Thursday, April 30, 2009

Local Veterans Talk About Experience With P.T.S.D.

With all the media attention on our veterans with PTSD, it's a wonderful thing. They are finally talking about it and understanding that it's a wound and nothing to be ashamed of at all. The question is, why are so many other veterans still ashamed that others have been wounded by this? Is it because they don't understand it? Is it because as the previous post, they think the rest of the country views them all as either having PTSD or psychotropic? My guess is that they don't understand it at all.

These are the same men and women they served with, fought next to, depended on for their lives and the same ones they knew they could count on to be there for them in the heat of battle. This they forget about. When their "brothers" end up wounded by PTSD, their battle is still going on but some butt heads decide they'd rather suddenly be ashamed to associate with them just in case someone else thinks "they're nuts too." One day they will understand that it is not the fact the media is reporting on PTSD that is the problem. The problem is them because they would rather walk away from a brother in need of help than help them. Pathetic.

PTSD is not a guaranteed anything. It is not guaranteed they will commit crimes any more than it's a guarantee they will be so destroyed by it they no longer want to live. If you ask the generals with the courage to admit they had PTSD and got help to heal, they will explain that one to you. It is not suddenly they are so dysfunctional they need to be institutionalized either. If they had a clue they would know that PTSD has all different kinds of levels and outcomes but the uniting factor is how much support they get to heal. We lost too many Vietnam veterans because they were not supported to talk about what was going on and felt they had to hide it. Had the media been interested or able to even get them to talk, we would be a lot further in getting the public to understand it, but it is what it is. For those with no understanding of what PTSD is and feel they are being looked at as if they had it, they need to either understand it or shut up about it and let the grownups deal with healing the wounded.

I marvel at the people joining in walks for breast cancer. Do we assume they all have it? No, we assume they have compassion for the women suffering from it.

NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness have walks as well. Do we assume they are all mentally ill? No, we assume they also have compassion.

Some people work in drug rehabs but we don't assume they were all drug addicts. Just as some people work with veterans but are not veterans. We just assume they have compassion for them and care about them. It's really time the dimwitted get out of the way and stop trying to get the rest of the country to stop taking PTSD seriously just because they managed to come home fine.

To the men and women veterans speaking out, you are courageous and marvelous. Because of you, many more will no longer be ashamed of being wounded or afraid to seek help. Because of you talking about this, more families will understand it and less will fall apart. Because of you, fewer and fewer will feel so hopeless to the point where they think suicide is the only way to end their own pain.

Local Veterans Talk About Experience With P.T.S.D.

Posted: 9:02 PM Apr 30, 2009
Last Updated: 9:10 PM Apr 30, 2009
Reporter: Christine Kennedy

It is the unseen battle wound, but one that can no less impact a veterans life for the rest of his or her life. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sure, you've heard of it, but to really hear what it's like to live with it is something quite different.

From the Vietnam War, to Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield, to Operation Iraqi Freedom men and women here in the east are suffering from P.T.S.D.... Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Don Overton Heads up a local support group for vets suffering from the stress disorder. You could say he's got a double whammy. During the time he served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield he lost part of his hand and his vision, but he says the worst injury he received was the invisible battle wound also known as P.T.S.D.
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Local Veterans Talk About Experience With P.T.S.D.

Government injecting veterans with cocaine for drug addiction research?

Government injecting veterans with cocaine for drug addiction research
By: Bill Myers
Examiner Staff Writer
04/29/09 9:05 PM
Drug-addicted veterans are being injected with cocaine by researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in taxpayer-funded studies, The Examiner has learned.

The study subjects are being given the injections as part of a search for medicines that researchers hope will block cocaine absorption in the body, said Timothy O’Leary, the VA’s acting director of research and development.

All the subjects were recruited because they were addicted to cocaine, O’Leary said. About 40 volunteers — most of them veterans — are being given injections at VA labs in Kansas City and San Antonio, he added.

Hundreds of veterans have apparently been used as human subjects in the past decade, according to records and interviews with officials.

The VA has handed over several other abstracts from studies over the past decade, and O’Leary said his agency has been conducting such research for at least 25 years.

O’Leary said that the subjects’ safety was paramount. But documents of a decade-old study that tested morphine on veterans found nearly 800 “adverse events” from anorexia to heart tremors.
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Government injecting veterans with cocaine for drug addiction research

Training Afghans as Bullets Fly: A Young Marine’s Dream Job

While reading this article from Afghanistan I was troubled by what read.

“If you do what I do, then they think either you should have PTSD or you are some sort of psychopath.” PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is that what some of them really think? Or is it what they think we think about them? Or maybe it's just tough talk? We don't know but we do know how a lot of them come home. No, not all with the wound of PTSD, but far too many. We don't understand it anymore than we understand why it is that some neighborhood kid has it within them to join the military and be able to "do what they do" and like it. We don't understand it anymore than we can understand what makes a cop become a cop or a firefighter decide he wants to run into burning buildings for a living. We can't understand them because we are not them, we need them, constantly depending on them to do what needs to be done and then somehow, we end up forgetting all about what they did for us when they end up needing us.

The comment made is a truthful one. They don't all end up as psychopath or wounded, but they all end up changed by what they go thru. Some are made differently than the rest of us and we should thank God they are.

Training Afghans as Bullets Fly: A Young Marine’s Dream Job

Published: April 30, 2009
FIREBASE VIMOTO, Afghanistan — Three stone houses and a cluster of sandbagged bunkers cling to a slope above the Korangal Valley, forming an oval perimeter roughly 75 yards long. The oval is reinforced with timber and ringed with concertina wire.

An Afghan flag flutters atop a tower where Afghan soldiers look out, ducking when rifle shots snap by.

This is Firebase Vimoto, named for Pfc. Timothy R. Vimoto, an American soldier killed in the valley two years ago. If all goes according to the Pentagon’s plan, this tiny perimeter — home to an Afghan platoon and two Marine Corps infantrymen — contains the future of Afghanistan. The Obama administration hopes that eventually the Afghan soldiers within will become self-sufficient, allowing the fight against the Taliban to be shifted to local hands.

He woke the next day before 4 a.m. for a patrol. As he slipped into his ammunition vest, he groused that back home, when conversations drift to the war, the infantry too often is misunderstood. “You know what I don’t like about America?” he said, in the chill beneath lingering stars. “If you do what I do, then they think either you should have PTSD or you are some sort of psychopath.” PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder.

He exhaled cigarette smoke. “This is my job,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with it.”

The war in Afghanistan defies generalization. Each province, each valley and each village can be its own universe, presenting its own problems and demanding its own solutions.
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Training Afghans as Bullets Fly: A Young Marine’s Dream Job

U.S. Sues New York City on Iraq Veteran’s Behalf

April 30, 2009, 6:16 pm
U.S. Sues City on Iraq Veteran’s Behalf
By Jennifer 8. Lee
The federal government sued New York City on Thursday on behalf of an Iraq war veteran who says he was denied a promotion in the city’s Department of Correction because he was on active duty when promotions were being considered.

The veteran, Emilio Pennes, is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, and has worked for the Correction Department since 1987. According to the complaint, he applied for a promotion to deputy warden shortly before he was activated for duty in 2007. He was unable to attend a promotion interview in person, and so was passed over for the promotion even though he had been ranked first in an internal selection memo, the complaint said.

On a previous tour of duty in 2004 and 2005, he served in Iraq, near Tikrit.
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U.S. Sues City on Iraq Veteran’s Behalf

New Wheelchair operates by power of thought

Wheelchair operates by power of thought
Published: April 30, 2009
ZARAGOZA, Spain, April 30 (UPI) -- Spanish university scientists have developed a wheelchair controlled by the power of thought, promising to transform life for people with severe disabilities.

The wheelchair, developed at the University of Zaragoza, has a laser sensor and a screen that displays a real-time, three-dimensional virtual reconstruction of the wheelchair's surroundings. To steer the chair, a user concentrates on the part of the display where he or she wants to go, and electrodes in a skullcap detect the user's brain activity and work out the destination, the researchers said.
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Wheelchair operates by power of thought

Walter Reed Hospital touts 100 years of military health

Walter Reed touts 100 years of military health

By Kamala Lane - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Apr 30, 2009 16:43:13 EDT

WASHINGTON — At a time when many hospitals operated with few resources and in unsanitary conditions, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was a state-of the-art facility — boasting electricity, indoor plumbing and an elevator.

Since it opened its doors in 1909, the facility has treated six U.S. presidents and thousands of injured people from conflicts dating back to World War I. But the hospital also has come under criticism recently for its deteriorating service and facilities.

On Friday, the hospital will reflect on the legacy of its namesake and its history as it marks its centennial anniversary.

The institution’s involvement in medical development is “profoundly important,” said Dale C. Smith, a medical historian and professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

“Throughout 100 years when American medicine and military medicine are making important changes, the name of Walter Reed is in the story,” Smith said.

The hospital has been hosting tours of its buildings this week and sponsored a symposium of its history on Wednesday. It plans to hold a formal ceremony and ball Friday to wrap-up the celebration.

The northwest Washington facility was named for Maj. Walter Reed, a Virginia native who earned two medical degrees by the age of 21, and served for 27 years in the Army. He is best known for leading a research team that uncovered new breakthroughs that led to the treatment of yellow fever in the early 1900s.
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Walter Reed touts 100 years of military health

Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD

Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD


The Tampa Tribune

Published: April 30, 2009

Related Links

Holocaust survivors spend lives searching for sibling
TAMPA - The final years are supposed to be a time of reflection, of pride in one's children and grandchildren, of looking back with satisfaction on accomplishments of a life well-lived.

To survivors of the Holocaust and combat soldiers of World War II, they instead can bring nightmares, terrifying flashbacks and a rekindling of trauma submerged but never really put to rest.

Maya Lazarus sees it in those who attend Holocaust survivor support groups through Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

"They are reliving it for the second time," she says. "For them, it is happening all over again."

They shun psychotherapy, but almost all take sleeping pills to help fend off nightmares, she says. Jewish nursing homes now renovate showers to look more homey and less like the dreaded gas chambers.

"All of them are hoarding bread like crazy," Lazarus says. "Food is always an issue because they were once starving."

Eric Gentry of Compassion Unlimited of Sarasota is an expert in the treatment of late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People who survived the Holocaust, as well as combat veterans of World War II, are especially vulnerable to the effects of PTSD in later years because no one realized at the time how devastating such experiences could be in the long term, he says.

PTSD — afflicting those who suffer a traumatic event and subsequently experience anxiety and a variety of debilitating symptoms — became widely studied after the Vietnam War.
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Many Holocaust survivors live with PTSD

New ad from IAVA does nothing for me

Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has been a great advocate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. I enjoyed hearing him on his many TV appearances and appreciated his candor when addressing the needs of our veterans. He has learned a lot over the years but with this ad following the other ad, he shows he has a lot more to learn. Maybe I'm just too old to appreciate this latest ad? While I really wish they had public service ads when Vietnam veterans came home, it's clear that this kind of ad wouldn't have done them much good.

If they really want to put together a ad worthy of the service of our veterans they need to do a better job.

Personally, separating Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from other veterans is not the right way to go, but this is an organization just for IAVA, so I understand that part. What they could do, since a lot of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are also children of Vietnam veterans is to show a father and son, wearing baseball hats, one Vietnam and one with Iraq or Afghanistan veteran on it, and then have a simple message of, "I know where you've been and I'm here for you" without them even having to say a word. A quick, meaningful message that will touch every Vietnam veteran along with the newer generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans sharing the same emotional price and the wounds within the walls of their souls. If anyone is going to offer any help or guidance to the new veterans, it's the Vietnam veterans simply because had it not been for them PTSD wouldn't even be acknowledge as a wound.

The Ad Council needs to do a lot more homework before they put together another ad.

This part they got right;

Friends and family play a crucial role in supporting their men and women in uniform, and now it's our turn to support them.

So why not show what families can do and have been doing across the country as a role model? I fully understand that some will take this the wrong way and I'll get slammed, but as most of you know I cannot keep my thoughts to myself when it comes to our veterans. Had I remained silent on this and just posted it, then I would be a hypocrite because of how often I slam the VA and the DOD for what they do. Not that the IAVA would ever consider what I have to say now when they haven't in the past either.

"What was it like? Were you scared? Are you OK?"
For anyone who has welcomed someone home from Iraq or Afghanistan, these questions may sound familiar.
After spending months, or years, apart, being reunited at the end of a deployment is a welcome relief. It means the end of waiting for phone calls and worrying about a loved one's safety. But millions of families and friends of veterans are finding that coming home isn't always easy.
For them, we have one message: we can help you start the conversation.
Today, we're launching a massive new effort, in partnership with the Ad Council, to empower the friends and family members of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and to offer support and guidance after a deployment.
Click here to watch our new television ad at Then please forward it your friends and family, and help us reach our goal of 100,000 views by Mother's Day, May 10th.
Starting today, the ad will be on TV, as well as radio, online and in magazines and newspapers. Hundreds of media companies, from local television stations to national magazines, are offering to run them free of charge, by donating ad space. Because of their generosity, we'll be able to reach friends and family members of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in every corner of the country.
Click here to watch the television ad, and learn more about this effort at
With the drawdown in Iraq and a new wave of troops heading to Afghanistan, these ads are launching at a critical time. Friends and family play a crucial role in supporting their men and women in uniform, and now it's our turn to support them.
Please take a minute to watch the ad now.

Nevada senate OKs veterans court

Nevada senate OKs veterans court
Associated Press • April 30, 2009

The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday for a plan that would allow for specialized courts for military veterans charged with nonviolent crimes while struggling to readjust to civilian life.

Assembly Bill 187 was approved earlier in the Assembly but must return there for approval of Senate amendments before it can be sent to Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Advocates of AB 187, proposed by Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said it would help veterans charged with crimes and who suffer from mental or substance abuse problems stemming from their service.
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Nevada senate OKs veterans court

6-year-old boy accepts dad’s Silver Star

Army via AP First Lt. Jonathan Brostrom was killed July 13 in Afghanistan, one of nine soldiers killed when Taliban guerrillas ambushed an Army outpost.

6-year-old boy accepts dad’s Silver Star
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Apr 30, 2009 13:09:20 EDT

WEST HAVEN, Utah — A 6-year-old Plain City boy has been presented with the Silver Star awarded posthumously to his father, who died in a firefight in Afghanistan.
The medal for valor was presented to Jase Spargur on Wednesday during an assembly at Kanesville Elementary School in West Haven. Utah National Guard Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet gave the medal to Jase. His father, 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, was killed July 13 in Afghanistan.
Brostrom was one of nine soldiers killed when Taliban guerrillas ambushed an Army outpost. Brostrom died carrying medical supplies and ammunition to other soldiers.
Related stories:
Dire sunrise at Wanat
6-year-old boy accepts dad’s Silver Star

Police officers pull man from burning house

April 30, 2009

Police officers pull man from burning house

Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- Steve Beres is the first to admit he is no firefighter.

"I would rather grab a guy with a gun on crack than fight a fire," the Daytona Beach deputy police chief said Wednesday afternoon.

However, just hours before, he and three of his officers braved flames and smoke to pull a 60-year-old man from his burning home.

Dean Frederick Sweeney suffered second-degree burns over 80 percent of his body when a lamp cord overheated, sparking a fire that engulfed the living room of his South Ridgewood Avenue home just before midnight Tuesday, police said.

Beres was on routine patrol when he said he saw smoke drifting through the streetlights. He investigated, eventually going door to door in the block, before seeing flames inside Sweeney's home.

When a neighbor told him it was likely Sweeney was inside, the officer began looking for a way in, but locked doors and heavy smoke and flames blocked his way.

"I could hear him yelling, 'Help me! Help me!" Beres recalled. "And I could see him through the flames."
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Police officers pull man from burning house

VVA Homeless Veterans Report

March / April 2009


Homeless Veterans


HTF-1-07 Homeless Veterans as a “Special Needs Population”: To be continued. Nationally, 23-30 percent of the homeless population, or approximately 194,000, are veterans. While federal agencies acknowledge these statistics, they have yet to identify these veterans as a “special needs population.” They are due a fair share of the available federal dollars for programs and services funded in the United States.

Resolution HTF-1-07 urges the Presidential Interagency Council on Homelessness to recognize homeless veterans as a Special Needs Population. Further, we urge Congress to require all entities and agencies that receive or utilize federal program funding dollars to report statistics on the veterans they serve. Additionally, VVA supports legislation that would incorporate a fair-share dollar approach for the federal funding of homeless programs and services to specifically target homeless veterans.

HTF-4-07 Homeless Veteran HUD Transitional and Supportive Services Only Funding: To be retired.

HTF-5-07 Homeless Veteran HUD/VA Supportive Housing Funding: To be retired as fulfilled.

HTF-6-07 VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem Funding: To be continued. The VA HGPD Program is an effective tool in addressing veteran homelessness.

Resolution HTF-6-07 urges the VA HGPD Program to provide payment for services rather than the reimbursement for services it presently provides. Additionally, VVA supports and seeks legislation to establish Supportive Services Assistance Grants for VA HGPD Service Center Grant Awardees.

The committee is working on three new resolutions:

HUD Shelter Plus Care Housing Programs To Receive Supportive Service Dollars: The HUD Shelter Plus Care grants provide no funding for administrative or staffing support to provide the supportive services to veterans in Shelter Plus Care beds. HUD Supported Housing Program grants do provide for these services.

Support for Continued Funding and Oversight of the HUD/VASH Program: Continued funding for the existing HUD/VASH voucher program, as well as the proposed additional $75 million for 10,000 more vouchers, is key to ending homelessness among our nation’s veteran population. Oversight of the HUD/VASH program and its processes will be an invaluable tool in the continuance and expansion of this program.

Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program To Remain at the U.S. Department of Labor and Be Fully Funded at $50 Million: Job readiness training and reeducation are congressionally mandated functions and responsibilities of the Department of Labor.

The Homeless Veterans Committee: Sandy Miller, Chair; Marsha Four, Vice Chair; Jack Devine, Chair of Chairs. Members: Tom Berger, Pat Bessigano, Cheryl Beversdorf, Ed Chow, TP Hubert, and John Neuman. Also: Melvin Colston, Homeless Liaison; Kathleen Aylward-Barnes, Special Advisor; Suzanne Blohm-Weber, AVVA Liaison; and Jim Grissom, VSF Liaison. Staff Liaison: Sharon Hodge. Homeless Veterans

Vietnam Wall replica comes to Apalachicola

Vietnam Wall replica comes to Apalachicola
By Josh Bennett • DEMOCRAT WRITER • April 29, 2009

A 300-person motorcade Tuesday escorted the traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., into Veterans Memorial Plaza in Apalachicola.

The display is part of a four-day event Thursday through Sunday in memory of the 58,000 soldiers who never returned from the Vietnam War.

The plaza, which is home to the recently built "Three-Soldier Statue South" war memorial, will host a wide array of public events, including a memorial service on Saturday. Volunteers will read the names of all 58,000 deceased or missing soldiers.

"This unique event is the first of its kind ever," said Tom Brocato, a volunteer coordinator and Vietnam veteran. "No where outside of Washington, D.C., have these two memorials been in the same location."

More than 500 volunteers will lend a hand to make these four days a reality.

"The most important part of this event is to honor our veterans and educate the public about the many issues that they faced when coming back from Vietnam," said Dan Scheck, program director of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, an organization that focuses on Vietnam War veteran awareness. Soldiers back then weren't given the respect and honor that these soldiers get today."
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Vietnam Wall replica comes to Apalachicola

Murder of Former Marine Sparks Anxiety Among the Homeless

The Dom in Orlando VA Hospital is one place taking care of veterans like Todd Hill. I've visited there a few times and each time as I looked at the "residents" all I could see was the fact they all were willing to risk their lives for this country, home of the brave, but ended up having to call a shelter home. Just doesn't seem right.

Back in Boston, the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is an amazingly large building with several floors housing male and female veterans. The cafeteria is filled with veterans from all generations.

While I feel for all our homeless men, women and yes, we even have whole families homeless, it is the veterans tugging at my heart the most. I think of it as if we can't take care of the people willing to defend this nation, the odds of taking care of the civilians is not very good at all. There has got to be a better way.

Mental illness is a huge part of the homelessness in this country. There was a time when they were sent to secure hospitals until they were able to stand on their own two feet. While there were many problems with these hospitals, at least they had a place to live. When they were closed across the nation, it left them all out to fend for themselves, unable to be taken care of by their families or abandoned by them, they had no place to go. If you go to see the movie The Soloist, keep that in mind and remember there are homeless people in every state.

When it comes to homeless veterans, there are many reasons they are homeless. For most their plight can be directly linked to PTSD. They sought drugs and alcohol to kill off feelings they could no longer cope with. Some are alcoholics on top of having PTSD, which is a deadly mixture.

These men and women are viewed as heroes when they serve but when they need the nation, they are forgotten about simply because they survived war but could not survive coming home.

How is it that this nation cannot or will not take care of the "least among" us when we talk so much about being a "Christian nation" when it suits our desires but we never seem to live as if the vast majority of us are Christians, supposedly following the teachings of Christ?

Support your local veterans shelter and if you do not have a veterans shelter, support the homeless shelters for all of our countrymen. If you happen to be a veteran standing in judgment of the homeless remember that "There but for the grace of God go I."

Murder of Former Marine Sparks Anxiety Among the Homeless
Posted on April 29, 2009 by assteditor

MIAMI — Lured by sunshine and balmy seas, Todd Hill came to Miami from his native Oregon three years ago looking for a fresh start.

After battling homelessness for 10 years, Hill, 41, a decorated Marine who fought in the first Gulf War, found an apartment and a job as a security guard. But his newfound stability did not last. Eight months after receiving a promotion, he was back on the streets. And on Nov. 26, on the bench he had come to call home, he was beaten severely with a tire iron, and pronounced dead at the hospital.

Hill lived his last moments surrounded by junkies sleeping on used garbage bags, in the shadow of the condominiums he’d helped build as a homeless laborer.

“Todd didn’t deserve to die like that,” said former Marine Samuel Hall, 62, who lived on the streets with Hill. “It was just senseless. He was homeless, but he always was willing to help others out.”

Hill was one of two homeless veterans recently beaten to death here. Ernest Holman, 67, a Vietnam veteran, was killed two weeks after Hill. No arrests have been made in his death. Secrecy Singleton, 29, also homeless, was charged in Hill’s murder.

The killings have heightened concern among the more than 250 homeless veterans in Miami-Dade, representatives for the local Veteran Affairs office said, and prompted a demonstration by dozens of homeless veterans in downtown Miami on New Year’s Eve.

Charles Buford, founder of, which is dedicated to feeding and rehabilitating homeless veterans, led the protesters in their demand for more federal money for homeless programs and shelters. There are an estimated 200,000 homeless veterans around the country, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. At least 400 are new veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Murder of Former Marine Sparks Anxiety Among the Homeless

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Counselor who helped others is gunned down

Counselor who helped others is gunned down
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marlon Mayorga was a social worker at UCSF who dedicated his life to counseling victims of violent crime and helping those who were struggling to kick drugs. The native of Nicaragua had insight into such problems, having gone through recovery years ago.

"He was an absolutely amazing person. It's particularly devastating for us to have someone like Marlon, who was so good at working with victims of violence, become another casualty on the streets of Oakland," said Alicia Boccellari, director of the trauma recovery center at UCSF, where Mayorga worked for the past five months.

As part of the program, Mayorga went to San Francisco General Hospital to meet with victims of crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence. "He poured his heart and soul into his work," Boccellari said.
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Counselor who helped others is gunned down

Soldier's letters give first-hand look at Spanish flu pandemic

Soldier's letters give first-hand look at Spanish flu pandemic
Story Highlights
U.S. soldier survived Spanish flu pandemic not once, but twice

1918 Spanish flu ravaged military camps where soldiers trained for WWI

Letter says camp put "under quarantine to prevent an epidemic of Spanish influenza"

Martin "Al" Culhane in letter told his brother to keep infection secret from rest of family

By Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon producer

Editor's note: With fears of a swine flu pandemic rising daily, CNN Pentagon producer Larry Shaughnessy remembered a batch of letters from his grandfather, a World War I soldier who battled the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- "I'm coming, I'm coming
For my head is bending low
I hear those gentle voices calling
Old Black Joe"

As World War I rages in Europe, fresh U.S. Army soldiers pass the time on a train ride to to Camp Forrest, Georgia. "The boys are just starting to sing," Martin Aloysius Culhane wrote on September 6, 1918, to his friend back home. "They've gotten back to 'Old Black Joe' so far."

Stephen Foster's classic song from the Civil War is about the death of slaves who had become his friends. But Culhane, known as "Al," and the soldiers who sang along could not know how much death would hunt the recruits on that train, most of whom never made it to Europe to fight in the Great War.

They would find themselves in the deadliest influenza pandemic in history.

Culhane's letters to his older brother Frank and his long-time "chum" Clif Pinter are a young soldier's firsthand account of life as a draftee private and how he coped with a disease that would haunt Army camps around the United States and eventually infect people around the world. Some estimates say as many as 50 million people were killed by what's called the Spanish influenza in 1918 and 1919, far more than the number killed in combat during the war.

Three weeks after the train trip to Georgia, Culhane, a 21-year-old clothing salesman from Chicago, Illinois, writes again. Already the flu occupies his thoughts.
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Soldier's letters give first-hand look at Spanish flu pandemic

DoD issues new GI Bill family transfer rules

DoD issues new GI Bill family transfer rules

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 29, 2009 17:23:07 EDT

Defense and service officials have settled on final rules that will allow career service members to share Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits with their immediate families beginning Aug. 1.

In general, service members — officer, warrant officer or enlisted personnel — must be on active duty Aug. 1 and must have completed a minimum of six years of service, with a commitment to serve four more, in order to share their new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

For most students, the benefits will cover full tuition and fees at any four-year public college or university at in-state tuition rates for undergraduate studies.

Defense officials expect to begin accepting requests to transfer benefits in June. But payments could not begin before Aug. 1, the start date of the new GI bill program.

Special rules have been approved for people who are eligible to retire before Aug. 1, 2012, or who have at least 10 years of service and are prevented by high-year tenure, mandatory retirement or other personnel rules or laws from completing the four years of additional service needed to earn transfer rights.
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DoD issues new GI Bill family transfer rules

Florida Gator prefers Toyota and shakes things up at car lot

Visit by big alligator shakes up Pasco car lot
By Erin Sullivan, Times Staff Writer

An alligator measuring 8 feet 7 inches is corralled by a trapper at Sun Toyota on Tuesday. “I was shaking,” said Denise Anderson, the first person to see the gator. Courtesy of Michael Chaparro

NEW PORT RICHEY — Something moved in the shadows. Denise Anderson peered close and then froze. Next to the used Toyota Sequoia she planned to test drive was an alligator.

"I saw its eyes. Mouth. Its jaws. Its teeth," said Anderson, 33.

It measured 8 feet 7 inches.
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Visit by big alligator shakes up Pasco car lot

National Convention for Veterans

You are cordially invited to attend and participate in the National Convention for Veterans to be conducted in the distinguished Reserve Officers' National Headquarters, a block from the US Capital in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 13th & Thursday, May 14th.

The Convention will advance a comprehensive veterans' platform and raise the priority for veterans in our nations' agenda. The two day program will feature the following:

* National Veterans' Leaders from Around the Country

* Leading Members of the United States Congress

* Highly Credentialed and Outspoken Speakers & Panel Members on the Subjects Veterans' Advocacy, National Defense and Budgetary/Spending Reform

* Continuous Media Opportunities with Nation & Regional Outlet's, Especially Live National Talk Radio

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Our nation is as strong as the core. Veterans are the core. We take care of the veterans and we take care of the core. My God Bless American Veterans and Continue to Bless Our Great Country.

Children exposed to violence have PTSD symptoms

If you happen to be among the few in this country saying too much money is spent on PTSD research and treating our soldiers and veterans, consider this. Whatever the government spends on trying to get a grip on PTSD is a benefit to the entire country. PTSD is real and it comes after traumatic events striking humans. The troops, veterans, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, families living with all of the people wounded by PTSD and regular civilians. Now read this about children exposed to traumatic events and understand there should never be a limit on what the government spends until we find the best way to treat this. The spending however should never include doing studies they have repeated over and over and over again over the last 30 years. In that case, it's just wasted time and money when it could be used on finding something new.

Children exposed to violence have PTSD symptoms
Wed Apr 29, 2009
By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among children showing high levels of stress in reaction to exposure to community violence, researchers found stress hormone responses similar to children diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms include attention or sleep problems, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and other symptoms of psychological distress.

In previous research in children, Dr. Shakira Franco Suglia, at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, identified a disruption of the stress hormone, cortisol, among those with PTSD. Suglia and colleagues have now found "similar effects among children living in urban communities who have not been diagnosed with PTSD," Suglia told Reuters Health.

The study involved 28 girls and 15 boys, 7 to 13 years old. Forty-six percent were Hispanic, 54 percent were white. Forty-two percent of the children had mothers with less than a high-school education, Suglia and colleagues report in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

The researchers assessed mothers' reports of their children's exposures to hearing gunshots or witnessing other forms of community violence, and mother's and children's reports of symptoms typical of PTSD.
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Children exposed to violence have PTSD symptoms

Queen Latifah daughter of Vietnam Vet with PTSD

April 29th, 2009
Queen Latifah reveals experience with PTSD

Queen Latifah’s special appearance on Seasame Street.

"My father actually suffered from PTSD. He was a veteran of Vietnam and I know he’s helped a lot of his friends from Vietnam and from other wars to try to get treatment and get help… it was very challenging for us as a family, so I can kind of relate to what the kids have gone through because it can challenge your relationships… [My father] just really explained that he saw a lot very difficult things that were hard to deal with and it was hard for him to deal with them emotionally and psychologically. I started to understand it. Luckily he sought treatment…and it really made a big difference because it helped him to recognize what was going on."
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'Furious' Obama orders review of NY plane flyover

I didn't jump on this story when it happened simply because I, like everyone else, did not know exactly what happened or where to direct my anger. Now we know. Louis Caldera made a terrible mistake and I'm sure he feels bad about it, but I think he should resign over this. Make no mistake about this. He caused more trauma than he ever could have imagined if he bothered to think at all. The horrors of 9-11 will never go away and it wasn't just the people in New York that day suffering from the trauma caused by the attacks. It was people across the entire nation, especially combat veterans having PTSD escalate. Wasn't he advised to not do this? Didn't anyone in the military tell him how harmful this would be? Anyone in the position Caldera has needs to be fully aware of what they are doing and the ramifications of his actions. We just had 8 years of no one being held accountable for anything and keeping Caldera on the job after this is not a good way to change the way this country behaves. Caldera said he "approved the mission" but we also need to know who started it in the first place and hold them accountable as well.

'Furious' Obama orders review of NY plane flyover
Story Highlights
NEW: 911 call: "There's a plane falling, there is a big aircraft falling like 9-11"

Sen. John McCain "profoundly disturbed," requests investigation

Air Force source: Planned photo shoot over D.C. monuments cancelled

YouTube video shows New Yorkers scrambling as plane screams overhead

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A "furious" President Obama has ordered a review of the decision to fly a Boeing 747 frighteningly close to the lower Manhattan skyline, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, quickly apologized for Monday's incident after the planes prompted workers and residents to evacuate buildings in New York and New Jersey. Watch Townsend slam Caldera »

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision," Caldera said. "While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption."
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Konami Corp pulls Fallujah video game!

Score one for respect! War is not a game and turning Fallujah into one is the biggest insult to the service of the troops and lives lost.

Company pulls plug on 'Fallujah' war video game
AP Technology Writer

The publisher behind a video game based on one of the Iraq war's fiercest battles has pulled the plug on the title, called "Six Days in Fallujah."

A spokeswoman for Japanese game company Konami Corp. confirmed Tuesday the company is no longer publishing the game, which was set to go on sale early next year.

The game, which was still in development, sought to re-create the November 2004 Fallujah battle from the perspective of a U.S. Marine fighting against insurgents. Fallujah had been an insurgent holdout until U.S. forces stormed it in one of the war's most intense ground battles.

"Six Days" was developed by another company, Atomic Games, with input from more than three dozen Marines. Before deciding not to publish the game, Konami had advertised it as a realistic shooting game "unlike any other," combining "authentic weaponry, missions and combat set against the gripping story of the U.S. Marines on the ground."

But the game was criticized by some veterans, victims' families and others who called it inappropriate.
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Marine found dead in barracks ID'd as Miramar mechanic

Marine found dead in barracks ID'd as Miramar mechanic
6:49 p.m. April 28, 2009
MIRAMAR – A Marine who was found dead Thursday in his barracks at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station has been identified as Pvt. Jeffrey D. Ghen.
Ghen was a native of Fairfax Station, Va., and enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2006, a Marine Corps spokesman said. He had been working as a mechanic with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing on the base.
His decorations include a National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
The Marine Corps said the cause of death was still being investigated.
Mark Arner: (619) 542-4556;

Veterans study legacy of Iowa in Vietnam War

Veterans study legacy of Iowa in Vietnam War
By DANIEL P. FINNEY • • April 29, 2009

The topic was the Vietnam War, but there were few war stories.

More than 50 people gathered in a Drake University classroom for the first of a five-part course on Iowa's legacy in the divisive Southeast Asian conflict during which nearly 59,000 U.S. soldiers died.

Yet the mood was less lecture and more reunion bonding - a long-awaited, sometimes emotional coming-together of old soldiers from all wars, each with a yearning to understand their collective service experiences.

"You know what veterans love most about war?" Moon said. "Other veterans." go here for more Veterans study legacy of Iowa in Vietnam War

Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Moore Jr. known for wisdom

Schofield soldier known for wisdom
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Moore Jr. was the senior enlisted man in his battalion in Iraq, and he was the "lifeline" of his large family back in Georgia, his sister said.

Moore, 43, an Army veteran of 26 years with service in South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, died Friday at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in northern Iraq of non combat related injuries, the Army said.

With Moore's death, three Schofield Barracks soldiers with the 3rd Brigade have died from non combat causes since the 3,500-soldier unit deployed in October and November. Three other soldiers with the brigade have died in combat.

Moore was the "baby" of the family of 10 sisters and five brothers, said one of those sisters, Teresa Brakes.

"He's the glue that held the family together when we used to go through crises and stuff," said Brakes, who lives in Waycross, Ga. "He was the one that we went to and he would sit down and put it to us in a way we could understand, and just give us good advice. And the advice that he gave us, it was usually the right thing to do."

He had served in Operations Desert Storm in 1991, she said. Moore earned 55 medals over his 26-year career, including a Bronze Star with Valor, the Army said.
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Schofield soldier known for wisdom

100 Days On Veterans: A Reason To Hope

In 1982 I met a Vietnam Veteran and my life changed. Totally unaware of what the Vietnam War was all about, without a clue what PTSD was, I managed somehow to fully research it so that I could help veterans like my husband and their families. Keep in my at the time Jack was in Vietnam, I was only 11. This has been my mission and my ministry ever since. I've researched it and tracked it as if my life depended on. So now you know where what I am about to write comes from, aside from my heart.

When President Obama was running for the office, as a US Senator, he was on the Veteran's Affairs Committee. He was on that committee when most of the monumental changes and improvements were made to make lives better for our veterans. That gave me some hope. I was still on the fence about how serious he was until he made a stunning judgment.

There are hundreds of programs across the country to address PTSD and suicides. One of the best ones has been what the Montana National Guard came out with. They developed this program after the suicide of Spc. Chris Dana. With all the programs Obama could have picked to support, he picked this program. To me, that was the most telling moment in what he would do as President. Keep in mind that I've researched all of this since 1982, so for me to come across this program was nothing odd, but for a man with so many other things on his mind and issues to face to zone in on this showed he was fully invested in our veterans. It showed he did not just care with words, but serious attention and action. President Obama did this quietly and that sense of seriousness along with compassion touched my heart to the point where I had hope again. I still do.

Were there mistakes made by his advisers? Sure but they all make mistakes but the important thing is what the intent is. The intent is to once and for all prove the slogan "grateful nation" is true in this country and with him leading the way, we may just catch up to what other nations are doing for their veterans and then lead the way once more.

If you hear a veteran slam Obama for anything over the first 100 days, ask them where they were all these years when the veterans were betrayed and used. Ask them where their anger was when the VA was cut under President Bush or when there were less doctors and nurses working for the VA with two active military campaigns than there were after the Gulf War. Ask them where they were when Secretary Nicholson was returning funds at the same time veterans were coming back from Iraq and committing suicide because they could not get the care they needed from the VA. The list of things they ignored for political reasons caused so much damage to the veterans suffering and fighting for care, they cannot be forgiven for remaining silent. When it comes to our veterans, politics should never, ever come first. They should since they put the nation first everyday. They are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, all serving side by side. They come from red states and blue states. They come from cities and towns across the nation and they do not serve just one party with their lives, but the entire nation including the people they do not agree with. As a nation we need to all come together and support the veterans with whatever they need because they earned it!

100 Days On Veterans: A Reason To Hope

Jon Soltz
Co-Founder of, served as a Captain in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Posted April 29, 2009 09:01 AM (EST)

There's only so much a President can do in 100 days, and we don't know what a President will do in the remaining 4-years-minus-100 days, so it is hard to say a whether a President has been a success or failure. However, when looking at the needs of veterans at the end of the Bush administration, and whether those needs have been fulfilled, it's tough to say that President Obama's first 100 days haven't been incredibly encouraging.

When it comes to veterans care, most issues fell under three categories as the President took office - funding, confusion, and lack of access. In all three areas, while there's a ton to still do, there's been dramatic improvement in the first 100 days.


This area, above all, is the shame of the Bush administration. The Department of Veterans Affairs was consistently underfunded by the Bush Administration. The low-point came when then-Secretary Jim Nicholson had to come groveling to Congress for more than a billion dollars in emergency funding, admitting that the administration had not prepared for the boom in returning veterans in need of care, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The underfunding had dramatic consequences across the board - from research and treatment into Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the shameful commonplace practice of veterans having to duct tape their prosthetic limbs, because the VA couldn't get them decent ones.

President Obama's budget for the VA errs on the side of caution - funding the department over the amount determined adequate by the Independent Budget (the budget offered by the nation's Veterans Service Organizations), and increases funding by $25 billion over the next five years.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

VA advance funding one step closer to reality

VA advance funding one step closer to reality

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Apr 28, 2009 17:41:35 EDT

There is good news for military and veterans’ organizations in the 2010 budget agreement reached Monday night by House and Senate negotiators.

The budget, which includes $606 billion for the Defense Department and $106.5 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department next year, also creates a window of opportunity for passage of some high-priority issues this year.

For example, the agreement opens the door for the top priority of veterans’ organizations, providing money for veterans’ health care one year in advance. The key language, in this case, is a provision preventing a point of order being raised against legislation to provide a 2011 VA health funding bill this year.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawaii, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman and a sponsor of advanced appropriations legislation, said the provision “brings us closer to our goal of providing on-time funding for veterans’ health care, allowing VA to plan ahead and make better use of taxpayer money.”

Raymond Dempsey, national commander of Disabled American Veterans, called the budget “good news for our nation’s veterans.”
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VA advance funding one step closer to reality

Nine burn-pit lawsuits filed against KBR

Nine burn-pit lawsuits filed against KBR

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Apr 28, 2009 17:25:00 EDT

Lawyers filed seven class-action lawsuits in seven states on behalf of service members and civilians who say they were sickened by the open-air burn pits on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The lawsuits, including a wrongful death suit, were filed against contractor KBR Inc., as well as its parent company, Halliburton, after a Military Times story that ran last October showed that the burn pit at Joint Base Balad, the biggest U.S. base in Iraq, burned everything from petroleum products to dioxin-releasing plastic water bottles to amputated limbs.

Two more lawsuits are expected to be filed Wednesday
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Nine burn-pit lawsuits filed against KBR/

The Soloist, a lesson in fixing ourselves

There were times tonight as I watched this movie, I had tears. The plight of Fox's character and the need of Downey's character to "fix" Fox, was what got to me the most. The scenes of homeless people in LA made me think that among many of the homeless, there are veterans, much like my husband. While he only came close to becoming homeless during his darkest days, we managed somehow to stay together. Most of that came from understanding what PTSD was and the Grace of God changing my mind every time I wanted to walk away.

I kept remembering when I thought I could "fix" my husband. If I were loving enough, calm enough, strong enough, smart enough, if I were enough at all for him, he would be the way I wanted him to be instead of the way he was. When I faced the truth that I could only "fix" myself, then I was happier and so was he.

I learned to live my life by myself, doing what made me happy and what I enjoyed to do, with him or without him, without holding any resentment toward him for not being able to go with me. I learned to stop wanting what I could not have but to tell the truth, it still hurt to have to walk away from conversations when other people were complaining about such trivial matters in their own lives when I was living with PTSD. Over time, knowing my marriage would be the way it is was a choice I made to stay and I stopped blaming others unable to stay in their own marriages.

That was the lesson of this movie. I highly recommend anyone living with someone with a mental illness or PTSD to go and see this movie. It's heartwarming and transforming. It shows a side of life few others really see with their hearts. While this is a movie about schizophrenia, there are many parts of it that can apply to living with PTSD as well. What we want to give to others is sometimes not what they need from us. Sometimes it comes down to just caring about them that matters the most of all.

The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

Academy Award-nominated Atonement director Joe Wright teams with screenwriter Susannah Grant to tell the true life story of Nathaniel Ayers, a former violin prodigy whose bouts with schizophrenia landed him on the streets after two years of schooling at Juilliard. Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a disenchanted journalist stuck in a dead-end job. His marriage to a fellow journalist having recently come to an end, Steve is wandering through Los Angeles' Skid Row when he notices a bedraggled figure playing a two-stringed violin. The figure in question is Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a man whose promising career in music was cut short due to a debilitating bout with mental illness. The more Lopez learns about Ayers, the greater his respect grows for the troubled soul. How could a man with such remarkable talent wind up living on the streets, and not be performing on stage with a symphony orchestra? Later, as Lopez embarks on a quixotic quest to help Ayers pull his life together and launch a career in music, he gradually comes to realize that it is not Ayers whose life is being transformed, but his own. - Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Minnesota House should be ashamed cutting veterans funds

Is this why so many Republicans think the Democratic party does not support veterans? While the vast majority of Democrats really support veterans, the Minnesota House Democrats have decided that it's a good idea to cut back on funding for veterans in a time when there are reports across the nation screaming how much help they need to heal from the wounds they received in service to this nation. Are they out of their minds?

I said a long time ago that when it comes to the troops and our veterans, political party should be secondary. This is why when a Republican does something right, I fully support them no matter what party they belong to and when Democratic Party members get it wrong, I fully slam them. This is one of the worst times to cut back on veterans because their needs have been growing and will keep growing with two active military campaigns going on and finally an awareness reaching older veterans about what has been wrong with them when it comes to PTSD. What good does it do to make them aware of what can be done for them and what caused their agony when their own state does not think they are worthy of funding?

Letter: Hamilton disappointed in House Democrats
On a party-line vote, the Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a finance proposal that reduces funding for agriculture, veterans, and military needs across the state. All House Republicans opposed the measure because it does not fairly fund veterans, military affairs and farm programs.
By: Dist. 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, Worthington Daily Globe

On a party-line vote, the Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a finance proposal that reduces funding for agriculture, veterans, and military needs across the state. All House Republicans opposed the measure because it does not fairly fund veterans, military affairs and farm programs.

As Vice-Chair of the committee that approved the bill, I am outraged by the priorities set by House Democrats in this budget-setting process.

The House majority gave this committee a funding target that was ridiculously low, and our veterans and our farmers will suffer because of it. Instead of refusing to take a stand against funding dog parks and practice hockey arenas, the majority forced farm programs to be gutted in order to increase funding for our veterans.

Special needs requests from suffering veterans across the state are increasing at an alarming rate. So far in 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs has already spent 15 percent more on medical requests than at this point in 2008. Special needs applications for veterans have also increased by 25 percent, which is why additional funding is needed in this area.
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Scientists find genetic variations linked to autism

Autism research: Scientists find genetic variations linked to autism
By Trine Tsouderos Tribune staff reporter
12:00 PM CDT, April 28, 2009
Researchers have found that many people with autism share common genetic variations, a discovery that may improve diagnosis and offers the promise of developing treatments for the frustratingly mysterious disorder.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature, compared the genomes of thousands of autistic people to those of thousands of people without the disorder--a massive task that new technology has only recently made possible. The genome is the complex system of DNA coding that builds and runs the human body.

The review showed that most autistic people have a genetic variation in a portion of their DNA that affects the way brain cells connect with one another. Scientists also reported a link between autism and small "mistakes" in another DNA segment involved with cell communication.

Both reports add weight to the idea that autism is related to problems with the way brain cells connect.
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Scientists find genetic variations linked to autism

Young adults are most likely to switch churches or stop going

Churches need to figure out what is Christ's message to the world and start living up to it and maybe, just maybe, people will return to a time when they wanted to go to church. Too many people standing up in front of the congregations have no clue what Christ taught and it doesn't matter if they are called Father, Reverend, or Pastor. They say one thing, preach from the same Bible but then what Christ said is all but forgotten as soon as they start their sermon.

For many of us, faith is in flux
Young adults are most likely to switch churches -- or stop going, study finds
Jeff Kunerth Sentinel Staff Writer
April 28, 2009

A member of the Holy Family Catholic Church congregation sits by a stained-glass window. ( GARY W. GREEN, ORLANDO SENTINEL / February 25, 2009)

About half of all American adults have changed religious affiliation, most often because they felt spiritually unfulfilled or found a church they liked better, according to a study released Monday.

Young adults are most likely to switch churches or stop going to church altogether. Those who leave the religion of their childhood are most likely to do so before they reach age 24, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey.

The religious "churn" suggests that many Americans, even those who don't attend church, are constantly looking for religious fulfillment, said John Green, a researcher on "Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S."

"There is a real demand side of the religious marketplace that complements the supply side. There are people who are ready, willing and able to change faiths if they find one that appeals to them," Green said.
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For many of us, faith is in flux

Suicide death of friend leads journalist to understand PTSD

We must help our returning warriors
By Scott Krahling
For the Sun-News
Posted: 04/28/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

My friend Kyle was a colleague at work and a neighbor, as well. For over a year, I considered him one of my closest friends, and the time I spent with him helped me realize many things. His death — by suicide — helped me realize many more.

Unlike Kyle, I am not a veteran of military service. Even so, I always assumed I understood veterans' issues and that I could empathize with their experiences by extrapolating from my own. I was wrong.

Nothing I have done in my life could have helped me understand how being in battle changed Kyle emotionally and psychologically. After his death, I delved further into the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wanted to know what killed a man who survived service in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division.

Part of my research led me to the Las Cruces Vet Center, where Guy McCommon and his staff work daily with warriors who have served our country and have come back changed by the experience. Changed by the reality of killing. Changed by the reality of being hunted. Changed by the memories of blood, bone and bodies — men, women and children. Changed by ghosts. Changed by nightmares that we who have not been to war cannot imagine.

Kyle tried his best to come back home and fit in, but his personal universe was so manifestly altered by his experiences that what we call "society" was chimera to him. He knew how thin the veil of civilization is, and he knew the savagery of which humans are capable toward one another. There was no going back. There was only slogging forward, trying to adapt alone to a new reality that even his closest friends could not grasp. Empathy is an empty word for a warrior amid civilians.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It sounds clinical and clean to those of us who are uninitiated. This is not the stress of a job lost or even the funeral for a friend.

It is a messy, complicated, jagged and relentless reality for those who experience traumatic events in war or in life. It is shards of glass on the nerves. It is live electricity against bare flesh. It is savage enough to drive a good man to a silent, peaceful grave.
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CT: Fresh Strategies Recommended for PTSD

"That guy has shell shock!" Those were the words my father used when I asked him what he thought about Jack. My father was a disabled Korean veteran. Back then I was just learning about PTSD and while research had been going on since the 70's, in 1982 there was not that much known. I had no idea PTSD in my husband would get worse. I thought it was as bad as it could get and we tried to just deal with it. Back then we had plenty of excuses because addressing it was all knew. The wound itself was as ancient as mankind but all generations before never did anything about it. It was because of Vietnam veterans coming back and forcing the nation to treat it, acknowledge it as a service connected disability and take care of all generations wounded by it.

People like me have lived with it for over 30 years, researched it, learned about it and decided that with our expertise others could benefit by our own heartache. The problem is, no one would listen. Being "alone" with no one understanding what PTSD was lead to well meaning people offering one piece of advice, "Walk away and get on with your own life." when it came to my marriage. They couldn't understand anyone causing that much pain to someone else. My view was that had it been cancer instead of PTSD, I doubt they would have given the same advice. There was an awareness of what cancer was and most people understood the changes in a patient facing a deadly illness. What they didn't understand was that PTSD was a deadly wound leaving the veterans dying a very slow death.

Too many years have passed by and very little has been done on educating people about PTSD. This is what I've been trying to do since 1982 because I knew it had to be done. Not just for the veterans and their families to understand it, but to give them the tools they needed to live with it and find their own kind of "normal" living with it. This is not all bad as long as you know where it all comes from. As a matter of fact, there are parts of PTSD that can be quiet amusing instead of causing anger when there is awareness of where it is coming from.

My heartache comes from the fact all these years of experience I and other spouses have is all there for the newest generation to learn from, well within their reach so they can learn from us as easily as possible but they are not asking. They lack the basic knowledge to even know what to ask for. As communities around the nation face a tsunami of wounded veterans needing help and support, they are also reluctant to even begin to face it leaving veterans and their families to suffer needlessly in isolation while they scream for help.

The other issue is that mental health professionals able to treat the veterans will not listen either. While they have experience in addressing it from a professional standpoint, they do not know what it is like to live with it and we have great insight on what they can never see.

What Connecticut is doing with this is a good step in the right direction and is desperately needed.

New Research Identifies PTSD, Other Problems for Returning Veterans; Fresh Strategies Recommended

New research for veterans identifying significant rates of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other compelling problems for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has been released by the Center for Public Policy & Social Research (CPPSR) at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Based on the data, CPPSR has made policy recommendations to help these veterans better readjust to civilian life and stands ready to assist other states in doing the same.

New Britain, CT (PRWEB) April 28, 2009 -- New research has identified significant rates of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other compelling needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Center for Public Policy & Social Research (CPPSR) at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and the Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) recently released their needs assessment of returning Connecticut veterans. Based on the data, CPPSR has recommended fresh strategies to help veterans readjust to civilian life, and hopes to share its new research model with other VA departments nationwide.

The report, authorized by Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell and DVA

Commissioner Linda Spoonster Schwartz, explored the significant medical, psychosocial and economic needs of these veterans, as well as the existing barriers veterans face in meeting those needs. It concluded with a series of recommendations, based on the research data, to optimize readjustment to civilian life for these veterans.

DVA Commissioner Schwartz said, "We relied on the expertise of the Center for design, data collection and analysis of the first ever Connecticut Veterans Needs Assessment… which serves as a guide for the development of legislation, programs and services." By doing this, she said, "CPPSR has improved our responsiveness to the needs of veterans…"

Conducted by Dr. Marc Goldstein and Dr. Jim Malley of CCSU, the assessment integrated data from meetings with veterans' service providers, focus groups with veterans, and a survey mailed to 2,050 veterans.

Some of the key findings include: almost 22% of veterans screening positive for PTSD; nearly 20% reporting difficulty in relating to their civilian friends; and over 10% reporting difficulty in connecting emotionally with family members. Additionally, veterans most in need of support are the least likely to seek it out. This reflected either distrust of the VA establishment or concerns about being stigmatized or de-normalized by seeking mental health treatment. These veterans are at particular risk of slipping into a downward spiral of marital and family problems, employment problems, substance abuse and problems with the law.

Among the primary recommendations are: to initiate a public awareness campaign to inform and educate on these issues, targeting the veterans and their families, the general public and non-military caregivers; to develop an early identification and outreach system for those returning veterans most at-risk for serious readjustment difficulties, who may need assistance; and to avoid stigma for veterans seeking help by creating an integrated network of mental health support services in non-clinical sites that veterans find comfortable, such as Vet Centers and veteran support programs.
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Vietnam MIA's family given medal for his heroism

Family given soldier's medal for heroism
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., April 27 (UPI) -- It took 42 years, but the family of a U.S. Army Green Beret major missing in action in Vietnam has been given the Distinguished Service Cross he earned.

At a ceremony in Fayetteville, N.C., last Wednesday, the story was told how on March 24, 1967, Maj. Jack T. Stewart was last seen providing cover fire for his comrades as they evacuated their position at Bu Dop in Phuoc Long province near the Cambodian border while under attack from an overwhelming North Vietnamese force, American Forces Press Services said Monday.
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Family given soldier's medal for heroism/

Approximately 4,000 Florida Army National Guard soldiers could be deploying

Army National Guard Prepares Soldiers and Families For Upcoming Deployment

Posted: 8:41 PM Apr 27, 2009
Last Updated: 8:41 PM Apr 27, 2009
Reporter: Vanessa Nguyen
Email Address: vanessa.nguyen

Approximately 4,000 Florida Army National Guard soldiers could be deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan during the next twelve months.

Military officials say it will be the largest mobilization in state history.
The deployment could include a majority of Panama City's 153rd Calvary Regiment.

For the last several months, commanders of the 153rd Calvary Regiment have been preparing their soldiers and their families for possible deployment.

Army National Guard Major Joseph Lyon says, "you don't mobilize any soldier. You mobilize their family. Now when I say that, you have to prepare the family to be able to stand alone on their own two feet."
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Lightning Strike Kills Man on Motorcycle

Lightning Strike Kills Man on Motorcycle
Lawrence Journal-World
Troy Gentzler, 45, was volunteering for Bikers Against Child Abuse when he died.
(April 27) -- A Lawrence, Kan., man died Saturday after he was struck by a bolt of lightning as he and six companions rode their motorcycles through a rainstorm, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
Troy Gentzler, 45, was killed shortly after visiting an abuse victim for the northeast Kansas chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse.
The bolt struck as the group was traveling between the towns of Grantville and Perry.
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Lightning Strike Kills Man on Motorcycle

Command Sgt. Major Benjamin Moore Jr passes away in Iraq

Decorated Scofield soldier dies in Iraq

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 11:38:11 EDT

ALBANY, Ga. — A decorated Army soldier from south Georgia has died in Iraq.

The Department of Defense said Command Sgt. Major Benjamin Moore Jr. of Waycross died Friday of injuries that were not combat-related.

He was 43.

Moore was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Combat Brigade Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Scofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Moore earned 55 medals and had served in the Army since June 1983.

Funeral arrangements are pending.
Decorated Scofield soldier dies in Iraq

Del. Guardsman charged with raping soldier

Del. Guardsman charged with raping soldier
The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 12:47:12 EDT

GEORGETOWN, Del. — A member of the Delaware Army National Guard has been charged with raping a fellow soldier at the Georgetown Armory and sexual extortion.

Georgetown police say Staff Sgt. Theodoric Dixon, 36, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree rape, unlawful imprisonment, sexual extortion, coercion and official misconduct. He has since been released.
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Second suicide at Shoot Straight in Casselberry FL

Report: Person shoots, kills self at Casselberry gun range
Apr 27, 2009 06:17 PM
A person has fatally shot him self at Shoot Straight, the same Casselberry gun range where a murder-suicide took place earlier this month, according to

UPDATE April 28, 2009

Winter Springs man killed himself on second trip to gun range
Gary Taylor Sentinel Staff Writer
1:08 PM EDT, April 28, 2009

CASSELBERRY - Jason Kevin McCarthy, 26, was at Shoot Straight on U.S. Highway 17-92 about 11 a.m. Monday and asked about renting a gun, Casselberry police Officer Joseph Nas said in a report that has just been released. McCarthy was handed paperwork to fill out, "but he stated he had something to do first and left the store," Nas wrote.

He came back about 5:40 p.m. and that time he filled out the paperwork and rented a 9mm handgun.

No one saw McCarthy shoot himself, but the suicide was verified by a surveillance video, police said. Employee Adam Schulman told police he instructed McCarthy on how to safely use the gun and watched him shoot at his target on a monitor for about five minutes before turning to wait on a customer.

He said he realized something was wrong when another customer pounded on the glass and told him McCarthy had shot himself.
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Winter Springs man killed himself on second trip to gun range

Bill aims to protect vets’ gun rights

They don't want to hear they have nothing to fear when it comes to having to turn in their guns for PTSD treatment. It's as simple as that. They know how screwed up the system can be and they don't want to trust it. This bill needs to be passed so that I don't have to hear more veterans asking more about losing their right to have a gun than they do about PTSD itself.

As I've stated many times before, I do not own a gun and have no plans of getting one but I do not judge others or question their rights as long as they are responsible gun owners. The only thing I care about is that there are many veterans who will not go to the VA out of fear of having to give up their guns.

Bill aims to protect vets’ gun rights

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 14:06:49 EDT

A bill aimed at protecting the gun rights of some veterans is under Senate consideration.

The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, pending before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would limit the circumstances in which a veteran’s name could be added to a federal database used to do instant background checks for gun purchases.

By law, anyone “adjudicated as a mental defective,” such as people found to be a danger to themselves or others or who lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs, must be registered in the database.

The bill, S 669, which has 15 co-sponsors, would prohibit VA from submitting names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database unless a judicial authority finds the individuals to be a danger to themselves or others.

VA has been turning over the names of veterans who have had someone else appointed to handle their financial affairs. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., ranking Republican on the veterans committee and sponsor of the bill, said VA has sent names of more than 117,000 veterans to the Justice Department since 1998 under the policy.

“Although there is still no danger a veteran will lose their right to carry a firearm for seeking treatment for [post-traumatic stress disorder], we offer our support for this legislation in the hopes it will quell any fears veterans might have about seeking treatment for mental health injuries,” said Patrick Campbell, IAVA’s chief legislative counsel.

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Bill aims to protect vets’ gun rights

Media interest in covering return of fallen soldiers drops

Media interest has fallen off sharply since almost 40 reporters, photographers and camera operators turned out to document the arrival of Myers’ body. At a more recent casualty arrivals, the only media representative was a lone photographer from The Associated Press.

This is really sad! All the complaints from the media about being banned from Dover, stopped from taking pictures of the flag covered caskets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and now this is the result? How can they possibly lose interest? Isn't it bad enough that they no longer cover what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan? Good Lord, too many people in this country have no clue what is happening in either country and they don't bother to find out. The media buries the stories in local papers and the national media seems more interested in President Obama's picture on a magazine with different colored swimming shorts!

Most families OK coverage of fallen soldiers

By Randall Chase - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 11:28:13 EDT

DOVER, Del. — In the weeks since the Pentagon ended an 18-year ban on media coverage of fallen soldiers returning to the U.S., most families given the option have allowed reporters and photographers to witness the solemn ceremonies that mark the arrival of flag-draped transfer cases.

Critics had warned that military families needed privacy and peace activists might exploit the images, but so far the coverage has not caused problems.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Myers of Hopewell, Va., who died April 4 in Afghanistan, was the first combat casualty whose return to American soil was witnessed by the media. He was to be buried with full military honors Monday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Most families OK coverage of fallen soldiers

Veterans are backing Jones' bill

U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones deserves a medal for this! Over 22,000 of our men and women in the military have received dishonorable, or less than honorable discharges that should have been honored when they clearly had PTSD. Too many reports came out on how the DOD and the VA were not being honest with diagnosing and treating PTSD. Too many commanders still have not come to terms with this war born wound and act as if the men and women they command suffering from this wound are not worthy of anything, including treatment and compensation, but above all, the respect of an honorable discharge. It has all been less than honorable treatment for them. Without an honorable discharge and the erroneous outrage diagnosis of a "pre-existing" mental health illness, they receive nothing. No treatment. No compensation. Most of the time, no jobs after they served. This betrayal should not be tolerated and they should be compensated if they are found to have PTSD or TBI but on top of it, compensated with retroactive payments and a public apology from the DOD for the suffering they had to go thru. They were betrayed and so were their families.
Veterans are backing Jones' bill

WILSON - Veterans groups are rallying behind U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones' bill designed to help service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries.

Jones, a Republican from Farmville, was joined this week at a press conference by representatives from the National Association for Uniformed Services, the National Military Family Association, Military Officers Association of America and Air Force Sergeants Association. All are supporting House Resolution 1701: PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review for Heroes Act

The bill would create a special review board at the Department of Defense for service members who were less than honorably discharged. The board would be allowed to change the characterization of discharge to honorable if PTSD or TBI are found to have been contributing factors.

Also, it would mandate a physical examination board before an administrative separation proceeding for active duty service members if the service member has been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI by a medical authority.

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Veterans are backing Jones' bill

Answers sought after Guardsman kills police officers

This is not a case of a combat veteran coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan. It's a case of domestic violence turning deadly for police officers responding. Is there anything that could have warned them of what they were facing when trying to arrest Cartwright? Is there anything that could warn them when they face anyone armed, trained and ready to kill?

Investigators said Cartwright was not a war veteran, but Spooner said the Florida National Guard soldier was interested in militia movements and weapons training.

Answers sought after Guardsman kills officers

By Melissa Nelson - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 8:54:57 EDT

NICEVILLE, Fla. — Two deputies from a troubled sheriff’s office in Florida had no warning a confrontation with a National Guard soldier accused of beating his wife would turn deadly, the sheriff said.

Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip” York used a stun gun to subdue Joshua Cartwright, but he was able to start shooting at them from the ground. Both Lopez and York died.

“Within seconds he sat up and began firing a weapon that came out of nowhere, it was somewhere on his body we assume,” Okaloosa County’s Interim Sheriff Ed Spooner told more than 300 sheriff’s office employees who gathered Sunday night to pray and hear an explanation of the shootings.

Cartwright was killed in a shootout at a roadblock after a car chase into a neighboring county. The deputies had gone to a shooting range to arrest him after his wife sought treatment for domestic abuse injures at an area hospital.

Spooner said the deputies had no information to make them think Cartwright would turn his weapons on them.
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SpecOps soldier dies while running marathon

SpecOps soldier dies while running marathon

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 7:03:11 EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Army officials say a runner who collapsed and died after at the Country Music Marathon was a special operations aviation soldier based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

The army said in news release Sunday the runner was Staff Sgt. Benjamin “Levi” Pigman, a 25-year-old native of Hamilton, Mont.

Pigman collapsed Saturday after he completed the half-marathon at the event. He was treated at the scene and then transported to Nashville General Hospital, where he died, the release said.
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SpecOps soldier dies while running marathon

Fallujah was not a game. Video game is wrong

To say they want to show the realities of war in a video game is ridiculous! If they want to show the "reality" of war, then why turn it into a video game? They would have turned it into a documentary showing respect for the men and women serving, risking their lives, getting wounded and killed in the line of duty. A game? That is supposed to show the reality of what they went thru? There are too many video games where keyboard warriors do battle with the bad guys making all of it unreal. These real warriors deserve to have their stories told with care, respect and honor.

Support, criticism greet Fallujah video game

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Apr 27, 2009 5:10:22 EDT

A video game based on a real battle in Iraq is drawing volleys of criticism — and it won’t even be released until next year.

But it was Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., who came up with the idea for a historically accurate video game based on their experiences fighting in Fallujah in November 2004.

“They want to tell their story. Video games are their medium,” said Peter Tamte, president of Atomic Games, the developer of “Six Days in Fallujah.”

But before anybody has fired a shot in the game’s battles, “Six Days in Fallujah” is facing controversy.

Gold Star Families Speak Out, an organization of families with loved ones who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, say they are outraged that a video game will graphically recreate the Fallujah battle. They are part of the larger Military Families Speak Out, which opposes the war in Iraq.

Gold Star mother Tracy Miller said she was “stunned” when she heard about the video game. Her son, sniper Cpl. Nicholas L. “Nick” Ziolkowski, was killed by a sniper Nov. 14, 2004, in Fallujah.

“This is not a game. His life wasn’t a game, and the fact that he died wasn’t a game.

“I think [the game] trivializes it. And so many of these games dull sensibilities to violence,” she said.

“For every Gold Star parent, no matter how we feel about the war, what we want is that our kids be remembered. I haven’t seen this game, but I suspect they’re not going to be remembering our kids or even what happened historically.”

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Support, criticism greet Fallujah video game