Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day, U.S. soldiers in Iraq contemplate 'forgotten war'

On Memorial Day, U.S. soldiers in Iraq contemplate 'forgotten war'
By Leila Fadel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 31, 2010; 4:40 PM

BAGHDAD -- Inside the ornate palace of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, now the main headquarters of U.S. forces in Iraq, dozens of U.S. service members bowed their heads in prayer at a Memorial Day commemoration.

They thought about their families waiting for them to come home. They thought about the fallen comrades lost in the past seven years of occupation and war. They thought about what would come next.

At the end of 2011, the last U.S. service member is supposed to leave Iraq. Sometimes, the service members wonder whether people at home remember that despite the drop in violence, Americans and Iraqis still die here. About 92,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq; about 4,400 have been killed. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis have also been killed.

"We've become the forgotten war, like Korea," said Maj. Scott Stewart, an anti-terrorism U.S. Air Force officer with the United States Forces-Iraq.
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US soldiers in Iraq contemplate forgotten war

Camp Pendleton Marine Honors Vietnam Veterans

For the last eight years, he's been seen by hundreds of thousands of veterans as he stands there saluting the reason they all came. Sacrifice! People from around the country descend on Washington DC every year. Hundreds from the Nam Knights (Vietnam veterans, police officers, firefighters and other veterans including Iraq and Afghanistan) and hundreds of thousands from Rolling Thunder, all on motorcycles, and you can hear their engines coming from far away. All of these people pass by him but few even know his name.

Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, from Camp Pendleton, travels across the country to be there every year in full uniform because he says, "It is a reminder of their sacrifice for me." This year, I had a conversation with his parents Randy and Diane Hoge. Staff Sgt. Chambers was recovering from pneumonia he had two weeks ago. He was still just as determined to stand there saluting until the last bike went by. These pictures are from some of the years he's been there to honor our Vietnam Veterans.

The Nam Knights had their ride on Saturday but most of the members also joined Rolling Thunder on Sunday. They pulled out of the hotel at 9:00, due to pull out of the Pentagon Parking lot at 12:00. By all accounts when the bikes started to roll back into the hotel area it was 5:00 and there were still bikes passing through. Hundreds of thousands of veterans being touched by this act of honor by this honorable Marine just wanting to show his appreciation.

One generation honoring Vietnam veterans for their service as Staff Sgt. Chambers' heart is tugged every year. Standing there like the passing of a torch, saluting for four hours or more, in the heat and while many Vietnam veterans wipe tears from their eyes as they see him, they know they are remembered by other generations.

This is so important to them to see this Marine greeting them as they make their way to the Wall. Preparing their hearts for the magnitude of the emotional rush of seeing the names of people they knew engraved on the massive Wall, sadness replaces the joy of riding with their brothers. They remember the cost, they remember the fallen and they also remember how they were treated when they returned back to these states.

I don't know if any has thanked the commanders of Camp Pendleton for sending him or not, but they should be very proud of the impact they have had of Vietnam veterans as well as the newer generation. Many of the Vietnam veterans have sons and daughters serving right now. I know this is true for the Vietnam veterans in the Nam Knights. Some of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were riding in both groups on Saturday and Sunday. I also know this is true with members of Rolling Thunder.

There are so few combat veterans in this nation considering the size of the population. So few understanding what the price of our freedom really is and even less being reminded of the men and women who laid down their lives for it. The reminders of service engraved in the hearts and memories just as surly as the names are engraved on the Wall, connected by this act of appreciation and honor from this Marine from Camp Pendleton. The service trumps generations connecting them in a bond few others can understand.

When we honor the fallen on Memorial Day, we do not honor just one generation, but all of them and this example of dedication stands as a testament this is a family. They grieve for a "brother" and they grieve for a "sister" just as they would grieve for a blood relative. Staff Sgt. Chambers is connecting like a son because he is the son of a Vietnam veteran.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A hero soldier's life should be worth more than 111 words

A hero soldier's life should be worth more than 111 words
Chaplain Kathie

111 words to go with a headline "Hero Miami Soldier" and one of those words was a typo. How do you sum up the death of a soldier called hero in 7 lines of a news report? How do you do it without even checking the typing?

Hero Miami Soldier Killed in Combat in Iraq
Army tanker to be awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star
A hero soldier from Miami has died in a firefight in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

Staff Sgt. Amilcar H. Gonzalez, 26, died in Ash Shura when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire on May 21.

Gonzalez was was assigned to,,,,,,,,

read the rest of these few words here

Hero Miami Soldier Killed in Combat in Iraq

This is one of the biggest problems in this country right now. AP stated today that there have been 1,000 deaths in Afghanistan. The problem is, according to, that number was reached well before today.

2001 12
2002 49
2003 48
2004 52
2005 99
2006 98
2007 117
2008 155
2009 316
2010 140
Total 1,086

I am well aware of how easy it is to make typing mistakes, since I do it all the time. No matter how important a subject is to me, sooner or later I blow it with what I end up typing. This can be forgive on this article, if you can call it that, but the rest is very troubling. Not just from this reporter but from almost all reporters attempting to cover the fallen, the wounded and the suffering as well as the heroic stories we never seem to be hearing about.

I've heard it said that the rest of the American people want to honor the troops but they have a hard time understanding them. After all, when you think about how focused we are on our own problems and the stories that manage to become headline news, it is easy to just turn on American Idol or Desperate Housewives to get our minds off the problems. Yet when you actually look at the people we consider worthy of our attention, we really don't understand them either.

Celebrities, rich, famous, beautiful and most talented but do we really know what it is like to be one of them? Traveling around the world, eating exotic foods, having people take care of them all the time? Do any of us really know what that's like? No but we seem to want to read everything about their lives, especially their sex lives. We want to see pictures of what they are wearing and where they are traveling to. We want to read about their exploits and share their heartaches. We pay attention to them.

Sport figures, we watch their every move. We pay attention to what they are doing and what they are achieving for their team. We want to know about their personal lives but none of us will ever know what it is like to be one of them.

Politicians get our attention when they are running for office or do not do what we want them to do when they get in. Even though they are responsible for the direction this country will go in, we are more interested in their personal lives, especially their sex lives.

Our sense of values is messed up and we follow where the reporters lead instead of trying to get them to report on what matters to us. Amazing when you think that the above minorities the rest of us pay attention to are held up above us when real heroes risking their lives everyday end up being a news report of 111 words and an old figure reached that AP decided to release today, the kick off to Memorial Day weekend.

This will be the last post until Sunday. I am heading into Washington DC for the ride to The Wall and visit a few friends. I'll post about the trip when I get back.

Try to remember what this weekend is supposed to be about if you have other plans.

US soldier beaten after reporting crimes

US soldier beaten after reporting crimes: officials

WASHINGTON — A US soldier who blew the whistle on his comrades over possible drug use and the deaths of three civilians in southern Afghanistan suffered a severe beating in retaliation, officials said Tuesday.

The soldier was beaten after telling authorities about illicit drugs and then, while recovering in hospital, recounted his comrades' alleged role in the deaths of three Afghan civilians, said two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The soldier was "beaten within an inch of his life," one of the officials told AFP.

US Army authorities last week said they were investigating the "unlawful" deaths of three Afghans as well as allegations of illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy.

Defense officials said the investigation focuses on at least 10 members from the 2nd Infantry Division's Fifth Stryker Brigade, which deployed to Kandahar province in the summer of 2009 and initially suffered heavy casualties, officials said.
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US soldier beaten after reporting crimes

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pat Tillman elected to College Football Hall of Fame

The Associated Press
Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.

Pat Tillman elected to College Football HoF

Ralph D. Russo - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 27, 2010 15:33:52 EDT

NEW YORK — The late Pat Tillman and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard are among the 14 newly elected members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced its latest class Thursday at a news conference at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

Tillman played linebacker for Arizona State from 1994-97 and gave up an NFL career to enlist in the Army in 2002. He was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2004.

Howard was a wide receiver for Michigan and won the Heisman 1991. He said his mother received the notification of his election to the Hall of Fame and called to let him know.

“She said, ‘Baby, you did it again,’” Howard said. “I just knew it was something special. Just to hear those words and the way she said them let me know that it was something she was very proud of.”
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11,000 National Guardsmen have been sent to clean BP's mess

Watch Our New Ad
Oil Spill
For weeks now, we've watched oil gush into the Gulf of Mexico. But, did you know that over 11,000 National Guardsmen have been sent to clean it up? 11,000 men and women that signed up to protect America, not clean up an oil company's mess. Well, we've got a $1.5 million ad campaign making that point, and making clear that only by clean energy reform can we get off this addiction to oil that has us drilling so much, and so close to the shoreline.

The new ad features a veteran of the Louisiana National Guard, who served in the clean up effort. In the ad, he says, "When I signed on with the National Guard, I did it to help protect America from our enemies... Not to clean up an oil company's mess here in the Gulf of Mexico... But America needs a new mission. Because whether it's deep-drilling oil out here, or spending a billion dollars a day on oil from our enemies overseas, our dependence on oil is threatening our national security."

By passing a clean energy plan, we can cut our foreign oil dependence in half, invest billions in new energy technologies, and set up new rules that govern off-shore drilling. That's a fight worth taking on.

PTSD on trial: When they can't just use it

PTSD is not the new "get out of jail free card" and this is an example of it.This came out before the trial.

Pardun was not a combat veteran.

Eugene murder suspect to use insanity defense By Assocaited Press and Eugene Register-Guard

Pardun's sister told The Register-Guard last summer that her brother never saw combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, but was traumatized by video images of a mortar attack on a helicopter that killed members of his brigade while he was recovering from an injury in the United States.

Yet he was treated for PTSD. The question is, since PTSD is only caused after trauma, how did he get it? Did he really have it? It seems as if he didn't.

Pardun told investigators the day of the shooting that he was under treatment for extreme post-traumatic stress disorder related to his Army service five years earlier.

The man he killed, was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD trying to help other veterans heal.
Thurston was a fellow veteran who had also battled PTSD following his service in the Vietnam War. Thurston later spent his career counseling troubled former soldiers at the same Eugene clinic where Pardun received medical and psychiatric care.

His life was taken and now his family has to live with the memory of this violent act. Pardun pleaded guilty. A medical exam showed he did not have PTSD.

Creswell man pleads guilty to killing neighbor
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — An Army veteran who claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress despite never seeing combat has pleaded guilty to murder for shooting a neighbor in front of the man's wife and 3-year-old child.

Jarrod William Pardun of Creswell entered the plea Wednesday in Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow says Pardun pleaded guilty after a mental examination found he was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Creswell man pleads guilty to killing neighbor

When veterans have PTSD, there is something called a flashback which takes them back to when their lives were in danger. This can also come when under stress. There are times when anger pushes out everything else, except one thing. They need to be held accountable for their actions. Yes, real PTSD needs to be taken into account when determining what true justice will be. In this case, the system seems to have worked well considering he admitted guilt after tests showed he did not have PTSD.

The aftermath of what he decided to do left a Vietnam veteran dead after trying to help real combat veterans with PTSD, a wife and a young child to not only grieve for the loss but try to recover with the trauma they went through because of Pardun. This also ends up hurting PTSD veterans the next time a judge has to consider PTSD as a factor or not.

Document says number of attempted attacks on U.S. is at all-time high

Document says number of attempted attacks on U.S. is at all-time high
From Carol Cratty, CNN
May 27, 2010 1:38 a.m. EDT

DHS memo says number and pace of attempted attacks have surpassed "any other previous one-year period"
Attacks are expected to be attempted with "increased frequency," document warns
Report cites recent cases of homegrown terrorism, including failed Times Square bombing
Terror groups are increasingly using westerners as operatives, report says

Washington (CNN) -- Just weeks after the failed car bombing of New York's Times Square, the Department of Homeland Security says "the number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period."

That grim assessment is contained in an unclassified DHS intelligence memo prepared for various law enforcement groups, which says terror groups are expected to try attacks inside the United States with "increased frequency."

CNN obtained a copy of the document, dated May 21, which goes on to warn, "we have to operate under the premise that other operatives are in the country and could advance plotting with little or no warning."
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Document says number of attempted attacks on US is at all time high

Iraq veteran told to take down his flag or leave?

The flag is not a religious symbol someone could be offended by. It is not a political symbol. This is America after all and the flag is a symbol of the nation itself. The condo development is in America. So how could any association have it within their rules to not allow the flag to hang from a window? I've read reports in the past about rules against flag poles and against having flags outside but for heaven's sake, this flag is inside the couple's unit! What if they had curtains made out of the red, white and blue stripes? After all it seems to be ok to have material with the colors but not the flag itself. We know things have gotten way out of control when a veteran willing to lay down his life for the sake of this country can't even hang a flag in his window.

Wisconsin Veteran Must Remove Flag After Memorial Day, Wife Says
By Joshua Rhett Miller

Published May 26, 2010

An Army veteran in Wisconsin will be allowed to display an American flag until Memorial Day, but the symbol honoring his service in Iraq and Kosovo must come down next Tuesday, his wife told

Dawn Price, 27, of Oshkosh, Wis., said she received a call from officials at Midwest Realty Management early Wednesday indicating that she and her husband, Charlie, would be allowed to continue flying the American flag they've had in their window for months through the holiday weekend. The couple had previously been told they had to remove the flag by Saturday or face eviction due to a company policy that bans the display of flags, banners and political or religious materials.

"It's basically an extension so we can fly the flag on Memorial Day," Price told "It does need to come down after that."

Charlie Price, 28, served tours of duty as a combat engineer in Iraq and Kosovo, his wife said. To honor his eight years of service, she began decorating their apartment during Veterans Day in November. An American flag topped off the display, she said.

"I knew it made Charlie really proud to see that," she said. "And this isn't something new. This has been up for quite some time now."

Veterans' groups were furious at the realtors' refusal to allow the flag to fly.

"As a veteran, it sickens me that the Dawn and Charlie Price's building management company would imply that the American flag could be construed as offensive by their residents," said Ryan Gallucci, a spokesman for AmVets.

"We're talking about our most revered national symbol. This is insulting to anyone who has defended our flag honorably, like Charlie Price."
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Wisconsin Veteran Must Remove Flag After Memorial Day

Contractor settles allegations over Black Hawks

Contractor settles allegations over Black Hawks

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday May 26, 2010 16:51:37 EDT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A military contractor has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle allegations by federal authorities that it failed to test armor plated inserts used in Black Hawk helicopters.

U.S. Attorney for Connecticut David Fein announced Wednesday that Ceradyne Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif., agreed to the settlement over the inserts it makes for Sikorsky Aircraft. The helicopters are used by the Army.
Contractor settles allegations over Black Hawks

Trooper sues state police over PTSD

Trooper sues state police over post-traumatic stress
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A Pennsylvania state trooper filed a federal lawsuit against several members of his organization on Tuesday, alleging that they tried to force him out after he said he suffered PTSD from attending the autopsy of a child.

Charles Shippee, of Richland, worked in the Butler barracks in the department's forensic services unit. On Jan. 20, 2009, the lawsuit said, Mr. Shippee attended the autopsy of an 11-year-old girl who had been mauled to death by a Rottweiler.

While attending the autopsy, Mr. Shippee took 188 photographs of the child. According to the lawsuit, "the experience was horrible beyond description," and he has still not recovered.

Read more: Trooper sues state police over

Memorial Day: Keeping our troops and veterans first

Memorial Day: Keeping our troops and veterans first

Each year on Memorial Day, Americans come together to remember those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our country in the name of freedom and democracy. The debt owed to them is immeasurable. Without the brave efforts of all the service men and women and their families, our country would not live so freely.

On Memorial Day, as we rightly extol the tremendous contribution and sacrifice of our veterans, we should respond in deeds as well as words. The needs of those who serve do not end on the battlefield, and neither should our obligation to them.

We promise to help them succeed. With this economic crisis, Congress has enacted critical measures to expand educational opportunity and economic relief to make a real difference in the lives of veterans. The new Post 9-11 GI Bill, which took effect in August, restores the promise of a full, four-year college education for our American veterans, which I believe is part of jumpstarting a new American economic recovery, just like after World War II. We have also extended those crucial college benefits to all children of fallen service members since 9-11.

Recognizing that veterans coming home are facing double digit unemployment, as part of the Recovery Act to put Americans back to work rebuilding America, Congress provided nearly 2 million disabled veterans a $250 payment to help make ends meet.

Many of our troops have served multiple tours of duty, with great strain on their families and substantial cost to their finances. In response, Congress provided special $500 payments for every month the 185,000 service members and veterans were forced to serve under stop-loss orders since 2001. Congress also has taken steps to reduce the backlog and wait for veterans trying to access their earned benefits.

We have increased military pay 3.4 percent and expanded TRICARE health benefits. We are building more military child care centers and better barracks and military family housing.

For wounded veterans, Congress just enacted landmark legislation to provide help to family members and other caregivers of disabled, ill or injured veterans, such as training, counseling, and respite care, and to eliminate copayments for catastrophically disabled veterans. Congress also provided family leave benefits for families of our wounded warriors.

With the strong support of veterans organizations, this Congress also has made an unprecedented commitment to veterans’ health care. The veterans budget, hailed as a “cause for celebration,” provides the largest funding increase for health care and other services ever requested by a President – even more than veterans organizations requested.

We have increased the investment in veterans’ health care and services by 60 percent since January 2007 – including the largest single increase in the 78-year history of the VA. This funding has strengthened health care for more than 5 million veterans, resulting in 17,000 new doctors and nurses, and greater access for veterans in rural areas. It has been critical for the 382,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of care this year – with expanded mental health screening and treatment – to treat the signature injuries of the war, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. We’ve begun to see a real difference in the lives of veterans right here in Central Texas, with expanded services, longer hours and more parking at our Austin Outpatient Clinic.

On 35-acres off Highway 71, we are building the largest veterans’ clinic of its kind anywhere in America. This will triple the size of the existing clinic and double the clinic staff. Three times as much space for healthcare means more care in Austin and fewer trips to Temple or beyond.

For the 1.8 million women who have bravely served, Congress just enacted legislation expanding and improving VA health care services for women veterans, providing care of newborn children of women veterans for the first time in history, and enhancing treatment for PTSD and sexual trauma.

This is government-provided health care that works, and together, we can continually make it work better.

We promise to leave no soldier or veteran behind. On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.

To all of you veterans – you understand a fundamental truth: our military is not the strongest in the world because of our tanks, our ships, or our fighter jets. Rather, it is because of the dedication, spirit, skill, and bravery demonstrated by men and women, who have put on our uniform for the cause of freedom and the red, white, and blue.

also read
Honoring our Veterans

Phoenix police officer fatally shot

Phoenix police officer fatally shot
By BOB CHRISTIE (AP) – 6 hours ago

PHOENIX — A Phoenix police officer shot and killed early Wednesday while investigating a suspicious vehicle was a 29-year-old married father of two young children, authorities said.

Officer Travis Murphy's wife had given birth just two weeks ago to the couple's second child, police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.

Murphy and his partner were first on the scene of a call where neighbors reported someone hit a parked car and was trying to hide a Ford Mustang in the carport of a vacant home. The officers got out of their patrol vehicle and split up in search of a suspect.

Moments later, shots were fired and Murphy's partner found him mortally wounded. Fellow officers put him in a police vehicle and sped him to a nearby hospital, but he was pronounced dead.
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Phoenix police officer fatally shot

Florida Sheriff's Office honored to escort fallen Marine back home

Sheriff's Office honored to escort fallen Marine back home

By Lise Fisher
Staff writer

Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:19 p.m.

When officers on Thursday escort the body of Lance Cpl. Philip Paul Clark back to Gainesville, they will be honoring a hero.

"It's to send a message to those who are serving in the armed forces that we recognize their sacrifice and their commitment," Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said.

Area law enforcement agencies will escort Clark's body from Jacksonville to Gainesville, before arriving at the Williams-Thomas Funeral Home in Jonesville.

Clark, 19, died on May 18 while serving in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. Marine was hit with shrapnel in both legs while on patrol in Marjah, Afghanistan, his family has said. He was a 2008 graduate of Buchholz High School.
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US soldier goes from rodeo cowboy to Afghanistan GI

US soldier is a veteran of war and rodeo

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan — Paul D. Bliss has, in his words, "pretty much destroyed my knees, dislocated my right and left shoulders, busted my left arm, fractured my right arm, been kicked in the face here," — he motions to a scar — "right above my right eye: 28 stitches from that. Busted my nose four or five times. Bruised my back a few times. I've also dislocated both my ankles."

That was before the 36-year-old U.S. Army sergeant went to war. A rodeo cowboy, he rode bulls for fun and money, and got tossed and trampled plenty of times.

So far, through two tours in Iraq and now a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan that ends this summer, he has escaped serious injury.

"I have gotten very lucky," Bliss said. "When your number comes up, that's what you have to face."

His unit, the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment of Task Force Stryker, is operating in a fairly quiet area near Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, though it took high casualties last year. Bliss, a Catholic, keeps the dead in his prayers: "Their names and their faces just stay in the back of my head."
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US soldier is a veteran of war and rodeo

One man's trash, another man's treasure

One man's trash, another man's treasure

I've been paying great attention to the news about the oil disaster in the Gulf and frankly, I'm very confused. Up until the oil began to flood the coast, there were many voices saying they wanted the government out of just about everything, especially businesses. Governors were saying they didn't want money to help their economy with most of them refusing to take funds to help the people in their states. Now all of a sudden, these same voices are saying the government isn't doing enough. So where were these voices when all government regulations were disregarded for the sake of business deals?

It seems many have taken on the attitude government is only good when it matters to them and not when they are personally detached from the situation. One man's trash, another man's treasure.

BP had a deal, basically to do what they wanted and when there wasn't a problem with safety, everything was hands off, allowing them to do what they wanted the way they wanted. They were supposed to have plans in place to deal with any problems but it turned out they didn't. When the oil rig exploded, lives were lost, a point that keeps getting forgotten in all of this except for the families suffering the loss. Now Anderson Cooper on CNN is in the Gulf joining everyone slamming the government as others jump on Commandant Admiral Thad Allen asking for him to resign. Why?
BP officials may know by Thursday afternoon whether the oil company's latest attempt to cap the runaway leak in the Gulf of Mexico is yielding results. FULL STORY
Cooper: It's dead out there
LIVE: 'Top kill' underwater view
Carville: Tell BP 'I'm your daddy'
Your message for BP? Timeline
Full coverage

Why does everyone seem to think that the government had any responsibility to come up with everything necessary to take care of what business didn't? Why should it have been the Coast Guards job to be able to instantaneously clean up the oil? Wasn't that the job of BP and the people in government issuing the permits to drill for oil in the first place? What were they thinking when they allowed the rig to be built in the beginning?

I've heard people compare this to Hurricane Katrina. Why? It was a hurricane that was coming and was expected to do major damage to New Orleans. The hurricane couldn't be prevented but the response after could have been better, should have been better and was the responsibility of the government to respond. This was supposed to be the governments job. This oil disaster was supposed to be the job of BP to take care of.

So now, with the experts working for BP, unprepared for what they were supposed to do and unable to do it even after all these years they had to be ready, now it's the government's fault they are not taking care of the problem. This makes no sense at all. It makes even less sense when you think of the voices in the media all these years saying they want government out of business unless they are giving them tax breaks. It is not the Coast Guard's fault this happened but it has become their problem. Why should Allen take blame for it? His job was not to take care of an oil rig. How is this President Obama's fault? Is he now supposed to take over the oil companies? What happened to all the voices saying goverment should stay out of business?

People wanted hands off the banking industry until it crashed and then it was up to the government to bail them out. Tax payers paid the price because no one thought about what could happen when they had freely operated without constraints for years. Now they make billions of profits and we suffer because we can't get loans. People wanted hands off on the pharmaceutical industry until the dangers of the drugs they were selling was found after they had already caused deaths. Then it was the government's job to have been checking the safety. Again, people suffered.

I guess it all comes down to who needs what and when. State's rights were an issue and the voices calling for government to stay out of it are now saying government is not doing enough. While I think the government does have a responsibility now to make sure the oil stops and cleans up what has already happened, we need to think about something. BP has had years to come up with plans it failed to do and the government has had only a matter of weeks to figure out what to do. As for who pays for this, it should be BP because they didn't care enough about the damage they could do while they were counting their money. BP had the attitude that "one man's trash (the Gulf Coast) was their treasure. It all comes down to what should have been done all along and now that it is a problem people are looking to government to fix it.

So please, help me out here. I'm really confused over this and can't understand why all of a sudden the same voices are singing a different tune.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don’t exploit the sacrifice of veterans

Town Crier: Don’t exploit the sacrifice of veterans

by Dave Hardesty / For the Tracy Press
May 26, 2010

With Memorial Day approaching, a veteran friend sent me a short piece titled “Courage.” My reply was not what he expected.

“Courage” starts with a critically wounded soldier in a battle in the highlands of “VietNam” on Nov. 11, 1967.

It claims the commanding officer ordered “MedEvac” helicopters away because of the intensity of enemy fire.

Then, the piece milks the heartstrings of the reader with the wounded soldier’s thoughts of his family 12,000 miles away being returned to reality by sounds of an approaching Huey helicopter.

The story continues and introduces Capt. Ed Freeman, the pilot of the Huey who rescued not only this soldier but also 29 others while risking his crew and aircraft to enemy fire and also being wounded.

It concludes with the statement that Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Freeman, of the United States Air Force, died at the age of 70 in Boise, Idaho, and that our news media apparently failed to acknowledge this hero’s passing as they focused attention on the death of Michael Jackson and the philandering of Tiger Woods.
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Dont exploit the sacrifice of veterans

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Captain, U.S. Army Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

By the time the Korean War broke out, Ed Freeman was a master sergeant in the Army Engineers, but he fought in Korea as an infantryman.

He took part in the bloody battle of Pork Chop Hill and was given a battlefield commission, which had the added advantage of making him eligible to fly, a dream of his since childhood. But flight school turned him down because of his height: At six foot four, he was “too tall” (a nickname that followed him throughout his military career). In 1955, however, the height limit was raised, and Freeman was able to enroll.

He began flying fixed-wing aircraft, then switched to helicopters. By 1965, when he was sent to Vietnam, he had thousands of hours’ flying time in choppers. He was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), second in command of a sixteen-helicopter unit responsible for carrying infantrymen into battle. On November 14, 1965, Freeman’s helicopters carried a battalion into the Ia Drang Valley for what became the first major confrontation between large forces of the American and North Vietnamese armies.

Back at base, Freeman and the other pilots received word that the GIs they had dropped off were taking heavy casualties and running low on supplies. In fact, the fighting was so fierce that medevac helicopters refused to pick up the wounded. When the commander of the helicopter unit asked for volunteers to fly into the battle zone, Freeman alone stepped forward. He was joined by his commander, and the two of them began several hours of flights into the contested area. Because their small emergency-landing zone was just one hundred yards away from the heaviest fighting, their unarmed and lightly armored helicopters took several hits. In all, Freeman carried out fourteen separate rescue missions, bringing in water and ammunition to the besieged soldiers and taking back dozens of wounded, some of whom wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t been evacuated.
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Vietnam vet holds to Memorial Day spirit

Vietnam vet holds to Memorial Day spirit
Combating commercialism of Memorial Day

By Jeff Hawkins

As enemy bullets blanketed the Vietnam rice patty he used as cover, Marine Corps Lt. Bob Doran looked to his point man.

"He was shot," Doran recalled. "Dead."

Explosions ripped the terrain around him and the men he led into combat. Waiting for infantry support, Doran tried to contact friendly forces. But his field phone was missing most of its antenna. "It was shot off," he said, about 40 years after an early baptism of battle.

Doran's situation deteriorated.

"My M-16 (rifle) was jammed. ... I've got eight other kids wondering what is going to happen next," he said. "It was the first two weeks I was there, and I was pinned down in a major firefight. I'm calling in ... calling in ... nothing was happening. ..."

Then, "Thank God," Doran continued, "'Gunny' Rodriguez came up from behind and was able to wipe them out. He saved our lives."

Read more: Vietnam vet holds to Memorial Day spirit

Vietnam veteran gets Bronze Star

Vietnam veteran gets Bronze Star
After 40 years, veteran honored for heroism

• May 26, 2010
Until recently Lori Smith's father didn't go in-depth whenever talking about his time in the military.

In April—40 years after saving his company commander from a hand grenade—Brownsville resident Danny Presley received a Bronze Star for his efforts in the Vietnam War.

"We knew he was a hero but getting to see and hear the things he did in the Army is neat," Smith said Tuesday.

Last fall, Presley began scouring the Internet after reading a Vietnam veteran's magazine when he found his name listed under decorated soldiers.

That led Presley to find out he had been awarded the Bronze Star as well as other medals, citations and badges for his service in the U.S. Army. Since 1969 the only medal Presley realized he had was a Purple Heart that came after being injured by a grenade around a month after saving his commander's life.

While in a hospital Presley's captain told him about nominating him for the award but soon after Presley forgot while recovering from his injuries.

"I never thought anything about it until I saw this," he said pointing to papers from the website.

The Bronze Star citation notes that on Aug. 28, 1969 Presley spotted three enemy soldiers who were hiding and was able to warn his company commander and comrades.
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Vietnam veteran gets Bronze Star

Commitment services for churchless

Commitment services for churchless

If you left the church, have not found one where you feel you belong, or consider yourself "anti-established religion" there is a place for you in God's house until you find a church where you feel they are living up to what Christ had in mind.

I am often asked where my church is and I respond that my "church" is wherever I am in any given moment of the day. It is not my "job" to fill a church but it is my job to fill the need of people struggling with spiritual issues and searching for someone to remind them God loves them.

Over my lifetime I have met a lot of people struggling and feeling abandoned by the church they were raised in and they have left it. Others were not raised in a "church going" family. They still have spiritual needs and feel lost or alone. For others they have no idea how to live a spiritual life on their own. That is my job.

Searching the Internet I found there are people offering Commitment Services for gay people unable to marry. This left me wondering why this is not possible for others to commit to each other as friends, as caring people, as committed communities.

This is why I am offering my services as a Chaplain with customized Commitment Services.

Is your community sending or welcoming home someone in the service? Then commit to them to pray for them and care for their families. Make a public promise to them as they have made a public promise to serve this nation.

Have you entered into a relationship but are not ready to commit to them in marriage? Then publicly commit to them and promise to love, honor and cherish them. Been married for a long time and want to customize a Commitment Service to reaffirm your love? Do you know someone in your community in need of knowing they matter? Have a service organization wanting to expand how much you are willing to do? Then publicly promise to do it.

Call me if you are in Central Florida for a customized Commitment Service to invite God to support you and sustain you.

Chaplain Kathie
PTSD Consultant
Senior IFOC Chaplain
Kathie Costos DiCesare
web site
Nam Guardian Angel is a Charter of the IFOC, (501c3)

Soldiers with severe PTSD have trouble finding help in Canada

Soldiers with severe PTSD have trouble finding help
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
by Louise Elliott, CBC News
Shawn Hearn, like many Canadian soldiers battling post-traumatic stress disorder, is having a tough time getting proper treatment back home after serving in a war zone.

Hearn, who served in Bosnia as a sniper in 1994, and those involved in helping soldiers with PTSD say changes to the treatment system need to be made.

And there's a lot on the line. Hearn recently attempted suicide and has been fighting hard to get the treatment he needs.

Hearn came back from Bosnia a different person. At first he didn't know why. He speaks in Guelph, Ont., near the Homewood private treatment centre where he says he's finally getting help.

"Basically I began to notice changes, my family began to notice changes, and in 1997 I ended up in hospital with an overdose," he says.

After that overdose, Hearn remained in the army another three years. In 2000, he was finally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He left the military and began to try to understand his symptoms: severe depression, flashbacks, night fears.

Read more: Soldiers with severe PTSD have trouble finding help

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness

May 20, 2010
Watch Glenn Close’s Brilliant PSA
Dr. Jon LaPook Discusses
Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Habitat for Humanity Building Homes for Veterans

Habitat for Humanity Building Homes for Veterans Right Now!
Attention Military Veterans, espeically those looking to live in the Southern California area, Habitat for Humanity is building 27 homes to provide inexpenseive affordable housing for those that qualify.

Any Veteran thinking about buying a home in the future should stop by and check it out.

Habitat offers homeownership opportunities to families who are unable to obtain conventional house financing. Generally, this includes those whose income is 30 to 80 percent of the area’s median income. Prospective Habitat OC homeowner families make a down payment equal to 1% of the purchase price. Additionally, they contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home or someone else’s home. Because Habitat homes are built using donations of land, material and labor, mortgage payments are kept affordable.

Habitat is building 27 homes in San Juan Capistrano, California specifically for Veterans to own. The homes are sold at or below the organizations cost with a 1% down payment and a 0% interest loan. This is an excellent opportunity for you, and I urge you to explore this possibility!!
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Habitat for Humanity Building Homes for Veterans

Formerly unidentified veterans are finally laid to rest

Formerly unidentified veterans are finally laid to rest among friends, family
By Bob Considine/The Star-Ledger
May 19, 2010, 8:33PM

LEONIA — The cremated remains of Herman Henry Reichert, an World War I Army private from Teaneck, had sat in storage at a funeral home for nearly 58 years.

Today, his orphaned ashes and those of 12 other servicemen were finally buried.

The New Jersey Mission of Honor, a statewide veterans group, conducted its largest military funeral to date today with a combined 500 people paying tribute to 13 lost veterans at Overpeck Park in Leonia and later at Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Wrightstown.

Francis Carrasco, the Mission’s chairman, said it can take up to a year to identify and confirm whether remains are those of a veteran. The group, formed 15 months ago, is dedicated to retrieving and burying remains of veterans. He adds their mission has only just begun since New Jersey enacted a law last year allowing the group to pursue the unclaimed ashes of servicemen at state funeral homes.
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Formerly unidentified veterans are finally laid to rest

A lot to be ashamed of on Memorial Day

A lot to be ashamed of on Memorial Day

Chaplain Kathie

When we think about Memorial Day it's easy to honor the fallen because they ask no more of us. We think if we visit a cemetery, go to a parade and wave a flag, we've done our part to honor the men and women who gave their lives for the rest of us. The truth is, I bet most of them in heaven are disgusted with us and wonder what their sacrifice really meant to us when we fail to care for the survivors of combat. After all when it comes to serving in a war, they fight for each other and are willing to die so that someone else can make it back home.

Then we read stories about what is happening to men and women around the country when they come home and the rest of us live in fantasy land believing all is well and they are taken care of. This is so far from the truth it's pitiful. Just read the following and know one thing when you close out the page. There are countless other stories just like it so when you make plans for Memorial Day, ask yourself a question. Just how do we really honor any of them when this happens?

Disposable Soldiers

Joshua Kors: Injured veterans continue their battles at home while fighting for the healthcare treatment they deserve.

The mortar shell that wrecked Chuck Luther’s life exploded at the base of the guard tower. Luther heard the brief whistling, followed by a flash of fire, a plume of smoke and a deafening bang that shook the tower and threw him to the floor. The Army sergeant’s head slammed against the concrete, and he lay there in the Iraqi heat, his nose leaking clear fluid.

“I remember laying there in a daze, looking around, trying to figure out where I was at,” he says. “I was nauseous. My teeth hurt. My shoulder hurt. And my right ear was killing me.” Luther picked himself up and finished his shift, then took some ibuprofen to dull the pain. The sergeant was seven months into his deployment at Camp Taji, in the volatile Sunni Triangle, twenty miles north of Baghdad. He was determined, he says, to complete his mission. But the short, muscular frame that had guided him to twenty-two honors–including three Army Achievement Medals and a Combat Action Badge–was basically broken. The shoulder pain persisted, and the hearing in his right ear, which evaporated on impact, never returned, replaced by the maddening hum of tinnitus.

In July 2007 the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs called a hearing to investigate PD discharges. Barack Obama, then a senator, put forward a bill to halt all PD discharges. And before leaving office, President Bush signed a law requiring the defense secretary to conduct his own investigation of the PD discharge system. But Obama’s bill did not pass, and the Defense Department concluded that no soldiers had been wrongly discharged. The PD dismissals have continued. Since 2001 more than 22,600 soldiers have been discharged with personality disorder. That number includes soldiers who have served two and three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This should have been resolved during the Bush administration. And it should have been stopped now by the Obama administration,” says Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. “The fact that it hasn’t is a national disgrace.”

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Career Fair in Clearwater for veterans


Join us for our next WorkNet Wednesday Career Fair scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, 2010 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the EpiCenter, 13805 58th Street N., Clearwater, 33760. Click here for directions.

In honor of our veterans, the first hour is dedicated to veterans only. Open to the general public after 1:00 p.m.

Iraq War veteran and former beauty queen, dies at 32

One thing we don't talk enough about is linked to short term memory loss. When they have PTSD, that is part of it. They forget things that just happened while they are haunted by things that happened in the past. It's a huge problem for veterans, especially when they are supposed to remember to take medications at certain times. Sometimes they forget they just took them and take more. Sometimes they don't take them when they are supposed to. Being organized and learning some tricks, like using pill boxes helps with this. While it's impossible to know if a death was accidental overdose or not when they die, there has been many cases when a veteran has survived and said they were not sure if they took too much or not.

There is also the issue that PTSD does harm the heart because of the high levels of stress. One more thing we don't talk enough about. Then again, when it comes to our veterans, we don't talk enough about any issue they have to endure when they come home.

"...she had hoped to become a counselor, helping other veterans."

Theresa Flannery, Iraq War veteran and former beauty queen, dies at 32
McClatchy Newspapers

Theresa Flannery went to Iraq in 2004 and walked into one of the hottest firefights of the war.

She and other U.S. soldiers were trapped on the roof of a government compound at Najaf, dodging rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades from renegade militiamen. Flannery traded gunfire with enemy snipers, shattering bones in her wrist diving for cover. A photo of Flannery, taken during the two-hour fight, circulated around the world, and the former Miss Madison County was recommended for a Bronze Star.

Back home in Kentucky, Flannery got a hero's welcome. But only family members and close friends knew of the price she paid, and her struggles with post traumatic stress disorder.

Last Thursday, Flannery, 32, died while on a visit in Lexington, N.C. She apparently died in her sleep.

Preliminary autopsy results were inconclusive. But her father, David Flannery, said he has no doubt that her death was related to the physical and emotional scars she carried from her experiences in Iraq.

"That's my gut feeling," he said. "Theresa had been dealing with some horrible problems from PTSD. She was being treated for that, and they kept changing the medication she was taking. She was on 85 percent disability from the Army. She had lost a lot of weight."

Read more: Iraq War veteran and former beauty queen dies at 32

Third grade class honors military for Memorial Day

Grab a tissue before you watch this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Supreme Court gets papers in Snyder lawsuit against Westboro

Supreme Court gets papers in Snyder lawsuit

By Jessica Gresko - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday May 25, 2010 17:36:54 EDT

WASHINGTON — The father of a Marine killed in Iraq says anti-gay protesters who showed up with inflammatory signs at his son’s funeral in Maryland should not be given blanket protection by the Constitution.

Attorneys for Albert Snyder submitted a 67-page brief Monday in their case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorneys argued that the First Amendment does not fully protect the protesters because they infringed on Snyder’s own rights to peacefully assemble with family and friends for the funeral.

Snyder, a Pennsylvania resident, is challenging the protests held by the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Westboro pastor Fred Phelps and other members — many of them Phelps’ family members — have become well-known for their funeral protests, which they have used to advertise their belief that U.S. Iraq war deaths are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
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Supreme Court gets papers in Snyder lawsuit

NC man charged with posing as officer again

NC man charged with posing as officer again

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday May 25, 2010 14:10:08 EDT

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A man who pleaded guilty last year to altering an identification card after he was spotted in the uniform of a three-star Marine general has been charged again with posing as a highly decorated Marine officer.

Sixty-seven-year-old Michael Hamilton of Richlands was charged last week with wearing a Marine colonel’s uniform and three counts of wearing medals, including two Navy Crosses, the second highest award for valor, according to court papers.

Hamilton was photographed wearing the uniform and medals at Jacksonville’s Vietnam Memorial during a military recognition day ceremony last month.
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NC man charged with posing as officer again

Community mourns fallen soldier

Community mourns fallen soldier


COTTLEVILLE — Church bells tolled and a massive American flag fluttered in the breeze Saturday as motorcyclists in leather vests stood in salute and soldiers in dress blues delivered the casket holding Sgt. Denis Kisseloff's body to an awaiting hearse.

They were among scores of people — nuns, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, firefighters and others — who probably didn't know Kisseloff, of St. Charles, but came to pay their respects as his body made its way from his funeral service in St. Charles County to his gravesite in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
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Community mourns fallen soldier

Feds urged to recover Marines killed in WWII battle

Memorial Day is coming again and it seemed like a good time to bring this up. I am still searching for where my husband's uncle is buried. I came across this. There are many of our fallen buried in other countries and we have a feeling my husband's uncle is one of them. I know several were returned and buried at Arlington.

Friday August 17, 2001:
WWII Marines Buried at Arlington

Playing "Onward! Christian Soldiers,'' the Marine Band marched Friday along the twisting paths of Arlington National Cemetery to the open grave sites of 13 World War II Marines whose remains had lain nearly 60 years in a mass grave on a South Pacific battlefield.

The full honors ceremony marked the homecoming of 2nd Raider Battalion Marines killed during a 1942 raid on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

The battalion destroyed most of its target, a Japanese seaplane base. But, hurriedly departing under fire from hostile aircraft, they were unable to carry away their dead.

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It would be a great thing to bring them all home or at least find out where they are.

Feds urged to recover Marines killed in WWII battle
From wire service reports
Posted: 09/15/2009 10:26:27 PM PDT

U.S. Marines hunker down for protection against fierce Japanese fire on the beaches of Tarawa during World War II.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday announced a plan to urge the Department of Defense to recover the bodies of hundreds of Marines killed in the World War II battle of Tarawa, left in temporary graves where they fought and died more than 65 years ago.
The unanimous vote to send a letter to Congressional representatives, seeking legislation and funding for a recovery effort, came in tandem with the presentation of an honorary scroll to Leon Cooper.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked the board to bestow the honor and proposed the letter.
Cooper is a veteran of the Tarawa campaign and five other Pacific battles, including Iwo Jima. His documentary, "Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story," narrated by Ed Harris, calls on the U.S. government to honor the memory of the dead who fought on Red Beach in Tarawa.
"Our government has done nothing since 1943 to recover and repatriate these brave Americans who gave their lives in defense of our freedom," Cooper stated.
During 76 hours of combat, 1,106 Marines were killed and 2,200 wounded. Of those killed, 118 were buried at sea, 88 were listed as missing in action and the remainder were buried in temporary graves.
The Department of Defense acknowledges that 25,000 to 30,000 bodies of men "missing in action" are recoverable, but fewer than 100 are brought home each year, Cooper said.

The 4th Marine Division landed on Saipan 15 June 1944. The severity of this battle was indicated by the 2,000 casualties suffered in the first two days of battle. The Flag was raised on Saipan after 25 grueling and bitter days of combat. The Division sustained 5,981 casualties killed, wounded and missing. This represented 27.6 percent of the Division's strength. The Japanese count was 23,811 known dead and 1,810 prisoners were taken.

Lest We Forget

Op-Ed for Memorial Day: Lest We Forget
Written by Linda Seebeth
Monday, 24 May 2010 09:00
May 20, 2010, Issaquah, Washington (Issaquah Reporter Editorial) - Memorial Day became a national day of remembrance thanks to the efforts of wives and mothers of fallen soldiers. Civil War widows lobbied for years until Memorial Day - originally Decoration Day - was officially proclaimed in 1868.

Those women lost loved ones and didn’t want the rest of the United States to forget the painful costs of war.

Today, just as back then, our veterans and their families primarily carry the enormous burden of war for the rest of society.

Memorial Day is commemorated one day a year, yet many of our fellow Americans live Memorial Day every day of their lives.

This I know, because when I married my husband, in many ways I married Vietnam.

Forty-one years ago, John was a young soldier filled with the idealism of youth. He was a medic and volunteered to fly aboard helicopter ambulances. Unarmed Army medevacs- Dustoff had the highest casualty rate of all aeronautical units in Vietnam.

After nine months of flying rescue missions, John took a hit from an AK-47. Today, he still breathes and speaks from a hole in his neck - a daily reminder of the gunshot wound he received in Vietnam.

Every war causes loss of life and limb. And every war creates disabled veterans with lifelong physical challenges.

While treating the wounded, John saw sights in the chopper’s cargo bay that no one would ever want to see - and no one could easily forget. He doesn’t want to remember the pleading, frightened eyes of grotesquely wounded soldiers or the whimpering of dying Vietnamese children.

But those memories are etched deep inside him. I have learned that war does not always end when the warrior comes home.

He’s not the same Johnny anymore.
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also on Veterans For Common Sense

VCS Invited to Testify Before Congress

Our pro-veteran advocacy continues to be recognized by Congress
. On Tuesday, June 15, 2010, Veterans for Common Sense will be honored to testify before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee regarding the "State of the Veterans Benefits Administration."

Yes, that means VCS will be offering our suggestions on how to fix the broken and overwhelmed VBA. We support VBA staff who are trying their best under difficult circumstances and burdensome rules.
VCS also hopes help is on the horizon.

We recently asked VA when it would publish final regulations to streamline and modernize PTSD claims. VA replied the agency is still working on new regulations. We hope they come out soon. The longer it takes VA to write new rules based on new scientific evidence, then the longer veterans wait for healthcare and benefits.

For a sample of what we plan to say to Congress about VBA, please visit our new program web site

This week's update is mostly about veterans' issues.

Here's a news clip providing an example of why VA urgently needs reform. Journalist Michael Sedon at reports on the plight of an Iraq War veteran facing multiple VA challenges. Please read the article and see how VCS is fighting for research and treatment for illnesses related to exposure to depleted uranium, a radioactive toxic waste.

Gulf War veteran and Army Times investigative reporter Kelly Kennedy reveals how
PTSD may harm veterans' immune system.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who sits in the important Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, is quoted in by the Fayetteville Observer describing
VA as having "a culture of no" when it comes to veterans' benefits.

Even other top government officials recognize VA is held back by old, inadequate technology. In an article by Eliot Van Buskirk for Wired Magazine, President Obama's chief information officer Vivek Kundra says VA poses a challenge to itself and veterans because
VA uses such outdated technology.

Tenn. Iraq vet’s statue vandalized again

Tenn. Iraq vet’s statue vandalized again

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday May 25, 2010 10:22:16 EDT

MARTIN, Tenn. — A statue memorializing a Martin soldier has fallen victim to vandals for the second time in two years.

The statue was erected in honor of Dustin Laird, who was killed in 2005 in Iraq only a month before he was scheduled to return home.

In 2008, two people from Martin were convicted of vandalism after confessing to painting a skull over the statue's face and dousing it with red paint to simulate blood.

According to radio station WCMT, the head and arms were broken off over the weekend.

Dustin's father, Billy Laird, plans to replace his son's memorial soon.

Wainwright GI told to remove Facebook video

Wainwright GI told to remove Facebook video
An Alaska-based soldier is under investigation for a video on his Facebook page that taunts smiling Iraqi children by asking if they're gay, if they engage in certain sex acts and if they would grow up to be terrorists.

U.S. soldiers focus of criminal investigation

Sources: U.S. soldiers focus of criminal investigation
WASHINGTON — At least 10 U.S. Army soldiers from an already-troubled unit of the 2nd Infantry Division in southern Afghanistan are now the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations they deliberately killed three Afghan civilians, used illegal drugs and conducted other illicit activities, several military sources told CNN.

The soldiers are part of the 5th Stryker Brigade of the 2ID, based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the military has not named those under investigation.

The military issued a brief statement last week saying a criminal probe was under way into the allegations of killing, illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy. One military official familiar with the details of the case told CNN the matter was brought to the attention of commanders by at least one other soldier. The killings of the three civilians did not take place in one single incident, the official said.

Those under investigation are members of the same company, the official said. All 10 remain in Afghanistan. One soldier is being held in detention known as "pre-trial confinement." The others have been "put in a position where they can do no harm," the official said. He would offer no other details.
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U.S. soldiers focus of criminal investigation

Community, Soldiers and Red Sox Foundation team up to help veterans

Community, Soldiers and Red Sox Foundation team up to help veterans
May 24, 2010

By John Harlow/USAG-Natick Public Affairs Officer
BOSTON -- On a sunny morning in Boston, more than 2,000 runners gathered on Yawkey Way outside of Fenway Park to run nine kilometers with the finish line being one of the most famous spots in Boston... home plate of Fenway Park.

The Boston Red Sox Foundation hosted the run to raise money supporting The Home Base program which helps veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

The Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was on hand to welcome the runners, thank them for what they are doing to help our wounded warriors and congratulate them when they crossed home plate. Casey is very familiar with the area, having graduated from Boston College High School in Dorchester, Mass.

"This run is very important to our servicemembers," said Casey. "We are working to reduce the stigma of asking for help which is half our battle. Once we reduce the stigma, we can help Soldiers recover."

The Red Sox Foundation partners with Massachusetts General Hospital for The Home Base Program. The event on Sunday raised $2.4 million to support research for PTSD and TBI.
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Community, Soldiers and Red Sox Foundation team up to help veterans

PTSD in the news

Golf Outing Raises Funds for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Posted Monday, May 24, 2010 ; 10:27 PM
Updated Monday, May 24, 2010; 11:55 PM

The organizer has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since 1993.
Story by Kristen Sell

HURRICANE -- There was a lot of activity Monday afternoon on Sleepy Hollow's greens in Hurricane.

But the golfers swinging clubs weren't just paring for entertainment.

This golf tournament raised money for Mission PTSD Foundation.
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PTSD counseling helps veterans heal from emotional wounds of war

by Len Cannon / 11 News

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 4 at 12:04 AM

PTSD Web site

HOUSTON—Paul Schroeder and Robert Nuttal are decorated soldiers who both served on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

But even though they’re long retired, they’re still haunted by the battlefield.

"People say, ‘Well, when did you get back from Iraq?’ I got back last night – it was in my dreams," Schroeder said. "The smells are the worst, but it’s also the noise and the sheer chaos."

They saw things overseas that they can’t forget.

"The bodies had burned into the seats where they had become one, and I found myself chiseling these bodies out, one at a time," Nuttal said.

Guilt is just one of the problems Nuttal and Schroeder have struggled with after returning home.
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PTSD counseling helps veterans heal

Ali Lowitzer missing after school

Distress of 9/11 may have led to miscarriages

Distress of 9/11 may have led to miscarriages, research says
By Madison Park, CNN
May 25, 2010 7:42 a.m. EDT
Even without personal connections, people can be stressed by major events like September 11, 2001.
Distress after 9/11 may have contributed to a higher loss of male fetuses
Even without direct relationships with those killed, women appear affected by attacks
Stress during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, early labor, low birth weight
Factors seem to affect only male fetuses; reason not known

(CNN) -- The shock and stress felt by pregnant women after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, may have contributed to an increase in miscarriages of male fetuses in the United States, according to a study released Monday.

Researchers found the male fetal death rate increased in September 2001 and subsequently affected the ratio of boys born in a later month, according to the study published in the journal BMC Public Health.

The authors hypothesized that this might be a case of "communal bereavement." Even without direct relationships with the deceased, pregnant women may have been distressed by the attacks, resulting in miscarriage, according to the research.

"A huge population saw the consequences and carnage onscreen," said lead author Tim Bruckner, who is an assistant professor of public health at University of California Irvine, about the effects of 9/11. He examined this topic "because pregnancy is sensitive to stressors. I wondered whether pregnant women might have a physiological reaction to witnessing harm."
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Distress of 9 11 may have led to miscarriages

Design Chosen For Veteran's Memorial

Design Chosen For Veteran's Memorial


10:54 p.m. EDT, May 24, 2010

ROCKY HILL —A design has been chosen for a statewide veterans' memorial. Now all that's needed is about $1 million in donations to build it.

The state chose a design featuring an amphitheater, a remembrance wall and ample parking, submitted by landscape artists Dean Adam Johnson and Robert Schechinger Jr., both of the Collinsville section of Canton.
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Design Chosen For Veterans Memorial

Flag dispute sparks veteran angst at city leaders in Idaho

Flag dispute sparks veteran angst at city leaders in Idaho
The Associated Press

Kellogg, Idaho » A dispute between military veterans and town leaders in Kellogg over flagpole etiquette and the fate of a war memorial park has now take a political turn, with veterans leading a drive to recall the mayor and all six members of the City Council.

The veterans' frustration with the officials focuses on the city's response to complaints about flying a second flag below the American flag on the same flag pole at Kellogg's Memorial Park.

The flagpole, located at a stone memorial dedicated more than 50 years ago for veterans of the two World Wars and Korean War, displayed Old Glory along with a Tree City USA flag.

But commanders of the Silver Valley veterans groups complained last summer that it was improper to fly the Tree City flag over a memorial honoring soldiers. Veteran Lee Haynes said the group asked the city to remove the Tree City flag and display it on a separate pole.

In response, the city removed the American flag, dug up the stone memorial and moved it to a newer veterans memorial inside the park, irritating and frustrating veterans.

"We look at a memorial much like you do a gravesite," Haynes told the Spokesman-Review. "Why you think you can rip apart a 50-year-old memorial is beyond my imagination."

But Mayor Mac Pooler said city leaders met with veterans and believed moving the stone memorial was a suitable solution.
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When we help less

When we help less

Chaplain Kathie

I was sitting here yesterday reading emails and stunned when yet another email came in from someone asking me to help them. Maybe sickened is the word I'm looking for. Helping is what I do. It's in my nature. It's a huge contributing factor behind becoming a Chaplain. I want to share the love I know God has for us, especially with our veterans. I want to share what I know about PTSD. Simple as possible, imperfect as expected, I do what I can to help anyone God sends my way. Feeling the way I do when people ask for help, are in the position to return the favor when I need help, but ignore my pleas, then turn around when they are in need again, asking for help, really put a damper in my day. I really wanted to say no, debated if I should just ignore the email or fire off an angry response. In the end, I replied with the help asked for and then had a good cry.

I was talking to one of my friends last night over dinner before the movie Just Wright, telling her what happened. She's known me for a long time and is well aware of what I was feeling like. It happened to her many times. When she had a better job, she would spend her own money supplying gifts and snacks for the veterans at the nursing home in Orlando every month for Bingo night. Her heart was tugged by our veterans and she didn't want them forgotten about. When she was laid off, no one helped her when she was having a hard time paying her bills. Now she has another job but is unable to do what she used to do even though her heart really wants to.

I told her that yet again someone asked me for help, to make life easier but when I asked for help before I was ignored. The person is not a veteran in need or a family member of one trying to cope. The person is a professional acquaintance. It makes me think twice about helping someone after they have shown me how little they really care about me.

In the movies, like the one we saw last night, the giver is usually rewarded in one way or another. They go through hardships and heartbreaks but it would hurt them more to stop being who they really are inside. They struggle with what other people think is a "normal" reaction and what their soul is calling them to do. We don't have to look very far to see examples of this every day if we bother at all to notice, because good guys don't always win in the real world.

We see it in the military and in our veterans. We turn to them all the time for our security and our safety. We feel as if we are doing our part by simply saying we support them but our words don't do much for them when so few of us bother to know what's happening to them while they are deployed. Few of us care how many died, how many were wounded or if any of them are in need. They are important to us and they matter to us, but the truth is, they just don't matter enough to enough of us.

This is all one more reminder of how they are so much better than I am. They don't help less because we don't seem to care when it matters to them, to what they need, and they still serve just as much as they would had we bothered to care enough to help them.

I have to admit that when the person asked for help, the help I gave yesterday was not up to my normal standards. I held back. I just didn't want to bother as much as I would have had the person helped me when I needed it.

Ask any veteran if they would serve again and their eyes light up. The majority would be willing to do it all over again. Regrets come from losing someone they cared about but they never seem to connect the other losses they endured because of their service to the point they would question doing it again. Some lost families because the war came home with them. Some lost a place to live because they couldn't work anymore or because claims were tied up. Some had to fight for years to have their claims honored, but instead of dwelling on the higher price they paid for their service, they feel grateful the claim was finally honored.

The beginning of the month I put out a request for financial help because I'm heading into Washington DC for Memorial Day weekend. I'm broke but this trip is important to my husband and to me. Not one donation came in. I am going to Arlington Cemetery, Walter Reed, the Wall and the Law Enforcement Memorial so that I can be better at what I do, refueled by being with some of our veterans. Since I asked for help but no one bothered, it's been really hard to focus on putting more of myself "out there" because it feels as if I just don't matter enough to others in return.

What about them? They don't get to say that today they will only shoot a limited amount of bullets or just work half day because they are feeling sorry for themselves. They don't get to say they have their own personal problems back home so they want to "call in sick" today. Veterans don't get to say they will stop being a veteran when there are no activities in their honor a couple of times a year.

While I know I can walk away from this anytime I want, I am surrounded by reminders of people so much better than I am. Pictures of family members in their uniforms, of monuments and the old pamphlet hanging on my wall of the PTSD publication the DAV put out in 1978. Certifications of the training I've taken remind me of why I do any of this and a map of the world remind me of all the places we've sent the troops since the beginning of this country. Books read over and over again fill my bookcase and in each one of them more reminders of people so much better than I am. The Bible filled with stories of even more imperfect humans going above and beyond what others were willing to do. Emails saved over the years reminding me of how little they ask for in return and how much they have paid for being among the few willing to risk their lives while I whine about my own insignificant ego issues. All reminders of the years I've done what I could publicly and privately, knowing I will never be one of them or even come close to measuring up to them.

If we can look at our own lives and remember what it feels like to feel being taken for granted or abandoned, why can't we understand what it's like for them? What will it take for the rest of us to know what it must be like to be forgotten about in Iraq or in Afghanistan right now? We've lost over 5,000 between the two wars but other than the occasional serviceman or woman in uniform, we're more interested in the scandals and our TV shows. Hundreds of thousands of our veterans are wounded still paying the price with body and mind but we ignore them.

I get to decide when to shut down the computer and do something else. I get to decide if I will post something I read to share it or go out to the pool and relax. There are no strings on me and in the grand scale of things, I'm not that significant, so if I stopped, few would even notice. If they decided they wanted to just care about themselves, everyone would notice because no one would be serving and they would have to start the draft again. No one would blame them for not joining the National Guards or Reservists but we sure would complain when there is no one to help when natural disasters strikes, tornadoes come or hurricanes blow or floods rush in. The truth is we don't seem to think about them unless we need them.

I know what that feels like and how much that hurts but thank God these men and women are better than I am because they still give us all they have no matter how much we just take them for granted.

While we would decide to help less being treated the same way, we ask more of them but offer nothing more in return. They push their own personal feelings out of the way for the greater good and forgive us for not caring enough.

Shelia Snyder's tribute to veterans


It is the Veteran, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Veteran, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Veteran, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the Veteran, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Veteran, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Veteran who salutes the Flag,

It is the Veteran who serves under the Flag,

Eternal Rest Grant Them O Lord
And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them
~Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance~

I honor and remember our military, both past and present. I help with health and well being issues of our Veterans of all Era’s and for the active duty military of today.
This is the focus, this is our purpose, this is what we owe to our Veterans.
Shelia Snyder
Agent Orange Quilt Of Tears

Agent Orange Victims & Widows Support Network
Home Of The Agent Orange Quilt Of Tears
~Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance~

Monday, May 24, 2010

Man pleads guilty to fake military medals

Man pleads guilty to fake military medals

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday May 24, 2010 11:32:29 EDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A Marshall County man accused of wearing military medals he didn’t earn and illegally possessing firearms has pleaded guilty in a Birmingham court.

Douglas Lee Weaver, 35, had pleaded not guilty in April to charges of fraudulently wearing the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star and the Combat Infantry Badge.
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Military must deal with alarming number of suicides

OPINION: Military must deal with alarming number of suicides
By Express-Times opinion staff
May 24, 2010, 12:30AM

We may never know why Austin Gates Benson — a 19-year-old Hellertown resident and airman first class in the U.S. Air Force — took his life earlier this month while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

But we do know this: Gates Benson loved his country. And we know that far too many of our men and women in uniform are dying by their own hand.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there were 160 reported active-duty Army suicides in 2009, up from 140 in 2008. Even though military suicide rates are similar to civilian rates in the U.S., officials say last year’s numbers are alarming because military rates traditionally have been lower than civilian rates.
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Military must deal with alarming number of suicides

186,000 troops in two wars this Memorial Day

For First Time, More US Troops in Afghanistan than Iraq
May 24, 2010 1:31 PM

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports:

For the first time ever, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is larger than the number of American forces in Iraq. Pentagon figures show that there are now 94,000 U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan and 92,000 serving in Iraq.

The crossover point for American force levels in both countries was expected to take place this Summer as the Obama administration surges 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan this year and draws down the number of forces in Iraq.

The drawdown plan in Iraq calls for reducing the number of American forces to 50,000 by September 1, a move that will require a major logistical effort over the next three months.
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More US Troops in Afghanistan than Iraq