Friday, April 30, 2010

Fourteen members of the Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Medals of Valor from Germany

Soldiers become first to receive German honor

By Sean O’Sullivan - The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
Posted : Friday Apr 30, 2010 18:12:23 EDT

Fourteen members of the Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade on Thursday became the first non-Germans to receive Germany’s Gold Cross, one of that nation’s highest honors for valor.

The soldiers, based at U.S. Army Garrison-Ansbach, Germany, were honored for medevac flights they performed April 2 involving German troops who had been ambushed by some 200 Taliban fighters while on patrol north of the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan.

The firefight was still going on when the Black Hawk evacuation helicopters — two medical transport helicopters and one heavily armed “chase” helicopter — arrived, according to what Army Capt. Robert McDonough, who piloted one of the medical helicopters, told his father, Jack McDonough.

“The two Black Hawks did a combined seven landings into the middle of this battle. My son told me that he could see rounds hitting the blades of his helicopter and there were bullet holes in the Blackhawks,” Jack McDonough wrote in an e-mail message. “He said the incoming fire was so bad that at one point he banked the helicopter real hard to avoid the incoming rounds. He told me he saw the Taliban celebrating, thinking they had downed them.”

According to a letter sent to the McDonough family by Army Maj. Michael S. Hughes, the medevac team “performed heroically in the face of extreme adversity,” and their actions saved at least five German soldiers “and probably countless more.”
read more here
Soldiers become first to receive German honor

11 airmen awarded medals - including 3 silver Stars

When I read stories like this, it's really hard to understand the honor we give to sports players and celebrities. It's hard to understand the glorification of politicians and commentators as if all they say is so important their every word must be covered. It's hard to believe that watching American Idol or reality TV shows are more important, more worthy of spending our time on than paying attention to the men and women risking their lives every day. Real heroes end up putting the lives of others ahead of their own every day but unless they do something really outstanding, we don't seem to pay any real attention to them at all. Even with these eleven receiving such high honors, there will be very few reporters covering any of their stories.

11 airmen awarded medals - including 3 silver Stars
Military: 11 airmen given medals – including 3 Silver Stars – for brave deeds
KRIS SHERMAN; Staff writer
Published: 04/30/1012:05

Machine gun rounds flew all around him from 30 feet away. He sprinted through the fire to a position from which he could attack. He shot a rocket-propelled grenade into a room occupied by Taliban fighters.

And when that didn’t clear them out, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell dodged the gunfire again, covering his team as he went.

Then he called in airstrikes that reportedly killed more than 50 insurgents in Central Afghanistan’s Helmand River area.

Those were the local airman’s heroics on just one day, “during a savage eight-hour firefight,” according to his Air Force citation.

It earned Harvell a Silver Star award. He earned another two months earlier.

Read more: You cant call time out in a war zone

First responders and trauma down under

Anguish starts after the sirens stop
May 1, 2010

We call the ambulance in hours of urgent need but the grisly work we pass on takes its toll on the paramedics. Natasha Wallace reports on suicides and official stonewalling.

It is one of the toughest jobs in the country - an adrenalin-charged ride through what is often the worst of human experiences. But the state's ambulance service, after countless suicides and attempted suicides by staff, 11 parliamentary and internal inquiries over a decade and 96 complaints to the corruption watchdog, has yet to acknowledge the impact of years of neglect on its traumatised workforce.

Paul* is haunted by the screams of distressed children. After 32 years in the ambulance service witnessing unspeakable sadness, the sobs of the young ones who lost their siblings in a house fire a few years ago jolt him from his slumber at night. The raw howling still rings in his ears.

''When you hear it, it haunts you forever and you know that everything is futile,'' he says. ''The shriek … that helpless plea, that last expiring of breath.''
read more here
Anguish starts after the sirens stop

82nd Airborne go Gaga in dance video from Afghanistan

Soldiers go Gaga in Afghanistan

A shout out to "MalibuMelcher" and his fellow soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division for this remake of Lady Gaga's "Telephone," shot from somewhere in Afghanistan. (Portions of the video at :52 and 2:50 are especially funny. You may notice weapons in the background.)

Soldiers go Gaga in Afghanistan

Local Vietnam veterans honored

Posted: 1:00 AM

Belated recognition
Local Vietnam veterans honored
By Jen Marckini
Staff Writer

HANOVER TWP. – Forty-seven local Vietnam War veterans were recognized Thursday for their service by state Rep. John T. Yudichak.

Veterans in the 119th Legislative District received a commemorative medal and special citation at the event, which was held in the auditorium at Hanover Area Senior High School. Twenty-two were in attendance.

Bernard Levandoski of Plymouth was 21 years old when he enlisted in 1968 and went to war. When he returned home in 1971 there were no honors, ceremonies or parades.

After all these years, the 63-year-old has not been recognized for his service until now.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Levandoski, who signed up for two tours of duty. “It was a different generation then. People just didn’t appreciate what we were doing for them.”

The feeling was the same for many veterans, including Joseph Kasper, a 59-year-old disabled vet who was wounded after a year in combat.

“I’ve never been honored before,” said Kasper, of Dallas.
read more here

New Scholarship for the Children of Fallen Service Members

New Scholarship for the Children of Fallen Service Members
Benefit Honors Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry

WASHINGTON (April 30, 2010) - The children of military personnel who
died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 can apply for an
educational scholarship similar to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Benefits
are retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009.

The scholarship, which is administered by the Department of Veterans
Affairs, are named after Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry, 28, a
Texas native who died in Iraq in 2006 while disarming an explosive. He
was survived by three young children.

"The Fry scholarship represents this nation's solemn commitment to care
for children whose mothers and fathers paid the ultimate price for our
country," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

VA begins accepting applications for the Fry scholarship on May 1, 2010.
For more information or assistance applying, call toll-free
1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551), or visit the VA GI Bill Website at

VA estimates nearly 1,500 children will receive benefits under the Fry
scholarship program in 2010. Recipients generally have 15 years to use
their benefits, beginning on their 18th birthdays.

Eligible children attending institutions of higher learning may receive
payments to cover their tuition and fees up to the highest amounts
charged to public, in-state students at undergraduate institutions in
each state. A monthly housing allowance and stipend for books and
supplies are also paid under this program.

VA will begin paying benefits under the Fry scholarships on Aug. 1,
2010. Eligible participants may receive benefits retroactively to
August 1, 2009, the same day the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect.
Eligible children may be married. Recipients are entitled to 36 months
of benefits at the 100 percent level.

When dependents also serve in the military, the reserves or are Veterans
in their own right, eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery
GI Bill for Active Duty, the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves or
the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), then they would
relinquish their eligibility under those programs to receive benefits
under a Fry scholarship.

NY Police Mistakenly Tell Parents Their Son Is Dead

NY Police Mistakenly Tell Parents Their Son Is Dead
MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (April 29) -- It was a 90-minute nightmare.

Alfred and Geri Esposito of Mastic Beach were told Saturday morning that their son Freddy and another passenger had been killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on a Pennsylvania highway.

It turns out Freddy wasn't dead. He was asleep on a couch in an apartment he rents with his brother. The dead man was one of his former fraternity brothers -- a revelation that both relieved and upset the Espositos.

"Ninety minutes of my life I'll never get back," Geri Esposito said Thursday. "My husband, who is a very strong man, was reduced to a puddle."

The mix-up began when Pennsylvania troopers found Freddy Esposito's driver's license in the hands of one of the men killed in the wreck -- 18-year-old Paul Richards of Santa Cruz, Calif.

Older brother Chris Esposito was just starting his shift in Brooklyn as a New York Police Department officer when he got the call that his brother was dead. He left work and raced to the Bay Shore home he shared with his brother.

"He goes downstairs into his brother's apartment and he saw something on the couch," Geri Esposito recalled. After poking the lump a couple of times, his brother awoke from under the blanket.

"He screamed, 'You're dead, you're dead!'" Geri Esposito said of Chris.

And Freddy counters: "I'm sleeping."

NY Police Mistakenly Tell Parents Their Son Is Dead

New PTSD research could change treatment

This shows how real PTSD is for any doubters never having lived with it. If this research ends up not being that beneficial for PTSD, survivors of traumatic events, then at least this research will begin a whole new way of looking for ways to treat it. This study is money well spent. As for the most of the other research done over the last ten years, they have been more repeats of what was already studied. This is in a hopeful direction and a change in the way they look at PTSD. It is a sign of changing that I've waited over 28 years for!

In a paper published in 2009, he proposed a mechanism, based on solid experimental data, that trauma leads to an increase in nerve growth factor. "That leads to sprouting of the sympathetic nerves, which leads to increased production of norepinphrine - adrenaline - and that makes people anxious," he says. A block placed next to the stellate ganglion leads to a decrease in nerve growth factor and a reversal of PTSD symptoms.

Walter Reed Report Confirms Validity of Fast-Acting, Non-Drug PTSD Treatment

Newswise - Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, has published case reports detailing the successful treatment of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder with a stellate ganglion block.

SGB is a 10-minute procedure during which local anesthesia is injected next to the stellate ganglion, a collection of nerves in the neck. SGB has been used safely to treat chronic pain and other ailments since 1925, but Dr. Eugene Lipov, a Chicago-area anesthesiologist and researcher, has pioneered this approach for the treatment of PTSD.

Dr. Lipov has published papers in several medical journals, providing a theoretical model of the biological brain changes that reverse PTSD following the procedure. "Using functional MRIs to show the part of the brain that is active during fear and other traumatic emotions, we can see and measure the physiologic changes that occur during trauma," he explains. "These MRIs are telling us that the cause of PTSD is physical in nature, and not simply a 'psychological condition.'"

In a paper published in 2009, he proposed a mechanism, based on solid experimental data, that trauma leads to an increase in nerve growth factor. "That leads to sprouting of the sympathetic nerves, which leads to increased production of norepinphrine - adrenaline - and that makes people anxious," he says. A block placed next to the stellate ganglion leads to a decrease in nerve growth factor and a reversal of PTSD symptoms.

The coming tsunami of PTSD cases. The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeing an increasing number of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with a mental disorder such as major depression or PTSD. As deployments lengthen, those numbers are expected to grow.

read more here

PTSD dying to take you away on mystery trip back

They came home alone. They came home abandoned. They came home and were expected to forget about the year they were gone. One series of days turning into months as they piled up together until the magical number 12 was reached. They knew if they survived one more day, they were closer to going home, of not having to watch their buddies die and not having to kill strangers trying to kill them. They knew they would be able to walk down a path back home without having to worry about a bomb blowing them up just as they knew they could go into a house back home without having someone in there ready to shoot them. They knew if they survived they'd be able to eat what they wanted, when they wanted and wouldn't go hungry because supplies couldn't get to them. They knew they could take a shower without having to worry about getting killed or glowing in the dark because of all the talk about what they were spraying in the jungles, Agent Orange the equal opportunity killer. The year passed, they came home and for more, all they wanted to do was go back.

Magical Mystery Tour

A mystery trip.

The magical mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up (AND) THAT'S AN INVITATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up TO MAKE A RESERVATION, roll up for the mystery tour.
The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away,
Coming to take you away.
The magical mystery tour is dying to take you away,
Dying to take you away, take you today.

Imagine that!

Considering all they had been through, through enlistment or draft, they were changed. They spent their 12 months trying to stay alive, keep their friends alive as well and waited to be able to go back home. They figured that wouldn't have changed much in a year but when they discovered just how much the war had changed them, they didn't feel as if they fit in back home anymore. How could they? How could any combat veteran ever feel the same again?

The truth is, they couldn't just as all the generations before them were not the same after combat.

Their survival skills were fed but so was the enemy digging into their soul. PTSD was taking charge and for most of them, they figured they would just have to get over it. After all, their Dads did, at least that was what they wanted to believe.

Now their kids are coming home after Iraq, after Afghanistan and the survivors want to go back. It's tugging at them the same way home tugged at them when they were deployed. The difference is, their Vietnam veteran fathers battled this fierce enemy ahead of time. All the treatments and compensation were already fought for by them and they still battle the government, challenge the scientists and researchers to come up with better treatments, challenge the clergy to take care of their souls and heal them even if science can't cure them.

PTSD only comes after trauma. We know average people living in "polite society" can end up with being haunted just as we know firefighters and emergency responders can. We know police officers can carry this inside of them and we know the more times they are exposed to traumatic events the likelihood of PTSD digging in increases, just as the Army predicted it would with the troops being redeployed. Their finding was that redeployments increased the risk by 50%. This was not just about the number of years they were exposed but also the number of events within the year would also increase. There is much we know now. Still what we fail to do is honor the Vietnam veterans forgotten about in all of this.

They wait in line behind the newer veterans even though they have waited all these years to find out what was wrong with them has a name and there is a reason for it. PTSD had taken hold. The blessing is that it is not too late for them to heal and get off this ride of highs and lows so deep they don't want to get up in the morning.

35 Years After the Vietnam War Is Not Too Late

Don JonesProject Manager, LZ Lambeau

A Vietnam veteran once said to a fellow veteran I know: Yes it is way, way late. Maybe too late to be welcomed home...but it is never too late to say to a veteran, thank you for your service.

Friday April 30th will mark the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

I served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1969, with service in the Intelligence Corps in Danang Vietnam.

It's been 35 years and every year since I've returned I've met veterans who had returned home but have never really "come home."

Just over ten years ago, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Public Television and the Wisconsin Historical Society started interviewing hundreds of Wisconsin veterans of WWII and Korea. The interviews have been collected in a series of books and television shows, Wisconsin WWII War Stories and Wisconsin Korean War Stories.

Now, over last two years, they've done the same for Vietnam in Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories.

There's a remarkable contrast in the stories. During the interviews with Vietnam veterans, the television producers saw and heard a distinctly different message and tone from the WWII veterans and, to a degree, from the Korean War veterans. It was the fact that few had ever been thanked and none had experienced the welcome home parades for the WWII veterans, nor even the few "thank you's" heard by the Korean veterans.
cllick link for more

Vietnam marks 35th anniversary of end of war

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Major opens up about his own battle with PTSD so others will seek help too

Battling PTSD: Major hopes sharing his story prompts others to seek help
By Melissa Bower Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010 2:25 PM CDT
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Maj. Ryan Kranc is recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder and competes in triathlons to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Lamp photo by Prudence Siebert.
Ryan Kranc was traveling with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment near Ramadi, Iraq, on July 23, 2003, when his convoy was hit with an improvised explosive device.

Kranc, now an Army major, survived. His commander, his friend, Capt. Josh T. Byers, did not.

Six years and two full combat tours later, Kranc committed himself to recovering from the emotional wounds sustained on that day in 2003.

While serving in Saudi Arabia in 2009, he notified his command that he had a problem. Although he had sought counseling before, Kranc decided he needed more intervention. He entered treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for six weeks. Kranc said the traumatic events of the war have forever changed his life, but because of his treatment he can now move forward.
read more here
Major hopes sharing his story prompts others to seek help

Vietnam Vet, Shot Was Protecting Family

Son: Man Shot Was Protecting Family
Deputies: 2 Orange Park Men Shot Each Other During Spat

POSTED: Thursday, April 29, 2010
UPDATED: 5:09 pm EDT April 29, 2010

Family Photo
Robert Webster
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- The son of an Orange Park man shot and killed Wednesday afternoon said his dad was just protecting his family.

Robert Webster, 63, a Vietnam veteran, died from a gunshot wound to his chest after deputies said he and Charles Ingram, 57, shot each other. Ingram, who was shot in the head, remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Detectives said the two men had a verbal argument and shot at each other several times in the street on Aurora Boulevard. Neighbors said Ingram was already armed when he approached Webster in his driveway, and when they began to argue, Webster went for his gun and the two began shooting.

Tim Webster, Robert Webster's son, said he blames the Clay County Sheriff's Office for not looking into complaints raised against Ingram, who deputies said has shot an unleashed dog in the neighborhood.
read more here

Shinseki Announces VA Cutting Insurance Premiums for Families

Shinseki Announces VA Cutting Insurance Premiums for Families

WASHINGTON (April 29, 2010) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki announced today that military personnel insuring their families
under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program, which is
administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, will have reduced
out-of-pocket expenses beginning July 1.

"VA hopes these reductions will allow more military personnel to obtain
affordable life insurance coverage for their spouses, particularly in
these difficult economic times," said Shinseki. "Without insurance
protection, life after the loss of a spouse can be not only challenging
emotionally, but can place a severe financial strain on a family."

Family SGLI (FSGLI) monthly premium rates will be reduced for all age
groups by an average of 8 percent. The new rates are based on revised
estimates for the cost of the program. This is the third time that
premiums have been reduced since the FSGLI program began in November
2001. Spousal premiums were previously reduced for all age groups in
2003 and 2006.

FSGLI coverage provides life insurance protection to military personnel
for their spouses and children. Children are automatically insured for
$10,000, with no premiums charged.

Based on the coverage of service members, spouses may be insured for up
to $100,000. Military personnel pay age-based premiums for spousal
coverage -- the older the spouse, the higher the premium rate.

The premium reduction ensures FSGLI remains highly competitive compared
to commercial insurers.

FSGLI coverage is available in increments of $10,000. The current and
revised monthly premium rates per $10,000 of insurance, along with other
information, are available on the Internet at

Vets salute Obama on funding

Vets salute Obama on funding
Legion cites administration 'accessibility'

By Kara Rowland

President Obama is struggling to fulfill campaign promises to pass energy and immigration measures, but he's poised to notch another victory for a stump-speech vow: to make sure veterans' funding isn't held hostage to the government's bad finances.

While watchdogs caution there's still a long list of problems for veterans, all sides agree the President Obama has made big strides on promises he made in 2008 when competing for military votes against Republican nominee and Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain - to fully fund the Veterans Administration, expand access to care in rural areas and improve treatment for mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The accessibility with this administration has been outstanding. They listen, they reach out to the veterans' service organizations, they see the value in communicating," Peter Gaytan, executive director of the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans' organization, with 2.5 million members.

Even amid competing priorities and a deepening recession, Mr. Obama last year managed to secure the biggest increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 30 years. And as Congress begins writing spending bills for 2011, despite a spending freeze on some other domestic spending, he's looking for more aid for veterans.

Mr. Obama's proposed VA budget for fiscal 2011 asks for $125 billion - a 10 percent jump from what Congress enacted for 2010, which was itself more than 16 percent more than 2009. The discretionary portion of next year's budget request - the part the administration and Congress have the most direct control over - is up nearly 20 percent since 2009, to total $60.3 billion.
read more here
Vets salute Obama on funding

Chaplain accused of falsely claiming to be Army Ranger

A Chaplain did this?

Man accused of falsely claiming to be Ranger

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Apr 28, 2010 21:48:51 EDT

PHOENIX — A federal grand jury in Phoenix has indicted a former chaplain for making false claims about his military honors and training.

Prosecutors say 42-year-old Kurt Alan Bishop, of Queen Creek, falsely claimed to have received advanced combat training, achieving the elite status of an Army Ranger.

The 34-count indictment alleges that Bishop began making false claims about his military decorations and training in 1991, shortly after he ended his first tour of active duty. Authorities say the claims helped him become an officer in the Arizona National Guard and to enter the Chaplain Corps in 2006, both resulting in increases in his military salary and benefits.

Bishop served as a chaplain until his discharge earlier this year.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that a summons has been issued for Bishop to appear in federal court on the charges. It was not immediately known whether Bishop had legal representation for his case.
Man accused of falsely claiming to be Ranger

Be as resolute to heal as you were to survive

If you think you have been wounded by PTSD because you are weak, you have already determined your destiny. On Criminal Minds last night Agent Rossi (Joe Mantegna) said "Scars are a reminder of where we've been but they are not dictator of where we are going." PTSD is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are a survivor. You have survived traumatic events that would bring even the most strongest person you know to their knees. PTSD does not have to destroy you if you understand it and be resolute to heal.

Main Entry: 1res·o·lute
Pronunciation: \ˈre-zə-ˌlüt, -lət\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin resolutus, past participle of resolvere
Date: 1533
1 : marked by firm determination : resolved
2 : bold, steady

synonyms see faithful

The sooner you seek help to heal the sooner PTSD stops getting worse. PTSD is much like an infection. It feeds of itself. It gets stronger while everything you knew about yourself becomes infected. We all know infections get worse and spread without the intervention of medical help so that your body's own built in defenses can have help to overcome the infection. PTSD works the same way. Medical intervention aids your minds ability to overcome the horrors trapped inside your memory. The sooner you begin getting help, the less PTSD is allowed to claim of the person you were before the trauma happened.

Don't let the scar you carry dictate how you spend the rest of your life.

Vietnam Recognition Day speaker under investigation

Officials investigate guest speaker at Vietnam veteran recognition ceremony
April 27, 2010 5:00 PM
Marine officials are investigating the guest speaker at a Vietnam veterans’ recognition day who critics said never went to Vietnam.

Michael Hamilton, who says he’s a former Marine colonel, gave an emotional keynote speech at Saturday’s Vietnam Recognition Day, held at Jacksonville’s Vietnam Memorial. Each event attendee received a copy of Hamilton’s impressive biography, showing a rapid rise from the rank of private first class to colonel between 1961 and 1969 while also accumulating 80 medals and ribbons, including two Navy Crosses, four Silver Stars and eight Purple Hearts.

But, local Vietnam veterans say, none of it is true.

John Cooney, the adjutant of the Beirut Memorial Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, said veterans attending the ceremony had their doubts even before Hamilton began to speak.

“Nobody is decorated that much,” Cooney said. “We’re positive that everything is bogus that is in that bio.”

Hamilton’s name appears in the Phonies Index at the website According to the listing, “Claims that his records were redacted and that he has been trying for 24 years to prove that he was in the incident … Military records so far show NO OVERSEAS DUTY, NO COVERT OR TACTICAL COMBAT TRAINING.”

Where his name doesn’t appear is in the Hall of Valor database, maintained by That site contains the names of all recipients of distinguished awards, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Silver Star.
read more here

PTSD Affects Soldiers Adjusting to Life after War

As the wife of a Vietnam veteran, I can personally testify that knowing what PTSD was and why it was haunting my husband, not only held this family together, it helped him to heal. Even with all the passing years between Vietnam and receiving help from the VA, he is living a life again instead of dying a very slow death. I've seen too many veterans abandoned by their families simply because no one told them what PTSD was or what they could do about it. Therapists avoided including the family in the healing process and no one was offering them support, excluding them when they needed to be included. They ended up making PTSD worse simply because they didn't understand.

It became my mission to correct this. While I work with veterans so that they move past the stigma and seek help, it is equally important for the families to be informed so they do not make the same mistakes unknowingly making PTSD worse. I've been married for over 25 years, so I know first hand families do not need to fall apart and veterans can heal even if they cannot be cured.

Here's a link to my book, For the Love of Jack . It's about 18 years of living with PTSD. It's for free but please consider making a donation so that I can continue this work.

Here's one of the first videos I made so that everyone can understand what it took me years to learn. Wounded Minds. Over on the sidebar, there are even more videos on PTSD. Please use them and pass them on to anyone you think may be helped by them. These are also for free but again, please consider making a donation to support my ministry of helping them heal.

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Affects Soldiers Adjusting to Life after War
Corinne Hautala

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Although police have accused Spc. Kip Lynch in the slayings of his wife and baby daughter, they have not explained what led up to the horrific deaths Monday.

But psychologists say many soldiers face challenges when they return from a combat zone. It is not uncommon to see soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome when they return home from a deployment, said Cindy Alderson, the director of Military and Veteran Programs and Services at University of North Florida.

Alderson, a Navy veteran, knows personally the struggles of returning home after a long deployment.

She said loved ones can help service members by spotting the signs of PTSD and then encouraging them to seek help.
read more here
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Affects Soldiers

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vietnam veteran donates so Mount Olive Memorial Day parade can go on

Vietnam veteran donates $3,000 so Mount Olive Memorial Day parade can go on

MOUNT OLIVE — The Mount Olive Memorial Day parade is back on, thanks to a donation from a Flanders business owner.

John Post, president of Lamtec Corp., plans to donate $3,000 to cover the cost of the parade, which has been running in the township for 25 years. The parade was canceled in light of planned staff cuts to keep a lid on Mount Olive's municipal budget.

"It struck a nerve when I heard it was being canceled," said Post, of Tranquility Township. "Memorial Day is an important day to honor veterans, particularly those that never made it back."

While Post has never even attended the parade in Mount Olive, the Vietnam War Army veteran said Flanders is still his community. His manufacturing company, which produces facings for insulation, has operated at its Bartley Chester Road location since 1982, he said.
read more here
Vietnam veteran donates so Mount Olive Memorial Day parade can go on

Does CNN care about PTSD at all?

If you watched any of the news reports from Iraq, you would have seen the changes in Ware along with seeing the kind of courage it took to stay there and then go back so many times. If he needs to heal then CNN should give him all the time he needs to do it along with all the support it takes. Above that, CNN should take it personally that one of their own is suffering because he was dedicated to his job in a combat zone. Ware reported on the conditions in Iraq but he also reported on the troops. He cared. CNN could have gone a long way in helping the soldiers heal as well if they bothered to report on it as much as they do report on celebrities and gossip.

Michael Ware On Leave From CNN
Huffington Post
Danny Shea
Foreign correspondent Michael Ware, the face of CNN's coverage of Iraq, is on leave from the network.

The network says that Ware, who has been conspicuously absent from CNN, is on leave to write a book.

"Michael is currently on a leave of absence writing a book," a CNN spokesperson told the Huffington Post. "We don't discuss individual contracts."

AllThingsCNN, a blog covering the network, speculates that Ware will not be returning to CNN ever after the network denied his request for more time off to write his book and deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Ware was the subject of a haunting, must-read Men's Journal profile in December 2008 that brought readers into his tortured world. Titled "CNN's Prisoner of War," the story by Greg Veis quoted Ware as saying of his return from Iraq, "I am not the same fucking person. I am not the same person. I don't know how to come home." click link above for more

"Crazy Nam Vets" vindicated by today's wars

"Crazy Nam Vets" vindicated by today's wars

If you ever judged Vietnam veterans, protested against them, called them names or regarded them as "crazy Nam Vet" here's your chance to apologize to them. When they came home, no one cared. No one was talking about treating the traumatized veterans differently than the general population that never once did anything like they did, went where they went, risked their lives facing what they faced, but now we know better. We see the men and women we send into combat as different from the rest of us for a reason. We know that justice demands their tours of duty be taken into consideration in deciding prison time or therapy. This is good but the fact remains in a perfect nation, they would never come home without the help they need waiting for them.
Incarcerated Veterans

In January 2000, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a special report on incarcerated veterans. The following are highlights of the report, "Veterans in Prison or Jail":

Over 225,000 veterans were held in U.S. prisons or jails in 1998.

Among adult males in 1998, there were 937 incarcerated veterans per 100,000 veteran residents.
1 in every 6 incarcerated veterans was not honorably discharged from the military.
About 20% of veterans in prison reported seeing combat duty during their military service.
In 1998, an estimated 56,500 Vietnam War-era veterans and 18,500 Persian Gulf War veterans were held in state and federal prisons.
Nearly 60% of incarcerated veterans had served in the Army.
Among state prisoners, over half (53%) of veterans were white non-hispanics, compared to nearly a third (31%) of non-veterans; among federal prisoners, the percentage of veterans who were white (50%) was nearly double that of non-veterans (26%).
Among state prisoners, the median age of veterans was 10 years older than that of other prison and jail inmates.
Among state prisoners, veterans (32%) were about 3 times more likely than non-veterans (11%) to have attended college.
Veterans are more likely than others to be in prison for a violent offense but less likely to be serving a sentence for drugs.

About 35% of veterans in state prison, compared to 20% of non-veterans, were convicted of homicide or sexual assault.
Veterans (30%) were more likely than other state prisoners (23%) to be first-time offenders.
Among violent state prisoners, the average sentence of veterans was 50 months longer than the average of non-veterans.
At year-end in 1997, sex offenders accounted for 1 in 3 prisoners held in military correctional facilities.
Combat veterans were no more likely to be violent offenders than other veterans.
Veterans in state prison reported higher levels of alcohol abuse and lower levels of drug abuse than other prisoners.

Veterans in state prison were less likely (26%) than other state prisoners (34%) to report having used drugs at the time of their offense.
Nearly 60% of veterans in state prison had driven drunk in the past, compared to 45% of other inmates.
About 70% of veterans, compared to 54% of other state prisoners, had been working full-time before arrest.
Incarcerated veterans were as likely as non-veterans to have been homeless when arrested.

We locked them up, let them end up homeless, let them be brought to the point where after surviving combat they didn't want to live longer back here in the states and then we topped that off with not wanting to give them jobs. History is repeating itself but at least more people in this country know about what is going on.

But we also let them end up homeless too.

Veteran-specific highlights from the USICH report include:

23% of the homeless population are veterans
33% of the male homeless population are veterans
47% served Vietnam-era
17% served post-Vietnam
15% served pre-Vietnam
67% served three or more years
33% were stationed in war zone
25% have used VA homeless services
85% completed high school/GED, compared to 56% of non-veterans
89% received an honorable discharge
79% reside in central cities
16% reside in suburban areas
5% reside in rural areas
76% experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems
46% are white males, compared to 34% of non-veterans
46% are age 45 or older, compared to 20% non-veterans

Service needs cited include:

45% need help finding a job
37% need help finding housing

How many homeless veterans are there?

Accurate numbers community-by-community are not available. Some communities do annual counts; others do an estimate based on a variety of factors. Contact the closest VA medical center's homeless coordinator, the office of your mayor, or another presiding official to get local information.

PTSD is finally becoming a common term. When you think of how far we've come when it comes to OEF and OIF veterans, we have to acknowledge that we owe the debt to the Vietnam veterans who came home and fought for all there is today for PTSD. We still have a very long way to go. Now there are Veterans Courts but they are not all over the country. This is one more example of what the need is.

From War to Prison: Veterans Caught in the Criminal Justice System
Tim King
Documentary highlights conflicts between returning PTSD Combat Vets and a criminal justice system that often fails to consider their unique situation.

(LOS ANGELES) - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the impact this complex and misunderstood problem had on a young American's life is the subject of a hard driving documentary debuting online today called From War to Prison: Veterans Caught in the Criminal Justice System.

Nathan Keyes served two tours in Iraq during his 8 years in the U.S. Army. But when he came home from the war suffering from PTSD, everything went terribly wrong, and now this soldier is serving three years in prison.

His mom Jamie Keyes, says in his military service, her son followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle; they both served in the military.

When Nathan came home from the war suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Jamie says didn’t know what to do for him.

"These boys don’t come home with an instruction booklet – how to deal with them, how to respond to them, and I knew almost nothing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Keyes said in a report published by C. Peterson with Barrow County News in Georgia.
read more here

Soldier suspected in double homicide of wife, baby

Soldier suspected in double homicide of wife, baby

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 27, 2010; 6:39 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska police say the person responsible for killing a 19-year-old woman and her 8-month-old daughter likely was the woman's husband, a military policeman who returned from Afghanistan two months ago.

The bodies of Racquell Lynch and Kyirsta Lynch were found Monday morning in their Anchorage apartment.

Military police had gone there looking for 21-year-old Spc. Kip Lynch, who had not shown up for duties at Fort Richardson Army Post.
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Soldier suspected in double homicide of wife, baby

Ian Deutch survived a recent tour of duty in Afghanistan but killed as a cop in Nevada

National guard commander sees tragic irony in Nevada deputy's slaying after Afghanistan tour


Associated Press Writer

April 27, 2010 5:35 p.m.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ian Deutch survived a recent tour of duty in Afghanistan, identifying Taliban targets for artillery strikes. But he didn't make it through his second day back on the job as a rural Nevada sheriff's deputy.

Deutch was gunned down Monday by a man wielding an assault rifle in a casino parking lot about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. The death of the decorated Nevada Army National Guardsman and law enforcement veteran left those who knew him stunned Tuesday.

"The irony of spending a year overseas in a combat zone and then to come back and have this happen is, you know, tragic," said Lt. Col. Scott Cunningham, a Las Vegas resident and commanding officer of Deutch's guard unit.

Deutch, 27, a staff sergeant, and his older brother, Richard Deutch, a master sergeant, were among 752 soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 221st Calvary who returned home in March. Some members of the Wildhorse squadron suffered casualties but none was killed during their assignment in Afghanistan's Laghman province.

Ian Deutch was a meritorious service medal winner, a squad leader and a forward artillery observer who identified Taliban targets for artillery strikes outside combat outpost Nagil, Cunningham said.

"He's one of those guys, his full-time job is a police officer and his part-time job is a soldier," Cunningham told The Associated Press. "He's always been out there trying to help people and make a contribution to society.
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National guard commander sees tragic irony

Seroquel fine to be paid but what about the rest of the story?

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals took advantage of the government and has agreed to pay a fine. The problem is, the FDA, another branch of the government, did not approve Seroquel for "uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective (including aggression, Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar maintenance, dementia, depression, mood disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness)." Why isn't anyone asking the VA why they used them without checking to see if the company was telling them the truth or not? It's great to hold the companies accountable, but who is holding the VA and other agencies accountable?

Pharmaceutical Giant AstraZeneca to Pay $520 Million for Off-label Drug Marketing

AstraZeneca LP and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP will pay $520 million to resolve allegations that AstraZeneca illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services’ Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) announced today. Such unapproved uses are also known as "off-label" uses because they are not included in the drug’s FDA approved product label.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company signed a civil settlement to resolve allegations that by marketing Seroquel for unapproved uses, the company caused false claims for payment to be submitted to federal insurance programs including Medicaid, Medicare and TRICARE programs, and to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Bureau of Prisons.

The United States alleges that AstraZeneca illegally marketed Seroquel for uses never approved by the FDA. Specifically, between January 2001 through December 2006, AstraZeneca promoted Seroquel to psychiatrists and other physicians for certain uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective (including aggression, Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar maintenance, dementia, depression, mood disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness). These unapproved uses were not medically accepted indications for which the United States and the state Medicaid programs provided coverage for Seroquel.

read more here

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More vets eligible for service dog benefits

More vets eligible for service dog benefits

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Apr 27, 2010 13:33:37 EDT

Disabled veterans with sight, hearing and mobility limitations who might benefit from having a service dog at their side are being encouraged by a major veterans service organization to apply for government reimbursement of some dog-related expenses.

While veterans will need help from a Veterans Affairs Department caseworker to complete the form to request a service-dog benefit, VA officials are promising to respond to every request within 10 days of receipt, said Christina Roof, national deputy legislative director of AmVets, a group with more than two decades of experience with service dog policies.

“If you were ever turned down for a service dog or if you filed a request before February and haven’t heard anything, you should apply or reapply,” Roof said, because new guidelines make it easier to qualify.
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More vets eligible for service dog benefits

Mental health patients turn to each other

Mental health patients turn to each other
Mental health patients turn to each other for strength, advice

By John Keilman

Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Jim Bina was feeling good. And that made him nervous.

The Naperville, Ill., man had struggled with depression for decades, and he had learned to distrust happiness as an illusion that masked an approaching crisis.

It might sound like an unusual problem, but when he mentioned it one recent night in a hospital conference room, most of those listening nodded in recognition.

Bina, 54, had come to a support group for people with mental illness, run by people with mental illness. It offered them a chance to discuss and maybe get help for problems that, all too often, their friends, families and even therapists didn't seem to understand.

How do you feel comfortable at social gatherings when everyone there knows you tried to kill yourself? Should you abandon your religious faith if you're prone to thinking that you're God? How do you handle your illness when your child has it, too?

"A doctor can read about it but he doesn't know it firsthand," Bina said later. "Here, they get it. You're preaching to the choir. They know exactly what you're talking about."
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Vets still giving back and donate settlement money to charities

Vets donate settlement money to charities
Published: April 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM

NEW YORK, April 27 (UPI) -- Military veterans who settled an identity-theft lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs said they will donate $13 million to veterans' charities.

John Rowan, 64, of New York, a Vietnam veteran and plaintiff in the class-action suit, and about 20 million other veterans settled with the VA for $20 million, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

The veterans sued the VA after an employee's laptop with veterans' personal data was stolen in 2006. The veterans said the VA didn't do enough to protect them after finding the sensitive information was missing, the newspaper reported.

The veterans said they will donate the money to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Fisher House Foundation, New York charities that help families of killed and wounded soldiers.
read more here
Vets donate settlement money to charities

For Delilah Washburn, 'every day was Veterans Day'

For Washburn, 'every day was Veterans Day'
Retired sergeant helped to found local VA clinic
By Judith McGinnis
Posted April 27, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Delilah Washburn, who fought fearlessly for the rights of veterans, particularly women vets, lost her own battle with cancer Sunday.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Floral Heights United Methodist Church. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hampton-Vaughn Funeral Home. Washburn will be buried at the Dallas National Cemetery.

Born Aug. 5, 1952 in Blue Ridge, Ga., Washburn’s mother, Geraldine McGee, says Delilah, an only child, began talking to military recruiters by the time she was 15.

“They told her to come back and see them when she came of age,” McGee said. “Six days after she turned 18 she was in the Air Force, headed for Lackland (Air Force Base).”
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For Washburn, every day was Veterans Day

Afghanistan veteran, deputy sheriff killed second day back on the job

Nevada deputy sheriff shot and killed in domestic dispute 60 miles west of Las Vegas

By Associated Press

April 26, 2010 11:53 p.m.

PAHRUMP, Nev. (AP) — A deputy sheriff who was shot Monday while responding to a domestic disturbance report about 60 miles west of Las Vegas has died.

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office says when deputies arrived at Terrible's Lakeside RV Resort in Pahrump, the suspect pulled a rifle out of his vehicle and opened fire without warning. The officers returned fire and killed the suspect.

The sheriff's office says one of the deputies was shot several times and was taken to a Las Vegas hospital, where he underwent surgery but died.

His name and that of the suspect were not released.

Nye County Sheriff Anthony DeMeo told KLAS-TV that the deputy was 27 years old, had recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and it was his second day back.
Nevada deputy sheriff shot and killed

Yankees call wounded at Walter Reed "real heroes"

Yankees moved by Walter Reed visit

WASHINGTON -- For many Yankees, the highlight of today came hours before meeting President Obama or touring the White House.

The players, coaches, executives and Joe Girardi visited Walter Reed Army Hospital in the morning, spending time with wounded soldiers.

"For them coming up to us and saying thank you for winning a championship that's mind boggling to us because we were there to thank them," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I think it really puts things in perspective. People always look at us and say that we're heroes but when you take a look at it these are the real heroes."

The Yankees met with a group of veterans as a team before breaking off into smaller groups and visiting individual rooms. A group of players also went to Malone House, a long-term rehabilitation center for injured veterans.
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Yankees moved by Walter Reed visit

Troops' care facility listed critical

Troops' care facility listed critical

By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon effort to consolidate two premier hospitals for treating wounded troops has more than doubled in price and is so rudderless that an independent review and a bipartisan group of legislators say the care could suffer.
The cost of closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center, replacing it with a larger complex at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and building a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., has risen from $1 billion to $2.6 billion, Pentagon records show.

Correcting the problems raised by Congress will cost another $781 million, according to a Pentagon report released Monday. And improvements must wait until after the new Bethesda facility — named the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — is finished in September 2011, the report says.
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"Crawdad" ex-Marine faces Giants

Giants give 33-year-old, ex-Marine Crawford shot
Giants Blog

Last Updated: 6:47 AM, April 27, 2010

As far as he has come, there’s still a long way to go for Brandon Crawford until he evolves from the oldest player in college to the oldest rookie in the NFL.

“I look at it as a chance, an opportunity to prove people wrong,” Crawford yesterday told The Post. “There’s a lot of doubters out there, a lot of people say ‘There’s no way that can happen.’ I guess in America you shouldn’t dream, that’s what you should tell kids. Don’t be inspired, don’t push for what you want to do.

“Everybody’s path is different. Everybody doesn’t take the same road to get to where they want to go and to where they desire to go. If that was the case, I think life would be boring. My path is different, that’s how I’ve always approached it and how I will continue to approach it.”

It’s not the path less traveled; it’s the path never traveled.

“A great story,” said Marc Ross, the Giants’ director of college scouting.

The story begins in 1996 when Crawford, a defensive end, graduated from high school. He received a handful of offers to play small-college football, but there wasn’t enough money to pay for school so he went to work in a variety of jobs, the last at an automotive assembly line. At 23 years old he needed something new and joined the Marine Corps, spending four years in the Corps — first in San Diego, then at a base in North Carolina — before receiving an honorable discharge in 2003.

“You have to be a tough-minded individual, be able to give a lot of effort,” Crawford said of his Marines experience. “You have to be unselfish, be able to get your bearings and be able to retain knowledge. The main thing that comes into my mind is team.”

Read more: Giants give 33 year-old ex Marine Crawford shot

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vet plans more Westboro Baptist protests

Vet plans more Westboro Baptist protests

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 26, 2010 16:09:07 EDT

LaSALLE, Ill. — An Illinois veteran who was turned away from a Kansas church known for picketing service members’ funerals says he hopes to lead future protests against the congregation and perhaps push for legislative measures to stop it.

Jerry Bacidore of LaSalle is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq war. Bacidore, who served in the Marine Corps and Army, said he and 15 supporters from central Illinois were turned away from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., on Sunday.

Bacidore said he picketed outside.

Church members picket at service members’ funerals and claim troops were killed because the United States is accepting of homosexuality.

Westboro Baptist Church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper says Bacidore could have attended if he hadn’t publicized his visit in a local newspaper.

Vet plans more Westboro Baptist protests

Still Dying Under the Army's Care

Medicine is great to reduce pain when you are hurting but medicine for the rest of your life is not a good thing when you are in pain and no one is stopping the cause of the pain. If you have a bullet wound, you wouldn't want someone to tell you to pop a pill while they plan on leaving the bullet in and let the wound just bleed. So how is killing off pain but not going after the cause of it doing anyone any good? This is what a lot of veterans complain about. Medication is easy to give but therapy is harder to provide, so it is not done nearly as much as they need to. Numb them up with pills and then complain because they are using them more than they should seems idiotic just as complaining about them using street drugs to feel better when medications they are given make them feel worse.

Army downplays story on WTU at Fort Carson

Survey: 90 percent 'satisfied' with level of care
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and StripesStars and Stripes online edition, Monday, April 26, 2010
RELATED STORY: Pentagon Wounded Warrior care official forced out
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army on Monday played down a New York Times story that found problems with a Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Carson, Colo., saying it wasn’t an accurate reflection of overall care there.
The story, published Saturday, painted a bleak picture of troops receiving little therapy, being prescribed various medications that leave them disoriented or addicted, and enduring harsh treatment from noncommissioned officers.
Some of the soldiers swap medications with their comrades and others try heroin, which is readily available, according to the newspaper.
Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker said the Times’ story focused on a “select number of soldiers and families that were encountering problems,” and does not reflect the majority of soldiers in care.
read more here

But as a refresher so that we all remember this has been going on for a long time, here's a story from 2008 and what happened to a medicated solider instead of a treated one.

Dying Under the Army's Care
By MARK THOMPSON Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008

Iraqi insurgents wounded Gerald Cassidy in the deafening blast of a roadside bomb just outside Baghdad on Aug. 28, 2006. But it took more than a year for him to die from neglect by the Army that had sent him off to war. When Cassidy returned to the U.S. last April, the Army shipped him to a hospital in Fort Knox, Ky., to get treatment for the excruciating headaches that had accompanied him home. For five months, he made the rounds of Army medical personnel, who couldn't cure a pain that grew steadily worse. Unable to make room for him in a pain-management clinic, the Army increasingly plied him with drugs to dull the torment.

At summer's end, the headaches had grown so intense that Cassidy pleaded once more for help, and his doctor prescribed methadone, a powerful narcotic. The next day, calls to Cassidy's cell phone from his wife Melissa went unanswered. After two more days without word from her husband, she frantically called the Army and urged that someone check on him. Nine hours later, two soldiers finally unlocked the door to his room. They found Cassidy slumped in his chair, dead, his laptop and cold takeout chicken wings on his desk.

The "manner of death" was summed up at the end of the 12-page autopsy: "Accident." But when he died, Cassidy had the contents of a locked medicine cabinet coursing through his body, powerful narcotics and other drugs like citalopram, hydromorphine, morphine and oxycodone, as well as methadone. The drugs--both the levels that Cassidy took and "their combined, synergistic actions," in the medical examiner's words--killed him.

Read more: Dying Under the Army's Care

State's new immigration law worries Arizona soldier

I'm here because this is something that's close to my heart," said Army PFC Jose Medina. "I went off to protect this country, to protect my family. That's what hurts."

State's new immigration law worries Arizona soldier
By Paul Vercammen and Thelma Gutierrez, CNN
April 26, 2010 4:01 p.m. EDT

Pfc. Jose Medina expressed his concern over Arizona's new immigration law
Medina's friends and family talked about new law during his farewell feast
Medina wondered if some of his undocumented friends, family would leave the area

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) -- At a vigil protesting the passage of Arizona's tough new illegal immigration law, a young man in Army fatigues and a beret lit a candle at a makeshift shrine.

Pfc. Jose Medina, an Army medic, came to the Arizona capitol while on leave, to express his sadness over the law, signed by Arizona's governor on Friday.

"I'm here because this is something that's close to my heart," said Medina. "I went off to protect this country, to protect my family. That's what hurts."

The new law, signed by the Arizona governor on Friday, requires police to determine whether a person is in the United States legally. It also requires immigrants to carry their registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the country illegally. Some fear the law will result in racial profiling.
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State new immigration law worries Arizona soldier

Sgt. Coleman Bean, 2 Iraq tours, a tailspin and a tragic end

AP COURTESY OF GREGORY BEAN In this 2007 photo provided by Gregory Bean, Coleman Bean, left, his younger brother Padraic Bean, center, and his older brother Nick Strickland pose at Fort Dix, weeks before Coleman's second deployment for Iraq. Coleman shot himself dead at his New Jersey home on Sept. 6, 2008 at age 25.

2 Iraq tours, a tailspin and a tragic end

By Sharon Cohen - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Apr 26, 2010 7:09:22 EDT

Coleman Bean went to Iraq twice, but his father remembers a stark difference in his son’s two parting messages.

Before his first tour, his father recalls, his son said if anything happened to him, he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Before his second, four years later, he said he didn’t want that any longer.

“He still was very patriotic, he believed in duty,” Greg Bean says. “But he had sort of lost his commitment to what we were doing over there. His first tour ... had changed him.”

Bean enlisted in the Army six days before the 9/11 attacks. He parachuted into Iraq in the first chaotic weeks of the war. When he returned a year later, he offered PG-rated, sanitized versions of his experiences.

“We got glimpses,” the elder Bean says. “He didn’t give us a lot of details.”

Only later on, the elder Bean says, did he learn from Coleman’s friends and Army buddies that his son was among those who’d witnessed a horrifying bus explosion across the street from a safe house in Iraq where he and other soldiers had holed up. Several Iraqis, including children, burned to death before their eyes.
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2 Iraq tours, a tailspin and a tragic end

Marines get support from the homeland

Marines get support from the homeland
At Lake Mission Viejo, grateful civilians who've 'adopted' a Camp Pendleton battalion give the Marines a day of fun to remember before they deploy.
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

April 26, 2010
When she deploys to the violence of Afghanistan, Marine Lance Cpl. Sarah Hogg, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas, will remember a sunny day of food and friendship on the shore of Lake Mission Viejo.

So will hundreds of other Marines from the headquarters battalion of the 1st Marine Division who attended a festive gathering Saturday hosted by a Mission Viejo group that "adopted" the battalion seven years ago.

Although support groups for military units are common near bases throughout the U.S., some of the most active are those in Orange County that sponsor activities for the Marines and sailors of Camp Pendleton.

The Mission Viejo group arranges farewell parties before the troops deploy and welcome-home parties when they return. Volunteers visit Marines at the Wounded Warrior barracks.
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Marines get support from the homeland

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed OIF and OEF

Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed in Afghanistan, Iraq
By Rosalio Ahumada, McClatchy Newspapers
Stars and Stripes online edition, Sunday, April 25, 2010
RIVERBANK, Calif. — National Guard Staff Sgt. Mike Gamino didn't think twice when he was asked to help paint more than 5,000 crosses to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along with 17 other war veterans, Gamino, 41, grabbed a paint brush and got to work building a ceremonial display for next month's Memorial Day activities.

"It's a form of remembrance," said Gamino, a Salida, Calif., man who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. "It's also a way for us to come together and bond; like a brotherhood."

About 10 other volunteers joined the veterans Saturday at Bruce Gordo's Riverbank, Calif., home to paint the crosses. Each one is meant to represent a soldier, Marine or sailor who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the crosses offer a tribute to sacrifice, the display will also provide a stark reminder of the number of lives lost, said Gordo, who served in the Marines in Vietnam.
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Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed

Oregon National Guard soldiers welcomed home from a year in Iraq

Oregon National Guard soldiers welcomed home from a year in Iraq

Eugene (KMTR) Husbands and wives, fathers and mothers all reunited. The men and women of the Oregon National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team are home after serving a year in Iraq.

Thousands showed up for the demobilization ceremony at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Based in Springfield these soldiers spent about ten months in Iraq protecting convoys from road-side bombs and more.

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Oregon National Guard soldiers welcomed home

Silver Stars for 4 for actions at COP Keating

Silver Stars for 4 for actions at COP Keating

At least 4 more nominations pending approval

By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Apr 25, 2010 10:01:05 EDT

The fighting began at 6 a.m. Enemy fighters occupying high ground fired a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns and rifles into all four sides of Combat Outpost Keating.

The soldiers at the small American and Afghan post in the mountains of Afghanistan’s Nuristan province were outnumbered by an enemy force of almost 400.

Almost immediately, the Americans’ mortars were pinned down and could not fire.

The Silver Stars were awarded to

Capt. Christopher Cordova,

1st Lt. Andrew Bundermann,

Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hill and

Sgt. Thomas Rasmussen.

Details from the narratives that accompany the awards paint a harrowing picture of what happened that day in northeast Afghanistan.

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Silver Stars for 4 for actions at COP Keating

Jodi Owen "adopted veteran" at Melbourne Veterans Reunion

Lending a hand to those who served
Owen's work has made a difference to numerous veterans

MELBOURNE — Wearing a sleeveless reunion T-shirt, Jodi Owen mingled among veterans at the 23rd annual Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion. Her green pop-up tent sits in the midst of their campsite.

Owen is not a veteran but is very much a part of the brotherhood that comes together at the reunion, sharing war stories, friendship and camaraderie.

She came to know many of these veterans as a volunteer at the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall. She counseled those who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder while working on her doctorate at Florida Institute of Technology.

Since graduating in 2000 with a doctorate in psychology, Owen has attended all but one of the annual reunions.

"These are some of my best friends," she said, motioning to a section of the campground at Wickham Park in Melbourne. "I know all the people along here."
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Lending a hand to those who served

Vet who committed suicide fought depression, PTSD

Vet who committed suicide fought depression, PTSD
Jesse Huff ‘was truly depressed because he wanted nothing more than to be in the military.’

Staff Writers
Updated 2:13 AM Sunday, April 25, 2010
DAYTON — In the three years since his discharge from the Army, Jesse Huff never fully revealed the furies of his demons as storm cloud after storm cloud gathered over his life.

In 2008, his mother, Sharon Nales, died from an accidental drug overdose. His father, Charles Huff Sr., has had several convictions for cocaine possession. He rarely got to see his adored young daughter, Gabriella. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and his injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq left him with chronic, severe pain in his lower back and legs.

“He was truly depressed,” said his sister, Heather Lake, “because he wanted nothing more than to be in the military.”

The 27-year-old soldier arrived at the emergency room at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center about 1 a.m., April 16, seeking immediate help because he was “paranoid someone was after him” according to Scott Labensky, the father of Jesse’s half-brother Dalton.

At 2:45 a.m., Huff walked out of the ER “against medical advice,” investigators wrote in a Montgomery County coroner’s report.

Not even those closest to him know what happened during the next three hours. But at 5:45 a.m. Huff walked to the front steps outside the VA’s Patient Tower dressed in full Army fatigues, toting a backpack and an M-1 rifle racked with nine additional bullets in the magazine.

He rested the M-1 rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger. When that didn’t kill him he pointed the gun near his temple and pulled the trigger again.

The journals’ recurring themes included his love for the Army and the brotherhood he found in the infantry. “He really felt like he belonged,” his brother said.

go here for the rest
Vet who committed suicide fought depression, PTSD

Disabled Vietnam War veteran worries about newer veterans

200 new VA patients put on wait list

Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.

The San Diego VA Healthcare System has placed about 200 new patients on a wait list for appointments after being overwhelmed by an ongoing surge of veterans needing care and the administration’s difficulty hiring medical providers, the network’s staff said Friday.

The system is struggling with more patients because of the nation’s economic troubles and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It expects to resolve its scheduling backlog in about a week after adding three primary-care physicians and one nurse practitioner, said Dr. Robert M. Smith, chief of staff for the San Diego VA Healthcare System.

Although acute-care needs, including mental health and urgent-care visits, were not wait-listed when the staffing problem arose a few weeks ago, this is the worst scheduling bottleneck the San Diego VA system has had in years, he said.

“Our capacity to absorb new patients into some of our primary-care panels fell behind. But we are already hiring doctors to address the deficiency,” Smith said. “It was the perfect storm of the workload increasing and difficulty getting some of the primary-care people in place.”

VA officials also plan to temporarily assign 50 to 100 extra patients to some primary-care physicians, who normally handle about 1,200 patients each, Smith said.

Donn Dunlap, 63, of El Cajon, a partially disabled Vietnam War veteran and retired Marine first sergeant, had alerted the staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, to the problem. Dunlap was unable to schedule a new-patient appointment after moving back to San Diego County.
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200 new VA patients put on wait list

Two words mean so much to veterans from a grateful nation

Thank You: Two words mean so much to veterans from a grateful nation
Honor Flight sends 81 World War II veterans to nation's capital
By John Staed
Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:38 p.m.

WASHINGTON — It could have been the man playing patriotic songs on a French horn at the Washington, D.C., airport lobby, or maybe the raucous welcome home they received from family and friends Tuesday night at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport

Perhaps it was the first look at the World War II Memorial dedicated to their sacrifice 65 years ago. Or just a quiet “thank you” delivered by a stranger as they toured the nation’s capital.

Wherever they found it, the 81 WWII veterans from Upstate South Carolina learned that their nation hasn’t forgotten them, that despite the span of time, what they did so many years ago was critical to its future.

After the war, many said, they had put away those memories to move on with their lives, but in this atmosphere, they opened up a bit to talk about their experiences. Some family members said it was more than they have heard about the war in years.
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Two words mean so much to veterans from a grateful nation

Fort Campbell tries to stop soldier suicides

Fort Campbell tries to stop soldier suicides

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Thousands of soldiers, their bald eagle shoulder patches lined up row upon row across the grassy field, stood at rigid attention to hear a stern message from their commander.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend addressed the 101st Airborne Division with military brusqueness: Suicides at the post had spiked after soldiers started returning home from war, and this was unacceptable.

"It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our Army and our country and it's got to stop now," he insisted. "Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now."

It sounded like a typical, military response to a complicated and tragic situation. Authorities believe that 21 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed themselves in 2009, the same year that the Army reported 160 potential suicides, the most since 1980, when it started recording those deaths.

But Townsend's martial response is not the only one. Behind the scenes, there has been a concerted effort at Fort Campbell over the past year to change the hard-charging military mindset to show no weakness, complete the mission.
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Fort Campbell tries to stop soldier suicides

Families are on the front line of PTSD

This is the line that says it all.

I don’t know why I do it, but would feel more comfortable if she would have done research or went (to therapy) with me. At least now I know this is something we are all doing. It doesn’t make it right, but I know other people do this.

This is the most frustrating thing of all. Getting through to the families the fact that how they react and act is either part of the healing or part of the hell. If they don't know what the veterans are going through, they actually make PTSD worse. Yet if they know where it is all coming from, they not only help the veteran heal, they help themselves heal.

I know because aside from everything else I do with PTSD, I've been married for over 25 years now and with my own veteran since 1982. The more I learned, the more I learned what I needed to stop doing. I learned to stop getting angry when he woke up in the middle of the night and to stop feeling dismissed when I wanted to talk but he was having a flashback. I learned to not force him to do things he just couldn't bring himself to do and I learned to forgive him when PTSD was at it's worse and he was mean to me and our daughter. I learned to see him with different eyes and then, eventually, he was able to see himself through my eyes. He finally understood that the "good man" he always was still lived inside of him under all the pain. He learned to forgive himself and then he started to heal.

We can either help them or hurt them but if we hurt them, we hurt our own families and our own futures. We wouldn't walk away if they had cancer but it is all so easy for so many to walk away when they have been wounded by PTSD.

Both sides of PTSD
By Terry Barnes, Special to Stars and Stripes
Scene, Sunday, April 25, 2010
Military spouses have been connecting on the Spouse Calls blog since it began three years ago. During that time, the most active discussions have been about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most comments are from women seeking answers about a husband’s PTSD. Sometimes they are looking for advice or treatment options, but often these women just want to know they are not alone.

This month, for the first time, a veteran with PTSD posted an entry, revealing how the disorder looks from the inside. His questions were addressed by another blogger. Here is their exchange:

I was reading trying to figure out what I’m doing to my wife of 11 years, who is great.

I think I do all the things (other bloggers describe) except cheat or hit my wife. I have finally went to therapy but I think I am a little late because I have been hurtful. Same stuff: Saying it’s my money; wanting a divorce one day and wanting her the next; not interested in anything, including my kids’ functions.

I can zone out on the TV or computer and not talk to anyone, but if my friends come over, who I was deployed with, I feel comfortable and will become the old me.

I guess I thought (my wife) would care and want to help me, but I think I’ve hurt her so much she doesn’t care anymore and maybe doesn’t understand. She even told me I just want attention. I will try my best but it will bottle up until I explode into a three-year-old.

I don’t know why I do it, but would feel more comfortable if she would have done research or went (to therapy) with me. At least now I know this is something we are all doing. It doesn’t make it right, but I know other people do this.
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Both sides of PTSD

Marine wives bond at baby shower

Marine wives bond at baby shower

SAN CLEMENTE – The first time Heather Schuhlein found out she was pregnant, she had to break the news to her husband, while the camp Pendleton Marine was deployed in the Middle East. Now she's on baby number four and though her husband has made it back for every pregnancy, he might not make this one because he's training for an October deployment to Afghanistan.

Schulhein and about 20 other Marine wives attended a baby shower thrown by a San Clemente church on Saturday for women preparing to raise their newborns alone after their Camp Pendleton-based husbands head to Afghanistan this fall.

The women played baby shower games and received new car seats, strollers and baskets filled with baby clothes and diaper bags – one had a camouflage pattern. Each basket was made specifically for an individual family. Schuhlein's basket said "Baby Boy Schuhlein" on a blue tag. After three girls, she's finally having a son.

But the women who attended the shower said they came to meet other expectant mothers. The gifts were much needed for many who struggle financially, but weren't expected. Some Marines also attended.

"I thought we'd maybe get a little gift bag, but there are all these great, brand-new things for us and they don't even know us," said Caitlin Richmond, who is about six months pregnant with her first child. In addition to getting gifts, the women played games such as baby bingo.
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What about soldier's rights?

We know they have the right to a military funeral and a flag over their coffin but what about the men and women coming home alive?

Think of what they give up before they go. They give up seeing their families, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and some soldiers even missed their own wedding days. They miss the birth of their children, first steps, first words, just as the miss the last words of people they loved passing away while they were gone. They give up the right to decide everything from where they go, when they go, how long they'll be gone and face the fact returning home wounded is a possibility out of their control just as dying in combat is. They also give up the right to free speech, are prevented from participating in political gatherings and in some cases, prevented from even posting online how they feel.

While they are gone they face all the same "normal" problems with messages from home, letters, emails and phone calls. This topped off with the reality of combat, putting someone else's life ahead of their own and mission above wanting to "call in sick" when they are too tired to get dressed. They do it over and over again no matter how they feel that day because it's their job. A job they were willing to do because they believed in something greater than themselves. It is one of the most dangerous jobs there are in this country.

We see police officers and firefighters putting their lives on the line everyday but once we send off a Soldier, a Marine, an Airman or a Sailor, we manage to forget all about the risks they take everyday doing their jobs. Out of our sight, out of our mind because we are not reminded of any of it as we watch the news or read the paper.

All of this and more, and it goes on until they come home again. Some come home on their own two feet and families breathe a sigh of relief never knowing if there could be wounds they cannot see yet. Some come home on stretchers facing months in the hospital and countless operations. Their families end up giving up their own lives to be by their side in military hospitals trying to put them back together again.

We're all oblivious to everything they go through. We talk about civil rights but we forget about a soldier's rights. Shouldn't it be their right to receive medical care as soon as they need it? Shouldn't it be their right to receive compensation to replace the income they can no longer make when they are wounded on their jobs? Shouldn't they receive all we expect for ourselves without endless lines, excuses and denials?

We've read for many years how the military is taking PTSD seriously but we see the suicide rate go up every year at the same time the suicide prevention hotline reports increased numbers of veterans seeking emergency help. If the military had it right, if the VA had it right, those numbers would be going down instead of up. If they had it right the numbers of successful suicides would be going down. The numbers of divorces would go down, just as the numbers of homeless veterans and incarcerated veterans would go down. The point is, none of it has been "gotten right" for a very, very long time.

I would love to see congress debate the rights of soldiers for a change. They manage to fight over everything but you'd think this one thing would unite all of them if they really do care about the men and women risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as they had risked their lives in Kuwait, Bosnia, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea and other nations. Common sense should tell us that if congress really cared about the men and women putting this nation first above their own lives, above all they have to give up in order to do their jobs, they would be really taking care of all of them. If they really felt the way they say, I'd have very little to post about, less veterans to talk off the ledge and less families to comfort when they've found me too late.

Let's make sure that no veteran has to wait for a funeral like this WWI veteran. There are ashes of veterans in most funeral homes because no one claimed them and no one helped them receive the military honor they thought they had the right to.

Iowa military funeral planned to bury ashes of World War I veteran
By AP DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The ashes of a World War I veteran are to be buried in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs plans a military funeral

Let's make sure that something this stupid does not happen again because it is not the first time soldiers have been orded to stop killing themselves.
Army Officer Orders Troops Not To Commit Suicide
Blog All Over ...

By The Huffington Post News Editors
It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our Army and our country and it's got to stop now, he insisted. Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now.

But this is the one that has my anger this morning the most.

Army Unit in Colo. Called Dark Place, Worse Than Iraq-
Soldiers returning from battle trauma say they're warehoused with too many drugs.

Published: Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 9:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 9:42 p.m.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. A year ago, Spc. Michael Crawford wanted nothing more than to get into Fort Carson's Warrior Transition Battalion, a special unit created to provide closely manage care for soldiers with physical wounds and severe psychological trauma.

A strapping Army sniper who once brimmed with confidence, he had returned emotionally broken from Iraq, where he suffered two concussions from roadside bombs and watched several platoon mates burn to death. The transition unit at Fort Carson, outside Colorado Springs, seemed the surest way to keep suicidal thoughts at bay, his mother thought.

It did not work. He was prescribed a laundry list of medications for anxiety, nightmares, depression and headaches that made him feel listless and disoriented. His once-a-week session with a nurse case manager seemed grossly inadequate to him. And noncommissioned officers - soldiers supervising the unit - harangued or disciplined him when he arrived late to formation or violated rules.

Last August, Crawford attempted suicide with a bottle of whiskey and an overdose of painkillers. By the end of last year, he was begging to get out of the unit.

"It is just a dark place," said the soldier, who is waiting to be medically discharged from the Army. "Being in the WTU is worse than being in Iraq."
There are currently about 7,200 soldiers at 32 transition units across the Army, with about 465 soldiers at Fort Carson's unit.
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