Saturday, February 28, 2009

U.S. Marine Corps, 1 suicide every two days, attempted ones, every 2 hours!

Staff Photo by Dan Henry Ben Crary stands in front of a dedicated USMC wall in his Collegedale residence Monday afternoon. Mr. Crary suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from the time he spent in the military.

The U.S. Marine Corps reports that a service member dies by suicide every two days, and one attempts suicide every two hours.

Chattanooga: The burden of war

By: Lauren Gregory

In his dreams, Ben Crary was always falling. So on the day he said he was ready to die, it felt right to plan one last plunge.

The Walnut Street Bridge would finally free him from the sickening reality in which the former Marine lance corporal lived.

It was a mid-winter day about a year ago and, like every other day, the film reel in his head looped through scenes of sand, spattered brains and lost limbs. One boy in particular haunted him. He could feel the baby’s cracked skull in his hands, and he could hear the child’s Iraqi parents pleading with him and his fellow Marines for help.

That memory came back regularly while he was still deployed, cultivating a death wish that he said prompted him to shed his body armor often and walk around like an open target in hopes an enemy sniper would end his misery

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Mom: Deployment leaves no one to care for kids

Mom: Deployment leaves no one to care for kids
By MITCH WEISS – 11 hours ago

DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) — When Lisa Pagan reports for duty Sunday, four long years after she was honorably discharged from the Army, she'll arrive with more than her old uniform. She's bringing her kids, too.

"I have to bring them with me," she said. "I don't have a choice."

Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to later receive orders to return to service. They're not in training, they're not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they're on "individual ready reserve" status — eligible to be recalled at any time.

Soldiers can appeal, and some have won permission to remain in civilian life. Pagan filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. All were rejected, leaving Pagan with what she says is a choice between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.

Then she hit on the idea of showing up Sunday at Fort Benning, Ga., with her children in tow.

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I'm just back from the dedication ceremony and will have a post tomorrow on that but I had to put this post up. I can't believe this is still going on. If one more person passes this off as "well she signed up" instead of this is so wrong, they can never be the type of person able to put themselves in someone else's shoes and to tell you the truth, I don't want heartless people reading this blog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Bringing Troops Home: Are We Ready to Welcome Them?

Paul Rieckhoff
Exec. Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Posted February 27, 2009 10:20 AM (EST)

Obama Bringing Troops Home: Are We Ready to Welcome Them?

President Obama traveled to Camp Lejeune today to announce the eventual drawdown of combat troops in Iraq. There's sure to be a lot of discussion about the details of the timeline, and a lot of politics getting in the way of any coherent military analysis.

But whether it is 16 months or 19 months or 23 months, whether the residual force is 10,000 or 50,000 troops, the president's new plan will create a surge of new veterans coming home in 2009 and 2010. We need to be ready.

Our duty to these brave men and women doesn't end when they leave the battlefield. Military families have borne a tremendous strain through more than eight years of conflict, and our troops are returning to the worst economy we've seen in decades. No veteran's 'welcome home' should come in the form of an unemployment check.
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The answer is, no. Not even close.

Tomorrow I'll be off line most of the day. The dedication for the memorial at the Nam Knights is tomorrow. Glad this day is finally here because I've been making beads for the last couple of months instead of posting most of the day,,,,just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I'll have plenty of pictures to post and will have a lot of information to share. Check back on Sunday or late tomorrow, depending on when we finally get back home.

Oprah makes friends at Walter Reed

We have a new President setting the tone for the rest of the nation to follow. To Obama, supporting the troops is more than just words, simply because he really does care. Aside from increasing the size of the military, increasing pay, he is also addressing the dire needs of them when they become veterans.

Saying patriotic things as Oprah did in the show, once was not so easy. When Bush was President supporting the troops was very complicated because he would regard the support of the troops as support for himself. This nation has had our heart tugged by the suffering of so many of our wounded warriors. This nation, the people of this nation, will rise to the challenge with the right leadership. After all, look how much average people have done even with the wrong leadership! Look across the country and see there are people stepping up all the time to try to give them what they need when the government had not. The troops and our veterans deserve every bit of support we can give them but it has to come from a place too many in this country have yet to find. Their own hearts. If you love them, really love them, then prove it by helping them even if it is just by sending a letter to your Congressman to make sure they are given what they need.

I'm very glad someone with the popularity of Oprah did this show.

Major Bruce Gannaway Tests his new leg by dancing with his wife
Specialist Robert Andrzejczak Takes his first steps since losing part of his leg
Specialist Nicholas Koulchar Describes his pelvic replacement
Sgt. Paul McAlister Explains how he lost both of his legs searching for explosives
Army National Guard Sgt. Travis Ryan Wood Tells Oprah how he lost his leg
Sgt. First Class Johnathan Holsey Talks about his recovery process

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Soldier convicted in gang beating death of sgt.

Soldier convicted in gang beating death of sgt.
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Feb 26, 2009 14:16:52 EST

BERLIN — A U.S. soldier has been found guilty of participating in gang initiation rituals that caused the beating death of another soldier near a base in Germany.

Pvt. Bobby D. Morrissette was also convicted on charges of impeding an investigation, impeding a trial by court-martial and willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, the military said in a statement Thursday. He was sentenced to 42 months in confinement and a bad conduct discharge.

The charges relate to the beating death of Sgt. Juwan Johnson, of Baltimore on July 4, 2005, at a park pavilion in Kaiserslautern, where U.S. forces have a base.
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President's 2010 Budget Request Strongly Supports VA Programs

Recent VA News Releases

To view and download VA news release, please visit the following
Internet address:

President's 2010 Budget Request Strongly Supports VA Programs

Funding Plan Improves Access, Modernizes Technology

WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2009) - President Obama's first proposed budget for
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expands eligibility for health
care to an additional 500,000 deserving Veterans over the next five
years, meets the need for continued growth in programs for the combat
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides the resources to deliver
quality health care for the Nation's 5.5 million Veteran patients.

The 2010 budget request is a significant step toward realizing a vision
shared by the President and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki to transform VA into an organization that is people-centric,
results-driven and forward-looking.

"Our success must encompass cost-effectiveness," Shinseki said. "We are
stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we will include appropriate metrics to
accurately gauge the quality of our care and the effectiveness of our
management processes."

If accepted by Congress, the President's budget proposal would increase
VA's budget from $97.7 billion this fiscal year to $112.8 billion for
the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2009. This is in addition to the $1.4
billion provided for VA projects in the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The 2010 budget represents the first step toward increasing
discretionary funding for VA efforts by $25 billion over the next five
years. The gradual expansion in health care enrollment that this would
support will open hospital and clinic doors to more than 500,000
Veterans by 2013 who have been regrettably excluded from VA medical care
benefits since 2003. The 2010 budget request provides the resources to
achieve this level of service while maintaining high quality and timely
care for lower-income and service-disabled Veterans who currently rely
on VA medical care.

The new budget provides greater benefits for Veterans who are medically
retired from active duty, allowing for the first time all military
retirees to keep their full VA disability compensation along with their
retired pay. The President's budget request also provides the resources
for effective implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill -- providing
unprecedented levels of educational support to the men and women who
have served our country through active military duty.

The new budget will support additional specialty care in such areas as
prosthetics, vision and spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health.
New VA Centers of Excellence will focus on improving these critical

The proposed fiscal year 2010 budget also addresses the tragic fact of
homelessness among Veterans. It expands VA's current services through a
collaborative pilot program with non-profit organizations that is aimed
at maintaining stable housing for vulnerable Veterans at risk of
homelessness, while providing them with supportive services to help them
get back on their feet through job training, preventive care, and other
critical services.

Finally, the President's budget request provides the necessary
investments to carry VA services to rural communities that are too often
unable to access VA care. The President's budget expands VA mental
health screening and treatment with a focus on reaching Veterans in
rural areas in part through an increase in Vet Centers and mobile health
clinics. New outreach funding will help rural Veterans and their
families stay informed of these resources and encourage them to pursue
needed care.

Oprah Show to feature wounded warriors

Oprah Show to feature wounded warriors
United States Army (press release) - USA
Feb 25

By Carol E. Davis

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 25, 2009) - The Oprah Winfrey show scheduled to air Thursday will feature interviews with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

On Jan. 21, Oprah and a film crew visited with wounded warriors and family members in the Military Advanced Training Center which is a rehabilitation facility supporting amputees and others at Walter Reed.

The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience Jan. 28 and show officials said the audience was moved and touched by the interviews with the warriors.

Several Soldiers will be featured, including Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan Holsey, an Army amputee who has been selected to attend warrant officer school, where he will begin training next month.

Other wounded warriors interviewed were Sgt. Kelly Keck, Sgt. Paul McAlister, Spc. Robert Andrzejczak, Navy Hospital Corpsman Thomas J. McBride, Spc. Nicholas Koulchar, Marine Lance Cpl. Justin "Nate" Knowles, Sgt. 1st Class Neal Boyd, Staff Sgt. Juan Roldan, National Guardmen Sgt. Travis Wood, Sgt. John Hoxie, Maj. Bruce Gannaway and Staff Sgt. Ramon Padilla.

80% Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed with TBI and PTSD

Torso injuries fall, brain traumas rise at Walter Reed

By Leo Shane III
Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are treating fewer torso and limb injuries in troops returning from combat but more brain trauma and psychological disorders, the top Pentagon health official said Wednesday.

Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said that’s largely due to the drop in violence in Iraq, and could reverse as fighting intensifies in Afghanistan in coming months.

But he also credited better recognition of brain injuries by doctors and a lessening of the stigma associated with some psychological diagnoses. For example, physicians saw an increase in the number of patients reporting symptoms of depression over the last year.

"Guys are telling us they would still much rather be diagnosed with traumatic brain injury than post-traumatic stress disorder," Casscells said. "But we’re getting at some of that stigma. We’ve reduced it a bit.

"And as we increase dwell time, we hope to see decreases in those numbers as well."

More than 80 percent of "wounded warrior" patients at Walter Reed are dealing with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, concussion complications and similar wounds, hospital officials said.
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Vietnam veterans need to stop being forgotten

by Chaplain Kathie

Kris Kristofferson introduces the song and video by Big and Rich, The 8th of November. This song is on my video Veterans Day Memories of Vietnam along with the song Some Gave All.

In the video there are men and women putting together a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, built by Tom and Dee Twigg of Rolling Thunder. Bringing Home The Wall was built so that it could be taken into hospitals and nursing homes so that veterans unable to go to the Wall would be able to see it, touch it and be touched by it. The video was shot in Lakeland Florida a few years ago when my husband and I were members of the Orlando Chapter. What most people don't understand when they see things like this in the newspaper is why anyone does things like this. It's called devotion.

1.6 million served in what was considered hot zones in Vietnam. There are 60 surviving Medal of Honor Recipients out of 246.

A complete and official catalog of the 246 Medal of Honor citations issued for combat actions during the Vietnam War

There is Sammy Davis, out of the 60, attending the memorial dedication at the Nam Knights club house in Orlando on Saturday, February 28th. He is a member of the Nam Knights. I am really excited about having the chance to shake his hand.

Think about the fact we are a nation of over 300 million people and there are only about 24 million veterans, even less, combat veterans still living today. We pass them by on the street everyday and never know it until there is some kind of event to honor them. They appear when men and women that served this nation are buried from past wars and from today's wars. They never forget the fact these rare people were among the few willing to lay down their lives for this nation. "All gave some, some gave all," as the slogan goes but their giving never really seems to end.

Think about the groups across the nation headed by Vietnam veterans. The Disabled American Veterans National Commanders in recent years, veterans of Vietnam, along with many other groups. The Vietnam Veterans of America, Rolling Thunder, Patriot Guard Riders, Nam Knights along with many more were begun by Vietnam Veterans. Because of them, the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home now to a lot more support than the Vietnam veterans ever dreamt of receiving. For all the complaining I do about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder not being taken care of none of what has been done would have happened had it not been for the courage and dedication to others of the Vietnam veterans coming back and fighting for it. Some view their fight to have PTSD recognized as a fight just for them, but they are missing the point these men and women continued to fight for the country because they were fighting for all generations of veterans. PTSD was not just a wound from Vietnam and has been documented throughout history but no one took it seriously until they stood up and said no more suffering in silence.

We see them marching in parades and bowing their heads with their hands over their hearts at memorial ceremonies but never stop to think what is in their head or their heart. They see what they went through and friends no longer here. They see the struggle they went through when they came home and for some, they see it as a never ending battle for justice. A justice that has eluded far too many while others seem to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Media and bloggers focus on the new veterans coming home and the struggles they have with the VA and the DOD for justice with their claims of service related injuries and illnesses, backlogged claims, suicides and everything else going on with them but yet again, the Vietnam veterans are forgotten, pushed aside and told, there just isn't enough time for them anymore. Many of the Vietnam veterans are still trying to receive the compensation for their own wounds at the same time they fight for the newer veterans, but the media, well they don't have much time for the Vietnam veterans either.

At the same time people across the country are raising the awareness of PTSD, these veterans are finally discovering what they brought home with them, finally feeling a sense of relief it is not something "wrong" with them and seeking help to heal, yet being turned away, having their claims trapped behind the newer veterans they system cannot handle and told they have to wait. Haven't they waited long enough? The information we have now was not available to them. Two thirds of the American public have no clue what PTSD is and that percentage includes many of the Vietnam veterans we sent into combat. We raise the awareness so they are able to get help but the help that they should be getting is not waiting for them. This makes no sense at all.

Max Cleland is a Vietnam vet, an amputee, became a US Senator and headed the VA but he was treated for simple depression instead of PTSD until a few years ago when he was finally rightly diagnosed. If someone in the position of Cleland could have PTSD and not even know it do you really think it's that hard to understand how your own neighbor, friend or coworker would not know?

I still wonder when we are ever going to get it right for the sake of the Vietnam veterans? Will we ever? Will the media ever understand that as bad as it is for the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, it's ten times worse for the Vietnam veterans?

We lost over 58,000 men and women during the Vietnam war but have deployed more men and women into Iraq and Afghanistan as of today with a combat death count of 4,251 in Iraq and 660 in Afghanistan according to as of today. Think of those numbers. Think of the kinds of traumatic events the vast majority of the 1.6 million Vietnam veterans deployed into "hot zones" endured and then finally understand the kinds of numbers we're talking about when it comes to them.

By 1978 there were 500,000 diagnosed cases of PTSD according to a study commission by the DAV. By 1986 117,000 had committed suicide and two later studies put the numbers between 150,000 and 200,000. Over 300,000 ended up homeless with untreated PTSD being the predominate factor contributing to their plight along with self-medicating. Until every family member of Vietnam veterans fully understands what PTSD is, we will never know the final count of what the Vietnam War cost them. If they do not know what it is, they never make the connection between Vietnam and what ended up happening to their veteran. To this day there are still children of Vietnam veterans discovering why their father acted the way they did and many, many more will never understand.

It's time the media started to pay attention to this generation of American warriors and render unto them the justice they deserved so long ago. They need to bring them back into the minds of the American people so they fully understand that their sacrifice did not end when they took off their uniforms but continues to this day. Watch my video below and then know what it takes to be a hero because as of today, Vietnam veterans are still paying back with very little being asked in return.

We face a tsunami of veterans needing care. With the fact each redeployment increases the risk of PTSD by 50% and the numbers we already saw coming out of Vietnam, there will be at least a million new generation of veterans with PTSD and needing help. Wait, it'll get worse because while this is going on I'm doing everything in my power to make sure the Vietnam veterans know what PTSD and start to bang on the doors to have their own wounds taken care of as well. After all, they fought for it!

Patients, hospitals face shortages of some pain relief medications

Patients, hospitals face shortages of some pain relief medications
By Joe Smilor on February 22, 2009 3:00 PM
Periodic shortages of pain relief medications have caused problems in recent months for some area hospitals and the patients who rely on them.

On its Web site, the Food and Drug Administration reported the shortage of oxycodone immediate release tablets in 5, 15 and 30mg.

Erica Abbett, a spokeswoman for drugmaker Covidien, explained the shortage this way: "Currently there is an industrywide supply issue with oxycodone-related products. The situation is due to multiple factors, including two competitors' products being removed from the market because of recalls.

"Covidien has significantly increased our product output as a result of the supply issue, however we alone cannot meet the total demand for these products. We are working diligently to ensure that interruption of patient access to vital pain management products, like oxycodone, is minimized," Abbett said.
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Veterans groups want cap on tuition aid under new G.I. bill

Veterans groups want cap on tuition aid under new G.I. bill
By Dale Eisman
The Virginian-Pilot
© February 23, 2009

Just a few months after securing a historic, multibillion-dollar increase in veterans educational benefits, some veterans groups may ask Congress to wipe out part of what they gained.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the American Legion are among groups considering asking lawmakers to place a cap - $13,000 per year has been suggested by the IAVA - on tuition aid for veterans. That's far less than would be available in many states under a new GI bill for post-9/11 troops but is enough to cover virtually all public college costs, advocates of the limit say.

The cap would make the new benefit program easier for veterans to understand and simpler for the Department of Veterans Affairs to run, said Patrick Campbell, the IAVA's legislative counsel. The law passed last fall creates more than 315,000 possible combinations of benefits, Campbell argues in a message posted on the group's Web site.
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Why would a Marine start a fire?

Marine Charged in Fire That Forced Thousands Out
By R. Stickney
updated 4:21 a.m. ET, Thurs., Feb. 26, 2009

Two brush fires merged to create a nearly 4,000-acre fire that threatened Oceanside unlike any other in recent history on October 13, 2008. Now, an investigation connects one of the fires to military training exercises.

The Juliett fire erupted that October afternoon in hot, dry conditions. Aircraft attacked the flames and firefighters set backfires, working through the night to slow the fire’s advance. Part of the base and the base's golf course were evacuated as a precaution. Smoke could be seen in neighboring counties. Some people in Los Angeles even called 911 to report the smell of smoke.

The Juliett Fire did not cause any injuries or damage to buildings on the base. It was fully surrounded about 16 hours after it began.

In a memo released Wednesday outlining the results of an investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Serivce, the Marines announced Lance Corporal Nason G. Lamb will face charges of damage to military property, reckless endangerment and setting fire to U.S. property for his role in starting one of the fires that fueled the Juliett Fire.
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There is an update on LA Times

Updated at 11:50 a.m.: Officials said the charges against Lamb could bring a sentence of more than eight years in prison. Lamb, from Palmetto, La., has been in the Marine Corps less than two years and has not gone on a forward deployment.

-- Tony Perry

He was not deployed according to the update. This leaves the rest of us scratching our heads wondering why he would have set a fire. Marines, along with everyone else in the military, are not drafted. They enlist willingly. This requires them to be willing to risk their lives for the country. So why would a Marine, willing to risk his life for the country end up setting a fire that destroyed part of it? Does this have anything to do with the requirements being dropped to enlist? What was the reason this Marine enlisted in the first place? None of this makes sense.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Army Corps of Engineers will examine Chickasaw Elementary for WWII debris, toxins

Army Corps of Engineers will examine Chickasaw Elementary for WWII debris, toxins
Rich McKay | Sentinel Staff Writer
February 25, 2009
ORANGE COUNTY - Sometime in the next two months, teams from the Army Corps of Engineers will check the grounds at Chickasaw Elementary School for any sign of debris or contamination left from a former World War II-era bombing range. Project manager Randy Curtis told Orange County commissioners Tuesday that there is no cause for alarm because the school at 6900 Autumnvale Drive appears to have been built in a buffer zone for the former Orlando Army Airfield, Toxic Gas and Decontamination Yard -- and not on an active area. The 2,100-acre site came to light during an investigation of another bombing range. In the 1940s, when the land was swamp and scrub, the Army used the land as a toxic-gas yard.

Traumatised military doctor died from overdose

Traumatised military doctor died from overdose: inquiry
WA today - Perth,WA,Australia
February 25, 2009 - 3:25PM
A decorated military doctor who once served in Iraq was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder before his death from an overdose of medication, an inquiry has been told.

A defence force commission of inquiry, ordered by Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, is underway in Brisbane to determine if the force was directly linked to the death of RAAF Squadron Leader Adam Hughes.

Mr Hughes was found dead by his mother at his Newstead home in Brisbane on January 21, 2008, the inquiry was told on Wednesday.

She tried to resuscitate her son, whose home was littered with empty packets of various medication in his own name, and that of his cousin, the inquiry was told.

The cousin, Christian Hughes, who has been summoned to attend the inquiry but is yet to confirm he will appear, was the last person to see Mr Hughes alive.

Police found a typed note at the scene of the death but it did not appear to be a "suicide note," the inquiry was told.

The hearing was told Mr Hughes was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in July 2007.
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Chaplains are every day, people

I've had a lot of odd conversations over the years but lately most of them turn into questions about the way I act. This picture is what I use on my Facebook page. I don't go in there very often because, well, I'm just too busy, but friends talked me into doing a page. Just to shock them a bit, I picked the photo from Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. Most people think I'm too serious because of what I cover on this blog and write, so they were not prepared to discover I do have a sense of humor. The impression people get when they hear the title of Chaplain, is a stuffy, "holier" person instead of just a regular person wanting to help others.

We come from all walks of life, all faiths and enter into all kinds of service. The key word is "service" as we have been called to do. Some work in the prisons, police departments, fire departments, other civilian arenas, with motorcycle groups, the military and veterans. Some are missionaries and some are ministers. I'm a veteran's chaplain, but I help anyone with PTSD. While I focus on PTSD, I also help anyone in need. This happens all the time. If I happen to be in uniform, I get stopped in grocery stores and end up talking for a long time. My husband has gotten used to this happening whenever he sees the uniform.

The thing people need to remember is that Chaplains are "every day" just people, trying to help when we are needed so that they know they are not alone, or forgotten and have someone to talk to. It's very hard to talk to someone that has no clue what you're talking about especially when the weight of the world is on your shoulders. How can a veteran talk to someone that has no understanding what they went through comfortably? How can a soldier talk to someone when they have to stop and explain what an acronym means? How can a firefighter talk about what they went through when people cannot get past a term they use "crispy cridder" as if they are evil?

We live like anyone else, feel the same heartaches and disappointments, family problems, financial problems and pressures of the world like anyone else. We laugh and cry just like anyone else and we even struggle with our faith from time to time. There are times when we cannot find the right words to use or find too many finding it difficult to stop. There are times when no words are needed at all.

Never be afraid to talk to a Chaplain thinking they are "above you" or better than you. Never think they cannot understand what you're talking about because either they were called to work with your group because of their own experience or they have talked with a great number of people to become very aware of what you need to say. For me, well I think I've run out of shocking moments a long time ago. That came with a lot of years and a whole lot of tears.

If you need help and someone recommends a Chaplain, please talk to them without hesitation. They are just people like you. If you get the thought they could never understand, remember this picture and then that notion won't last long.

Police: Miami music teacher kills himself, wife, 2 daughters

Again, reporters release the names of people before family members have been notified. So sad.

Police: Miami music teacher kills himself, wife, 2 daughters
The Associated Press
2:23 PM EST, February 25, 2009

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY - A 53-year-old music teacher fatally shot his wife and two daughters this morning before turning the gun on himself, while his 16-year-old son who survived the attack managed to call 911 as he escaped uninjured from the Miami home, authorities said.

Police haven't released names, but neighbors identified the family members as Pablo Josue Amador; his 45-year-old wife, Maria; their youngest daughters, Priscila and Rosa; and the escaped son, Javier. They said the couple also had a 19-year-old daughter who attends college.

Sarit Betancourt, a 44-year-old school bus driver who lives near the family, said Amador is a Cuban immigrant who gave piano lessons at a guitar shop and at his home. Betancourt's two sons, ages 9 and 10, had been taking piano lessons from him once a week since 2006.

"He was a marvelous person and a tremendous professor," she said. "People would enter the house, and you just breathed peace."
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama: Nation 'will emerge stronger'

Obama: Nation 'will emerge stronger'
In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama said his first budget "will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education." full story

Aside from a wonderful speech that lays out where President Obama thinks this nation can be, the longest applauds came from talking about the troops and then he talked about what we owe our veterans. The wonderful thing is, with Obama, these are not just words, these are his thoughts. Most of the readers of this blog are fully aware of how he has felt about veterans since he entered into the Senate. At a time when he was able to serve on any committee he wanted, he wanted to serve the veterans on the Veterans Affairs Committee because he felt this nation owed them so much more than we have provided. They won his heart and I think it's because of this, I began to support him when he was running for the Presidency. I've seen too much suffering of our veterans and troops to not appreciate the dedication he has.

9 soldiers injured in LMTV rollover at Bragg

9 soldiers injured in LMTV rollover at Bragg

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 24, 2009 14:34:22 EST

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The Army is investigating a wreck that injured nine soldiers when the truck taking them to a training area rolled over on a Fort Bragg road.

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For All the Ways You Care, CVS wants to know

CVS pharmacy Announces National Contest
Week of February 23, 2009

CVS/pharmacy, announces its second annual "For All the Ways You Care" contest created to celebrate and honor caregivers across America. CVS/pharmacy invites you to submit stories of caring online at . The site provides a forum for people to share a story about someone who has touched their life or how they personally have touched another's.
Entries can be submitted through March 1, 2009. CVS/pharmacy and an esteemed panel of judges will select a group of finalists and ultimately a grand prize winner whose stories best represent a nurturing spirit and dedication to others. The finalists will be honored for their inspirational stories at a luncheon and luxury weekend in New York City in May. In appreciation for their commitment to caring, nine finalists will each receive $10,000 and the grand prize winner will receive $25,000 from CVS/pharmacy.
Visit now.

From combat to college: A tough transition that few understand

From combat to college: A tough transition that few understand

By Rick Steigmeyer
World staff writer

WENATCHEE — The small white house at 1337 Fifth St., across from Wenatchee Valley College, is their retreat. And retreat they must from the frequent irritations that can arise when a soldier becomes a student.

The house is owned by the college and used as a study lounge by students who are also military veterans. Many of them have only recently returned from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others are still trying their best to fit into normal social and educational situations years after their military experience. Trading a life-threatening environment and a rifle for a classroom and a computer is no easy thing, the students will tell you in no uncertain terms.

A car backfire, a slammed door or even a dropped book can cause them to relive a frightening combat experience and send them scrambling for cover. Mostly, it's just a feeling of not fitting in.
"It's hard to get back in the swing of civilian life," said Kevin Bovee, 24, of Wenatchee. He did two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps over the past four years. Bovee completed his service in April and enrolled at WVC to pursue a degree in business. "I feel at home with other veterans, but the young kids just getting their driver's license, I don't have anything in common with them."

Combat veterans often have to deal with a lot of anger. It's something that was nurtured in the military, but is out of place in civilian life. It's frustrating that few understand, Bovee said.
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1 Dead, 1 injured in Blackwater Helicopter crash

One dead, one injured in chopper crash
Updated: Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009, 4:31 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009, 2:03 PM EST

CAMDEN CO., N.C. - Officials confirm with at least one person was killed when a helicopter crashed at Xe, formerly Blackwater Worldwide, Tuesday afternoon.

Camden County Sheriff Tony Perry confirmed for, 911 dispatchers received a call at 1:36 p.m. that a helicopter had crashed on the grounds of Xe in Moyock, North Carolina.

Currituck County Public Information Officer Randall Edwards says it was a small private type of helicopter that crashed. Edwards says an ambulance, fire trucks and personnel from the Moyock station arrived on scene within minutes after the crash.

One person was killed. The body was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, as required by Federal Aviation Administration investigations, who are already on the scene. A second passenger in the helicopter reportedly received non-life threatening injuries and was awake and talking, according to paramedics on the scene. He was transported to Chesapeake General Hospital.
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Soldier killed, 3 wounded by Iraqi policemen

Soldier killed, 3 wounded by Iraqi policemen

By Brian Murphy - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 24, 2009 15:30:37 EST

BAGHDAD — Two Iraqi policemen opened fire Tuesday during a U.S. military inspection visit in northern Iraq, killing one American soldier and an interpreter in an attack that deepened worries of possible infiltration of security forces battling insurgents in their last major base.

The shooting at a police outpost in central Mosul — which left three other U.S. soldiers wounded — was the fourth attack in the region since late 2007 with suspected links to Iraqi security units, which have struggled to uproot al-Qaida in Iraq from strongholds in Iraq’s third-largest city.

Any serious breaches in Iraqi force could be a particular blow in the Mosul region — where the U.S. military is light and commanders have been generally unable to spawn the type of tribal militia uprisings that helped break insurgent control in other areas of Iraq.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Fort Stewart soldier receives Bronze Star with Valor

Fort Stewart soldier receives Bronze Star with Valor
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 04:03 PM EST

By Michelle Paynter

FORT STEWART, GA (WTOC) - A young Third Infantry Division soldier was honored with a top Army award, the Bronze Star with Valor.

It was awarded today Spc. Sixto Garcia. He is assigned to the 1st Brigade, 3-69 Armor Battalion, also known as the "Speed and Power" battalion.

The 24-year-old is soft spoken, but when it comes to fighting a war, Spc. Garcia's fellow soldiers said he's the man you want by your side.

Including Lt. Col. Jessie Robinson who spoke at today's event. "Personally I feel blessed and honored to be privileged to be your battalion commander," he said at today's ceremony on Fort Stewart.
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Search suspended for soldier who fell overboard near NC

Search suspended for soldier who fell overboard near NC
The Virginian-Pilot - Norfolk,VA,USA
By Lauren King
The Virginian-Pilot
© February 23, 2009

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search today for a U.S. Army soldier who fell overboard Sunday morning off the North Carolina coast.

Coast Guard and Marine Corps search crews were helping to search for a crewmember of the Army tugboat Major General Winfield Scott, which is homeported at Fort Eustis, according to a Coast Guard news release.
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CT National Guard Soldier Shot and Killed in Springfield

Conn. Soldier Shot and Killed

By Susan Goodman
updated 6:18 p.m. ET, Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

A Connecticut soldier is dead after being shot three times during an argument in Springfield, Mass., Sunday morning.

Julian Cartie, 25, of New Britain, was leaving a bar with his brother and a friend and was heading toward a restaurant when was shot around 2 a.m., police said.
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Pentagon failure to act delays stop loss pay

Soldiers still waiting for stop-loss bonuses
By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Monday Feb 23, 2009 15:45:35 EST

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has not started complying with a law requiring the payment of monthly bonuses of up to $500 to soldiers forced to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment period, military officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged the five-month delay in paying the bonuses and said the Defense Department is working on a plan to start paying the almost 13,000 soldiers under the Army’s stop-loss orders. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to end the policy, the number of soldiers affected has risen since the middle of 2007.

Congress added $72 million to pay for the bonuses in its plan for fiscal year 2009, which started Oct. 1. The money was to be paid after the Pentagon submitted a plan outlining how the payments would be made.

But no plan has been provided, Rob Blumenthal, a spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Friday.
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Poll: U.S. public backs Afghanistan troop plan

Poll: U.S. public backs Afghanistan troop plan
By Susan Page - USA TODAY
Posted : Monday Feb 23, 2009 15:50:14 EST

WASHINGTON — Americans by 2-1 approve of President Obama’s decision to send 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan despite skepticism over whether they can succeed in stabilizing the security situation there within the next few years.

A USA TODAY-Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows a reservoir of support for Obama’s first major military decision as president. Two-thirds express approval of his order to expand the U.S. deployment to Afghanistan by 50 percent; one third disapprove.

Half of those surveyed say they’d support a decision to send another 13,000 troops, which would fulfill the request by U.S. commanders to nearly double the U.S. force in Afghanistan even as troops are being withdrawn from Iraq.

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Veterans Exposed to Asbestos

One more thing for the troops and their families to worry about along with our veterans. Also, one more thing the media has not reported on.

Mesothelioma Cases Remain High for Military Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated that out of the millions of veterans who have served the country, hundreds of thousands have been exposed to asbestos during their service. Regarded as one of many cover-ups jointly executed by corporations and government, it appears that the asbestos scandal still has not reached its climax.Widely used by every military branch in the United States, over 300 products containing asbestos were used by the Navy and other military sectors from the 1930s through the 1970s.

This has led to asbestos exposure among hundreds of thousands of military personnel. Although not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos-related illness, long-term exposure does increase the possibility. Asbestos exposure can cause severe ailments such as asbestosis and pleural mesothelioma, a highly aggressive cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure.

Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are reported every year in the United States alone.Due to an intense latency period associated with mesothelioma, many soldiers will not experience related symptoms until 20 to 50 years after exposure, when the disease has already progressed to its later stages. Many symptoms of mesothelioma are ones found with other less serious conditions, making early diagnosis a significant challenge for physicians.Around the turn of the 20th century, asbestos business grew into a major corporate industry with large profits and thousands of employees. By 1922, the Navy issued a medical checklist that placed asbestos in a list of hazardous occupations and recommended the use of respirators.

The U.S. Navy was not ignorant of the dangers of asbestos and evidence shows the hazardous qualities of asbestos was swiftly covered up by asbestos manufacturers. Any asbestos concerns were silenced in the race to build the U.S. Navy fleet prior to World War II.Working in shipyards during WWII became almost as dangerous as fighting in the war itself. As many as four million service men and women worked in shipyards repairing and building giant vessels. Thousands of tons of asbestos were used as piping and boiler insulation aboard navigation rooms, sleeping quarters and mess halls in ships.The Navy issued a ban on asbestos-contaminated materials on new ships in 1973, but then violated its own ban for the next five years.In 1983, the Navy Asbestos Control Program was created to help facilitate compliance with asbestos-related regulations set by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Despite these actions, many veterans continued to be exposed to high levels of asbestos even after the Navy began to replace contaminated ships.The majority of veteran asbestos exposure continues to occur when veterans work on naval vessels where asbestos-contaminated products were heavily used. Many of these older ships are decommissioned and sent for overhaul to third world countries that have limited regulations or little knowledge of the dangers of asbestos.This phase of exposure began in the 1990s when the U.S. Navy began to sell obsolete ships for scrap materials where workers have no prior knowledge of the dangers involved in handling asbestos. Usually these workers are not given any protective equipment to prevent potential exposure.

Since March 2003, United States combat troops have been stationed in Iraq where they face many dangers while performing military operations. Many are unaware of the potential threat of asbestos exposure. Documents from 2003 reveal that over $194,000 worth of asbestos was imported into Iraq. This presents a significant hazard for all soldiers stationed in the country because intense winds and desert sands can carry asbestos dust for long distances.Veterans with asbestos-related disease unfortunately find themselves in a tough situation because they experience difficulty in obtaining assistance and benefits for their illness, there are currently very few mesothelioma doctors-- making treatments hard to come by.

Currently, mesothelioma is not readily recognized as a service-related medical ailment. However, veterans can apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits for asbestos-related illness and must provide proof of a mesothelioma prognosis, and that their exposure occurred at the time of their military service.Some naval vessels and public facilities may still contain asbestos-laden materials, such as clutches, brakes, gaskets or older construction materials. Thus, the potential remains for yet another generation of veterans and civilians to be exposed to asbestos on a global scale.

Conn. bill creates criminal docket for vets

Conn. bill creates criminal docket for vets
The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Feb 22, 2009 17:04:50 EST

HARTFORD, Conn. — Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney wants Connecticut to become the latest state to set up special veterans’ courts to deal with troubled military veterans facing criminal charges.

Looney, D-New Haven, said the state’s court system could refer returning veterans to mental health specialists, similar to how the state’s family and drug courts operate.

“Our troubled veterans may not need to be locked up if their combat experience has let to psychological wounds,” Looney told The Hartford Courant. He has introduced a bill during this year’s legislative session that would create a special criminal docket for military veterans.

Veterans advocates report a rise in the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans across the country facing charges such a domestic violence, firearms violations, breach of peace and drunken driving.
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Soldier found dead in German barracks named

Soldier found dead in German barracks named

Staff report
Posted : Monday Feb 23, 2009 11:48:03 EST

Army officials on Monday identified the soldier who was found dead Feb. 19 in his barracks room in Mannheim, Germany.

Spc. Levi R. Foley, 24, of Cheyenne, Wyo., was a food service specialist assigned to E Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment. He was found dead about 9:30 a.m. Feb. 19 in his room at Coleman Barracks after he did not report for duty. A memorial service for Foley is scheduled for March 2 at the Coleman Barracks Chapel.

His death is under investigation by German and U.S. Army authorities.

PTSD on trial:Veterans and court

Lawmaker: Courts Should Take Veterans' Problems Into Account
February 22, 2009

Jason Haines was in survival mode in 2005 when a car pulled out in front of him on a side street in New Britain.

In his mind, Haines was still patrolling the streets of Baghdad in a Humvee with the U.S. Army, firing his .50-caliber shotgun at enemy insurgents who set off roadside bombs.

Haines beeped his car's horn, but the driver wouldn't speed up. In a rage, Haines began tailgating the car — which, he soon discovered, was an unmarked police cruiser.

Haines wasn't arrested that day, but he came close to joining hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide whose untreated war-related emotional and mental afflictions — usually termed post-traumatic stress disorder — lead to minor criminal arrests.
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Army leaders add training to detect suicidal soldiers

Army leaders add training to detect suicidal soldiers
Helena Independent Record

HELENA - A military investigation into the death of Pvt. Daren Smith found the Butte soldier was acting “normal” at his forward operation base in Iraq on the evening of Dec. 13, 2007.

So it came as a surprise to his peers when the 19-year-old entered the latrine that evening, locked the door to his stall, turned his M-4 rifle toward his head, and pulled the trigger.

Smith's death, the second known suicide of a Montana soldier over the past five years, added to the Army's growing list of men and women who are taking their lives at a rate not seen in at least 30 years.

Suicides in the Army jumped to a record high in 2008, growing for the fourth straight year. January saw an additional 24 suicides, marking an ominous start to 2009.

Hoping to get a handle on the wave of self-inflicted deaths, Army leaders have ordered a 30-day “safety stand-down,” giving commanders a chance to educate soldiers on suicide behavior and early intervention.

The Montana Army and Air National Guard will also participate in the stand-down, which went into effect on Sunday.

“We can't afford to lose one soldier or airman in the Montana National Guard to suicide,” said Brig. Gen. John Walsh, adjutant general of the state Guard. “We're making this training our priority during the next 150 days.”

Maj. Tim Crowe, public relations officer for the Montana Guard, said state commanders will oversee the training. Soldiers and airmen across the state will spend their drill weekends in March receiving suicide prevention and recognition classes.

The latest effort continues the Guard's own drive to raise awareness on the topic of suicide. Montana's military made suicide prevention a priority after one of its own soldiers, Chris Dana, shot himself to death in 2007 after returning from Iraq.
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For National Guard families, a difficult year on the homefront

For National Guard families, a difficult year on the homefront
by Judy Peet/The Star-Ledger
Saturday February 21, 2009, 7:32 PM
Since Christmas, Khadeja Bynum has been robbed at gunpoint and rear-ended by a stolen car, and she suffered a death in the family, but it was the shower head that took her over the edge.

"The plumber said he had to rip a hole in the outside of the house to fix the shower. Can that be right? How am I supposed to know if that's right? This was not my role in the family. I don't want it to be my role in the family," Bynum, a 40-year-old Newark schoolteacher, said with a haunted look.

"Listen, I know it's a little thing, but there have been too many little things. What I really, really want is my husband back."

The long wait is coming to an end for the families of nearly 3,000 New Jersey Army National Guard members who went to Iraq last year in the state's largest deployment since World War II. Military counselors have begun to prepare spouses for what to expect when their loved ones return from the desert.

The message? If you think it's tough now, just wait until the soldiers come marching home.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Note to readers

I have not been posting as much as usual the last couple of months because I've been stringing beads, getting ready for a huge party with the Nam Knights, Orlando Chapter. There is going to be a dedication ceremony for a memorial built at the club house. We're expecting about 500 to attend because it is also Bike Week. Since my husband is a member, the wives are called, Lady of the Knight. Being a Chaplain makes this term really funny when you think about it in today's terms instead of the days to chivalry, lords and ladies.

I've been involved with many groups over the years but I have to tell you that I've never been more happy to be associated with a group the way I am with the Nam Knights. They are all extremely caring people, deeply committed to each other and the people who served this nation as well as those who serve it today. Each Saturday at 7:00 they toast the troops. Many of these people have kids in the military and have known the sacrifices of service themselves.

One of the things I'm looking forward to on the 28th of February is that Sammy Davis will be there for the dedication. He is also a Nam Knight, but he holds the Medal of Honor. He is one of 60 surviving Medal of Honor recipients from Vietnam. It will be a tremendous honor to meet him. While to me they are all heroes, Sammy Davis is even more rare.

You can watch the video with Sammy doing an interview, read this citation and below.

After this weekend, I'm getting back to work on this blog and web site. I'm also doing a new video that has been put on hold for now.

Surviving Recipients
by conflict:

World War II - 24
Korea - 14
Vietnam - 60


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Battery C, 2d Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: West of Cai Lay, Republic of Vietnam, 18 November 1967. Entered service at: Indianapolis, Ind. Born: 1 November 1946, Dayton, Ohio.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Davis (then Pfc.) distinguished himself during the early morning hours while serving as a cannoneer with Battery C, at a remote fire support base.

At approximately 0200 hours, the fire support base was under heavy enemy mortar attack. Simultaneously, an estimated reinforced Viet Cong battalion launched a fierce ground assault upon the fire support base. The attacking enemy drove to within 25 meters of the friendly positions. Only a river separated the Viet Cong from the fire support base.

Detecting a nearby enemy position, Sgt. Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his guncrew, as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy. Despite his efforts, an enemy recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit upon the artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the guncrew from their weapon and blew Sgt. Davis into a foxhole. He struggled to his feet and returned to the howitzer, which was burning furiously.

Ignoring repeated warnings to seek cover, Sgt. Davis rammed a shell into the gun. Disregarding a withering hail of enemy fire directed against his position, he aimed and fired the howitzer which rolled backward, knocking Sgt. Davis violently to the ground.

Undaunted, he returned to the weapon to fire again when an enemy mortar round exploded within 20 meters of his position, injuring him painfully. Nevertheless, Sgt. Davis loaded the artillery piece, aimed and fired. Again he was knocked down by the recoil. In complete disregard for his safety, Sgt. Davis loaded and fired 3 more shells into the enemy.

Disregarding his extensive injuries and his inability to swim, Sgt. Davis picked up an air mattress and struck out across the deep river to rescue 3 wounded comrades on the far side. Upon reaching the 3 wounded men, he stood upright and fired into the dense vegetation to prevent the Viet Cong from advancing.

While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, Sgt. Davis protected the 2 remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base. Though suffering from painful wounds, he refused medical attention, joining another howitzer crew which fired at the large Viet Cong force until it broke contact and fled. Sgt. Davis' extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

New Breed Of Counselors Deals With Veterans' PTSD

New Breed Of Counselors Deals With Veterans' PTSD
Hartford Courant - United States
By RINKER BUCK The Hartford Courant
February 22, 2009

Jay White spent his first day in Baghdad in 2003 camping beside a dead U.S. Army soldier in a body bag.

In a very real sense, this would determine his career, an increasingly important one as the United States sends more troops to Afghanistan.

Trained as a mental health specialist at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, White has experienced the horrors of war during two tours in Iraq. This has prepared him to counsel soldiers who can't forget, or cope with, their own horrific experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq.

White, 37, of Cromwell, is an outreach counselor at the Hartford Vet Center in Rocky Hill. He is a member of a new breed of counselors hired by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in an attempt to avoid the Vietnam-era mistake of ignoring post-traumatic stress disorder and other readjustment problems experienced by soldiers returning from war zones. He was hired in 2004, one of about 50 counselors recruited because they had served in Iraq.

In addition to counseling sessions, White has inspired the formation of a unique group of veterans. These men tour the state addressing police departments, college administrators and social service agencies on the hazards of post-traumatic stress disorder, and what can happen when society fails to recognize the symptoms of soldiers returning from combat with hair-trigger emotions and an inability to cope with the everyday challenges of civilian life.

But even as he maintained a busy schedule of counseling veterans in one-on-one sessions in his office, White became aware that many soldiers were falling through the cracks, reluctant, for various reasons, to seek traditional counseling.
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Heartless thugs take clothes intended for homeless veterans

Group that helps veterans reports $200000 burglary

updated 8:59 p.m. ET, Sat., Feb. 21, 2009
CHICO -- Burglaries on two successive nights have left Caring Veterans Inc., a group that aids homeless veterans, missing about $200,000 in cold weather gear and clothing.

Large storage containers outside the organization's office on Rio Lindo Avenue were broken into Sunday and Monday, with thieves using bolt cutters on loading door locks.

Caring Veterans spokesman Hennie Van De Velde said cold weather gear including jackets, sweaters, boots and about 40 sleeping bags were taken from a container Sunday night.
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Army Emergency Relief charity hoards millions

AP INVESTIGATION: Army charity hoards millions
Dallas Morning News - Dallas,TX,USA


By JEFF DONN / Associated Press

As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.

AER was founded in 1942 to soften the personal financial hardships on soldiers and their families as the country ramped up its fight in World War II.

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Jason Cooper's life honored after suicide

Soldier who took own life receives honors posthumously - Des Moines,IA,USA
By JASON PULLIAM • • February 21, 2009

Friends and loved ones of the late Jason Cooper honored his memory in a ceremony Saturday by accepting the military commendations he earned on the battlefield.

“It feels like we’re finally receiving what Jason earned in life,” said Terri Jones, Cooper’s mother.

Jones accepted the medals and ribbons at the Fort Des Moines Museum and Education Center on Des Moines’ south side.

In recognition of Cooper’s service, Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., gave Jones her son’s Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and Army Service Ribbon.
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POSSIBLE MURDER-SUICIDE: Airman, wife die in shooting

This story wasn't sad enough until I read the names. This is after the reporter said authorities have not released the names, which usually means a family member picked up the paper and found out about this tragedy by reading it. Why was there a rush in reporting the names? Wasn't it bad enough they reported the address? What harm would it have done to have waited until the police said they contacted the families?

In the past, I've been part of this kind of mess without intending it. I simply assume that police have notified family members before reporters release the names. It's very hard on them to find out someone they love died but especially hard when it involves suspected murder-suicide.

POSSIBLE MURDER-SUICIDE: Airman, wife die in shooting
Las Vegas Review - Journal - Las Vegas,NV,USA

SWAT officers find couple dead after standoff in North Las Vegas


A Nellis Air Force Base airman and his wife died in what is believed to be a murder-suicide Friday in a North Las Vegas apartment.

The deaths ended a roughly two-hour standoff with North Las Vegas police, during which the airman, an Iraq war veteran who might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, shot at police.

Police said a third party, a friend of the wife's, called police about 5:30 a.m. claiming that the gunman was holding a gun to his wife's head inside the apartment, Sgt. Tim Bedwell said.

Officers made contact with the man at a ground-level unit at the Craig Ranch Villas apartments, 370 Casa Norte Drive, near Commerce Street and Lone Mountain Road. He retreated into the apartment and fired shots through a window at police, Bedwell said.

When SWAT officers entered the apartment about 8 a.m., they found the two people dead from gunshot wounds. click link for more

"Any "moron" can see faking vets"

This is more proof I get way too much email. This one came from a friend after receiving it from a very long list of forwards. Most of the time when I get emails like this, I simply delete it with pleasure but after reading this one, I couldn't stop my blood pressure from boiling no matter how much I tried to calm my soul down.

Dear Lacy,

Thanks for the support. You might want to know that what you said
yesterday in this group was echoed today by another person in a news
article published in Illinois.

Yesterday you said the following: "Geeziz! Any moron can see that as
Vietnam vets get older the ones who are short on money are trying to
make up for lost wages by milking the VA for PTSD money. And any moron
can see that as the economy gets bad more and more of these thieves
are coming out of the cracks in the floor to rip off the VA. And when
they rip off the VA they steal money from the vets who really need and
deserve VA help."

The following article that I am sending the link to (below) was
published today by someone named Mary Schantag who is an archivist
with the P.O.W. Network. Schantag said: "2009 could finish as the
worst year for military fraud cases because of a failing economy that
has kept millions of people out of work."

Lacy, you can find the full article here:
Military archivist says 2009 could be worst for military fraudDaily Egyptian

You, me and others know well that a lot of criminal vets have been
getting PTSD money fraudulently. I have warned that these vets will
soon be facing prosecution and jail time. The smart ones will go
immediately to their nearest VA and end their bogus PTSD payments. But
the idiots will continue to rip off the VA until they find themselves
in jail.

You, me and others who fight corruption and theft from our truly
disabled vets will always be slandered and lied about by the criminals
who try to portray themselves as heroes and portray us as
anti-American. But the real, honest and intelligent vets will know
that we were right and what we are doing is in the best interest of
vets who are truly deserving of their benefits.

Read the Schantag article. It's as if she read your mind... or read
your piece in this group yesterday... but we all know that Schantag
simply see's -- just as you and I see -- what is going on in our VA
offices everyday of the week.


Ed and Lacy are correct. Any "moron" can see all of what they see because it requires uninformed morons to see what they see. These are the same type of people that denied PTSD was real while veterans were coming back from every war since the beginning of time and ended up taking their own lives, seeing their families fall apart as hope of healing slips through their grasp. When the term used to describe this devastating wound was changed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this type of moron blamed the veteran, called them fakes, said they were trying to suck off the system, looking for a free ride, and when none of that worked, they turned around and called them drug addicts and alcoholic lowlifes.

People like Ed and Lacy were standing in the way while Vietnam veterans saw what was wrong, saw what happened to them and all combat veterans before them, had to endure and ended up saying "enough" suffering in silence. They raised holy hell with the government until PTSD was recognized and compensated for, not just for them but for all generations to come after them. It's one of the biggest reasons I say the Vietnam veterans are the greatest generation. The didn't just decide to take care of themselves but adopted the slogan, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

In 1982 when I started all of this with veterans, it always amazed me how people could be so uninformed about history. When the Gulf War came, as yellow ribbon stickers showed up on every business, flags flew from doorways and parades welcomed them home, I wondered how fast the appreciation would end and ambivalence would resume. Back then we had our own problems with the economy and then President Bush 41 showing up on our TV sets telling us there was "no recession" and the economy was fine. Much like we've had over the last few years with two military campaigns going on. As fast as the yellow ribbon stickers were pealed off the windows, Gulf war veterans were looking for jobs and trying to figure out why so many of them were sick. America, well, we didn't pay attention any more than we paid attention to the illnesses caused by Agent Orange with Vietnam veterans. Once wars end, we tend to what to hear no more about any of it. At the same time Gulf War veterans were seeking help and compensation for Gulf War Syndrome, Vietnam veterans were still fighting to have the illnesses connected to Agent Orange, but they also took on the cause of the Gulf War veterans simultaneously fighting for PTSD to be understood.

Older veterans, well they understood what the Vietnam veterans dared to talk about and fight for. After all, they had it too. The difference was the older generations came home and suffered in silence, getting jobs, married and raising kids while hell took control over their household, families suffered secondary PTSD living with all the traumatic events caused by untreated PTSD and the delusion of self-medications not "hurting anyone else" as a piece of them died everyday. They sent their sons off to Vietnam and when they returned changed, these same combat veterans told their kids to "suck it up" and "get over it" the way they did. That was the biggest problem of all. None of the Vietnam veterans wanted to "get over it" the way their fathers did because they knew too well what that kind of getting over it did to their families. While older veterans were slamming doors shut to these "not even real veterans" the Vietnam veterans dug in their heals and said, never again. They embraced the same veterans that turned their backs on them. Then they reached back to make sure the veterans or WWI, WWII, and Korea were treated with the dignity they deserved and their wounds taken care of instead of being accepted as their inability to "get over it" after their combat ended.

After all these years of fighting people like Ed and Lacy, I've stopped tying to get them to understand how very real PTSD or the fact that too many of our veterans never seek help because they've heard words like Ed's and Lacy's too many times before. While advocates fight to bring honor to the honorable, Ed and Lacy's tiny fraction of the American population have been fighting to keep them away from being treated and compensated for what came home with them. You'd think they would have the ability to learn that we continue to lose more after combat than we do during combat to PTSD and suicides, but then you'd also have to managed somehow to think they have the ability to learn anything. I've stopped trying and simply regard these people as "morons" unable to see anything no matter how much proof is offered.

Usually people like them are not worth the time it takes to type on the keyboard. I'd rather spend my time helping the veterans people like them want to dishonor. I would really like to see the people denying PTSD is real spend one day living with a PTSD veteran, or the family of one that took their own life because the help they needed to heal was nowhere to be found. They won't because they are too afraid to face the truth and fully understand all these years they've not only been wrong, they may have added to the suffering.

These people remind me of St. Paul. He was not always named Paul but came into the world as Saul. He was privileged and considered himself devoted to God. After Christ was crucified, Saul decided that it was his job to hunt down Christians and turn them over for execution. He was convinced he was right and doing the right thing for the right reason. He was so proud of himself every time he found a Christian and got rid of one more until he was traveling to Damascus. He heard a voice call down from heaven asking why he was persecuting "me" and the voice turned out to be that of Christ Himself. It was at that moment, this pride filled, deluded fool, understood that all he had done was not only wrong but done for the wrong reason and people suffered because of what he had in his own brain. It would change his life forever after that but he would have to live with the memories of all he did to other people instead of helping other people.

It would be a wonderful sight to behold when people like Ed and Lacy have their Damascus moment after denying the suffering of millions of our veterans, but it will be too late for too many. People like them, along with the military brass still denying the reality of PTSD are the morons now but they are just too incapable of opening their own eyes. The only fools in this are the people lacking knowledge along with compassion for others. It will be very hard on them when after all their efforts slamming veterans turns out to be years of people laughing at them they were just too ignorant to notice.

My husband is just one Vietnam veteran that would still stop to help people like Ed and Lacy if they were in trouble no matter what they say. It's just the way they are. This email I read was not worth the time it took to read it, but responding was because the veterans are worthy of every second I spend fighting for them.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

DOD reports female soliders death in Kuwait

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

PFC Cwislyn K. Walter, 19, of Honolulu died Feb. 19 in Kuwait City, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. She was assigned to the 29th Special Troops Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Hawaii National Guard.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

Veterans blame war and military culture for increased suicides

Western Mass. veterans blame war, military culture on increasing number of suicides
The Republican - - Springfield,MA,USA
Saturday February 21, 2009, 2:00 PM

When Jeffrey M. Lucey returned from Iraq in 2003, he had a T-shirt from his stint with the Marine Corps that bore this message: "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body."

The 23-year-old wasn't home long before he plunged into emotional turmoil. At first he tried to medicate himself with alcohol. When the pain became too acute, his family brought him to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton. He was diagnosed with mood swings and alcoholism and discharged after four days.

A month later, on June 22, 2004, Lucey hanged himself in the basement of his parents' home in Belchertown.

Last month, the U.S. government agreed to pay Lucey's family $350,000 to settle a wrongful death suit and promised to make "important changes" in the VA system to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Also in January, the Army announced it would hold a "stand down" to address the skyrocketing number of suicides by active duty troops.

In January alone, according to the government's figures, there were 24 suspected suicides in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number that exceeded combat deaths in those theaters. The number of confirmed suicides in 2008 reached 128, a jump from the previous record year of 2007.
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TAPS:Group helps families of suicide victims

Group helps families of suicide victims

Advocates offer free peer-to-peer support, crisis line, case assistance
By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Feb 21, 2009 10:10:11 EST

After Pvt. Paul Bridges saw his buddies die in Iraq in a Humvee in February 2006, his mental state began going downhill, said his father, Terry Bridges.

Three months later, a mental health counselor told his chain of command that Bridges needed to leave the theater immediately. His weapon was taken away.

But nearly six months later, on Nov. 2, 2006, still in Iraq and working 12-hour days, Bridges shot himself with his roommate’s weapon.

“His command let him down,” said Terry Bridges, who has received no answers about why his son remained in Iraq. “It was something that could have been prevented.”

He said the military needs to train noncommissioned officers not to treat troops as malingerers when they exhibit mental health problems, and also train troops in how to react and protect their comrades who might be contemplating suicide.

“We can’t do anything for Paul. But if we can help change the culture to understand that just because a soldier doesn’t have an arm blown off, or a hole in the stomach, it doesn’t mean soldiers aren’t wounded ... maybe it will prevent this from happening to others,” he said.

Bridges and his wife, Sherryl Marsh, are joining forces with other families of suicide victims in the military through the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors to help prevent suicide in the ranks and assist families of suicide victims.
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Ft. McClellan Veteran Takes Case to Washington

Whatever comes into our lives, it leaves us with choices. Do we pick ourselves up and move on, or do we reach back after others and help them? Most of the people involved with fighting for veterans are either veterans themselves or personally connected to them. In my case, I was born into it and married into it. In the case of Captain Agnes “Irish” Bresnahan, in her own struggle for justice, she reached back to help other veterans.

Captain Agnes M Bresnahan I came here today to a...
source of exposure identified as Fort McClellan, Alabama. Fort Ritchie,. Maryland and Fort Drum, NY have also been identified as Agent Orange

It began with Fort McClellan veterans, then female veterans leading into all veterans. She has been a tireless fighter for their rights even while she has been seeking justice for herself. Irish has traveled to Washington several times and testified before Congress, but now she will be traveling for her own hearing on her claim that has been tied up for years. It's been one thing after another, one excuse after another for what was caused by her willingness to serve the country.

February 20, 2009

On behalf of Captain “Irish” Agnes Bresnahan I made my personal journey to Washington DC today to hand deliver the video DVD historical story of Captain Bresnahan; Her chemical exposure service related illness to herbicides – Agent Orange.

DVD copies were delivered to Members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Chairman – Congressman Bob Filner, California.

Subcommittee for the House on Veterans Affairs, Chairman,
Congressman John Hall, NY - Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona.

Also to Congressman Steve Kagen M.D.

These congressional representatives in Washington are the first ever to have the opportunity to know this historical case of Captain Bresnahan’s exposure to chemical herbicides on U.S soil at Ft. McClellan Alabama 1971 – 1977.

It is now up to these congressional representatives to respond and take an action to correct the injustices exposed in this story to Captain Bresnahan for her and for all Vietnam Veterans exposed to chemical herbicides, state-side, in the Republic of Vietnam, or any other place while in military service serving the United States of America.

Do we get a response?

Carlo Albanese

There are many times when our elected representatives go to Washington, get their names in the news for what they do, but hardly ever have what they do not do publicized. Ignorance may be bliss, but in the cases of our veterans and the way they get treated, it's also deadly. I can't remember how many times I was on the phone with Irish and she was telling me about one more knife in her back regarding her claim or the countless other cases of other veterans seeking justice.

When we hear the word "justice" that is really all these veterans want. They don't want handouts. They don't want free rides and they don't want to take anything they is not required because whatever is wrong with them has been caused by their service to the nation. It's as simple as that. I'm not talking about the frauds running around managing to get what they did not earn. Thankfully those cases are very few while the vast majority are veterans forced by circumstances to begin to regret they served. Even with that regret, these men and women would do it all over again no matter how they were treated.

Washington's quote about how we treat veterans was also a warning.

"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

We do not treat them right. We train them to do their "jobs" and give them what they need to do those jobs. In the civilian world, workers are trained, but if they end up getting hurt on the job, workman's compensation reimburses them for lost income. In the military world, the DOD and the VA are supposed to reimburse them for lost income if they are hurt because they served. That's what too many people miss.

If we are placed in dangerous situations, OSHA steps in to make sure employers are doing the right thing. If servicemen are placed in dangerous situations, it's just taken for granted. Doesn't matter that chemicals they are exposed to destroy the rest of their lives as well as their family members. They have to take their cases one by one to the DOD and the VA as if they are the only one affected instead of the DOD contacting all veterans they know were exposed. They have records of who was exposed and should automatically compensate them the way justice demands.

If we are exposed to sexual assaults, law enforcement steps in and the perpetrator goes on trial and then jail. In the military, the victim is blamed and the perpetrator is transferred, much like the Catholic priest accused of sexual assaults on children were simply transferred from one parish to another.

If we are exposed to sexual harassment, again it is considered illegal and the perpetrators are punished. Yet again in the military it happens all the time and is viewed as just part of the culture.

If we are injured on the job because it's part of our job to be in dangerous positions, such as law enforcement or fire departments, we are compensated for the incomes we can no longer earn. Yet if servicemen are injured on their jobs, they have to fight longer and harder to have their cases resolved.

When it comes to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, civilians are taken care of a lot faster with Social Security Disability, private disability insurance, workman's compensation and their medical insurance pays to have them treated. When it comes to the DOD and the VA, they are required to not only prove they were where the traumatic events happened, they were injured by the event, they also have to prove it couldn't have occurred for any other reason. When they finally do have their case approved for compensation, they are hardly ever presented with the full compensation they should received and then must fight all over again to prove they should receive more.

Supposedly the DOD and the VA are so appreciative of the men and women willing to serve this nation, they "take care of their own" but if "their own" end up disabled, they are no longer one of them but belong to someone else and become the "issue" of someone else. In other words, someone else's problem.

Rank and file become veterans and end up taking care of their own against the leaders they thought they could trust with their lives once their lives were no longer of service to them. It's wrong and has been wrong for too many generations. Washington would have never accepted any of the conditions the rest of us expect the members of the military to tolerate. After all, we don't when it comes to civilian life but we expect them to tolerate it when they return to civilian life no matter what they carry with them.

Pray for Irish that justice for her will lead to justice for all Fort McClellan veterans and every other veteran forced to fight the nation they risked their lives for.