Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Troops give new meaning to distance learning with UCF

Troops give new meaning to distance learning
Darryl E. Owens Sentinel Staff Writer
March 31, 2009
The day starts before 8a.m. for Jonathan Richman, a religious-program specialist 2nd class with the U.S. Navy, based at Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After a day spent boosting troop morale and interacting with detainees, the petty officer 2nd class typically clocks out at 5p.m. He plays some racquetball, tends to his room and laundry, then pulls up a seat and dives into deep discussions with his legal-studies classmates at the University of Central Florida.

The Orlando campus might be miles from the military base, but online-degree programs are growing in appeal for veterans who've suffered grievous injuries and service members such as Richman whose worldwide deployments underscore the term "distance" learning.

"The biggest advantage of online education is the ability to 'attend' class when it is convenient for me," said the 25-year-old from Orlando. "If I feel like it, I can sign on in the middle of the night and do some homework, take a quiz or ask a question via e-mail or the bulletin board."
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Troops give new meaning to distance learning

Three Fort Benning Soldiers awarded medals of valor

3 Benning soldiers awarded medals for actions

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 11:16:20 EDT

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Three Fort Benning soldiers have been awarded medals of valor for their action in Afghanistan.

The honors Monday were for action in the Battle of Wanat on July 13, 2008. Silver stars went to Capt. Matthew E. Myer and Sgt. Michael T. Denton. A bronze star with a V device was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class David L. Dzwik.
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3 Benning soldiers awarded medals for actions

Fort Hood Soldier home on leave killed near Fort Bragg

Soldier shot on leave is identified

Staff report
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 12:20:23 EDT

A soldier from Fort Hood, Texas, who was home on leave from Afghanistan died Sunday after he was shot at a club in Spring Lake, N.C., just outside Fort Bragg, officials said Tuesday.

Spc. Charles Corrothers Clements, 27, of Baltimore was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
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Soldier shot on leave is identified

Mental Health America awarded grant for Native Americans

Mental Health America Awarded Grant To Deliver Culturally Appropriate Support For Native Americans With Serious Mental Illness
Regional Approach to Eliminating
Behavioral Health Disparities
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or svetzner@mentalhealthamerica.net

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 31, 2009)-Mental Health America today announced it has been awarded a $750,000 grant by Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to develop culturally appropriate support for Native Americans with serious mental illness and in rural and frontier communities.

The program takes a regional approach toward eliminating behavioral health disparities among Native American and frontier populations.

The funding will be used to develop a peer-to-peer program for use in the Navajo and Ute Nations region in tribal lands in the Four Corners area (the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona).

Mental Health America will also create education programs to help reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental health disabilities in the frontier and tribal lands of North Dakota.

Among the approaches to be used will be creation of leadership groups within tribal communities focusing on behavioral health, and peer-led mental health programs in tribal and frontier communities. Each year, 30 peer specialists are expected to graduate from peer-to-peer training to staff these programs.

Mental health America will work with MHA affiliates in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and North Dakota to implement the program.

Many obstacles exist that prevent adequate and culturally competent behavioral health care in rural areas and for Native American populations. These include scarcity of professional staff, a lack of cultural and linguistically competent providers, discrimination and social stigma, a real fear that confidentiality won't be protected, financing and reimbursement issues, insufficient integration of behavioral (mental and substance use) with physical health, little prevention efforts, transportation difficulties and low numbers of providers.

Native Americans suffer from higher rates of suicide, alcohol abuse and/or dependence, post-traumatic stress disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, poverty, homelessness and unemployment than any other cultural group.
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Mental Health America Awarded Grant

Congress passes bill to make Vets’ Corps

Congress passes bill to make Vets’ Corps

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 16:28:19 EDT

Legislation that would create a Veterans’ Corps as a new element of the AmeriCorps national service plan has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., one of the chief sponsors of the Veterans’ Corps portion of the national service expansion, said he has high hopes for the new program that will give veterans a way to help other veterans make the transition to civilian life.

The bill, HR 1388, does not specify how many people will be able to sign up for the Veterans’ Corps, but it greatly expands the size of the U.S. national service program.

Under the bill, which lawmakers decided to name the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the number of national service positions would be about 88,000 in 2010 but would grow to 250,000 by 2017.

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Congress passes bill to make Vets’ Corps/

Medically unfit still being deployed?

Medically unfit being deployed?

By Tony Lombardo - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 31, 2009 16:33:47 EDT

Conflicting policies, inaccurate records, and uninformed commanders and medical providers all could play a role in the Army’s deployment of soldiers medically unfit to serve, according to an Army inspector general’s report.

It was obtained Monday by Army Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The report is a response to “numerous Congressional inquiries, media releases and complaints from soldiers and veteran organizations regarding the growing perception that the Army is deploying soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan who are medically unfit,” the executive summary states.

Army Secretary Pete Geren called for an inspection of the Army’s medical deployment process June 18. Seven inspectors general and a team including representatives from Army G-1, Army Medical Command, the National Guard and the Army Reserve conducted the inspection.
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Medically unfit being deployed?

Two heroes catch falling baby in Lawrence MA

Two men praised after catching falling baby in Lawrence
March 31, 2009
By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff

LAWRENCE - It might have ended so differently, if Robert Lemire had not decided on pizza for dinner or if Alex Day had not come to the apartment on Haverhill Street for Bible study.

Neither might have seen the heart-stopping sight of a girl in a diaper and T-shirt dangling from an apartment window three stories above the ground, and they might not have been waiting to catch her when she finally fell.

Eighteen-month-old Caliah Clark survived a 30-foot plummet Sunday night and probably owes her life to the two men who ran to the spot below the window and caught her, one by the legs, another above the waist, and brought her, unhurt, back to her father in the apartment upstairs.

"When they saved my daughter's life, they saved my own life because if she would have been hurt, I don't know what I'd do," said the father, 28-year-old Randall Clark. "For them to be there to catch my daughter, it's unbelievable. Accidents do happen in a split second."
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Two men praised after catching falling baby in Lawrence

Monday, March 30, 2009

Baltimore Sun Investigation reveals Army's risky medical practices

This was sent from Shelia over at Quilt of Tears. Agent Orange Quilt of Tears

Our troops guinea pigs? Does this surprise anyone?

Innovations were rushed to the battlefield without thorough testing
Investigation reveals Army's risky medical practices
By Robert Little mailto:%20robert.little@baltsun.com
March 28, 2009
The U.S. Army in recent years has rushed a number of medical innovations onto the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan with little testing or data to support them, and then altered or abandoned them when they didn't live up to expectations.Things like advanced battle dressings, a blood-clotting drug and alternative procedures for emergency blood transfusions were introduced into military hospitals without the rigorous review common in civilian hospitals, and Army officials sometimes changed or disregarded data from their own scientists that questioned their effectiveness, The Baltimore Sun found in an investigation.

In some instances, wounded service members were among the first humans on whom the treatments were used. And while virtually all of the Army's published research supports the treatments, some Army studies concluding that they are ineffective or potentially dangerous haven't been published.The aggressive push is a point of pride to some Army doctors and officials, but others deride it as reckless and say they felt pressured to defy their own judgments in favor of the military's favored, but unproven, treatments.
Related links
Interview with Army surgeon general Audio
Factor VII timeline
Sun coverage: Factor VII
And controversy over the experimental nature of the Army's combat medicine continues in Iraq today. A new formula for blood transfusions, hailed by the Army as its greatest medical breakthrough of the war, has been adopted by civilian hospitals around the world, based largely on the military's experience. Some civilian studies also support it, yet others, including a two-year study at Baltimore's Shock Trauma center, raise doubts that the procedure works.
Among The Sun's findings:

• Roughly 17,000 packages of a blood-clotting substance were shipped to Iraq last year for distribution to Army medics, despite warnings from the service's own scientists against using it on humans. It was quickly recalled when animal tests revealed potentially deadly complications.
• An $89 bandage given to every combat soldier and honored by the Army as one of its "greatest inventions" was deployed despite two unpublished studies from the service's research lab showing that it was no more effective than gauze. After mixed reports from the battlefield, it is being recalled and replaced.
• Liberal use of a blood-clotting drug, injected copiously into wounded soldiers in 2005 and 2006, became the Army's "standard operating procedure" more than a year before any clinical studies evaluating the drug's use on trauma patients had been completed. The drug has since proven largely ineffective in three unpublished Army studies and potentially dangerous in at least one, and is now used only in extreme cases.
• Transfusions of fresh whole blood, considered dangerous and unnecessary in civilian medicine, became standard treatments early in the Iraq war, based on anecdotes and theoretical arguments. They unwittingly exposed 20 or more patients in Iraq and Afghanistan to hepatitis. Studies of the practice have since found mixed results, and it is now used only in emergency situations.
Read the story on the investigation this Sunday in The Baltimore Sun.

New spotlight on child suicide

New spotlight on child suicide
Childhood suicide is being talked about with increasing candor, a change that became relevant last month when three Illinois children took their own lives.
"I'd say suicide-prevention education is following the same path as drug prevention in the 1990s," said Christine Mitchell, state director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "There's more resources ... more sharing of information. We need to stop whispering and start talking so kids can get the help they need." click link for more

"Losing a Marine to suicide is like abandoning a Marine in combat"

Marine Corps takes a new approach to suicide prevention
A dramatic, multimedia presentation is intended to get troops' attention. Suicide rates have shown an alarming increase.
By Tony Perry
March 28, 2009
Reporting from Camp Pendleton -- Forty-one Marines marched on command to the front of the hall and stared at hundreds of their comrades assembled Friday for a presentation ordered by top generals to try to stem a rising rate of suicide.

The Marines represented the number who took their own lives last year, more than were killed in Iraq (34) or in Afghanistan (27).

Losing a Marine to suicide, Col. Lori Reynolds told the group, is like abandoning a Marine in combat.

Marines must be more diligent in looking for signs that one of them is thinking of suicide, she said.

"Last year, we left 41 Marines out there on the battlefield," Reynolds said. "There were signs."

The suicides equaled a rate of 19 per 100,000 troops, up from 33 suicides and a rate of 16.5 in 2007, and 25 suicides and a rate of 12.9 in 2006.

Of the 41, 36 were junior enlisted, three were non-commissioned officers and two were officers. Twenty-nine shot themselves; 12 hanged themselves.
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Marine Corps takes a new approach to suicide prevention

Why have Iraq and Afghanistan produced only 5 Medal of Honor recipients

Death before this honor

Why have Iraq and Afghanistan produced only 5 Medal of Honor recipients, none living?
By Brendan McGarry - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 30, 2009 5:51:05 EDT

The number of Medal of Honor recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be counted on one hand.

Each of the five acted spontaneously and heroically to save the lives of comrades. Each exemplified the medal’s criteria of “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of one’s own life above and beyond the call of duty.”

And each was killed in action or died from wounds received in action.

From World War I through Vietnam, the rate of Medal of Honor recipients per 100,000 service members stayed between 2.3 (Korea) and 2.9 (World War II). But since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only five Medals of Honor have been awarded, a rate of 0.1 per 100,000 — one in a million.

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Death before this honor

A General's Personal Battle

I don't know what to make out of this story. Is it that Maj. Gen. Graham has awakened to the fact what they've been doing at Carson has been all wrong or is this more of a selling job as if the military finally gets it? Suicides and attempted suicides go up every year and we keep hearing how the military is taking all of this very seriously. If they were doing the right research and making the right decisions, the numbers would have gone down instead of up. Personality Disorder discharges would have stopped and they would have been treated instead of kicked out of the military. Warrior Transition Units would not be punishing the wounded for not showing up for formation. PTSD wounded would not be redeployed with medications but no therapy right back to where they were wounded in the first place.

Experimenting? How many more years will it take to "experiment" with the wounded before they have a clue what it is? Ten? Twenty? Over thirty? That is what we're talking about here. It's been over 30 years since the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was used in a study commissioned by the DAV. It has not changed because humans have not changed. We've been reading the same reports and the same studies since the 70's.

The best program out there was done by the Montana National Guard and if any general were really serious about getting this right, they would take a look at how they are doing it and then use it. It would save time, save money, but above all, save the lives of the men and women that made it back home but could not survive the wound.
A General's Personal Battle
The military is facing a sharp spike in suicides, and Maj. Gen. Mark Graham is leading the fight to reduce them. His mission is close to the heart: His own son, a young ROTC cadet, killed himself six years ago.

Fort Carson, Colo.

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham is on the frontlines of the Army's struggle to stop its soldiers from killing themselves. Through a series of novel experiments, the 32-year military veteran has turned his sprawling base here into a suicide-prevention laboratory.

One reason: Fort Carson has seen nine suicides in the past 15 months. Another: Six years ago, a 21-year-old ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky killed himself in the apartment he shared with his brother and sister. He was Kevin Graham, Gen. Graham's youngest son.

After Kevin's suicide in 2003, Gen. Graham says he showed few outward signs of mourning and refused all invitations to speak about the death. It was a familiar response within a military still uncomfortable discussing suicide and its repercussions. It wasn't until another tragedy struck the family that Gen. Graham decided to tackle the issue head on.

"I will blame myself for the rest of my life for not doing more to help my son," Gen. Graham says quietly, sitting in his living room at Fort Carson, an array of family photographs on a table in front of him. "It never goes away."

Suicide is emerging as the military's newest conflict. For 2008, the Pentagon has confirmed that 140 soldiers killed themselves, the highest number in decades.

At a Senate hearing last week, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, told lawmakers that 48 soldiers have already committed suicide in 2009. The figure puts the Army on pace for nearly double last year's figure. "I, and the other senior leaders of our Army, readily acknowledge that these current figures are unacceptable," Gen. Chiarelli said at the hearing.

Beyond Fort Carson, the Army has launched a broad push to reduce the incidence of suicide. Over the next four months, all soldiers in the Army will receive additional training on suicide prevention and broader mental health issues. The Marine Corps, which is also being hit hard by suicide, will give all Marines similar training this month. In February and March, the Army for the first time ever excused units from their normal duties so, one by one, they could learn new ways of trying to identify soldiers in need of help.
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A General's Personal Battle

RAF veteran tells of post-traumatic stress disorder ordeal

RAF veteran tells of post-traumatic stress disorder ordeal
Mar 30 2009 By Craig McQueen

DURING his military career, Andy Lorimer saw action in warzones and troublespots including Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.

In his wedding photos, an impressive collection of medals are proudly pinned to his chest.

But the 46-year-old's bravery came at a cost and it's one he's still coming to terms with.

Andy, who joined the RAF when he was 21, has spent years trying to piece his life together after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At his worst, there were bouts of heavy drinking and irrational behaviour, including having to flee from a supermarket in panic because he realised he was not carrying a gun.

Only now is Andy, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, getting somewhere, thanks to the help of his new wife Nikki and the founders of a charity who are aiming to help more people just like him.

Andy said: "My PTSD probably started before the first Gulf War when we had to recover a couple of bodies.

"I wasn't conscious of it at the time.

"You just got on with your job and moved on to the next thing. You didn't build up the memories of it.

"And I started to work in higher and higher pressure environments. I would get where I wanted to be and then I would change and do something else as I liked the challenge.

"It meant I got involved in a lot of situations and saw a lot of things, which, when taken individually, you might be able to cope with. But mine was an accumulation of all those things."

Andy worked on Hercules aircraft during the first Gulf War before working with helicopter crews.

His varied career also saw him working with the Parachute Regiment and special forces and undercover in Northern Ireland.

He survived but saw many others lose their lives.

Andy said: "I lost a total of 13 friends - 12 in military action and one in a parachute accident.
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I Knew That I Had Post Traumatic Stress When I Fled Shops Because ...
Glasgow Daily Record - Glasgow,Scotland,UK

PTSD On Trail:Family says horrors of fighting caused unconscious act with guns

When they come home with PTSD nightmares and flashbacks, they are not here. They are not home safe, away from the enemy. They are right there back in a battle for their lives. They are not with their families or friends. They are surrounded by people trying to kill them. This is what people need to understand. There will be more domestic violence and more deaths until they are all treated and helped to be healed. This will keep happening as long as families do not understand their "normal" reactions to a PTSD veteran often escalates conflicts. A veteran is wounded, families are wounded, police officers are wounded and communities are wounded when we fail them.

George and Karen Odom of Cocoa hold back tears as they talk about their son. (Craig Rubadoux, FLORIDA TODAY)

Man's 'enemy' follows him home from war
Family says horrors of fighting caused unconscious act with guns

COCOA -- Joseph Brian Odom's mother said her son went to bed one night and woke up the next morning in jail.

Karen Odom said that during sleep, the Army 82nd Airborne Division veteran's mind raced through combat missions in Afghanistan.

Family members said post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the 31-year-old's service in Operation Enduring Freedom was the enemy. He has fought frequent nightmares, daily headaches and brief flashbacks.

Odom's battle in the early morning of Thanksgiving Day 2007, however, took place in real life at his home near Cocoa. Since then, he has spent 16 months in the Brevard County Detention Center awaiting a trial expected to begin Monday.

Sheriff's deputies said Odom shot at his wife, who called 9-1-1. He was wearing a military-style bulletproof vest and carrying a shotgun and an AK-47 rifle when he confronted officers who arrived at the couple's home just before 2 a.m.

Odom -- who had no criminal record -- walked toward a deputy and refused orders to stop and drop his weapons, deputies said.

Rita Odom said her husband did not mean to cause her harm. She argued that he shouldn't be incarcerated but should be in residential treatment for PTSD brought by his military service.

Local military
Hundreds of Brevard County residents serve in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, including:
167 soldiers from the Melbourne-based 715th Military Police Company serving in Afghanistan
175 from the 920th Rescue Wing deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere
133 from the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force base deployed to various locations, including Afghanistan
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Man's 'enemy' follows him home from war

UPDATE March 31, 2009
MELBOURNE — The trial of Joseph Brian Odom, accused of shooting at his wife then confronting sheriff’s deputies while carrying two guns, has been postponed.

The trial had been scheduled to begin today but was delayed.

A pretrial hearing in the case has been set for April 7 at 8:30 a.m. At that time a new trial date likely will be scheduled.
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Afghanistan vet's shooting trial postponed
Florida Today - Melbourne,FL,USA

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Traumatised soldiers get sub-standard care in Australia too

Traumatised soldiers get sub-standard care
AM - Monday, 30 March , 2009 08:22:00
Reporter: Jennifer Macey
TONY EASTLEY: An investigation into the Defence Force's mental health services reveals that most returned soldiers aren't getting adequate care.

The report commissioned by the Federal Government has been leaked to the ABC's Four Corners program and The Age newspaper.

It shows that two-thirds of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are receiving sub-standard treatment.

Jennifer Macey reports.
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Traumatised soldiers get sub-standard care
ABC Online - Australia

Reported deaths by Afghan Army soldier may have been insurgent instead

What would have been worse? An insurgent getting his hands on an Afghan Army uniform and killing Choe and Toner or a real Afghan Army soldier doing it?

Florence B. Choe, 35, of El Cajon, Calif.; lieutenant, Navy. Choe was one of two military personnel killed Friday when an insurgent posing as an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire on U.S. military personnel. Choe was assigned to Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan at Camp Shaheen in Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan.

Francis L. Toner IV, 26, of Narragansett, R.I.; lieutenant junior grade, Navy. Toner was one of two military personnel killed Friday when an insurgent posing as an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire on U.S. military personnel. Toner was assigned to Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan at Camp Shaheen in Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan.

There were also three non-combat related deaths in Afghanistan as well.

Jose R. Escobedo Jr., 32, of Albuquerque; sergeant, Army. Escobedo died March 20 in Baghdad of noncombat-related injuries suffered a day earlier at Forward Operating Base Kalsu in Iskandariya, Iraq, southeast of the capital. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Raphael A. Futrell, 26, of Anderson, S.C.; staff sergeant, Army. Futrell died of noncombat-related injuries Wednesday in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 13th Military Police Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command at Ft. Shafter, Hawaii.

Adam J. Hardt, 19, of Avondale, Ariz.; private first class, Army. Hardt died of noncombat-related injuries March 22 at Forward Operating Base Airborne in Afghanistan's Wardak province, southwest of Kabul. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

These reports are on LA Times and linked from
iCasualties.org: Operation Enduring Freedom

Man Kills Sisters on 5-Year-Old's Birthday

Cannot imagine the pain in the family or the police officers responding to this. Please add them to your prayers.

Man Kills Sisters on 5-Year-Old's Birthday
MILTON, Mass. (March 29) -- A man on a rampage fatally stabbed his 17-year-old sister, decapitated his 5-year-old sister in front of a police officer and then headed toward his 9-year-old sister before officers shot him amid what their chief described as "a killing field."
There is no clear motive yet for the events that unfolded about 5 p.m. Saturday in this tony Boston suburb that is also home to Gov. Deval Patrick. But there is no doubt at the carnage wrought by 23-year-old Kerby Revelus against his three sisters in the two-family home they shared with their parents and grandmother.
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Man Kills Sisters on 5-Year-Old's Birthday

UPDATE March 31, 2009

5-year-old's beheading came 'out of the blue'
By the time the police officer kicked the door in, it was too late. Kerby Revelus was holding his 5-year-old sister, Bianca, and while the officer watched, decapitated her with a kitchen knife. Police had received a 911 call from another sibling, 17-year-old Samantha. Suffering from deep cuts in her upper body, she was losing strength and would soon be dead. full story

Grey’s Anatomy gets it right about PTSD

Grey’s Anatomy gets it right about PTSD
Kathy Quan RN BSN

LA Mental Health Examiner

The March 26, 2009 episode of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy accurately depicts Dr. Owen Hunt’s PTSD as a a real war wound and mental illness which is treatable.

PTSD is a brain disorder characterized by symptoms such as recurring nightmares, insomnia, depression, mood swings, and high levels of anxiety. This disorder has been linked to traumatic events such as combat stress and childhood abuse. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment with a wide variety of therapies along with medication, recovery can be achieved.

Magnetic imaging (MRI) studies and PET scans have identified areas of the brain where significant changes have been seen in patients suffering from PTSD. The primary area of focus is the hippocampus which plays a big role in short-term memories and emotions. The amygdala which controls emotional memories was first thought to be the primary focus, but more recent studies have shown the hippocampus may be the real link.

Shrinkage in the hippocampus along with increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain responsible for decision-making activities, has also been documented in the recent research. This hyperactivity in the prefrontal cortex is thought to cause an excessive reaction to fear.
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Grey’s Anatomy gets it right about PTSD Examiner.com - USA

Fallen soldier to receive Silver Star

U.S. Army
Cpl. Jonathan Ayers fought heroically until enemy fire cut him down as outnumbered U.S. soldiers repelled a wave of Taliban fighters in July.

Fallen soldier to receive Silver Star

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cpl. Jonathan Ayers picked up an M-240 machine gun and unleashed a hail of bullets from the observation post of a small base American soldiers had set up only days before.

Taliban fighters had attacked before sunrise on July 13, 2008, recalled the GIs’ battalion commander, Col. William Ostlund, now stationed at Fort Benning.

They were firing from a nearby mosque, storefronts in the local bazaar and homes of elders in Wanat, a village tucked in the rugged foothills of the Hindu Kush along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan.

Grenades exploded. Bullets sliced through trees, severing branches. Everything was on fire, even the grass.

A bullet grazed Ayers’ helmet and knocked him back. But the 24-year-old soldier from Snellville did not recoil. His paratrooper instincts took over. He kept firing amid fierce enemy RPGs and small arms fire.

When one weapon seized up because so many rounds had been fired so rapidly, Ayers picked up another. He fought on until an enemy bullet got him. And he fell — one of nine soldiers who died that day, the largest loss of American life in a single battle in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the military will posthumously award Ayers its third-highest medal for valor: the Silver Star. His brother Josh, 26, plans to accept the medal, a gold star with a laurel wreath and a silver star superimposed in the center. On the back, the inscription reads: “For gallantry in action.”

Only 146 soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have been honored with Silver Stars, including 13 others in Ayers’ battalion. In Iraq, the military has awarded 396 Silver Stars.
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Fallen soldier to receive Silver Star
Atlanta Journal Constitution - GA, USA

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Man busted for robbery at cop convention

Man busted for robbery at cop convention
Published: March 28, 2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 28 (UPI) -- A 19-year-old man chose the wrong venue to try an armed robbery -- a Pennsylvania hotel hosting 300 police narcotics officers, officials allege.
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Man busted for robbery at cop convention

Eli Painted Crow, female warrior fights for female warriors

Mike Tharp: Local vets stand up for Stand Down
Jim, a Vietnam veteran, sits in Eli PaintedCrow's living room. Balding, brown-bearded with calloused hands, he talks with Ismael Hernandez, vice commander of Merced's Disabled American Veterans chapter.

Eli (pronounced 'Ellie'), 48, a Yaqui Indian, shuffles through copies of online material she's just printed out from her ever-humming laptop. As she talks in her kitchen about her efforts to help female veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jim's words slide in from the other room: "Rockets...mortars...PTSD."

Eli moved to Merced in 1989, early in her 22-year career in the U.S. Army. She got out as an E-7, a mid-level noncommissioned officer. NCOs form the backbone of any military unit. They know more than privates and corporals and colonels and generals about how the Army and Marines work. Eli's MOS (military occupational specialty) was 88M, truck driver.
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Surgeon heals patients and their violent ways

Surgeon heals patients and their violent ways
Story Highlights
Dr. Carnell Cooper's Violence Intervention Program helps trauma victims

The program aims to break the cycle of violence by targeting its root causes

Study: Participants are three times less likely to be arrested for a violent crime

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open at CNN.com/Heroes

BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- Dr. Carnell Cooper, a Baltimore surgeon, is saving lives inside and outside the operating room.
Since becoming a trauma surgeon 16 years ago, he has dedicated himself to treating the many young African-American men who've been shot, stabbed or beaten, only to see them return to the ER with another severe injury just months later.
But when one of his patients was readmitted with a fatal gunshot wound to the head in 1996, it changed Cooper's life.
"The night that we pronounced that young man dead and my colleagues said there's really nothing we can do in these situations. ... I just didn't believe that," said Cooper, 54. "From that day forward, I said, 'Let's see what we can do.' "
Cooper created the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) at the Shock Trauma Unit of the University of Maryland Medical Center, the state's busiest hospital for violent injuries. It became one of the country's first hospital-based anti-violence programs.
"We approached this problem like any public health crisis, like heart disease or smoking," he said. "We tried to work on the root causes."
Since 1998, VIP has provided substance abuse counseling, job skills training and other support services to nearly 500 trauma victims.
Don't Miss
Get involved: Violence Intervention Program
In Depth: CNN Heroes
"Using that scalpel blade to save their life is the first step," Cooper said. "The next step is to try to keep them from coming back."
A 2006 study by Cooper and his colleagues, published in the Journal of Trauma, showed that people in the program were six times less likely to be readmitted with a violent injury and three times less likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
The issue hits close to home for Cooper. Born to unwed teenagers in Dillon, South Carolina, he grew up in a neighborhood where violent crime was commonplace; he had friends and relatives who ended up dead or in jail.
But his grandparents made sure he stayed on the right path. As a straight-A student, he attended a prestigious high school in Massachusetts, then Yale University and Duke University School of Medicine.
But while Cooper rose above his circumstances, he felt sympathy for the young men who rotated in and out of his operating room.
"They could be my friends, my family," he said.
Cooper's program attempts to help patients from the moment they arrive because victims of violence face a greater risk of receiving another violent injury. Everyone treated for violent wounds at the hospital is seen by a VIP case worker, often at bedside. For Cooper, approaching patients at this early stage is crucial.
"We may get them in a moment when they are thinking, 'I just almost died,' " he said. "We say, 'We're going help you find a way to get out of the game.' "
Watch Cooper talk to a victim of violence at his bedside »
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2 coalition troops killed by Afghan soldier

2 coalition troops killed by Afghan soldier

Staff report
Posted : Friday Mar 27, 2009 17:30:11 EDT

Two coalition service members died and another was wounded March 27 when an Afghan National Army soldier reportedly opened fire on them, officials in Kabul said in a press release.

A fourth service member appeared to be unharmed but was evacuated to a medical facility for evaluation. The Afghan soldier is reported to have killed himself immediately after the incident, which happened about 2:20 p.m. on March 27 in northern Afghanistan. No more details were available.
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Vietnam vets honored with special day in Lynn MA

Vietnam vets honored with special day in Lynn

By David Liscio / The Daily Item

LYNN - The older ones are in their late 70s, the younger just about 60.

They're veterans of the Vietnam War and on Sunday they'll be honored across Lynn, the result of a special proclamation read aloud Friday at City Hall by Mayor Edward Clancy Jr.

Veterans representing every conflict since World War II gathered in the lobby for a recognition ceremony, some still able to fit into their military uniforms.

"I had to go outside," said Tom Miller, 67, of Lynn, who spent 22 years in the Marine Corps and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. "I got too emotional when I heard them play the Star Spangled Banner."

The notes burst from veteran Dick Perry's trumpet, filling the cavernous room. The men saluted flags held erect by members of the ROTC. Chris Lewis, president of his class at Lynn Classical High School, read the sobering statistics from the Vietnam War - 47,424 battle deaths and 153,303 with non-mortal wounds. More than 58,000 died as a result of the war. About 7.1 million Vietnam-era veterans are living.
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Authorities fear war experience could make standoffs more numerous, dangerous

Authorities fear war experience could make standoffs more numerous, dangerous

March 28, 2009 - 12:00 PM
Army Spc. Larry Applegate was firing rifles inside his Widefield home for nearly an hour before he turned a gun on himself, gasping his last breath into the phone, an El Paso County Sheriff's deputy on the other end.

Nearly certain Applegate, 27, had killed himself as he had threatened, the deputies surrounding his house that January day waited for any movement inside. There was only stillness.

It was a worst-case scenario in a standoff arising from a domestic violence report, made that much more volatile by Applegate's Army training and war experience.

Due to the rates of mental health problems experienced by Iraq war veterans, experts say it isn't the last time a soldier will barricade himself in a house, forcing a police response that in the mind of someone suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury could seem like a battle zone.

"We are training these people to be unconsciously competent at defending themselves," said Eleanor Alden, a clinical social worker in Denver who treats PTSD in private practice. "They just do it. And then they came back and we put them in a different situation, but the same triggers will have the same kind of response. Then they end up in some sort of fugue state where they are responding the way they are trained to respond but in the wrong situation."

For local law enforcement agencies, standoffs with the suicidal or people involved in domestic disputes are intense situations, often with multiple X factors. Adding in somewhat unpredictable behavior of someone suffering from mental and physical wounds of war can heighten the situation.
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Senate OKs creation of Veterans’ Corps

Senate OKs creation of Veterans’ Corps

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Mar 27, 2009 20:32:05 EDT

A program in which veterans would volunteer to help active-duty members make the transition to civilian life has moved a step closer to reality with the Senate’s March 26 vote to more than triple the number of national service jobs.

The bill, HR 1388, authorizes a new Veterans’ Corps, whose success would be measured by the number of veterans who are helped to go to college or find jobs, the number of military families provided assistance, and the number of homeless veterans who find housing.

The Senate approved the bill on a 79-19 vote, and retitled the measure the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act so it would carry the name of the Massachusetts Democratic senator whose family has long been involved in national service programs.

The House of Representatives passed the bill, which it called the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or GIVE Act, on March 18 by a 321-105 vote.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Oakland police mourned by family, fellow officers and dignitaries

Oakland police mourned by family, fellow officers and dignitaries

The city's 800-strong police force, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and both of the state's senators attend the funeral of Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai.
By Ann M. Simmons and Peter H. King
1:39 PM PDT, March 27, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Oakland -- Mourners jammed the 19,000-seat Oracle Arena in Oakland today to pay their respects to four Oakland police officers killed by a parolee after a routine traffic stop turned into a manhunt and gun battle.

Hundreds of law enforcement personnel and government officials from across the nation and Canada joined family and friends of the slain officers: Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai. The entire 800-strong Oakland police force attended, wearing black tape stretched diagonally across their badges. Many sniffed back tears.
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Oakland police mourned by family, fellow officers and dignitaries

VA: 16 patients of problem clinics infected

Mar 27, 9:23 PM EDT

VA: 16 patients of problem clinics infected

Associated Press Writer

CHATANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Viral infections, including hepatitis, have been found in 16 patients exposed to contaminated equipment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities, a department spokeswoman said Friday. So far, 10 colonoscopy patients from the VA medical center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., have tested positive for hepatitis, VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts told The Associated Press.

In a later e-mail, she reported six patients at the VA's ear, nose and throat clinic in Augusta, Ga, tested positive for unspecified viral infections.
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VA: 16 patients of problem clinics infected

Non-combat death in Iraq announced by DOD

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Staff Sgt. Raphael A. Futrell, 26, of Anderson, S.C., died March 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 13th Military Police Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

The incident is under investigation.

St Andrews University dies after head trauma

Fall student dies after all-clear from hospital

Alex Richardson fell around 15 feet through the skylight of the Mica Home Store

Date: 28 March 2009
By Fiona Macleod and Lyndsay Moss
A STUDENT at St Andrews University has died from a head injury two days after he was discharged from hospital in a tragedy that echoes the recent death of actress Natasha Richardson.

Alex Richardson, 21, crashed through a skylight of a DIY story in St Andrews town centre on Tuesday night after venturing on to the roof to dance during a student party.

He was treated by paramedics at the scene and rushed to hospital and released the following afternoon.

But just six hours after leaving Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, friends found him collapsed and unconscious at home after a suspected brain haemorrhage.

Despite being rushed back to the hospital, his condition deteriorated rapidly and his life-support machine was turned off yesterday after friends and family travelled from his home town of Newmarket, Suffolk, to be by his bedside.

Medical experts said the case echoed that of movie star Natasha Richardson, who died recently after injuring her head skiing in Canada.
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Fall student dies after all-clear from hospital

Military sends help as uncertainty floods Fargo

Military sends help as uncertainty floods Fargo
U.S. military forces and 15 helicopters were ordered Friday night to Fargo, North Dakota, to assist the state as it prepares for possible historic flooding, a U.S. military official told CNN. The swollen Red River broke a 112-year-old flood record earlier, and Fargo was winding down a massive sandbagging effort. "If we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging," the mayor said. full story

Bill would improve vets insurance benefits

Bill would improve vets insurance benefits

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Mar 27, 2009 16:44:39 EDT

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman introduced legislation Thursday to improve veterans insurance benefits.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, proposes to expand retroactive payments of traumatic injury insurance, to increase supplemental life insure for totally disabled veterans, and to create a new life insurance program for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

This is the second major veterans bill introduced this year by Akaka, who in early March unveiled a rehabilitation and employment package.

In a statement, Akaka said the new bill, S 728, “improves benefits for veterans with severe burn injuries, expands insurance programs, and secures cost-of-living increases for certain benefits, some of which have not been updated for decades.”
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Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell to be new Fort Campbell Commander

Campbell gets new commander

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Mar 27, 2009 18:11:06 EDT

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy director for regional operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been named the new commanding general for Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division.

The military announced the assignment Friday, but it will likely be months before he officially takes command of the installation on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

Campbell will replace Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who is the commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Schloesser took command in May 2006 and has overseen the division’s split deployment starting in 2007 to Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Shattered soldiers say there was no help when they needed it for PTSD

This is what the national media should be reporting on instead of filling time in with the easy things to report on. Every channel you turn to, they are all talking about the same story, the same rumor, the same trouble. This is something they can do something about, but they won't bother with it.

Santiago Cisneros never dreamed he'd have trouble adjusting to civilian life again.

"It took a while to realize I was dealing with PTSD because I didn't know what post-traumatic stress disorder was. I had no clue"

Army Combat Veteran Santiago Cisneros tried to kill himself just eight months after leaving Iraq.

"I fought a war back there in Iraq. I didn't know I was going to have to fight a war back here in the United States within myself," says Santiago.

Shattered soldiers say there was no help when they needed it
Shattered soldiers say there was no help when they needed it
"I probably need to get some help before I slit your throats while you're sleeping." That's what a now AWOL Fort Lewis soldier said he told his command staff before he tried to kill his sergeant in Iraq. Even after the alleged attack, the soldier said, the Army never got him any mental help.
By Liz Rocca

My job was to kick down doors."
His Army buddies called him "K-10." On the dusty streets of Iraq he had one goal: "Find insurgents and punish them. Period."

K-10 can't use his real name because now he's a fugitive - a deserter. With just three weeks left in the Army, K-10 went AWOL from the Fort Lewis Post when, he says, the flashbacks of battle became more than he could bear.

"I never had nightmares before I went to Iraq," says K-10.

Another soldier, who now goes by the fictitious name of Arthur Smith, says he was so tortured by terrifying nightmares he went AWOL from the National Guard.

"I would wake up shaking, I would wake up sweating," he says. "I would have dreams of being gunned down by other Army soldiers."

Army Combat Veteran Santiago Cisneros tried to kill himself just eight months after leaving Iraq.

"I fought a war back there in Iraq. I didn't know I was going to have to fight a war back here in the United States within myself," says Santiago.

All three men told the Problem Solvers they are shattered soldiers, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and didn't get the help they needed from the military they served.

Vietnam veterans gathering in Raleigh

Vietnam veterans gathering in Raleigh
By David Perlmutt
Posted: Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009
De Hillyer spent 13 months as a howitzer mechanic in Vietnam and returned home from war in February 1969 to a red-carpet greeting by World War II and Korean War veterans.

His welcome didn't last for long. At El Toro Marine Air Station in California, he and other returned U.S. troops boarded a bus to Los Angeles, where they were met by anti-war protesters.

"It was a less-than-memorable welcome. They were shouting obscenities and spitting at us," said Hillyer, now a retired United Methodist minister from Charlotte. "It was scary; I just wanted to get out of my uniform. That happened to a lot of Vietnam veterans when they came home.

"Many veterans still don't feel they've been welcomed home."

That was the intent of a resolution passed by the U.S. House earlier this week that proclaims March 29 as "Vietnam Veterans Day" -- a recognition that veterans returning from America's longest war didn't come home to parades.

But apparently the resolution came too late for this March 29. Few Charlotte-area Vietnam vets know about it.

Saturday, the N.C. Vietnam Veterans Inc. is holding its first annual "Welcome Home -- Vietnam Veterans Day" event in Raleigh at the Raleigh Elks Lodge #735. The event is from noon to 4 p.m. at Lead Mine and Millbrook roads.

All N.C. Vietnam veterans and spouses are invited. There will be fellowship, barbecue and music. Sunday, a church service will be held to honor those who served and those who didn't come home.

Hillyer had to stumble onto the event and the House resolution. He's found no one in Charlotte who knows about either. A few states such as Minnesota, Tennessee and New York have proclaimed the day as a recognition for sacrifices made by their veterans in Vietnam.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orlando soldier surprises children with early return from Iraq

Orlando soldier surprises children with early return from Iraq
March 26, 2009

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Orlando soldier surprises children with early return from Iraq

President Obama urges Americans to support war vets

Just to give you some kind of idea how many "troops" that will become veterans, read this from the DOD and see what the numbers were in 2007.

From the Department of Defense
Executive Summary
2007 Demographics Report i
This Demographics Report, which was prepared for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD),presents a synthesis of demographic information describing members and families in the military community in fiscal year 20071. Active Duty Service branches include DoD’s Army,Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force; and the Reserve Components include DoD’s Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Coast Guard Reserve.

Overview of Military Personnel
The total number of military personnel is over 3.5 million strong, including Active Duty military personnel (1,365,571);
DHS’s Active Duty Coast Guard members (40,650);
DoD Ready Reserve and DHS Coast Guard Reserve members (1,088,587); and
DoD appropriated and nonappropriated-fund civilian personnel (804,770).
DoD’s Active Duty and DHS’s Coast Guard
Active Duty members comprise the largest portion of the military force (40.0%), supplemented by Ready Reserve members (31.0%) and DoD civilian personnel (22.9%).

Active Duty: Member and Family Highlights
Service Branches. The Army has the largest number of Active Duty members (517,783)
followed by the Navy (332,269), the Air Force (329,094) and the Marine Corps (186,425). There are also 40,650 Active Duty members of the DHS’s Coast Guard. At a total of 1,406,221 DoD Active Duty and DHS Coast Guard Service members, the military force of 2007 is 31.9 percent smaller than it was in 1990 (when there were 2,065,597 Active Duty members). In the past seventeen years, the number of DoD Active Duty members in each Service branch has declined by as little as 5.1 percent in the Marine Corps to as much as 42.1 percent in the Navy. The Active Duty decline from 1990 to 2007 in the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard is 28.9 percent,38.0 percent, and 12.0 percent, respectively.

Women comprise 195,991 or 14.4 percent of the DoD Active Duty force. The percent
of women in the Active Duty population is greater in 2007 than it was in 1990 (from 11.5% of officers and 10.9% of enlisted in 1990, to 15.2% of officers and 14.2% of enlisted members in 2007). Overall, the number and ratio of female officers (33,567) to female enlisted (162,424) is one female officer for every 4.8 female enlisted members. This ratio varies across the military Services with the Air Force retaining one female officer for every 4.4 female enlisted personnel, the Army retaining one female officer for every 4.6 female enlisted personnel, the Navy retaining
one female officer for every 5.4 female enlisted personnel, and the Marine Corps retaining one female officer for every 9.3 female enlisted personnel.

Women comprise 146,914 or 17.6 percent of the Selected Reserve force. The
percent of women in the Selected Reserve has continuously increased over the past seventeen years (from 14.4% of officers and 12.8% of enlisted in 1990, to 18.0% of officers and 17.5% of enlisted in 2007). Overall, the ratio of female officers (22,395) to female enlisted (124,519) is one female officer for every 5.6 female enlisted members. This ratio varies widely across the Selected Reserve with the Air Force Reserve having one female officer for every 3.1 female enlisted personnel, the Coast Guard Reserve having one female officer for every 3.3 female enlisted personnel, the Army Reserve having one female officer for every 4.2 female enlisted
personnel, the Navy Reserve having one female officer for every 4.6 female enlisted personnel, the Air National Guard having one female officer for every 7.3 female enlisted personnel, the Marine Corps Reserve having one female officer for every 8.4 female enlisted personnel, and the Army National Guard having one female officer for every 10.3 female enlisted personnel.

Age. Almost one fourth (23.8%) of Active Duty officers are 41 years of age or older, with the next largest age group being 26 to 30 year-olds (21.3%), followed by 36 to 40 year-olds (20.4%), 31 to 35 year-olds (20.2%), and those 25 years old or younger (14.2%). More than one half (52.5%) of Active Duty enlisted personnel are 25 years old or younger, with the next largest age group being 26 to 30 year-olds (20.1%), followed by 31 to 35 year-olds (12.1%), 36 to 40 year-olds (9.7%) and those 41 years old or older (5.6%). Overall, the average age of the Active Duty force is 28.3. The average age for Active Duty officers is 34.6, and the average age for enlisted personnel is 27.1.

Geographic Location. While the Active Duty population is located throughout the world, the three primary areas in which Active Duty members are assigned are the United States and its territories (85.3%), Europe (6.3%) and East Asia (5.7%). The ten states with the highest Active Duty military populations are California (149,586), Virginia (132,286), Texas (123,577), North Carolina (96,797), Georgia (70,012), Florida (59,543), Washington (58,693), Hawaii (43,505), Kentucky (39,041), and South Carolina (38,979).

When the uniforms come off and the battles are supposed to be over for them, they find the new battles they have to fight for their lives are with the government itself. Again, a reminder that Veterans for Common Sense issued a report stating the backlog of VA Claims is close to 900,000. We've talk about what this means to them and their families while they fight to have their claims approved. What we don't talk often enough about is the fact the American people are oblivious to most of this. It's not that they don't care but it is the media has not taken the time to focus on them. When you have MTV doing more hard hitting stories on their lives and what combat has done to them, we have a serious problem in this country. CNN, MSNBC and FOX have 24 hours to fill, 7 days a week. The rest of the national stations have daily broadcasts they need to fill but none of them are focusing on our veterans.

It's one of the biggest reasons why the communities these men and women come home, especially the National Guards and Reservists, no one has a clue what it's like for them.

Obama urges Americans to support war vets

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Mar 26, 2009 13:46:21 EDT

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says when it comes to making sure returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have the support they need, government can’t do the job alone.

He says communities and churches need to reach out to veterans and celebrate their return, and that businesses need to make jobs available to them.

Obama noted that, in many cases, veterans returning from Vietnam weren’t treated well. He called that “inexcusable.”

Obama repeated his support for increased funding for veterans programs, and the treatment of health problems such as post-traumatic stress.

New South Wales Police Officer died because no one listened

When it comes to suicide, why is it so hard to understand that if someone talks about it, there is a serious problem? How hard would it have been to talk to him and listen to him? The worst that could have happened is it turned out to be just talk instead of need for help. It happens all the time to police officers, firefighters and just regular civilians. It happens way too often to the troops and veterans. When will we ever get any of this right?

Mental health screenings urged after policeman's suicide

Posted 2 hours 13 minutes ago
The New South Wales deputy coroner has recommended senior police officers get regular mental health screenings after a Sergeant with post-traumatic stress disorder committed suicide in the Hunter Valley.

The 54-year-old man, who cannot be named, committed suicide near Maitland in June 2007. He was on sick leave from his job at a police station south of Newcastle at the time.
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Caring for Vets' Diseases, Stress Could Cost Canada $11.5 Billion

While this is about Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, keep in mind that our own media has been asleep instead of covering most of what our troops are going thru.

Caring for Vets' Diseases, Stress Could Cost Canada $11.5 Billion
Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

The true price of fighting in Afghanistan. First of two articles.
By Crawford Kilian

Canada's price for fighting in Afghanistan has not yet been fully paid -- or even known. Liberal and Conservative governments have avoided reporting the cost of the war. But Carleton University researcher David Perry estimates that as of March 2009, Afghanistan has cost us $4.78 billion. By 2012, he says, the war will have cost us $7.55 billion.

Those killed in the war pay the highest price, of course, but the survivors pay too, without glory, for the rest of their lives.

This is the first in the The Real Costs of the War in Afghanistan seriesMore than 360 Canadians have come home wounded. More than 4,000 Canadian Forces veterans are receiving benefits for post-traumatic stress or "operational stress injuries." Thousands more, veterans and those currently serving, are dealing with PTSD and related problems on their own.

hepatitis A and E,
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever,
West Nile virus,
typhus and others.
Even the dust of Kabul and Kandahar is a hazard, causing respiratory problems and skin lesions that can result in infections.

Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease spread by sandflies, is a notably nasty illness

Pneumonia that won't quit
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Showering in Iraq deadly enemy for troops

AP IMPACT: More bad wiring imperils troops in Iraq
By KIMBERLY HEFLING – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Military inspectors are racing to examine 90,000 U.S.-run facilities in Iraq with the goal of repairing electrical problems before more troops are electrocuted or shocked while showering or using appliances.

About one-third of the inspections so far have turned up major electrical problems, according to interviews and an internal military document obtained by The Associated Press. Half of the problems they found have since been fixed, but about 65,000 facilities still must be inspected, which could take the rest of this year. Senior Pentagon officials were on Capitol Hill this week for briefings on the findings.

The work assigned to Task Force SAFE, which oversees the inspections and repairs, is aimed at preventing deaths like that of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Pittsburgh. He died in January 2008, one of at least three soldiers killed while showering since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Scores more soldiers suffered shocks between September 2006 and July 2008, according to a database maintained by KBR Inc., the Houston-based contractor that oversees maintenance at most U.S. facilities in Iraq.

"We got a ton of buildings we know probably aren't safe and we just don't have them done yet," said Jim Childs, an electrician the task force hired to help with the inspections. "It's Russian roulette. I cringe every time I hear of a shock."
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AP IMPACT: More bad wiring imperils troops in Iraq

My Huggy Bear for deployed troops' children

MyHuggy on Montel Williams

DOD: Non combat death in Iraq

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Sgt. Jose R. Escobedo Jr., 32, of Albuquerque, N.M., died March 20 in Baghdad, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident the night before at Forward Operating Base Kalsu in Iskandariyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment in Schweinfurt, Germany.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
linked from ICasualties.org

Army vet billed $3,000 for war wounds

He served the nation but his private health insurance took care of most of the bill instead of the VA. Think about that as you remember that President Obama was thinking of having private insurance pay for care. The VA wasn't paying and if he did not have a private insurance company pay, he would have had to pay the bill and then fight the VA. Think about that. While President Obama dropped thinking of private insurance getting involved, in this case they did what the government should have done.

You can close your eyes all you want about what is going on but since the VA is backlogged of claims, according to Veterans for Common Sense 900,000 claims, you would also be ignoring the fact they need treatment even while the claim is tied up. Their wounds do not fall asleep while they wait. Their PTSD does not hibernate while they wait to have the "service connected" stamp of approval from the VA on their claim. Either they are having to pay for their treatment or they are seeking private health providers to take care of them. In most cases, if it has to do with service to this nation, private insurance companies can refuse to pay stating it is the responsibility of the government. None of this is new.

In the 90's while my husband's claim was being denied and appealed he needed treatment for PTSD. Until the VA doctor put in his file it was because of Vietnam, the private insurance we had covered treatment in private practice but that stopped as soon as the VA doctor said it was service connected. The claim was denied and he needed help so the VA took our tax refund year after year to pay for his treatment. Why? Because we couldn't afford to pay because he had PTSD and because we were paying for private health insurance!

This is still happening to them when claims are denied that should have been approved and the VA takes care of their wounds as well as compensating them for lost incomes. If no one is taking responsibility for any of this, they have to. Can't you image how you would feel knowing you were wounded while serving your country and then forced to pay for it?

Army vet billed $3,000 for war wounds
Story Highlights
Wounded soldier gets billed $3,000 for wounds suffered in Iraq

"I put my life on the line ... and they're not going to take care of my medical bills?"

Army Sgt. Erik Roberts was wounded in April 2006; he's had 13 surgeries on his leg

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio urged the VA to act; VA agrees to pay bill
by Wayne Drash

(CNN) -- Erik Roberts, an Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq, underwent his 13th surgery recently to save his right leg from amputation. Imagine his shock when he got a bill for $3,000 for his treatment.

But in December, he says, a golf ball-sized lump appeared on his wounded leg. He says he went to a Veterans Affairs hospital and was told not to worry about it.

A few days later, he says, he went to the emergency room after the lump flared up more. A doctor there, he says, told him that the leg was badly infected and that it might have to be amputated.

Desperate for help, his mother contacted the Army surgeon who had saved her son's life two years earlier. That doctor referred him to Obremskey, the Vanderbilt surgeon.

The Robertses say the VA did not approve of them going outside the system. Erik Roberts says he had no choice -- it was have surgery or potentially lose his leg.

"I thought my leg was more important than the usual bureaucratic mess," he said.

His leg was saved. The $3,000 billed to Roberts wasn't for the surgery itself. It's a portion of the bill for six weeks of daily antibiotics to prevent the infection from coming back. His private insurance plan picked up the majority of the $90,000 in costs. click link for more

Fort Wainwright soldiers want congress to stop unfit soldiers being deployed

Soldiers say unfit troops being deployed

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Mar 26, 2009 12:19:14 EDT

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A group of active-duty soldiers at Fort Wainwright is accusing commanders of forcing medically unfit soldiers to deploy to Iraq.

The soldiers are gathering signatures to send a petition to Congress calling for a full investigation.
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Lance Cpl. Sean Michael Mitchell, home on leave dies in crash

It must be very hard for the family that he was on leave after Iraq but was killed back home. Please pray for them.

Marine on leave dies in truck crashBy Earl Holland • Staff Writer • March 26, 2009

SALISBURY -- Friends and family continue to deal with the loss of a U.S. Marine who died while on leave.

Lance Cpl. Sean Michael Mitchell, 21, of Salisbury was killed Tuesday after his truck hit a tree on Route 13 near Route 413 in Westover as he was heading back to Camp LeJeune, N.C., where he was stationed.

Mitchell, who attended James M. Bennett High School, had taken a two-week leave to spend time with his family after recently returning from a tour in Ramadi, Iraq in February. He had been in the Marines since December 2006.
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Marine on leave dies in truck crash

The Death of Marine Carmelo Rodriguez could change law

Sister of deceased marine implores Congress to reverse military medical malpractice ban

Rodriguez: "I speak for the countless ..."

WASHINGTON – Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez of Ellenville died in 2007 at the age of 29 from a melanoma on his buttocks that was misdiagnosed by military doctors while he served in Iraq.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey has introduced legislation that would reverse a current 50 year old federal law that prohibits lawsuits and he testified about it before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law.
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For his story go here

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Death of Marine Carmelo Rodriguez

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Soon, The Name "Carmelo Rodriguez" Will Be Heard In Congress
Case Sheds Light On Military LawSoon, The Name "Carmelo Rodriguez" Will Be Heard In Congress

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Legislator pushing bill to overturn Feres Doctrine
Law prevents troops’ malpractice lawsuitsLegislator pushing bill to overturn Feres DoctrineBy Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes

When you need to beat PTSD and addictions

There is a very complicated problem with PTSD that does not get discussed enough. While most PTSD veterans rely on drugs and alcohol to kill off feelings they do not want to feel, calm jumping nerves, among other relief of symptoms, they are not addicted to the chemicals themselves. They are seeking relief. When they are treated by programs like AA, or rehabs, these programs my offer temporary sobriety, but soon the veteran is turning back to self-medication.

The problem comes when they are also addicted as alcoholics and drug addicts. If the program they enter into is only focusing on treating the addiction and not PTSD, again, these programs fail more often than not. The proper diagnosis needs to be done in order to provide the proper treatment. When PTSD and addictions are both addressed, there is a higher success rate.

There is no shame in being an alcoholic or addicted to drugs any more than there should be shame in being wounded by PTSD. My father was a disabled Korean veteran, but he was also an alcoholic. He joined AA when I was 13 and spent the rest of his life sober. He became a sponsor of many other alcoholics. My father was amazing. He knew his heart was very ill as he suffered many heart attacks and strokes, but he would not reach for alcohol even knowing he was, as the doctors phrased it "on borrowed time" and was facing the possibility the next heart attack could be his last. He passed away in 1987 at the age of 58.

Treatment works if they know exactly what they are treating but support is also vital in getting thru the worst times, finding someone you can talk to wearing the same shoes you are. There is a site you should check out to see if you can find support there to stand stronger than you can alone.
About Beating Addiction
Originally made available to users in early 2006 and then completely rebuilt throughout 2008, Beating Addiction aims to be the leading online social-networking site that helps users overcome their addiction(s), mainly, by talking and communicating with others.

We know many people are interested in recovering but, for the more serious addictions, are afraid of joining a "real-life" support group because of various different reasons. Beating Addiction makes an effort to solve this problem by, indirectly, connecting people with one another. As a result, people will be more inclined to seek help and in doing so, they are taking the first step(s) toward recovery.

Users do not have to register with Beating Addiction to view the majority of the site however we do encourage registration so one may be may be more proactive in their pursuit of recovery. Additionally, the premise is users helping users so we need you!

Whether a person is in a "real-life" support group, a support group on a different web site, or is willing to try something a bit different, Beating Addiction can offer a new experience which, we feel, will help a user be well on their way to the road to recovery.

I had a long talk with Alexander Kintis yesterday. This is his site and his effort to supply a support network to help people dealing with addictions. It has a lot of information and links to help you.

Fantasy of Flight Honors Female Pilots From World War II

Fantasy of Flight Honors Female Pilots From World War II
The Ledger - Lakeland,FL,USA

PROVIDED TO THE LEDGER ABOUT 1,100 WOMEN graduated as Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. Three of those women will take part in a panel discussion Friday and Saturday at Fantasy of Flight in Auburndale.

By Gary White
Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:05 p.m.

Even at age 90, Helen Wyatt Snapp will travel hundreds of miles to discuss her contribution to the World War II effort.

Perhaps she's still making up for lost time. Snapp and her fellow Women Airforce Service Pilots originally were told to keep quiet about their role in the war, and the details of their service remained classified for decades.

Snapp and two other WASP veterans visit Fantasy of Flight on Friday and Saturday as part of the Auburndale aviation attraction's Living History Symposium Series.

"So many people even today have never even heard of us," said Snapp, a resident of Pembroke Pines in Broward County. "When we were discharged we kind of went back to civilian life. A lot of people didn't believe that I even flew, so I learned to just keep quiet and didn't even talk about it unless somebody brought it up."

The three women - Betty Blake, Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu and Snapp - will take part in panel discussions Friday and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. They are scheduled to meet guests each day at 3 p.m.

The WASP program arose after the start of World War II to supply pilots for non-combat and training duties and free up male pilots to be deployed overseas. The Army Air Forces, predecessor of the Air Force, first began training female pilots at a Houston base in 1942, and the program continued through 1944.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vietnam War Soldier Shares Remarkable Story On Medal Of Honor Day

Unsung War Hero Gets Recognition
CBS Evening News: Vietnam War Soldier Shares Remarkable Story On Medal Of Honor Day

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2009 by David Martin

(CBS) Robert Howard was the toughest, bravest cat in the jungle, but he deserved a better war than Vietnam. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times for three separate operations behind enemy lines.

But, as CBS News correspondent David Martin reports, when President Nixon finally awarded him the nation’s highest honor, the ceremony was actually delayed by anti-war protests. He was a war hero at a time when Americans didn’t believe in either the war or its heroes. He was wounded 14 times and has no business being alive.

“Here I come face-to-face with a platoon of enemy soldiers and so I’m standing with my weapon like this, and they fire directly at me and I fell backwards like this, and I didn’t get killed,” Howard explained.

That was just the beginning of the fire fight for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. It ended when, out of ammunition, he called in a 2,000-pound bomb.
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Unsung War Hero Gets Recognition

38 of the soldiers who have received the nation`s highest military honor attended a special ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, including one with a remarkable story. David Martin reports.


Office of the Press Secretary


We are grateful to all those who wear the uniform of our Armed Forces and serve and sacrifice on behalf of our great nation. Members of our Armed Forces hold themselves to the highest standards and set an example of responsibility to one another and to the country that should inspire all Americans to serve a purpose greater than themselves. Today we pay our respect to those who distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty - the recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Since it was first awarded during the Civil War to the current battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, Medal of Honor recipients have displayed tremendous courage, an unfailing determination to succeed, and a humbling willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. It is telling that so many Medal of Honor recipients received the award posthumously. These soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman embody the best of American values and ideals.

Medal of Honor recipients are the foremost example of greatness in service and sacrifice. Their bravery and humble strength continues to reassure our nation of the strength of its character and ideals even in these difficult times. We owe these heroes a debt of gratitude that our nation can never fully repay. So, it is on this day that we salute that fact and celebrate their lives and heroic actions that have placed them amongst the "bravest of the brave." We must never forget their sacrifice and will always keep the Fallen and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Pilot in F-22 crash worked for Lockheed Martin

Pilot killed in F-22 crash in California desert
The Air Force's $140 million supersonic jet was on test mission

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - An F-22A Raptor, the Air Force's top-of-the line fighter jet, crashed Wednesday in a remote area of the Mojave Desert, killing a test pilot for prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

The jet crashed at 10 a.m. about 35 miles northeast of Edwards, a vast unpopulated area of flat desert.

The pilot was David Cooley, 49, a 21-year Air Force veteran who joined Lockheed Martin in 2003, the company said in a statement. The company did not release any details of the accident or say whether or not Cooley attempted to eject.
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Fighter Jet Crashes Near Edwards Air Force Base

Fighter jet crashes near Edwards Air Force Base
11:55 AM March 25, 2009
An F-22-A fighter jet crashed near Edwards Air Force Base this morning, and the condition of the pilot is unclear
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Orlando police review handling of 911 calls before murder-suicide

Orlando police review handling of 911 calls before murder-suicide
Willoughby Mariano Sentinel Staff Writer
March 25, 2009
Orlando police are investigating how a 911 dispatcher handled calls asking police to help a woman who was kidnapped and later found murdered, a department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

It took police almost four hours to find Loyta Sloley, 34, who called co-workers hours before her Jan. 27 death and told them that she was being held against her will by her ex-boyfriend. By the time police arrived, she was dead on the floor of a downtown Orlando hotel, shot at least four times by ex-boyfriend James Clayton, according to a police report.

Police found Clayton, 46, collapsed on top of Sloley, dead. He killed himself with a single gunshot wound to the head.

The internal investigation started after a complaint from within the department, said Sgt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman. She said department policy prevented her from giving the name of the dispatcher and other details, but a police report shows there was a 16-minute delay before an officer was dispatched to find Sloley.

Attempts to reach Sloley's family by telephone were unsuccessful.

Clayton was arrested in March 1989 in Alachua County in the killing of his live-in girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was released on probation after eight years, according to a police report.
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Orlando police review handling of 911 calls before murder-suicide

Money for vets on the way

Money for vets on the way
by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor
March 24, 2009 02:09 PM
Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry announced this afternoon that federal economic stimulus money will provide nearly $25 million for veterans facilities in Massachusetts, along with a $250 one-time payment to qualifying vets.

The tax-free grant will go to residents of the United States and its territories who received veterans payments at any time between November and January. The money is part of $1.4 billion that the Veterans Administration is receiving from the stimulus package to assist veterans, hospitals, and care centers nationwide.
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Has PTSD evolved or have we?

by Chaplain Kathie

The following is a good article but it implies that PTSD has evolved instead of the fact we have evolved regarding knowledge, no longer dismissing what traumatic events can do to humans. If you go back in the historical records of battles throughout time, you will discover exactly how horrific warfare was and what it did to the warriors. Many accounts are within the Bible itself. Reading the words in most books of the Bible along with the discarded books eliminated from what we read today, you can find the trauma of war deeply changed the participants. David's accounts are one of many. Judges and Kings addresses warfare. When Joshua took Jericho, everyone was slaughtered by hand to hand combat. As for noise, screams would have filled every ear as the sound of the swords slashed thru skin and bones. Body parts and heads went flying thru the air. Ancient weaponry flung fire and burning oils onto the enemy forces on both sides. In many cases helpless captives were slaughtered after the battles were over.

In ancient times, the suffering of the warriors was treated as a judgment of God and hidden from others so they would not be ostracized. Even the ancients had ways of "healing" the warrior with cleansing rituals, spending time away from home to "purify" the warrior. Ancient Native Americans had sweat lodges and cleansing ceremonies as well.

When you read the accounts of the Spartans, the females, also trained in warfare to protect the homeland as the males were doing battles away, sent their sons with the warning "come back with your shield as a hero or carried on it" in other words, come back with your honor or dead. No one wanted to hear complaining of what combat did to them even though they were just as deeply wounded as the modern soldiers are today. The wounded were regarded as cowards.

This attitude was carried over into our own Revolutionary and Civil War where affected soldiers were shot for being cowards instead of treated as a casualty of war. It is not that the wound we call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder did not exist in history. It's more the fact we did not know what it was.

With science and technology, there is long distance warfare coupled with close range. The carnage remains. The death and destruction remains. Civilians are still killed in the process including children, women and old men. Comrades still lay dead on the battlefield and they have to be recovered. The wounded still have to be transported. The trauma wounded still return home to family and friends with a questionable futures as PTSD infects every part of their lives, yet science has also provided us with a better understanding of what makes humans work.

People tend to forget that up until Vietnam, PTSD wounded, were virtually ignored. After WWII, the "shell shocked" were sent to live on farms to be taken care of or sent to mental intuitions. The functionally shell shocked were left to fend for themselves. Vietnam veterans came home, much like all other generations but they fought to make sure this wound of war was treated and they were compensated for their wound. With all we know about Vietnam veterans, there is much that is not reported on. The families destroyed by it are not counted. The suicides we discuss today with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were hidden from the public because shame forced the families into silence along with lack of knowledge. The incarcerated Vietnam veterans convicted of crimes that should have been related to PTSD were ignored and justice denied. Homeless veterans walked the streets of cities and towns depending on alcohol and drugs to kill off feelings and cope with the jumping nerves, nightmares and flashbacks.

Because of the Vietnam veterans, we are as far as we are with PTSD. It is not that warfare has evolved. It is that we have evolved because of them. Think of them when Vietnam Veterans day comes again on March 29th and thank them for what they did for all veterans and their families.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has evolved with war
By Chris Roberts / El Paso Times
Posted: 03/24/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- During the Civil War, infantrymen who had a difficult time coping with the carnage they witnessed were said to have "soldier's heart."

In World War I, it was "shell shock," and in World War II, it was "battle fatigue."

Although post-traumatic stress disorder finally was diagnosed in Vietnam War veterans, little treatment was provided to them when they first returned.

"They didn't do anything when we came back," said Jeri Elena Mark, who suffers from the disorder.

She served on a Hawk missile crew in a Vietnam War combat zone.

"In 1985, they (Veterans Affairs) started giving me something to control the anxiety," she said of her wartime service.

Mark says she still has night panics, which she calms by checking the backyard and making sure the house alarms are set.

In 1989, Congress directed the VA to create the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to research the problem.
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Military puts focus on epidemic of suicides
By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
BAGHDAD — In Maj. Thomas Jarrett's stress management class surrounded by concrete blast walls, American troops are urged not to accept post-traumatic stress disorder as an inevitable consequence of war.

Instead, Jarrett tells them to strive for "post-traumatic growth."

During a 90-minute presentation entitled "Warrior Resilience and Thriving," Jarrett, a former corporate coach, offers this and other unconventional tips on how troops can stay mentally healthy once they return home. He quotes Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Paradise Lost author John Milton and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, among others.

Walking through the crowd of young GIs in the makeshift classroom, Jarrett urges them to fight their "internal insurgents."

The overriding theme of the course: Troops have the power to determine how they react to the horrors they may experience in Iraq. They can either accept them as traumatizing events, or transform them into learning — even empowering — experiences.
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The problem is too many thinking they are helping are causing more damage. When you tell warriors they can "train" themselves to overcome the wound of PTSD, you are telling them they are to blame when they cannot. This is not a wound of the mind,although it's easier to explain that way, but a wound to the soul, the heart of the warrior. The vast majority of veterans I've been in contact with during 27 years, along with my own husband, are sensitive humans. Courage often comes with sensitivity in their core. It is was causes them to act on behalf of others, putting themselves aside for the sake of someone else.

The warriors have within them the same foundation, or core, as people going into law enforcement. They have within them the ability to take a life in order to save a life. This they are prepared to do, trained to do, but too often when there have been one too many traumatic events, they are also wounded.

The National Guards have within their core the same foundation as the people entering into fire departments and emergency responders. That is the ability to risk their lives for the sake of saving someone else. This is one of the biggest factors in the National Guards and Reservists rates of PTSD coming in higher than the military forces. It is also one of the reasons the military forces are now presenting in at higher rates every year. Each redeployment increases the risk of PTSD striking by 50%. Again, one too many traumatic events will produce more and more PTSD wounded.

The military will not understand that there are different types of people any more than they will understand this is not a mental wound that they can train themselves to avoid, but a wound to the foundation of the individual. This is why civilians are also wounded by traumatic events they survive. To ignore the human condition is to keep ignoring what needs to be done for the warriors. If they keep misunderstanding what is at the root of PTSD, they will keep making the same mistakes they have been making for 30 years and we will keep losing them, burying more after war than we do during it.