Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trauma in Iraq leads to drama in Oregon

If you think for a second that soap operas are more interesting than what is happening right here in this country with our veterans, you are really missing a lot.

The audience for soap operas is
By the Numbers
Total Ratings for All Shows
+0.600 from last week
according to

It's an easy guess that there are not 16.1 million people in this country with any kind of knowledge about what is really going on when the men and women we sent into Iraq and Afghanistan come home. So few are even interested since they have their own problems. That is a very sad statement to make. While we have our own problems, we need to remember they do too on top of leaving their families to go where we send them and do what they are told to do.

There is not a soap opera or movie out there that can come close to comparing with the drama they live with everyday. Reality TV could only dream about coming up with a show that reflects their lives. It's really doubtful there are more interesting people in this country and not many more deserving of our attention.

Read this story and the next time you turn on a soap notice what the characters lack and what you're missing from real lives.

Trauma in Iraq leads to drama in Oregon
By Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian
October 31, 2009, 3:00PM

JOHN DAY -- Later, after the defense attorney wept and the judge put away his robe and the jurors drove home in the fading light, the consequences of war hung over this town of 1,845 like wood smoke on an autumn eve.

Fourteen months earlier, a young woman lay down with a terrible burden. She was pregnant. Her fiancé, Jessie Bratcher, was so thrilled he kissed the home pregnancy test kit. He researched how a baby develops and what the mother should eat.

But Celena Davis was not sure the child was his.

As Bratcher sat on the foot of their bed, she told him that two months earlier, she had been raped.

The Iraq veteran dropped to his knees and cried. Bratcher went to the living room and put the barrel of an AK-47 in his mouth, then stopped. He grabbed scissors and cut off half of Celena's long dark hair. They stayed up all night. When she complained of cramps, he walked her to the hospital at 6 a.m., so tense that nurses shooed him away.

War has changed the Oregon Army National Guard, which has deployed troops on 8,400 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. It turned the state's emergency volunteers into combat veterans.

read more here

Fire at 9-11 Chapel caused by "craven and contemptible" monsters

Mayor Bloomberg used the words "craven and contemptible" but the word monsters was mine. Can you imagine anyone doing something like this after the pain so many people were in and have been carrying since 9-11?

NYC probes fire at chapel for 9/11 victims


Associated Press Writer – Sat Oct 31, 5:54 pm ET
NEW YORK – A small fire at the temporary home for the remains of thousands of World Trade Center victims was likely arson committed after a break-in on Saturday, authorities said.

The smoldering flames in a section of the facility's chapel on Manhattan's East Side were quickly extinguished.

Firefighters got a call at about 9 a.m. to respond to Memorial Park, a weatherproof tent on Manhattan's East Side where the city is storing the remains of 9/11 victims who have yet to be identified.

The fire damaged a wooden bench, while mementos — pictures, notes, flowers — honoring the dead disappeared.

"Anyone who would set fire to the inviolable Memorial Park chapel is craven and contemptible," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
read more here
linked from RawStory

Volunteering Marine family wins award

Volunteering Marine family wins award

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Oct 30, 2009 13:52:00 EDT

Thirteen-year-old Jordan Leanes fixes up broken bikes and donates them to charities. His twin sister Syvannah organized a project to help wounded warriors through their church.

The twins, along with the other five members of their Marine Corps family — volunteers all — were named the National Military Family Association’s family of the year in the association’s 40th anniversary celebration Oct. 28.

It was all about military families, from first lady Michelle Obama’s videotaped message honoring and pledging support to military families, to videotaped messages from each service’s senior leader describing the accomplishments of the nominated families. And while members of Congress and a number of senior defense and civilian officials attended, the stars on stage and the constant focus were the military families.

Before he presented the award to the Leanes family, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, recognized military families “past, present and future.”
read more here

Women at Arms After Combat, Anguish

Women at Arms
After Combat, Anguish

Published: October 31, 2009
For Vivienne Pacquette, being a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder means avoiding phone calls to her sons, dinner out with her husband and therapy sessions that make her talk about seeing the reds and whites of her friends’ insides after a mortar attack in 2004.

As with other women in her position, hiding seems to make sense. Post-traumatic stress disorder distorts personalities: some veterans who have it fight in their sleep; others feel paranoid around children. And as women return to a society unfamiliar with their wartime roles, they often choose isolation over embarrassment.

Many spend months or years as virtual shut-ins, missing the camaraderie of Iraq or Afghanistan, while racked with guilt over who they have become.

“After all, I’m a soldier, I’m an NCO, I’m a problem solver,” said Mrs. Pacquette, 52, a retired noncommissioned officer who served two tours in Iraq and more than 20 years in the Army. “What’s it going to look like if I can’t get things straight in my head?”

Some psychiatrists say that women do better in therapy because they are more comfortable talking through their emotions, but it typically takes years for them to seek help. In interviews, female veterans with post-traumatic stress said they did not always feel their problems were justified, or would be treated as valid by a military system that defines combat as an all-male activity.

go here for more

After Combat, Anguish New York Times

No normal rules of engagement apply in Iraq or Afghanistan. No safe zones or safe jobs to do. Any day on any road a bomb could blow up anywhere. If this was not bad enough, women in the military have to worry about something more. Sexual abuse and sexual assaults. Even if they were not a victim of this, the chances are, they're well aware of some other woman it happened to.

Last year I did a radio program with two female veterans. During the discussion, the fact that many deployed female soldiers were avoiding drinking anything after noon so they would not have to use the latrine at night, showed how deep this fear is.

If you cannot understand how this can happen then think of your own life. When you read about a robbery in your neighborhood, you are more apt to be very vigilant with your own security even though nothing happened to you. You may spend the next days or weeks startled by the sound of a barking dog in the middle of the night with apprehension taking control of your thoughts as you picture hooded thugs lurking around your house trying to get in. You timidly look out of your window only to discover the barking dog is not trying to warn you but simply barking at a cat roaming around. It is the same when you are placed into harms way as it is and then discover someone just like you was victimized by people she was supposed to be able to trust.

When they come home, who can they trust? They feel they cannot trust the government since they are made to fight for whatever they get from the DOD or the VA. They feel they cannot trust friends or family members with what's going on inside of them and then they try to hide it all. They cannot hide the changes. They can only hide the reasons why they changed.

The truly depressing thing in all of this is that this is just the beginning of what is coming as more and more discover they cannot heal on their own and they cannot "get over it" unless they are helped to do it. First they need to be able to trust someone and that is often the hardest thing to do when they feel betrayed by people they trusted already.

VFW Post Makes Push To Recruit Young Vets

Great idea! All service organizations need to step out of their comfort zone and start filling the need zone if they are going to survive and really serve all veterans.

VFW Post Makes Push To Recruit Young Vets
by Melissa Block

October 29, 2009
All around Portland, Ore., Veterans of Foreign Wars posts have closed their doors in recent years as members died and funds dried up.

But this summer, one post in Tualatin, Ore., outside Portland, has made a point to attract young veterans to revitalize membership, including moving out of a dump into a fancy new home.

VFW Post 3452's new hall is full of light with a shiny professional kitchen, granite countertops, a 52-inch flat-screen TV. It's named after a young veteran, Marine Cpl. Matthew Lembke.

Lembke served two tours in Iraq. And he was on foot patrol in Afghanistan this past June when he stepped on an IED. He died of complications several weeks later. He was 22.
read more here

Vietnam Vet forced to prove he's not dead yet

Declared dead by VA, Curles struggling to prove otherwise

Kevin Hall

MOULTRIE — Tommy Curles wants the world to know he’s alive.

Especially the Department of Veterans Affairs, because he says they haven’t gotten the message yet.

Curles, an Air Force veteran, told The Observer last week that he receives a pension from the VA because of a 20 percent hearing loss he suffered during the Vietnam War. He was a crew chief on B-52 bombers and KC-135 air tankers, serving in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Guam, and the loud jet engines damaged his hearing.

He said the checks were mailed to him at home. He had tried to get Direct Deposit, he said, but gave up because the government made it too complicated.
read more here

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Spc. Robert K. Charlton, 22, of Malden, Mo.,

died Oct. 27 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident Oct. 23 in Wardak, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

The circumstances surrounding the non-combat related incident are under investigation.

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Spc. Joseph L. Gallegos, 39, of Questa, N.M.,

died Oct. 28 in Tallil, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 720th Transportation Company, New Mexico Army National Guard, in Las Vegas, N.M.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

Decades after the war, veterans return to Vietnam to help other vets heal

Decades after the war, veterans return to Vietnam to help other vets heal

By PAUL FATTIG (Medford) Mail Tribune
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - When Michael Phillips returned to Medford from Vietnam in 1971, the Army veteran didn't exactly march back into society.

"When I got back, I didn't associate with my family, I didn't join the VFW or anything," he said. "I came close to getting married several times but each time managed to mess it up. I partied a lot, but it was very hard for me to get close to anybody."

"I thought I was invincible because I had survived the war," he said. "But my PTSD was causing severe depression."

In the Army, Phillips was a specialist fourth class who drove in a combat convoy in Vietnam and into Cambodia.

He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which he and counselors say led to drug abuse and homelessness over the years.

He spent two years in therapy for PTSD at the VA's Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City, and it is the reason he is returning to Vietnam on Nov. 3.

"I'm not going back there with a lot of feelings of guilt or anger," he said. "I'm going back there to learn how to help other veterans heal, although I anticipate there will be moments when I have my issues."

Phillips will be among 20 people on the trip, including eight veterans, their spouses and several others with ties to Vietnam or the war.
read more here

For these women veterans, a home to call their own

Gulf War veteran Tinamarie Polverari greeted a fellow resident at Jackie K's House for homeless women veterans. (Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe)

For these women veterans, a home to call their own
By Brian MacQuarrie
Globe Staff / October 31, 2009
NORTHAMPTON - An oversized stuffed tiger lies across a bedspread in a brightly colored room where Tinamarie Polverari has draped a New York Yankees cap on a lampshade.

She feels safe here.

Polverari, a 38-year-old Army veteran, lives in a duplex cottage run by the nonprofit group Soldier On. A victim of repeated rapes during the Gulf War, she returned in 1993 to an unhinged civilian life of heroin, crack cocaine, and desperate homelessness.

She is among a growing legion of female veterans who have turned to the street after a failed transition from military to civilian life. At a time when women are assuming an ever-expanding role in the armed forces, the number of homeless female veterans is rising.

Women last year accounted for an estimated 5 percent of all homeless veterans, or 6,500 former servicewomen, a figure that is 67 percent higher than the number reported in 2004, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. By contrast, the total number of homeless veterans decreased by 33 percent in the same period, to 131,000 from 195,000.
read more here
For these women veterans, a home to call their own

PTSD Ghosts and Goblins you need to treat

from actionflickchick

As the kids get dressed up to play the part of scary characters or creatures of their dreams, Halloween night fills them with dreams of getting more candy than their friends. Sugar highs are sure to follow over the next few days. This night has not always been about costumes and candy. It was a night to acknowledge souls.

We love horror movies. Most TV stations will be playing some kind of Halloween theme program. We love to be frightened because we know none of it is real. As soon as the program is over, we can rest assured our lives are not in danger and it is safe to take a shower without worrying about someone coming to hack us to death.

Imagine being frightened everyday of your life from the replays of your life playing over and over again in your mind.

Imagine not knowing where you are when you wake up in the middle of the night from such a vivid nightmare, you ended up smelling, hearing, seeing and feeling it all as if it were in real time.

That's what PTSD does. It takes you back to where your worst nightmares came true. It takes you back to the horrors you saw. Your blood pressure rises as your heart pumps harder. Your muscles tense. Your eyes move wildly as fear of the next thing takes over. You sweat as listen carefully for the softest sound. You know there is not a harmless friends trying to scare you but there are ghosts following you from your past.
PTSD Ghosts and Goblins you need to treat

Friday, October 30, 2009

Is This Any Way to Treat Our Heroes

While it is a huge problem for the veterans with families trying to find a way to get the help they need, I would like you to read this story and then ask yourself one very simple question. What about the veterans with no families at all? When you think about that then you can understand how we have so many veterans homeless, dropping out of the system, avoiding the VA and losing all hope.

Is This Any Way to Treat Our Heroes?

Joan E. Dowlin
Freelance musician (French hornist) from the Philadelphia, PA area.
Posted: October 30, 2009 06:00 PM

A close family friend's son recently returned from Afghanistan where he had been working as a government contractor for the US war there. He is a Veteran Marine who joined in 2002 right after terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11/01. He unselfishly wanted to serve his country and defend us from these attacks.

He was readily accepted by the United States Marine Corp. and his fellow soldiers, having been voted #1 Honor Man of his boot camp even though he was at least 10 years older than most of his peers. He worked his way up to Staff Sergeant and was so well liked by his battalion that they resisted sending him out to the battlefield. They didn't want to lose him.

But go to war he did with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He served proudly with many honors and awards until 2006 when he started contract work in Afghanistan.

Read more at: Is This Any Way to Treat Our Heroes

Open house set Nov. 3 at Vet Center in Fort Myers

Open house set Nov. 3 at Vet Center in Fort Myers

In advance of Veterans Day, the Fort Myers Vet Center today has issued an invitation to all veterans and the public to attend an Open House on Tuesday, November 3. The open house will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at 4110 Center Pointe Drive Suite 204, Fort Myers.

"There is a growing need for readjustment counseling/ services to existing and newly returning combat veterans and their families.The VA is committed to providing these services and high-quality outreach to all combat veterans, said John Peptis, team leader.

The Fort Myers Vet Center has been a driving force in this effort, he said.

"We serve five counties, Lee, Glades, Charlotte, Hendry,and Collier. We have veterans driving from those counties to our location for treatment. So this is an outreach effort for veterans from all combat eras.

"The community-based Veteran Centers are a key component of VA's mental health program, providing veterans with mental health screening and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling, along with help for family members dealing with bereavement and loved ones with PTSD," he said.

Studies by the U.S. Medicine Institute of Health have reported that Vet Centers have proven a best practice model in fostering peer-to-peer relationships. The best way to overcome concerns about stigmatization is through person-to-person contact with a trained professional, Peptis said.

The Open House will not only be a chance to meet the Vet Center staff, but it will also be an opportunity to learn more about the Vet Center program.

Light refreshments will be served.An award ceremony will take place at 2 p.m.

For more information contact Peptis at 239-479-4401 of 239-479-4401. Martha Vaugh, the officemanager can also help you with any questions.
Open house set Nov. 3 at Vet Center in Fort Myers

Life with PTSD can be better

Serenity Prayer
The Serenity Prayer goes like this --
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. Amen.

"That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him"

We cannot stop all wars although we wish we could.
We cannot stop all soldiers from dying, but we can do our best to make sure they have all they need including the best reason to do it, the best plan to carry it out and the best goal to reach as soon as possible so that we save more lives than we lose.
We cannot heal all wounds nor can we replace limbs but we can make sure the wounded are treated with the best medical care as fast as possible.
We cannot restore sight to the blind but we can provide them with what they need to live lives as close to what they had before as possible.
We cannot erase all burn tissue but we can try to.
We cannot prevent all veterans from going homeless but we can make sure there are a lot fewer who do end up with no place to sleep.
We cannot prevent every suicide but we can make sure there are fewer of them.
We cannot prevent every attempted suicide but we can give them fewer reasons to want to try to end their lives.
We cannot stop every family from falling apart but we can reduce the numbers of families feeling so hopeless they cannot find reasons to try to work things out.
We cannot prevent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but we can heal it. No, not cure it, but heal it.

Above all we cannot heal their souls unless we search our own once and for all to try all we can do to really honor the lives they were willing to risk for us.

O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed;courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

We can make their lives better but first we need to know what it is so that we can stop blaming them and start helping them.

This video is about what needs to be changed.

Vietnam vets sought for documentary

Vietnam vets sought for documentary
Are you a Vietnam veteran who wants to tell your story for a documentary?
The Florida Veterans Programs & Projects Inc. will work with the St. Johns County Veterans Service Office and Vietnam veteran Tom Waskovich as the project military adviser. All interviews will be recorded and sent to the Veterans History Project and forwarded to the Library of Congress.
Participants must fill out a release form and questionnaire. For downloadable forms, call Michael Rothfeld at (904) 829-0381 or e-mail him at

Bulletproof vests for high school gang rape suspects in court

Bulletproof vests for rape suspects in court
(10-29) 22:29 PDT RICHMOND, CALIF. -- Security was unusually tight Thursday as four young men made their first court appearance in last weekend's gang rape at Richmond High School, a crime that brought anguish to students and leaders in the city and sent shock waves throughout the nation.

Later Thursday, police arrested a sixth suspect in the case. A fifth suspect was arrested earlier but has not been charged.

Three defendants, all of them juveniles charged as adults, were wearing bulletproof vests when they were led into Superior Court by a corps of Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies. The three - one of whom had a black eye - looked morose and said nothing as relatives wept in the gallery.

click link for more

Burbank Police Sergeant shoots himself on residential street

Sergeant shoots himself on residential street

Neil Thomas Gunn Sr., who was listed in recent FBI probe, was pronounced dead at the scene

By Christopher Cadelago
Published: Last Updated Thursday, October 29, 2009 5:59 PM PDT
HILLSIDE — A Burbank Police sergeant who was listed in an FBI probe into police misconduct shot himself to death Thursday morning on the corner of a residential street, authorities said.

Burbank Police Sgt. Neil Thomas Gunn Sr., 50, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the corner of North Sunset Canyon Drive and East Harvard Road, Lt. John Dilibert said.

Police were called to the intersection at about 11:40 a.m. after witnesses reported seeing Gunn turn the gun on himself, Sgt. Thor Merich said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Officers sectioned off several blocks of Sunset Canyon Drive and surrounding streets, shielding views of the body from the public as detectives investigated the scene.
go here for moreSergeant shoots himself on residential street
linked from LATimes

Palo Alto campus searches for healing after suicides

Palo Alto campus searches for healing after suicides
Since May, four students at Henry Gunn High School have taken their own lives at a nearby railroad crossing. Classmates have started using notes of affirmation and blog posts to try to restore hope.
Reporting from Palo Alto, Calif. - The small squares of colored paper began cropping up on the doors and walls of Henry M. Gunn High School last week, two days after William Dickens, 16, killed himself on the nearby train tracks.

"Just keep swimming," one Post-it note said. "There is always someone who will listen," was written on another. And, "There's no meaning to happiness w/o sadness. Take it easy."

Dickens was the fourth Gunn student in less than six months to commit suicide near where East Meadow Drive crosses the Caltrain tracks here in the affluent, high-achieving heart of the Silicon Valley. A fifth student tried to kill himself but was thwarted by his mother, who suspected his intentions, followed him to the crossing and saved him with the help of a passer-by.
read more here,0,6600846.story

Afghan war's deadliest month takes heavy toll at Fort Lewis

While we grieve for the loss of life we must never forget that the men and women they served with have just lost a part of their family as well. The memories of the fallen will never leave them. Not the memories of their smiles and time shared together, good times as well as bad ones. Not the memories of how they died and that they are no longer there. These "are the times that try man's soul" and they should be afforded every opportunity to grieve the loss that time and events will allow.

The most troubling thing to think about is that while there is a shortage of military chaplains for them to talk to, there are some chaplains without full knowledge of what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is. There are too few mental health workers for the soldiers to talk to and without the chaplains knowing what is going on, it makes it all the more harder to heal. We then end up counting the dead but forget the living and how much this touches their lives. If we think for a second we have seen the worst numbers of PTSD veterans, we are not even close to what is to come.

Afghan war's deadliest month takes heavy toll at Fort Lewis
This month has been the deadliest for U.S. troops since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, and Fort Lewis has been hit particularly hard, with 10 soldiers killed.

By Nick Perry

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Renton man, who did not wish to be identified, carries an American flag at half staff over the Freedom Bridge, which crosses Interstate 5 to Fort Lewis.

Fort Lewis soldier Sgt. Leslie Hill said he's attended two memorial services in recent weeks and plans to be at another Tuesday as he and others on the post come to terms with losing 26 soldiers in Afghanistan in less than three months.

"I just lost one of my buddies," Hill said. "It's been rough on everyone."

This month has been the deadliest for U.S. troops since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. Fort Lewis has been hit particularly hard. The post held a private candlelight vigil Thursday night for the families, friends and battalion members of the eight Fort Lewis soldiers killed Tuesday.

Seven were killed when enemy forces in the Arghandab Valley attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. The soldiers, whose names were released by the Department of Defense on Thursday, came from across the country and were 22 to 29 years old.
read more here

Motorist accused of raping stranded woman he stopped to "help"

Motorist accused of raping stranded woman

Rene Stutzman

Sentinel Staff Writer

9:54 p.m. EDT, October 29, 2009

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - (An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the victim was a teenager. She is 26.)

Police today arrested a 33-year-old man, accused of stopping to help a young woman who was stranded on Interstate 4 then driving to a storage facility and raping her.

Winel Albert Castro Molina of Lake Mary was booked into the Seminole County jail this morning. He's accused of rape and is being held on $25,000 bail.

Altamonte Springs Officer Todd Smith interrupted the rape in progress shortly after 3 a.m, said Special Officer Tim Hyer, an agency spokesman.

Smith was on a routine patrol when he found Castro Molina and the 26-year-old woman in the back seat of her car at a rental storage facility on Douglas Avenue.
read more here
Motorist accused of raping stranded woman

Man pushing motorcycle on Volusia County road killed in crash

Man pushing motorcycle on Volusia County road killed in crash

Bianca Prieto

Sentinel Staff Writer

6:04 a.m. EDT, October 30, 2009

A man pushing his broken down motorcycle on the side of a Volusia County road was killed after being struck by a car, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

John M. Turner, 59, of New Smyrna Beach, was walking the motorcycle on the northbound lanes of a North Samsula Drive near Lettuce Road around 10:30 p.m. when he was hit, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers say Jamie Sue Parker, 29, of Jacksonville Beach, was driving northbound on the same road when she hit him.

Charges are pending against Parker, said Sgt. Kim Montes
Man pushing motorcycle killed

Restaurants Recognize U.S. Military Veterans

Restaurants Recognize U.S. Military Veterans
Golden Corral


McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants Recognize U.S. Military Veterans on
November 8
Seafood Industry Leader Continues 11-Year Tradition of Honoring Veterans with
a Complimentary Entree

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- For the 11th straight year,
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants (Nasdaq: MSSR) will host its
Veterans Appreciation Event on Sunday, November 8, at participating
restaurants across the country. As part of the celebration, McCormick &
Schmick's will offer U.S. military veterans a complimentary entree in
appreciation for their service to our country.

"As we enter the second decade of this program, we are privileged to honor the
men and women who have bravely served our country," said Bill Freeman, CEO of
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants. "McCormick & Schmick's is a great
place to celebrate with friends and family over a delicious meal and we're
proud to keep this tradition alive in each of our restaurants."

McCormick & Schmick's is known for its fresh seafood and the special menu for
the Veterans Appreciation Event will be no exception. Veterans will be able to
choose a complimentary lunch or dinner entree on November 8. Some of the
mouth-watering selections include Cashew-Crusted Tilapia, Grilled Atlantic
Salmon, Seafood Fettuccini Alfredo and Cedar-Planked Salmon, to name a few.
read more here
Restaurants Recognize U.S. Military Veterans

Coast Guard plane and a Marine Corps helicopter collided off California coast

Military aircraft collide off Calif. coast

THOMAS WATKINS - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Oct 30, 2009 8:03:16 EDT

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy were searching for as many as nine people off the Southern California coast following a collision between a Coast Guard plane and a Marine Corps helicopter, officials said.

The crash was reported at 7:10 p.m. Thursday, about 50 miles off the San Diego County coast and 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Allyson Conroy said.

A pilot reported seeing a fireball near where the aircraft collided, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said, and the Coast Guard informed the FAA that debris from a C-130 plane had been spotted. Seven people were on board the plane, and two people were aboard the helicopter, he said.
read more here

In pre-dawn darkness, Obama salutes victims of war

President Obama witnessed the return to U.S. soil of the bodies of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan, an experience he called "sobering." (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/associated Press)

In pre-dawn darkness, Obama salutes victims of war
By Michael Fletcher and Ann Gerhart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009

On Wednesday, President Obama started his day in the Oval Office as he always does, with intelligence and economic advisers alerting him to trouble spots and bits of improvement. He ended it 20 hours later, after a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base, where he witnessed the return of 18 Americans killed this week in Afghanistan.

His day already had been crowded. By nightfall, the president had appeared in public five times. He honored a Senate pioneer, named an opponent to a panel, signed the defense bill, planted a tree and held a reception for a crowd jubilant over a new law. He made jokes, offered embraces, posed for photos, spoke firmly. He had dinner with his two girls, on the eve of their first Halloween in Washington. His wife was in New York at the first World Series game.

All the while, he knew the most sober and grim public duty of his new presidency awaited him after midnight.
read more here
In pre-dawn darkness, Obama salutes victims of war

Slain soldier from Fort Lewis wanted to make a difference

Waltz family photo

Slain soldier from Fort Lewis, Vancouver 'wanted to make a difference'
Ian Walz, a Vancouver, Wash., man who was thrilled when Barack Obama was elected president, was killed Tuesday along with six other Fort Lewis soldiers in an improvised explosive attack in southern Afghanistan.

By John Branton and Dave Kern

Columbian (Vancouver) staff writers

Ian Walz, a Vancouver, Wash., man who was thrilled when Barack Obama was elected president, was killed Tuesday along with six other Fort Lewis soldiers in an improvised explosive attack in southern Afghanistan.

An eighth Fort Lewis soldier was killed that day in a separate attack.

Wednesday night, Obama personally offered condolences to Walz's relatives at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Family members said Walz played football at Hudson's Bay High School, where he graduated in 2002, and had worked for years in the produce section of the WinCo store in Hazel Dell.

Walz, 25, was part of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis.

"He wanted to go to school and become something useful. He wanted to make a difference in the world."

read more here
Slain soldier from Fort Lewis wanted to make a difference

10 weeks therapy could not undo years for combat veteran

I am leaving up the mistake I made on this post. For some reason, I did the post as he only received 10 "days" of therapy. A reader sent me an email to point out my mistake. While the point I made is a valid one, the comment was not right. I am very sorry for this mistake. I must have let my anger over another death take over what I was reading.

10 Days? That's it? The best programs last a month at least. Some programs last several months of in-house therapy to get them back on their feet on more solid ground.

I don't believe what they are hearing is helping enough in many parts of the country. It's not that all programs do not work, but they are not all the same. There are many psychologists without a clue what PTSD is but they are treating PTSD veterans. PTSD is still being misdiagnosed in many offices as anything but the wound the carry. If they are looking for bipolar, they'll find it when it's really PTSD. If they are looking for depression, they will find it and so on. What everyone doing this work needs to understand very clearly is that PTSD comes after trauma. That is the only way this changes lives. It does not come on like the flu and it is not a genetic mental illness. It comes after abnormal events outside the control of people.

No one is designed to endure endless traumatic events striking daily. Take civilians in a war zone and you'll find PTSD. Take inner city kids living near drug dealers and gunfire and you'll find PTSD. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, National Guardsmen and regular military are all exposed do abnormal events and no matter how much we depend on them, they are all still human just like the rest of us. They are also compassionate people and that is what opens the door to PTSD.

Scientists found the region of the brain where our emotions are held. They have seen the changes when someone is being changed by PTSD. It is an emotional wound, called an anxiety disorder but I call it a wound to the soul and so do most people with knowledge of what PTSD is.

It's time they got this right everywhere. The life of a veteran should not be predicted by where they live. Healing should never be regional.

Stress disorder plagued soldier
By: Andrea Koskey
Examiner Staff Writer
October 29, 2009

DALY CITY — Two days before 27-year-old Reuben “Chip” Santos took his own life, he sent an e-mail to his family telling them he was tired.

In response to the e-mail, his father headed to New Mexico, where his son, a decorated Army veteran who was raised in Daly City, was attending school. But before the elder Santos arrived, the family received word that Chip had succumbed to the post-traumatic stress disorder that had plagued him for years.

“He only received 10 weeks of therapy,” said Debra Burton, Santos’ aunt and family spokeswoman. “And it was a short, questionable process.”

Although Santos was also seeing a therapist at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., where he attended school, it wasn’t enough.

read more here

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Broadcaster’s death still under investigation

Broadcaster’s death still under investigation
Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, October 30, 2009
NAPLES, Italy — Italian railway police still are awaiting toxicology results from an autopsy of a 20-year-old American Forces Network broadcaster found dead Oct. 20 near Aviano Air Base, Italy, an official said Thursday.

The body of Airman 1st Class Lauren Lagudi, who was stationed at Aviano, was found near the train station in Pordenone, about 10 miles from the air base.

Railway police believe Lagudi died by accident or by suicide, but they have not ruled out the remote possibility of foul play, said an Italian police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
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Military to issue report on overseas troops cut off from kids

Military to issue report on overseas troops cut off from kids
By Charlie Reed, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, October 31, 2009
The military will be required to submit a report on the number of troops who have been cut off from their children by family members overseas during the last two years, according to an amendment in the newly approved Defense Authorization Bill.

Though it stops short of requiring the Defense Department to implement new policies to assist servicemembers affected by international child abduction, the amendment is intended to spur such a move, according to sponsor Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

"This will be the catalyst for significant reform," Smith told Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

The report, which is due to Congress within 180 days, requires the military to document current practices to assist servicemembers entangled in overseas custody battles. Smith, however, said there appears to be no consistent policy within the DOD to address the problem.

The amendment came as good news to troops such as Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland, who has been fighting for rights to his 7-year-old daughter in Japan since she was a baby. While stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, Toland married a Japanese woman who he claims later abducted their daughter in 2003. Toland’s ex-wife died in 2007 and his former mother-in-law refuses to allow visitation, he said.

While U.S. laws provide for custody rights for both parents after a divorce, not every country protects those rights nor provides them.

Two more non-combat deaths in Iraq

10/27/09 MNF: U.S. Soldier dies in non-combat related incident
A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier died today of a non-combat related injury at Camp Victory. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

10/29/09 MNF: U.S. Soldier dies in non-combat related incident
A Soldier who was currently assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) died Wednesday of a non-combat related injury at Camp Adder, Iraq. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.
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Sgt. Wolf, mother of two, killed in Afghanistan while husband serving there too

Hawthorne mother of two is killed on duty in Afghanistan
October 28, 2009 11:31 am

A Hawthorne woman with two young daughters died Sunday in Afghanistan when the vehicle in which she was traveling was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Army Sgt. Eduviges G. Wolf, 24, of Hawthorne, was killed in Afghanistan's Kunar province when insurgents attacked the vehicle, military officials announced Tuesday.

Wolf's husband also was serving in Afghanistan at the time of her death and was returning home to be with their daughters, ages 1 and 3, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Wolf, who enlisted in the Army in 2003, had been deployed to Afghanistan since June, according to officials at Ft. Carson, Colo., where her unit, the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is based.
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Hawthorne mother of two is killed on duty in Afghanistan

Fort Lewis MP dies in Iraq

Fort Lewis MP dies in Iraq

MATT MISTEREK; The News Tribune

A highly decorated military police officer from Fort Lewis who saw previous action in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan died Tuesday in Iraq in what the Department of Defense is calling a noncombat incident.

Maj. David L. Audo, 35, of Saint Joseph, Ill., died in Baghdad, according to DOD and Fort Lewis news releases issued Wednesday. He was assigned in July to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 22nd Military Police Battalion at Fort Lewis, and at the time of his death was the executive officer for the battalion’s forward element in Iraq.

He married Rebecca K. Johnson in 1998, according to her Web site, and they have two children, according to The News-Gazette of Champaign, Ill.
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Glenn Close Is Removing The Shame That Shadows Mental Illness

Regular people end up making celebrities heroes because everyone needs one. In this case, I do agree. Glenn Close could very well end up being a voice for millions of people but above all for those connected to the military, either by active duty or veteran, our real heroes.

It would have been wonderful if like Bob Dole talking about erectile dysfunction, there was another famous people talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so that there would be more public knowledge of what it is and what it is not. Think of the millions of men seeking help for their own problems because Bob Dole showed them it was ok to talk about it. It didn't even matter if they liked him or not, the point was, he was publicly talking about it. This is what mental illness needed all along, especially when it comes to PTSD and the military. They are the first to go to help and the last to ask for help.

It would be wonderful if they could get the generals who came out publicly about their own war demons to do a commercial and show the others there is nothing to be ashamed of but until then, until someone in a position of power speaks out publicly, this will have to at least begin the conversation. So thank you Ron Howard and Glenn Close for doing this.

Glenn Close Is Removing The Shame That Shadows Mental Illness

October 29, 2009
by Elizabeth Willoughby

In an effort to bring mental illness into everyday dialogue, Glenn Close co-created the Bring Change 2 Mind campaign and, with the help of director Ron Howard, created a public service announcement pointing out how common such illnesses really are.

The first problem about awareness, even though one in six adults suffer from one form or another, is that mental illness is invisible. The other problem is the stigma attached to it.

“I think a lot of people will find that it’s kind of a relief to simply acknowledge that mental health issues are something every family deals with,” says Howard, “and yet it clearly does still remain stigmatized.”

The stigma is so powerful that it causes many sufferers of illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder to go undiagnosed, and therefore remain without the help that is available to them.
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Glenn Close Is Removing The Shame

8 killed in Afghanistan were from Fort Lewis

8 killed in Afghanistan were from Fort Lewis

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Oct 29, 2009 8:00:19 EDT

FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Fort Lewis has confirmed that eight soldiers who died in Afghanistan on Tuesday were assigned to a unit from the Army base near Tacoma, Wash.

Spokesman Joseph Piek said the soldiers were part of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division. He says seven were killed in an explosion of an improvised explosive device, while the eighth was killed in a separate attack, again using an IED.

The names of the soldiers have not yet been released.

The Defense Department also announced that an officer assigned to a military police unit based at Fort Lewis, 35-year-old Maj. David L. Audo, of St. Joseph, Ill., died Tuesday from a noncombat-related incident in Baghdad.
read more here

Army IDs 7 Ft. Lewis soldiers killed IED attack

Staff report
Posted : Thursday Oct 29, 2009 18:12:22 EDT

The Defense Department on Thursday identified the seven soldiers killed Oct. 27 in Arghandab Valley in southern Afghanistan when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

The attack on the soldiers from 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, of Fort Lewis, Wash., was one of two attacks in as many days, claiming the lives of 14 soldiers. On Oct. 26, seven soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in western Afghanistan.

The soldiers killed in the IED attack were:

Staff Sgt. Luis M. Gonzalez, 27, of South Ozone Park, N.Y.

Sgt. Fernando Delarosa, 24, of Alamo, Texas

Sgt. Dale R. Griffin, 29, of Terre Haute, Ind.

Sgt. Issac B. Jackson, 27, of Plattsburg, Mo.

Sgt. Patrick O. Williamson, 24, of Broussard, La.

Spc. Jared D. Stanker, 22, of Evergreen Park, Ill

Pfc. Christopher I. Walz, 25, of Vancouver, Wash.

GI shot himself to avoid deployment

Police: GI shot himself to avoid deployment

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Oct 29, 2009 13:30:02 EDT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Police in Colorado Springs say a Fort Carson soldier set to return to Afghanistan intentionally shot himself in the shoulder to avoid deployment.

They say 26-year-old Robert Murchison and his girlfriend found a parking spot near Penrose-St. Francis main hospital on Wednesday night and then he shot himself in the car.

Murchison and 28-year-old Chasaity Peoples allegedly first told police that they had stopped to help a stranded motorist and that the driver shot him.

Sgt. Jim Meyers says officers were suspicious and continued to question them. He says Peoples finally confessed to what happened.

Murchison is expected to remain hospitalized for the next few days but is expected to recover. He and his girlfriend could be charged with false reporting.
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GI shot himself to avoid deployment

Former Lejeune Marine receiving partial disability due to water contamination

Former Lejeune Marine receiving partial disability due to water contamination

October 29, 2009 1:10 AM
A former Camp Lejeune Marine who received partial disability benefits because of exposure to contaminated water on base believes other veterans should go to their doctors to get their claims substantiated.

John Hartung of Waukesha, Wis., was awarded a 30-percent disability from the Veterans Benefits Administration last month after his doctor drafted and signed a “nexus letter” verifying his medical belief that Hartung’s ailments were more likely than not caused by exposure to toxic water.

Hartung was stationed at Lejeune for six months in 1977 and said he “got sick right away” after exposure to base water, which contained significant amounts of leaked solvents including TCE and PCE between the 1950s and the 1980s. Hartung said he developed large cysts on the back of his neck as well as chronic fatigue and was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1978 because of continuing medical problems.
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President Obama kept his promise on PTSD

When President Obama was running for the office, he made a trip to the Montana National Guard to take a look at the program they came up with to address suicides. Keep in mind that while I track this all day long everyday, then Senator Obama had a lot of other things to pay attention to. I knew this was one of the best programs out there, but so did Obama. That told me something right there. The man not only cared but was paying attention. He paid attention so much that he told the brother of Chris Dana, who committed suicide, that he would make sure this program went national if he ended up elected. President Obama just kept his promise with this.

Vet counseling programs national models

The Associated Press - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Oct 29, 2009 7:41:50 EDT

CONCORD, N.H. — Two veterans counseling measures based on New Hampshire programs have been signed into law.

The suicide prevention amendment was sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Congressman Paul Hodes. It requires that the Department of Defense establish a program to provide National Guard members and reservists, their families, and communities with training in suicide prevention and counseling in response to suicide.

The Yellow Ribbon Plus amendment, also sponsored by Shaheen, calls on the department to identify lessons learned from programs such as one in New Hampshire that identified the need for more personalized counseling and support services for National Guard and reservists and their families.

Recalculating GPS

Last year I had to take a trip into Tiffin Ohio. I wear glasses to read, which is a problem when trying to drive and read directions. I cannot see distances with the glasses on so I stretched out my arm trying to read and watch the road at the same time. It was a huge problem on this trip because I ended up lost in corn fields. Miles and miles of corn fields with no one to ask for directions. I kept looking at the directions trying to figure out where I went wrong, what turn I was supposed to take and getting really anxious. I needed to be at an important meeting on time but getting there was becoming to look more and more impossible until I decided to take a road I had not been on, ending up at a small restaurant where I received the directions to get me back on the right road.

Since I travel a lot plus end up getting lost no matter where I go, my daughter gave me a GPS for Christmas last year. We played with the voices ending up picking Daniel with a British voice. Hearing his accent pronounce streets in Florida is hilarious but Daniel never allows me to become totally lost like that trip into Ohio. The GPS goes with me on planes and traveling around in Florida providing me with the confidence I need to get to where I am supposed to be.

Daniel watches over the road I'm on from a satellite, giving me instructions ahead of time, showing me every turn on the road ahead plus an arrow to tell me where they next turn will be. Whenever I mess up, Daniel tells me he is recalculating so that I get on the right road again. No matter how badly I mess up, he always gets me to where I'm going.

Our lives are much like my driving. We may know where we are supposed to end up but taking the best way there is often met with our will, ego and inability to read the signs. We get lost. When we have no clue what God's Plan is, that makes it even harder. We may have some indication of what we were intended for, but life's challenges get in the way as well. Bad advice can have us taking a totally wrong turn. The interference of others can cause detours but God somehow manages to get us back on the right road if we listen to His directions.

God's Plan Succeeds when we follow His lead but we cannot hear His voice. We forget He's watching over us much like Daniel's screen would be totally blank if I did not charge the battery. While Daniel still knows how to get me where I'm going, it does me no good if I allow the battery to die. It is the same way with God. If we allow what connects us to God, our faith, to run dry, it is as if it was not there at all. We're totally lost, alone and confused.

With some luck we may end up with directions from someone but we can never really be sure they are putting us on the right road or not. How could we be when we are no longer sure of where we are supposed to go?

When we are living out our days, we are traveling on a path that will affect our future. Each day we take what came before and we use the knowledge of successes and failures hoping we learn from both. Sometimes our past includes traumatic events and sometimes those events end up getting us on the wrong path, causing us to stop dead in our tracks or totally turning us around so that we never really get to where we are supposed to go.

Civilians will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. The death of someone they love is always traumatic but especially traumatic when it is from an accident, fire, natural disaster or crime. Some of us will be involved with traumatic events in our own lives or we may witness them. These events leave all of us changed.

Some of us enter into law enforcement or emergency services like the fire department. They will experience more trauma than the average citizen as they fulfill their duties. They are changed with each one.

Some of us enter into the military and in times of war, the traumatic experiences occur more often than most individuals are prepared to recover from easily. When the person is a compassionate individual, those events end up cutting into them. Some end up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an anxiety disorder, caused by events and not by the person. PTSD can only come after trauma. The word "trauma" is Greek for "wound" leaving this a very telling term to use. It literally means "after trauma" fully explaining why people change after events out of their control.

This is where a GPS would come in very handy. There would be a calm voice while we are afraid telling us where to go for help. That the wrong choices we made in our lives were due to detours others put before us and there was a way to no longer be lost because we were being watched over. We were not traveling on this road by ourselves and had someone showing us the way.

We actually have all we need to recover but most of us have let that connection die. Everything we need to heal in within us and around us but it takes plugging into the sources and recharging the power.

We need to connect to the knowledge of what PTSD is accumulated over the last 30 years. We need to connect to the faith that we had so that we can heal the wound within our minds and reclaim our hope.

It is all there. We have a GPS showing the way to healing so that we can get back to where we are supposed to go.

What can happen when you heal is that you help others heal by watching over them and making them feel sure they are not alone.

President Obama attends return of fallen troops from Afghanistan

As sad as it is to lose so many on one day, we must think of the families. We must also acknowledge that the men and women these service members served with will grieve as well.

It's so easy to pray for them when we send them, that God watches over them. The risk is obvious to all of us. It is easy to pray for them when they are risking their lives facing dangers all day, every day. We say a prayer of thanks when they come home. Too many of us then believe our obligation to them ends, no more need for prayers or to do anything for them. We must keep them in our hearts and our prayers even then because the need to find peace, the need to heal and to feel God's love is just as strong as the day they left. That is because no one returns from war the same way. All are touched by what they witnessed. They do their duty even with their pain and far too many need help to heal. Be ever watchful over them and remember just because they're back, that does not mean the risk to their lives is over. We lose 18 veterans a day by suicide and over 10,000 a year try to commit suicide. Families fall apart in a time when they need to support each other the most.

Never forget the sacrifice they all make for the sake of this nation they serve.

Obama attends return of fallen troops from Afghanistan
October 29, 2009 8:46 a.m. EDT
President Obama was on hand as bodies of soldiers who died in Afghanistan returned home

DEA agents, U.S. troops were recently killed in helicopter crash

Eight U.S. soldiers also killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan
(CNN) -- The flag-draped cases of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware early Thursday, in a solemn event attended by President Obama.

Also in attendance for the transfer of the bodies were U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Michele Leonhart, acting DEA administrator.

The bodies were of three Drug Enforcement Administration special agents and 15 U.S. troops who died in Afghanistan this week.

The DEA agents were killed Monday as they returned from a raid on a compound believed to be harboring insurgents tied to drug trafficking. Their helicopter with seven troops aboard went down in western Afghanistan.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PTSD:Your Gastrointestinal disorders could be part of PTSD

ACG: GI Disorders in Military, 9/11 Responders Studied
Active-duty military and World Trade Center responders may have higher disorder ratesPublish date: Oct 26, 2009

MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Active-duty military personnel and World Trade Center (WTC) workers have an increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders, according to two studies presented this week at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting, held from Oct. 23 to 28 in San Diego.

In one study, Mark Riddle, M.D., of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify 31,866 cases of functional gastrointestinal disorders and matched each case to four controls. They found a strong association between infectious gastroenteritis and all functional gastrointestinal disorders, observing the highest risk for functional diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (odds ratios, 6.28 and 3.72, respectively).

In a second study, Yvette Lam, M.D., of the Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York, and colleagues studied 697 World Trade Center responders. They found that 41 percent of subjects had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more than 20 percent higher than in the general population. In addition, participants with GERD had a higher prevalence of mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
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GI Disorders in Military, 9/11 Responders Studied

Veteran talks about stress disorder

Veteran talks about stress disorder
By Meghan Walsh, Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
“I didn’t have issues. There were just stupid people around me doing stupid things,” Eddie Black told about 50 people at Southwestern Oregon Community College on Tuesday night.

That’s how Black felt when he returned home from serving in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005. Other soldiers from his company were getting divorced and drinking heavily. They couldn’t control their anger. But Black was “peachy keen.”

In reality, the U.S. Army Infantry and Marine Corps veteran was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Like many veterans, however, his own perceptions of mental health and cultural stigmatisms prevented him from seeking help.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this what it’s like to be pregnant and have all those hor

Between 2000 and 2006, 1,066 male Oregon veterans committed suicide. That averages about 3.7 deaths a week. Yet, PTSD only recently has been brought to the forefront of society’s consciousness.

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Veteran talks about stress disorder

Maybe you can see better that PTSD is not new just because it's now news.

That's the bulk of the problem here. Wishing people like me were listened to that long ago will not bring back a single life lost, a son or daughter, a mother or father. Praying people like me are finally listened to may save lives in the future but what about today?

The poison lingers for some veterans

The poison lingers for some veterans
Veterans feeling effects


Ask any Vietnam veteran if he was exposed to Agent Orange, and you'll likely get a shrug and a nod.

“The stuff was everywhere,” said Gary P. Swenson of Oxford, a Worcester native and U.S. Army Vietnam veteran. “They never told anyone where they were spraying, or what they were spraying.”

Vietnam veteran James C. Savage III of Worcester said of Agent Orange, “It was a pretty hard thing to figure out where it was not.”

Agent Orange, named for the orange-colored barrels it came in, was a defoliant used to burn back thick brush and jungle in Vietnam from 1961 to 1970. It contained dioxin, a chemical now classified as a carcinogen. As many as 2.6 million U.S. soldiers were exposed to the chemical, which has been linked to birth defects and cancer deaths in thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians.

They're all still suffering health effects 40 years later.
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Jury awards at least $750,000 to former soldier

Jury awards at least $750,000 to former soldier

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Oct 28, 2009 9:04:35 EDT

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A former Army sergeant wounded during a military training exercise was awarded at least $750,000 in his lawsuit against the Moore County Sheriff’s Office and the former deputy who shot him.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that the federal jury in Greensboro awarded the money to former Army Sgt. Stephen Phelps, who was injured in the February 2002 shooting that killed another soldier. He had sued the sheriff’s office and former Deputy Randall Butler.

“I was happy that the truth finally came out,” Phelps said after the verdict was read Tuesday night.

The jury awarded $650,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 or $200,000 in punitive damages Tuesday night. Phelps’ lawyer, Carlos Mahoney, had sought $1.2 million.
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Police and PTSD:There's more than one victim in Bethel fatal shooting

There's more than one victim in Bethel fatal shooting
Updated: 10/27/2009 10:38:43 PM EDT

Gary Bush has never met Michael Libertini, the Bethel police sergeant who shot and killed 56-year-old Joseph DellaVentura on Saturday, after DellaVentura allegedly pointed a gun at him.
But the bond Bush and Libertini share is unquestionable.

It's also unwanted.

Bush, a former police officer in Charleston, W.Va., knows just how Libertini feels.

On Dec. 23, 1994, at 10:41 p.m. -- exactly 25 hours and 19 minutes before Christmas, he'll tell you -- Bush shot and killed a man named Franklin Knuckles.

Bush said Knuckles was drunk that night when police entered the garage apartment where he was holed up.

In similar fashion to what Bethel police say DellaVentura did, Knuckles ignored commands to drop his weapon. Instead, Bush said, Knuckles pointed a rifle at him and Bush fired one round in response.

Just like that, two lives changed forever.

"My shooting took place in this little 10-by-6 room. It might as well have been a firefight in a walk-in closet," said the 48-year-old Bush, who now lives in Cincinnati.

"Even after all this time, I look back and ask, 'Why did this happen?' You can't explain it because it doesn't make sense," Bush reflected. "In my case, I ended up retiring a little over a year after the shooting."

Almost 15 years later, Bush still attends therapy. He still takes medication for depression. He still battles post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and its demons, nightmares and flashbacks.
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Core Construction gets $6.5M VA contract in Viera Florida

Core gets $6.5M VA contract in Viera
Orlando Business Journal
Core Engineering & Construction Inc. received a $6.5 million task order to build a 30,000-square-foot addition to a Veterans Administration facility in Viera.

Winter Park-based Core, which got the contract in September, will build a single-story addition of a VA outpatient clinic onto the existing 1.2 million square-foot medical complex. adding 80 rooms to the existing 130, said Paul Goldsmith, president of Core.

Site work began earlier this month and the project is expected to be completed in December 2010.

The contract is part of a larger, $50 million prime contract Core received last year from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mobile district. Core also is handling construction services for the renovation of a dental clinic and replacing the Orlando VA Lakemont campus, said a news release.

VA Seeks Temporary Contractor to Help Process Education Claims

VA Seeks Temporary Contractor to Help Process Education Claims

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2009) - On Oct. 21, the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) issued a solicitation for temporary contractor support to
assist in processing the increased volume of education claims received
since implementing the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

"This contract will assist VA in delivering education benefits to our
Veterans as quickly as possible," said Under Secretary for Benefits
Patrick W. Dunne. "Veterans are depending on VA to provide the benefits
they earned through their service to our nation. We will do everything
in our power to minimize delays for our Veteran-students."

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect on August 1, 2009, has
generated an unprecedented number of new applications. When combined
with the standard high volume of school enrollment claims in August and
September (normally, the busiest months for education claims), the
number of claims has exceeded anticipated levels.

The contractor will provide its own work site and personnel to perform
claims processing tasks. Contract staff will validate enrollment
information provided by schools and provide recommendations on claim
status to VA personnel, who will finalize claims decisions and generate
payments (if applicable).

All work will be reviewed and authorized by VA personnel. VA will
provide training on security and claims processing procedures. The
contract personnel will assist in handling the least complex cases,
which allows for rapid implementation of this initiative.

Information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as VA's other
educational benefit programs, is available at VA's Web site,
or by calling
1-888-GIBILL-1 (or 1-888-442-4551).

Groundbreaking Court Decision for Vets With PTSD

A Groundbreaking Court Decision for Vets With PTSD
Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:02am
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking verdict for accused
Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was decided in Canyon
City, Oregon on October 19 when former soldier Jesse Bratcher, on trial for
murder, was found guilty by reason of insanity. It was the first trial in the
U.S. where a Veteran's PTSD was successfully considered to mitigate the
circumstances of a crime.

Dr. William Brown and Dr. Robert Stanulis from The Bunker Project, who work on
Veteran defense cases throughout Oregon and Washington, provided research and
testimony for Bratcher's attorney who argued that his PTSD and the influence
of the Military Total Institution shaped his actions in the killing of Jose
Ceja Medina. Bratcher believed his girlfriend had been raped by the man he
shot to death. Bratcher is VA rated as 100% disabled due to PTSD he developed
while deployed in Iraq. Bratcher was a model citizen before joining the Army,
with no criminal or juvenile history.

Bratcher strictly adhered to the rules of engagement in Iraq, twice refusing
to fire on civilians. There, he witnessed the death of a friend from an IED
explosion, which commanders reported drastically changed Bratcher's mental
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Fort Wainwright soldier recalls saving medic

Fort Wainwright soldier recalls saving medic from insurgent grenade
by Chris Freiberg

FAIRBANKS — Sgt. Ricardo Montoya didn’t feel anything as the grenade blew up at his feet.

It was May 18, and the 31-year-old father of six was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, as part of his second deployment to the country.

While most of Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team was stationed in Iraq’s northeastern Diyala province, Montoya and the rest of Alpha Company from the 1-5 Infantry were attached to another brigade several months earlier and sent further north to Mosul.
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Fort Wainwright soldier recalls saving medic

Girl gang raped at Richmond High School as 20 just watched

I wonder if they would have wanted others to help if it was happening to them?
I wonder if they would have wanted others to help if it was a sister of their's or their own girlfriend?
They were talking about it after as if they were talking about some kind of TV show while she was left alone and unconscious!

The victim was found unconscious under a bench shortly before midnight Saturday, after police received a call from someone in the area who had overheard people at the assault scene "reminiscing about the incident," Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan said.

Police: As many as 20 present at gang rape outside school dance
October 28, 2009 9:03 a.m. EDT
10 people involved in assault, 10 others watched and offered no help, police say
Richmond, California, police say student was gang raped for over two hours
Former student, 19, and 15-year-old arrested
Victim, 15, remains in the hospital in stable condition

Richmond, California (CNN) -- Investigators say as many as 20 people were involved in or stood and watched the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a California high school homecoming dance Saturday night.

Police posted a $20,000 reward Tuesday for anyone who comes to them with information that helps arrest and convict those involved in what authorities describe as a 2½-hour assault on the Richmond High School campus in suburban San Francisco.

Two teenage suspects have been jailed, but more arrests, as many as 20 total, are expected, according to a police detective.

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As many as 20 present at gang rape outside school dance

Gunmen storm UN guest house in Kabul, 12 dead

Gunmen storm UN guest house in Kabul, 12 dead

KABUL -Taliban militants wearing suicide vests and police uniforms stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff in the heart of the Afghan capital early Wednesday, killing 12 people — including six U.N. staff. It was the biggest in a series of attacks intended to undermine next month's presidential runoff election.
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the early morning assaults, which also included rocket attacks at the presidential palace and the city's main luxury hotel.
The chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said the attack "will not deter the U.N. from continuing all its work" in the country. One of the six U.N. dead was an American, the U.S. Embassy said.
The two-hour attack on the guest house where some 20 U.N. election workers were staying sent people running and screaming outside, with some jumping out upper-story windows to escape a fire that broke out. One American man said he held off the assailants with a Kalashnikov rifle until guests were able to escape.
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Gunmen storm UN guest house in Kabul

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

8 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan

8 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan
October 27, 2009 4:26 p.m. EDT
Seven soldiers killed were inside armored vehicles, military official says
October 2009 is deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since war began
Afghan civilian working with NATO also killed in attacks
Several other U.S. service members wounded, U.S. military says

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The U.S. military suffered another day of heavy losses in Afghanistan on Tuesday as roadside bombs killed eight soldiers, two military officials told CNN.

An Afghan civilian working with NATO troops also was killed in the attacks in southern Afghanistan, the military said. The officials said that, according to initial reports, one blast took place just outside Kandahar and the other was in neighboring Zabul province.

Seven of the soldiers who died were traveling together in one vehicle, said Sgt. Jerome Baysmore with the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.

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Military suicides not worthy of condolences from President?

This is not about Democrat or Republican. This is about the hundreds of military suicides we've already seen along with those that will surly follow. It has been assumed that when a man or woman dies while serving the nation the very least this nation can do is deliver a letter from the President with the condolences of the nation, but that has not been happening.

This is wrong and has left hundreds of grieving families without an acknowledgment from this nation their family member's service was appreciated.

Suicide comes most of the time because the help they needed was not there for them. Most of the suicides in the military could have been prevented but even knowing that we have decided they do not deserve to have their service honored just because their lives ended by the enemy inside of them?

If you really want to get rid of the stigma of needing help here's the chance to do it. Honor all their lives by honoring all their deaths.

Exclusive: Parents of Soldier Who Killed Himself in Iraq Speak Out
Gregg and Jannett Keesling are the parents of Chancellor Keesling, a US soldier who took his own life on June 19th of this year. Chancellor was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. During his first deployment, he suffered mental health issues so severe he was placed on suicide watch. After getting back to the United States, Chancellor had turned down a bonus offer to return to Iraq in the hopes he wouldn’t be redeployed. But he was called back in May. One month later, he took his own life. Since Chancellor’s death, Gregg and Jannett Keesling have yet to receive a letter of condolence from President Obama. After making inquiries, they discovered that this was not because of an oversight. Instead, it’s because of a longstanding US policy to deny presidential condolence letters to the families of soldiers who take their own lives. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: Since Chancellor’s death, Gregg and Jannett Keesling have yet to receive a letter of condolence from President Obama. After making inquiries, they discovered this was not because of an oversight. Instead, it’s because of a longstanding US policy to deny presidential condolence letters to the families of soldiers who have committed suicide.

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Vietnam Vet returns to Vietnam to heal

Vet will be among 20 people, including seven other veterans, who will be in the country on Veterans Day

By Paul Fattig
Mail Tribune
MEDFORD — When Michael Phillips returned from Vietnam in 1971, the Army veteran didn't exactly march back into society.

"When I got back, I didn't associate with my family, I didn't join the VFW or anything," said the Medford resident. "I came close to getting married several times but each time managed to mess it up. I partied a lot but it was very hard for me to get close to anybody.

"I thought I was invincible because I had survived the war," said the former Army specialist fourth class who drove in a combat convoy in Vietnam and into Cambodia. "But my PTSD was causing severe depression."

His diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, which he and counselors say led to drug abuse and homelessness over the years, also is the reason he is returning to Vietnam on Nov. 3.

"I'm not going back there with a lot of feelings of guilt or anger," he stressed. "I'm going back there to learn how to help other veterans heal, although I anticipate there will be moments when I have my issues."

Phillips will be among 20 people on the trip, including eight veterans, their spouses and several others with ties to Vietnam or the war.

The trip is the result of Phillips attending a Soldier's Heart presentation by noted psychotherapist Ed Tick in Medford in February of this year. Phillips later attended a retreat for veterans on Orca Island in Puget Sound conducted by Tick, who is known nationally for helping veterans with PTSD. He leads groups of veterans back to Vietnam each year as part of the healing process.
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Murdered Vietnam Vet finds honor too late from VA

VA Takes Back Slain Military Vet's Benefits
Families Of Vets Without Spouse, Children Can't Petition Takeback
POSTED: 3:18 pm EDT October 26, 2009

BALTIMORE -- Next month, Americans will pause to honor our nation's veterans, but the day will be tough for a Dundalk family who is mourning a slain Vietnam veteran while fighting the system that was designed to take care of him.

At 17, Daniel Hoeck needed his parent's permission to drop out of high school and fight a war in Vietnam. Two tours of duty later, he made it home safely with a Purple Heart and a deep conviction, according to his sister, Marie Davidson.

"My brother always loved his country. It didn't stop," she told 11 News I-Team reporter Deborah Weiner.

His love for country didn't stop as his body wore down from Agent Orange exposure and disease.

Daniel Hoeck was slain in his Westfield home during a burglary in February.
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Before you were born He set you apart

Have you ever wondered what makes people go into the line of work they do? What makes a neurosurgeon decide they want to understand and operate of the human brain? What makes a member of the clergy decide to take care of other people? What makes a cop decide they are willing to go through what they do? The answer is, they listen to the calling of their soul.

If they hear it correctly instead of based on being pushed into it or out of their own ego, then they equipped to do whatever it was they were intended to do. Doing what they were designed for, they find their bliss. It does not mean they will have an easy time doing it because the rest of the world does not listen to their own calling, but they will find the courage, strength and ability to do it.

Jeremiah's mission was something he was well prepared for because God put it all into his soul. He was too afraid of what the world put into him to find it but God reassured him it was all there inside of him.

The Call of Jeremiah
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

6 "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."

7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.

10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (www.biblegateway)

Each one of us are called to do something in this life. Most do what they do because they have a passion for it and they are pretty happy doing it. Some are forced into it and they are pretty miserable doing it. That is because what they are doing is not what God intended for them to do and they are missing what they need to do it with bliss.

What we all need to understand when it comes to PTSD is that what we need to heal is already inside each of us but first we need to understand what makes us all different.

When people decide to enter into the National Guards or become firefighters, usually there is great compassion within them and they want to help others in times of need. They have the courage within them to be willing to act, risking their own lives for the sake of someone else.

It is the same way when people decide to enter into the military or law enforcement. They have the same compassion and courage but they also have the additional knowledge they may have to take lives in order to save lives.

What we get wrong is when they are forced to do something they were not intended to do. This is one of the biggest reasons the National Guards are coming in with higher PTSD rates. They were sent to do something God did not intend for them to be doing. Yet even with this, there is still the ability to heal within them.

Just as with the military and law enforcement, the citizen soldiers or protector warriors, risk their lives and are often wounded emotionally by what they have to endure and they need help to heal from it. First they have to face it instead of denying it. To get them past that we need to make sure no one is still telling them or expecting them to "get over it."

We have to acknowledge what they were like most of their lives to begin to understand the changes in them are out of character, like a stranger inhabiting the body. That should be our first clue there is something much deeper than them simply changing. Look back in your history with them and know if they were compassionate and how deeply their compassion was. The deeper the ability to feel for others, the deeper PTSD will cut into them. Caring for others opens the door to feeling pain for others. The expression "it comes with the territory" applies well here.

If we understand where we all came from and what we enter into this world with, we end up doing what we were intended to do. The problem is getting from there to where we are now and then to where we need to go.

People will assume all kinds of things but among the long list is that they should have known better once they discover they got something wrong. They need to ask how they should have known better if no one ever told them. How would we understand anything about faith itself if no one ever bothered to write it down? How would we know anything about history if no one ever wrote anything? We all need to start looking at what we do know about people in general if we are every going to understand what makes some hurt more than others.

Veterans beat themselves up over suffering when they hear the truth, but no one ever told them the truth before.

Families beat themselves up over doing wrong things or making wrong judgments because they didn't know any better once they hear the truth.

We as a nation have an obligation to make sure every veteran, every police officer, every firefighter and emergency responder along with survivors, know what makes them so different they end up wounded by the events out of their control while others walk away. It begins with the level of compassion they have inside of them in the first place because they walk away with their own pain plus the pain others felt as well. It also comes from going through something abnormal they were not intended to experience and not equipped to endure. It comes from being in the wrong place too many times for the right reason. Above all, it comes from being a human just as imperfect as Jeremiah.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" so that you can do what you are supposed to do and when you need help, it is there inside of you and all around you.