Sunday, May 31, 2009

Vietnam veterans, others pay respects at travelling replica

Jerry Sousa, of West Nottingham and a veteran from the 82nd Airborne, salutes the American flag during the playing of taps while standing in front of The Moving Wall, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., during Newmarket's Memorial Day celebrations at Leo A. Landroche Memorial Field in Newmarket on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Sousa's biological brother, Lance Cpl. Robert Sousa, a marine, died during the war and has his name on the wall, "but they are all my brothers," he said, refering to the wall's names and the veterans in attendance.
Scott Yates/

Moving tribute: Vietnam veterans, others pay respects at travelling replica
Vietnam veterans, others pay respects at travelling replica
By Gina Carbone
May 31, 2009 6:00 AM
Roy Greenleaf lost 14 friends on May 19, 1968, in Vietnam. He found them again on May 30, 2009, at The Moving Wall in Newmarket.

Greenleaf, now the Newington fire chief, served two tours with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. On that May day, he was with Fox Company, 3rd platoon, 3rd squad, when they were attacked outside Khe Sanh.

The Moving Wall tribute to Vietnam veterans comes to Newmarket He caught shrapnel. His friends died.

Greenleaf had their names highlighted on a piece of paper in his shirt pocket Saturday morning at The Moving Wall, the half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has been in Newmarket since May 28 and will leave town June 1.

"They're not the victims, they're the survivors," Greenleaf said, pointing to the more than 58,000 names. "Their war is over. It's done. The rest of us are still the victims. We still walk with it."

Greenleaf came to the wall with the Ancient Order of Hibernians Pipes and Drums Band of Manchester. They joined in the Newmarket Memorial Day Parade Saturday morning wending through town to the wall, where hundreds of veterans, families and Seacoast residents paid respects to the fallen.

Rick Donnelly of Dracut, Mass., lost one-third of the Air Force commandos he flew into Vietnam with the day before the Tet Offensive. Seeing them again at the wall was an emotional experience. "Very much," he said, wiping his eyes.

The Red Knights Motorcycle Club of New Hampshire helped bring in the wall on Thursday night. Congregating around the flowers, photographs and other offerings were members of various military branches — including Navy veteran Ed Lyons of Kingston; Army veteran Jim Voss of Kingston; Coast Guard veteran Aaron Epstein of Fremont; and Army veteran Dick Rodier of Epping.
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Dr. George Tiller, killed at church

You cannot justify this. Don't give me the crap about the number of abortions because if you approve or even attempt to justify this, you are not pro-life. You are supporting evil and hiding behind the pro-life title. Pro-life means all life and not just the ones you deem worthy of breathing. This man was killed in church of all places. Isn't church the place we're supposed to be able to go to make peace with God and find redemption? Was it up to anyone else to take this man's life away from him? He was murdered in front of people at church,,,his family and friends!

There are good, decent people in this country that happen to be really pro-life and they take the lives of the living just as sacred as they do the unborn. I happen to believe life begins with birth and the soul enters into the body when "God breaths life into" as when He did with Adam. Others believe it begins with the conception. We can all agree the born are alive. So if you believe this is what God wants, then you really have a problem a lot bigger than being inconsistent.

Doctor who performed abortions is shot to death
Dr. George Tiller, whose Wichita, Kansas, women's clinic has been the target of anti-abortion protests for years, was shot and killed at his church today, his family said. Sunday afternoon, authorities took a man into custody near Kansas City after stopping a car that matched a description of the killer's getaway vehicle, according to Johnson County, Kansas, sheriff's deputies. full story

Older vets ready to support others in uniform

Older vets ready to support others in uniform

By Kenneth Fine - News-Argus of Goldsboro
Posted : Sunday May 31, 2009 13:42:09 EDT

GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Thomas Marlow hasn't stepped into his military uniform in decades.

Bill Carr no longer carries a government-issued weapon.

And it has been years since the last time Theodore Ivey fixed the radar on a fighter jet.

But within places like the American Legion Post 11 headquarters — an aging construct tucked off U.S. 117 within earshot of the Wayne County Fairgrounds — their rank and experiences still matter.

Mike Burris straightens his back before saluting the men who showed up for a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We've got a long history," he said. "We don't need to let the past die."

The News-Argus of Goldsboro reported that the men in the room bow their heads and say a prayer — for those who graced that building long before; for those who will be left to fill their seats when they, too, are gone.

As veterans of World War II, Vietnam and Korea grow older, many think about the fate of organizations like the VFW.

And they scoff at the notion that when they die, so, too, will veterans' needs for fellowship and a sympathetic ear.

"It helps your mind," Ivey said, looking down the line at the other men who fought in Vietnam. "I won't tell you what I did in Vietnam, what happened in Vietnam, but I'll tell him and him."

And that, he says, is why the young men and women currently fighting in two war theaters will one day fill the ranks of veterans' groups.

Bill Graham agrees.

"I could never talk about (Vietnam) with friends, family or anybody until I got associated with these groups," he said. "Until I found people who were in the same situation I was, I was closed off to everyone."
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Fishing Event Aims to Mend Those Who've Served

Event Aims to Mend Those Who've Served
'This Day Is Worth Living,' Veteran Says

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sixty-seven days after brain surgery, Staff Sgt. Dave Love was out on the Potomac, fishing for bass on a beautiful afternoon.

He and more than 90 other wounded warriors participated in the Army vs. Marines Spring Bass Challenge yesterday at Smallwood State Park in Marbury. The event was a welcome change of scene for men whose days can be a blur of doctor visits and who are often tormented at night by post-traumatic stress.

"This day is worth living," said Love, a 32-year Army National Guard veteran who suffered brain trauma from roadside bombs during four years in Iraq. "This is what life is about."

The service members were paired with tournament-level anglers, each of whom brought a boat and tackle. A few service members walked with canes, and one or two used wheelchairs. Most of the disabled service members were stationed at Fort Meade or Fort Belvoir or recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Tournament director Ken Kirk turned to bass fishing a decade ago after post-traumatic stress disorder brought him low.

"The next thing you know, no more headaches, no more nothing," he said. "If I can help one individual, if I can turn his light bulb on and help him recover, then we've accomplished what we set out to do."
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Event Aims to Mend Those Who Have Served

Sergeant Joseph Huiet is on his sixth tour of duty

Fatal shooting shows stress risk facing U.S. troops
Sun May 31, 2009
By Tim Cocks

COMBAT OUTPOST COBRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Experts say the risk of soldiers suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) goes up substantially on their third tour of duty. Sergeant Joseph Huiet is on his sixth.

The killing of five U.S. soldiers at a clinic in Iraq two weeks ago by a comrade on his third tour, possibly suffering a stress disorder, has led to soul-searching in the U.S. military about the effects of serial deployments.

Huiet, 28, from Modesto, California, took part in the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, just a week after completing basic training. More than six years later, he's still here and on his second marriage.

"Dealing with the stress has been real hard," he said inside combat outpost "Cobra," on the edge of Iraq's violent Diyala province.

"I've had times when I'm extremely angry, when I'm stressed out and so pent up I wanted to shoot or punch something. But I didn't," said Huiet, whose brigade is based in Alaska. A recent hardship: his daughter was born the day he started this tour.

Stress suffered by U.S. soldiers during multiple deployments came under the spotlight when a U.S. soldier shot dead five others at a clinic on May 14. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested stress was a factor.
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Fatal shooting shows stress risk facing US troops
Reuters - USA

Van Winkle offers view of PTSD

Chaplain Kathie
There have been many books I've had the honor of being sent to read. This is one I highly recommend. I brought it on the trip to Washington DC last week, but the trip didn't allow much time for reading. The rest of this week was playing catch up on the news and emails. Today, I had the time to finish reading it.

Van Winkle writes like master and commander of a remote control. He flips back and forth between events in Iraq and life back to what is supposed to be normal. He couldn't have done a better job because that is exactly what PTSD veterans go through all the time. Flashbacks take them back to where they were when their lives were in danger. Much like a remote control can change channels back and forth between programs, the mind performs the remote viewing on months, years and even decades in the past only this remote brings the smells and taste with the trip back into hell.

There have been compelling stories in the past from warriors but few have come close to the vivid imagery conjured up their creators.

From Barnes & Noble


A powerful, haunting, provocative memoir of a Marine in Iraq—and his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a system trying to hide the damage done

Marine Sergeant Clint Van Winkle flew to war on Valentine’s Day 2003. His battalion was among the first wave of troops that crossed into Iraq, and his first combat experience was the battle of Nasiriyah, followed by patrols throughout the country, house to house searches, and operations in the dangerous Baghdad slums.

But after two tours of duty, certain images would not leave his memory—a fragmented mental movie of shooting a little girl; of scavenging parts from a destroyed, blood-spattered tank; of obliterating several Iraqi men hidden behind an ancient wall; and of mistakenly stepping on a “soft spot,” the remains of a Marine killed in combat. After his return home, Van Winkle sought help at a Veterans Administration facility, and so began a maddening journey through an indifferent system that promises to care for veterans, but in fact abandons many of them.

From riveting scenes of combat violence, to the gallows humor of soldiers fighting a war that seems to make no sense, to moments of tenderness in a civilian life ravaged by flashbacks, rage, and doubt, Soft Spots reveals the mind of a soldier like no other recent memoir of the war that has consumed America.
Soft Spots by Clint Van Winkle

Iraq War vet remembers historic battle

Brother in arms
Iraq War vet remembers historic battle

by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer

History often leaves its mark on ordinary people, just as ordinary people often leave their mark on history.

On March 23, 2003, U.S. Marine Luke Smentkowski was doing what he had been training to do for months. He and the members of his unit were working in tandem with other military units to clear a strategically important area in Nasiriyah, Iraq. His unit’s mission was to secure one bridge while another unit was supposed to clear another.

Within moments, the other unit was ambushed by Iraq’s Republican Guard and heavy fighting ensued.

When the battle ended after nearly five hours, 11 U.S. soldiers had been killed and several had been taken as prisoners of war. Jessica Lynch was among the troops captured in the fighting that day. Smentkowski’s unit played a supporting role in her eventual rescue.

This initial battle was followed by six additional days of fighting that claimed the lives of 18 Marines and wounded 150 others.

“I knew we had took casualties,” the Secaucus resident said last week. “But I didn’t realize how many until I saw all the birds land.” The helicopters had been set in to collect the injured and the remains of those who had died.

When the incident happened, Smentkowski had been in Iraq for two months. He had joined the U.S. Marines in July 2001 and took his oath of service on Sept. 6, 2001 – less than a week before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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Brother in arms Iraq War vet remembers historic battle
The Hudson Reporter - Hoboken,NJ,USA

Fort Campbell Suicides affect entire community

Suicides affect entire community
By MARK HICKS • The Leaf-Chronicle • May 29, 2009

Because the military community is so ingrained in Montgomery County, what affects Fort Campbell also affects surrounding neighborhoods, businesses and the people, who historically have been strong supporters of soldiers and their families.

"I think it's really sad, sad for the families," said Angela Greenfield, owner of the Front Page Deli, of recent soldier suicides. "I think being a soldier is one of the most honorable things a person can do. People seem to take them for granted, not as much as before, but I think some people just don't realize the sacrifices they make and the sacrifices their families make."

On Thursday, several people suggested that a greater show of appreciation for the troops from the community would make a meaningful difference, but Ward 2 City Councilwoman Deanna McLaughlin to a degree disagreed.

While acknowledging thank-yous go a long way, she thinks dealing with an Army double standard would do more to help soldiers and families deal with the more frequent and longer deployments of recent years.

"Until they make psychological counseling mandatory after a deployment, the Army is always going to face this problem," she said.

As a military spouse for 17 years and Family Readiness Group leader for five years and two deployments, McLaughlin has seen first-hand and experienced her own stresses of military life.
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Injured soldier, bride ready to face hurdles together

Injured soldier, bride ready to face hurdles together
The couple squeeze their wedding in before the groom's next surgery.
By Kevin Haas
Posted May 29, 2009 @ 10:01 PM

ROCKFORD — Four days before Sgt. Joseph Mershon was scheduled to return home from Iraq and propose to girlfriend Hillary Krueger, he was seriously injured when an improvised explosive devise struck his troop.

The couple were able to follow through on wedding plans today by tying the knot in a small ceremony inside the chapel at Swedish American Hospital. Hillary works as an aide for the hospital’s medical imaging services.
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Injured soldier, bride ready to face hurdles together

Memorial bike run to benefit Eric Hall fund

Can you unbreak some hearts? Part of PTSD is feeling alone, abandoned to live with an enemy embedded within them. Hundreds of thousands of others have felt this unbearable pain and surrendered their lives to this invisible wound. We still have a chance to help heal the warriors simply by showing we care and remember them. In doing this, we help teach them that there is nothing they have to be ashamed of any more than had they been wounded by a bullet. When you act locally to support them, you are also telling veterans around the nation that the people of this nation do care and do appreciate them. If you can go to this bike run, please, if you feel any obligation to them at all, go to this fund raiser for this fallen warrior who died because of his loving heart and help heal a nation full of veterans like Eric Hall before it's too late to help them.

Raising PTSD awareness
Memorial run to benefit Eric Hall fund

PORT CHARLOTTE -- For many returning servicemen, the war doesn't end at home.

It never did for U.S. Marine Cpl. Eric Hall.

Family members are continuing their fight to ensure future veterans get the help the need.

On Saturday, hundreds of motorcyclists are expected to line the streets of Charlotte County in memory of those lost in the aftermath of war.

"Home Front Fight," a memorial ride dedicated to Hall, will begin at 11 a.m. at Black Widow Harley-Davidson/Buell, 2224 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. Registration, which begins at 9 a.m., is $10 per bike.

Now in its second year, the bike run is intended to raise awareness about the silent scars affecting thousands of veterans like Hall, and the lack of treatment many receive.

The 24-year-old Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran was found dead inside a drainage pipe near his aunt's Deep Creek home March 9, 2008.
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Memorial run to benefit Eric Hall fund

Marine Vietnam Vet receives Bronze Star because buddies cared

Aside from spending over half my life surrounded by Vietnam veterans, this is one example of why I adore them as much as I do. Think of the kind of commitment they have for each other that a reunion in Orlando Florida made sure that a Vietnam veteran from Dorchester Massachusetts received the honor he earned so long ago for his actions as a teenager in combat.

Corporal Paul R. Moore, then 19, was shot in the right cheek. Unable to speak, he sketched the enemy's position on paper.

Marine from Dorchester receives long-awaited honor
Aided battalion after he was shot; gets Bronze Star

By Kathy McCabe
Globe Staff / May 31, 2009
From behind thick brush, they fired machine guns at Marines positioned in rice paddies near a river in South Vietnam.

Feb. 12, 1970, was a long and bloody day for the men of Bravo Company of the Seventh Marines.

Corporal Paul R. Moore of Dorchester, then 19 years old and only 10 days' married, crawled through fields to carry dead and wounded comrades to the safety of a tree line. The North Vietnamese Army kept firing, and Moore was struck by a bullet in his right cheek. Unable to speak, he sketched the enemy's position on paper.

"He stayed alive, and lived to tell us where to find the enemy," said Ron Ambort, a retired Marine lieutenant. "It's a day I'll never forget."

The honor was bestowed five years after his loyal comrades decided to right a wrong. At a Marine reunion in Orlando in 2004, Moore's friends realized his had never been officially recognized.
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Marine from Dorchester receives long-awaited honor

Marine battles over contaminated Lejeune water

As the editor of Wounded Times Blog, I've tracked a lot of stories that left me stunned. This is one of the biggest ones. When we take Marines, train them to attack the enemy, did they ever think the enemy would be among them? How dare the government expose them and their families to toxic water on top of everything else they have to go through? Topping of the exposure itself, they covered it up while the children were dying because of it!

There have been many betrayals the military has committed against the men and women serving this nation. It never seems to enter their minds that while they have men and women committed to the nation, the military should return that same sense of commitment to them as well.

While Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium can be passed off as war hazards, as appalling as that sounds, they were associated with weapons used against the enemy. Any service member exposed to these chemically based weapons was considered just a part of the risk in war. They had to fight to be compensated and treated for the illnesses created by these chemicals. In the beginning it did not dawn on them they would also be fighting for their own children because of these chemicals. As bad as all of this sounds, consider the risk being provided to them where they and their families lived.

When we count the numbers of war dead, honor them on Memorial Day, as we did last weekend, there were many families across the nation wondering when their military dead would ever receive such an honor. Would they ever be counted as paying the ultimate price for service to this nation when they died because of what this nation allowed to happen to them?

Last weekend I was in Washington DC with the Nam Knights and traveled to The Wall. While I stood near it, I thought of my friend Capt. Agnes "Irish" Bresnahan. In March of this year, she went to Washington for an appeal on her VA claim. She had Agent Orange related illnesses and PTSD, not because of being deployed to Vietnam, but because of being based at Fort McClellan . "Home to the US Army Military Police and US Army Chemical Schools (Chemical Defense Training Facility - CDTF)." Her name along with hundreds of thousands more, will not be engraved on The Wall, nor counted among the reported numbers in the accounting tally. Irish died in Washington DC when her heart gave out. She had a bleeding ulcer and lost a lot of blood. After the transfusion, her heart couldn't take any more fighting to stay alive, any more than her spirit could take fighting the government for her claim to finally be honored. Irish never stopped fighting for the veterans of this nation and the truth. This tiny fighter died in service to this nation but few will ever know her name.

Jerry Ensminger was trained as a Marine to battle the enemy to prevent them from killing other Marines. Little did he know at the time, Camp Lejeune was killing the Marines he had taken an oath to never leave behind. His daughter Janey was 9 years old when she died of leukemia. The Ensminger family was only one family out of a million Marines. Will anyone count Janey in any of the accounting of a price paid for serving this nation? Will any of the other children be counted from Camp Lejeune? Will any from the Vietnam War when Agent Orange came home embedded in the cells of the warriors?

Marine battles over contaminated Lejeune water
Published: Sun, May. 31, 2009 04:53AM

WHITE LAKE -- The U.S. Marine Corps taught Jerry Ensminger to be a tenacious fighter, a dogged investigator and an arresting public speaker.

"They created me," the retired master sergeant says. "And now I've turned this weapon on them."

Ensminger, a crew-cut career Marine now retired and living outside White Lake, is one of a handful of leaders in a nationwide fight to get the Corps to release information about contaminated drinking water that circulated through Camp Lejeune for decades before poisoned wells were closed in the mid-1980s.

He and others spend countless hours digging through records, presenting their findings to members of Congress and posting them on a Web site, The Few, the Proud, the Forgotten. They have kept the issue alive, they say, in hopes of getting help for people made sick by the water or who lost loved ones to illnesses caused by it.
Ensminger's daughter, Janey, died in 1985 of leukemia, which Ensminger believes she contracted from exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune. She was 9 years old.

In 1997, a federal agency that studied the contamination and its possible effects issued a report that said adults who drank, bathed in and cleaned with the tainted water faced almost no increased risk of cancer or other illness. This month, Ensminger and his cohorts claimed a victory when the agency retracted that report.
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also acknowledged for the first time that the water contained benzene, a known carcinogen. And it is working on a modeling project expected to show that tainted water flowed to the spigots of many more people than the Marine Corps originally reported and for much longer.

By some estimates, 1 million people -- Marines and their dependents along with civilians who lived and worked on the base -- are thought to have been exposed to a stew of chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders and other illnesses.
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Marine battles over contaminated Lejeune water

For more reports go here
Camp Lejeune Marines get help online for toxic water exposures
Friday, June 20, 2008
Camp Lejeune and contaminated waterCamp Lejeune Water StudyJun 19, 2008June 18, 2008 - The Marine Corps is concerned about your health. We ENCOURAGE all former Marines, family members and civilian employees who resided or worked aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 to REGISTER with the Marine Corps for information regarding past water quality. is a huge number of people involved here!

Saturday, May 31, 2008
500,000 at Camp LeJeune may have been exposed to tainted water
MONEY DISPUTE THREATENS TOXIC TAP WATER STUDYMay 28, Associated Press – ( North Carolina )Money dispute threatens toxic tap water study. Continuation of a long-running government study on whether contaminated water harmed babies at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, hinges on a half-million-dollar payment that is due Sunday. The Marines estimate that 500,000 Camp LeJeune residents may have been exposed to the tainted water, including thousands of Vietnam-bound Marines. Federal health investigators estimate the number is higher.The U.S. health agency conducting the study, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said its research would be jeopardized if the Navy does not pay $522,000 to keep the study going beyond Sunday.Health problems blamed on Camp LeJeune ’s contaminated water were the focus of reporting by the Associated Press in June 2007 and congressional oversight hearings.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teen returns prayer book to WWII veteran

WWII Vet gets heirloom back 1:21
A war vet reconnects with a precious heirloom 61 years after losing it. KING's Eric Wilkinson reports.

Katrina victims to be evicted — again

While I fully understand this nation has deep troubles and many problems to fix, I cannot understand how it is that the survivors of Katrina, after all this time, still have not received the help they need to move on with their lives. President Obama and his cabinet have only been on the job a few months but didn't they have someone taking care of these people? Wasn't it bad enough they were abandoned by the government and then given trailers to live in with formaldehyde? I know that wasn't on President Obama's watch but surely he must have been aware of what they've been going thru. So what are they supposed to do now?

Katrina victims to be evicted — again

By Muriel Kane

Published: May 29, 2009
Updated 1 day ago

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has decided to enforce a June 1 date — originally established by the Bush administration — for the eviction of several thousand victims of Hurricane Katrina who are still living in temporary trailers after nearly four years.

In a Friday press release, the US Human Rights Network stated that this decision “not only lacks basic compassion but is also a derogation of the government’s responsibilities to uphold fundamental human rights.”

“Instead of carrying out the former administration’s callous plan for eviction,” the press release continues, “the Obama administration and Congress should apply the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, a human rights policy that, for several years, has guided our government in providing temporary and permanent homes for people in foreign countries who become displaced by earthquakes, typhoons, and flooding.”
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Katrina victims to be evicted — again

Pastors try to reach out to veterans with PTSD

I started to read this article hopeful but soon found that there is reason to be skeptical. I can't help but remember the days of working for the church and finding two pastors reluctant to even listen. I could see their eyes glaze over as I tried to explain they needed to get involved. Ever Pollyanna I attempted to gain support from other churches in the area. The Orlando area has some really enormous churches with huge congregations. I went to over twenty of them but only heard back from one church. The pastors was really interested in what I had to say but there was a reason for it. He was also a Chaplain.

This leaves me wondering why Chaplains and the Clergy have to be in competition with each other instead of joining forces? After all, I don't have a pulpit and I'm not about to start a church. I'm only doing what God called me to do and working with veterans as children of God. I have no personal choice to get them in the door of one house of worship over another, but just to return them to the faith they already had. Many Chaplains are ministers as well, so they are able to understand the work a Chaplain does is different than that work a Minister or Priest, or any other spiritual leader does. We are just there in a time of need to take care of the need in the moment. The members of the clergy need to be there for them the rest of the time and they need to get it into their own brains that PTSD is real and it strikes the soul. Isn't it their job to try to mend broken souls? So we really need to be asking why it is they will not turn out in force to help our veterans and their families. Is it because they can't understand them or what they went through? Well, if it is then they are also failing the police officers and firefighters along with the veterans and National Guardsmen. They are failing every other soul sent to them after tragedy and trauma entered into their lives as well.

The members of the clergy getting involved are heroes to me. As for the rest, they will have to answer to God why it is they turned their backs on the men and women willing to lay down their lives for the sake of this nation in their hour of need.

THE PULPIT: Pastors try to reach out to veterans with PTSD
May 29, 2009 - 5:00 PM
Helping people who don't seek or want help can be tricky.

Some Colorado Springs pastors are struggling with this as it relates to military people in their congregation suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury.

What are the symptoms to look for, they ask, and what degree of intervention is appropriate for clergy?

A series of Colorado Springs seminars that began in October have addressed these issues by teaching religious leaders how to recognize combat-related stress disorders, then refer sufferers to trained combat therapists.

"Many troops worship at local churches, and pastors need to know of the challenges the troops returning from Iraq and their families face," said Brian Duncan, an organizer of the seminars and a psychotherapist at Pikes Peak Behavioral Health.

Interest in the six-month-old program remains, as evidenced by about 60 church leaders attending a combat-stress seminar this month.

But the program has run into an unexpected stumbling block: Pastors aren't convinced PTSD and traumatic brain injury are issues among troops in their congregation, said Khan McClellan, senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs.

"A lot of pastors need to get past the bump of denial," McClellan said.

"There is a stigma about mental health issues in general that stops pastors from asking members of their congregation if they are suffering from PTSD."
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Run For The Wall from California to DC

Local News
Vets ride to honor the fallen

Friday, May 29, 2009 10:31 PM EDT

LAKETON - U.S. military brothers and sisters, friends and supporters from all over the country converged on Washington D.C. this week in the annual "Run For The Wall," a motorcycle freedom ride which began in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

The RFTW culminated in more than 350,000 motorcycles filling three-and-a-half of the four Pentagon parking lots, with riders (called Rolling Thunder) who were there to pay their respects to those who gave their lives in exchange for American freedom. Those still serving in the military were honored as well.

As some riders passed through Wabash County, Bob and Chris Haecker were honored to welcome them into their home for a brief respite from the road and to enjoy an afternoon barbecue.

Bob Haecker is also a veteran. He served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. This was his very first trip to The Wall, where the names of 58,261 men and women are listed. The number also includes 1,200 MIAs and POWs.

"It was pretty awesome," he said. "I was really excited to be there."
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Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 plan benefit concert

Vets plan benefit concert
By Mindy Honey
Society Editor

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 is once again hosting a benefit concert with proceeds benefitting all veterans.

The concert will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at the Hamner Barber Theater in Branson.

The concert will be filled with Branson talent, including Penny Gilley, Doug Gabriel, SIX and more.

“All proceeds are designated to veterans,” said Bob Sarver, vice president of the Branson chapter. “The main thing is help. That is why we raise these funds — to help a vet that needs help.”

This will be the chapter’s seventh benefit concert.

“The Brett Family basically thought it up,” Sarver said. “It blossomed from there.”

The money can go anywhere from helping a veteran pay bills or even to gas money to get home from Branson.
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VA recommended more than 10,000 former VA patients to get blood tests

Mistakes at VA to be scrutinized by panel
5 patients tested positive for HIV and 39 for hepatitis after exposure

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - A congressional panel will question Department of Veterans Affairs officials about mistakes that put patients at risk of possible exposure to HIV and other infectious body fluids at three VA hospitals.

The VA recommended more than 10,000 former VA patients in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., get follow-up blood checks. Five have tested positive for HIV and 39 have tested positive for hepatitis.

The U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs oversight and investigations subcommittee has set a June 16 hearing in Washington to look into what caused the problems and what the VA has done to fix them. The VA's inspector general is currently investigating.
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Military Shedding Light on Suicide Problem

Military Shedding Light on Suicide Problem

Posted: May 30, 2009 12:01 AM EDT

Todd Unger

Omaha (KPTM) - When Rich Hagedorn fought in the Gulf War, "Every day you're under a lot of stress, stressful conditions, missions, always having something going on, and looking over your shoulder."

But when the army solider and his comrades came home, they found readjusting to civilian life a process.

"What they told us was to watch out for any signs, talk to your friend. Look for any signs if the person is depressed," says Hagedorn.

The readjustment to civilian life can be tough, and as an instructor at the National Guard's Camp Ashland, Hagedorn says he's been seeing firsthand the toll longer tours of duty and redeployments can have on the psyche of a soldier freshly back from the frontlines.

"We're all wearing an army uniform, and he broke down crying and instead of like the in the old days when they'd say you need to man-up, it seemed like everyone in the classroom was there and they have something in common," he says of one such breakdown.

It isn't an isolated case, and the Department of Veterans Affairs knows it.
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Buffalo Soldier gets Arlington burial after 100 years

Buffalo Soldier gets Arlington burial after 100 years
Story Highlights
Cpl. Isaiah Mays served as Buffalo Soldier in late 1800s
Mays received Medal of Honor, but was denied federal pension
He died in 1925 in an Arizona state hospital that took care of poor
Group of hospital staff, veterans campaigned for Mays' burial at Arlington
By Bob Kovach

ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- It was a journey that took more than a hundred years.

Missing for decades, the remains of Cpl. Isaiah Mays, a Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, were laid to rest Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Paying respects were African-American veterans, U.S. Army soldiers and those who rode for days as part of a motorcycle escort -- members of the Missing in America Project, who traveled from as far away as California and Arizona at their own expense to make sure Mays got a proper burial.

Mays was born a slave in Virginia in 1858 but spent most of his life west of the Mississippi, joining the famed Buffalo Soldiers as the black cavalry and infantry troops fought in the frontier Indian Wars.

In 1889, he was part of a small detachment assigned to protect a U.S. Army pay wagon, which was caught in an ambush by a band of bandits. A gunfight ensued and almost all the soldiers were wounded or killed. Mays was shot in both legs. The bandits made off with $29,000 in gold coins.

Despite his wounds, Mays managed to walk and crawl two miles to a ranch to seek help. He was awarded a Medal of Honor on February 15, 1890.

More than 20 Buffalo Soldiers have received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor. No other unit has won more.
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Men are to be Tender Warriors

This is another gem from Papa Roy, another Chaplain with the IFOC sending out daily reminders of God's love to the Chaplains in the group. There are not many people considering the needs of Chaplains and the struggles we face, but we too suffer with questions that cannot be answered, downtrodden spirits and often, a sense of hopelessness. While all of these aspects of being human are eroded because of our faith and understanding of God's love, we are after all, only human as well.

Good morning, Friends!

We must be tender-hearted

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

Men are to be Tender Warriors. We are to exhibit the character and nature of Jesus Christ – firm, courageous and strong, yet compassionate and loving. In some ways, there might seem to be a paradox in this calling. But when properly modeled and taught, young men can embrace a vision of Christ-centered manhood that will bless their families, churches, communities and our nation. (Jeff Purkiss)

Our Heavenly Daddy Reminds Us: "Be used by all, by the lowest and the smallest. How best can you serve? Let that be your daily seeking."

In God we trust: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” –(Deuteronomy 6:5)

Papa Roy

One last thought: Let all that you do be done with love: All the watching, all the standing fast, all the bravery, and all the strength the Corinthian Christians might show meant nothing without love. They were called to do all those things in a meek, humble spirit of love. (David Guzik)

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

- Romans 12:12

When I read this I could not help but think of what I've been trying to get across to the military and the VA about PTSD. "Men are to be tender warriors" is perfectly fitting. While I doubt Papa Roy intended it to be a reflection of our military warriors, this is the condition that causes them to suffer the most. No one in power believes me but the veterans and their families do.

God is God no matter what faith they claim as their own. Christians of all denominations, Jews and Muslims all turn to God and have questions for God while we walk on this earth and His spirit lives within us. When you read the Bible, focusing on what is said by God or Christ, it is easy to see that the Bible is a love letter from God. The rest is the notion of man. If you want to see how wrong people have been about what God wanted there are glowing examples of it throughout the Bible. Moses got a lot wrong and when you read Genesis, you'll see that what He thought and what God intended did not always meet. We also see it repeated in the account of St. Paul from the time he hunted down Christians and carried the name of Saul of Tarsus. He believed he was right, understood what God wanted and was serving God, only to find out he was totally wrong. When we misunderstand God, we suffer.

"Tender warriors" is the basis for the vast majority of the PTSD wounded. They are caring, loving, sensitive, empathetic while being brave and courageous enough to be willing to lay down their lives for the sake of someone else. Think about it. What good would it do to be able to think of others without having the courage to do anything about it? Many, because of their own pain, will not see the kind of courage it took to fight the battles while in the kind of pain they were carrying. They do not see how brave they were to carry on despite the nightmares and flashbacks draining them, the countless hours on alert, endless days without the comforts the rest of us enjoy, enduring melting heat or freezing cold, all for the sake of others.

After what they witness, the worst in man when they are at war, it is easy to wonder where God is, why He allows so much death, destruction and suffering. They serve the nation and follow orders into the hell of combat as trained soldiers and Marines, but no one can train them to stop being human. They enter into the military with all they were born with embedded in their soul. Their character, their abilities and shortcomings all go into who and what they are. Their faith and understanding of God rest within their core and with each strike of trauma they are wounded, each to his own level. No one walks away the same way they entered into combat. Each event weights heavily on their shoulders. The depth of their wound depends on the tenderness of their heart.

PTSD was called a lot of things throughout the centuries of man walking this planet of ours. Nostalgia, Soldier's Heart, Shell Shock and then arriving at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the Vietnam War. Soldier's Heart seems the most fitting label for this wound. Science, being what science is, avoids what they cannot see yet I believe they have found where the soul lives in each of us. They have found the area of the brain where emotions stem from. This area changes when PTSD sets in. We consider the emotions to live within the heart of man, but that thought came before science was able to understand how the human mind functions. So, Soldier's Heart came into the dialog of explaining what humans have endured since the beginning of time.

Take traumatic events, especially in combat, with individuals, all having different cores/foundations of their soul. One may tend to be more self-centered. One may tend to be a blend of self-centeredness and compassionate. Yet it is the one gifted with empathy that is wounded the deepest because they carry away the pain of others along with their own. They confuse this pain they carry with being not strong enough, brave enough, tough enough because they look at others standing strong while they feel they are dying inside. They cannot see how they have been blessed with this soul because of the pain. They do not understand that God has placed on this earth all different kinds of gifts within us and each for it's own purpose.

What would this world of our be like if everyone was centered only on themselves? Would there be anyone working in hospitals? Would anyone be trying to cure diseases? Would there be any police officers or firefighters? In times of tragedy, would there be anyone coming to help? This world of ours would not have lasted as long as it has if there had not been the blessed with tender hearts.

The warriors, those among us ready, willing and able to set themselves aside for what is needed are the most gifted of all of us. We may have tender hearts but our gift of courage is so limited we are not brave enough to do what they do. We are not able to enter into the military, the National Guards, police departments, fire departments or any of the other fields that would require us to put our lives on the line for the sake of others. This the PTSD warrior cannot see because no one told them.

PTSD is caused by an outside force, not created within. It strikes the soul of the merciful. Until scientist understand what causes PTSD, they will never be able to treat it effectively enough and our troops along with our veterans will suffer needlessly. The residual outcome also prolongs the healing of the rest of us. Had it not been for the warriors coming back from Vietnam, nothing would have been done researching PTSD, so the rest of us, enduring after trauma, wounded by events out of the normal, out of our control, would still be left on our own to suffer without help, being degraded by the judgment of others and abandoned to suffer in silence.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sgt. Scott Kenyon, Hawaii-based soldier earns Silver Star

Hawaii-based soldier earns Silver Star

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday May 29, 2009 17:25:20 EDT

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — A Hawaii-based soldier is scheduled to receive the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq last year.

Sgt. Scott Kenyon is being honored with the Army's third highest wartime medal at a ceremony at Schofield Barracks on Friday.

Kenyon was leading a security team in the Anbar province when they encountered two Iraqis trying to plant an explosive device and came under fire. Despite being struck with bullets to his body armor and helmet, Kenyon continued fighting and leading his team.

He even engaged in a hand-to-hand battle before restraining one Iraqi.
Hawaii-based soldier earns Silver Star

Post traumatic stress, suicidal soldiers and the nightmare

Post traumatic stress, suicidal soldiers and the nightmare: A Memorial Day wake up call
May 29, 2:39 PM

Linda Mastrangelo

SF Dream Research Examiner
Monday, May 25th, 2009 was Memorial Day. A holiday when we honor the men and women of the military who served this country with courage, grace and fortitude by visiting local and national monuments, personal gravesites or simply by giving our prayers and tears in silent reverence to those we lost. There are those who fought directly in the trenches and then there are the lesser known soldiers who battled internal enemies of the psyche and lost. I am talking about the stunning rise of suicides and suicide attempts among our enlisted men and women.

In 2008, there were 2100 suicide attempts equaling about 5 suicides per day: A number that has dramatically increased before the Iraqi war at 350 attempts in the year 2002. What’s even more alarming is that in 2008 more soldiers died from taking their own lives than from dying in the battlefield. This alarming statistic has prompted Senator. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, to introduce legislation to improve the military's programs for suicide prevention. The Army's 101st Airborne Division will be holding a three day "suicide stand-down training event" at Fort Campbell this week: The second one being held this year, especially in lieu of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who was recently charged with killing five of his fellow troops at a mental health clinic earlier this month.
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Post traumatic stress, suicidal soldiers and the nightmare

John Finn, Medal of Honor recipient turning 100

Medal of Honor recipient turning 100

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday May 29, 2009 16:54:26 EDT

ALTAMONT, N.Y. — John Finn, Frank Currey and Nick Oresko are members of an exclusive club that tends to shrink when the nation isn't at war. And of the less than 100 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, Finn is the most exclusive of all, as he nears his 100th birthday.
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The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the

Medal of Honor



Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: California. Born: 24 July 1909, Los Angeles, Calif.


For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Daughter of Vietnam vet designs patriotic clothing

Daughter of Vietnam vet designs patriotic clothing
White Book Agency • May 29, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay-based fashion designer, Bebe Ziegler, has launched her Patriotic line in time for the holidays that pay homage to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Ziegler is the lead designer for Ice It by Bebe Z, a lifestyle apparel company and brand that specializes in creating intricate, crystal-embellished designs on high-quality fabrics.

Symbolic images of the U.S. flag, the bald eagle and the peace emblem, in the loyal colors of red, white and blue, will highlight the Patriotic collection. As the daughter of a U.S. Air Force Vietnam Veteran, Ziegler is especially proud that all of her garments are designed and embellished in the U.S. and help to support and stimulate our economy.

“I am honored to be called a military brat! My father is a Disabled American Vet and I am so proud of being an American and his daughter. I love my dad and our wonderful country,” said Ziegler.

A portion of sales from Ziegler’s Patriotic line will benefit the non-profit organization, Wounded Warriors Project, whose mission is to honor U.S. service members who have been wounded or injured.
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Daughter of Vietnam vet designs patriotic clothing

Veterans share thoughts with opening of Memorial Park

Veterans share thoughts with opening of Memorial Park
By Ann Kagarise
The Suburbanite
Fri May 29, 2009, 10:43 AM EDT

Clinton, Ohio -
Three-thousand-ninety-four men, and one woman from Ohio, died in the Vietnam War. A wall was erected.

Veterans from that war, WWII, Korea, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, paid tribute.
In their words…

Vietnam infantry veteran, John Carroll, of the Portage Lakes.

“This wall is to pay homage to our fallen comrades. It is for all people who served. They all did their part whether they were infantry or cooks. Everybody served hard.”

“It is hard for me to talk about,” Carroll said as he looked down. “There are times I don’t want to remember. Sometimes it feels good.”

He, along with 7,000 other veterans, traveled great distances, by motorcycle, through Canal Fulton for the unveiling of a wall that was long overdue. “This is for my fallen friends. Members of my team are on that wall.”

“Many of us had a hard time coming back and adjusting, drugs and different things,” Carroll explained. “Life itself. Not being sure of what really happened. It was real. It happened. I know that. Well, a lot more of these men suffered much more than I ever had,” he said as he looked over the crowd of bikers.”

Carroll used to do military escorts, before he was in the war. “We buried a lot of people from infantry. I escorted a lot of military funerals, but after I got out, all I wanted to do was forget. This is not about me. This is about all of these people.”
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Veterans share thoughts with opening of Memorial Park

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness will make it worse

General Casey, now hear this, you cannot, repeat, cannot train your brain to prevent PTSD and until you understand this "Because it is scientifically proven, you can build resilience." does not equal the cause of PTSD, you will keep making it worse! Did the rise in suicides and attempted suicides offer you no clue that Battlemind didn't work? Apparently something told you it didn't or you'd still be pushing this. When you have a program in place to "train them to be resilient" beginning with telling them if they do not, it's their fault, what the hell did you and the other brass expect? Did you think they would listen to the rest of what the Battlemind program had to say to them? Are you out of your mind?

With all due respect, because I do believe you care about the men and women you command, this is just one more in a series of mistakes because it seems no one in the Pentagon or the upper rows of the food chain have a clue what causes PTSD.

While adversity does make some stronger, you cannot train them to do it. Life and character does that quite effectively on their own. Some will walk away stronger after traumatic events but one out of three humans will not. Some experts put the rate at one out of five walk away wounded but the best experts I've listened to since 1982 have put it at one out of three.

Do you think that this man could have "trained his brain" as well?
UK:WWII veteran finally diagnosed with PTSD
A D-DAY hero has been told he is suffering a stress related illness picked up in battle — 65 years AFTER he was the first Brit to storm an enemy beach.

WWII vet George McMahon, who was the first soldier on Sword Beach in Normandy, France, had revealed he is still suffering terrifying flashbacks from June 6, 1944.

And Army docs have told the 89-year-old war hero he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) picked up during WWII.

Mr McMahon's family first sought help from docs when the ex-soldier talked vividly about the war in the lead-up to the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Mr McMahon of Kirk Ella, Hull, was then visited by the Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency — part of the Ministry of Defence — who said he was displaying PTSD symptoms.

The Scotland-born Army vet who served with The King's Regiment Army was awarded the Military Cross for storming two machine-guns.

Back then there were plenty of excuses to use for what happened to veterans but after Vietnam veterans came home and forced the wound to be treated, we ran out of excuses. How can you continue to dismiss what is so obvious? It is the nature of man, what is in their core, their empathy for others that is at the root of PTSD. I've talked to them long enough and enough of them to have understood this over 20 years ago. I also live with one.

I'm sick and tired of reading about what does not work being repeated. In all these years, people like me have already learned from the mistakes we made trying to help our husbands and others. To us, it wasn't a numbers game or a research project. This has meant our lives and the lives of the men we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. Aside from that General Casey, I've spent countless hours attempting to undo the damage done because the troops are not being told what they need to hear in the first place.

I've held Marines in my arms crying because the military told them they were not strong enough and National Guardsmen told they were not cut out for combat. All of this because the military has been telling them it's their fault they didn't work hard enough to toughen their brains.

How many more suicides are you willing to live with? Has it not gotten thru to you yet that you are losing more men and women after combat than you do during it? This is only part of it because I doubt you have considered how many have committed suicide and tried it after they were discharged. You cannot order them to stop caring! You cannot order them to become callous or oblivious to the suffering of others. Between the members of their own unit to the innocent civilians that do end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, you cannot seriously expect them to just "get over it" and "toughen" their brains. These men and women walk away with their own pain compounded by the pain of others. This is what opens the door to PTSD and until you understand this is what the difference is, you will never get close enough to finding the best treatment for it and they will continue to pay for it.

Ever notice the vast majority of the men and women you command end up carrying out the mission they are given, fighting fiercely and showing great courage even though they are already carrying the wound inside of them? They fulfill their duty despite flashbacks and nightmares draining them because their duty comes first to them. Do you understand how much that takes for them to do that? Yet you think telling them their minds are not tough enough will solve the problem? What kind of a tough mind do you think they needed to have to fight on despite this killing pain inside of them?

I fully understand to you, I'm no one. I have been ignored by senators and congressmen, doctors and other brass for as long as I've been trying to help, so you are not the first. I've also been listened to by others trying to think outside the box, but more importantly to me, by the men and women seeking my help to understand this and their families. I tell them what you should have been telling them all along so that they know it's not their fault, they did not lack courage and they are not responsible for being wounded any more than they would have been to have been found by a bullet with their name on it.

If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.

Army Launching Program To Train Soldiers To Combat Post-Traumatic Stress
Sam Stein HuffPost Reporting

Faced with a growing number of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cases in the armed forces, the U.S. Army will begin a program this summer to proactively address the problem by focusing on building the mental resilience of its personnel.

In a speech before the international affairs organization the Atlantic Council on Thursday, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey laid out the virtues of the newly formed initiative, which he called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

"We have been looking very hard at ways to develop coping skills and resilience in soldiers, and we will be coming out in July with a new program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness," said Casey. "And what we will attempt to do is raise mental fitness to the same level that we now give to physical fitness. Because it is scientifically proven, you can build resilience."

"The whole idea here is to give soldiers the skills they need to increase their resilience and enhance their performance," he went on. "A lot of people think that everybody who goes to combat gets post-traumatic stress. That's not true. Everybody that goes to combat gets stressed. There is no doubt about it. But the vast majority of people who go to combat have a growth experience because they are exposed to something very, very difficult and they prevail. So the issue for us is how do we give more people the skills so that more people have a growth experience... We thought it was important to get started on this because everything else involves you treating the problem. We need to be more proactive."
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Army Launching Program To Train Soldiers To Combat Post-Traumatic Stress

NYPD police officer killed by cop

NYPD police officer killed by cop
Story Highlights
Authorities: Omar Edwards, chasing a suspect, was fatally shot by another officer

Edwards witnessed suspect trying to break into his car

Another saw his pursuit, jumped out of unmarked vehicle and fired six shots

Both officers wearing street clothes; Edwards didn't fire weapon
By Cheryl Robinson

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A police officer was shot to death by another officer as he was chasing a man he saw breaking into his car in New York's East Harlem neighborhood, authorities said.

New York Police Department Officer Omar Edwards, 25, was shot twice about 10:30 p.m. Thursday just blocks from the precinct where he had finished his shift. He was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Harlem Hospital.

Edwards, in plainclothes, had just left the Housing Bureau Station House on East 124th St., said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. As Edwards approached his car, he saw a man rummaging through it.

"We believe that at this point, Officer Edwards, with his gun drawn, chased the individual north to 125th Street and east toward First Avenue," Kelly said at a news conference in New York early Friday at Harlem Hospital.
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National D-Day Memorial may close because of bad economy

Official: National D-Day Memorial may close

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday May 29, 2009 6:30:15 EDT

BEDFORD, Va. — The president of the National D-Day Memorial foundation says it may be forced to close the memorial.

William McIntosh said Thursday the memorial needs an infusion of cash or a new owner.

He says the memorial’s big problem is a lack of donations, due to the economy. The memorial gets about $600,000 a year from visitors, but counts on donations for another $1.6 million annually.

The memorial honors the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The invasion was the largest land, air and sea operation in military history.

Ft. Carson Killings: The New Casualties of War

HDNet World Report Investigates an Alarming String of Murders Committed by Iraq War Veterans

HDNet logo. (PRNewsFoto/HDNet)


Three-part story examines a cluster of 15 murders and attempted homicides committed by current and former soldiers at Ft. Carson, Colorado

'Ft. Carson Killings: The New Casualties of War' airs on HDNet, Tuesday, June 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET

DALLAS, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- HDNet World Report, HDNet's award-winning weekly news program, presents a dramatic report about a string of 15 murders and attempted homicides committed by soldiers currently (or formerly) based at Fort Carson, CO.


One base. Four years. Three attempted murders. Twelve murders. Some of the crimes involved loved ones, some were random, but what the murders have in common is that they were all committed by men just back from the war zone. Most of these men are from the same brigade that served in Iraq for a total of 24 months -- the 4th combat team of the 4th Infantry.

But, what is causing these men to kill? Critics say that Iraq veterans are coming home with severe PTSD and other mental problems caused by combat stress, but the Army isn't doing enough to ease them back into civilian life.

HDNet correspondent Carol McKinley, who reported from Iraq while with Fox News, obtained an exclusive jailhouse interview with Kenneth Eastridge, one of the men convicted for his part in a murder. Eastridge served two tours in Iraq, and says he returned from war with PTSD but was offered little if any help by the Army.

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The New Casualties of War =

McCormick Foundation give 2.6 million to Welcome Back Veterans

McCormick Foundation, Major League Baseball Announce $2.6 Million in Additional Grants for "Welcome Back Veterans"

Twelve recipient organizations will use funds to help returning vets and families stabilize lives and re-integrate into communities

CHICAGO, May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The McCormick Foundation's Board of Directors has approved $2.6 million in 2009 grants as part of Welcome Back Veterans, a national public awareness and fundraising initiative to address the mental health and employment needs of America's veterans and their families. This brings the total amount awarded through Welcome Back Veterans to more than $5.5 million. A complete record of 2009 grants awarded is provided below.

Welcome Back Veterans has raised more than $4.5 million as of April 2009. An additional $2.2 million in matching funds has been provided by the McCormick Foundation (first $4 million raised matched at 50 cents on the dollar). With all administrative costs paid by Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation, more than $5.5 million has been distributed over the past year to 24 nonprofit agencies targeting veterans' greatest needs.

Welcome Back Veterans Grants - Mental Health

1. Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc.
(New York) $250,000
For Home Again: Reaching Out, a family-focused outreach, community
education and mental health program offered to Operation Iraqi
Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans and
their families in the Bronx.

2. Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies $135,000
For the Soldiers Project, which offers free, accessible confidential psychological treatment to OIF / OEF military service members and
their families.

3. National Center on Family Homelessness, Inc. (Newton, MA) $250,000
For Community Circles of Support for Veterans' Families, which
provides education, outreach, mental health treatment and
social support.

4. National Veterans Business Development Corporation
(Washington, D.C.) $300,000
For the TROOPS Activator, a Web-based technology that gives
veterans access to mental health treatment via their home computers.

5. North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation
(Great Neck, NY) $250,000
For PTSD / TBI treatment programs for military families on Long
Island and throughout the New York metro region.

6. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc.
(Washington, D.C.) $200,000
For suicide prevention for veterans with PTSD including long-term,
peer-based emotional support, crisis response and intervention.

7. USA Cares (Radcliff, KY) $300,000
For the Warrior Treatment Today program, which provides financial
assistance to veterans who enroll in in-patient PTSD and TBI programs.

Mental Health Total $1,685,000
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McCormick Foundation, Major League Baseball

Error left thousands of military retirees out of Retro Pay

Military update:
DFAS: Error left thousands of military retirees out of Retro Pay
By Tom Philpott, Special to Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, May 30, 2009
As many as 39,000 disabled military retirees have been left out of the VA Retro Pay program by mistake, say officials at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service who are calculating the amount of money owed.

This latest and perhaps most serious gaffe in the problem-plagued VA Retro Pay project was uncovered after DFAS received a rising number of complaints from retirees. None had been screened for retroactive payment, but follow-up calculations confirmed that each had been underpaid.

VA Retro payments have ranged from a few hundred dollars to many thousands, depending on individual circumstance. All recipients have served in the military for 20 or more years and all have disabilities that qualified them for one of two relatively new disabled retiree entitlements: Combat-Related Special Compensation, which began in 2003, or Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay, which started in 2004.

The VA Retro Pay project began to identify retirees for lump-sum back payments in September 2006. The project became necessary because of difficulties in calculating initial payments to retirees under CRSC and CRDP, complex plans voted by Congress to begin to lift the ban on concurrent receipt of both military retirement and disability compensation. First up were to be full career retirees with combat-related injuries or severe disabilities.
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Long Beach sees upswing in officer-involved shootings

Long Beach sees upswing in officer-involved shootings
Police have shot three people this week alone and nine so far this year. Officials say the incidents involved violent suspects who failed to comply with commands or threatened officers with weapons.
By Andrew Blankstein
May 29, 2009
Long Beach police are grappling with a string of officer-involved shootings in recent months, including three this week alone.

Five people were injured in officer-involved shootings during a seven-hour period from Wednesday afternoon to early Thursday, authorities said. One of the victims was a police officer apparently struck by "friendly fire."

So far this year, Long Beach police officers have shot nine people. By comparison, the Los Angeles Police Department -- with 10 times more officers -- reported nine officer-involved shootings, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department -- also about 10 times as large -- reported 10 such shootings.

Long Beach police officials acknowledged it was an unusual number for a short period but noted the circumstances were different in each case and involved violent suspects who failed to comply with commands or threatened officers with weapons.

"It's hard to predict when we have these clusters," said department spokeswoman Jackie Bezart. "We are doing the best we can to maintain order like we always do and maintain safety for the citizens like we always do."

Long Beach has seen an increase in homicides so far this year, recording 10 as of May 1 compared to only two during the same period in 2008. But serious crimes overall in the city of 460,000 residents are up more modestly, about 2%.
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Long Beach sees upswing in officer-involved shootings

UK:WWII veteran finally diagnosed with PTSD

Perhaps one of the most troubling things about PTSD is the lack of awareness veterans have. They may not know exactly what is "wrong" with them, the cause of their suffering, but they are acutely aware they are suffering. It is not just that they can remember in detail something that happened years ago, it's that they cannot forget any of it. How can they when nightmares bring it all back? When flashbacks bring it all back triggered by anniversaries of the event, smells, sounds, movies and TV reports?

All you need to do is to go to any of the memorials for the fallen and watch a veteran as he or she spots a name of someone they knew to witness the ravishing pain they carry while they are transported back in time to the days when they lived side by side.

PTSD is not new. It's as ancient as mankind. Throughout the centuries man has gone into combat and survivors have carried the scars within their soul. Read any account of military campaigns from ancient Romans and Greeks and see the wound. Read the Old Testament and the accounts of warriors from Moses, to Judges, Kings and the psalms of David. Read the accounts of Native Americans and see this wound exposed. There is no escaping PTSD unless we can escape being human.

The military is still attempting to train the troops to be "resilient" and toughen their minds to overcome PTSD but in the process they are telling the troops if they are wounded by PTSD, it's their own fault, they were too weak to prepare, they are mentally deficient and not as good as the rest of their company. The basis for this problem is that the military does not seem to have the ability to understand anything about PTSD to know what kind of damage they have been doing with program like Battlemind.

Battlemind begins by telling them they can prevent PTSD as if this is possible. Is it possible to stop being human? To stop being a caring person, sensitive to others? It is no more possible to prevent being wounded by PTSD than it is to repel a bullet headed for exposed body parts. The only thing they can prevent is PTSD claiming so much of the soul of the warrior that it become irreversible. While PTSD comes with different level of cuts, much like an infection eats away until antibiotics are applied, PTSD eats away at the individual until therapy is applied. Between the onslaught of the trauma and the time they begin to talk about it, it is claiming more and more of territory. One traumatic event followed by another cuts deeper into the soul. If the first cut is not treated the open wound allows a pathway for the invader to have free access.

We have to remember that PTSD does not come from within. It comes from an outside force and enters into the soldier. Much like PTSD enters into a police officer, firefighter, victim of crimes, accidents and natural disasters, the difference is the number of strikes received. Warriors are wounded deeper because of the number of times they come into contact with traumatic events. The cuts are more numerous than what a police officer or firefighter encounters but they also suffer from PTSD, yet we are more likely to understand the trauma affecting a civilian following a criminal act than understanding them being exposed to it over and over and over again.

George McMahon's actions 65 years ago were rewarded with the Military Cross and PTSD. He knew there was something wrong but was never treated for the wound he carried away with him. He is a testament to the heart of the warrior, strength to carry on while walking wounded through life and his family is testament to the suffering of families across generations also wounded by the wounded.

McMahon proved courage in battle eliminating any thoughts of the uninformed that PTSD has anything to do with not being courageous enough. He is also an example of it never being too late to seek help. The sooner treatment of this wound begins the better the outcome but even after 65 years there is hope of him healing some of the scars he has carried all these years.

Mr McMahon's son-in-law Bill Tyson, 54, said: "They told us George is likely to be suffering from PTSD.

"Personally, I feel guilty that he has suffered for so many years without us realising it.

WWII vet told he has war illness

A D-DAY hero has been told he is suffering a stress related illness picked up in battle — 65 years AFTER he was the first Brit to storm an enemy beach.

WWII vet George McMahon, who was the first soldier on Sword Beach in Normandy, France, had revealed he is still suffering terrifying flashbacks from June 6, 1944.

And Army docs have told the 89-year-old war hero he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) picked up during WWII.

Mr McMahon's family first sought help from docs when the ex-soldier talked vividly about the war in the lead-up to the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Mr McMahon of Kirk Ella, Hull, was then visited by the Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency — part of the Ministry of Defence — who said he was displaying PTSD symptoms.

The Scotland-born Army vet who served with The King's Regiment Army was awarded the Military Cross for storming two machine-guns.

He said of his D-day flashbacks: "It is still so fresh in my mind. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.

"I was the first man to land. I was not going to wait to be shot, so I jumped off the side of the landing craft into the water and ran."

Although not able to discuss Mr McMahon's case MoD officials said: "Anniversaries tend to trigger an increase in people coming forward for help to deal with their trauma.
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WWII vet told he has war illness

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pvt. Henry E. “Rickey” Marquez is finally home

Body of WWII soldier to return home Saturday

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 28, 2009 18:10:56 EDT

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A day after a different soldier’s remains were mistakenly escorted from Kansas City International Airport to a Kansas City, Kan., cemetery, the body of Pvt. Henry E. “Rickey” Marquez is finally home.

The remains of the soldier, who was killed in battle 64 years ago in Germany, arrived at the airport Thursday morning. They were taken to Highland Park Cemetery, where he will be buried Saturday with full military honors.

A mix-up Wednesday led to the remains of the wrong soldier being sent to the cemetery in a grand procession that included Patriot Guard motorcycle riders, Fort Leavenworth soldiers and local police. John Marquez says that when the procession reached the cemetery, military officers realized his brother’s remains were still in Hawaii.

Leavenworth spokesman George Marcec told The Associated Press on Thursday that it’s still not clear whose remains were taken from the airport the previous day. He said that body apparently was on its way to Iowa and that Kansas City was just a stopover.
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Phil Waterford opens heart to Vietnam vet

Waterford opens heart to Vietnam vet
Dealer presents 2010 Ford Fusion to wounded warrior, gives others 2 checks

By Jason Campbell

POSTED May 28, 2009 2:19 a.m.

When Phil Waterford got home from the Memorial Day drama events that he emceed on Saturday, he couldn’t sleep.

After spending Friday night learning about the stories of the men who have overcome great adversity, and listening to those same stories again on Saturday, Waterford – who owns and operates Manteca Ford Mercury – could only think about what he could do to help those who gave so much to their country.

And he came up with the perfect plan.

With no sleep to his credit, Waterford called his financial advisors on Sunday morning and told them that he was going to give away two checks and a new vehicle to “wounded warriors” that afternoon – something that they discouraged him from doing at the time.

While those in charge of his finances claimed he couldn’t afford to do it, Waterford said that he turned over the keys of the 2010 Ford Fusion that arrived on the lot Sunday morning to wounded Vietnam veteran Bob Gutierrez – who was afraid that the car he drove to Manteca for the Memorial Day celebration wouldn’t get him back to Texas – in an emotional moment at Sunday’s community gathering at Woodward Park.

“When I called up my financial advisor, he told me that I couldn’t afford to do it, and I had to tell him ‘I can’t afford not to,’” Waterford said before giving Gutierrez the keys on Wednesday.

“Those stories on Saturday weighed so heavily on my heart, and I just felt that it was something that I had to do.”
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A Wound in the Mind

In Print : A novel of turmoil, war, and humanity
By Jack Shea
Published: May 28, 2009
"A Wound in the Mind" by Francis J. Partel Jr. Fiction Publishing Inc. 129 pages. $19.95

The 1960s, particularly the later part of the decade, was a blur of action, events, tragedy, liberation and the emergence of the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll mentality. Recently, personal books about the 60s have been rolling off the presses from Tom Brokaw's bestseller, "BOOM!" to locally authored, "In My Life," by Tom Dresser. Now comes "A Wound in the Mind", a short novel of combat-related stress disorder penned by Chappaquiddick summer resident Francis J. Partel Jr.

For some authors, 60s books may be a way to understand what really happened. Others, such as Messrs. Dresser and Partel, seem to know. Mr. Partel was a young naval officer who served in the Southeast Asian naval theater in which his book takes place.

Mr. Partel's novel reminds us that Vietnam wasn't just a poorly executed war. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an almost invisible pathology in 1968, was also unleashed. As we've since learned, the effects of PTSD are viral, deadly, and continuing.

"Wound in the Mind" has an autobiographical tone. It tells the story of the real-life court martial of a United States Marine corporal Juan Cachora, accused of breaking the jaw of his commanding officer in a spontaneous melee that began after a string of firecrackers exploded behind him when he was on shore leave during the Vietnam War.

He did it, according to witness statements. However, witnesses, many of whom are shipmates, are equally clear that Cpl. Cachora was not drunk or disorderly, nor did he have a grudge against his well-liked superior.

The military disfavors striking officers and the law is clear. Cachora faces five years in brig time. The defense team becomes aware of early research efforts into PTSD and argues that the Marine, who has received The Navy Cross and The Purple Heart, needs therapy, not jail time.
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A novel of turmoil, war, and humanity

Bailout needed for veteran's groups with state cut backs

In a time when the need is greater and increasing daily, are these states out of their minds? How about a federal bailout for veterans? Looks like they are in an ever growing crisis situation and need help today! While I'm prepared to do this work 70 hours a week for free until I either die or end up homeless, these budget cuts are not only hurting veterans but the people just as committed to them as I am. I know I'm helping veterans but I'm suffering for doing it financially. I thought by now I'd be making a living wage doing this but the money has not come in and now hope of finding a paying job or grant doing what I've been called to do has evaporated to the point where I'm embarrassed to talk about any of this. I'm not the only one struggling to help our veterans at the same time finding a financial crisis increasing the stress of doing this. The VA budget has been increased more than ever but the money does not seem to be getting to the states or service organizations. This is crisis time because if the advocates go away the veterans burdens will increase on their shoulders and they have had already too much weight to carry. Where do they go if we go away?

Recession brings cuts to state groups for vets

By David Eggert - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 28, 2009 8:37:47 EDT

LANSING, Mich. — The wail of bagpipes at Memorial Day events honoring servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan rang hollow for some military veterans this year.

In Michigan and elsewhere, once-sacrosanct veterans’ programs are no longer safe from the knife as tax revenues continue sliding in the recession.

In a recent budget-cutting order, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislators slashed $1 million, or 25 percent, of funding for 11 groups that help veterans through a maze of paperwork and bureaucracy to get disability and pension benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The cut is forcing layoffs and likely will be carried over to the next budget, too.

“It’s a travesty,” said Daniel Crocker, Michigan service director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which had to eliminate four jobs. “The greatness of a nation will be judged by how it treats its veterans.”

South Carolina plans to cut aid to the VFW, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans in the next budget. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently outlined a “doomsday” budget that would close all four of the state’s veterans’ home if an income tax increase is not passed, leaving more than 1,000 veterans without care.

Thirteen veterans’ groups in Ohio got 10 percent less than promised this year after state cuts.
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"We have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us"

This is a quote from President Obama. "We have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us"

Over the weekend while in Washington DC, I had many conversations with veterans but I overheard a lot more conversations. I wondered where they got some of the ideas they had, where the misinformation came from but more so, why they were focused on what was not real instead of focusing on the hard issues that we do need to address? How is it possible that committed veterans, so caring, so concerned about others, would take what certain talking heads tell them seriously without knowing if what they are being told is true or not?

There are the usual suspects in this misinformation campaign. Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly among the most powerful with listeners of their radio programs and watching them on FOX. While these men are politically motivated in spinning what they say, they still have an obligation to the truth especially when it comes to our troops and veterans. I cannot believe, as callous as they sound at times, that they do not regard the troops and veterans in the highest regard but I have to ask why they did not report on all that was happening to the troops and our veterans over the last eight years when they could have been raising the urgency of their needs. It should never matter what political party the President comes from when it comes to them. They cannot dismiss the fact the men and women serving this nation are putting the needs of the nation first instead of party and come from all voting blocks. They serve with the same dedication no matter if the President is a Republican or a Democrat. The truth is still true no matter if there is a D or an R following the name.

President Bush had a habit of using words to say he appreciated the men and women serving, but everything he did was not in their best interests. There were less doctors and nurses working for the VA with troops being wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq than after the Gulf War. Where was the outrage then? The VA budge was cut with both military campaigns producing more and more wounded. Where was the outrage then? Why were they silent? When the conditions at Walter Reed were reported on the outrage was not focused on those conditions but against the Washington Post for reporting on them. When Nicholson was returning VA funds and soldiers were coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking help but were turned away because the VA was overloaded, where was the outrage then? The list of what was ignored by these men goes on and people finding out what they were not told are feeling embarrassed by the fact they thought they knew what was going on.

The veterans in our nation served one nation but have not been serviced with information from all political sides. When President Clinton was in office, his record on veterans affairs was lacking in certain areas. This was widely reported on but when it was President Bush, there was silence from the "right" commentators, just as now when things are being done for the sake of the troops and veterans, there is silence from them once again. They only thing they seem to want to now discuss is when President Obama wanted to address the problem of wounded veterans coming back and finding out they would have to pay for their care out of their own pocket instead of having their insurance companies pay for it until their claim was approved.

This is another thing the "right" commentators never discuss. In the 90's the Congress passed a rule that allowed the VA to collect payment for any "non-service connected treatment" allowing the VA to collect even on claims that being processed or appealed. The Congress did not understand what the language in this rule would do to the veterans. Until a claim is approved the VA regards the claim as "non-service connected" and all their care falls under the "Means Test" to see if the veteran can afford to pay. Should they have private insurance through a spouse or in the case of National Guards and Reservists, their own insurance, the insurance companies do not have to cover their medical needs if they were in fact due to service in the military. President Obama was thinking of how to solve this problem while looking at the backlog of claims along with the fact these wounded veterans were coming back and finding out they had to pay out of their own pocket as they fought to have their claims approved. The service organizations raised hell over this and President Obama knew he'd have to come up with another idea to solve this problem until all of our veteran were taken care of.

The most obvious answer would be to change the rules of the VA until the backlog of claims are processed and they receive what this nation obviously owes to them. While the service organizations were impressed with Obama's willingness to listen and change his thoughts, the media, especially the "right wing" commentators failed to report on this issue behind the concerns of the President and reported instead that Obama wanted to "charge veterans" for their care. This was already being done and had been done since the 90's. We were subjected to this when my husband's claim was being denied and all the way up to when it was finally approved.

We had private insurance but they would not pay because they said it was the obligation of the VA to cover his care. The VA was denying his claim and we were forced to pay out of our own pocket until his claim was finally approved. This happens all the time and has been going on for years. When we couldn't pay the bill, the VA attached our tax refund several years in a row. Eventually we received most of the money back but the extra hardship on us was almost too much to take and the media, well, they just didn't care.

Whenever I try to set the record straight I can see the doubt in their eyes. After all, they look at me and think I don't know what I'm talking about because they never heard of such a thing. They trust what they are being told by the commentators because they believe they know what they are talking about. I'm no one. It doesn't seem to matter that I've been fighting for veterans, no matter what party is in control since 1982 and had veterans in my life since the day I was born. I'm saying things they simply don't believe because the commentators are trusted more.

One of the issues I have with President Obama is that while he was campaigning he quietly visited the Montana National Guard to take a look at their PTSD program to address the need and the suicides. Yellow Ribbon is one of the best programs out there and his visit proved he was paying attention because he could have picked any program he wanted to, but he picked on of the best. Obama was so impressed with this program he promised to replicate it across the nation should he be elected. The media should be asking when this will be done because the military and the VA are still using a program called Battlemind causing more harm because it basically tells the troops if they end up with PTSD it's because they didn't train their brains well enough to prevent it. In other words, it's their fault. The media has been silent on this while our troops are committing suicide with higher numbers every year and increased attempted suicides. Will the Washington Post report on the fact Marines are crying on my shoulder because they were supposed to prepare and toughen their brains? Will any of the commentators on FOX talk to any of the families or the troops about this program? Does anyone really care about solving this problem?

It's not all on President Obama's shoulders but also on the heads of Congress still holding hearings asking the same people the same questions and getting the same answers instead of solutions while the troops and veterans suffer. Instead of asking people what works and what has to be done, they are talking to people that just became aware of what PTSD is. What about the people dealing with all of this for over 30 years with a history of making mistakes so they found out what does work and then do it? In this case all sides of the media have failed when they could have been reporting on what should be of urgent "breaking news" instead of jumping on stories that will not save one single life.

So here is something to set the record straight. This is from President Obama in his weekly address before Memorial Day. It address the fact the VA has just had the largest increase in funding in three decades. His actions prove how he feels about veterans. While I still have issues with President Obama this is proof of where his values are. If you hear none of this on FOX or on any of the radio shows you listen to, then you need to wonder why it is they are not saying a word about any of this while troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan, while they come home wounded and waiting for the care they were promised and older veterans are being pushed to the back of the line being told they will have to wait even longer.


Office of the Press Secretary

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on All Americans to Honor the Service of the Troops and Their Families

WASHINGTON – On this Memorial Day weekend, President Barack Obama called on the American people to join him in paying tribute to America’s veterans, servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice - and their families. America’s troops and their families embody what is best in America, and the American people have a responsibility to serve them as well as they have served us.

The audio and video will be available at 6:00am Saturday, May 23, 2009 at

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, May 23, 2009

This Memorial Day weekend, Americans will gather on lawns and porches, fire up the grill, and enjoy the company of family, friends, and neighbors. But this is not only a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on what this holiday is all about; to pay tribute to our fallen heroes; and to remember the servicemen and women who cannot be with us this year because they are standing post far from home – in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.

On Friday, I traveled to Annapolis, where I spoke at the Commencement of the United States Naval Academy. It was an honor to address some of America’s newest sailors and Marines as their Commander-in-Chief. Looking out at all of those young men and women, I was reminded of the extraordinary service that they are rendering to our country. And I was reminded, too, of all of the sacrifices that their parents, siblings, and loved ones make each day on their behalf and on our behalf.

Our fighting men and women – and the military families who love them – embody what is best in America. And we have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us.

And yet, all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve. That is a betrayal of the sacred trust that America has with all who wear – and all who have worn – the proud uniform of our country.

And that is a sacred trust I am committed to keeping as President of the United States. That is why I will send our servicemen and women into harm’s way only when it is necessary, and ensure that they have the training and equipment they need when they enter the theater of war.

That is why we are building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs with the largest single-year funding increase in three decades. It’s a commitment that will help us provide our veterans with the support and benefits they have earned, and expand quality health care to a half million more veterans.

That is why, this week, I signed a bill that will eliminate some of the waste and inefficiency in our defense projects – reform that will better protect our nation, better protect our troops, and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

And that is why we are laying a new foundation for our economy so that when our troops return home and take off the uniform, they can find a good job, provide for their families, and earn a college degree on a Post-9/11 GI Bill that will offer them the same opportunity to live out their dreams that was afforded our greatest generation.

These are some of the ways we can, must, and will honor the service of our troops and the sacrifice of their families. But we must also do our part, not only as a nation, but as individuals for those Americans who are bearing the burden of wars being fought on our behalf. That can mean sending a letter or a care package to our troops overseas. It can mean volunteering at a clinic where a wounded warrior is being treated or bringing supplies to a homeless veterans center. Or it can mean something as simple as saying "thank you" to a veteran you pass on the street.

That is what Memorial Day is all about. It is about doing all we can to repay the debt we owe to those men and women who have answered our nation’s call by fighting under its flag. It is about recognizing that we, as a people, did not get here by accident or good fortune alone. It’s about remembering the hard winter of 1776, when our fragile American experiment seemed doomed to fail; and the early battles of 1861 when a union victory was anything but certain; and the summer of 1944, when the fate of a world rested on a perilous landing unlike any ever attempted.

It’s about remembering each and every one of those moments when our survival as a nation came down not simply to the wisdom of our leaders or the resilience of our people, but to the courage and valor of our fighting men and women. For it is only by remembering these moments that we can truly appreciate a simple lesson of American life – that what makes all we are and all we aspire to be possible are the sacrifices of an unbroken line of Americans that stretches back to our nation’s founding.

That is the meaning of this holiday. That is a truth at the heart of our history. And that is a lesson I hope all Americans will carry with them this Memorial Day weekend and beyond.

Thank you.