Monday, January 31, 2011

Fall River soldier dies at Fort Bragg

Fall River soldier dies at Fort Bragg

By Dan McDonald
Sunday, January 30, 201

FALL RIVER — Another city soldier has died, the fifth active serviceman hailing from Fall River to die in the last year.

Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason T. Pool, 51, died while undergoing a medical evaluation at Fort Bragg, N.C., his family was told early Saturday.

Pool was serving in the 101st Field Artillery unit. The Fall River native leaves behind his wife, Linda, his daughter, Elizabeth, and two grandchildren.

Manuel DaPonte, director of veterans services in Fall River, said the exact cause of death had yet to be determined. DaPonte said he did not know the specific date of Pool’s death. He said Pool was at Fort Bragg for a medical evaluation, but did not indicate what exactly Pool was being evaluated for.

DaPonte alluded to an ongoing military investigation into the death.

Pool served in the National Guard for more than 20 years, said DaPonte and most recently was deployed to Afghanistan from January 2010 to July 2010.
read more here
Fall River soldier dies at Fort Bragg

Thousands of soldiers return to long search for 'normal'

When I wrote my book For the Love of Jack self published in 2002, I wrote how our lives took on a "new normal" because living with PTSD is not part of the "normal" world most live in. Then again, most people are not combat veterans. What is "normal" for most people is not normal for veterans. How could it ever be? These men and women lived in a world few of others will ever know. Civilians do not know what it is like to have bombs blowing up, bullets being fired at them or what it is like to see a friend killed. We don't know what it is like even when we are married to a veteran but we know what all they went through does to them.
The fact PTSD is a normal reaction to the abnormal world of combat makes living with the aftermath normal for us. No matter if they return with full blown PTSD, mild PTSD or not, they come home changed. Every event in a person's life will change them to some degree. No one returns from combat unchanged.
Read the book and then see that while Iraq and Afghanistan are different from Vietnam, what the veterans and their families go through is not different. What is available is new and wonderful. The media reports open up a window to what was once a deep secret. As more and more veterans talk about the aftermath of combat, more and more will seek help to heal as well. As families like mine talk about successful marriages and what can be done to help, more will stay together and stop feeling hopeless. We celebrated our 26th anniversary last September. I can assure you that none of this is hopeless.

Thousands of soldiers return to long search for 'normal'
BACH upgrades staff, services for 101st Airborne

For the last year, more than 15,000 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division have been fighting hard on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Many have been involved in heavy combat, witnessing death and injury firsthand.

Soon they will come home, where life is relatively normal by the standards of American masses. They will be thrust back into the lives they left behind as fast as they were thrust into combat.

Kym Owens, a Fort Campbell spouse of more than eight years who now lives at Fort Hood, is well attuned to the reintegration process. Especially after the first time.

"I didn't honestly know what reintegration looked like," she said, and equated the distance she felt from her husband to the quality of their relationship.

"He wasn't ready to snuggle yet. ... I also took (his attitude and behavior) personal," she said.

Knowing that many soldiers and their families face similar struggles, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital has ramped up its services to prepare, and has given its new reintegration program a dry run with some 600 soldiers already back from Afghanistan. But it will be truly tested in the next few weeks as thousands more come home.

More services have been added, along with more people and a more comprehensive way to identify and track the soldiers who might be experiencing problems.
read more here
Thousands of soldiers return to long search for normal

Police search for gunman after Fort Bragg soldier shot on post

Fort Bragg soldier shot on post

FORT BRAGG (WTVD) -- A Fort Bragg solider was shot on post Sunday morning.

The shooting happened near Yadkin Road and Stabo Loop in Fayetteville around 3:00 am.

Authorities say a 23-year-old soldier, was traveling on Yadkin Rd, when someone in a silver Impala fired numerous rounds into his vehicle. The solider was struck in the arm and taken to Womack Army Medical Center for treatment.
read more here
Fort Bragg soldier shot on post

Slain Tampa Palms children remembered fondly

Slain Tampa Palms children remembered fondly by neighbors, in schools

By Jessica Vander Velde, Robbyn Mitchell and Ileana Morales, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, January 29, 2011

TAMPA — Julie Schenecker was sick of her teenage children talking back to her, police say, so last week she bought a .38-caliber pistol and planned their murder and her suicide.

She shot her 13-year-old son Thursday evening after driving him home from soccer practice. Then she walked upstairs and shot her 16-year-old daughter in the back of the head as she did homework, an arrest affidavit states.

With their blood on her clothing, the 50-year-old mother remained at the Tampa Palms house all night. Police didn't arrive until the next morning, after Schenecker's mother called them from Texas, worried because she couldn't reach her daughter, whom she believed was depressed.

Schenecker admitted to killing her children, Calyx Schenecker, 16, and Powers Beau Schenecker, 13, police said. She showed no remorse.

Though Schenecker cooperated Friday, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said no explanation could help people truly understand why it happened.

"She did tell us that they talked back and they were mouthy," she said.

The children's father, Army Col. Parker Schenecker, 48, was informed Friday that his wife killed their children, McElroy said. He is stationed at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base and was in the Middle East.
read more here
Slain Tampa Palms children remembered fondly

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wanted: vintage war photographs circa Vietnam era

If you are like my husband you have a couple of albums somewhere. Would be great to contribute some to this effort.

Vietnam War: A picture's worth a thousand words

By Michael Futch
Staff writer

Wanted: vintage war photographs from home and abroad, circa Vietnam era.

Cape Fear Studios has put out a call to Vietnam veterans and their families for wartime photography. As envisioned, select pictures from those submitted will be presented as a series of exhibits in conjunction with the Heroes Homecoming celebration in November.

Fayetteville leaders are planning the Heroes Homecoming over the 10 days leading up to Veterans Day. The celebration, which will include an agenda of community observances, will honor the Vietnam War veterans.
read more here
A picture's worth a thousand words

Father and son Iraq veterans help each other after brain injuries

Father, son help each other after brain injuries

The Associated Press

Sunday, January 30, 2011; 1:00 PM
MOORPARK, Calif. -- The crisply ironed uniforms of the father and son hang side by side in what they have dubbed the "Marine Corps closet," a dark space filled with vestiges of their tours of duty.

Two Purple Hearts. A backpack full of medical records.

The father is David R. Franco; the son is David W. Aside from the name, they share so much: proud service in Iraq, and a haunting, painful aftermath.

Both survived blasts by improvised explosive devices, and both have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. They fight pain daily. They are jittery in crowds at the mall. They have memory lapses. The father has struggled to spell "the" or "to," while his son searches for words in a conversation.

Their injuries came three years apart. The elder Franco was still struggling to come to grips with his own suffering when he learned that his son had been injured in the same way.

"My heart dropped," said the father. "As a parent you want your kids to be safe. You don't want them to go through the same things you've been through."
read more here
Father and son help each other after brain injuries

Bachmann discovers targeting veterans not a good idea

In a lame attempt to defend Bachmann, Doug Sachtleben, (Bachmann's spokesman) said "Congresswoman Bachmann is not advocating for veterans' benefits to be abolished. She has always said that our nation must properly care for its heroes," but she was not saying she wanted to abolish the VA. She may say it but never proves it.  She was saying the veterans are not worth what they are getting. The same thing the rest of us have. Get hurt on the job and you get Workman's Comp plus Social Security Disability. Instead of Workman's Comp veterans get VA Comp. This statement was not defending what she wanted to do. What does she think proper care of our heroes is? Is it telling them their benefits are open to be slashed because she doesn't feel like paying them? Is it telling them that tax cuts for the rich should be funded off their backs? Maybe now people will finally see that when a politician says one thing but does another, it's what they do that really matters. Talk of supporting the troops and veterans is cheap and when they pull something like this, they show how little they really do value the "heroes" they say they care about. Her own spokesman couldn't even defend her properly. If she really thought this was the right thing to do, her spokesman should have defended her reasons to do it instead of twisting it around. Not that it would have made this right but it would have at least shown she believes in what she says.

House of Representatives
Bachmann Takes Heat From Veterans' Group for Proposing Benefits Cuts
Published January 29, 2011
Conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann is taking heat from the nation's largest combat veterans' organization for proposing, as part of a broad list of spending cuts, a combination of reductions and caps in veterans' benefits.

"No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress," Richard Eubank, head of Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in a written statement released Friday.

The Minnesota Republican congresswoman, who is positioning herself as a leading critic of the Obama administration in the wake of the midterm elections, earlier this week outlined $400 billion worth of possible spending cuts. The plan projected huge savings from drastic measures like abolishing the Department of Education, overhauling farm subsidies and eliminating a host of Justice Department grants and programs.

Tucked into the outline was $4.5 billion in cuts targeting veterans. She proposed capping increases for health care spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs and cutting disability payments "to account for (Social Security) disability payments."

Reached for comment, Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben told in an e-mail that Bachmann is not pushing a "budget plan" and "has not introduced legislation to cut veterans benefits."

"Congresswoman Bachmann is not advocating for veterans' benefits to be abolished. She has always said that our nation must properly care for its heroes," he said.

Rather, Sachtleben described the proposal as a "list of suggested cuts to open things up for discussion" on how to reduce the nation's $14 trillion debt.

Mission accomplished.

Eubank called the pitch for veterans' payment cuts "totally out of step with America's commitment to our veterans."

"There are certain things you do not do when our nation is at war, and at the top of that list is not caring for our wounded and disabled servicemen and women when they return home," he said in a statement, urging Bachmann to tour a Minneapolis VA medical center and trauma center.

"The day this nation can't afford to take care of her veterans is the day this nation should quit creating them," he said.

Read more: Bachmann Takes Heat From Veterans' Group
For more on this

Bachmann tells veterans you aren't worth it

Disabled veterans decry wrongheaded, heartless cuts

Saturday, January 29, 2011

5 Student Chaplains make the news on PTSD?

While this sounds like it could be a good idea, there is a problem with this. Why is a program that graduated ONE student last year and only has four more making so much news? Is this a PR move by the Air Force or by Iliff School? This has already been covered on this blog but has been picked up by many more as if it is a huge story but when we're talking about a total of 5 students, it shouldn't be getting nearly as much attention as it is. Even the Huffington Post picked this up from AP

Air Force chaplains enlist theology school in effort to help service members with PTSD
Associated Press
January 29, 2011, 4:06 p.m.
"If they were leading worship where people have come to a Christian service of worship, of course they would lead out of their own tradition," she said of the chaplains. "Or if they're leading a prayer before troops go on a mission and the troops have volunteered to come to that prayer, they would use their own traditions."

But when people go to a chaplain for help with post-traumatic stress or other issues, they want someone who respects their views and won't try to impose other beliefs on them, she said. (Chaplain Matt Boarts)
DENVER (AP) — A Colorado theology school is teaching Air Force chaplains to consider the religious beliefs of servicemen and women to better help them cope with post-traumatic stress.

The goal is to build trust so a chaplain can encourage service members to draw on their individual concepts of God and spirituality, said Carrie Doehring, an associate professor of pastoral care at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.

Doehring helped develop the one-year program for the Air Force, which wanted another way for its chaplains to respond to the stress of deployments amid two protracted wars.

Doehring said she believes it's the only program of its kind in the country.

One student graduated last year and four are enrolled this year.

read more here
Air Force chaplains enlist theology school

FBI Arrests Alleged Phony SF Colonel

FBI Arrests Alleged Phony SF Colonel

January 25, 2011|by Bryant Jordan
A man who claimed to be a retired Green Beret colonel and an expert in the international sex-slave trade has been arrested in Maryland by the FBI.
An FBI spokeswoman said William G. "Bill" Hillar was charged with mail fraud in connection with a scheme to use bogus military and academic credentials toward teaching and training employment.
For years Hillar allegedly scammed universities, non-profit groups and law enforcement organizations by claiming his daughter was kidnapped by human traffickers in Asia and that he spent months in a failed effort to rescue her. He parlayed his “expertise” and faux Army Special Forces career into thousands of dollars in teaching and lecture fees.
read more here
FBI Arrests Alleged Phony SF Colonel

Deployed Colonel’s wife killed son and daughter in Tampa FL hospitalized

O-6’s wife hospitalized after arrest for deaths
By Tamara Lush - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jan 29, 2011 11:59:44 EST
TAMPA, Fla. — The woman who authorities say killed her teenage daughter and son because she was fed up with them talking back and being mouthy will not appear in court Saturday because she’s being treated at a hospital for an unknown condition.

Authorities say Julie Powers Schenecker was taken to Tampa General Hospital shortly after midnight Saturday to be treated for a medical condition that existed before she was taken to jail. Hillsborough Sheriff’s deputies — who oversee jail inmates — said they could not reveal Schenecker’s medical condition, citing health care privacy laws.

An arrest affidavit said Schenecker shot her son twice in the head in the family car “for talking back” as she drove him to soccer practice. The report said Schenecker then drove to their upscale home and shot her daughter in the face inside the home.
click link for more

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced For Using Deployed Marine's ID

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced For Using Deployed Marine's ID
By Metro Source News
Fri 07:53 AM 01/28/2011
A Mexican national who was in the country illegally has been sentenced to one year in prison for using the stolen identity of a U.S. Marine deployed to the Middle East.
read more here
Illegal Immigrant Sentenced For Using Deployed Marine's ID

Gay Marine’s husband surprised at respect shown by Naval Academy

Gay Marine’s husband surprised at respect shown by Naval Academy
Neil steinberg Jan 29, 2011

John Fliszar had a heart attack in 2006 and was rushed to Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

“When I was in the emergency room with him, he asked me to promise him, if he died, to make sure his ashes were interred in the Naval Academy,” said Mark Ketterson. “He loved that place. He very much wanted to be there.”

Fliszar, a Marine aviator who served two tours in Vietnam, survived that heart attack. But last July the Albany Park resident suffered another one that killed him at age 61.

Hoping to fulfill Fliszar’s wishes, Ketterson contacted the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and told them that Fliszar, Class of ’71, had wanted to have his ashes interred at the USNA’s Columbarium, a serene white marble waterside crypt next to the school’s cemetery.

The memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband.

“They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation,” Ketterson recalled. “They said they’re going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, ‘Are you listed on the death certificate?’ ‘Do you have a marriage license?’ ”

He was and they did, the couple having been married in Des Moines when gay marriage became legal in Iowa two years ago.

Ketterson sent a copy of the marriage license. That changed everything.

“I was respected,” he said. “From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.”
read more here
Gay Marine’s husband surprised at respect shown by Naval Academy

Michelle Obama honors military families on Oprah

Michelle Obama honors military families on Oprah

Associated Press
January 27, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama urged Americans during an episode of the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that aired on Thursday to offer more support for the country's military families.

"There are things as a nation we can do big and small," Obama said during the episode, which was taped on Jan. 21. "And it's not a difficult thing to do."

The first lady has become an advocate for military families has traveled to military installations to talk with service members about their needs and concerns and has urged Americans to volunteer time to help them. On Thursday, she visited the Army's largest training post at Fort Jackson outside Columbia, S.C., and said the military's new exercise regimen and healthier foods could be a model for others across the U.S.

Her appearance on Winfrey's show comes after President Barack Obama announced new government-wide initiatives to support military families, including programs aimed at preventing suicide and homelessness.
read more here
Michelle Obama honors military families on Oprah

For other stories from this program and more on Oprah go here
The Bravest Families in America

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vietnam Vet John Wheeler died from "blunt force trauma

Official: Pentagon official died from blunt force trauma after assault
January 28th, 2011
From CNN's Allan Chernoff

Former Pentagon official John Wheeler died from "blunt force trauma after being assaulted," according to the Delaware medical examiner.
Pentagon official died from blunt force trauma after assault

Deployed Colonel’s wife killed son and daughter in Tampa FL

Police: Colonel’s wife killed son and daughter
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 28, 2011 17:04:13 EST
TAMPA, Fla. — The wife of an Army colonel was charged Friday with fatally shooting her teenage son and daughter after police found the mother covered in blood on the back porch of her home in an upscale Tampa suburb, police said.

Julie Powers Schenecker admitted to the slayings after police came to the home Friday morning, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. Schenecker's mother had called police from Texas because she was unable to reach the 50-year-old woman, whom she said was depressed.
Schenecker's husband, Parker Schenecker, is an Army colonel serving in Qatar and was notified of his children's deaths Friday, McElroy said.
read more here
Colonel’s wife killed son and daughter

Operation Safety 91 Tribute Event

Operation Safety 91 Tribute Event from Avalon Productions on Vimeo.

Unmarked graves found at veteran cemetery in Miss

Unmarked graves found at veteran cemetery in Miss.
VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Authorities said Thursday they fear dozens of veterans could lie in unmarked graves at a Mississippi military cemetery after they found two unidentified coffins and used radar to detect other possible plots.
The two coffins and other potential graves were found in sections of Vicksburg National Military Cemetery that were opened in the 1940s for World War I, World War II and Korean War veterans, National Park Service officials said at a news conference. The sprawling cemetery is the final resting place for more than 18,000 veterans, mostly Union soldiers from the Civil War.
The problems were discovered after workers preparing a burial site for a World War II veteran found a coffin in August. Another coffin was found nearby. The veteran was buried elsewhere in the cemetery and the graves were left alone, authorities said.
The cemetery stopped offering burials in 1961, except for veterans who had prior arrangements. There have been 109 burials since then.
The park service asked for help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which used ground-penetrating radar devices to search for graves. Those sites were then checked by pushing metal rods into the ground, which in several cases hit solid objects that could be coffins.
The National Park Service's Southeast Archaeological Center has also been helping. Officials said a preliminary analysis of their research identified "eight probable and 48 possible unmarked graves."
read more here
Unmarked graves found at veteran cemetery in Miss

Disabled Veterans Decry Wrongheaded, 'Heartless' Budget Cuts

News Release - Disabled Veterans Decry Wrongheaded, 'Heartless' Budget Cuts

If Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) wanted to make a name for herself by proposing to cut funding for veterans health care and disability compensation, she has succeeded. "Such an ill-advised proposal is nothing short of heartless," according to Disabled American Veterans Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman.

"It is unconscionable that while our nation is at war someone would even think of forcing our wounded warriors to sacrifice even more than they already have," Gorman said. "Their injuries and disabilities were the result of their service to the nation, and our nation must not shirk its responsibilities toward them. How do you tell a veteran who has lost a limb that he or she has not sacrificed enough? Yet Rep. Bachmann wants to do just that."

The third-term member of Congress has called on Congress to freeze Department of Veterans Affairs health care spending and reduce disability compensation. Her proposal would cut $4.5 billion from veterans health care and disability benefits.

"Freezing VA health care funding will not only freeze out sick and disabled veterans seeking care, it will also end up costing the federal government even more money," said Gorman. "With the number of veterans seeking health care rising, the effect of a freeze would be to either block enrollment of veterans, many of them just returning from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to ration care to currently enrolled veterans, including disabled veterans who have relied on VA dating back to World War II," Gorman said.

Independent studies have shown the VA system provides safe, high quality health care at an average cost that is less than Medicare, Medicaid or the private sector. "This ill-conceived and misguided proposal by Rep. Bachmann would actually increase the budget deficit while lowering the quality of health care to our nation's veterans," he said.

"America's sick and disabled veterans will not sit idly by while their earned health care and disability benefits are threatened," Gorman warned. "We will raise our voices above the din and call on every member of Congress to reject Rep. Bachmann's heartless proposal."

Rep. Michele Bachmann tells veterans you are not worth the money

UPDATE 7:03 est
The more I think about this the more angry I get.
Let Bachmann tell him that he doesn't deserve the funds from Social Security he paid into while he recovers along with losing both his legs in service to this country.
Or tell Carmelo Rodriquez who died of cancer after exposures in combat that he didn't earn the funds.
Or to Joshua Cope

Tell that to the men and women in this video that while the rest of us pay into the system with our money and expect to get help when we need it, they don't have the same right. Tell them that while we do a lot of talking about how much we love this country, these men and women loved it so much they were willing to die for it.

This is from Social Security

How Workers’ Compensation And Other Disability Payments May Affect Your Benefits
SSA Publication No. 05-10018, March 2010, ICN 454500 (En EspaƱol) [View .pdf] [Audio.mp3]
Disability payments from private sources, such as private pension or insurance benefits, do not affect your Social Security disability benefits.
However, workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits may reduce your Social Security benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. They may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers or by insurance companies on behalf of employers.
Other public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefit are those paid by a federal, state or local government and are for disabling medical conditions that are not job-related. Examples are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.
If you receive workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled.

Some public benefits do not affect your Social Security disability benefits
If you receive Social Security disability benefits and one of the following types of public benefits,
your Social Security benefit will not be reduced:
Veterans Administration benefits;
State and local government benefits, if Social Security taxes were deducted from your earnings; or
Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Thank you Veterans For Common Sense!
An email from them came with news from Michele Bachmann's site saying the plan is to cut off veterans and turn them over to Social Security. This at the same time the Republican folks are talking about wanting to make Social Security cuts and privatize it.


Cap increases in Department of Veterans Affairs health care spending, and reduce disability compensation to account for SS disability payments. Reduce Veterans’ Disability Compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments. $4.5 Billion

What Bachmann doesn't seem to understand is that troops are sent to war by politicians and act on behalf of the nation. THEY ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THIS NATION no matter if she likes it or not. If she doesn't think they are worth taking care of, then this woman shouldn't be where she is. How do the people of Minnesota feel about having her in congress when they have had so many serving in Iraq and Afghanistan while she wants to deny them care?

From the Disabled American Veterans
News Release - Disabled Veterans Decry Wrongheaded, 'Heartless' Budget Cuts

From Army Times

Bachmann plan would cut veterans benefits

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jan 28, 2011 5:30:31 EST
Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits.

Her proposed VA budget cuts would account for $4.5 billion of the savings included in the plan, posted on her official House of Representatives website.

Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, said cutting veterans’ health care spending is an ill-advised move at a time when the number of veterans continues to grow as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Sullivan said he finds it difficult to see how VA could freeze health care costs without hurting veterans.

“It is really astonishing to see this,” he said.

In a statement, Bachmann said her plan is intended for discussion purposes as an example of ways to cut federal spending to make it unnecessary to increase the current $14.3 trillion limit on the amount the U.S. government can borrow.

The debt ceiling will be reached sometime in March, according to economic forecasts, but many lawmakers — especially members of the tea party movement — have been talking about cutting federal spending either instead of, or as part of, a move to increase the debt limit.
Her list of cuts doesn’t explain the impact of freezing veterans’ health care funding, but the Congressional Budget Office said in a report issued in October that health care costs have been quickly increasing. VA’s health care budget was $44 billion in 2009, $48 billion in 2010 and is at $52 billion this year. The report forecasts a health care budget of $69 billion or higher by 2020 if trends continue, the report estimates.

Bachmann’s idea of cutting costs by reducing veterans’ disability compensation by the amount received in Social Security Disability Income is not new. The proposal, which would affect more than 150,000 veterans, has long been on a list of possible budget options prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, which describes the option as a way to “eliminate duplicate payment of public compensation for a single disability.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

10th Mountain Division 1st Lt. David Provencher Earns Silver Star

Ellenville High School grad earns Silver Star for heroism in Afghanistan
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freeman staff

An Ellenville man fighting in the war in Afghanistan has been awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Provencher of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team received the medal Wednesday during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. He is an infantry platoon leader with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment.

Provencher, a 1999 graduate of Ellenville High School, has been credited with saving the lives of three wounded soldiers and refusing to leave two others who were mortally wounded during heavy combat on June 16, 2010.
read more here
Ellenville High School grad earns Silver Star for heroism in Afghanistan

Vietnam Veteran Loses Insurance Over Two Cents

Vietnam Veteran Loses Insurance Over Two Cents

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Photo Courtesy - KMGH-TV
(THORNTON, Colo.) -- What can make the difference between receiving a potentially lifesaving surgery or not? For Vietnam veteran Ronald Flanagan, Ceridian Cobra Services determined it's two cents.

Flanagan has multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow, which he has been fighting since September 2008. He now needs a third stem cell transplant surgery but had lost his health coverage over a two-cent error.

Ceridian Cobra Services, an insurance benefits administrator, dropped Ron Flanagan after his wife, Frances Flanagan, said she mistakenly substituted a seven for a nine when she paid their monthly health insurance premium of $328.69 online.

"If I only had just hit the 9 instead of the 7," Frances Flanagan told ABC News' Denver affiliate, KMGH-TV. "Everybody we talk to is very surprised that 2 cents is enough to do this."

What two cents was able to undo, ABC News was able to help redo. When ABC News called Ceridian to comment on the story the company delivered unexpected news.
read more here
Vietnam Veteran Loses Insurance Over Two Cents

UK:10 a day are now being treated for psychological problems

Ten troops a day suffer mental health problems in fight against Taliban

by Chris Hughes, Daily Mirror 24/01/2011

THE war on terror is taking its toll on the mental state of British troops with a dramatic rise in the number seeking psychiatric help.
Worrying new figures have revealed 10 a day are now being treated for psychological problems as a result of the bitter fight with the Taliban.
The daily threat of roadside bombs, fierce gun battles and seeing comrades killed or horrifically maimed in the blood and dust of Afghanistan has led to a steep increase in the number of personnel suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
But experts claim many troops hit by mental illness do not present with any symptoms until many years after the incidents that triggered the problems.
A report for the Government by former navy doctor and Tory MP Andrew Murrison calls for serving personnel to be screened for signs of psychiatric disorders in a bid to prevent chronic illness later.
MoD figures show the number of troops with mental health issues was last year up 28% on the year before while those with PTSD had risen by a shocking 72%. Military charity SSAFA Forces Help said: “It is not surprising the intense nature of current and recent operations is resulting in an increase in mental health issues amongst those who have deployed.

Read more:
Ten troops a day suffer mental health problems

Stunning Numbers of Veterans Suffer Psychological Problems, With No Support

This is what got me involved in all of this back in 1982. No support for far too many. Back then it was all about Vietnam Veterans. It is heartbreaking to see that while we have come closer to getting it right, we have too far to go for anyone to relax on any of this.

Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) data show that up to 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of marines suffer from negative psychological symptoms.

Each time I read something like this I am taken back to the dark days when no one knew much of anything, PTSD was a secret to be kept along with everything else that came with it and families suffered in silence. I remember a time when there were no books written by veterans or their families, blogs had not even be thought of and support groups were hard to find. It was a time when I tried to explain all of this to my family but none of them could really understand, especially one of my brothers working in mental healthcare trying to get inner-city kids into college. He found great compassion for a kid growing up with gun violence around them but no compassion for a combat veteran with the same response to being in a violent situation such as war. Back then the best advice my family had was to get a divorce. They had no other response to give because they had no experience to fall back on.

So what's the excuse now? How many more years do we need of research to know that PTSD is real, causes lives to fall apart until there is an intervention and they are helped to heal? How many more years do we have to hear that the sooner they get help the more of their lives they can reclaim only to discover that the help they need is not where they need it to be when they need it to be ready?

Stunning Numbers of Veterans Suffer Psychological Problems, With No Support
Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.
Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University's schools of social work and public health
Posted: January 27, 2011 08:11 AM

Last week's report about suicides of military personnel is a reminder that our nation faces a formidable challenge to meet the mental health needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. Many are struggling with emotional turmoil and diagnosable mental and/or substance use disorders but are not getting the care they need and deserve.

Since October 2001, there have been over 2,000,000 deployments to combat theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 793,000 multiple deployments. With each deployment, service members encounter extreme stress, contributing to unprecedented rates of physical, mental and substance use disorders -- most notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction and traumatic brain injury (TBI) -- as well as high rates of suicide, homelessness and unemployment. Extended and repeated absences as well as personal changes among those who have experienced the dangers and horrors of war also take a psychological toll on their families.

Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) data show that up to 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of marines suffer from negative psychological symptoms. The Department of Defense recently reported elevated rates of major depression and substance abuse. There are also increased cases of traumatic brain injury.

Untreated psychological symptoms often result in self medication with alcohol and drugs. According to the American Forces Press Service, 21 percent of service members admit to drinking heavily, significantly higher than civilians. Drug abuse among returning service members has also increased. National Guard and Reserve troops also experience mental and substance use disorders at unprecedented rates. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports that as many as 1 in 4 experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Federal VA has taken steps to increase health and mental health services to veterans. However, over 85 percent of veterans do not access VA health care. Some cannot get access because of the limited capacity of the VA. For others VA facilities are too far away. For many the VA is not the preferred source of treatment. They return to civilian life, hopefully get jobs with health benefits, and use local health and mental health providers rather than the VA. This includes local primary care physicians and mental health professionals, community health centers and hospital-based clinics, mental health clinics, social services agencies, emergency rooms and inpatient services in local general hospitals.
read more here

Stunning Numbers of Veterans Suffer Psychological Problems

I keep going to meetings on PTSD when there are brainstorming questions floating around. I keep asking the same question but not getting any answer that makes sense. Why isn't anyone doing real proactive outreach? Veterans need to know what PTSD is and why their lives changed just as much as they need to know how they can help themselves heal. Families need to know what it is and why their veteran is acting the way they do so they can help them instead of having a negative response making it worse for the veteran and the family. Most of the time this question is not even an afterthought. Yet I know that had I not known what PTSD was, there is no way I would have been able to stick out the dark days so that we could still be together all these years later. It was damn near impossible to do it even knowing what all of this was so the likelihood of families not knowing anything of staying together is just about zilch.

So now we have veterans needing help, facing the fact they need help and reaching out for it, but it is not there. Over 9 years after troops were sent to Afghanistan and then to Iraq but there are still not enough people to take care of the veterans? Will there ever be enough?

Lt. Gen. David Fridovich puts troops first ahead of pride

When you think that Lt. Gen. David Fridovich could have kept this part of his life private but decided to put the troops ahead of his privacy, that is one remarkable man! He is not a low profile serviceman who would make a good local story but someone with a lot of power to make things happen. Just coming out and talking about this will do wonders for others making them think that if he's talking about it, they can too. If he healed, they can too. If he is not ashamed, they don't have to be either.

3-star opens up about battle with addiction

Army Lt. Gen. David Fridovich says that, for years, he has regularly consumed narcotics and painkillers to deal with chronic pain — and now he’s sharing his story
By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jan 26, 2011 21:38:59 EST
TAMPA, Fla. — Standing before a packed hall of 700 military doctors and medics here, the deputy commander of the nation’s elite special operations forces warned about an epidemic of chronic pain sweeping through the U.S. military after a decade of continuous war.

Be careful about handing out narcotic pain relievers, Lt. Gen. David Fridovich told the audience last month. “What we don’t want is that next generation of veterans coming out with some bad habits.”

What Fridovich didn’t say was that he was talking as much about himself as anyone.

For nearly five years, the Green Beret general quietly has been hooked on narcotics he has taken for chronic pain — a reflection of an addiction problem that is spreading across the military. Hospitalizations and diagnoses for substance abuse doubled among members of U.S. forces in recent years. This week, nurses and case managers at Army wounded care units reported that one in three of their patients are addicted or dependent on drugs.

“This is huge for Fridovich to be willing to talk about this as a three-star general,” says Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff. “We’re finally coming clean and admitting at all levels this is an issue.”

Fridovich says narcotics altered his personality, darkened his mood and management style, and strained his 35-year marriage.

When Fridovich finally went through treatment and detoxification to reduce his drug reliance in 2008 — he still relies on weaker doses of narcotics to combat pain — his wife, Kathy, hid or destroyed more potent pain pills so he could not use them.

read more here
3-star opens up about battle with addiction

Major Nidal Hasan ruled sane and fit for trial

Source: Alleged Hood Shooter Ruled Sane

January 26, 2011
Associated Press
The US Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in a shooting spree on a Texas army base has been ruled sane and thus fit for trial, a source familiar with the case said Tuesday.
The ruling by a group of medical experts, called a sanity board, opens the door for a court martial that could end in the execution of Major Nidal Hasan, who was paralyzed from the neck down during the November 5, 2009 massacre.
Neither prosecutors nor retired Army Colonel John Galligan, a veteran military lawyer representing Hasan, 40, would confirm the board's decision.
But Galligan suggested it went against his client, who worked at Fort Hood until the shooting.
"I'm not going to say what they ruled," he told AFP. "I would just say this: I don't think the report will be anything that will be an impediment to the charges from the government's perspective."
read more here
Alleged Hood Shooter Ruled Sane

Troops can't heal what they can't feel

Troops can’t heal what they can’t feel
January 27, 2011 posted by Chaplain Kathie
Drugs have one job and that is to get people to feel better. Antibiotics stop infections so that the body can take over and heal the wound. When it comes to PTSD, medications cover up the pain but too many times they cause more problems. When drugs are all that is used to fight PTSD, it isn’t giving troops a fair fighting chance to heal.
Army Trauma Unit’s Woes Detailed
Published: January 26, 2011
The Army units created to provide special care for wounded soldiers after the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal continue to struggle with short staffing, inadequate training and an overabundance of prescription medications, a report by the Army inspector general’s office said.
This is from the VA
Clinician’s Guide to Medications for PTSD
What is the evidence base for the specific groups of medications used for PTSD treatment?
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s). These medications are the only FDA approved medications for PTSD . SSRIs primarily affect the neurotransmitter serotonin which is important in regulating mood, anxiety, appetite, and sleep and other bodily functions. This class of medication has the strongest empirical evidence with well designed randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) and is the preferred initial class of medications used in PTSD treatment (1, 2). Exceptions may occur for patients based upon their individual histories of side effects, response, and comorbidities. An example of an exception would be a PTSD patient with comorbid Bipolar Disorder. In this patient, there is a risk of precipitating a manic episode with the SSRI’s. Each patient varies in their response and ability to tolerate a specific medication and dosage, so medications must be tailored to individual needs. Research has suggested that maximum benefit from SSRI treatment depends upon adequate dosages and duration of treatment. Treatment adherence is key to successful pharmacotherapy treatment for PTSD.

I have listed many medications and warnings.
Read more here
Troops can't heal what they can't feel

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UK: The New Prisoners of War

The New Prisoners of War


THE Sun can today reveal that the mental health scandal afflicting traumatised troops has led to a surge in the number of military heroes being sent to jail.
Having been denied help when they needed it most, more and more servicemen and women are turning to drink and drugs.

As many as 20,000 are in prison, on probation or parole, costing taxpayers £250million a year.

The shameful toll was revealed as The Sun's StresS.O.S. campaign gathered momentum. We demand that all troops returning from Afghanistan have an appointment with an independent psychiatrist, that payouts for mental health issues are in line with those for physical injuries and that an all-party body is set up to organise a unified method of treatment.

The MoD said yesterday that 3.5 per cent of the prison population is ex-Forces. Charities say this soars when you include those on probation, parole or community service.

Around 4,000 troops have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Here we reveal more horrific tales from battle-scarred soldiers.
read more here
The New Prisoners of War

WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Barney Hajiro passed away at 94

Medal of Honor Recipient Barney Hajiro Dies

January 25, 2011
Honolulu Advertiser
The nation's oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, Barney Hajiro, died Friday at Maunalani Hospital in Honolulu.
He was 94.
Hajiro had been awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses by the Army while serving with a rifle company in the 442 Regimental Combat Team during World War II in Europe.
One of those awards was upgraded to the Medal of Honor 46 years after the war ended at the urging of Sen. Daniel Akaka who authored congressional legislation requiring the Army to determine whether 22 Asian and Pacific Island Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross had not been properly recognized because of the war's anti-Japanese sentiment. Twenty, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, were members of the famed segregated Japanese American 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
During one of the 442nd's fiercest campaigns in dense forests of France's Vosges Mountains to free the towns of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, Hajiro on Oct. 29, 1944, led a charge on "Suicide Hill" drawing fire and single-handedly destroying two machine gun nests and killing two enemy snipers before being wounded by a third machine gun.
The effort by the nisei soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team's I and K companies to rescue Texas 36th Division's "Lost Battalion" is considered to be one of the key battles in U.S. Army history.
In a 2000 Star-Bulletin story, Hajiro discussed the battle before President Clinton hung the sky-blue ribbon that dangles a gold star around his neck at a special White House ceremony.
read more here
Medal of Honor Recipient Barney Hajiro Dies

A third of Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers addicted to painkillers

Report: A Third of WTU Soldiers Addicted
January 26, 2011
A U.S. military report says up to 35 percent of the 10,000 Soldiers in Warrior Transition Units are dependent or addicted to prescription painkillers.
An Army inspector general's report released Tuesday says 25 percent to 35 percent of the Soldiers assigned to the special wound-care companies -- established after the 2007 Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal -- "are over-medicated, abuse prescriptions and have access to illegal drugs" as they wait sometimes more than one year for a medical discharge, USA Today reported.
read more here
A Third of WTU Soldiers Addicted


Report: Many in wounded units ‘over-medicated’
Up to 35 percent of the 10,000 soldiers assigned to Warrior Transition Units are addicted or dependent on drugs, according to an inspector general’s report
By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Tuesday Jan 25, 2011 19:02:58 EST
Medical officials estimate that 25 percent to 35 percent of about 10,000 ailing soldiers assigned to special wounded-care companies or battalions are addicted or dependent on drugs — particularly prescription narcotic pain relievers, according to an Army inspector general’s report made public Tuesday.

The report also found that these formations known as Warrior Transition Units — created after reports detailed poorly managed care at Walter Reed Army Hospital — have become costly way stations where ill, injured or wounded soldiers can wait more than a year for a medical discharge.

Some soldiers have become so irate about the delays in leaving the Army that doctors, nurses and other medical staff say they have been assaulted in their offices and threatened, or had their private cars damaged or tires flattened, the report says.

“I’m very concerned about folks and their personal safety,” says Army Col. Darryl Williams, commander of Warrior Transition Units, of those specific allegations. “I’m going after that really, really hard.”
read more of this here
Many in wounded units ‘over-medicated’

Veterans warned about fake email circulating and may contain virus

January 26, 2011, 10:55 AM
Veterans, Like Active Duty Troops, Are Hesitant to Seek Mental Health Care
In recent years, the military has been encouraging its active duty troops to acknowledge the emotional and psychological stress of deployment, hoping to break through the resistance some people have to seeking help.

A new study of recent veterans living in New York State suggests that some of the same resistance continues among men and women who have left the military.

The study, by the Rand Corporation, found that only about a third of the veterans who appeared to need mental health care – typically for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse – had actually received it in the previous year.

Asked why, many said they feared that seeking treatment would lead colleagues or bosses to lose respect for them and would hurt their careers. Others raised concerns about the side effects of medications or the cost and effectiveness of therapy.

The survey also found that about 22 percent of the veterans surveyed had either post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, or both. That finding is similar to a 2008 study by Rand that used a national sample of service members.

read more here

Veterans Are Hesitant to Seek Mental Health Care

State of the Union speech AWOL on troops and veterans

Let me make this perfectly clear from that start that President Obama has done a lot for veterans in his first two years. I know they matter to him just as much as the troops do and so do readers of this blog keeping track of all the changes at the same time you've read about how much more needs to be done. You've read about the suicides, arrests, struggles they face and too many heartbreaking stories to know all is not well for them. With Iraq and Afghanistan almost 2 million have been added to the veteran count but as they wait for the care this nation promised, their numbers have been reduced on the flip side because the care was not already waiting for them.

I understand this nation has big problems that need to be addressed. We need jobs and this I know all too well because I have been without a steady paying job since 2008. On health insurance reform we need to know that we cannot be canceled because of preexisting illnesses. This I know because it was one of my brother's greatest fears when he lost his job and less than a week later he died from a massive heart attack at the age of 56. Back in college I know the need for financial aid to help cover the cost of a college education. There is much this nation has to do and much that has been done but just as there is much to be proud of that sense of pride should accept absolutely no excuses for not taking care of our veterans.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 25, 2011

Remarks by the President in State of Union AddressUnited States Capitol, Washington, D.C.

Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high. American combat patrols have ended, violence is down, and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment has been kept. The Iraq war is coming to an end.

Hold their heads up high? How do they do that when they come home and then have to fight to have a claim approved, wait for months or years while they have no income to live on? How do they hold their heads up high when they are able, willing and ready to work but cannot find a job? How do they do that when the rest of the nation has been able to forget all about the fact there have been two wars going on but if you ask the average American they have no clue about any of what has been going on? They did their jobs but we haven't done ours'.

We’ve also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. Our purpose is clear: By preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe havens are shrinking. And we’ve sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.
Most of the men and women becoming veterans in the last few years entered into the military because of 9-11 but our support of them when they needed us has wavered, yet we call them heroes and brave, worthy of our praise but not our devotion.

Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they’ve served us -- by giving them the equipment they need, by providing them with the care and benefits that they have earned, and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country -– they’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

Saying we support our troops and their families is not the same as doing it. "Enlisting veterans in the task of building our own nation" is not taking care of the veterans unable to work. It is time the leadership of this nation devoted the full measure of our gratefulness by allowing no excuses for one single veteran having to wait for care when they did not make us wait when this nation sent them into combat.

This email came from IAVA
Dear Chaplain Kathie,

Last night, our nation listened closely to the President’s State of the Union address.

We heard words. We heard rhetoric. But we didn’t hear a concrete plan of action to tackle any of the most urgent issues facing new veterans and their families. Nothing on veteran unemployment. And nothing on the staggering rate of military and veteran suicides.

Not only did the President miss a chance to address our issues, he misrepresented a key fact. The President said: "Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.”

Unfortunately, as many vets know firsthand, this is not true. Right now, the VA does not allow vets to access their full electronic medical records online.

In the last 24 hours, we’ve heard from hundreds of IAVA Member Veterans, all expressing surprise and outrage that the President could get something so wrong in arguably the most important speech of the year.

We want people to get the facts straight. Please forward this email to your friends and family to help us get the word out.

IAVA is now pushing the White House for a public correction. We’re also advocating for a plan to make VA medical records as accessible and seamless as possible. And in a few weeks, we will launch our 2011 Policy Agenda. Improving the VA and systems like this will be one of our top priorities. And we’ll need your help.

Together in 2011, we'll make sure all veterans know that we’ve got their back.



Paul Rieckhoff
Executive Director and Founder
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

This is where this came from.

Now, we’ve made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.

Disabled veteran denied pain meds because he wouldn't convert

The good news in this is that the VA did send this veteran to a new doctor but the bad news is it ever reached that point. I am a chaplain because I do believe in the power of prayer but faith cannot be forced onto anyone and it is up to them what they believe or not. As a person of faith I see it as my job to show love, compassion and care for others but it is not my job to judge someone, try to convert them or pressure them into anything. I address questions regarding faith carefully, as if what I say matters just as much as the person I am talking to. For a government office to have anyone trying to religiously convert anyone, getting involved in influencing their personal faith at all is way out of line.

A Crusade and a Holy War in the US Military
-- Jason Leopold

An Orthodox Jew and former petty officer in the US Navy said his civil rights were violated after a chaplain and officials at a Veterans Administration hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, tried to convert him to Christianity while he was under the V.A.'s care.

David Miller, 46, who is on full disability, said in an interview that his physician at the Veterans Affairs (V.A.) Medical Center in Iowa City told him last week to go home and pray or meditate in place of using medication to relieve the pain he was experiencing from kidney stones. When Miller complained to V.A. staffers that his physician suggested he turn to God to treat his medical condition and refused to prescribe pain medication, V.A. officials provided him with a new doctor.

"My doctor said that since I am a religious Jew, I should try prayer or meditation to deal with the pain," Miller said. "I was shocked that a medical doctor would make such a suggestion. I immediately raised hell and was assigned a new physician."

Kurt Sickels, a spokesman for the Iowa City V.A. Medical Center, said that he could not comment on Miller's specific allegations against the hospital, but he said the V.A. does not try to convert patients to Christianity.

"We respect all religious preferences and beliefs, and we make every effort to accommodate what those beliefs may be," Sickels said.

If officials tried to convert Miller, Sickels said, the hospital staff is not adhering to its policy.

Miller dresses in the traditional attire required for Orthodox Jews. He started receiving treatment for a heart condition and kidney stones at the Iowa City V.A. hospital after moving back to his hometown two years ago. Since then, he said, a chaplain on duty at the hospital has tried on numerous occasions to convert him to Christianity.

"The first two visits by the Protestant (Assembly of God) chaplain were all about trying to convert me, trying to convince me that I needed Jesus, that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews too," Miller said. "My medical records clearly indicate that I am Jewish. However, with each admission, I have informed the nursing staff both verbally and in writing that I require kosher food and that I do not wish to be visited by anyone from the chaplain's office. I requested they contact my rabbi, and I provided them with his name and telephone number. Despite these instructions, during all three of my hospitalizations, I have been denied kosher food and have had to endure my entire hospitalizations without eating."

The chaplain, Miller said, provided him with a copy of a scripture from the New Testament, despite Miller's protests that he be left alone. click link for more

How is this possible? It happens while they are in the military and there are some in the VA believing they have every right to get involved in the personal choices of our veterans. Faith is a very personal thing. When they suggest prayer, that is fine as long as they do not get involved in what-who-how the veteran prays. Spirituality is important in healing but that is when it is of their own freewill, needs and beliefs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Concerns Raised About Combat Troops Given Psychotropic Drugs

It is not that they are "using" the drugs. The biggest problem is they are given them. That is an important word choice that needs to be made clear.

Concerns Raised About Combat Troops Using Psychotropic Drugs
FOX News – Jan 19, 2011

As U.S. military leaders gathered Wednesday to give their latest update on the rash of Army suicides, new questions are being raised about a U.S. Central Command policy that allows troops to go to Iraq and Afghanistan with up to a six-month supply of psychotropic drugs.

Prescription drugs have already been linked to some military suicides, and a top Army official warned last year about the danger of soldiers abusing that medication. Psychiatrists are now coming down hard on the military for continuing to sanction certain psychotropic drugs for combat troops, saying the risk from side effects is too great.

“There’s no way on earth that these boys and girls are getting monitored on the field,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York-based psychiatrist who has extensively studied the side effects of psychiatric drugs. “The drugs simply shouldn’t be given to soldiers.”

Anxiety, violent behavior and “impulsivity” are all side effects of some of these medications, he said, the latter symptom being particularly dangerous in a war zone. Breggin said that if patients were given these medications in the civilian world and not monitored, it would amount to “malpractice.”
read more here
Concerns Raised About Combat Troops Using Psychotropic Drugs

Mental health hospital and owner sued

Mental health hospital and owner sued
Published: Jan. 24, 2011 at 6:06 PM
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- An employee at a Pasadena, Calif., mental health facility filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging the hospital provided "minimal, substandard care" to patients.

The suit was filed last year in U.S. District Court and sealed but newly made public.

It is the most recent in a string of complaints concerning care at Aurora Las Encinas Hospital, a psychiatric facility treating patients seeking help for alcoholism and drug problems, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

One of the allegations mentioned in the suit and in government investigations include the deaths of two patients being treated for substance abuse in which case workers falsified logs to show they had been checked every 15 minutes, government reports said.

Read more: Mental health hospital and owner sued

Two cops dead, U.S. marshal shot in St. Petersburg FL

Two cops dead, U.S. marshal shot trying to arrest suspect in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg shooting comes four days after two Miami-Dade detectives were shot dead
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — A man hiding in the attic of a home sparked an intense firefight with authorities trying to arrest him on a warrant Monday morning, killing two officers and wounding a deputy U.S. Marshal, police said.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon said more than 100 rounds were fired during the shootout, which was the latest in a recent rash of shootings across the nation that have killed or wounded law enforcement officers.

The officers had come to arrest Hydra Lacy Jr., 39, on an aggravated battery charge, and investigators think he is the one who opened fire on the officers, police spokesman Michael Puetz said. He said Lacy had a long record that includes convictions for armed robbery and sexual battery.

As of midday, the shooter was still barricaded inside the home, police said.

"He was somebody we wanted to get off the streets, " Harmon said. "Who expects to walk into a house and get gunfire from the attic?"

Harmon would not identify the dead officers pending notification of their relatives.
read more here
Two cops dead, U.S. marshal shot

Orlando's VA Medical Center taking shape

Orlando's VA Medical Center taking shape

By Mary Shanklin, Orlando Sentinel
10:29 p.m. EST, January 24, 2011

The Orlando VA Medical Center slated to open next year in Lake Nona will offer some nationwide firsts for the more than 100,000 Central Florida military veterans expected to seek treatment there.

The $600 million-plus facility, which includes a hospital, clinic, nursing home and rehabilitation center, will be the only such center in the country in which all of the rooms are private. Each one will be equipped with a hoist and railings for lifting patients, and they will accommodate all but intensive care so patients don't have to move to new rooms as they recover. Each room will also have a view of a lake, conservation area or garden, and offer Internet access.

"It's very much different than anything else you'd see around here," said Joe Battle, who oversees construction of the center for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "It's very much about making this as home-like of an environment as possible."

Everything from colors to textures have been chosen to create a more comfortable feel than that of the typical hospital, he added. Window glass, for instance, is 3 inches thick to keep out noise from nearby Orlando International Airport.
read more here
Orlando's VA Medical Center taking shape

Brain scans show changes after combat

When I do presentations I talk about how survivors of traumatic events walk away one of two ways. Either they were saved, spared by God and glad to be alive or they think they were abandoned by God, judged and the trauma was brought into their lives as punishment.

For the first group, they are touched by the event and most of the time changed by it in a more positive way than a negative one. For the other group when they feel as if there is no one watching over them, it takes over.

What's more, the investigators observed that neural activity in the region of the brain that is responsible for emotional regulation differed among the deployed soldiers. The kind of changes that took place depended on how the soldiers perceived the experiences to which they were exposed, the study authors noted. For example, the degree to which a soldier perceived a roadside bomb explosion to be a threat predicted the degree of activity change in their brain's emotional control center.

One time, they can manage to heal easier than the next time. Too many times it piles up on them and is less likely to be healed alone. Feeling alone is part of the problem in itself.

The following study looked at soldiers before and after deployment using brain scans.

Stress of War Spurs Changes in Brain Activity, Study Finds
Scans show that regions that control fear, vigilance, emotion affected by deployment
Posted: January 24, 2011
MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Continual exposure to stress prompts neural activity changes in those parts of the brain that control fear, vigilance and emotion, a new study suggests.

The finding stems from an analysis of brain scans taken among troops recently deployed to Afghanistan, and is reported in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

"For the first time we can now conclude that the effects on the brain really are due to experiences in combat," study first author Guido van Wingen, of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, said in a university news release.
read more here
Stress of War Spurs Changes in Brain Activity, Study Finds

Iliff's military chaplaincy program

New Degree Addresses Needs of Military Chaplains for PTSD Training

DENVER, Jan. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Are you a military chaplain interested in learning more about spiritual care to those experiencing post traumatic stress? Are you a spiritual caregiver wanting more knowledge and experience in working with post traumatic stress? There's a new degree at Iliff that can help – the master of arts in pastoral and spiritual care.
"Designed for students who already hold a master of divinity degree (MDIV), the MAPSC is an expedient way to concentrate additional theological education on pastoral care courses, as well as courses in psychology, counseling, comparative religions, or social work through the University of Denver," said Carrie Doehring, associate professor of pastoral care and counseling.
The MAPSC degree can be completed in 40 quarter credits, if chaplains have previously earned a MDIV or its equivalent from an accredited institution prior to Iliff enrollment. Specific requirements may be negotiated based on prior educational experience. A minimum grade point average of 2.75 is needed for admission. A two year MAPSC is also available for caregivers without a MDIV, who wish to gain expertise in working with trauma and spiritual care.
"Iliff's strong collaborative relationships with a variety of clinical settings are helpful for finding appropriate clinical pastoral education settings for chaplains – including settings for the study of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," added Doehring. "Chaplains can also complete a summative project focused on the experience of PTSD in the military, supervised by our pastoral care faculty."
Iliff's military chaplaincy program begins in August and is usually completed with a summer unit of clinical pastoral education (the following year).
Courses include:
Impact of war on pastoral care of families
PTSD: Pastoral, psychological, and theological responses
Substance abuse and dependence: Psychological and theological perspectives
Physical and sexual violence: Pastoral responses
Pastoral care in death and dying, grief and loss
Multicultural pastoral care and counseling
Self care and healthy boundaries
Trauma and crisis intervention

Former Marine sues over Camp Lejeune water contamination

Former Marine sues over Camp Lejeune water contamination



WASHINGTON - A man who served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for nearly two years in the 1950s has sued the federal government for $16 million, saying poisonous water at the North Carolina base caused his cancer.
Joel P. Shriberg of Pinehurst, N.C., was diagnosed in 2004 with male breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy on his left breast. The cancer has since metastasized to his lung, according to the suit he filed last week in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of North Carolina.
Shriberg is one of more than 65 men across the United States who has been diagnosed with male breast cancer after serving at Lejeune. He couldn't be reached for comment.
According to his lawsuit, he was a clerk with the 155th Howitzer Division from September 1957 through April 1959, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of colonel.
That was when, according to federal and state documents, poisons that included tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene and benzene contaminated Camp Lejeune's water system. The contamination lasted until the mid-1980s.
The contamination violated military standards that included Navy drinking water standards of 1946, the lawsuit claims.
Federal scientists have established that the water was hazardous, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun establishing some links on a case-by-case basis between the water and some diseases, including male breast cancer.
The suit says the Marine Corps failed to protect Lejeune residents during the period of contamination and that it has been "passive" about notifying Marines and their families since. The military never contacted Shriberg, according to his suit. He learned about and signed up with the Marines' water contamination registry last April.

Read more: Former Marine sues over Camp Lejeune water contamination

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marine from Orlando found dead in snowdrift in Revere Massachusetts

Man found dead on Revere Beach ID’d as Fla. Marine

By Robin Kaminski/The Daily Item

REVERE - A man who was found partially buried in a snowdrift on Revere Beach Boulevard Jan. 19 has been identified as a Marine from Orlando, Fla.

Huang Day Phan, 23, was identified by his family on Friday, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley.
read more here
Man found dead on Revere Beach

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When they can't see the enemy

"We don't know who we're fighting over there, who's friendly and who isn't," he said. "They're always watching us. We're basically fighting blind."
This is what they bring back home. They fight an enemy they can't see just as they did in combat. PTSD is the enemy hidden in the shadows of their minds. It is as dangerous as a bomb waiting to explode but this one waits to claim every part of their lives, is more cunning than any human and more patient. The bombs they encounter in Afghanistan and Iraq are hidden by the enemy refusing to face the US forces. They explode hitting anyone nearby yet for the troops escaping the physical damage they have all the images frozen in their minds. While we count the dead and the wounded, there is no real way to count the true magnitude of the walking away wounded.

We talk about the rates of PTSD placed between one out of five or one out of three. Most experts use the 30% range but this figure is used for one traumatic event, not multiple incidences.

Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to a traumatic event or series thereof and is characterized by long-lasting problems with many aspects of emotional and social functioning.

Statistics regarding this illness indicate that approximately 7%-8% of people in the United States will likely develop PTSD in their lifetime, with the lifetime occurrence (prevalence) in combat veterans and rape victims ranging from 10% to as high as 30%. Somewhat higher rates of this disorder have been found to occur in African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans compared to Caucasians in the United States. Some of that difference is thought to be due to higher rates of dissociation soon before and after the traumatic event (peritraumatic), a tendency for individuals from minority ethnic groups to blame themselves, have less social support, and an increased perception of racism for those ethnic groups, as well as differences between how ethnic groups may express distress. In military populations, many of the differences have been found to be the result of increased exposure to combat at younger ages for minority groups. Other important facts about PTSD include the estimate of 5 million people who suffer from PTSD at any one time in the United States and the fact that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

Almost half of individuals who use outpatient mental-health services have been found to suffer from PTSD.

As evidenced by the occurrence of stress in many individuals in the United States in the days following the 2001 terrorist attacks, not being physically present at a traumatic event does not guarantee that one cannot suffer from traumatic stress that can lead to the development of PTSD.

PTSD statistics in children and teens reveal that up to more than 40% have endured at least one traumatic event, resulting in the development of PTSD in up to 15% of girls and 6% of boys. On average, 3%-6% of high school students in the United States and as many as 30%-60% of children who have survived specific disasters have PTSD. Up to 100% of children who have seen a parent killed or endured sexual assault or abuse tend to develop PTSD, and more than one-third of youths who are exposed to community violence (for example, a shooting, stabbing, or other assault) will suffer from the disorder.
Although not all individuals who have been traumatized develop PTSD, there can be significant physical consequences of being traumatized. For example, research indicates that people who have been exposed to an extreme stressor sometimes have a smaller hippocampus (a region of the brain that plays a role in memory) than people who have not been exposed to trauma. This is significant in understanding the effects of trauma in general and the impact of PTSD, specifically since the hippocampus is the part of the brain that is thought to have an important role in developing new memories about life events. Also, whether or not a traumatized person goes on to develop PTSD, they seem to be at risk for higher use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. Conversely, people whose PTSD is treated also tend to have better success at overcoming a substance-abuse problem.

Economically, PTSD can have significant consequences as well. As of 2005, more than 200,000 veterans were receiving disability compensation for this illness, for a cost of $4.3 billion. This represents an 80% increase in the number of military people receiving disability benefits for PTSD and an increase of 149% in the amount of disability benefits paid compared to those numbers five years earlier.

read more hereComplex posttraumatic stress disorder

During a year of deployment one may encounter ten, twenty, thirty or more times when they have witnessed catastrophic events. They bury the pain with practice but they do not defeat it.

This is from the above article.

PTSD At A Glance
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that was first formally diagnosed in soldiers and war veterans and is usually caused by terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experiences but can also be caused by devastating life events like unemployment or divorce.
PTSD symptom types include re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance, and hyperarousal.
PTSD has a lifetime prevalence of 7%-30%, with about 5 million people suffering from the illness in any one year. Girls, women, and ethnic minorities develop PTSD more than boys, men, and Caucasians.
Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) usually results from prolonged exposure to traumatic event(s) and is characterized by long-lasting problems that affect many aspects of emotional and social functioning.
Symptoms of C-PTSD include problems regulating feelings, dissociation, or depersonalization; persistent depressive feelings, seeing the perpetrator of trauma as all-powerful, preoccupation with the perpetrator, and a severe change in what gives the sufferer meaning.

There are many levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
38 C.F.R. § 4.130, DC 9411

Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought process or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation occupation, or own name 100%

Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships 70%

Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining Effective work and social relationships 50%

Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events) 30%
go to Vietnam Veterans of America for more

While some experts disagree on the numbers, what they all agree on is the sooner survivors of trauma seek help, the more of their lives they can reclaim. What we are seeing today is only the start of too many more survivors needing to put their lives back together again. While most say they want to go back to the way they were before, this is not possible any more than it is possible for any of us to go back to our younger days. Life changes all of us. For the survivors of trauma with the right kind of help they can be better than they were before!

Now that you have a better understanding of how complicated all of this is, read the report of Marines in the battle for Sangin Afghanistan. It may help you understand what is coming in the next few years and how many will need help to heal.

Lance Cpl. Juan Dominguez, 26, left, practices using a biometric prosthetic arm with Todd Love, also from Camp Pendleton, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot
What happened to them in Sangin district of Helmand province shows the sacrifices in a campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban in a stronghold and helping extricate the U.S. from a decadelong war.

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
January 22, 2011, 8:33 p.m.

Reporting from Camp Pendleton — Marines tell of snipers who fire from "murder holes" cut into mud-walled compounds. Fighters who lie in wait in trenches dug around rough farmhouses clustered together for protection. Farmers who seem to tip the Taliban to the outsiders' every movement , often with signals that sound like birdcalls.

When the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, deployed to the Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province in late September, the British soldiers who had preceded them warned the Americans that the Taliban would be waiting nearly everywhere for a chance to kill them.

But the Marines, ordered to be more aggressive than the British had been, quickly learned that the Taliban wasn't simply waiting.

In Sangin, the Taliban was coming after them.

In four years there, the British had lost more than 100 soldiers, about a third of all their nation's losses in the war.

In four months, 24 Marines with the Camp Pendleton-based Three-Five have been killed.

More than 140 others have been wounded, some of them catastrophically, losing limbs and the futures they had imagined for themselves.

The Marines' families have been left devastated, or dreading the knock on the door.

"We are a brokenhearted but proud family," Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly said. He spoke not only of the battalion: His son 1st Lt. Robert Kelly was killed leading a patrol in Sangin.

When Lance Cpl. Juan Dominguez slipped down a small embankment while out on patrol and landed on a buried bomb, the explosion could be heard for miles.

"It had to be a 30- to 40-pounder," Dominguez said from his bed at the military hospital in Bethesda, Md. "I remember crying out for my mother and then crying out for morphine. I remember them putting my legs on top of me."

His legs were severed above the knee, and his right arm was mangled and could not be saved. A Navy corpsman, risking sniper fire, rushed to Dominguez and stopped the bleeding. On the trip to the field hospital, Dominguez prayed.

"I figured this was God's will, so I told him: 'If you're going to take me, take me now,'" he said.

His memories of Sangin are vivid. "The part we were in, it's hell," he said. "It makes your stomach turn. The poor families there, they get conned into helping the Taliban."

Like many wounded Marines, Dominguez never saw a Taliban fighter.

"We don't know who we're fighting over there, who's friendly and who isn't," he said. "They're always watching us. We're basically fighting blind."
read more here
Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot

There is also the issue of when they can see the enemy right in front of them. A Marine killed an Afghan Police Officer he was working with after he pulled a gun on the Marine.

US marine kills Afghan policeman after dispute
KABUL | Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:54am EST
(Reuters) - A U.S. marine shot and killed an Afghan police officer Saturday after a dispute between the pair during a security operation in southern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

ISAF was investigating the incident in Helmand province. It said initial reports found that after a dispute, the police officer made threatening statements and handled his weapon carelessly and the marine told his commanding officers.

"After departing his post, the uniformed police member returned with his weapon raised and pointed toward the marine," ISAF said in a statement.

"The marine responded with escalation of force procedures, including shouting at the individual to put the weapon down."

When the police officer failed to put down his weapon, the marine fired two shots and killed him, ISAF said. More information would be made available, it said, when the investigation into the incident at a patrol base in Sangin district was complete.
read more of this here
US marine kills Afghan policeman after dispute

There is a history behind this and many times someone they were training ended up turning on them and killing US Forces. This leaves them not knowing who to trust wondering who will be the next to turn against them.