Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soldier from St. Petersburg killed in Afghanistan

DOD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died June 27 in Konar, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with small arms fire. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Eric B. Shaw, 31, of Exeter, Maine; and

Spc. David W. Thomas, 40, of St. Petersburg, Fla.

linked from

Other deaths in the last couple of days

06/28/10 AP: Marine killed in Afghanistan had Michigan ties
Cpl. Daane Adam DeBoer, 24, was killed Friday by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol, said his father, David DeBoer of Valparaiso, Ind. He said the military notified family in Indiana and Michigan of his son’s death the same day.

06/28/10 DoD: Army Casualty Identified
Staff Sgt. Edwardo Loredo, 34, of Houston, Texas, died June 24 at Jelewar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

06/28/10 DoD: Marine Casualty Identified
Sgt. Joseph D. Caskey, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pa., died June 26 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

06/28/10 DoD: Air Force Casualties Identified (1 of 2)
Spc. Blair D. Thompson, 19, of Rome, N.Y...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky...died June 25 at Konar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked their unit using rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.

06/28/10 DoD: Air Force Casualties Identified (2 of 2)
Spc. Jared C. Plunk, 27, of Stillwater, Okla...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky...died June 25 at Konar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked their unit using rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.

06/28/10 DoD: Marine Casualty Identified
Lance Cpl. William T. Richards, 20, of Trenton, Ga., died June 26 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

06/29/10 DoD: Army Casualty Identified
Pfc. Robert K. L. Repkie, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn., died June 24 at Forward Operating Base Farah, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

06/29/10 DoD: Army Casualty Identified
Spc. David A. Holmes, 34, of Tennille, Ga., died June 26 at Sayed Abad, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 810th Engineer Company, Swainsboro, Ga.

06/29/10 DoD: Army Casualty Identified
Sgt. John M. Rogers, 26, of Scottsdale, Ariz., died June 27 at Forward Operating Base Blessing, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

06/30/10 DoD: Army Casualty Identified
Staff Sgt. Brandon M. Silk, 25, of Orono, Maine, died June 21 of injuries sustained when the helicopter in which he was travelling made a hard landing. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

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Patriot Hills, a new vets' center, may offer help to hope

Encouraging words for Saranac Lake veterans' center
The Department of Defense is focusing more attention on post traumatic stress disorder, estimating that over 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Thousands of them are "civilian soldiers" — members of the Army Reserves and National Guard.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says combat vets are more likely to commit crimes or suffer effects of psychological trauma. Military officials are actively looking for new ways to help them heal and rejoin civilian life.

A group in Saranac Lake hopes Patriot Hills, a new vets' center proposed for the village, will be a good fit. This week, they got some encouraging words from the Army national Guard's medical commander. Martha Foley has more.
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Encouraging words for Saranac Lake veterans center

Pentagon Issues New Policy For Diagnosing And Treating Brain Injuries

Pentagon Issues New Policy For Diagnosing And Treating Brain Injuries

by T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling

The Pentagon has issued a new directive ordering better tracking and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries in war zones, including a mandatory 24-hour rest period for any soldier exposed to a nearby blast.

The new policy, which has been in development for months, also requires soldiers who have suffered three mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions, to have a complete neurological assessment done before returning to the battlefield.

Military medical experts praised the new policy as an encouraging change in the Pentagon's approach.

The directive places the focus on evaluating all soldiers exposed to a blast or other head trauma, as opposed to relying upon medical staff or soldiers themselves to report symptoms from an injury.

"This relieves the burden of the soldier having to say, 'I'm hurt,'" said Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general who advises the military on medical issues. "When you do that, it's like routine maintenance on a vehicle. It's understood that it's what you need to do responsibly to maintain optimal performance."
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New Policy For Diagnosing And Treating Brain Injuries
linked from Stars & Stripes

St. Louis VA may have exposed patients to hepatitis and HIV viruses

Hand-washed dental tools put patients at risk

By Mike Owens - KSDK via Gannett News Service
Posted : Wednesday Jun 30, 2010 8:26:21 EDT

ST. LOUIS — A failure to properly clean dental instruments at the John Cochran Veterans Administration Hospital may have put 1,812 dental clinic patients at risk.

The patients started getting certified letters Tuesday, advising them they may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV viruses.

Dr. Gina Michael, association chief of staff at the hospital, said the failure happened because some dental technicians thought they were doing the right thing by washing the dental tools themselves.

Michael said the techs were using a sink and strong soap to clean the tools, when they should have sent them to the hospital sanitizing and sterilizing department.

The techs were trying to protect the delicate instruments by doing the cleaning by hand, but instead, they were breaking protocol, she said.
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Hand washed dental tools put patients at risk

Checking each Arlington grave must wait

Army: Checking each Arlington grave must wait

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jun 30, 2010 12:45:43 EDT

The Army is making “steady progress” toward resolving the myriad problems at Arlington National Cemetery, but it will not examine all of the 330,000-plus gravesites for improper markings and other issues uncovered by a recent investigation until graves records are completely automated, the service’s top civilian said Wednesday.

And talk of progress has not assuaged lawmakers’ anger over the mismanagement issues that led to the removal of the cemetery’s top two officials earlier in June, a separate investigation into millions of dollars spent to procure a yet-to-be-seen system to automate cemetery records and operations, and a flood of concern from upset family members worried about the integrity of their loved ones’ final resting places.
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Checking each Arlington grave must wait

Republicans block help for women veterans

If half of the people in this country heard what some people say about our veterans, they would regret voting for them. Suddenly, now that bills come up to help our veterans, they want to worry about money instead of them. They do it all the time.

When bills came up to fund the action in Iraq and Afghanistan, they had no problem borrowing money to pay for it all, with no checks on where the money was going or even asking for any accountability. Hell, they didn't even ask for results. They said it was to support the troops. Yet these same people find it too hard to take care of the same men and women now they are veterans.

Senator Burr had a Q & A this morning with the DAV for a virtual town hall. He said over and over again the reason he does not support doing something is that it is not paid for. Cost of living raises for disabled veterans didn't happen because inflation was low, but he didn't mention that everything has gone up including the amount of money veterans have to pay to carry private health insurance to pay for non-service connected medical care, including those actually caused by service but not approved as a claim yet. What Senator Burr fails to understand is that when it comes to our disabled veterans, they already paid for it with their lives, their bodies, their minds and their futures. This is a debt we owe them and not the other way around. They need to stop thinking about veterans as some kind of charity case or an issue they can just wait on dealing with.

At the bottom of this section on veterans, it says to stay informed. We all should everyday and not just when it comes time for elections.
Senator Burr on Veterans Issues

The people we elect can say anything they want but what proves how they really feel is by what they do and how they defend what they don't do. Saying they need to "pay" for anything dealing with veterans needs is insulting. They should factor it all in when they decide to send even one of them into combat.

Senate Republicans block measure to provide additional benefits to homeless veterans.
Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) brought her bill — the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act — to the Senate floor seeking unanimous consent. Murray said the bill would “expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children and would increase funding and extend federal grant programs to address the unique challenges faced by these veterans.” However, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to this seemingly non-controversial issue:

McCONNELL: Madam president, reserving the right to object and I will have to object on behalf of my colleague Sen. Coburn from Oklahoma. He has concerns about this legislation, particularly as he indicates in a letter that I’ll ask the Senate to appear on the record that it be paid for up front so that the promises that makes the Veterans are in fact kept. So madam president I object.

Read the rest here

In other words, if you want to take care of veterans, pay for it, but while we're talking let's talk about tax cuts again for the wealthy.

These women, who served this country, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, risked their lives just as the men did but what comes with many female homeless veterans are children. When they have PTSD and their marriages fall apart, they have to take care of their kids all the same. They lack support because when it comes to the military and veterans communities, they are still a minority. We also have to face the fact that military sexual abuse is a big reason some of them face the futures in need of more help than others.

How can anyone say they have not already earned the help they need with putting their lives on the line? How can anyone dare say what they need was not worth the price we have to pay today? To tell congress to find the money instead of being willing to do whatever it takes to take care of our veterans is appalling. They said no to extending unemployment benefits to the jobless as well. Did they ever consider the fact that many of the veterans no longer in the service, along with National Guards and Reservists are also unemployed in this economy?

I've asked this question many times and I still don't have a real answer. Do they support the military making the machines, in other words, defense contractors or do they support the men and women they send when they say they support the military?

House ready to move on defense funding bill

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jun 30, 2010 12:33:41 EDT

Congress won’t make Defense Secretary Robert Gate’s July 4 deadline for passing a war supplemental funding bill, but there is now a glimmer of hope that lawmakers might get the measure passed before August, when the military would begin to face severe cash-flow problems.

The holdup on the bill has been in the House of Representatives, but Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the House Appropriations Committee chairman, announced Wednesday that a $93.5 billion supplemental appropriations bill would be considered by the House this week that includes $37 billion for troops in Iraq.

The bill also includes $13 billion to cover a planned expansion of Agent Orange disability benefits to more Vietnam veterans.

Gates warned lawmakers that the Navy and Marine Corps would have to start dipping into peacetime budgets to cover war-related expenses as early as next week if Congress did not pass a final supplemental war funding bill before leaving town for its Fourth of July recess.
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House ready to move on defense funding bill

Lawyer, wife accused of stealing from vets they were supposed to take care of

Lawyer, wife accused of stealing from vets
They allegedly took at least $2 million in six-year period
June 29, 2010, 8:52PM

A Houston lawyer and his wife appeared in federal court Tuesday, accused of stealing more than $2 million from military veterans.

Joe Phillips, 71, and Dorothy Phillips, 70, who managed her husband's small law office, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson, charged with conspiracy, misappropriation by a fiduciary, making materially false statements to a federal agency and tax fraud, according to federal officials.

Phillips, a former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Houston, is accused of stealing from mentally incompetent veterans.
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Lawyer, wife accused of stealing from vets

PTSD and Bible Battles

If you remember singing children's songs about heroes of the Bible, the chances are you sang about Father Abraham and Joshua. What you may not remember is that Abraham lead his men into battle more than once and Joshua had to do a lot more than get the walls of Jericho to tumble down. This was a time when war was hand to hand. Joshua had to order his men to obliterate all the people living in Jericho, men, women and children.

When you read the Bible, over and over again there are accounts of warfare, tactics and yes, the aftermath of how humans had to try to carry on afterward. Each and every time war is mentioned in the Bible, there is a long list of what humans went through recovering.

Moses, known for being God's messenger was a warrior and so was David. Read the Psalms and about his life and you can clearly see another witness to what we call PTSD.

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau and military talk about healing PTSD veterans

Garry Trudeau, military leaders highlight Patriot Hills event
By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - Nearly 140 years ago, Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau came to the Adirondacks expecting to die from tuberculosis.

But not only did he cure; he cured countless others with his pioneering research, treatment and the sanitarium he established. This center for healing quickly exploded into a village, with Trudeau as its first mayor.

On Tuesday, Trudeau's great-grandson, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, made a rare public appearance in the community where he was raised to build support for a project that organizers say could once again make the village a center for healing.

Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake, a proposed respite and reintegration center for active-duty soldiers, veterans and their families, held its first major local event, a half-day forum at the Trudeau Institute titled "Soldier Resiliency: A Fresh Approach." The program, which included two U.S. Army generals, experts in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder and other speakers, focused on the stresses faced by soldiers returning home from war, two unique treatment methods that could help them, and the Patriot Hills model.

Trudeau, who has focused on veteran and "wounded warrior" issues in his comic strip and other writings, opened the event with a strong endorsement of Patriot Hills, calling it "a return to the healing ethos for which Saranac Lake was once world-renowned."
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Garry Trudeau military leaders highlight Patriot Hills event

Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Veterans Issues

Dear Supporters,

Last year you stood up for veterans through the first-ever Virtual March on Washington for Veterans. Now, we hope you can join us online this Wednesday, June 30, as the DAV hosts the first-ever Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Veterans Issues. All who care about the plight of veterans are invited to participate in live discussions from noon to 2 p.m. ET. For those unavailable during that time, you can now submit questions and comments in advance. Complete transcripts of the chats will be posted online immediately after.

This will be an opportunity to "chat" with the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and DAV Legislative and Service leadership about the most pressing issues facing veteran and their families today.

This unique event comes at a critical time for veterans. There is unprecedented movement toward a long-needed overhaul of the VA's claims process. The Virtual Town Hall is set for the day before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hears from experts, including the DAV, to discuss newly introduced legislation. The DAV is set to testify on behalf of the Independent Budget.

First up will be Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. He will answer your questions live from noon to 1 p.m. Immediately after, DAV's National Legislative Director Joseph Violante and National Service Director Garry Augustine will take your questions and comments from 1 to 2 p.m.

To access the Virtual Town Hall, visit us at

You do not need to register with Facebook to participate. If you would like to pose a question or make a comment in advance, you may do so at the link just provided or sending an email to All questions posted or received will be placed in the front of the queue.

Your opinion matters to the DAV, which is why we are hosting this Virtual Town Hall and looking forward to hearing from you Wednesday.

Thank you for your support,

DAV National Commander Bobby Barrera

Major David Cox, hero on PTSD awareness

I wonder if Major Cox understands what a hero he is to veterans? Just the fact he is willing to talk about this will help countless veterans decide to get help to heal.

Maj. David Cox is seen during his deployment on a rare visit home to meet his first granddaughter, Madison, now 5. Today, Cox suffers from PTSD and can no longer work, watch TV medical dramas or handle his own medications. - Photo provided by Maj. David Cox

Some members of military come home with burdens they cannot shed
Campaign aims to raise doctors' awareness of invisible wounds
By Shari Rudavsky
Posted: June 29, 2010

Indiana Air National Guard Maj. David Cox returned from Iraq and Afghanistan unable to cut grass without fear someone was watching him. He now uses a GPS device when he walks his dog for those times when he struggles to find his way back home. And the injured soldiers he helped treat haunt his sleep -- when he can sleep.

Cox suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but it took months after his return home before he was diagnosed, months during which he could have hurt himself or others as he wrestled with the problem.

Such a delay in diagnosing PTSD is common, making it difficult for hundreds of returning veterans to receive proper treatment.

That's why the Indiana State Medical Association has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness -- and to try to ensure that returning soldiers like Cox receive the help they need.

As part of that effort, the group recently distributed information about the disorder to 1,300 primary-care physicians across Indiana.
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Some members of military come home with burdens they cannot shed

Woman battles PTSD and climbs music charts

Woman battles PTSD and climbs music charts
June 29, 9:26 PM
Des Moines Homelessness Examiner
Shenica Graham

Contemporary Christian recording artist, Shenica Renee Graham was Born October 14, 1977 in Long Beach, CA. She battles P.T.S.D. resulting from childhood abuse and domestic violence. As early as 1985, Shenica began writing poetry and various manuscripts to release her pain in a non-violent manner. Her first national award was won for a poem she wrote about her parents in a fourth-grade competition. In the eighties, she competed in the America's Kids and Teens pageant and was voted, "Most Potential." This was the spark of her would-be music career. Preparing for the talent competition, Shenica chose a song that was "too mature" - according to her mother. Not allowed to sing in the competition, she performed an oration. The pageant director commented, "You should sing. I can hear it in your voice."
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Woman battles PTSD and climbs music charts

You understand more than you think when it comes to PTSD

You understand more than you think when it comes to PTSD
Chaplain Kathie

These are just a few recent headlines
2 wounded in 3 Fort Worth shootingsFort Worth Star Telegram

We can read these stories and think only of the people directly involved, yet so many others are changed by these events. The families of the people killed or wounded by violent acts. The witnesses having to cope with the fact one minute they were living in a normal day and the next it all went to hell. They feared for their own lives even if they were out of range. We may think it would have been an unrealistic fear but then when we understand bullets flying through the air were far from normal as it was. Trauma is lives changed in a second.

Here in Florida two Tampa police officers stopped a car and ended up shot. Both of them died.
Wounded Times: Two Tampa Police Officers killed after traffic stop
By (Kathie Costos)

The police department is in shock. The widow of Officer Jeffrey Kocab went into labor after this shooting. Witnesses were also affected by this and so were police officers around the country. One of the most dangerous jobs officers have are traffic stops. They know they can be hit by other cars, shot at, run over and they never know what to expect. When something like this happens, they are all wondering if it will happen to them as well.

Trauma removes our sense of safety as we live our lives. Think of when you lost someone you loved. A family member died suddenly. The shock you felt when you heard of their death was felt deeply. We are also affected when we hear tragic news even if we are far away from the event itself.

People across the world can tell you where they were on the morning of September 11th. They can usually even tell you second by second accounts of how they were reacting to the news. While they are talking about it, there is a deep sadness awakened within them. They are remembering trauma.

We can all understand PTSD when we think of our own lives.

When I do presentations on PTSD, my approach is simple. I make it personal to them, get them thinking about how their own lives are changed by events. Then while they are remembering how they felt, I ask them what it would be like for them if they had that shock over and over and over again.

There is the type of PTSD caused by one event in a person's life. One moment in time when they are forever changed. Natural disasters and crimes along with accidents or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, can in fact cause PTSD. If we as simple humans can be so deeply affected by one event, then it should be easy to understand the men and women serving in combat and what our veterans went through. After all, they are just humans like the rest of us.

The next time you hear someone say PTSD is not real or that they can't understand it, remind them of what happened in their own lives and then tell them to multiply it as if they lived it over and over again. Then ask them if they could just "get over it" or "stuff it" into the back of their minds. With help, PTSD veterans can recover and heal. Without help, it gets worse. We can keep making the same mistakes over and over again or we can make it real to the people refusing to understand.

If you can understand this, you can understand them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A nation under post-traumatic stress

James Carroll of the Boston Globe did a great job on this. He asked the question about where this will all be a decade from now. The answer is, the same as it was ten years after Vietnam veterans began to show what PTSD looks like after it has been allowed to fester into the veterans' lives to the point where, they don't reorganize themselves anymore. By 1978 there were already 500,000.

What no one seems to want to talk about is that most veterans return home with mild PTSD. In other words, symptoms trying to take over their lives but they are able to fight against most of them. If they had been helped when PTSD was mild, then most would have recovered before their lives were destroyed, marriages ended, kids estranged from parents, careers ruined, crimes committed, homelessness and suicides. Mild PTSD is beatable but when life tosses in more stress and traumatic events, you might as well refer to it as "invasion of the body snatchers" because PTSD takes over that much. It's called Secondary Stressor.

Veterans may be very well capable of doing jobs, having marriages, doing everything they need to do, even pass off the nightmares and flashbacks, calm their nerves with a few beers or a joint or two, but sooner or later, life takes over, one more event out of their control and it all turns to crap.

Just like the late 70's and 80's, we're seeing repeats of mistakes made back then. Medications are great. They are given enough to last a few months and they are expected to show back up at the VA for more. What they are not given is answers, therapy, support or hope. All this leads to a repeat of the Vietnam generation and it isn't good. As of today there are still thousand without a clue what's been wrong with them since they got back home.

Unless things are drastically changed, like thinking outside the box for a change, then we are going to repeat all the mistakes we should have learned from. Society will end up paying for the mistakes it keeps making but above that, we will still lose more after combat than we do during it. The only difference is, we aren't aiming guns at them. We're just loading the bullets. Every day that goes by and we are not doing everything humanly possible to help them heal, we are contributing to their diminishing odds of surviving combat.

US Army soldiers carry a critically wounded American soldier to an awaiting MEDEVAC helicopter near Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Getty Images)

A nation under post-traumatic stress
James Carroll
Boston Globe

IT BELONGS to every citizen to have in mind what the nation’s present wars are doing — not only to US troops, Iraqis and Afghans, and the faceless enemy, but to the American character. We have come to understand that the brutalities of combat can shatter participants psychologically as well as physically.

A psycho-medical diagnosis — post-traumatic stress syndrome — has gained legitimacy for individuals, but what about whole societies? Can war’s dire and lingering effects on war-waging nations be measured? Can the stories of war be told, that is, to include aftermath wounds to society that, while undiagnosed, are as related to civic responsibility for state violence as one veteran’s recurring nightmare is to a morally ambiguous firefight? The battle zones of Fallujah and Kandahar are far away, but how do their traumas stamp Philadelphia and Kansas City — this year and a decade from now?
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A nation under post traumatic stress

Illinois Army National Guardsman retires after 6 decades of duty

Guardsman retires after 6 decades of duty

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jun 29, 2010 8:06:27 EDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A member of the Illinois Army National Guard has retired after nearly six decades years of duty.

The guard says Chief Warrant Officer Nelson Blakey of Moweaqua retired June 1 after 56 years.

Blakey joined the guard in March 1953 and first worked at a warehouse in Springfield. His last post was in a personnel office helping enlisted guard members with problems. He says that job was his favorite.

Sgt. Maj. Donnie Parker says Blakey is a humble, outgoing man who will be tough to replace.

Now that he's retired, Blakey plans to continue working on his farm. His wife, Bonnie Blakey, is also a retiree of the Illinois National Guard.
Guardsman retires after 6 decades of duty

Two Tampa Police Officers killed after traffic stop


Florida Police Officer's Widow Has Baby Hours After His Killing

Published June 29, 2010

The widow of a Florida police officer gunned down after making a traffic stop early Tuesday has given birth to their first child just hours after he passed away, CBS News reported.

Officer Jeff Kocab was called to the scene as backup after fellow Tampa police officer Dave Curtis stopped a car about 2:15am Tuesday because the license tag wasn't visible.

Tampa police said the passenger in the vehicle, Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, had a minor warrant for arrest and opened fire on the two officers.
Florida Police Officer Widow Has Baby Hours After His Killing

Slain Tampa police officers recalled as devoted family men and crime-fighters
Times staff
Posted: Jun 29, 2010 01:31 PM
TAMPA — Police officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were remembered Tuesday as men who were devoted to their jobs and families.

Both 31 years old, Kocab and Curtis were gunned down early Tuesday morning during a traffic stop at 50th Street and 23rd Avenue. They both worked the midnight shift, and both were relatively new to the Tampa Police Department.

Officer Jeffrey Kocab, center, with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and former police Chief Steve Hogue.

Kocab joined the department about 14 months ago from the Plant City Police Department.

He was chosen by his fellow Plant City officers as employee of the month four times in three years.

Kocab and his wife were expecting their first child next week but she went into labor just hours after her husband died, said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

Officer David Curtis, left, with former Tampa police Chief Steve Hogue.

Curtis left behind a wife and four young children: Austin, 9; Sean, 6; Tyler, 5; and Hunter, 8 months, Iorio said.

read more here

Tampa Police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab

One of two suspects found
Tampa Police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab were killed around 2 a.m., shot in the head by the side of the road. Police say they have found one suspect, Cortnee Nicole Brantley, as well as the car she was driving at the time. The other suspect, Dontae Rashawn Morris, has not been located.

Veterans for Common Sense warns of need to hire more doctors now

They are right. Too often I'll talk to veterans and find out while they get all the meds they need, there isn't any therapy for them. They are given meds and told to come back in a few months but that's just about it. When you tell a twenty-something year old he needs to be on medication the rest of his/her life, they tend to not find much hope in that. Yet when you tell them what PTSD is, and what they can do to get to the point when they won't need much medication at all, that gives them hope. They need to know healing is possible and how to get there. This is their biggest complaint of all and it's easy to understand why it is that way.

National Security News
Finally, the press starts to wake up to the escalating and shocking human toll nine years of war has had on our military. The L.A. Times reports the number of U.S. military casualties caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is more than 500,000. The real total is 537,099, according to VA, because VA also counts veteran patients with TBI, mental illness, and warzone-acquired diseases - categories not counted in misleading and incomplete Pentagon reports.

The Army Times reports on the the military's struggles related to the severe shortage of medical personnel. VCS believes the number of suicides rises, in part, due to the lack of medical professionals, especially mental health professionals (other factors include multiple deployments, the lack of medical exams, and discrimination against veterans with mental health conditions).

Our messsage to Secretary Gates: Hire more doctors now !

Yoga Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD

It isn't hard to understand but most of the Marines I work with think I'm nuts. Aside from the obvious reasons, they are usually convinced of this as soon as I tell them to go take Yoga. All these young, strong, tough Marines think of is bending their bodies up like a pretzel and they are done with the idea. Then I tell them their bodies know how to calm down, how to stop feeling as if they are going to explode when they have a panic attack or anxiety takes over. It's all built into the body but we all forget how to do it. Yoga instructors teach a lot more than how to twist your body up into un-natural shapes and on this, their help is priceless. They can help you regain the ways your body and mind work. Whenever the body-mind and spirit are all addressed, healing is much greater and faster than addressing one part of "you" at a time.

Yoga Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder and …
By randy
Yoga Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder and … Posted by randy 28 Jun, 2010. Some studies have shown that controlled breathing, which is an integral part of most types of yoga

A new 'war' to fight at home after Iraqi deployment ends

Guest column: A new 'war' to fight at home after Iraqi deployment ends
Posted: June 28, 2010 - 3:12pm
Madeleine Tavares is a freelance writer for USA Today.

As we took our seats at Starbucks, Sgt. Mark Middlebrook, who recently completed his four-year Army tour, walked to the back and selected a seat with his back to the wall and facing the front door.

Middlebrook, who is 24 years old, has suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since completing his 15 months in Iraq in 2007. You would never know it simply by looking at him.

I have followed Middlebrook's Army journey through his parents, Gayle and Mark Sr., of Ponte Vedra. We participate in a support group for families of deployed military.

At the end of 2007, two friends and I realized our three sons would be in Iraq at the same time and wanted to reach out to others who might be in the same situation.

Since leaving the Army this past summer, Middlebrook has been trying to move on with his life, but worry often gets in the way.
read more here
A new war to fight at home

Veterans' Medallion Available for Order

Veterans' Medallion Available for Order
New Option for Marking Veterans' Graves in Private Cemeteries

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2010) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced today that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offering bronze medallions to attach to existing, privately purchased headstones or markers, signifying a deceased's status as a Veteran.

"For Veterans not buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery, or those without a government grave marker, VA is pleased to offer this option that highlights their service and sacrifices for our country," said Secretary Shinseki.

The new item can be furnished instead of a traditional government headstone or marker for Veterans whose death occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.

Under federal law, eligible Veterans buried in a private cemetery are entitled to either a government-furnished grave marker or the new medallion, but not both. Veterans buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery will receive a government headstone or marker of the standard design authorized at that cemetery.

The medallion is available in three sizes: 5 inches, 3 inches and 1 ½ inches in width. Each bronze medallion features the image of a folded burial flag adorned with laurels and is inscribed with the word "Veteran" at the top and the branch of service at the bottom.

Next of kin will receive the medallion, along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the medallion to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover.

More information about VA-furnished headstones, markers and medallions can be found at

VA is currently developing an application form for ordering the medallion. Until it is available, applicants may use the form for ordering government headstones and markers, VA Form 40-1330. Instructions on how to apply for a medallion are found on the VA Web site at

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or grave marker.

The new medallions will be available only to Veterans buried in private cemeteries without a government headstone or marker. Families of eligible decedents may also order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.

VA operates 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than 3 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict -- from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are buried in VA's national cemeteries on more than 19,000 acres.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the VA Web site on the Internet at or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.

Warrior poems online

The DCoE Blog

Readers Share Their Poetry
Posted by Communications, DCoE on June 25, 2010

Readers, thank you for sharing your poems with us and the rest of the warrior community. We look forward to continuing to post your submissions for the coming weeks. We encourage you to share the link to your published poems with your loved ones and communities. Reaching out is a sign of strength; pass the message on.

Please click on the below links for this week’s featured poems.

William D’Emilio, Jr., U.S. Army Veteran, “THE STILL JOURNEY”
Kristian Ray March, Untitled
Bill Yamanaka, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired), “Keep a Grateful Perspective”
read these and more here

Homeless Veterans in Orlando, not hopeless

At the Orlando VA hospital there was a great gathering of people dedicated to our veterans. This event was to address homeless veterans issues taking into account all the reasons they end up homeless. From substance abuse, to PTSD, lack of supportive family and friends, legal problems and lack of jobs, all the reasons were tackled.

There were people from the Department of Corrections and legal
Ms. Sherri Claudio LCSW
Atty. Robert Wesley Public Defender
and Ms. Maria Scruggs-Weston Inmate Program Supervisor

From the VA
Heather Gallagher LCSW, Program Coordinator
Brian Wright, LCSW, Outreach Social Worker
Lou Smith, Peer Support

From Housing
HUD/VASH team and Ms. Carolyn Smith of Winter Park Pointe

In the audience there were people from community services, service groups like the DAV and others working to help the veterans in Orlando and Central Florida. One of the most moving panels was the ex-homeless veterans themselves.

Hearing their stories about their service and then what followed left lumps in everyone's throats. All of them had their own stories and reasons why they ended up homeless but just when they thought there was no hope for them they found their way to the Orlando VA and the DOM. This program has never been about putting a roof over their heads for a few weeks but to provide what they need to be able to live on their own. This is a program dedicated to staying with them, right by their sides to help them stay in a place of their own.

The message is clear. Our homeless veterans should not be alone, or feel alone, when there is a army of dedicated people ready to help them. This is one of the best kept secrets in Central Florida. Many people I come in contact with are stunned to discover there is a homeless veterans facility on the VA grounds. They know even less about the work being done for veterans.

While we are far from being able to take care of every homeless veteran, we are so much closer to it than ever before with programs like today. The problem is, no one knows about it. The media doesn't seem interested in reporting on great things being done simply because people care. They need to report on the homeless veterans, just as they do all veterans, but they just don't seem willing to invest the time in getting to know any of these men or women.

These are our veterans and all most of them need is to know someone cares. They have found it right here in Orlando.

Now as for the work that still needs to be done, we need to get the local churches involved. There was someone from Northland in Longwood at this gathering. Northland has been very involved in the community for a long time, so I was not surprised to see someone from that church there, but I was very disheartened to not see more from the religious/spiritual community.

This is an issue that requires action from the faith based groups but too few have been interested. Unlike the general population needing help finding places to live and assistance when they have fallen on hard times, the vast majority of our homeless veterans ended up needing help because they served in the military. They have unique issues behind them and they need help to heal from combat in many cases, which is a spiritual issue above and beyond what others face.

We need all faith based groups involved in stepping up to help, not just the homeless veterans, but for all veterans before they end up homeless as well.

Chaplain Kathie
PTSD Consultant
Senior IFOC Chaplain
DAV Chapter 16 Auxiliary Chaplain
Kathie "Costos" DiCesare
web site

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington
Nam Guardian Angel is a Charter of the IFOC, (501c3)

New Hampshire aims to end vet homelessness by 2014

State aims to end vet homelessness by 2014

By Holly Ramer - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jun 28, 2010 14:52:33 EDT

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire could eliminate homelessness among veterans in four years with a plan that emphasizes moving beyond housing to focus on other support services, according to report released Monday.

The state created a committee last year to identify the needs of homeless veterans and improve collaboration among the state health and human services department, community groups and the two VA medical centers that serve New Hampshire residents. The plan it released Monday outlines nearly a dozen goals grouped in six categories, from outreach and education to housing and employment.

Last year, 9 percent of those served by state and federally funded homeless assistance programs in New Hampshire were veterans. Those programs counted 428 veterans, but officials estimate another 200 didn’t seek help. Nationally, veterans make up about 10 percent of the general population but 15 percent of the homeless population.
read more here
State aims to end vet homelessness

4TROOPS to Perform USO Concert LIVE Online

4TROOPS to Perform USO Concert LIVE Online
June 28, 2010
Sharee Posey, (703) 740-4980
4TROOPS to Perform USO Concert LIVE Online With Help From Stickam
The 30-Minute Show to be Featured on
WHAT: USO Concert Featuring 4TROOPS
WHEN: July 2, 2010 2:00 p.m. EST
WHERE: New York, NY (Courtesy of

WHY: 4TROOPS, a new vocal group of U.S. combat veterans signed to Sony Masterworks, will perform a 30-minute USO concert live from New York City on July 2, 2010, at 2:00 pm EST. Broadcast exclusively online the concert is being streamed with the help of Stickam, an industry leader in online multimedia communications services. During the concert, 4TROOPS will answer questions from fans, share their thoughts on what it means to serve our nation and reflect on their USO experiences. Fans will be able to view the concert live and submit advance questions for the group online via

Each member of the group served on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is on a mission to give back to troops. Their self-titled debut album was released May 11, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the USO and other organizations that support U.S. soldiers, veterans and their families. Most recently, the quartet has made appearances on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “CNN,” “Nightline” and “Larry King Live,” among other prominent news programs. Their PBS special “4TROOPS: Live From the Intrepid” is currently airing on PBS stations nationwide and this fall the group will embark on a 50-city national tour.
This is the first-ever USO concert available exclusively on the web.

If you watched America's Got Talent last year, you would have heard the beautiful voice of Sgt. Daniel Jens. I really wanted him to win! This group is really good and even better is they are all veterans.

Former Sgt. Daniel Jens, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was attracted to becoming a musician/singer after seeing Elvis and The Beatles perform and hearing the adoring screams of their female fans. He was inspired to join the Army and serve his country after the events of 9/11. In October of 2007 he deployed to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division as a crew member of the Field Artillery Cannon. Jens sang at everything from Prayer Breakfasts to Talent Nights at the U.S. Embassy. Upon his return, Daniel went on to become one of the top twenty acts in season three of America’s Got Talent.

Former Cpt. Meredith Melcher spent four years in the Army as an officer in the Medical Service Corps where she was deployed in support of the first Operation Iraqi Freedom. While on the front lines of Iraq her ambulance platoon successfully evacuated hundreds of injured Americans and Iraqis to higher levels of medical treatment. Upon her return, she was cast in the 2004 U.S. Army Soldier Show and performed for audiences of military personnel and civilians worldwide.

Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Ron Henry retired from the Army after a twenty-year military career; his last seven years were spent traveling unprotected roads in Iraq in the dangerous position of Transporter and Transportation Manager. Influenced by Gospel music, Ron delivered stellar performances in the first season of Military Idol, a show that featured military contestants in the popular American Idol format. He went on to lead the successful Army singing group “Transportation Express,” lifting the morale of those families whose military parents were serving multiple deployments back to back.

Former Sgt. David Clemo – who was in Basic Training, getting his first ID on 9/11 – initially deployed to Afghanistan where he provided communications support for major logistics and fire bases. His second deployment, from November 2004, was as a team chief for communications and fiber optic cable installations in Iraq. Following that, David spent a number of fulfilling years as Assistant Director of the U.S. Army Soldier Show, touring and entertaining his fellow soldiers and their families.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New York City police officer was acquitted of beating Iraq Vet

NYPD officer acquitted of assaulting vet

By Jennifer Peltz - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jun 28, 2010 17:19:06 EDT

NEW YORK — A New York City police officer was acquitted Monday of assaulting an Iraq war veteran and lying about the confrontation, which was caught on videotape.

David London, 45, sobbed as he heard the jury’s verdict and left the courtroom with tears streaming down his face, hugging supporters.

London’s trial was the second in as many months that offered video to rebut a police officer’s account of a clash with a citizen. In both cases, defense lawyers suggested the videos didn’t provide a full view of the provocation and danger the officers faced.

London, an officer for 16 years, confronted Harvin as the Army veteran walked into his mother’s Manhattan apartment building without a key and declined to provide identification, the officer said.

Harvin didn’t testify at London’s trial. Prosecutors, his lawyer and his mother have said they don’t know where he is. His mother and his lawyer have said Harvin suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome that deepened after his encounter with London.

go here for more

Devil Dogs, Marines remembered in France

Hawaii panel to discuss military mental health

Hawaii panel to discuss military mental health

The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jun 27, 2010 11:14:32 EDT

HONOLULU — A panel composed of mental health experts, and representatives of law enforcement and military families will discuss the impact of war of service members and their families.

Mental Health America of Hawaii will sponsor the seminar on Monday at Central Union Church in Honolulu.
read more here
Hawaii panel to discuss military mental health

Habitat for Humanity builds homes for vets

Habitat for Humanity builds homes for vets

By Josh Jarman - The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch via AP
Posted : Sunday Jun 27, 2010 16:02:43 EDT

NEWARK, Ohio — At three years, Wayne Lupher’s stint in the Army was relatively short.

An incident while he was serving in South Korea in 1987, however, left him with a permanent back injury that has cost him jobs and two decades of financial insecurity. Now, a coalition of Licking County veterans service organizations has decided that it’s time for some payback.

Lupher was selected for a first-of-its-kind partnership between local veterans groups and the Licking County Habitat for Humanity, which are teaming up to build Lupher and his family their first home of their own.
read more here

Court rejects wife’s Halliburton suit

Court rejects wife’s Halliburton suit

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jun 28, 2010 12:18:12 EDT

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a woman who wants to sue Halliburton for the brain injury her husband suffered when a truck in a fuel convoy crashed in Iraq.

The justices, without comment Monday, let stand a federal appeals court ruling dismissing the lawsuit filed by Annette Carmichael of Atlanta, on behalf of her husband, Army Sgt. Keith Carmichael. The Obama administration recommended the denial of the appeal.
read more here
Court rejects wife Halliburton suit

Vet, facing deportation, says Army let him down

If they serve, they should stay! These are not just "illegal immigrants" looking for what this nation has to offer. They are willing to lay down their lives because they really want to pay this country back, and, should the day come, to even lay down their lives for it.

Vet, facing deportation, says Army let him down

By Gerald Ensley - Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat
Posted : Sunday Jun 27, 2010 8:24:01 EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Axel Runtschke is blond and blue-eyed. He hunts and fishes. He listens to country music and watches NASCAR. He spent three years in the Army, is married and has three kids.

He’s a regular American guy. Except that he’s an illegal immigrant.

And though he has been in the United States for 20 years after moving here from his native Germany as a child, he has been unable to gain legal residency status — even though he said the Army promised him they would take care of it when he enlisted in 1997.

So he is unable to get a job, is running out of money and his home is being foreclosed. The stress is overwhelming.

“I don’t sleep, it’s a constant headache. I’m at my wit’s end,” said Runtschke, 32. “I made a commitment to this country and I fulfilled it honorably. I just want them to recognize this.”

Tallahassee lawyers Neil Rambana and Elizabeth Ricci, who specialize in immigration law, are working to gain Runtschke a green card as a permanent resident, if not full-fledged citizenship.
read more here

Semper Fidelis lives up to motto in Orlando

Saturday I had the pleasure of sitting down and listening to the members of Semper Fidelis in Orlando. My husband and I were invited to help out at the Orlando VA during their cookout for the patients and employees at the clinic's branches. If you live near Orlando, see what you can do to help this group. They do a lot for the veterans forgotten by most of the area. They are one of the best kept secrets in Orlando.

It was my honor to tape this.

Part Two
This is what the members had to say about being a part of this group and how they feel about veterans

J.R. Martinez, wounded Iraq veteran, shines in All My Children

After surviving Iraq, Pine Valley's a breeze
Disfigured and nearly killed in a 2003 land-mine explosion, Army vet J.R. Martinez has become the soap opera world's most unlikely star with his role on 'All My Children.'

By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times

June 26, 2010 5:54 p.m.

The police station set of "All My Children" buzzed as the cast and crew prepared for a scene. Sitting behind a desk in his officer's uniform all ready to go was J.R. Martinez, smiling as makeup and hair artists attended to actress Shannon Kane, who plays his partner on the ABC soap.

"One day I'll have to get a wig so I know what's it's like to be waited on," he said. "I never have to show up early like everyone else for hair and makeup. I'm camera-ready as soon as I arrive."

Martinez stands out in the glamorous cast of "All My Children," one of daytime's most enduring serials. His face, like much of his body, is badly burned and bears the marks of repeated skin grafts. His left eye slightly droops. His left ear is gone. His shaved head is heavily scarred. A distinctive line separates the smooth bridge of his nose from the burned tip.

Though he doesn't share the perfect hair and silky features of his costars, it is clear that somehow, Martinez, an Iraqi war veteran who was injured in 2003, fits in. He will be among the cast members participating in a salute to the 40-year-old drama during the Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday night in Las Vegas.
read more here
After surviving Iraq

Soldier killed in Afghanistan had joined Army to help son

This is a family photo of Army Pfc. Russell Madden (left) with his father , Martin, after the younger Madden completed Army Airborne training.

Soldier killed in Afghanistan had joined Army to help son

Russell Madden was second Bellevue High Class of 2000 graduate to die in combat

BELLEVUE, KY. - When Russell Madden signed up for the Army two years ago, it was with one purpose – to provide medical care for his son.
Four-year-old Parker suffers from cystic fibrosis.

“Where he had been working he had no benefits or anything like that,” said Madden’s sister Lindsey Madden, “so he joined because he knew that Parker would always be taken care of no matter what.”

Madden’s family learned Wednesday night that the 29-year-old Bellevue High School graduate had been killed in Afghanistan. Madden, a private first class, died that morning when his convoy was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade, his sister said.
read more here
Soldier killed in Afghanistan had joined Army to help son

Law enforcement crisis negotiation class focuses on military

There was a time, not so long ago, when a veteran or his spouse would call police for help but end up regretting it. The outcome depended on how much the responding officers knew or what they just assumed. If they didn't know anything about what makes combat veterans different than your average citizen, they ended up arrested and charged instead of taken to VA hospitals. We've come a long way since then but this report showing how far we've come, also paints a picture of how far we have to go. Depending on where the veteran lives, they can be helped or harmed. I've traveled to many states over the years and whenever I can, I ask officers what they know about PTSD. Depending on the state, the answer range from they are fully involved, or they don't have a clue. Programs like this need to be replicated across the nation since all states are faced with crisis among the National Guards and Reservists. This needs to happen if far more than military towns.

This was sent by Lily at Healing Combat Trauma

Law enforcement crisis negotiation class focuses on military, PTSD
June 22, 2010 3:32 AM
A 40-year-old New River Marine staff sergeant calls 911 on a day in late November 2007, warning police he had a gun and stood with it outside the home of his estranged wife. After hours of negotiations and a burst of gunfire, the Marine lay dead with two bullets in his chest, a tragedy that would be classified “police-assisted suicide,” or suicide by cop.

The case of Neil Manson is just one of a number of case studies law enforcement personnel reviewed during a two-day crisis negotiation class held this week at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville. Prompted by a recommendation from Jacksonville police chief Mike Yaniero, this course had a special focus on negotiations with individuals, particularly military service members, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The class included law enforcement from across the state as well as military officials, provost marshals and officials from the state and federal bureaus of investigation: 90 attendees and 130 participants total, officials said.

“We have to be better equipped to deal with these types of situations,” Yaniero said. “Giving us the tools to understand it better will help us deal with it more effectively.”
read more here
Law enforcement crisis negotiation class focuses on military

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How did we get to PTSD awareness day?

Maybe you thought it was strange that this is PTSD Awareness Day, but a PTSD blog has been silent. I've been busy editing a video I shot yesterday about a fantastic group out of Orlando, Semper Fidelis and how they are getting ready to go to the Orlando VA to have a 4th of July Cookout with over 200 patients and employees there.

We seem to always forget how we get to where we are simply because while the media may report on the bad stuff, and usually it ends up helping as with PTSD, but in the process, they ignore a lot of good work being done. This country is full of regular people stepping up to make this country a better place but you'd never know most of them. What you do end up knowing is the results of their hard work when things change for the better. As with Semper Fidelis, no one knew who they were or what they've been doing all this time. I was even shocked to find out as much as I did. (Check back tomorrow for the videos on this interview.)

The best part about being involved in working toward helping the veterans, aside for meeting the veterans themselves, are the people who worked so hard to get us to a day set aside to raise awareness for PTSD.

One of the reasons we got here is Lily Casura. She has worked so hard without recognition but had it not been for people like her, this day wouldn't have happened. What you don't know about Lily is that reporters have used her worked and never bothered to even thank her or mention her. Other people jumped on stories she worked for hours on just so they could claim it for themselves. Over the years, she's wondered why she has worked so hard but will never give up because her heart is dedicated to helping our veterans. She's simply an amazing woman and I've very proud to call her my friend. Well, it looks as if Lily had finally gotten some big time support from the Founder of Craigslist with a post on the Huffington Post.

When you read it, understand that had it not been for people like Lilly and my other friend Paul Sullivan over at Veterans for Common Sense, and a lot of other groups pushing to make change happen, there wouldn't be a day to mention at all. Just a lot more endless hopeless days for a lot more veterans and their families.

Bravo Lily! I adore you even more!

Craig Newmark
Founder of Craigslist
Posted: June 26, 2010 04:51 PM
"Healing combat trauma" and "The Brain at War"
Okay, people are supporting the troops in ways that are deeply important, in ways that as a country, we got a lot of work to do. There are physical injuries that even I can understand, but beyond that, there's traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the invisible damage to troops, like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)

Recently the NCIRE and The Veterans Health Research Institute, ran the "The Brain at War" conference, which I attended briefly. (I'm not very tough, and this stuff is hard to hear.) This was all about helping vets deal with these real problem. I don't really understand a lot, so I'll get out of the way, and hear from someone with real expertise.

Check out Healing Combat Trauma and specifically, "The Brain at War" Conference in San Francisco:click link for the rest of this

Or you could go to my friend Lily's site and read the great work she's been doing.

June 27, 2010 is "National PTSD Awareness Day"
Amazingly enough -- and suddenly, because the U.S. Senate just passed it -- tomorrow is "National PTSD Awareness Day." Even MORE amazingly, the text of the resolution is very veteran-focused (yippee!).
Here's the full text of the bill. Enjoy! My only quibble is that the numbers seem a little on the low side, but mebbe not. (Actually, the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense, led by veteran and former VA bureaucrat, Paul Sullivan, lists the numbers as much higher. See link here for current information.)
And, of course, a focus on treatment through integrative medicine would also be nice. It alludes to, but does not mention directly MST (military sexual trauma), which plagues women and men in the Armed Forces AND which unfortunately also leads directly to PTSD. The combination is often too much to bear. With all those caveats, it's still a great bill, and we appreciate any and all emphasis on the topic, as beneficial to veterans, their loved ones, their caregivers, decision-makers, and the general larger community of humankind.

click the link above for more

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anger counselor gets jail after getting angry and pulling gun on US Marshals?

Some people never learn what they end up teaching. Priest? Ok, ex-priest. Must not have learned what Christ taught. Then a counselor trying to teach people to control their own anger but couldn't control his own?

Anger counselor who pulled out gun gets jail
Friday, June 25, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former priest and anger-management counselor who pulled a gun in a traffic dispute on two men who happened to be U.S. Marshals has been sentenced to a year in prison. Fifty-seven-year-old Jose Luis Avila of Annandale pleaded guilty earlier this year in U.S. District Court to assaulting a federal officer.
read more here
Anger counselor who pulled out gun gets jail

Rolling Stone broke interview ground rules?

Is it really a matter of a report hearing something and reporting on it or is it the fact these things were said?

One good question that has not been asked is; If McChrystal really felt the things he said, did it end up hurting the operations in Afghanistan? He was in charge and along with him, so were his subordinates. Did their bad attitude toward the President and his cabinet change their orders and planing?

It would be only human considering any one of us are influenced by the attitude we have toward our own bosses. McChrystal is only human after all so if he had a bad attitude, it very well could have been transferred onto the way he ran the military in Afghanistan.

As for the reporter letting the public know what was said, if they feel this way, then none of it should have been said in the first place. It isn't as if they didn't know who was listening.

Military official disputes Rolling Stone article
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
June 26, 2010 12:09 a.m. EDT

Mlitary official says some controversial comments were off-the-record
Official does not dispute the comments, however
Magazine says it followed the rules, did due diligence
Washington (CNN) -- In the Rolling Stone article that got him fired, Gen. Stanley McChrystal says of the aides who surround him "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me." But the military men around McChrystal are now silent.

Not one of those anonymously quoted has come forward, according to a source close to the general. No one has acknowledged they told Rolling Stone McChrystal thought President Barack Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" in his first meeting with military brass or that the general was personally "disappointed" after a meeting with the commander-in-chief.

It's no surprise he never claimed he was misquoted, several military sources who personally know McChrystal told CNN. They say, despite his fatal mistake in judgment, it is in his character to take sole responsibility for the inappropriate statements and command atmosphere.
read more hereMilitary official disputes Rolling Stone article

Military: Rolling Stone broke interview ground rules
A command review of events has concluded that McChrystal was betrayed when the journalist quoted banter among the general and his staff, much of which they thought was off the record. They contend that the magazine inaccurately depicted the attribution ground rules for the interviews.
The 30 questions Rolling Stone's fact-checker sent to McChrystal's aide

Petraeus will review controversial rules of engagement
Gen. David Petraeus will review and possibly modify the controversial rules of engagement for U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he assumes command of the mission there, a spokesman for the general said Friday.
Petraeus may soon find Afghanistan is no Iraq
What do you think: Are combat rules in Afghanistan putting U.S. lives in danger?

Troops in Afghanistan react to McChrystal's firing 11:46 June 24, 2010

Army Supports Wounded Warriors' Children


Army Supports Wounded Warriors' Children

(NAPSI)-Children face significant challenges when a soldier returns from war with severe injuries. After the stress of parents' deployment, the recovery process can last for years, deeply affecting children.

Sometimes they have to travel to the hospital where the parents recover, changing schools and leaving their friends behind. Sometimes they watch their parents learn to walk or talk all over again. Sometimes their parents are angry and anxious as they cope with the post-traumatic stress that often follows combat.

The U.S. Army recognizes the impact of these challenges and is taking proactive steps to help families.

Each year, the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) hosts a symposium where wounded soldiers, veterans and their families gather to prioritize the top challenges facing the wounded warrior community. During the weeklong event, the children ages 6 to 17 attend Operation Purple®, an urban adventure camp hosted by the National Military Family Association.

"For the first time, I didn't feel alone," said 12-year-old Savannah Cramblett, whose mother sustained significant injuries while on active duty in Iraq. "My friends at school don't understand what my family is going through, but the kids at Operation Purple® camp did. I enjoyed the horseback riding, trip to Sea World and even swimming. These are memories, I will never forget."
read more here

Battle Company: Loving Life, Making War

Battle Company: Loving Life, Making War
Published: June 25, 2010
“Restrepo,” a documentary that sticks close to a company of American soldiers during a grueling 14-month tour of duty in an especially dangerous part of Afghanistan, is an impressive, even heroic feat of journalism. Not that the filmmakers — Sebastian Junger, an adventurous reporter perhaps best known as the author of “The Perfect Storm,” and Tim Hetherington, a photographer with extensive experience in war zones — call attention to their own bravery. They stay behind the portable high- and standard-definition video cameras, nimble flies on a wall that is exposed to a steady barrage of bullets.

Hanging out with the members of Battle Company in their hilltop outposts in the Korangal Valley between May 2007 and July 2008, Mr. Junger and Mr. Hetherington recorded firefights, reconnaissance missions, sessions of rowdy horseplay and hours of grinding boredom. Afterward, when the tour was done, the filmmakers conducted interviews in which the soldiers tried to make sense of what they had done and seen. There is nothing especially fancy or innovative here, just a blunt, sympathetic, thorough accounting of the daily struggle to stay alive and accomplish something constructive.
read more here
Loving Life Making War

Lakeland Florida gunfight leaves two deputies wounded, suspect dead

Lakeland gunfight leaves two deputies wounded, suspect dead
By Danny Valentine, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Jun 25, 2010 05:55 AM
LAKELAND — Two Polk County sheriff's deputies were shot multiple times in an early-morning gunfight with a suspected prowler Friday.

The unidentified suspect was killed but the two deputies are expected to recover, authorities said.

Deputy Paul Fairbanks III, 58, was shot in the stomach and left arm and was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for surgery.

Deputy Michael Braswell, 32, was shot in the extremities, deputies said. He was taken to the same hospital for treatment.

Both deputies were wearing bullet-proof vests.
read more here
Lakeland gunfight leaves two deputies wounded

Family mourns loss of son, a Marine

Family mourns loss of son, a Marine
Updated: Friday, 25 Jun 2010, 5:49 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 25 Jun 2010, 5:49 PM EDT

Lorey Schultz
Posted by: Eli George
NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A dedicated Marine from North Tonawanda has made his final journey home. The body of Lance Corporal Timothy Serwinowski arrived at the Niagara Falls Air Base Friday morning as his heartbroken family looked on.

The body of Marine Lance Cpl. Timothy Serwinowski arrived, the latest casualty of war. Friday morning, he returned home to a hero's welcome. His heartbroken family linked arms and huddled close as fellow Marines carried his flag draped casket; his dog tag hung loosely. It was an emotional moment for everyone at the air base.

Patriot Guard Riders of NY member Joseph Shiah said, "It's getting more difficult. Every one is difficult. The Ride Captains get to know the families well, and it's like they're part of our family."

The 21-year-old North Tonawanda native was on patrol in Afghanistan Monday when fatally wounded by a sniper's bullet.
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New details on toxic water at Camp Lejeune

Lejeune details under new study

BY BARBARA BARRETT - Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- A congressional oversight committee has begun looking into new details about historic water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Investigators in the House Science and Technology Committee have requested hundreds of documents from the state of North Carolina that include details about underground storage tanks buried across the Marine base in past decades. The tanks contained fuel, tricholorethylene (TCE) and other chemicals.

Some of the storage tanks leaked into the groundwater, including some buried about 300 feet from a drinking well. The well was found in 1984 to be contaminated with benzene, a fuel component and a human carcinogen. It was closed in December 1984.

McClatchy has obtained the state of North Carolina documents and reported Friday that federal scientists have learned of the leaking fuel tanks near the historic well as they, too, work to understand the health effects of decades of contamination across the Marine base.

The tanks were buried beneath a former refueling station known as Building 1115; they were removed in 1993.

"That water was stunningly contaminated," said U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, chairman of the oversight panel on the science and technology committee. "It was stunningly toxic, and the fact that Marines and their families drank that water for 30 years is inexcusable."

Read more: Lejeune details under new study

Former Marine Recalls Feeling Forgotten On 60th Anniversary of Korean War

On 60th Anniversary of Korean War, Former Marine Recalls Feeling 'Forgotten'
Written by Jennifer Moore
Friday, 25 June 2010

The Korean War began 60 years ago Friday when North Korea invaded the South.

President Truman was in his home in Independence, Missouri, when his Secretary of State delivered the news. Within a few short weeks, US Troops were preparing to come to the defense of South Korea, even though war was never officially declared. One soldier who was among them was a young Marine by the name of Clifford Auberry. On Friday, he joined KSMU's Jennifer Moore by phone in Springfield.

Auberry went to Korea just a few months after the invasion in 1950, and he stayed through 1951.

"Well, I was a Marine, and I was pretty proud to go over there. But I felt like we were forgotten over there," he said.

"We didn't have equipment. We didn't have food. And other than our folks, we didn't hear from anybody," Auberry said.

He made two major landings in amphibious tanks, and said South Korea was "pretty well shot up" by the time US troops got there.

I asked him what emotions he feels when he hears the Korean War referred to as the "Forgotten War."

"Well, it's not very good emotions. We felt that way when we were over there. Only our families seemed to be the only ones who knew we were in Korea. And they said it wasn't really a war, that it was a police action," he recalls.
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Paws for Vets founder knew what PTSD felt like

Michele Malloy lost her 11 week old grandson when he died suddenly. That trauma changed everything she was feeling inside, as well as her outlook on the future. In a way, she ended up knowing what PTSD feels like. She also did something about it after discovering something that helped her heal. She started Paws for Vets because she knew what pain felt like.

That's really the biggest point here. We can all understand what the veterans are going through by remember what we felt like after a life altering event in our own lives.

A family member dying suddenly.
A life threatening event, an accident or the worry of having medical diagnosis like cancer.

One minute your life is pretty much laid out and your have your routine. You get up at the same time every morning and start your day the same way everyday. The people in your life are always expected to be there doing what they always do. Each day, there are parts of our lives we just expect to be there but when suddenly the routine and "normal" parts of our lives are gone, it is shocking and traumatic. Everything inside of skin is put into a tailspin because you know nothing will ever be the same way again.

Well, this is what PTSD begins with. Life changing events that are extreme and usually multiple events piled one on another. When you are a combat veteran, you have the usual things happen just like everyone else, but you also have to try to heal from the events that happen in war. Michele Malloy is one of those rare people able to take their own pain and do some good for others.

Michele Malloy, who founded Paws for Vets, holds Ginger. "From the moment I got her — from the moment even that I knew about her — I started feeling better, " says Malloy, who was in despair after the death of an infant grandson. (GEORGE SKENE, ORLANDO SENTINEL / June 24, 2010)

For wounded warriors, Orlando nonprofit brings healing on a leash

By Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel

June 26, 2010

By the time Jason Jensen returned from his last deployment in Iraq, he already knew something was wrong. Physically, the marine had escaped the sniper fire and roadside bombing attempts that punctuated daily life, but he was not the same man who had enlisted at age 29.

Now 44, he was edgy, anxious and hyper-vigilant. He could never let himself relax, and he had no patience for the petty grievances his subordinates would bring to him. For that matter, he didn't want to deal with people at all, sometimes even his own wife and children.

Then he met Yahtzee, a 2-year-old German shepherd.

"I wasn't really a dog person," Jensen admits. "But Yahtzee has been a real blessing. Just being around him calms me down."

Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and anger issues, Jensen is one of a handful of soldiers being helped by a new nonprofit organization founded by an Orlando woman. Paws for Vets is her grassroots attempt to provide psychiatric service dogs, canine trainers and supplies to servicemen and women in need — to share with them the same profound healing a pup named Ginger once brought her.
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Orlando nonprofit brings healing on a leash