Friday, July 31, 2009

Florida ranks among the worst in the nation in volunteering

Floridians Rank 49th In Volunteering
Friday, July 31, 2009 6:49:29 AM

ORLANDO -- Florida ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to the number of people who volunteer.

Figures from the Corporation for National and Community Service show the state ranks 49th when it comes to people giving their time. The study ranked all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

From 2006 to 2008, 19.6 percent of Floridians volunteered. Only Nevada and New York ranked lower with 18.8 and 18.7 percent respectively. The national average is nearly 26.5 percent. Utah ranked first with 43.5 percent.

The report only includes people who volunteer for official organizations, and doesn't include things like helping neighbors.
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Floridians Rank 49th In Volunteering

Take back KBR bonuses, senators urge Pentagon over electrical work

Take back KBR bonuses, senators urge Pentagon
Story Highlights
Military contractor has been awarded $83.4 million for its electrical work in Iraq
Dems ask to reclaim bonuses in light of report blaming KBR in part for death
Report says KBR failed to ground water pump, leading to soldier's electrocution
KBR defends its performance, says safety and security is its "top priority"

From Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein
CNN Special Investigations Unit

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Democratic senators called on the Pentagon to take back more than $83 million in bonuses paid to military contractor KBR after a Defense Department report criticized its electrical work on U.S. bases overseas.

"I want them to tell us on what basis can they possibly continue to justify having paid $83 million of the taxpayers' money for shoddy work that resulted in risk to our soldiers," Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota told reporters Friday.

Dorgan said he and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania are pressing Defense Department officials to reclaim $83.4 million in bonus payments it awarded KBR for its work in Iraq.
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Take back KBR bonuses senators urge Pentagon

Sgt. Charles “Leo” Wilson, Korean War MIA remains found

Soldier’s remains ID’d six decades later

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 31, 2009 20:50:52 EDT

AVA, Mo. — The remains of a Missouri soldier who died in the Korean War are being returned to his family.

Defense Department officials say a North Korean farmer found the remains of Sgt. Charles “Leo” Wilson in 2000. Wilson is believed to have been killed in late November 1950.

Officials at Fort Leonard Wood said Friday that Wilson’s remains are being returned to his family in the southern Missouri town of Ava.

Memorial services and a funeral will be held the afternoon of Aug. 8.
Soldier remains ID six decades later

Harvey-based religious center helps turn lives around

Restoration Ministries opens new $5 million facility
July 31, 2009

When Matthew Bennett hit rock bottom, he found himself in a jail cell and perhaps facing 13 years behind bars after years of robbing and scheming to pay for his drug habit.

From the time he was 11, Bennett said he was getting high, first on marijuana, then with heroine, cocaine and prescription painkillers. When he was working, he would spend his entire paycheck on drugs. After he lost his job, he took to robbing dealers and committing break-ins.

"I kept wanting to get the next high," the 25-year-old from Gary, said. "Next thing I know, I was taking [pills] every day."

Facing a possible 13-year term, Bennett received a lighter sentence and got out of jail after serving several months. He knew he needed help getting over his addictions. That's where Restoration Ministries, a Christian-based social agency in Harvey comes in.

Bennett is one of about 30 men who recently moved into the agency's new $5 million facility. It is one of the largest investments in the gritty city of Harvey and will be able to serve more people in a program that numerous public officials praise as very effective.

"This place here is a lifesaver," Bennett said recently as he gave a tour of the building. "Here, they give you stable ground to stay focused on the Lord and work. The support is key."
read more here,0,4775428.story

Skeleton without coffin found at Burr Oak

Skeleton without coffin found at Burr Oak
July 31, 2009 4:05 PM BREAKING STORY
Sheriff's police revealed a shocking new discovery today in their investigation of the Burr Oak cemetery: a skeleton wearing a suit and tie, sitting in a burial vault without a coffin.

Records show the man was originally buried in a coffin, but it isn't clear where that coffin now is, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a press conference today.

The skeleton's vault, found in an open pit, is one of three vaults Cook County Judge Arthur Hill ordered exhumed, Dart said.

The second and third vaults are in different parts of the cemetery, he said.

The second vault, near the cemetery entrance, had been "double-stacked," Dart said. In that case, a properly buried body appeared to have been dug up, then re-buried on top of another, hidden body, Dart said.
read more here
Skeleton without coffin found at Burr Oak

When getting up is so very hard to do

Chaplain Kathie

There are songs dealing with breaking up but I can't think of one that deals with getting up at all. Can you? Have you ever had one of those days when you thought it would have been better to just stay safely in your own bed for the day? Sometimes days can just be as if you woke up in someone else's life and everyone is out to get you.

It could start out with your coffee pot not being in the machine right leaving it to over top where they grounds come out. Not only do you get to miss your cup of wake up, you get to clean up the gritty mess from the counter and the floor. If the day is really out to get you, you're already dressed for work and get dripped coffee all over your clothes. Nice!

Then getting in your car, you notice your neighbor's new roof also gave you a gift of a nice big nail in your rear tire.

All the way going to work, already late, every driver must have received the same text message saying you were on the road so they could all meet to get you pissed off. They cut you off and then slow down. The guy behind you keeps getting closer. The driver next to you keeps playing games trying to turn the highway into a huge bumper car rally.

You don't know how you made it but when you do pull into the parking lot, there aren't any spaces left. This never happened before because you were always on time for work, finding plenty of spaces near the door. Oh, no, not this day. You end up parking in an adjacent lot. Walking to your own building, your heal breaks.

Next comes the ribbing you take from your coworkers for this one day you are late when the last 10 years you've been early but no one noticed those times. You get called into the office by the new boss without a clue what your record has been.

You're so upset, you make the biggest mistake of your career and snap at the owner of the company. Somehow you managed to not get fired but you didn't need anyone to tell you how close you were to losing your job that day but everyone you talked to managed to make sure you got the message.

Going home it's the same group of other drivers out to get you. Your body screams "I need a drink!" By the time you get ready for bed, you are still not sure who's life you were in that day, because no of it was normal for you.

This is life with PTSD.

It's one day after another when it seems as if the world is out to get you. This comes from paranoia. It creates a conspiracy against you and it's all personal to you.

The drivers out to get you are not driving down streets in America, but in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Vietnam, Korea, or any of the other places all over the world veterans risked their lives in. This comes from flashbacks without warning.

Nothing is normal to them so they think they are no longer normal either. They think they are living in someone else's body. They don't think the same, feel the same or most of the time, they don't even look the same when they see their reflection in the mirror.

Each day is a challenge to find reasons to get up out of bed but they push themselves as the last remnant of hope remains to cling to. Maybe today the VA will approve their claim and everything will be wonderful again? Maybe today the drink in the class will be a soda instead of beer or whisky? Maybe the pack of cigarettes will last more than a few hours? Maybe today the hands won't shake so much? Maybe the TV will be on and watched instead of just sitting in front of it without a single clue what was on?

When they live with family members it becomes maybe today there won't be an argument.

They go to bed after living someone else's life. For them, it's not a matter of bad days once in a while. It's everyday is bad until they get help to heal and reclaim their lives. When they do the "maybe shreds of hope" turn into reality and life becomes maybe tomorrow it will be even better. It happens. It takes a lot of work to get there, but it's been done throughout the centuries man has walked on this planet.

Next time you have a day that only Satan could have conjured up for you, think about how hard it was to get through it and then know what it's like to have PTSD when everyday is like that. Maybe you won't be so quick to judge anyone else ever again. Maybe you can find it in your heart to actually talk to a veteran so that you can make their day a little better? Maybe you won't walk by another homeless person with a sign saying homeless veteran the next time? Maybe when the Vietnam Vets call you to tell you there will be a truck in your area in case you have something to donate, you won't hang up the phone without even thinking if there is anything in your house you really don't need but someone else may?

Army missteps left troops in Afghanistan open to deadly attack

Army missteps left troops in Afghanistan open to deadly attack, study reveals
A study by an Army historian documents several missteps, including lack of supplies, equipment and aerial surveillance, that led to one of the bloodiest clashes in the Afghanistan war. The battle at the remote mountain outpost of Wanat, where nine American troops were killed and 27 were wounded, is now the subject of an inquiry by the Department of Defense's Inspector General.

By Hal Bernton and Cheryl Phillips

Seattle Times staff reporters

U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan told families mission would be dangerous
In the days before one of the fiercest battles in America's eight-year war in Afghanistan, Army Capt. Benjamin Pry argued for more surveillance flights to help his beleaguered unit of fewer than 50 soldiers.

Since moving into a new outpost on July 8, 2008, they had struggled with shortages of water, fuel, food and heavy machinery to help defend against an enemy attack that they believed would eventually come. Lacking excavating equipment, the troops dug fortifications by scraping the rocky soil with spades and bare hands.

Then on July 12, headquarters commanders diverted drones — remotely operated planes outfitted with cameras to spot enemy movements — to another area. Pry argued so hard to undo that decision that he said he breached professional etiquette. Still, he was unsuccessful.

"We had no support from brigade, division or theater level assets at the time," Pry told Army historians in a study obtained by The Seattle Times.
read more here
Army missteps left troops in Afghanistan open to deadly attack

HR 3200 Health care reform may hurt vets, groups warn

Health care reform may hurt vets, groups warn

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 31, 2009 13:16:44 EDT

Six major veterans groups have warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that they will oppose a national health care reform bill unless major changes are made to protect veterans and their families.

In a July 30 letter, the groups said that HR 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009, could increase veterans’ health care costs, limit their treatment options, deny coverage to their families and “threaten the quality of health care offered to veterans through the VA health care system.”

A spokesman for Pelosi’s office did not comment on the specifics but said nobody was trying to hurt veterans. The Democrat-controlled Congress “is committed to our nation’s veterans,” said Nadeam Elshami. “We will continue to work with all stakeholders as the legislation moves forward.”

The concerns are not new. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed concern about the health reform bill’s possible unintended consequences for active, reserve and retired military members, as well as veterans and their families.
read more here
Health care reform may hurt vets, groups warn

Deep in the heart of a Texan, call to help Iraqi Disabled Children

Texas man brings hope to 'forgotten' disabled Iraqi kids
Story Highlights
Brad Blauser's Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids has distributed nearly 650 free wheelchairs
Dallas native Blauser lives in Baghdad and works for free
"Disabled children -- they're really the forgotten ones in this war," he said
Do you know a hero? Saturday is the last day to nominate a CNN Hero

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Brad Blauser lives in war-torn Baghdad, where he doesn't earn a paycheck and is thousands of miles from his family. But he has no intention of leaving anytime soon.

For the past four years, the Dallas, Texas, native has been providing hope to hundreds of disabled Iraqi children and their families through the distribution of pediatric wheelchairs.

"Disabled children -- they're really the forgotten ones in this war," said Blauser, 43. "They are often not seen in society."

Blauser arrived in Iraq as a civilian contractor in 2004, but quit that job last year to devote himself full time to his program, without compensation.

"There's no paycheck. It's not really safe here. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

An estimated one in seven Iraqi children ages 2 to 14 lives with a disability, according to UNICEF. Illnesses such as Spina bifida, palsy and polio leave them unable to walk.
read more here
Texas man brings hope to forgotten disabled Iraqi kids

Louisiana National Guard Families of Fallen not being paid

Sen. wants to expand military survivors law

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 31, 2009 9:03:35 EDT

BATON ROUGE, La. — The chairman of a state Senate veterans committee says he wants to expand a state law that pays $250,000 to the survivors of Louisiana National Guard soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The law has been in place since July 2007, but Sen. Robert Adley says it should be made retroactive to include all troops killed since the conflicts began. The Louisiana National Guard’s call-up for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq began in 2004.

Adley is the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The law provides a $100,000 payment to guard members who are permanently disabled and $250,000 to the families of troops killed.

Adley says it appears no families have received the benefits so far, so he also wants the program publicized more to families who might be eligible.
Sen. wants to expand military survivors law

Army 9 month review of healthcare, worse

When the Bush Administration closed their eyes to all of this, and congress just played along, it all got worse for the soldiers and their families. Right now the infuriating part is that I keep hearing so many people say they don't want "socialized healthcare" but no one seems to be talking about the kind of healthcare the troops should be getting under tax payer funded healthcare. The VA has its own share of problems as well. The problem is not that these programs don't work, because they do, but the people in charge have to actually be in charge and know what is going on.

When congress had the chance to do something to prepare, they closed their eyes and complained that fully funding the medical end of the DOD and the VA would cost too much at the same time they had no problem finding the funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Why were they allowed to get away with any of this?

If you want to blame the Obama Administration, you're way too late since all of this began long before he arrived in office. The question is, can he fix this fast enough? Can congress fix it fast enough? They have a lot to catch up on because for all the time they take to get things fixed, the troops and their families wait for what they should have never had to wait for.

Records: Health needs of soldiers not met

By Gregg Zoroya - USA TODAY
Posted : Thursday Jul 30, 2009 22:11:54 EDT

WASHINGTON — The number of Army medical centers and clinics that provide timely access to routine medical care has hit a five-year low, Army records show, often forcing soldiers and their families to seek treatment off base.

About 16 percent of Army patients, particularly family members, can’t get appointments with their primary physicians and are sent to doctors off the installation, according to the results of a nine-month Army review finished late last year. Some of those patients end up in emergency rooms or urgent care centers, says the study, which the Army provided to USA TODAY.

Army records show that 26 of its medical centers, hospitals and clinics are unable to meet the Pentagon standard requiring that 90 percent of patients get routine care appointments within seven days. Those are the worst results since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s a 13 percent increase from 2005 in the number of medical facilities unable to meet the standard.
read more here
Health needs of soldiers not met

PTSD on Trial: Nathan James Keyes

Iraq War vet gets 3 years
July 31, 2009

Jamie Keyes held her son's decorated Army jacket Thursday as she told a judge how war changed her boy, hoping for leniency before he was sentenced for shooting at a sport utility vehicle occupied by a man and his 6-year-old daughter on a busy St. Augustine street last summer.

Her son, Nathan James Keyes, had nightmares, suffered from depression and withdrew from family when he came back from Iraq the first time, in July 2004, she said, fighting off tears as she read from a letter to the judge.

When he came back the second time, it was worse.

Every day she's reminded of the "indescribable horrors of war" her son lives with when she sees the bullet hole in her trailer's ceiling from the time he tried to kill himself.

Circuit Judge Wendy Berger said she appreciated Nathan Keyes' military service and agreed that the government did not do enough to help him readjust.

"It doesn't mean, though, that you shouldn't be held accountable," Berger said. "Does it mitigate your sentence? Maybe."

She sentenced Keyes to three years in prison, in the middle of the 18-to-54-month range agreed to in a plea deal, and four years on probation, during which time he will have to get counseling for post-traumatic stress at a center in Kissimmee and take anger management courses.
read more here
Iraq War vet gets 3 years

The Enemy Within: US Army Suicide

The Enemy Within: US Army Suicide
By Alice Massimi

Published: July 30, 2009

Improvised Explosive Devices, Suicide Bombers, and Insurgents were once the most common enemy.

But as the violence decreases in Iraq, another enemy comes into clearer focus… suicide.

Since the War in Iraq erupted in March of 2003, the number of army suicides has drastically increased, surpassing the rate of the general population.

According to the U.S. Army, last year alone 140 soldiers committed suicide…. a sixty percent increase from 2003.

This year may surpass that…. with 82 reported suicides already.

In a Special Report - News Three’s Military Reporter Alice Massimi has more on the Army’s latest foe, whose startling numbers have the army sitting up and taking notice.

Suicide much like Post Traumatic Stress was not really discussed until some could say it was almost too late. But suicide is now an issue that can not be ignored. Soldiers will tell you its bad enough to lose a comrade in action, but to lose someone stateside is a whole other matter.
read more here
The Enemy Within US Army Suicide

Does Hospital's 'Virtual Iraq' helps PTSD sufferers face their fears

Reports about Virtual Iraq have been out for a while but I have yet to see any data, any figures about how well this program is working. What is more troubling is that none of the veterans I've talked to have been involved with this program. If it worked, don't you think there would be many veterans pushing for this therapy to help other veterans?

Experts have said over and over again since Vietnam, veterans need to avoid war movies and even news reports about combat. How could this be a good thing? Does it really work? Has it worked short or long term? Are there follow up studies done? These are questions that need to be answered.

Hospital's 'Virtual Iraq' helps PTSD sufferers face their fears
FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2009

SYRACUSE — Upstate Medical University on Thursday unveiled a new treatment option for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Virtual Iraq" offers an interactive, multisensory experience — like an enhanced video game — allowing soldiers to confront and gradually conquer their fears in a safe, private and controlled environment.

"The young vets seem more likely to take to this kind of therapy," said Robbi T. Saletsky, director of the university's Cognitive Behavior Program for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. "There's less stigma attached to it; it seems cool."

Ms. Saletsky demonstrated a treatment session in her office for the press. Volunteer Cristy L. Samuel, an Iraq war veteran and pre-medical student at Syracuse University, simulated the role of a patient. She is not a victim of PTSD, but said she would recommend the treatment for veterans with the condition.
read more here
Hospital Virtual Iraq helps PTSD sufferers face their fears

Navy Destroyer named after Medal of Honor Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham

FILE - This undated family photo shows U.S. Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died April 22, 2004, after sustaining a head injury from a shrapnel wound, April 14, 2004, in Iraq. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. A Navy destroyer will be christened in his honor Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. (AP Photo/The Wellsville Daily Reporter, courtesy Dunham family, File)

Warship honors Marine who died protecting comrades

BATH, Maine — Marines flushing out Iraqi insurgents after an ambush came upon a column of vehicles. A van with a father and son. A pickup truck. A tractor. A BMW with a couple of sheiks. And a Toyota Land Cruiser with four young men, all of them insurgents.

As Marines began searching the vehicles, the driver of the Land Cruiser jumped out and attacked Cpl. Jason Dunham. The two men tumbled onto the dirt road. Two Marines ran up to assist but Dunham cried out, "No, no, no, watch his hand!"

A grenade exploded, rocking the narrow street.

Dunham, 22, of Scio, N.Y., mortally wounded as he saved his comrades that day, will be honored Saturday at the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham. The young corporal who threw his Kevlar helmet and his body onto the grenade became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.

His mother, Deb Dunham, said she can't think of a greater tribute.
read more here
Warship honors Marine who died protecting comrades

Cpl. Benjamin Kopp passed away at Walter Reed

Funeral services Aug. 1 for Cpl. Benjamin Kopp, Rosemount
Thursday, 30 July 2009
The funeral details for Cpl. Benjamin S. Kopp, 21, of Rosemount have been announced. Cpl. Benjamin Stephen Kopp of Rosemount died July 18, 2009, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., from wounds suffered on July 10 in Afghanistan.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bruce Rossmeyer Killed In Motorcycle Accident in Wyoming

Bruce Rossmeyer Killed In Motorcycle Accident
Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:10:54 PM

Daytona Harley-Davidson at Destination Daytona
Destination Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH -- Bruce Rossmeyer, an icon in the motorcycle community and known for donating millions to charities, is dead.

Rossmeyer, who was instrumental in getting the bike events, such as Bike Week, that are so important to Volusia County's economy reportedly died Thursday in a motorcycle accident in Wyoming.
read more here
Bruce Rossmeyer Killed In Motorcycle Accident


Bruce Rossmeyer, Harley-Davidson empire builder, dies in motorcycle crash in Wyoming
"World's Largest" Harley-dealership owner Bruce Rossmeyer killed in motorcycle accident on way to Sturgis biker rally

Ludmilla Lelis

Sentinel Staff Writer

July 31, 2009
Bruce Rossmeyer staked his claim as the world's largest Harley-Davidson dealer, amassing an empire of 15 dealerships and stores across the nation, including his crown jewel, Destination Daytona off Interstate 95.

He made his face and name synonymous with motorcycles on TV commercials and massive highway billboards. Using his blockbuster persona, he promoted Daytona Beach's Bike Week and his favorite charities.

On Thursday, Rossmeyer died on a Harley, riding a Wyoming highway with a pack of friends on his annual trip to Sturgis, the biker mecca in South Dakota.

Rossmeyer, 66, lived in Ormond Beach. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; five children; and several grandchildren.

"He was in that moment that he lived for. He was doing what he loved to do," said Richie Supa, a fellow biker and musician who performed at Rossmeyer's charity events. "How ironic it is for him to be on a motorcycle in one of the most beautiful riding territories in the U.S.
read more here
Bruce Rossmeyer Harley-Davidson empire builder

Man jailed by dog, released by DNA

Fake scent-tracking dog sends man to prison for 26 years

Posted: 06:28 PM ET

Randi Kaye Bio
AC360° Correspondent

A Florida man who was convicted of murder in part because of the work of an allegedly infallible scent-tracking dog, is free now, because the dog and the dog’s owner has been exposed as a fraud. Unfortunately for Bill Dillon he had to spend 26 years in prison before the error in his case was rectified.

Bill Dillon, was 22 when he was sentenced to life in prison in 1981, for killing a man in Canova Beach on the eastern coast of the state.

During the trial, Dillon was adamant that he had not committed the crime. But a man named John Preston testified in court that he and his scent-tracking German-Shepherd connected Dillon to the killer’s bloody t-shirt. Preston said his dog, “Harrass 2,” even tracked Dillon’s scent repeatedly in later tests.

Dillon expected to remain in prison for the rest of his life – all because of “Harrass 2,” and his handler, Preston, who billed himself around the country as a so-called scent -tracking expert.

But nearly three decades later, in 2007, DNA testing proved that Dillon’s DNA did not match the DNA on the killer’s shirt. The dog was wrong. Just eight months ago, after 26 years behind bars, Bill Dillon walked out of prison a free man.
read more here
Fake scent-tracking dog sends man to prison for 26 years

Will the Army ever stop better than nothing approach?

“You don’t have to act on your emotions,” the instructor said, adding, “Emotions don’t make you weak. You need to develop emotional control.”

This is the part that concerns me the most. It indicates the Army still does not understand PTSD. Controlling their emotions is not the problem. They do this quite well especially when they are faced with someone trying to kill them, bombs waiting to blow them up and never knowing who the enemy really is.

Understanding their emotions is what they should focus on as well as understanding what PTSD is and knowing when they need help. If the Army does not do this the numbers will keep going up on the suicides as well as attempted suicides. Perhaps even more troubling is the consequences of sending them home with PTSD taking control. Just read some of the crimes that have been committed and know that anger is the one emotion they will allow themselves to have. Other people pay the price for this absence of real leadership.

Trying to get the troops to "control their emotions" while trying to prevent PTSD is like telling a dog it can't have the bone. You may restrain him but you have one angry dog on a very short leash.

PTSD causes the mind to build walls around it so that more emotional pain cannot penetrate it. Anger is the only emotion allowed to get out. Anything else causes more pain. This is why they become detached from people they used to care about. This is why they appear to be emotionally dead inside. Will the Army ever understand this?

In times like this I am glad I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist because they know a lot more about diagnosing and medications to use, but they don't know the men and women they are taking care of because they never really listen. They never really hear the words they say or know what is behind those words.

I've been talking and listening to them long enough to know what is behind what they do and how they feel and that's why I know what it is they need to know to heal. All this mumbo jumbo about toughening anything is a load of crap.

They are tough already. They are trained. They are able, willing and ready to face whatever is asked of them. They endure endless days of waiting for the next bullet to be fired or bomb to blow up. They have more than enough courage to do what is asked of them. Anyone saying anything other than these facts does not know them. They do not know them anymore than they know what is needed to be done. Lives are on the line while the people in charge are at grade school level in understanding any of this.

This isn't about tooting my own horn but tooting the horns of the experts I've trusted all these years. People that have spent the greater part of their lives dedicated to this work. This is tooting the horn of veterans that have pushed themselves to contact me and open up. I learned from the best of them. I also learned from my own husband simply because I cared enough to listen but not just with my brain. I listened with my heart since PTSD is an emotional wound.

Casey: Stress programs to be added to basic

By Susanne M. Schafer - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jul 30, 2009 17:54:59 EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Army’s top general says basic training will soon include anti-stress programs as part of a broader effort to help soldiers deal with the aftereffects of combat and prevent suicides.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told reporters during a visit to inspect training Thursday that the new program will begin Oct. 1. It will be part of a soldier’s first week in basic and continue through all levels of Army education for officers and enlisted men and women.

“This is something that will serve the soldiers in whatever environment they are in — at war, at home, and frankly in their personal lives,” Casey said.

The Army has struggled to curb a surge in suicides. Casey says he is frustrated by the numbers and feels the Army hasn’t done enough to give soldiers preventive skills to fight stress, both in combat and when they return home.

“A year or so ago when we began thinking about this, we saw the suicide rates climbing and I remember the futility of sitting there and talking about, what could we have done differently, why didn’t we see this?” Casey said. “I thought we need to focus more on giving soldiers the tools that they need and never got.”

read more here

Stress programs to be added to basic

PTSD on Trial:Marine pleads not guilty in California attacks

Marine pleads not guilty in California attacks
(AP) – 1 day ago

FRESNO, Calif. — An attorney for a U.S. Marine accused of attacking his estranged wife and two of her relatives says his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from combat.

Twenty-six-year-old Sgt. Dejon Baskin, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is being held on $3.75 million bail.
read more here
Marine pleads not guilty in California attacks


A college student wrote this and I wanted to share it with you. Amazing mind! We all need to laugh from time to time and since this is a fairly easy day for me, it's a good time to share this.

Sorry folks, hell seems to be full at the moment.


The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.

The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept
shouting “Oh my God.”


Fort Richardson Staff Sgt. found dead in home

Richardson E-6 found dead in his home

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jul 30, 2009 17:43:28 EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Fort Richardson soldier from Ohio was found dead in his Anchorage home.

Army officials are investigating the death of Staff Sgt. Anthony S. Schmachtenberger.
read more here
Richardson E-6 found dead in his home

Soldier’s death apparently a suicide

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 31, 2009 15:44:33 EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The mother of a Fort Richardson soldier found dead in his Anchorage home told The Anchorage Daily News the death is apparently a suicide.

The woman who lives in Ohio says two soldiers who went to look for Anthony S. Schmachtenberger when he didn’t show up for work Wednesday found him in his garage with a vehicle running.

The 30-year-old staff sergeant was an artilleryman from Minerva, Ohio. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Robin Scalero in Alliance, Ohio, said her son had separated from his wife and had stress from combat in Iraq. He leaves three daughters.
Soldier death apparently a suicide

About To Be Killed, Mom Calls Daughter To Say Goodbye

About To Be Killed, Mom Calls Daughter To Say Goodbye
Amy Kuscmas' Body Found Dumped In Wilkinsburg's Hunter Park
POSTED: 10:22 am EDT July 24, 2009

WILKINSBURG, Pa. -- Amy Kucsmas knew she would soon be a murder victim, and the 36-year-old Mt. Oliver woman made a final phone call to her daughter while her apparent killer stood nearby.

Two weeks later, on Friday morning, Kucsmas' body was found bound with electrical tape and wrapped in a carpet in a wooded area of Hunter Park in Wilkinsburg.

"Kayla got a call the night that it happened. She said that she's going to die tonight," Kucsmas' sister, Jayme, told WTAE Channel 4's Marcie Cipriani on Wednesday. "She told Kayla not to cry and that everything will be OK, and then Kayla heard some man in the background screaming. Then, she said her mom was hysterically crying. She couldn't understand what she was saying, and then the phone hung up."
linked from CNN
read more here

Army report warned of burn-pit effects

Army report warned of burn-pit effects

Cited long-term damage at odds with DoD posture
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jul 30, 2009 12:03:53 EDT

Seven months before Defense Department officials said there were no known long-term health effects due to exposure to open-air burn-pit smoke, Army researchers sent out a report on the health effects associated with particulate matter exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan that paints a slightly different picture.

“Particulate matter air pollution is hypothesized to affect health on two time scales,” states the report by the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. “Long-term exposure, on the scale of months to years, may influence the incidence of chronic disease and susceptibility; and short-term exposure, on the scale of days, may precipitate acute health events. Health effects of particulate matter on both scales may range in severity from subclinical to deadly.”

The report, “Potential Health Implications Associated with Particulate Matter Exposure in Deployed Settings in Southwest Asia,” was submitted for publication to Inhalation Toxicology Journal in December and published in March.

It included data from a second report, “Characterizing Mineral Dusts and other Aerosols from the Middle East,” that showed particulate matter levels at each of 15 sites — including Joint Base Balad, Iraq, where an open burn pit once devoured as much as 240 tons of trash a day — was above World Health Organization, as well as military, standards for fine particulate matter.
read more here
Army report warned of burn-pit effects

Osceola man accused of murdering his 5-year-old son

This is a case of a 5 year old boy who didn't want to eat his breakfast. A "woman" if you want to use the word, beat him with a belt according to the report. When the 5 year old hit the woman, his father kicked him to death. A 5 year old boy is dead because he didn't want to eat his breakfast!

When we read appalling accounts like this it makes us all wonder what kind of people do things like this. What we tend to not think about is that the life of the child must have been hell all along.

Osceola man accused of murdering his 5-year-old son
Records show father, his girlfriend beat the child.

Walter Pacheco and Sarah Lundy

Sentinel Staff Writers

Five-year-old Kenyon Jeriel Ortiz didn't want to eat his breakfast Friday.

The boy's childish act angered his father's girlfriend, Frances Marie Rodriguez, who swatted him with a belt, investigators said.

Kenyon responded by hitting her back.

Melvin Ortiz wasn't going to let his son's behavior stand. He beat and kicked the child -- so hard the boy died hours later, according to authorities.

Now Ortiz, 28, is charged with murder and Rodriguez, 24, is charged with child neglect and battery. The Poinciana couple were arrested Tuesday and appeared in Osceola County Court on Wednesday.
read more here
Osceola man accused of murdering his 5-year-old son

Good Samaritan Rescues 4 People, Including 2 Children

Odd thing is that the woman has the same last name as the creek the car ended up in.

Man Rescues Family From Sinking Car
Good Samaritan Rescues 4 People, Including 2 Children

POSTED: 7:48 am CDT July 30, 2009
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. -- A Good Samaritan is being heralded as a life-saver after he helped four people, including two children, out of a car that ended up in a creek.
go here for more and for video

linked from CNN

What makes America Great

What Makes America Great?
Did you know that volunteer fire companies are a uniquely American tradition? In Europe, it would be unthinkable for anyone but the government to engage in the dangerous work of firefighting. But in America, the majority of firefighters are still volunteers. Ordinary Americans save the lives of others in countless communities across America -- simply for love of neighbor.

This fact speaks volumes about what has always made America great. As a nation we have a tradition of ordinary people caring for one another – even to the point of risking their lives. We sometimes forget that in many other societies this would seem absurd. But when we forget that, we forget who we are. That is why I love this video portrait of one volunteer fire company in Maryland. It captures the greatness of the ordinary Americans who volunteer to serve as firefighters in every community in our country:

Notice how most of the firefighters interviewed say that they serve because they saw someone else in their family do the same. That is the power of positive role models – and the reason that that Great Americans exists.
Matt Daniels
Creator and Executive Producer
Please forward this email to help us share the stories of our nation's real heroes.

About a year ago, after fighting with YouTube over my videos, I found Great Americans. I needed a place to show my videos without having to find them threatened by people blocking the music I use on the videos. It happened way too much and was also happening on Google videos.

They use software to find copy right music, which is fine since the sites are loaded with videos using music that others worked very hard to produce and they are not paid for the use. When their music is used in videos it's like advertising for them, but they never manage to see it that way. I have no argument with them at all. The problem comes in when under laws covering educational use are not taken into consideration.


When this did not solve the problem with YouTube, I also obtained a Creative Commons License. This didn't solve the problem either and there is no one to talk to in order to explain what these videos are for.

Even when I had permission from the artists involved, YouTube blocked the music. Nothing worked once YouTube had flagged my videos and then they began to block music on all of them.

It is frustrating that when I look at some of the videos on YouTube providing no educational purpose at all, the music is playing loud and clear. How they get away with it, I'll never know. I won't know because I will not put any of my videos back on their site.

Wounded and Waiting video was too long for YouTube so it was broken up into two parts. It used the music from BlackHawk Down. Leave No Man Behind was the song, which I've since found on YouTube still able to play. Can you think of a better sound track to use for a video like this?
Wounded And Waiting Part One
Views: 828
Wounded And Waiting Part Two
Views: 276

Wounded and Waiting is about wounded soldiers and Marines and the price they pay for serving this nation and then having to come back forced to wait for their claims to make it thru a backlog pile of another 800,000, which was the figure at the time the video was made. This is just one example.

I saved all the emails I received on the videos I produced, so I know they are helping veterans and their families coping with PTSD. You'd think a service like this would matter to YouTube but it doesn't. I have 27 videos right now that can only be found on Great Americans, my blog and web site. They are on other sites linked back to Great Americans instead of YouTube.

The other issue is that Great Americans does not get the same kind of traffic YouTube does. This is a shame considering how many people a site like Great Americans can serve.

Great Americans covers video subjects like veterans, our troops, firefighters (like the one above) police officers and American heroes. It's another reason why I am so grateful to have my videos included in on this site. They are dedicated to taking care of the people always taking care of the rest of us.

If you have not been in the Great Americans site, I urge you to take some time and go to Great Americans and watch some of what they have on their site. Pass the word on to all the people you know especially if you value the people risking their lives for the rest of us everyday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Airman from Great Falls Montana died at Jackson Memorial Hospital

DoD Identifies Navy Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Andrew Scott Charpentier, 21, of Great Falls, Mont., died July 23 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla., from a non-combat related illness incurred while assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Baby safe after snatching attempt at Fort Hood

Baby safe after snatching attempt at Fort Hood

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 14:39:47 EDT

FORT HOOD, Texas — Army officials are investigating the attempted kidnapping of a baby from the hospital at Fort Hood.

Officials say a woman wearing hospital scrubs took a newborn from a Darnall Army Medical Center room Monday morning, setting off the hospital’s infant abduction warning alarm. Hospital officials say the infant never left the ward and all babies were accounted for.
read more here
Baby safe after snatching attempt at Fort Hood

2 Vietnam vets return from Iraq deployment

2 Vietnam vets return from Iraq deployment

By Kristin M. Hall - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 19:46:03 EDT

SMYRNA, Tenn. — The first two Tennessee National Guardsmen that stepped off a plane Wednesday after a yearlong deployment to Iraq shared a similar experience decades earlier as Vietnam War vets.

Master Sgt. Dennis Proctor, 60, and Master Sgt. Robert Potts, 59, both served in Vietnam and then returned to military service as citizen-soldiers, putting aside work and family to deploy to Iraq.
read more here
2 Vietnam vets return from Iraq deployment

Fort Benning Private accused of killing his mother

Benning private accused of killing his mother

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 18:57:08 EDT

AUSTIN, Texas — A soldier arrested in a Texas border city has been charged with capital murder in the death of his mother.

Pvt. Travis Wayne Baczewski of Austin was in the Travis County Jail on Wednesday on bonds totaling $1.1 million. That’s according to Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade.
read more here
Benning private accused of killing his mother

Women veterans memorial in financial trouble needs donations

Women veterans memorial in financial trouble

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 16:50:04 EDT

The foundation that maintains and operates the nation’s only major memorial to female veterans is hurting for cash and has launched a fundraising campaign it hopes will help maintain operations — and ultimately stave off closure.

But despite a two-year shortfall in funding for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, closure is not imminent, according to retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, the foundation’s president.

“We all go through tough times,” Vaught said Wednesday. But “there is no question that we’re going to meet our financial requirements. And we will be open. We will continue to be open. We will work our way through this.”
read more here
Women veterans memorial in financial trouble

Apopka Florida woman walks 2,700 miles for Homeless Veterans

Woman Walking 2,700 Miles to Raise Money for Homeless Veterans Extends Route to Reach NYC on 9/11 Anniversary

By: Marketwire .
Jul. 28, 2009 11:31 AM

APOPKA, FL -- (Marketwire) -- 07/28/09 -- Keela Carr, the 36-year-old personal trainer who is walking across the country to raise $300,000 for homeless veterans, has extended her planned route to end in New York City on September 11th. The last leg of her walk will follow the previously planned arrival at Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington, Va.) where she will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on August 14th.

Inspired by the spirit of service of American service men and women, Carr completed a cross-country walk last summer solely to thank at least 1,000 veterans in person. This year, the journey will also act as a fund-raising activity for homeless vets through her organization, A Thousand Thanks, of which she is founder and president.

"This is a deeply personal journey for me," said Carr, a Florida resident. "I have felt a bond with our soldiers my entire life, and this walk gives me the opportunity to thank them in person, reflect on their sacrifices, and give something back to them in return for what they have done for me and our country."

On any given night, 150,000 U.S. veterans sleep homeless on the streets of America. Because they have no physical address, they are unable to receive the benefits and services available to them to get them back on their feet. The funds raised by Carr's walk will be used to purchase land for facilities where these veterans can go, establish an address, and begin receiving the services that will help them rebuild their lives and families.
read more here

Two veterans think they are the link to the VA and spread of HIV

This veteran contacted the lawyer dealing with the law suits against the VA. The kicker here is that there is another veteran also thinking he was the source. That makes two veterans suffering because they think they are to blame for this, but the truth is, the VA should have done a better job.

Nashville Vet Could Have Spread HIV
Man Says He Always Told Health Care Workers Of Virus
Reported By Nancy Amons

POSTED: 4:37 pm CDT July 28, 2009

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- A Nashville veteran who had a colonoscopy there says he feels a heavy burden knowing he could have spread HIV infection to others.

Yet, he said, his conscience is clear because he did all he could to warn the Veterans Administration about his status.

Ron Hereford said his lifestyle 20 years ago contributed to his contraction of HIV. But now he wonders if his HIV made other veterans sick.
read more here

Lt. Col. Raymond Rivas laid to rest

CNN Barbara Starr writes about two soldiers lives she took personally
Behind the Scenes: Triumph and tragedy for two wounded soldiers
Story Highlights
CNN's Barbara Starr celebrated a victory and mourned a loss on July 15An injured Marine was celebrating getting into Harvard Law School On same night, a warrior with a traumatic brain injury was found dead in his car Men's stories are linked -- both pleaded with the government to aid injured soldiers

Lt. Col. Raymond Rivas
Vet's traumatic brain injury 4:28
Family and friends gather for the funeral of a soldier whose invisible wounds became too much for him to bear.

Shock and awe at human flaw

Shock and awe at human flaw

Lessons in mistakes people make
Chaplain Kathie

We've all made mistakes and sometimes brilliant ones! Given the fact that I've made more than my share of them, it has lead me to not trust too much of what I think without knowing I am absolutely right. When it comes to PTSD, I know what I'm talking about but when it comes to the rest of what is required to operate the blog and website as well as taking the next step of trying to get some income from doing it instead of just volunteering, well, let's say I'm totally lost in all of that.

Today I got off the phone with the IRS after over an hour because I was wondering why I had not received the rest of the documentation I should have. After the last time when I assumed the EIN number I was given was for what I asked for, only to find out it was not, I decided to follow up on it. So far the IRS has not received all they needed from the IFOC on the Charter. This I wouldn't have known had I not called and found out what I needed to do. Any donations will still be tax deductible after July 1, 2009 because that is the date of the Charter but the rest still needs to be taken care of all the way through. The other issue was with the insurance I have to have. I was wondering why I hadn't received a bill by now and found out, they had the old PO box instead of the new one. Again, something I wouldn't have known had I not asked.

While I thought everything was taken care of since I am a OCD when it comes to taking care of things, had I not remembered the times when I either totally messed up or almost did, I would have been in a total mess.

When it comes to the military, well, they have their share of problems too. As serious as they are about documenting everything possible they make mistakes too. Imagine that!

Case in point is what they did back during Vietnam. Back then everything was typed, yes with a typewriter, and most of the clerks were not that diligent about what they were doing. After all, can you really blame them? Social security numbers were used on everything. My husband ended up with 6 different social security numbers in the copies of the documents he was given with his discharge. The problem is, one of them was very important. It was for his Bronze Star award.

When he was given the paperwork and spotted the wrong number. He was told they would fix the error. He assumed they would do whatever needed to be done and really didn't want to hear anything more about it. It showed up on his DD214 so he never thought about it again. That is until he had to file a claim with the VA and all hell broke loose.

Fast forward twenty years later and we arrived with denials from the VA we couldn't understand. We thought they meant he had to have a Bronze Star for valor or something higher when they were talking about no awards. His MOS was a clerk but during Vietnam, no one was left out of sweeps or pulling bunker guard duty. They all did it. Six years after we began to fight the VA to have his claim honored, I held all the documentation in my hands wondering how it was possible the VA could be saying what he had was not there. Then I spotted the wrong social security number. I asked my husband about it and he just repeated what the Army told him. It was fixed. The problem was, it was not fixed all the way through the paper chain.

I called the DAV and told them what I had found. A service officer (who sucked at his job) accused my husband of falsifying his award since he was a clerk after all. I told him if he was smart enough to do that he'd be smart enough to use his right social security number. Then I really hit the roof and ended up with another service officer. I was furious! I called the administrator of the hospital to find out what to do and was put in contact with a general's office. He pulled the records with the social security numbers I gave him and bingo, the award was finally fixed all the way through the paperwork chain. My husband received a new Bronze Star certificate with the right social security numbers on it. Needless to say, his claim was approved soon after that. The new one is tucked away but the old one, the one he was given in Vietnam is hanging in a frame.

There have been many cases of Stolen Valor and veterans claiming to be something they are not. I'm glad when they are caught but part of me reserves judgment after what happened to my husband. There are too many veterans telling the truth but because people make mistakes, they end up not only paying the price for those mistakes but are assaulted for telling the truth because someone else messed up. Claims are turned down because of this and the burden of proof is always on the veterans.

In a day and age where everything is done with computers, we need to wonder if files were not transferred correctly into the data bases everyone assumes are the gospel truth. If humans made errors with typing think of the kinds of mistakes they can make with a keyboard! Would you trust any of them?

We all need to step back and think that some of the reports we read about "fake veterans" and "stolen valor" cases until all the facts are in. I applaud the efforts of the groups tracking these cases down because there are just too many people claiming to be what they are not. We just need to wait until everything has been investigated before we judge them.

Gary Amster could very well be one of these it happened to only in reverse.

Another Medal of Honor Stolen Valor Case? Maybe not
Amster says he never knew what was on his discharge papers until he wanted to get a loan and needed it. This could be just a mistake, considering during the Vietnam War, there were many errors on records. Wrong social security numbers were typed all the time and while corrections were attempted to be made, most of them never ended up being fixed all the way through on every record in every file. The question here is, did Amster ever claim having the Medal of Honor to anyone for his own advantage? Seems really odd that it would take him until 2005 to come up with a story like this.

What if an award was supposed to be in someone else's file but had the wrong social security number on it? "What if" is something we should always be asking because people make mistakes but they also lie. We won't know which is which unless we are willing to understand it always could be something else.

Fort Hood finally takes on mind-body-spirit with new program

Hood center offers spiritual help

By Angela K. Brown - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 6:58:39 EDT

FORT HOOD, Texas — In a converted chapel, a television plays footage of soldiers talking about successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, classrooms offer battlefield ethics or marriage enrichment courses and a chaplain is available 24 hours a day.

It isn’t a church any longer but the Spiritual Fitness Center, one part of Fort Hood’s new Resiliency Campus. It is the Army’s first such facility designed to help soldiers and their families prepare better for the stress and uncertainty of being deployed — often for the second or third time.

“We want to do more going into deployments and build inner strength in soldiers and their families rather than just fix them when they return,” said Col. Bill Rabena, who oversees the Resiliency Campus. “It’s about the mind, body and spirit.”
read more here
Hood center offers spiritual help

85 year old Veteran survived 3 wars, died in home invasion in Dayton OH

3-war vet from Ohio killed in home invasion

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 8:53:39 EDT

DAYTON, Ohio — Police say an 85-year-old decorated veteran of three wars has died from injuries suffered in an invasion of his home.

A neighbor found retired Army Sgt. Maj. North Woodall unconscious and bloody late Monday. Police say he was pronounced dead at the scene.
read more here
3-war vet from Ohio killed in home invasion

National Convention of Vietnam Veterans begin meeting in Louisville

Vietnam Veterans begin meeting in Louisville

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 29, 2009 10:09:19 EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Vietnam Veterans of America organization is holding its national convention this week in Louisville.

The organization says that more than 650 delegates from chapters across the nation will join hundreds of other Vietnam veterans and guests for the events.
read more here
Vietnam Veterans begin meeting in Louisville

I love God but not the church II: Wounded, but not broken

Reading this article brought to mind of why I do what I do the way I do it. Over the last couple of years, I've been trying to get the local churches involved with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to help people heal, especially our veterans. The biggest part of PTSD is the loss of faith. The problem is, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many churches I visit or talk to on the phone, they just don't want to get involved and that's a shame.

They are not serving the Children of God the way they claim they are when they turn their backs on the wounded in spirit, especially when they happen to be among the few willing to lay down their lives for the sake of others.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

This quote is the headline of my website at Nam Guardian Angel. It's there for this reason alone. They never really see it this way. If Christ said this, then what is the problem with the churches when they want to ignore the price paid by so many doing exactly what Christ said was the greatest love of all?

I just did a post about Des Moines police officers, firefighters and emergency responders setting up peer support groups to help recover from what they have to do as part of their jobs. They are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of others, but the churches seem to want nothing to do with being part of their healing. National Guards and Reservist serve side by side as citizen soldiers with the military but return home to families and jobs left alone to cope with what was asked of them but again, the churches fail them. Veterans left alone years after war suffered in silence when they could have been healing but again even though we knew about PTSD after Vietnam, the churches have turned their backs on these walking wounded. Why?

Would Christ have ignored them? Would Christ have said He didn't have time for them or the staff to take care of them? Or would Christ weep again as He did for the sister of Lazarus before He raised him from the dead? I'm sure Christ would have taken all the time they needed to help them heal and restore their faith in His Loving Father.

This is one of the biggest reasons I became a Chaplain. Too many churches are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I've talked to enough pastors and church elders witnessing their eyes glaze over as they politely send me on my way and ignore what they need to be doing for the sake of those wounded and doubting they are loved by God. How can they believe God loves them if the churches turn their backs on them?

I love God but not the church II: Wounded, but not broken
Carla Roberson

Newark Spirituality Examiner
July 28, 11:35 PM

Emotional hurt; we have all experienced it in our lives at one time or another. Anguish, feelings of betrayal and spiritual bruises; these words can only skim the surface of what agitates deep inside as the wounded, attempt to gather the pieces of their wilted spirits. They go on in their lives, many times bearing a significant weight of insecurity and distrust on their shoulders. They are the emotionally wounded; but they are not broken. Fret not; for we serve a God of redemption, healing and restoration. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you {1 Peter 5:7}.

The first segment of this article was written roughly a week ago, resulting from my own experiences that I encountered in visiting various churches. I have been in attendance of my own church for close to 7 years now and a member for about 2 years. Although my church is relatively large, consisting of approximately 10,000 in multitude; I have esteemed my church honorable. I am getting spiritually fed and I am always graciously enamored by members of the congregation, making me feel welcome and giving me a sense of joy. But approximately 3-4 months ago, I started feeling restless in church. I could not understand why I was feeling this way but I knew that God was up to something.

I began to visit other churches and I quickly realized that many churches were not operating the way that God would intend for them to. God instructed me to write about the churches and their erroneous ways. It was then, that I recognized that being a part of my own church was a blessing. I knew that I was extremely fortunate to be a member of an organization intricately designed and operated by the Lord. My own church, an imperative element in God’s purpose has proved to be a significant component as a result of my observation; by which God desires to pour out His spirit.
read more hereI love God but not the church II

Des Moines Police take on traumatic stress head on

We're reading only parts of the stories when police officers are involved in shooting people or responding to murders, domestic violence especially when they involve children. We read about how they responded, read about the civilians involved but we hardly ever think about the police officers after any of it unless they have to go on trail for what they did. That's a shame because in a time when we are finally talking about PTSD in soldiers, Marines and veterans, we leave police officers, firefighters and emergency responders totally out of the reporting on PTSD.

The problem is that police officers, drug agents and FBI agents have a lot in common with the troops in the military and the National Guards. They are not just exposed to traumatic events, they are also participants in them. Many times they have to make life or death decisions in a second and then have to live with those decisions for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, it is not a clear cut conclusion. Those are the times when what they thought they had to do will eat away at them.

We can read about a the shooting of a man they thought had a gun but it turns out, he was unarmed. The outcome is the same and the man is dead but the officer then must overcome the guilt they feel for making the wrong decision. We blame the officer then forget all about it, never knowing what the officer went through after. We dismiss any aftermath as being part of a group of problem officers the media loves to take on because we don't want to look at good cops making one bad decision and heaven forbid we ever look at a cop having to make these decisions every day.

We depend on them for our safety and that makes it hard to remember they are still human just like us. Unlike us, they are willing to put their lives on the line for someone else. It's time they were helped to heal as humans exposed to abnormal events just as we help the troops and veterans of combat heal.

New Des Moines police unit helps officers fight job stress
By DANIEL P. FINNEY • • July 29, 2009

Jeremy Sprague needed to get his head right.

In July 2004, Sprague, then a Dallas County sheriff's deputy, was one of four law enforcement officers who shot and killed a suicidal man who allegedly pointed a gun at authorities in rural Van Meter.

A grand jury later ruled the officers acted properly, but Sprague struggled with taking a life. He lost sleep. He tried to reconcile killing a man, even in the line of duty, with his Christian faith. He wanted to talk to somebody, but cop culture leaves little room for emotions.

"In law enforcement, you can't really expose your feelings, and I didn't feel like there was anywhere for me to turn," Sprague said. "So, I ended up bottling up all the stress. It wore me down."

With time, counseling and a job change, Sprague healed. In 2006, he became a Des Moines police officer. Now he and 14 other members of the Des Moines police and fire departments are working to make sure their peers never have to suffer in silence as Sprague did.

A handful of Des Moines police officers, firefighters and an emergency dispatcher launched a peer support group with an eye to helping colleagues avoid post-traumatic stress disorder and other crisis-related struggles. The committee began work on the project in spring 2008.
read more here
New Des Moines police unit helps officers fight job stress

Marine from Florida gets Baptized in Afghanistan

Marine Finds Solace in Combat Baptism

MIANPOSHTEH, Afghanistan -- The bravado of Marines fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province is punctuated by quiet moments of questioning and introspection.

A few Marines ask why they survived when their best friends did not. Others question how they will deal with the stress of combat. Many wonder what people back home know about their actions here.

Spirituality is a source of solace. Lance Cpl. Zachary Ludwig, 20, of Marco Island, Florida, wanted to be baptized before he and thousands of other Marines pushed deep into Taliban-held territory beginning early this month.

But it was not until this week that Chaplain Navy Lt. Terry A. Roberts arrived at Ludwig's tiny outpost in the southern village of Mianposhteh to perform the ceremony.
read more here
Marine Finds Solace in Combat Baptism

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Child Sickened By Oxycontin In Bag Of Skittles

Child Sickened By Oxycontin In Bag Of Skittles
Tainted Candy Sends Child To Hospital
POSTED: 8:52 am EDT July 28, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa authorities said a 4-year-old girl was treated in a hospital after eating candy that was tainted with Oxycontin.

The girl was with her grandparents, driving home Monday from Tampa International Airport, when she became lethargic. They took her to a hospital where she was treated and later released.
read more here

Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak

Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak
Story Highlights
Military wants to establish regional teams to help civilian authorities respond
Proposal awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Military could provide support such as air transport, large-scale testing
From Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.

The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command's Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.
click link for more

Soldiers help in rush to control Hood blaze

Soldiers help in rush to control Hood blaze

Staff report
Posted : Tuesday Jul 28, 2009 17:33:03 EDT

More than 100 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, have been deployed to the post’s southern perimeter to help battle a fire that has been burning since Sunday.

Aviators with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment are providing helicopter and ground support, and several local fire departments are on the scene helping extinguish the blaze, which is burning land near Crittenberger Range and Owl Creek Assault Course, an Army news release announced Tuesday.

As of Friday afternoon, the release said, about 50 percent of the fire had been contained and soldiers were still on the scene.
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Soldiers help in rush to control Hood blaze

House passes bill to train, help caregivers

House passes bill to train, help caregivers

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 28, 2009 11:02:28 EDT

Landmark legislation to train family members to provide care for severely wounded veterans — and pay them for it — was approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The bill, HR 3155, the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act, or CARE Act, also creates a respite care program for caregivers; expands outreach and education programs for families; extends to caregivers the right to get mental health counseling; and, for those who do not have their own health insurance, allows coverage under the Veterans Affairs Department health care program.
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House passes bill to train, help caregivers



Feingold Amendments to Defense Authorization Bill, Passed By the Senate, Help Service Members During Their Transition to Civilian Life and Ensure Forces are Prepared to Help Communities in the Event of a Catastrophe

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act,

Washington, D.C. – Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed a Defense authorization bill that included two amendments authored by Senator Russ Feingold to help troops transitioning to civilian life and to ensure forces here at home are better prepared to respond to emergencies. Feingold’s first amendment, offered along with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and based on their bipartisan Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Act, will help ensure wounded service members of the Guard and Reserves are not discharged before their injuries are treated and evaluated. Many wounded service members have been discharged prematurely and this has compromised their recovery and imposed additional hardships upon them and their families. The legislation was introduced after a young soldier from Wisconsin came to Feingold in need of assistance after being discharged before his injuries were evaluated.

“I am pleased the Senate recognized the need to help our brave men and women in uniform transition back to civilian life,” Feingold said. “Hearing the story of a young soldier from Wisconsin who fell through the cracks after serving his country was both heart-breaking and infuriating. Allowing the men and women who selflessly serve our country to be left behind is unacceptable. With passage of this amendment, we can help ensure our service members are not faced with financial hardships that can compound the already difficult transition back to their lives at home.”

Feingold and Murkowski’s legislation has broad support among military and veteran service organizations and is endorsed by Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. The cost of the legislation is fully offset so as not to increase the federal deficit.

The defense bill also included an amendment by Feingold to help ensure communities across the nation are protected in the event of a catastrophe. Feingold’s amendment seeks to ensure the Department of Defense adequately funds forces needed to deal with the consequences of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive event. Last year, the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves concluded that Department of Defense’s (DOD) failure to establish these forces in the wake of 9/11 had left an "appalling gap" in our defenses. DOD is working on establishing the needed forces but has historically failed to provide needed personnel and adequate funding. Feingold’s amendment would increase transparency over defense spending to help Congress ensure these vital units receive the resources they need.

“The Department of Defense must no longer drag its feet in committing resources to these forces, which would be absolutely critical in the event of a catastrophic incident,” Feingold said. “This amendment creates the transparency in the defense budget necessary to ensure these forces are funded and able to respond to emergencies.”

Feingold has consistently worked to ensure domestic readiness for a terrorist attack. Feingold is the author of a law requiring each state and U.S. territory be equipped with at least one WMD-Civil Support Team, National Guard units that would provide the initial response to a chemical, biological or nuclear disaster. These teams are now up and running in every state in the union.

Program aims to curb Marine suicides

Program aims to curb Marine suicides

By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Faced with a rise in suicides among Marines, the service is ordering training for all immediate supervisors — sergeants and corporals — to become more involved and knowledgeable about the intimate details of the lives of their young charges.

"We as Marines always try to do the hard thing," Master Sgt. James Dinwoodie says in a training video aimed at promoting sensitivity to emotional problems Marines may be suffering. "Well, sometimes you need to do the soft thing."

Through July 16, there have been 30 confirmed or suspected Marine suicides this year. There were 42 during 2008, the highest since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have also been 89 attempted suicides this year, compared with 146 attempts in all of 2008.

The video includes footage of Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Workman, who received the service's second-highest award for valor, the Navy Cross, for heroism in Iraq, discussing his post-traumatic stress disorder and his own suicide attempt in 2006.

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Program aims to curb Marine suicides

Casualties of War, Part II: Warning Signs

Casualties of War, Part II: Warning Signs
Monday 27 July 2009

by: Dave Philipps Visit article original @ The Colorado Springs Gazette

After coming home from Iraq, 21-year-old medic Bruce Bastien was driving with his Army buddy Louis Bressler, 24, when they spotted a woman walking to work on a Colorado Springs street.

Bressler swerved and hit the woman with the car, according to police, then Bastien jumped out and stabbed her over and over.

It was October 2007. A fellow soldier, Kenneth Eastridge, 24, watched it all from the passenger seat.

At that moment, he said, it was clear that however messed up some of the soldiers in the unit had been after their first Iraq deployment, it was about to get much worse.
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read more of this series here
Related Stories/Links

Casualties of War, Part I: The hell of war comes home
EDITOR'S NOTE: A word of caution
Fort Carson report: Combat stress contributed to soldiers' crimes back home
Fort Carson report (.pdf document 126 pages)
Complete military coverage
Audio: Interview with Kenneth Eastridge
John Needham letter alleging war crimes

You are either thinking we have a serious problem or this is just media hype. If you think it's hype, your dead wrong and history proves that. It was easier to ignore all of the price paid by those we send when we were talking about Vietnam or any of the earlier wars in our history. The difference is the Internet. You can't hide much of it anymore.

While it was easier to hide the truth, it was a lot harder to deal with any of it even though it was all there. It was also much harder to live with feeling as if you no longer existed to the rest of the nation turned obliviously against you while you suffered in silence. You were no longer a soldier and thus obsolete. It was easy to ignore the suffering of so many so because it was easy to hide all of it from the attention of the general public.

You may be reading this and think "ok well there have been 1.7 million sent into Iraq and Afghanistan, so what's a few "criminals" to worry about?" The problem is, they were not criminals before they were sent into combat and the likelihood of them committing crimes had they not been deployed into combat, then not taken care of properly, the odds are against them ever committing crimes at all. So when you look at it that way, you finally understand that while they fulfilled their obligation to this nation as they are often reminded of the fact "they volunteered" you need to notice that we did not live up to our obligation to them any better than we did the generations before them. Not such a pretty picture to hold in your mind now is it?

The real issue we need to be discussing is the fact that none of the men or women in the military since the Vietnam war were drafted and forced to go. Think of what that requires of all of them. Think of what kind of person it takes to be willing to put their own lives on the line. Then think about what they go through. Wouldn't you expect them to change? Wouldn't you change?

If we helped them recover with the same kind of understanding we seem to have when we send them to risk their lives, I doubt there would be many suicides or crimes associated with deployment. The fault is not their's entirely. It is partly our's. Yes they decided to commit the crimes but we decided to ignore their problems in the first place.

Fort Campbell plans event to honor Vietnam veterans

Here's an important request from me. If you go to this, could you please take some pictures or write about it? My husband was with the 101st 1970-1971 in Vietnam on Camp Evans and then Camp Eagle. On August 16th we are going to a going away party for a friend's daughter heading back to college. He was with my husband part of the time in Vietnam and while they lost touch for a long time, in 1999, I tracked him down. We get together as much as possible and the two of them act as if they have lost no time at all. So there are two veterans with you in spirit anyway but cannot go to this event.

Fort Campbell plans event to honor Vietnam veterans
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2009 9:05 pm

Messenger Staff Reporter
A recent announcement from the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., seeks to right a great social wrong from the 1970s.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser stated a Welcome Home ceremony for Vietnam veterans will be held at the fort at 2 p.m. Aug. 16.
Vietnam veterans from all units, branches and services are invited to participate in a special ceremony.
Ed Southern of Union City, a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, is delighted that after all these years — the Vietnam war was officially ended April 30, 1975 — veterans of the conflict will be properly praised and publicly thanked for their service, at least at Fort Campbell. “It’s a long time coming,” he said.
Joe Alexander, president of the 101st Airborne Division Association, said Vietnam veterans will have the rare privilege of receiving the same welcome home that every member of the 101st receives when they return from the war on terrorism.
“To participate, everyone is to enter Fort Campbell at Gate 7 Aug. 16 and assemble in casual patriotic attire no later than 2 p.m. at the Freedom Fighter gymnasium near the 4th Basic Combat Training (BCT) headquarters,” Alexander said.
Buses will be available at the gymnasium to ferry everyone to and from Hangar 3 at the airfield.
“Vietnam veterans will be greeted by our new commanding general, Maj. Gen. John Campbell,” Alexander said. “What a memorable moment. I am a veteran of the Vietnam war and it touches me deeply to know that our commanding general has made this special effort to include the Vietnam veteran in the same honors given to our active duty soldiers.”
After the Hangar 3 ceremony, buses will ferry everyone back to the gymnasium for a free barbecue meal for Vietnam veterans. Each such veteran is allowed one guest.
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CNN Barbara Starr writes about two soldiers lives she took personally

Behind the Scenes: Triumph and tragedy for two wounded soldiers
Story Highlights
CNN's Barbara Starr celebrated a victory and mourned a loss on July 15

An injured Marine was celebrating getting into Harvard Law School

On same night, a warrior with a traumatic brain injury was found dead in his car

Men's stories are linked -- both pleaded with the government to aid injured soldiers
By Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Where were you on the night of July 15? You may not even remember, but for me it was an extraordinary evening, an evening of unimaginable triumph and unbearable tragedy.

But I would not actually know everything that happened until the night was long over.

A couple of weeks before July 15, a friend who works with injured troops emailed me to say it was time for Andrew's going away party.

Andrew Kinard is a young Marine I first met a few years ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington where he was recovering from a devastating IED attack in Iraq. He had stepped on the roadside bomb and lost his entire body below the hips.

The party being arranged was Andrew's farewell to D.C. Andrew is off to the rigors of Harvard Law School. He's says he's itching to get into a courtroom.

You need to remember the name Andrew Kinard. Many of his friends believe Andrew is such an amazing man that he will become president of the United States. If I had to bet, I'd say it could happen.

I wouldn't have missed the party for the world. I was touched that this tight-knit community of wounded warriors had included me in this very special, very intimate evening.

There was a display of photos of Andrew serving in Iraq. I suddenly realized I never knew how tall he was before the war. There were a few sniffles and wiping of eyes in the room for a Marine whose dream of service to his country ended within a few months of getting to Iraq. But sniffles didn't last long and the evening became one of hugs, laughter and good wishes (and more than a few beers) for a young Marine who had triumphed over what the war had dealt him.

But my warm feelings didn't last long. The next day another source in the wounded troop community came to me in the Pentagon hallway with another tale.

"You have to do something about the story of Ray Rivas," he said.

In the very hours we were celebrating Andrew in Washington, tragedy was unfolding in Texas. Lt. Col. Raymond Rivas, a 53-year old civil affairs officer who had dedicated his career to rebuilding war torn countries, was found dead in his car in the parking lot of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas.

Colleagues of Ray's said prescription pills and notes he wrote to his family and wife, Colleen, were found. A military source told me all indications are Ray took his own life.
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Triumph and tragedy for two wounded soldiers

Extreme sports used to help war veterans

Extreme sports used to help war veterans

By Gregg Bell - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 28, 2009 14:09:33 EDT

FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Sgt. Sylvia Portillo went first.

Secured with elastic cords to a railroad bridge more than 200 feet over a gorge south of Mount St. Helens, Portillo's mission was to dive over the edge. She pretended to throw up, getting a nervous laugh out of the troops behind her. Then, keeping her own anxiety in check, she bungee-jumped into the lush green below.

Dozens of soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment and the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team took the plunge that day last fall. Most had been recently deployed in Iraq. Few had bungee-jumped before.

As he stood at the edge, Sgt. Steve Damron felt a mix of trepidation and adrenaline that he likened to patrols through Baghdad. "It's a chance to calm our brothers down," he said, "to push that adrenaline out."

That's the idea.
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PTSD On Trail:A Combat Soldier on Death Row?

A Combat Soldier on Death Row?
Tim King
Prosecutors want to kill a three-tour combat veteran who was prescribed dangerous drugs by the same government that trained him to kill.

(ALTOONA, Pa.) - Somewhere along the way, Americans convinced themselves that you can train a soldier to kill, send him to war, then bring him home and deactivate the killer inside with a magical switch.

We learned during the Vietnam War, or re-learned more specifically, that it doesn't work that way. When you train thousands to survive in combat, a percentage will not easily shed those skills.

A highly decorated three-tour Iraq Army soldier named Nick Horner, a father of two beautiful children, snapped and did the unthinkable last year. The Iraq War vet went on an unprovoked shooting spree that left two people dead and a third injured.

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A Combat Soldier on Death Row

White House apologizes to mom of Brooklyn Marine for form-letter flap

This is one of the dangers when staffers use form letters to reply especially when the form letter they send out has nothing to do with the letter sent. It happens all the time.

I've written to politicians for years and ended up with either no response at all of replies totally ignoring what I wrote. It is not the fault of the politician but the untrained, unthinking and short-cutter staffer.

White House apologizes to mom of Brooklyn Marine for form-letter flap
BY Corky Siemaszko

Monday, July 27th 2009, 10:14 PM

First, the mom of a murdered Brooklyn Marine got a "form letter" response from the White House - then she got an apology.

Henryka Pietrzak-Varga was deeply upset last month when she received a standard letter from a White House aide, Michael Kelleher, that urged her to contact the White House if "you still need help with a federal agency."

The White House discovered the cold-hearted error after the Daily News asked for a reaction to the mom's disappointment, which she outlined in a Polish newspaper.

Soon after, a White House official called The News to say President Obama described the murder of Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana, as a "tragic loss" and thanked the mother "for her son's service and sacrifice for this country."

"Mr. Kelleher called Mrs. Pietrzak-Varga to apologize for the error," the official said. "Mrs. Pietrzak-Varga accepted his apology, and the two spoke for approximately half an hour."

Read more: White House apologizes to mom of Brooklyn Marine for form-letter flap