawdown of troops in Iraq, new statistics from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) show that US casualties are still climbing quickly. Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield injuries and deaths number 81,361, up from 72,043 last January, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Veterans for Common Sense (VCS). Veteran patients - including those who didn't seek care until their return home - shot up to 400,304 (from 263,909 in December 2007).

For the thousands of soldiers flooding the VA, mental illness tops the list of ailments. Forty-five percent of VA patients have already been diagnosed with mental health conditions, including a startling 105,000 diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These data do not include the incalculable number of mentally ill veterans who have not received a diagnosis or haven't sought treatment at the VA.

Health care for veterans has improved substantially in the past year, mostly due to legislative changes and funding boosts, according to Raymond Kelley, legislative director of AMVETS. The recently passed Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act entitles veterans to up to five years of free health care for military-related medical conditions. Other legislative victories include improvements to VA facilities, increased mental health care research and a boost for the claims processing system, which has been vastly understaffed and overburdened throughout the "war on terror."

However, many barriers to adequate care and compensation remain, particularly for veterans filing for disability benefits. Delays and denials of those claims are routine. Among vets with PTSD, 59 percent have not been approved for benefits, meaning that their claims are pending or rejected - or that, due to any number of deterrents, they have not filed a claim.

According to Paul Sullivan, executive director of VCS, the average wait-time for veterans to receive an answer after filing for disability compensation is more than six months. A recent VCS lawsuit against VA showed that PTSD patients face even longer delays.
click link for more

Orlando area veterans are about to get more support

Chaplian Kathie
I recently took a job with Veterans Outreach/
It's no secret how I feel about veterans, especially the wounded and in need of care from the VA. I am very careful about putting my limited time into any group but I have to say I'm totally excited about brining Veterans Outreach into the Orlando area. The site has not been chosen yet, but we're looking at opening an office by April.

Go to the web site and take a look at what Veterans Outreach has to offer the veterans as well as the people working for them. I will be in need of putting together a dedicated team to get the office fulfilling the needs of the veterans as I put my total focus on veterans and their families living with PTSD.

The need right here in the Orlando area is dire. As the VA builds the Lake Nona VA hospital, we only have the clinic, which is the size of a hospital, but as you've read in the past, they are overwhelmed. My last visit there, security was directing traffic because they had over 3,000 cars. This was a first since we moved into the area over 4 years ago. We have over 400,000 veterans in Florida and their numbers are growing as the troops along with the National Guard return from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers will also grow because of the fact outreach work on PTSD has begun to penetrate into the Vietnam veterans minds. They are finally becoming aware of exactly "what's wrong" with them by having a name attached to it. PTSD is not new to them, only the term is. They've been living with it since the 70's.

With the backlog of VA Claims, along with the backlog of appeals to be processed, there is a veteran in need. Most of the time there is also a family in need as well. That's what Veterans Outreach is going to be there for.

So far we've received support from the Orlando area Nam Knights. They are having a dedication ceremony for the memorial they built at the site of their club house on February 28th. I'll be there to spread the word about Veterans Outreach along with seeking donations to open the office.

Nam Knights Orlando
Feb 28- Bike Week party and Memorial dedication for the "Nam Knights Eternal Chapter" Everthing starts at 2:00 pm at our club house (official function)
Click here for (flyer)

If you live in the Orlando area or are coming in for bike week, it would be great to see you there. Go to the site for directions and for more about this event.

Please go to the Veterans Outreach site to find out more about what we will do for the Orlando area veterans and think about giving your financial support as well as prayers. There is another office in Bonita Springs. I was in Arcadia to meet some other members of the team there. We had a couple of tables outside of Wal-Mart. Most of the people were generous and donated but one woman really stands out in my mind. She said she didn't have money to donate. She seemed embarrassed by this. I put my arm around her and said, "That's ok because you can do something even better. Say a prayer." Relief came on her face, she smiled, said she could do that, and then walked away. A few minutes later, she pulled up in her car and handed me a dollar. She said that she would say a prayer as well. That reminded me of the story Christ told of the woman with two cents. She didn't have a lot of money, but she gave what she had. That one dollar that kind woman gave out of the goodness of her heart meant more to me than someone clearly with enough money to afford to be generous.

Most of the time the people who are the most generous are also in need themselves or have been in need at one time or another in their lives. It's not the big donations that make a difference but the little ones because those donating have taken it into their hearts. (Naturally I won't turn down large donations from companies in the area because I know they care about our veterans.)

Come back for more details on how this is going and when the office will be opened. Please also say a prayer for us that we receive the funds needed as soon as possible so that we can open as soon as possible. If you have any questions, you can contact John Ely, the President of Veterans Outreach for more information. I'm not giving his email because I want you to go to the site first.

Suicides up again last year according to the Army

Do you really need more to know what the Army/DOD is doing has not worked and will not work? Suicides keep going up. If their programs worked they would be going down instead of up. While they cannot prevent PTSD, they can, should and must prevent them from committing suicide. BattleMind has done more harm than good and they need to stop using it. It's not better than nothing. There is no excuse for not taking action on this. The Army can figure out how to kill. It's about time they figured out how to save lives as well.

Officials: Army suicides at 3-decade high
The Associated Press
By PAULINE JELINEK – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense officials say suicide among U.S. soldiers increased again last year and is at a nearly three-decade high.

The Army plans to announce figures later Thursday, but senior officials told The Associated Press that at least 128 soldiers killed themselves last link for more

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unseen wounds:Woman says PTSD led to husband's arrest

I just published this post without any comment from me, but just as I closed the post, I changed my mind. The fact this wife is crying out for help for her husband was just too much. It's the same cry I had 26 years ago and wives before me had. Why are we still crying for help for the men and women we trust the government with? We trust their lives and their futures, in a sense our own futures, expecting nothing in return but the government lives up to their obligation if they end up wounded. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is when after all these years of researching PTSD they still have yet to come up with appropriate care for those wounded by it.

Unseen Wounds: Local woman says PTSD led to husband’s arrest
KGET 17 - Bakersfield,CA,USA

A Bakersfield woman says post-traumatic stress disorder led to her husband being arrested. After serving his country for 17 years as a U.S. Marine, Lisa Beville says her husband was diagnosed with P.T.S.D. two years ago, and over the weekend, he snapped.

Beville says her husband is joining hundreds of other veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that end up behind bars or homeless. The Bakersfield woman is crying out for help, not to get her husband out of jail, but to get him the treatment he needs.

“He literally gave his mind and body for his country and I think it's time for his country to step in and take care of him,” Beville tearfully said.

Beville says numerous medals and 16 confirmed kills later, Walthall Beville was diagnosed with P.T.S.D. and forced to medically retire two years ago.

“He doesn't remember anything except shooting and the next memory he has is the C.O. saying, ‘Ok, you need to stop. You need to stop,’” Beville said of the incident that led to her husband medically retiring from the Marines.

Since then the Bakersfield woman says her husband has suffered from severe depression and nightmares. But it wasn't until early Saturday morning that she says she saw a completely different side of him. Police say Walthall Beville was drinking with friends when a fight broke out and he beat three people.
click link for more

200,000 Desert Storm vetearns disabled, plus their kids

Suffer the children of Desert Storm veterans
The Dallas Morning News on Sunday had a compelling story about an American "child of Desert Storm," a local star athlete who excels despite a partial limb that begs a question:

Now that the federal government finally has recognized Gulf War Illness as real, does that mean the collateral damage suffered by the children of that war's veterans will be similarly recognized?

The Dallas paper's story is about Dominique Dorsey, an inspiring 17-year-old star basketball player who is also the child of a 1991 Gulf War veteran. It is a reminder of the innocent and continuing casualties of war, not only in war zones, but brought home from them.

Nearly 150 American combat deaths and another nearly 450 combat wounded were suffered in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which ended after a 100-hour ground campaign into Iraq in late February 1991.

Despite that relatively low-cost blitzkrieg led by the United States at the time, in the ensuing years nearly 30 percent of the 700,000 American men and women in uniform who served in that war have suffered disproportionately, and died, from an array of symptoms that were not officially recognized by the federal government for nearly 18-years.

Nearly 200,000 are considered severely disabled.
click link for more

Distraught Father Kills Wife, 5 Kids, Self

Distraught Father Kills Wife, 5 Kids, Self

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 28) - In one upstairs bedroom, the bodies of twin 2-year-old boys were found beside their dead mother. In another bedroom, 5-year-old twin girls and their 8-year-old sister lay next to their lifeless father.

Officers discovered the horrific scene after rushing to a home in Wilmington, prompted by the father's distraught letter faxed to a TV station describing a "tragic story" and a call to authorities.

Police believe Ervin Lupoe, 40, killed his five children and his wife before turning the gun on himself. Both adults were recently fired from their hospital jobs.

"Why leave our children in someone else's hands?" Lupoe wrote in his letter faxed to KABC-TV. The station posted the letter on its Web site with some parts redacted.

The station called police after receiving the fax, and a police dispatch center also received a phone call from a man who stated, "I just returned home and my whole family's been shot." Police are unsure who the male caller was, but they suspect it was the father.

Officers rushed to the home in Wilmington, a small community between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the bodies.

All the victims were shot in the head, some multiple times, coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. The killings may have occurred between Monday evening and early Tuesday, based on neighbors' accounts of firecracker sounds, he said.

Although the fax — addressed to "whom it may concern" and explaining "why we are dead" — asserted that the wife, Ana Lupoe, planned the killings of the whole family, police Lt. John Romero said Ervin Lupoe was the suspect. A revolver was found next to his body.
click link for more and please pray for the family and friends left behind to cope with this.

War? What War?

Carissa is a dear friend and tenacious fighter for the troops. I wholeheartedly agree with what she wrote. I run into this attitude all the time. Carissa sees the lives of the families on base. I see them in everyday life. No one really seems to care what's going on when they have their own problems. At least that's what I want to excuse it as. It's very difficult to contemplate the American people are so self-absorbed with their own lives they don't care there are two military operations claiming lives of our men and women on a daily basis. It's even more difficult to get it through my own brain they don't care about them coming back to a backlog of claims, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain injury, no money when they can't work and faced with having to prove they were wounded. If I ever accepted this appalling fact, my faith in human nature would erode to the point of no return.

When people ask me what I do, they reveal how little they have paid attention. They have a puzzled expression as I explain what my days are like. When I tell them that financially I'm suffering on top of it they are stunned. They cannot understand that most of the people in this country are doing without for the sake of the troops and the veterans. I'm only one of them.

Carissa is another one. With two small children and a husband deployed, she has been doing this work instead of making money as a lawyer. Think of the kind of money she could be making instead of spending countless hours working for free. Why does she do it? Because it is important to her to make sure she changes what's wrong so that we finally get this right. She set aside her own personal needs for the sake of the greater good and finds the American people taking their cues from the media ignoring what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her husband's life is on the line and so are the lives or a lot of her friends.

Read what she has to say and then ask yourself how you could possibly ignore any of this.

War? What War?
Posted on January 27th, 2009
by Carissa Picard in Iraq War, New York News, North American News, Op-ed, US Government News, US News
I am beginning to wonder if the American public thinks former President Bush went ahead and brought home all 140,000 troops from Iraq as an inaugural gift for President Obama (you know, so Obama wouldn't have to trouble himself with it) or if they simply forgot we were still there. Then again, considering the precipitous drop in media coverage of the war in Iraq (the war in Afghanistan was always under-covered in my opinion), who knows what most Americans think is going on in Iraq now.

For example, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Iraq composed 23 percent of network news stories in the first 10 weeks of 2007 but only three percent during that same period in 2008. For cable networks, it dropped from 24 percent to one percent.

Conventional wisdom is that the American public has "lost interest" in the war. I find this troubling. If media coverage is the measure of American interest, we were never particularly interested in the war in Afghanistan and that was the source of the terrorist attacks that led to where we are today.

This lack of coverage—excuse me, "interest"–to date has reached a new low. On 26 January, there was a mid-air collision between two Kiowa helicopters outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, at approximately 2:15 AM. The collision resulted in the death of all four pilots—one of whom was the husband of a friend of mine. My friend and her husband were happily married for many years and had several children together. At 7 AM the following day, my friend was informed that the man she had spent nearly half of her life loving was dead. At 7 AM, she went from being an Army wife to an Army widow; as did, potentially, three other spouses when those helicopters hit one another.

Meanwhile, aviation spouses around the country came together to support her, clicking closing ranks around her. Many are making plans to go visit her, coming from all parts of the country to where she is. Collectively, our hearts are breaking—not only for her loss, but for the losses sustained by all four families. The day after we learned of the collision, most of us remained somber, unable to shake the sadness of losing so many of our own in one night. This collision, like all crashes, was an unasked for and costly reminder of the dangers our loved ones face, and of the emotional Russian roulette we unwittingly play every time we know our soldier is going to fly: it was her husband today, it could be mine tomorrow.

Although this was the deadliest "incident" in Iraq for U.S. soldiers in four months and resulted in the loss of multi-million dollar airframes and soldiers whom the military had invested millions of dollars to recruit, promote, train, retain, and deploy, it did not grace the front page of any major news site after two PM CST Monday. This life changing event for these four families was relegated to the Iraq war page on CNN's, MSNBC's, and yes, even FOX News' websites. After looking for coverage of this collision, I went back and looked to see if any of these three sites had a single story on their main pages about the war in Iraq OR Afghanistan at all. None did. It was infuriating.

Words get used like "war fatigue" to describe the American public and its waning interest. Americans are tired of hearing about war so if the media covers it (or so the logic goes), viewers or readers will tune out and/or go elsewhere for their news. Evidently, men and women dying overseas while carrying out our government's foreign policy just got old.

War fatigue is a luxury not afforded the military community. Those four pilots volunteered to serve this country and their families supported this service. When we choose to love and support our servicemembers, we forego the ability to experience "war fatigue." Quite the opposite, we unwittingly facilitate this luxury for others by keeping the specter of a draft at bay as these wars grind on. In fact, I find it more than a little ironic that voluntary service, which protects Americans from having to face being sent to war involuntarily, seems to be appreciated less by our nation, as opposed to more. Instead, it leads to apathy and "war fatigue." I wonder if those who don't feel like thinking about these wars realize why they are able to do so?

On behalf of every deployed servicemember as I write this—and on behalf of the families who love and support them—I would like to say to the American public, "your welcome."

Carissa Picard is a freelance writer whose husband is a pilot currently serving in Iraq. -- Carissa Picard, Esq.
President Military Spouses of America

I watched the story on CNN of a family selling everything they have on eBay because their kids have health problems. A very admirable thing to do. What ended up happening is that people don't want to buy their possessions. They want to donate instead. So far they've raised $10,000 of the money they need to cover the health care needs of their kids. This proves the American pubic are generous. The need was known and money came in. I'm sure after the story was on CNN, even more donations will flow into them.

In November CNN covered the story of Brenden Foster, an 11 year old boy with Leukemia offering his dying wish for the homeless. KOMO covered the story and then CNN picked up on it. The donations flooded in from around the world soon after.

11 year old Brenden Foster's dying wish, feed the homeless

I have to think that it's not that the American people are so self-centered they fail to step up and help when I've read countless stories like these. The media will say that the people have lost interest in Iraq and Afghanistan but I believe it's the other way around. They made a financial decision and the troops have paid for it with the lack of attention they've been getting. To think of what we could be doing for the troops and the veterans of this nation if the need were known and understood by the American people instead of a tiny percentage of us. Two thirds of the American people do not even know what PTSD is but there are millions of people wounded by it. Ask someone how many died in Iraq or Afghanistan and they don't have a clue.

When the media paid attention and reported on what was going on, there were people in this country slamming them for focusing on the negative without thinking that at least they were reporting on it and connecting the people of this nation with the troops. Now there is nothing being reported and the same people that complained have gone off on their merry way ignoring all of it.

When the protestors focused on Iraq, they ignored Afghanistan. Now there is a new President and a foreseeable conclusion to the occupations of Iraq while the same people who took to the streets protesting it are back to their own lives and not paying attention any longer. Do they feel they've done their job and it's over? No longer claiming lives? The death count in Afghanistan has gone up every year. Do they even know this? Do they think that supporting the troops, as they all claimed they did, ended when they felt as if they won something?

I've complained in the past about the disconnect between the people willing to protest and counter protest across this nation being oblivious to what they could really do to help the men and women serving this nation. I think what Carissa wrote nailed it. When it comes to really supporting the troops they have really been ignored instead.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fort Campbell soldier dies on I-24

Fort Campbell soldier dies on I-24
By JIM BELLIS • Gannett Tennessee • January 27, 2009
A single vehicle crash on Interstate 24 at the Highway 49 interchange left the lone occupant dead as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Coopertown Police, Tennessee State Highway Patrol, and Pleasant View Fire personnel responded to the incident just after 6 p.m., Monday. A TBI investigator was called to the scene when the cause of death appeared to be non-vehicle related.

The subsequent investigation revealed that a 21-year-old Fort Campbell soldier apparently administered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head while traveling towards Nashville on the interstate.
click link for more

PTSD counting depends on who does the counting

Problem with this and it aggravates the hell out of me. First, the New York Times did not "report" it. This came from an op-ed. You can read the rest of this by clicking on the below link.

The Walking Wounded: PTSD Victims
January 26, 2009 - 09:45 AM

.....What is not know is how many of our troops are affected by PTSD. The Army conducted a survey in 2006 and concluded that 17% of soldiers and marines surveyed suffered from PTSD. A Rand study put the number at 14%. The New York Times reports today on a new mathematical model by Lawrence W. Wein, et al. which estimates that "about 35% of soldiers and marines who deploy to Iraq will ultimately suffer PTSD -about 300,000 people, with 20,000 new sufferers for each year the war lasts." This is a staggering number.

This is what was in the New York Times

Op-Ed Contributor

Counting the Walking Wounded
Published: January 25, 2009
Stanford, Calif.

THE American troops in Iraq daily face the risk of death or injury — to themselves or their fellow soldiers — by homemade bombs and suicide attackers. So it is not surprising that post-traumatic stress disorder is a common problem among returning soldiers. But how many, exactly, are affected?

This question is key to determining how large an investment the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to make in diagnosing and treating the problem. The United States Army’s Mental Health Advisory Team, which conducted a survey of more than 1,000 soldiers and marines in September 2006, found that 17 percent suffered from P.T.S.D. Similarly, a Rand study put the number at 14 percent.

But these estimates do not take into account the many soldiers who will eventually suffer from P.T.S.D., because there is a lag between the time someone experiences trauma and the time he or she reports symptoms of post-traumatic stress. This can range from days to many years, and it is typically much longer while people are still in the military.

To get a better estimate of the rate of P.T.S.D. among Iraq war veterans, two graduate students, Michael Atkinson and Adam Guetz, and I constructed a mathematical model in which soldiers incur a random amount of stress during each month of deployment (based on monthly American casualty data), develop P.T.S.D. if their cumulative stress exceeds a certain threshold, and also develop symptoms of the disorder after an additional amount of time. We found that about 35 percent of soldiers and marines who deploy to Iraq will ultimately suffer from P.T.S.D. — about 300,000 people, with 20,000 new sufferers for each year the war lasts. click link for more

The biggest problem I have with this is that people mean well but by just repeating numbers, they do more harm than good.

They are way off and most of the reports coming out are not even close to what reality is. The model for PTSD is one out of three. This is what most experts use, but some do use one out of five. Keep in mind this is for all causes of PTSD and not just from combat. For combat, especially when we're talking about redeployments, you need to add in the wild card of the warning from the Army research which stated clearly that the redeployments increase the risk of PTSD by 50%.

If these researchers really want to know what reality is they need to know why some develop PTSD and others do not. It's as simple and complex as humans are. There are basically three different types of people. Self-fish/self-centered, usually more focused on their own needs and desires. Then there are the middle of the road types that do care about others but have a balance between their own self-interests and the interests of others. It's the third category, the more compassionate, caring, empathetic types wounded by PTSD. Scientists, well they would never listen to someone like me. All I've been doing over the last 26 years is living with one, researching and talking to the others and most of the time talking them off the ledge they are on so they don't commit suicide. The most common thing I've found is all of the veterans I've talked to or emailed with over the years, they've all been very caring individuals. Even if you read the stories when the families of veterans that committed suicide, you'll find the words describing this type of person.

The next thing I found is that the majority of them believe God either abandoned them or judged them and they are suffering because of what they had to do, or because of what they saw in combat.

If researchers and scientists keep asking the same questions, they will get the same answers and they will never be able to know what causes PTSD in certain people but not others.

OK, back to this post. I decided to skip what the New York Times had because the numbers are good but not right and it was an op-ed. The thing that caused me to post on it was the first article from a law firm. Again wrong, but this one said the New York Times "reported" it as if it was gospel.

All you have to do is look at the data after Vietnam to know exactly where we are and where we are headed. They are holding off a tsunami with a beach shovel! By 1978 the DAV study had PTSD Vietnam veterans at 500,000 with the added prediction that the numbers would rise over the following ten years. It did but they went up far beyond the 80's and 90's. They are still going up in the Vietnam Vets numbers along with Korea, Gulf War and Afghanistan and Iraq. The op-ed also omitted the Army's warning that redeployments increase the risk of PTSD by 50%. Redeployment into Vietnam was not so common. It was usually one year and one tour and we ended up with staggering numbers. We also lost a lot more lives. The wounded living with catastrophic wounds today will lead to more cases of PTSD needing to be taken care of.

One more thing is that the numbers of Vietnam veterans that committed suicide went off the charts. By 1986 it was 117,000 but two later studies put the number between 150,000 and 200,000. Most of them along with most of the homeless population of veterans were never diagnosed, thus, never counted.

Today we have over 800,000 claims tied up in the backlog. None of them are counted if the claim is for PTSD because the claim has not been approved yet. There are over 300,000 cases on appeal and again, they are not counted because the claim has not been approved. This does not even address the numbers of claims the DOD has. Aside from the over 22,000 dishonorable discharges they pulled off under "personality disorder" there are many more they are not diagnosing and even more that do not seek to be treated at all because of the twisted logic most commanders still have when it comes to PTSD. This is not even coming close to addressing the TBI wounded, which most end up with both PTSD and TBI.

When it comes to numbers people use, I wish for once they would make sure what they are talking about. I try to post most of the reports so that my readers know the numbers are going up but my patience is limited. The erroneous reports and redone studies are doing more harm than good because people tend to think the worst has come when in truth, this is just the beginning. The Vietnam War did not stop killing as of the date on the Memorial of 1975. It's still killing but no one kept counting.

UK looks at MRI scans for PTSD

MRI testing on PTSD
MRI testing in America has revealed startling differences in the brains of soldiers with combat stress
# January 27, 2009 by admin1

Feeling the pressure: British troops in Afghanistan in 2007 Photo: PA
For the Ancient Greeks, it was a “divine madness” that infected the minds of soldiers. During the US Civil War, it became known as “soldier’s heart”. By the First World War it was called shell shock. Today, the condition is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The idea that war can inflict deep and lasting psychological wounds is not new. In Sophocles’s tragedies, former soldiers descend into a state of mind that would be all too familiar to modern military psychiatrists. Yet despite the passage of more than 2,400 years, our understanding of PTSD has remained surprisingly unsophisticated: not only are the underlying biological and psychological causes poorly understood, but it is almost impossible to predict which soldiers are the most susceptible.

Now, however, new research from America – triggered by the soaring incidence of PTSD among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – has found striking differences in the brain patterns of those suffering from combat stress, raising hopes that we will be able to identify and treat sufferers much more effectively.

At the most basic level, PTSD is the result of a breakdown in the defence system that copes with traumatic and frightening experiences. After such events, most people will suffer what is known as Acute Stress Disorder, which involves symptoms of anxiety and depression. The majority will recover, but a minority go on to develop the chronic mental health problems that characterise PTSD.

“They get stuck in a cycle whereby recollections of a traumatic event are triggered by a particular situation they encounter,” explains Professor Simon Wessely, director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. “This triggers the symptoms, and they then try to avoid the situation that triggered the recollections – but that just means that the symptoms get worse the next time they encounter the same situation.”

“Those who develop PTSD are not necessarily the most vulnerable,” adds Professor Roberto Rona, a lecturer at King’s Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry Division. “Ideally, we would want to start treatment as soon as possible by separating those who are going to recover normally and those who will have a problem after a traumatic event.”
click link for more

Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions

Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions
Story Highlights
Damage from repeated concussions is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy studies brains from dead athletes

Far from innocuous, concussions can lead to tremendous brain damage

Symptoms can include depression, sleep disorders, headaches

By Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer
(CNN) -- For years after his NFL career ended, Ted Johnson could barely muster the energy to leave his house.

"I'd [leave to] go see my kids for maybe 15 minutes," said Johnson. "Then I would go back home and close the curtains, turn the lights off and I'd stay in bed. That was my routine for two years.

"Those were bad days."

These days, the former linebacker is less likely to recount the hundreds of tackles, scores of quarterback sacks or the three Super Bowl rings he earned as a linebacker for the New England Patriots. He is more likely to talk about suffering more than 100 concussions.

"I can definitely point to 2002 when I got back-to-back concussions. That's where the problems started," said Johnson, who retired after those two concussions. "The depression, the sleep disorders and the mental fatigue."

Until recently, the best medical definition for concussion was a jarring blow to the head that temporarily stunned the senses, occasionally leading to unconsciousness. It has been considered an invisible injury, impossible to test -- no MRI, no CT scan can detect it.

But today, using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE has thus far been found in the brains of five out of five former NFL players. On Tuesday afternoon, researchers at the CSTE will release study results from the sixth NFL player exhibiting the same kind of damage.
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Recruiting stand-down ordered by Army Secretary Pete Geren

Recruiting stand-down ordered
Probe of Houston suicides prompts wide-ranging action
By Michelle Tan - Staff writerPosted : Tuesday Jan 27, 2009 10:17:04 EST

Army Secretary Pete Geren has ordered a stand-down of the Army’s entire recruiting force and a review of almost every aspect of the job is underway in the wake of a wide-ranging investigation of four suicides in the Houston Recruiting Battalion.
Poor command climate, failing personal relationships and long, stressful work days were factors in the suicides, the investigation found. The investigating officer noted a “threatening” environment in the battalion and that leaders may have tried to influence statements from witnesses.
“There were some things found that are disturbing,” said Brig. Gen. Del Turner, deputy commanding general for Accessions Command and the officer who conducted the investigation.
While he declined to discuss what action might be taken, Turner has recommended disciplinary action against battalion- and brigade-level commanders. He declined to discuss what action might be taken.
The report was not made public, with officials citing extensive personal information contained in the report.
The four recruiters who killed themselves were all combat veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army did not identify them.
The Army Inspector General’s office has been asked to conduct a command-wide assessment of Recruiting Command to determine if conditions uncovered in Houston exist elsewhere.
The one-day stand-down of all 7,000 active Army and 1,400 Army Reserve recruiters will be Feb. 13.
The soldiers will receive training on leadership, a review of the expectations of Recruiting Command’s leaders, suicide prevention and resiliency training, coping skills and recruiter wellness, Turner said.
“It’s significant,” Turner said about the stand-down. “It is not routinely scheduled. It normally occurs after some sort of major event like this.”
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When is a wound, not a wound? When it's PTSD.

Chaplain Kathie
I have to admit I'm going back and forth on this. Originally I thought it was a bad idea because of exactly what happened when veterans began discussing this. Then I thought, well the term itself means wound, so it should qualify. Trauma is Greek for wound. The original award was the Badge of Merit, issued by General George Washington. It was adopted into what we now know as the Purple Heart.
Now I believe that giving the Purple Heart to PTSD wounded is not the right answer. It would not be the right answer for Traumatic Brain Injury either. Far from it. Wounds to the body can heal even though they leave scars behind. The military does not separate a graze wound from a bullet to losing a limb. They get the same award. No one wants to take away any honor for the physically wounded but the invisibly wounded should not be ignored any longer especially when these two wounds change the lives of the wounded forever along with their families.
I am back to where I was in the beginning of this, to the Wound Chevron.
There should be a different award for these two wounds. This is how the Purple Heart started out.

From The Badge of Merit to The Purple Heart

The Badge of Military Merit circa 1782 New Windsor Cantonment is the site of the final encampment of America's first army at the close of our country's War of Independence.

To honor the service of his troops, General George Washington chose a select few of his troops to receive a small purple cloth Badge of Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart award. One of three known Badges of Military Merit, the only documented surviving example, is on exhibit here.

So it is natural that this significant historic site was selected to be the home of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. In 1932 the new Purple Heart medal was presented to 138 veterans of World War I on these same historic grounds.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still in use and was the first to honor the common soldier. It was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington. A leader who understood the importance of the individual soldier, Washington vowed "to make it the most agreeable part of [his] duty to study merit, and reward the brave and deserving." His appreciation for the common soldier impelled him to recognize outstanding valor and merit by granting a commission or an advance in rank to deserving individuals. However, towards the end of the Revolutionary War, he was ordered by the Continental Congress to cease doing so because of the lack of available funds.

Deprived of his usual means of reward, Washington devised a substitute. In his General Orders of August 7, 1782, Washington declared that, "whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding." This document would be lost, as would the dramatic accounts of three soldiers from the New Windsor Cantonment who received the decoration. The Book of Merit has not been found, and the Badge of Merit fell out of use after the Revolutionary War. But, the need to create a military decoration that honored the common soldier remained.

I strongly believe that if these wounds are to be honored, then they need to be treated as a wound. PTSD and TBI are injuries caused by service to the nation. They need to come up with a separate award to honor these invisible wounds. The only way to remove the stigma, to erase the "shame" brought on by ignorance of the fact these wounds have nothing to do with courage, patriotism or anything other than being wounded, is to honor them.

I've seen enough images of what people can come up with when they put their minds to work. I'm sure someone could come up with an award to honor the men and women that have been wounded in the line of duty.

Guardsman from Wading River dies at military hospital

Jonathan Keller died after returning to the states from complications to a injury he received in Afghanistan. (Handout)

Guardsman from Wading River dies at military hospital
Newsday - Long Island,NY,USA
10:22 PM EST, January 26, 2009

An Army National Guardsman from Wading River who was shot nine months ago in a firefight by the Afghanistan-Pakistan border has died at a military hospital in North Carolina.

Spc. Jonathan Keller had been rehabilitating from gunshot wounds to his arm and upper right shoulder when he died Saturday at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg. He was 29.

His death is under investigation, the Department of Defense said Monday night. The Pentagon provided no details of Keller's condition before his death.

Keller was a former member of the legendary "Fighting 69th" National Guard unit, based in Bay Shore.
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10th Mountain Soldier passes away at Fort Drum

Soldier found deceased at Fort Drum
Newswatch 50 - Watertown,NY,USA
Last Update: 1/26 2:41 pm
A Fort Drum soldier was found dead at his on-post residence last week, officials said Monday.

According to the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office, Specialist Brian Johnson, 32, was found dead at his home in the early evening hours of January 20th.

Johnson, of Hanford, California, was an infantryman with C Company, 1 Battalion, 32 Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division.

The circumstances of Spc. Johnson’s death remain under investigation officials said in a release from the PAO.

Johnson is survived by his wife.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Army adding lawyers to prosecute sex crimes

Army adding lawyers to prosecute sex crimes
By Pauline Jelinek and Lara Jakes - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jan 26, 2009 18:54:09 EST

WASHINGTON — The Army said Monday it is expanding its attention to sexual abuse cases by adding prosecutors, rearranging its criminal investigative unit and stepping up training to change behavior.

The moves, which will include sexual assault prevention training from commanders on down through the ranks, are aimed at stemming crimes that Army Secretary Pete Geren called “repugnant to the core values” of the military service.

“We see the crime of sexual assault as a crime that goes beyond just the criminal act,” Geren told reporters at the Pentagon. “We see it as a crime that destroys unit cohesion.”

Last year, an estimated 15 percent of about 9,000 Army investigations involved sexual assault allegations, said Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson. However, only 137 cases went to trial, with many cases involving inappropriate comments or other offenses that were punished by internal disciplinary action instead of criminal charges.

Reports of sexual assaults had jumped by about 24 percent in 2006 and nearly 40 percent in 2005. Officials attributed the increases partly to more aggressive efforts to encourage victims to come forward.

But critics have said they worry that too few perpetrators are being brought to justice and not all victims are being helped.

Geren approved the hiring of 15 new prosecutors and five prosecutor trainers for the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG). The JAG also will hire seven experts in sexual assault litigation training to help prosecutors and train Army lawyers around the world.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command is looking to hire 30 special investigators to focus on sexual assault and harassment cases. Most of the new hires will be assigned to military bases that have the largest number of cases.
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Massachusetts says no more American flags made in China!

States force workers to buy flags made in America
Boston Globe - United States
By Kelsey Abbruzzese
Associated Press Writer / January 24, 2009
BOSTON—Bruce Aldrich hangs the American flag outside his home each morning. What the former Marine never wants to see is a "Made in China" tag hanging from the Stars and Stripes.

Aldrich led a campaign for a new law, passed this month, that requires state agencies to buy only domestically made American flags. Aldrich began the push after a Fourth of July shopping trip in 2007, when he was surprised to find so many U.S. flags weren't made in this country.

"It was a shame that American flags were being made in a foreign country and being sold in our country," said Aldrich, 68.

With its new law, Massachusetts joined a handful of other states that have similar measures, including Minnesota, Tennessee and Missouri. Officials are considering similar laws in Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
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After two tours in Iraq, one solider leans on his family for support

Sgt. Ryan Kahlor is lucky. I know that sounds strange but he is. He has his family to help him heal and stand by him. Too many have no one. Most of them are, or should I say were, Vietnam veterans. When they came home, few knew what PTSD, even though most WWII families were dealing with it. They just didn't know what it was. I've posted many stories of homeless Vietnam veterans. Most don't understand that PTSD is the cause in the majority of the homeless ending up with no family to help them. Too many still don't know what PTSD is. Without that knowledge, families fall apart and wounded veterans are left alone, untreated and suffering. The good news is that there are a lot more families like the Kahlor's but the bad news is that two thirds of the American public still have no clue and no tools to cope.

After two tours in Iraq, one solider leans on his family for support - Fort Lauderdale,FL,USA
As Tim and Laura Kahlor help their son recover from a war they had supported, they are on a journey through 'secondary PTSD'
By David Zucchino | Los Angeles Times
January 25, 2009
Temecula, Calif. - When Army Sgt. Ryan Kahlor returned from two combat tours in Iraq last year, he was a walking billboard for virtually every affliction suffered by today's veterans. He had a detached retina, a ruptured disc, vertigo, headaches, memory lapses and numbness in his arms. Fluid seeped from his ears.

He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. He was violent and suicidal. He carried a loaded handgun everywhere. He drank until he passed out. He cut himself. He burned his skin with cigarettes. He bit through his tongue just to watch himself bleed.

Ryan, 24, admits he came back not caring about anyone — the military, his friends, his family or himself. But pushed hard by his parents, he slowly accepted and then embraced counseling and treatment. Today, he has begun to recover.
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