Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FDA advisers vote to take Vicodin, Percocet off market

FDA advisers vote to take Vicodin, Percocet off market
Story Highlights
NEW: Panel votes to kill prescription drugs that combine acetaminophen, narcotics
Panel advises lower maximum doses of nonprescription acetaminophen drugs
Those drugs include Tylenol, NyQuil, Pamprin and Allerest

CDC estimates acetaminophen was the likely cause of most acute liver failures

(CNN) -- A government advisory panel voted Tuesday to recommend eliminating prescription drugs that combine acetaminophen with narcotics -- such as Vicodin and Percocet -- because of their risk for overdose and for severe liver injury.

Acetaminophen, found in drugs such as Tylenol, is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States.

The panel, assembled by the Food and Drug Administration, voted 20 to 17 to advise the FDA to remove such prescription combination drugs from the market.

The group recommended that the FDA "send a clear message that there's a high likelihood of overdose from prescription narcotics and acetaminophen products," Dr. Sandra L. Kweder of the FDA's Office of New Drugs said at a news conference after Tuesday's meeting.
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VA obstacles get in the way of homeless veterans

VA objections slow help for homeless vets
By Sean Rose

WASHINGTON — A wing on the fourth floor of the St. Louis Queen of Peace Center for addiction treatment had been renovated, and rooms were ready for five homeless female veterans.

But Connie Neumann, the center's CEO, ran into an unlikely obstacle earlier this year: the Department of Veterans Affairs, which demanded more renovations before funding the project. Neumann, unable to afford what the government wanted, backed out.

"I don't pull out of things, but this was over the top," Neumann said. "It was not in the best interest of my business here to do that. There's too many other homeless people who need housing."

Her complaints are not uncommon among nonprofit groups that see the oversight that comes with VA funding as a hindrance to helping homeless veterans. Veterans Affairs relies on nonprofit groups and faith-based organizations for much of its groundwork, but some are being driven away from seeking funding, organizers say.
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VA objections slow help for homeless vets

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Raise New Fears

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Raise New Fears
By Katie Balestra
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stan Starr, a 54-year-old financial consultant, sat in the back of the room filled with blue chairs, quietly tapping his Converse sneakers on the carpet. The 12 steps to recovery, enshrined by Alcoholics Anonymous, were printed in large black letters on a wall. But Starr was there because of a different drug -- a class of prescription medication called benzodiazepines.

Five years ago, he couldn't sleep at night, his heart raced, he had wrenching stomach pains and felt as if his skin were crawling off his bones. He was in the midst of a 2 1/2 -year battle to withdraw from the drug Klonopin, which his psychiatrist had prescribed to him for anxiety. "I went through sheer living hell," he said. "I didn't know if I was going to make it."

Benzodiazepines, often prescribed to manage anxiety, panic and sleep disorders, include Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin. Originally pushed as an alternative to barbiturates, their use has grown rapidly in the past 30 years. But critics say their long-term effects have gone largely unaddressed. Health professionals and consumers are increasingly recognizing that taking the drugs for more than a few weeks can lead to physical dependence, often ending with a grueling withdrawal.

The ordeal of withdrawing from benzodiazepines can rival that of kicking a heroin habit, according to some who have had success. Abrupt withdrawal can result in hallucinations, seizures and even death, experts say.

Last year, after jail officials in Cleveland denied R and B singer Sean Levert's repeated requests for his Xanax, he hallucinated for hours and ultimately died from the effects of withdrawal, according to the coroner's report cited in court records. His widow sued the corrections center and medical staff. The suit is pending.

Some seeking to withdraw from the drugs have turned to online support groups. Debra Standiford, a nurse who leads a benzodiazepine support site on the Yahoo Web site, said membership has grown to 3,800 people from 200 in 2000, gaining two to three members each day.

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Anti-Anxiety Drugs Raise New Fears

Students shot at bus stop in Detroit

Seven people hurt in Detroit bus stop shooting
Story Highlights
At least five of the victims are students

Police say gunmen asked for specific person

Two victims are in critical condition

Gunmen covered their faces; no one in custody, police say

(CNN) -- Seven people, at least five of them high-school students, were shot Tuesday at a bus stop in Detroit, Michigan, officials said.

Tuesday's shooting occurred off school property, a Detroit Public Schools spokesman said.

Two of the victims were in critical condition; the others were in serious condition at area hospitals, Police Chief Roderick Grimes said.

"Two perpetrators, possibly three, pulled up in a vehicle, exited their vehicle with weapons, asked for a person by name and then opened fire onto the crowd," he said.
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Seven people hurt in Detroit bus stop shooting

Lung disease of soldier linked to burn pits

Lung disease of soldier linked to burn pits

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jun 30, 2009 17:09:31 EDT

Even as military health officials continue to say there are “no known long-term health effects” caused by open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, a team of Army doctors says a soldier’s cystic lung disease is “related to the burn pits in Iraq.”

A second set of doctors, trying to determine why 56 soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division came back from Iraq short of breath, found each had bronchiolitis that could be diagnosed only with a biopsy.

That disease normally comes with organ transplantation, infection, rheumatoid arthritis or toxic fume inhalation. Because there was no scarring on the soldiers’ lungs, doctors decided it must have been toxic inhalation and added a fifth cause of bronchiolitis to their list: “Iraq.”

Since Military Times began reporting in October about burn pits in the war zones, 400 troops have contacted Disabled American Veterans to say they have breathing problems or cancers they believe came after exposure to the burn pits.

Many say they have been diagnosed with “asthma-like” or “allergy-like” symptoms when they’ve complained of shortness of breath, but their doctors can’t come up with an exact diagnosis.
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Lung disease of soldier linked to burn pits

Hallelujah! Someone in congress is finally listening!

While I seriously doubt Rep. G.K. Butterfield has any clue what I've been saying all this time, it appears that at least someone is finally listening to the veterans and what this backlog of claims is doing to them. They have been suffering because no one in the government got ready for any of them when they sent them into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bill: Have VA pay old claims automatically

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jun 30, 2009 11:25:16 EDT

A North Carolina lawmaker proposes tackling the backlog of veterans’ disability claims by awarding benefits to veterans after 18 months if their claim hasn’t been processed.

Veterans Affairs Department officials have told Congress they are, on average, processing disability compensation claims within 162 days and have a goal of cutting the average to 120 days. But Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., is one of many lawmakers who think there is a limit to how patient veterans could be in waiting for money they are due.

“Backlogs are at the point where veterans must wait an average of six months for a decision on benefits claims and some veterans are waiting as long as four years,” Butterfield said in a statement. “Veterans deserve better than this.”

Butterfield introduced a bill on Friday, HR 3087, that would automatically approve a veteran’s claim if no decision is made by the VA within 18 months. The bill doesn’t say exactly how the VA would do this, but creates a task force to monitor VA to make sure the 18-month deadline isn’t met with an arbitrary denial just before the claim must be paid.

The bill comes as the number of unprocessed veterans claims exceeds 915,000 — a 100,000 jump since the beginning of the year. In testimony two weeks ago before a House committee, VA officials said the current 162 days is 17 days less than one year ago, a sign that they are beginning to make process.
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Bill: Have VA pay old claims automatically

There are over 32 posts on the backlog of claims. This is one of them and Linda Blimes should have been listened to all along.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Potential VA benefits chief has new ideas
No I don't have ESP and I did not go to Harvard. I just pay attention and read about people like Linda Blimes thinking it would be a great idea to take care of the veterans by pushing their claims thru. Ironic as it is this showed up today on Army Times, but hey, anyone paying attention feels the same way.
Potential VA benefits chief has new ideas/
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 2, 2009 17:36:26 EST
A Harvard University researcher with some radical ideas about how to reduce the backlog of veterans disability claims appears to be in line to head the Veterans Benefits Administration. Linda Blimes, a public policy lecturer and research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, wants the Department of Veterans Affairs to operate like the Internal Revenue Service — on an honor system that trusts veterans claiming service-connected disabilities.

All veterans claims would be approved as soon as they are filed, with a random audit conducted to “weed out and deter fraudulent claims,” Blimes told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in testimony in 2008.Ninety percent of veterans disability claims end up being paid after they make it through the system, she said — proof, she said, that most veterans are asking only for what they deserve.Immediate payment of at least a minimum benefit would help to reduce the average 180-day waiting time for initial benefits claims to be processed and allow VA to redeploy the employees processing those claims to work on more complicated appeals, she said.

Blimes also has talked of a vastly simplified disability rating system that would have just four ratings instead of the current 10 for service-connected disabilities and illnesses.Blimes has not been formally announced as a nominee, but her name is being circulated among lawmakers and congressional staff in what has become a standard procedure to determine whether there is any strong opposition to her taking the key post.Her idea of a streamlined claims process has some prominent supporters, among them Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman who has talked of automatic claims approval as a way to quickly eliminate the claims backlog.
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Sgt. Ben Driftmyer "spent 8 years serving" now feels betrayed

The good news is that Congress is trying to make it easier to file and have a PTSD claim approved now, but it comes too late for people like Sgt. Driftmyer. Why? Because they ended up suffering. To this day I still wonder what happened to the over 22,000 given discharges under "personality disorder" allowing them nothing for their service and no help for PTSD.

'The military didn't want to pay for me for the rest of my life'

By Kim Quintero KVAL News
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - A turning point in the Iraq war: Tuesday is the deadline for US combat troops to withdraw from Baghdad and other Iraqi cities after a six year occupation. This is the first phase of a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.

Those returning are facing serious combat related mental health issues. According to a study conducted by RAND Corp. last year, one in three combat veterans will return home with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or major depression requiring treatment.

"I had spent eight years serving the military. I never got in trouble. Never did anything bad. And I got treated like I was a piece of crap because of it," said Ben Driftmyer, discharged U.S. Army Sergeant and Cottage Grove resident.

Driftmyer was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by Eugene doctors after he was chaptered out from the special forces unit in Baghdad. He suffered several mental breakdowns during his service, but his discharge was classified as "other than medical."

"Because the military didn't want to pay for me for the rest of my life," said Driftmyer.
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Clearwater VFW Post remodels to be more inviting to younger veterans

Clearwater VFW Post remodels to be more inviting to younger veterans
By Theodora Aggeles, Times Correspondent
In Print: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CLEARWATER — Ray Riley wanted to forget the horrors of Vietnam.

He lost a brother there. Sgt. William A. Riley has been missing in action for 49 years.

Riley himself escaped the jungles of Vietnam and made it back home with Silver and Bronze Star medals.

But he could not flee from the images that crept into bed with him each night. In dreams, he heard gunfire. Saw bloodshed. Felt the heat and attacked his enemies.

"I was like a lot of older guys who came back and didn't talk about what we'd been through," Riley said. "Years later when I talked, let's just say for years what I pushed down had been eating me up inside."

Now 66, Riley understands post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that caused him to relive the hell of Vietnam every night for decades.

That's why he and the other 550 or so members of VFW Post No. 2473 are sprucing up the post and starting a post-traumatic stress disorder training program.

It's all part of $75,000 in renovations to make the facility a more comfortable, therapeutic and fun place to come for younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Minn. Court Rules for Democrat Al Franken in Senate Fight

Minn. Court Rules for Democrat Al Franken in Senate Fight

It's about time there were two senators! Congratulations Al Franken!

Veterans Care, all states are not the same

There is confusion between what the states are responsible for and what the federal government is responsible for. This confusion comes from some states cutting back on VA budgets at the same time the federal government is pumping in a lot of money into the VA. This is what the Federal VA is responsible for followed by what the State of Florida is responsible for.

Federal Benefits

Federal Benefits Guide (English) (Spanish)
Cold War Certificate
Combat-Related Special Compensation
Houses for Sale-U.S. Dept. of Veterans' Affairs
Interactive link to Veterans' resources
Requesting Military Records Online
Veteran Benefits Timetable
VA Cemeteries and Military Funeral Honors
Who's Eligible-documentation, filing claims, obtaining forms
The Center for Women Veterans
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Benefits

State of Florida

State Benefits
Certification of Discharge or Separation
Disabled Veteran Identification Card
Veterans' Preference (HTML version)
Download a
copy of "Veterans' Preference"

Adobe Acrobat
High School Diploma- Korean War Veterans
High School Diploma- WWII Veterans
License Tags
DV License Tag
Homestead Exemption (Permanent &Totally Disabled)
Homestead Exemption (10% to 100% BUT not Permanent in nature)
Permits/Fees (parking, tolls, building improvements)
Homeless Veterans

When it comes to the issue of claims, there was already a problem in 2001. A task force was formed to see how bad the problem was and what could be done about it.

Task force issues report on VA claims processing
By Kellie Lunney klunney@govexec.com October 3, 2001
Poor planning and an overall lack of accountability by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) are partly to blame for the agency's dismal claims processing record, according to a VA task force created to study the problem.

The task force, which was launched last spring and included representatives of the VA, industry and veterans organizations, submitted its final report to VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi on Wednesday.

Despite VBA's efforts in recent years to improve the timeliness and accuracy of claims, the agency has failed to provide its 57 regional offices with the proper leadership, guidance and training in handling claims processing, the 14-member task force concluded.

Its report included 34 recommendations for improving VA's claims process, ranging from providing better training to VBA employees to creating specialized regional offices focusing on one part of the overall claims process.

Principi pledged to "study and act" on the task force's recommendations "with urgency." "This report will not sit on a shelf gathering dust," he said.

The agency task force, led by Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Daniel L. Cooper, criticized VBA for failing to provide clear and uniform guidance to regional offices and keep them abreast of changes in VA policy. The confusion has resulted in an inconsistent claims process that varies widely throughout the agency.

"There may be a system, but it is improperly coordinated and less effective than it must be to ensure both fairness to the veteran and efficiency in processing claims," the report said.

On average, it takes VBA 194 days to process a claim, which includes requests by veterans for disability compensation, pensions, and survivors' benefits. There are more than 500,000 cases, excluding appeals, still pending in VBA's backlog. The agency hopes to eventually reduce those figures to 74 days and 250,000 cases, respectively.

The VBA's claims processing system has been repeatedly criticized in recent years as slow and inefficient. The agency has tried to improve its claims processing accuracy by using case management techniques and by reorganizing its field offices into clusters meant to collaborate with one another.

Despite its attempts at reform, VBA still reported errors in 41 percent of the claims it processed in fiscal 2000. The task force called on the VA to hold VBA officials at headquarters and the regional offices accountable for performance, rewarding those offices that reach their goals and cracking down on those that fail.

read more here


As you can see, the problems we see today with the claims is as huge as it is because problems found in 2001 were not corrected. The report last week on Houston Texas, should give you an idea of what we're heading into and it's not good.
Houston, We've got a problem! This time with veterans claims

You can go here for more information on what you are able to receive

Benefits - Veterans Benefits Administration Home
Education En Español
Post 9/11 GI Bill
Dependents' Educational Assistance (Chapter 35)
More Options
Home Loans
Home Loan Eligibility
Certificate of Eligibility
Homes for Sale
More Options
Compensation and Pension
Disability Compensation
Burial Allowances
Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation
Survivors' Benefits
Month of Death Survivors Benefit
Educational Assistance
More Options
Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational Training and Employment Services
Vocational Counseling
More Options
Life Insurance
Servicemembers' & Veterans' Group Life Insurance
Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance
More Options
General Benefit Information
Benefits for Returning Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom
Benefit Fact Sheets En Español
Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gang interventionists distribute food, prayer -- and a sense of change

Gang interventionists distribute food, prayer -- and a sense of change

By Scott Gold
June 28, 2009
Alfred Lomas stood at the front of a bus. "This," he bellowed, "is not a bus!"

The driver pulled out of the Dream Center, a church ministry where Lomas directs a mobile food bank. Lomas stared into the anxious faces of congregants and do-gooders, his sunglasses hiding dark, deep-set eyes that have seen more than their share of hurt, much of it of his own making.

"This," he said, "is a vehicle of hope!"

The bus lurched and sighed into South Los Angeles. On Slauson Avenue, once a sturdy spine of industry, they passed empty, tin-walled warehouses and an abandoned rail yard. With every pothole, piles of supplies on the bus threatened to tumble -- bags of oranges, boxes of peanut butter, even dog biscuits.

"These children see terrible things," said Lomas, 45, quieter now. "Let's transform the atmosphere. The goal is love."

Each month, Lomas' crew distributes prayer and 80 tons of free food in the city's urban core. A growing number of civic leaders, including police commanders, are watching. It is not so much Lomas' food program that has drawn their attention, but what he does with his free time: building a renewed sense of community in South L.A.

With gang violence down, city officials are looking to secure lasting change in South L.A., in part through a large injunction targeting six gangs in a 13.7-square-mile area straddling the Harbor Freeway. Critical to the success of that campaign is the work of gang interventionists, who act as liaisons between police and gangs -- "like the social workers in the places no one else will go," said Brian Center, executive director of A Better LA, a nonprofit that combats violence in South L.A. and funds 26 interventionists.

Lomas is emblematic of the possibility and the delicacy of that work.

The city is scrambling to "professionalize" the ranks of interventionists, providing new oversight and training in an effort to separate the credible from the pretenders. It's no simple task.
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Gang interventionists distribute food, prayer

Some veterans of recent wars find homelessness at home

Some veterans of recent wars find homelessness at home
By Jia-Rui Chong
June 29, 2009
It was, back then, a joke Luis Pinto shared with his Army buddies in Iraq. As they were all eating food out of tin cans, living out of rucksacks, moving constantly from place to place, Pinto cracked, "If I become homeless, I'm ready."

But five years later he didn't actually expect to find himself sleeping in alleys in Whittier or in friends' cars, too busy getting high to hold down a regular job. A suicide attempt on March 16 was the shock he needed to start putting his life back together.

His mother drove him to the Salvation Army's shelter in Bell, where he has been living and taking classes on drug addiction and coping skills since the end of March.

"I had a lot of issues from my time in the service and I had not dealt with them," said Pinto, a soft-spoken 27-year-old who still sports a military crew cut. "I felt, when I came out, 'I deserve time to relax and party.' It got out of control."

While veterans and homeless advocates have long grappled with homelessness in previous generations of veterans, Pinto appears to be part of a new, building wave of the problem among those coming back from the latest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Linked from ICasualties.org

Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award

Nominations being accepted for Fisher awards

Staff report
Posted : Sunday Jun 28, 2009 8:38:53 EDT

Nominations are being accepted for two award programs that recognize individuals and units for humanitarian service, and excellence in electronic warfare and information operations.

The Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award was established by the armed forces in 1996 to honor the founders of the Fisher House Foundation, which has built numerous “comfort homes” near military and Veterans Affairs medical centers for the use of military families.

The award recognizes a private sector individual or organization that has demonstrated exceptional patriotism and humanitarian concerns for members of the U.S. armed forces and their families.

Nominations for service performed in 2008 must be received at the Army Incentives Awards Board by July 31. For specific details, consult ALARACT Message 171-2009, DTG 051413Z.

Is this the minute that changed Michael Jackson's life?

I didn't want to jump on the death of Michael Jackson. There is certainly enough coverage of him all around the world. There is one question that is not being asked. Did Michael Jackson have PTSD?

Michael Jackson was filming a commercial for Pepsi when his hair caught on fire. He fell down the stairs after. Reports on line claim this is when he began to use pain killers.

1984: Michael Jackson burned in Pepsi ad
Michael Jackson has received hospital treatment for serious burns to his head after his hair caught light during a freak filming accident.
The 25-year-old entertainer was singing his hit "Billie Jean" for a Pepsi Cola commercial in Los Angeles when the special effects went wrong.
Three thousand fans saw a firework display erupt behind the superstar, showering him in sparks and setting light to his hair.
Michael Jackson burned in Pepsi ad
Watch this video clip

Jackson seems to have changed soon after this. Is this the minute that changed Michael Jackson's life?

Traumatic events can change anyone's life. The trick is getting the right help but back then, PTSD was not being talked about. To this day, there are many psychologists and psychiatrists unaware of what trauma can do to people. They misdiagnose PTSD all the time because it can appear to be so many different things if they are not looking at trauma.

Hallucinations can be looked at instead of flashbacks.
Paranoia can be looked at instead of what comes with PTSD along with OCD. The list goes on. When you read the events of this person's life, you can see many of the classic signs of PTSD. Irrational behavior, recklessly spending habits followed by reports of heavy medication.

We watched him change physically and the way he was acting but we also saw changes in his music. Thriller, Bad and We Are The World, all came out in the 80's.
We Are the World

PTSD can be mild for many years. On medication, it is possible that symptoms of PTSD could have been masked. What could have sent it, again, if he had PTSD, would be another stressful event in his life.

By 1993 he didn't look the same.

1993: Jackson accused of child abuse
Police in Los Angeles are investigating allegations of child abuse made against singer Michael Jackson.
The spokesman for the star says the allegations are a plot to discredit singer.

Jackson 1984

Jackson 1988

Jackson 1994

With all the coverage of Michael Jackson and all the hours talking about him on the news, wouldn't it be a good idea if someone asked this question?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dogs more actively integrated into rehab

Dogs more actively integrated into rehab

By Alysia Patterson - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jun 28, 2009 13:48:10 EDT

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Army Spc. Cameron Briggs washes down a cocktail of prescription drugs every day for post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury he suffered when four roadside bombs rocked his Humvee in Iraq.

Tramadol for pain. Midrin for debilitating headaches. Minipress to suppress nightmares. Klonopin to control anger and anxiety.

His next dose of treatment will come from an unlikely source: a purebred Golden Retriever.

A new Veterans Administration program adopts dogs from animal shelters, trains them and matches them with wounded warriors home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with their recovery.

For Briggs, his dog will be trained to help him find his wallet, cell phone and keys, which he habitually loses because of cognitive memory loss. The dog also will brace Briggs, who has an ankle injury, so he doesn’t have to use a cane or walker in public.

“I call him my little battle buddy,” the 24-year-old Briggs said as he strapped his old camouflage assault vest onto Harper. It’s modified to store biscuits and toys instead of ammunition. “I most definitely think he’ll help me transfer back to civilian life.”

VA hospitals nationwide are integrating service dogs into treatment plans for disabled vets, said Will Baldwin, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the VA in Denver. The program was formed after Freedom Service Dogs, a Denver-based nonprofit, recently partnered with the VA.
go here for morehttp://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/06/ap_military_service_dogs_062809/

Vt. town comes together for paralyzed soldier

Vt. town comes together for paralyzed soldier

By John Curran - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jun 27, 2009 15:41:23 EDT

HYDE PARK, Vt. — For Pfc. Andrew Parker, it was a bittersweet homecoming: He was hailed as a hero, feted with a star-spangled parade and showered with gifts at a welcome home ceremony.

He had to watch it all from a wheelchair.

Parker, a 21-year-old Army cavalry scout, was paralyzed in November when a roadside bomb blew up the vehicle he was driving on patrol in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, after months of rehabilitation in Veterans Administration hospitals and a community fundraising effort that added wheelchair-accessible accommodations to his parents’ house, the wounded warrior came home.

Riding in his wheelchair in the back of a flatbed truck, a smiling Parker took in the flag-waving well wishers and the hand-lettered signs — “For your sacrifice and our freedom” and “Thank you, Andrew” among them — on a six-mile parade to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7779.
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Houston, We've got a problem! This time with veterans claims

Here we have Houston Texas with the worst problem in the country. The same state where the Governor wanted to pass on stimulus money and complained about socialism never seeming very concerned that the veterans in his own state were falling behind, suffering from claims not being approved and in between suffering for serving the country ending up wounded, they were further wounded financially while having to fight the same country to honor their claims.

When did Texans stop caring about the men and women serving on their military bases? When did they stop caring about the veterans in their state? Any ideas? So how can it be they are not holding their own governor's feet to the fire to make sure these veterans are taken care of properly? Why aren't they holding their senators and congressmen personally responsible for neglecting them all these years? Is this a matter of national honor or party loyalty? Veterans are suffering all over this country and so are the men and women serving today. If we do not immediately resolve to do whatever it takes today to meet the need of today's veterans, we will in turn betray the men and women risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan today. This cannot remain a national disgrace.

While it was predictable this would happen, and much has been reported over the last 8 years about things getting worse, we can't say none of that will help now. It's high time it did so that it never, even happens again.

We had a President and his cabinet while all of this was happening and there were two occupations sending over 1.7 million off to fight in both of them. Why weren't they planned for? Who was held responsible for the suffering of all of these veterans? What was congress doing up until 2007 when the Democrats took over and started the ball rolling on play catch-up? Yes, that's right, the Democrats are the ones pushing for all that has happened for the troops in the last couple of years. While they can excuse the fact the Republicans had control over the House, Senate and the White House, they are not off the hook either for the mess.

People are wondering where they were when the need was getting so out of control, but none of them decided to make a public issue out of any of it. It's not that they didn't try to do something because I heard most of their speeches on CSPAN. The problem is, not very many people will sit and listen to the floor speeches or read transcripts. They turn on TV for entertainment and spend very little time watching the news. So why weren't the Democrats and the Republicans that were paying attention, on every single channel making sure the public was aware of the dire need the troops and our veterans were in? Where was the media?

Instead of inviting congressmen and senators on their cable news shows to answer questions on this crisis, they were asked some pretty stupid questions over and over again instead of asking them questions that would do someone some good. Where are the questions now? Any ideas when the talking heads over at FOX Cable news will start to ask or prove they care? Any ideas when they will find time in between covering Michael Jackson and South Carolina Governor Sanford? Realizing these stories are big news, reporting on them will not really make a difference in this country. They don't have to spend so many hours on either one. What happened to their obligation to report on the events that do have a direct impact on our lives?

Backlog of VA claims in Houston one of highest
© 2009 The Associated Press
June 27, 2009, 5:14PM

HOUSTON — Houston has one of the biggest backlogs and some of the longest waiting times in processing veterans' claims for disability benefits in the nation, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Nearly 18,000 veterans are waiting for the Houston VA Regional Office to process their applications for disability benefits, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday.

Also, 26 percent of those claims in Houston have been pending for more than half a year, compared to the national average of 21 percent.

Total claims in Houston, including nondisability compensations and pensions, add up to almost 24,000, with 24 percent pending over six months. That percentage is also higher than the national average.

The number of claims on appeal from Houston — 11,389 — is the highest in the country.

"The situation at VA's Houston office is among the worst in America," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a national advocacy group. "Our veterans and their families deserve better."
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Billy Mays, died in Tampa FL after being hit in the head

UPDATED 6-29-09

Pitchman Billy Mays Had Enlarged Heart
Popular product pusher Billy Mays had an enlarged heart and likely died over the weekend of a pulmonary embolism, or blocked artery, a medical examiner told reporters on Monday. There was no sign of head trauma. He was 50.
Dr. Vernard Adams told reporters that Mays' heart weighed 500 grams, or about 17.6 ounces. A typical male heart weighs about 10-12 ounces. The "heart disease that was found was certainly capable of causing the sudden death that he experienced."

There was no indication of drug abuse, prescription or otherwise. Further test need to be made and the official ruling of cause of death won't be available for several weeks, Adams said.
Mays told his wife, Deborah, he didn't feel well when he went to bed Saturday night. In the morning she found the booming-voiced OxiClean pitchman unconscious. Earlier in the day, he said he was hit on the head when the airplane he was riding in had a rough landing at Tampa Bay's airport.
However, doctors found no evidence of head trauma during the autopsy.
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Pitchman Billy Mays Had Enlarged Heart

Billy Mays, OxiClean pitchman, found dead
Story Highlights
Billy Mays, 50, is best known for his ads in which he shouts the attributes of OxiClean

The pitchman was pronounced dead Sunday morning, authorities said

Mays was on a plane that had a rough landing in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday

CNN) -- Infomercial pitchman Billy Mays died at his Tampa, Florida, home Sunday morning, authorities told CNN.

OxiClean pitchman Billy Mays died Sunday morning at his home in Tampa, authorities said.

The 50-year-old known for his shouting OxiClean ads was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. The Hillsborough County medical examiner will perform an autopsy, Tampa police Lt. Brian Dugan said.

Mays was on the US Airways flight from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Tampa on Saturday that had a hard landing at Tampa International Airport when the plane's front tire blew out. There were no reported injuries on Flight 1241, US Airways told CNN.

According to a local Tampa TV station, Mays said: "All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."
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Drive-by shooting hits motorcylce charity ride

3 killed in drive-by at motorcycle fundraiser
Story Highlights
Three people killed at California motorcycle club fundraiser, authorities say

Fundraiser was held by group known as Old School Riders

Authorities do not know if shooting was random

By Janet DiGiacomo

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Three people were killed and at least seven wounded Saturday in a drive-by shooting at a motorcycle club fundraiser in California, authorities said.
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Guardsmen say chemical exposure changed lives

Guardsmen say chemical exposure changed lives

By Sharon Cohen - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jun 28, 2009 8:40:07 EDT

Larry Roberta’s every breath is a painful reminder of his time in Iraq. He can’t walk a block without gasping for air. His chest hurts, his migraines sometimes persist for days and he needs pills to help him sleep.

James Gentry came home with rashes, ear troubles and a shortness of breath. Later, things got much worse: He developed lung cancer, which spread to his spine, ribs and one of his thighs; he must often use a cane, and no longer rides his beloved Harley.

David Moore’s postwar life turned into a harrowing medical mystery: nosebleeds and labored breathing that made it impossible to work, much less speak. His desperate search for answers ended last year when he died of lung disease at age 42.

What these three men — one sick, one dying, one dead — had in common is they were National Guard soldiers on the same stretch of wind-swept desert in Iraq during the early months of the war in 2003.

These soldiers and hundreds of other Guard members from Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia were protecting workers hired by a subsidiary of the giant contractor, KBR Inc., to rebuild an Iraqi water treatment plant. The area, as it turned out, was contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a potent, sometimes deadly chemical linked to cancer and other devastating diseases.
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Guardsmen say chemical exposure changed lives

Special Moments turn terrifying as day care center attempted robber is shot

Do these people have any limits on what they are willing to do, who they find it acceptable to target in the commission of a crime? You would think that any human, even the lowest of the lows, would not stoop so low as to break into a day care center of all places! These children ended up being terrorized just so that some criminals could take what was not their's and in the process, ended up taking the place these children felt safe.

Day Care Center Intruder Shot
Published: June 26, 2009
Police officers, responding to an attempted robbery at a Brooklyn day care center on Friday afternoon, shot a man who had stormed into the center and pointed a gun at arriving officers as a group of frightened children stood nearby, the authorities said.

The shooting unfolded at the Special Moments Daycare in East Flatbush after two men entered intent on stealing money, the police said. At the time, about a dozen children, mostly toddlers, were napping in a room on the building’s ground floor.

None of the children were harmed, but one of the robbers, identified by the police as Gavin Nugent, pointed his weapon at the officers, who then opened fire. He was hit at least twice and was in stable condition at Kings County Hospital Center.

The other intruder was taken into custody, as was a third man who the police said stood outside as a lookout.
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New Program Teaches Valuable Life-Skills To Veterans

Jun 24, 2009 7:06 pm US/Eastern
Program Helps Homeless Vets Get Life Back On Track
New Program Teaches Valuable Life-Skills To Veterans

Some veterans, who have been homeless, are getting a fresh start on life with some help.

WBZ reporter Dawn Hasbrouck details an innovative new program that will give homeless veterans a new apartment and the skills needed to succeed in life.

"We're going to take clients who are living in our shelter, but who may lack the skills to live independently. And we're going to take them as a group of four and move them into our brand new model apartment," Dr. Dennis Upper said.

People at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans say they have heard and seen the success stories and hope to add to the numbers.

"Every aspect of my life was in ruins," Steven Holland said.

Holland, a Persian Gulf War veteran, left Saudi Arabia in 1995 with problems.

"I was dealing with a lot of stress. I had child support to pay. I had to find another home and I started to drink real heavily," Holland said.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Montana National Guard's PTSD Testing Program Going National

Montana National Guard's PTSD Testing Program Going National

By KFBB News Team
Story Published: Jun 26, 2009 at 5:50 PM MDT

Story Updated: Jun 26, 2009 at 5:50 PM MDT

A program that started in Montana to help soldiers cope with the stress of war is now going national.

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) says legislation modeled after the Montana National Guard's screenings for post-combat stress injuries and suicidal tendencies in returning troops has been included in this year's defense authorization bill.

"We in Montana have raised the bar very high and we have set very high standards for in-person interviews for men and women when they come home to make sure they are okay," said Baucus. "This legislation gets the rest of the nation up to Montana's high standards so that our men and women when they come home are treated with the very best care."

An estimated 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders and the Army's suicide rate has increased every year since the Iraq War began in 2003.
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Traveling war memorial makes stop in Central Florida

I should have added this yesterday because of all the confusion.
Last week there were several posts about traveling Vietnam Memorial Walls showing up in different parts of the country. A lot of people do not understand these Walls were created by different people. This is the difference between them.

The Moving Wall™ is a trademark of Vietnam Combat Veterans, Ltd. Since 1984, the traveling half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
25th Anniversary Year

"The Moving Wall" is the half-size replica of the Washington, DC Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has been touring the country for more than twenty years. When John Devitt attended the 1982 dedication in Washington, he felt the positive power of "The Wall." He vowed to share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington.

John, Norris Shears, Gerry Haver, and other Vietnam veteran volunteers built The Moving Wall. It went on display for the first time in Tyler, Texas in October of 1984.

Two structures of The Moving Wall now travel the USA from April through November, spending about a week at each site.


The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall®

About Our Wall
Our Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, it stands six feet tall at the center and covers almost 300 feet from end to end.

This Traveling Memorial stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It was made for the purpose of helping heal and rekindle friendships and to allow people the opportunity to visit loved ones in their home town who otherwise may not be able to make the trip to Washington.

Feel free to take a look at our website, read about what we have to offer, and please contact us with any questions you might have in regards to the Memorial Wall coming to your town.

Copyright The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall® 2006-09

About the Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard (V V B)

The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall® is part of the Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard (V V B) located in Brevard County Florida.

The V V B is a 501(c)(3) organization that was formed and incorporated in December of 1985. The VVB is a grass roots, community based organization.

We strive to be an active member of the community by having a color guard and a rifle team to participate in local events. We also support a transitional housing facility which helps veterans in getting back up on their own.

We plan on taking this same dedication and putting it into the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall®; not only here in Brevard County, but other Florida counties and all of the United States as well.

The Wall That Heals

On Veterans Day 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed to travel to communities throughout the United States.

"Bringing The Wall Home" to communities throughout our country allows the souls enshrined on the Memorial to exist, once more, among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings. The traveling exhibit, known as The Wall That Heals, allows the many thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of "facing The Wall" to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin.

The Wall That Heals also features a Traveling Museum and Information Center providing a comprehensive educational component to enrich and complete visitors' experiences. The Museum chronicles the Vietnam War era and the unique healing power of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while the Information Center serves as a venue for people to learn about friends and loved ones lost in the war.

Since its dedication, The Wall That Heals has visited more than 300 cities and towns throughout the nation, spreading the Memorial's healing legacy to millions. In addition to its U.S. tour stops, the exhibition made its first-ever international journey in April 1999 to the Four Provinces of Ireland to honor the Irish-born casualties of the Vietnam War and the Irish-Americans who served. It has also traveled to Canada.

For more information or to learn how to bring The Wall That Heals to your community, please contact the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at (202) 393-0090 or via email at vvmf@vvmf.org.

Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most-visited National Park Service site in Washington, D.C. Even so, millions of Americans will never see or experience the impact of "The Wall" in their lives. To allow more people this opportunity, Dignity Memorial network providers created a three-quarter-scale traveling replica of the memorial in 1990.

Known as the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, this faux-granite replica is dedicated to all Americans who served in Vietnam and honors all servicemen and women of the United States military forces. Each year the replica crisscrosses the country, allowing millions of visitors to see and touch its black, mirror-like surface inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died or are missing in Vietnam. Every exhibition is sponsored by a local Dignity Memorial provider, with the help and support of area veterans groups and civic organizations.
This program is only available in the United States.


Now you may have a better idea of how these Walls can be showing up in different parts of the country at the same time. Naturally living in Florida, this one is the one I usually show up for. Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall®

Traveling war memorial makes stop in Central Florida
Darryl E. Owens COMMENTARY
June 27, 2009

After his mother gathered the family and broke the news that the Army had declared her son missing in action in Vietnam, Lar'Rio Walden fell against a nearby wall. He leaned against it for several minutes, in stunned silence.

Thursday, as Walden leaned into a sprawling faux granite wall erected outside a local resort, he was anything but silent. He tapped a spot on Panel 37E,

Row 73 where a name was engraved in capital letters.

And he encouraged anyone within earshot to never forget the soldier — his older brother — who came home in a flag-draped casket almost a month after his mother's heartbreaking bulletin.

"He was a great young man," recalled the 60-year-old Miami Gardens man. "I feel so sorry that he was called home so soon."

As Walden held court Thursday at the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center, the actual Vietnam Veterans Memorial stood hundreds of miles away in Washington. But he and the others who braved the merciless heat found a focal point for reflecting, mourning and celebrating loved ones and strangers lost in that war.

As the emotional centerpiece of its state convention, the American Legion Department of Florida, in conjunction with Dignity Memorial, brought to town a three-quarters-scale, faithful reproduction of the once-controversial Maya Lin creation
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Traveling war memorial makes stop in Central Florida

Vietnam Memorial replica comes to Central Florida Thursday
Darryl E. Owens Sentinel Staff Writer
June 24, 2009
Central Floridians are invited to visit the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a three-quarter replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Wash., D.C., Thursday through Sunday during the 91st Annual American Legion Department of Florida Convention at the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center.

The memorial wall stands eight feet high and is 240 feet wide. The names of more than 58,000 service members who died or remain missing in action in Vietnam are inscribed on its black, reflective surface. Visitors will receive paper and pencils to make rubbings of the etched names.

The three-day public showing kicks off with an opening ceremony today at 10 a.m. The closing ceremony is Sunday at 11 a.m. Caribe Royale is located at 8101 World Center Dr., Orlando.

1 in 8 combat troops needs alcohol counseling

1 in 8 combat troops needs alcohol counseling

Military testing pilot programs to erase stigma of seeking help
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jun 27, 2009 8:51:52 EDT

One in eight troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008 were referred for counseling for alcohol problems after their post-deployment health assessments, according to data from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

Service members complete their initial health assessments within 30 days of returning home.

The authors of the study, published in the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, compared numbers of active-duty service members who had an alcohol-related medical encounter with those who received counseling for alcohol, noting that studies have shown troops with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to be substance abusers.

Defense officials said they are aware of the data. “Substance misuse/abuse is a psychological health issue, and thus one we are actively involved with,” said Navy Capt. Edward Simmer, Senior Executive Director for Psychological Health Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health.

In recent years, a number of soldiers and Marines have been discharged because of a “pattern of misconduct” stemming from alcohol abuse. Earlier this month, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli ordered military leaders to do a better job of getting treatment for soldiers or discharging offenders if they have received help and still have problems.

In an internal memo, Chiarelli wrote that “a growing population” of soldiers with substance abuse problems — identified either through urine tests or through “alcohol-related actions” — have not been referred to the Army Substance Abuse Program by their commanders.

Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, sees a deeper issue.

Troops “fear seeking help, so they self-medicate,” she said. “You’ve got competing stigmas going on here.”
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If ever you doubt what just one soldier means, watch this video

One soldier came home this day. His body covered with an American flag. Just one soldier more giving his life for his country. Yet, just this one soldier was greeted by hundreds as his body traveled home to be laid to rest in American soil. If ever you doubt what just one soldier means, watch this video. Then you'll know each of them are in our hearts.

This is truly awesome and a must see!

Killed in action the week before, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia , just south of Atlanta, on June 11, 2009. The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough, Georgia.

A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time.
Nowadays one can be led to believe that America no longer respects honor and no longer honors sacrifice outside the military. Be it known that there are many places in this land where people still recognize the courage and impact of total self-sacrifice. Georgia remains one of those graceful, grateful places. The link below is a short travelogue of that day's remarkable and painful journey. But only watch this if you wish to have some of your faith in people restored. Please share widely.
Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale
for video

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long Beach murder trial begins for ex-Marines

Long Beach murder trial begins for ex-Marines
The Associated Press
Posted: 06/25/2009 11:11:43 AM PDT
Updated: 06/25/2009 03:02:35 PM PDT

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Trial has begun for two former Marines charged with getting a brain-damaged Iraq War vet to kill a Long Beach man in a dispute over a laptop computer.

Anthony Vigeant (vih-ZHANT') and Trevor Landers were in court Wednesday in Long Beach. The ex-Camp Pendleton Marines are charged with the 2007 murder of David Pettigrew.

Prosecutors contend he was shot when the men went to retrieve a laptop because Pettigrew had failed to pay them with an ounce of cocaine.

Authorities claim the men got former Cpl. Ramon Hernandez—who received severe brain injuries in a 2004 Iraq bombing—to kill Pettigrew.

Hernandez pleaded guilty to murder in April.

Landers had a previous trial that ended with a jury deadlock.

Vigeant and Landers face life in prison if convicted.

Moving Wall erected in Munnsville

Moving Wall erected in Munnsville
Published: Thursday, June 25, 2009
Oneida Dispatch - Oneida,NY,USA

Dispatch Intern

MUNNSVILLE — The Moving Wall has arrived.

The 253-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., began its five day stay at Stockbridge Valley Central School Thursday. The wall traveled to Munnsville in pieces and was assembled at the school. State and local police, Madison and Oneida Sheriffs’ departments and a motorcycle troop organized by the American Legion Riders escorted the wall from Vernon to Munnsville at 7:15 Thursday morning. In Munnsville, volunteers assembled the wall within two hours.

The Moving Wall was started in 1983 by three Vietnam Veterans from California who wanted to give people the opportunity to see the memorial who wouldn’t be able to make it to Washington. As of January, it has traveled to 1,155 communities across the country.

The wall’s trip to Munnsville is sponsored and organized by the American Legion Post 54. Volunteers began reading the wall’s names at noon Thursday and will continue 24 hours a day until 3:30 p.m. on Monday. The wall is available for viewing throughout that time. Volunteers will be on site to read names, assist visitors in finding names on the wall and collect donations. Donations will be used to offset the cost of bringing the wall to Munnsville and then all extra money raised will go towards the wall.

The Town of Stockbridge issued a proclamation declaring the week of June 21 through June 27 to be “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Week.”
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Moving Wall erected in Munnsville

Veterans arrive for convention, visits to replica of 'The Wall'

Veterans arrive for convention, visits to replica of 'The Wall'
Statewide VFW convention in Buffalo rallies support to keep, enhance benefits
By Lou Michel and Jake May

Far from the front lines of foreign conflicts, veterans are assembling in Buffalo by the thousands to advance an agenda aimed at preserving and enhancing benefits they say were earned on the battlefield.

War veterans from several generations started gathering here Wednesday, with more than 900 motorcyclists escorting the largest traveling replica of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as “The Wall.”

There will be no shortage of those who pay tribute.

Today, some 3,000 Veterans of Foreign Wars members and their supporters open a statewide convention in downtown Buffalo. When they’re not focusing on health care and other issues, they will ride shuttles to Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora to visit the Vietnam memorial.

Amid all this, a deep sense of camaraderie will be shared among those who fought for American freedom. Making it even more hospitable, organizers say, is Buffalo’s reputation for patriotism.

“Everybody feels very welcome, and they are happy to be here,” said David M. Czarnecki, an Alden resident and president of the 90th annual New York Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, which continues through Sunday in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
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Veterans arrive for convention

Wound of warrior, traumatic recoil

Chaplian Kathie

–verb (used without object)
to draw back; start or shrink back, as in alarm, horror, or disgust.
to spring or fly back, as in consequence of force of impact or the force of the discharge, as a firearm.
to spring or come back; react (usually fol. by on or upon): Plots frequently recoil upon the plotters.
Physics. (of an atom, a nucleus, or a particle) to undergo a change in momentum as a result either of a collision with an atom, a nucleus, or a particle or of the emission of a particle.
an act of recoiling.
the distance through which a weapon moves backward after discharging.

Traumatic Recoil? Why not replace Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with something like this? Would it sound tough enough? After all, we tend to forget the troops are humans and not machines. "The distance through which a weapon move backwards after discharging" seems to really fit this. They do move backwards when they have flashbacks and nightmares. Until they begin to heal, this is the condition of their lives.

It's stunning to me, even now, that people would rather be labeled a drug addict or alcoholic than be associated with any kind of mental illness. PTSD, while it actually means change after trauma, is hard for the wounded to accept. There is much to be done in removing the stigma associated with the mind but until we actually manage to get society passed the part in the Seven Deadly sins, we're not about to have any major breakthroughs any time soon.

I'm sure you're wondering why I just put in the Seven Deadly sins, because we don't want to understand the origins of them any more than we want to understand what Sloth actually was referring to.

Originally Sloth was listed as two "deadly sins" Acedia and Tristitia. When you read what these two terms mean, you see what we now know as clinical depression and mental illness. While science has shown there are reasons for the mental conditions all humans experienced, too many of modern day humans still associate the judgment of others with clueless assumptions. If you see someone sitting in a chair for hours on end, you assume they are lazy and tell them to get off their butt and do something. If you see someone appearing to be happy about nothing, depressed, crying, you tell them to "cheer up" and do something. After all, it's a lot easier responding this way than actually investigating what is behind the way they are acting, or not reacting to life.

We are still doing it when it comes to mental illness, still dredging up words like "nuts' " mental case" "crazy" along with a very long list of insults. The problem is that when it comes to PTSD, there is an epidemic of suicides that need to be addressed today, not tomorrow when the mentality of the citizenry finally catches up to scientific advancements.

Traumatic Recoil also fits because I've come to the conclusion there are different types of PTSD that really need to be set apart. While all humans are susceptible to traumatic events, there are two groups not only exposed to them, but are participants in them. Military and police officers.

Firefighters and emergency responders are exposed to traumatic events more often than any other group of civilians, therefor, more of an increase in their risk. They respond after the traumatic event has happened. They respond after the fire has begun, after the accident has happened, after the storm has already come and after the tornado has already left.

Police officers rush into it while it is happening with guns drawn, speeding chancing fleeing suspects, ready to react with split second-life threatening decisions. The members of the military are also facing the same kinds of events but in combat face them more often. Both groups use weapons.

Playing around with words to describe this wound needs to be done if we are ever going to wake up the walking wounded and get them to the point where it is better for them do heal than to be self-medicating and more readily to be called drug addict or alcoholic than to admit they need mental health care to heal.

Hot, sexy soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

They are young, strong, physically fit, stunningly sexy hunks. The things they can do with their bodies is simply amazing!

Do I have your attention yet?


Shame on you!

Shame on you for not paying attention to these people before this. What's wrong with you? We stand in line and cheer as if it is our patriotic duty to send them off to war. Heck, we even pay attention in the beginning as news crews send in reporters and cameras but that interest soon fades replaced by much more pressing news, like who is on American Idol, what is going on with Brad, Angelina and Jen, or the latest political scandal. War wanes but sex always seems to sell.

American Idol and America's Got Talent captures us because people, regular people are chasing a dream of making it big. We can all relate to that.

We can all relate to love stories like Brad and Angelina but it also helps that both of them are very attractive. Do you think we'd be interested if they were ugly? We can still relate to them because of the human emotions of love.

We can relate to the passing of super stars like Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. It's not that they were ever really out of the spotlight. Some felt they "knew" them and their lives because of all the media coverage they had during their lives.

What we cannot relate to is the men and women in the military and our veterans. We can't because we have to face it, they are not that interesting to the media. They long ago abandoned reporting on events in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are two reports from yesterday.

Rising toll at US military hospital in Afghanistan
By JASON STRAZIUSO and EVAN VUCCI - Associated Press Writers
Thu, Jun. 25, 2009 03:44PM

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- The urgent call came in: Roadside bombs had ripped through two Humvees and wounded eight or nine U.S. soldiers.

Medevac helicopters immediately hit the air to ferry the soldiers to the main U.S. military hospital. But when they arrived, they carried only five patients.

The other four were dead.

With 2009 expected to be the bloodiest year since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, medical personnel at Bagram's SSG Heath N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital say they've already seen an increase in casualties and expect more. The flow of dead and wounded puts enormous strain on the soldiers and the medical staff who must face it head on.

"Everything I've experienced is boredom or terror," said Air Force Maj. Adrian Stull, a 36-year-old emergency physician from Beavercreek, Ohio. "And if I have to choose between the two, I'd have to choose boredom, because everyone goes home with all their fingers."

June 1 was a day of terror.

It started when two roadside bombs hit the same convoy of 10th Mountain Division soldiers only a couple of miles apart in Wardak, a province west of Kabul. The damage was so severe that one of the Humvees split in half.
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9 soldiers hurt in Iraq roadside bombings

By Patrick Quinn - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jun 25, 2009 18:18:25 EDT

BAGHDAD — A bombing Thursday at a bus station in a Shiite neighborhood in southwest Baghdad killed at least seven people, police said, the latest in a series of recent attacks that have left nearly 200 people dead ahead of a U.S. military withdrawal from cities next week.

Another three bombs and a mortar killed two more people around the capital. The U.S. military said nine American soldiers were wounded in two roadside bomb attacks against a convoy in eastern Baghdad. A roadside bomb also killed a man in the northern city of Mosul. The attacks were latest is a series of deadly bombings mostly targeting Shiites in the past week.
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These stories were linked from http://icasualties.org/oif/

Go there and find out what is going on with our troops if you really support them.

It's not that this is anything new but at least when Vietnam was going on, we had so much coverage it kept us aware that our troops were still risking their lives, getting wounded and dying. What we didn't know was that they would come home with the war deep inside of them just as other generations did. No one cared anymore when they were back home and the protests ended. The media only wanted to report on the bad things some of them did.

This blog, among many more, have been paying attention to Iraq and Afghanistan, along with what happens when they come home. It's not that hard to find the reports, but you have to have the will to look for them. You have to care in the first place. They have to be of a personal interest to you. Military families care. Veterans and their families care. The problem is, the rest of the country is not interested enough. You'd think they would be considering the wounded will be with us the rest of their lives and requiring support from the rest of us. We're going to be left with the shock of the need simply because we didn't pay attention all along and the media, well, they were just too busy reporting on celebrities.

Camp Lejeune Marine died Friday at his Onslow County residence

Camp Lejeune Marine death

June 25, 2009 - 4:20 PM
A Camp Lejeune Marine died Friday at his Onslow County residence.

Lance Cpl. Joseph R. Hoerr, who was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, joined the Marine Corps Dec. 12, 2006.

The Towsan, Md. Native deployed to Iraq in support of operations there from September 2008 to April 2009.

His awards include the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

The cause of his death is under investigation by the Marine Corps.

Hoerr will be buried Monday at 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Freedom, Pa. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301.

Marine behind Wounded Warrior barracks to retire

Marine behind Wounded Warrior barracks to retire

Staff report
Posted : Thursday Jun 25, 2009 21:38:01 EDT

The Marine officer who devised centralized barracks for wounded warriors is leaving the Corps.

Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell is scheduled to retire Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va.

Maxwell suffered severe traumatic brain injury on Oct. 7, 2004, during his third and final deployment to Iraq, when his forward operating base was mortared and shrapnel tore through the left side of his brain. As he recuperated, Maxwell realized that being around other wounded Marines helped in the recovery process.

The Wounded Warrior barracks was founded at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in 2005. The idea continued to grow and, in June 2007, the Corps stood up its first battalion for wounded Marines, Wounded Warriors Battalion-East at Lejeune. Two months later, Wounded Warriors Battalion-West was formed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In July 2008, Maxwell underwent surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel near his brain stem that was leeching toxins into his cerebral fluid. The surgery led to a “reoccurrence of right-sided weakness, but has not tempered his resolve,” officials said in a news release.

Maxwell has been awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston addresses Soldier issues during Wiesbaden visit

Army's senior NCO addresses Soldier issues during Wiesbaden visit
Jun 25, 2009

By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)
WIESBADEN, Germany - Stress on the force, recruitment, retention and the Year of the NCO were among an array of topics addressed by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston during a day-long visit to Wiesbaden Army Airfield, June 24.

The Army's senior enlisted leader told a packed auditorium of Soldiers and families that he "wanted a good feeling for what's on their minds."

After touring several facilities on the airfield – including the Warrior Transition Unit, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers' Warrior Zone, Wiesbaden Fitness Center and being briefed on ongoing transformation in U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden – Preston joined junior enlisted Soldiers for lunch. The one-on-one discussion time was followed by an open forum with Soldiers and their families in the Flyers Theater.

During the forum the sergeant major of the Army described the shape of the force, which currently includes 548,000 active-duty troops, of which 260,000 are deployed to 80 countries around the world. Those Soldiers and 95,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves also deployed are "doing an incredible job around the world," he said.

Preston described a meeting with President Barack Obama and other military leaders in which he raised concerns including stress on the force, recruiting and retention. "It's pretty stressful. There are a lot of dynamics out there because the Army is busy."

Describing how he told the president that stress occurs both during deployment and "when the units come back during dwell time," he said he "wanted the president to understand that it's not just operational stress but also institutional stress and stress on our families."

A tumbling economy was another stress factor, he noted.

Calling them "warning lights on the dashboard," the Army’s senior noncommissioned officer said a rise in suicides and post traumatic stress were visible effects of this stress on the force.
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NCO addresses Soldier issues during Wiesbaden visit

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kyle Barthel Veterans and Service Members Mental Health Screening Act

U.S. House passes Defense Authorization Act
By Matthew Reichbach 6/25/09 3:51 PM
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, the annual bill which funds the Department of Defense. The bill passed 389-22.

The bill included an amendment by Congressman Harry Teague that would set up a post-deployment mental health screening program for service members. The amendment, named the Kyle Barthel Veterans and Service Members Mental Health Screening Act after a Las Crucen who struggled with PTSD and eventually committed suicide after returning home from combat, was introduced by Teague in Las Cruces in May.
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Congressman Harry Teague Calls for Veterans and Service Members Mental Health

Screenings to Address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Bill Named in Honor of Local Veteran Kyle Barthel

Las Cruces, NM - Wednesday at Veteran's Memorial Park, Congressman Harry Teague unveiled a bill to address an increasingly prevalent issue for military personnel and combat veterans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Kyle Barthel Veterans and Service Member Mental Health Screening Act calls for mandatory mental health screening for military personnel upon induction into the military, before and after deployment, and before discharge.

"Kyle served in the 101st Airborne and was deployed to Iraq. Kyle reached out and sought treatment but was never but was never able to get the mental health help that he needed and deserved. Sadly, Kyle took his own life after suffering from problems associated with PTSD," said Congressman Harry Teague, speaking of the native Las Crucen the bill is titled in honor of.

The legislation comes amid rising concerns that undiagnosed and untreated PTSD cases are leading to mental health issues that decrease quality of life for returning combat veterans and in some cases result in suicide. Suicide rates for the Army have risen 60% since 2003 and the 101st Airborne, which Kyle was a member of, has this year alone suffered 14 deaths that are being investigated as suicides.

"When the Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, I will introduce the Kyle Barthel Veterans and Service Members Mental Health Screening Act, a bill calling for mandatory and confidential mental health assessments for service members so that those who need it can get the mental health treatment they have earned and so we can begin to stem the tide of tragic incidents associated with PTSD."

Congressman Harry Teague was joined by Kyle Barthel's mother and close family friend, County Commissioner Scott Krahling at the announcement.

"When I decided to run for public office, it was because I wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Today, I can say I feel like I am part of the solution to a very big problem," said Commissioner Krahling. "Although he isn't here with us today, Kyle is here in spirit and we are here because of him. His life has inspired action that will give hope to the many military personnel and veterans currently suffering from PTSD."

Congressman Harry Teague serves on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and has made fighting for our nation's veterans a central priority since being sworn in January 6th, 2009.

Procedure to remove kidney stones ended up costing woman her leg!

Woman goes into Tampa General Hospital for a kidney stone procedure, and winds up losing a leg
By Victoria Bekiempis, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, June 25, 2009

TAMPA — She went to the hospital to have a kidney stone blasted away with sound waves, but the procedure wound up costing her a leg, her attorney says.

The procedure, called a lithotripsy, is considered noninvasive. Anesthesia is required, however, because the process — in which kidney stones are pulverized sonically — is extremely painful.

Kelli Woodfin thinks anesthesia complications caused circulation loss in her right leg, her lawyer David Eaton said. By the time the medical team figured out what went wrong, the leg could not be saved, he said.
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Orlando hospital pioneers latest deep-brain-stimulation device for Parkinson's

Orlando hospital pioneers latest deep-brain-stimulation device for Parkinson's patients
Parkinson's disease left Michel Medina Gonzalez unable to walk, talk or feed himself. But a cutting-edge treatment he received in Orlando helped fix that.
By Fernando Quintero Sentinel Staff Writer
June 25, 2009

Michel Medina Gonzalez shook violently in his chair inside a patient room at Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was fitted earlier this month with a brain implant to control his symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Using a wireless device slightly larger than a PDA, Dr. Alex Gonzalez, a neurologist with Orlando Health, remotely adjusted the electronic implant with a stylus.

After a few adjustments, Michel's trembling left leg, which had been causing his foot to constantly tap on the floor, stopped moving.

Orlando Health is among the first hospitals in the nation to offer the new, implantable deep-brain-stimulation device that gives Parkinson's patients greater control of their movements
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Orlando hospital pioneers latest deep-brain-stimulation device

Congress puts defense contractors before the troops again!

President Obama made it clear that the old way of spending money on defense contractors is gone, over and done with. No more wasteful spending on things not needed, no more unaccountability and no bid contracts. Congress however still wants to play their game with appropriations. In the process, their stunt of keeping in funding for the F-22 and F-35 has placed pay raises for the troops on the line. Are they out of their minds? This nation is broke! They still want to spend money for this?

Obama threatens veto of authorization bill

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jun 25, 2009 12:58:25 EDT

The Obama administration has issued a veto threat of the 2010 defense authorization bill over disagreements involving two aircraft programs.

But in a departure from the previous administration, the White House has not objected to Congress providing a larger pay raise for troops.

The June 24 statement of policy on HR 2647, the House version of the 2010 defense bill, says the two chief disagreements involve the F-22 and F-35 programs.

On the F-22, the administration “strongly objects” to the bill including $369 million in advanced procurement of the fighter plane.

“The collective judgment of the service chiefs and secretaries of the military departments suggests that a final program of record of 187 F-22s is sufficient to meet operational requirements,” the statement says, warning that if the advance procurement money is in the bill presented to the president, his advisers would recommend a veto.
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Obama threatens veto of authorization bill

Vietnam Vet Don Wilmot: Time doesn’t heal it all

Viet Vet Don Wilmot: Time doesn’t heal it all

By Tammy Compton
Wayne Independent
Wed Jun 24, 2009, 05:27 PM EDT

Sterling, Pa. -
His helo was shot down four times in Vietnam. Twice behind enemy lines.
“Did you ever get a feeling that you’re falling out of bed? It’s like your stomach’s kind of up in your chest? Well, just imagine being in a helicopter, 500 or 600 feet, and all of a sudden you’ve lost power and the bottom drops out. Well, you’re on your gun, you’re trying to shoot the enemy. And you know the crash is coming. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. The three or four seconds it takes for you to crash just seems like a lifetime. It’s a helpless feeling ...there’s nothing that can be done until you hit the ground. You just wait,” says Don Wilmot of Sterling Township.

His unit was known as “Tweed’s Tigers” serving under Commanding Officer Col. Mac Tweed. Don was a crew chief/ door gunner with the Marines HMM-361 helicopter squadron, aboard Yankee November (YN)21. He flew 440 missions, 360 of those combat missions, including 200 successful medivacs.
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Viet Vet Don Wilmot: Time does not heal it all

US Vietnam veterans send home fallen comrades

US Vietnam veterans send home fallen comrades
By Ian Timberlake – 16 hours ago

DANANG, Vietnam (AFP) — Standing to attention in the hot sun, a Marines baseball cap over his heart, US veteran Alan Segal watched as an honour guard carried the flag-draped coffins of his fellow servicemen onto an Air Force plane, taking them home 34 years after the Vietnam War ended.

Beside him another US veteran of the Vietnam conflict, Rick Janovick, 58, saluted fellow servicemen whose names he did not even know.

Segal and Janovick, who have chosen to live where they once fought, were among dozens who witnessed Wednesday's repatriation ceremony which came as the US and Vietnam step up cooperation in the hunt for missing servicemen.

Among the guests were crew from the USNS Bruce C. Heezen, the first US Navy ship to join the search effort. The ship has just completed a 12-day survey for missing American aircraft in waters off central and south-central Vietnam.

The two sets of remains sent home on Wednesday came from the land but US officials hoped the Heezen's involvement would speed up the search for underwater sites, meaning the remains of airmen still missing at sea could, in the future, also be repatriated with dignity.

Since Vietnam and the US began cooperating more than 20 years ago in the search for the remains of missing US servicemen, more than 600 have been repatriated but about 1,300 are still unaccounted for in Vietnam, the US says.
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US Vietnam veterans send home fallen comrades