Monday, February 28, 2011

Decorated War Veteran Fatally Struck by Car

Decorated War Veteran Fatally Struck by Car After Celebrating Birthday
Feb 28, 2011 – 10:08 AM
Mara Gay

A decorated war veteran who survived a suicide bombing in Afghanistan was struck by a car and killed after celebrating his birthday party at a bar on New York's Long Island.

Seamus Byrne was heading home from the bar in Smithtown, N.Y., after celebrating his 33rd birthday with his wife and friends early Sunday when he inadvertently walked into the street and was hit by an oncoming car, according to police.

"He was very happy with his friends, celebrating life," his father-in-law, James Gallagher, told the New York Daily News. "He just wasn't looking at the traffic, and he walked in front of a car."

His wife, Michelle, who is a nurse, witnessed the accident and tried to revive her husband until paramedics arrived, Gallagher told the New York Post. Byrne died later at a hospital.
read more here
Decorated War Veteran Fatally Struck by Car

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Impotent power of words

There are so many reports and articles on PTSD that you'd think it is a well known issue everyone knows about. Unlike the ads for erectile dysfunction (ED) so well searched for the term pops up with just "erec" typed into Google or Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)medication, we don't see ads for medications for PTSD. How did these topics end up with multi-million dollar ad campaigns? Was it out of the goodness of their hearts corporations paid to spread the word? No, they have a product to sell so they spread the word about issues a lot of people suffered with silently. RA is painful but did not come with a stigma attached to it. Erectile dysfunction had a huge "shame" factor, so men didn't talk about it while women complained to their friends about it.

What changed? Ex-Senator Bob Dole along with others said they had ED during commercials to sell medication. The ads were so effective that millions of men went to see their doctor for a "boost" even if they didn't have ED. Women were cutting out advertisements to show their partners while stocking up on K-Y Personal Lubricants. We didn't have to know what was in the tub during a Cialis ad. This disclaimer is on their ads and their website, "CIALIS is not right for everyone. Only your healthcare provider and you can decide if CIALIS is right for you." Gone are the days when a man was too ashamed to admit he had the problem. Now if he says anything about not being able to "get it up" someone tells him to just take a pill.

Words broke the silence.

Dr. Jay Adlersberg of New York's WABC wrote in the release,

Power of Words"One study by researchers at Stanford University highlights what many scholars and politicians have known for a long time. People's thinking towards a particular conclusion can be swayed with the use of the right words or phrases, and shows the influence of words and images."

But words, while very powerful, lack the ability to change the world without money behind them. The impotent power of words being spoken with few ears hearing. The stories you see on this blog all have money behind them, unless they were written exclusively by me. Each news report linked to was written by someone getting a paycheck to research, interview and write them. Every study printed was commissioned by financial backing. It is more a matter of money talks.

Christianity began with 13 poor men homeless men walking around talking about the love of God and salvation. They were given food and shelter from strangers in exchange for what they had to say along with miracles to heal the ill. Christ didn't need a lot of money behind Him, an ad campaign or a public relations department but there were a lot less people in the world.

Some say that had Christ walked the earth today, no one would listen but I believe they are wrong. The power of the Internet changed all of that. A story coming out of a tiny town no one ever heard of can reach around the world if Associated Press picks up on it. From their feed, news stations around the country discover it and bingo, a local story becomes international.

If you are in doubt, then think about this. The number one story a couple of years ago on this blog was about an 11 year old boy from Lynnwood Washington. Brenden Foster was dying of cancer. When he could have only been thinking about himself, he cared more about homeless people he saw coming home from yet another visit to his doctor. 11 year old Brenden Foster's dying wish, feed the homeless News station KOMO reported the story and tiny blogs like mine picked up on it. There were over 3,000 hits and 78 comments, which is highly unusual for Wounded Times Blog. CNN reported on young Brenden and his story reached around the world in a matter of days. One little boy's dying wish touched others, reached their hearts and changed some minds on how they feel about homeless people.

Words can change the world by bringing attention to what someone thought was important enough to tell.

Twenty years ago, reports on veterans committing suicide were kept as a family secret. Homeless veterans were only paid attention to by shelters or reporters when one of them was in trouble with the law. Stories on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, another secret families suffered with in the privacy of their own homes, were happening all over the country but since no one was talking publicly, no one knew.

Now we have the Internet to get PTSD out of the secret world of suffering with millions of people discussing it but what we don't have is the money behind it. Drug companies are making billions without having to spend much money on TV ads. Average people never know about PTSD unless they know someone with it and even some families with member struggling with it remain clueless. Why?

The information is all over the net. That's a good thing but how would they find it if they don't know what "it" is?

We read the reports everyday on this blog, so it is incredibly hard to understand there is anyone left without a clue, but if you begin to talk to someone "out of the loop" you'll understand just how many remain in the dark. Even though there are about 7 million Americans with PTSD few have heard of it. According to the Mayo Clinic "Erectile dysfunction is common, and prevalence increases with age. It affects 5 to 10 percent of men at age 40. By age 70, from 40 to 60 percent of men have the condition." This, like PTSD, crosses all demographics, but PTSD requires someone to have been exposed to at least one traumatic event. ED is caused by a list of causes. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is only common after experiencing trauma.

Think about all the news reports we read everyday on traumatic events right in our own community. Car accidents, fires, rapes and other crimes. We understand these things can happen any second. Read the obituary section and we understand that a family member of ours could die any minute. We know families are changed by these events in their lives. 1 out of 3 (or 1 out of 5 depending on the report) will not walk away from a traumatic event and just be able to "get over it" with time. By the time the expected period of mourning is over, symptoms take over but the event itself is not connected to the changes we see in a person. That is, unless we know what we are seeing and where it came from.

Out of the 7 million Americans with PTSD, millions of them are combat veterans. For them, their traumatic experience is one building on another yet we don't see to be able to understand how they can end up with a much deeper level of PTSD, making it harder to not only treat but to get them to seek treatment in the first place. These are not your average citizen experiencing what we all go through, but a minority among us willing to put themselves into traumatic events. They join the military knowing what comes with combat, ready to take their chances to get a job the country wanted done, done.

When it comes to them, we don't pay attention. We don't even pay attention to what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, so the chance of paying attention to them when they come home is greatly diminished. We don't see ads about families trying to help like we see a wife enjoying her husband being "ready" when she is. We don't see ads about the pain a veteran goes through like we see someone talking about the pain of RA and how much their lives changed.

When I tell people what I do, sooner or later they share how someone in their own family was a veteran with PTSD and then they share their pain over the fact they never knew what it was. Wives discovering PTSD was behind their troubled marriage regret how they responded and feel angry no one ever told then what it was before. It is not that no one tried to tell them but without the knowledge somehow getting to the ears of someone needing to hear it, it was as if no one on the planet knew anything.

Seven million people with PTSD joined by families and extended families view the ads we see everyday and wonder when we'll see ads addressing what matters in our own lives. We wonder who will find the sense of urgency to shell out a few million to do advertising on our suffering. We want to see that there are people making miracles happen everyday for others to give us hope and we want to know it is ok to talk about it publicly without being ashamed. With all the money going to PTSD these days for research and treatment, you'd think someone would value the power of awareness enough to kick in a few million for a TV ad.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yellow Ribbon offers help to returning Florida National Guards

Yellow Ribbon offers help to returning guardsmen


Published: February 26, 2011

Updated: 01:53 pm

TAMPA - Florida National Guard Staff Sgt. Roger Roache thought he knew what to expect when he was deployed to Kuwait in January 2010 after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although Afghanistan was intense, Kuwait turned into a whirlwind of another kind.

"This was the easiest of missions because you know what to expect," said Roache, 32. "Emotionally, it's crazy."

His wife, Laura, learned she was pregnant after a trip they took together on his leave. She mailed him sonogram photos, e-mailed updates after doctors' appointments and leaned on family for support. He got up at 4 a.m. to call her for news.

When he returned to their Palm Bay home in December, she had a lengthy "honey-to-do list" for him. She said she didn't know how she would have gotten through the end of the pregnancy without him there.

Their son, Achilles, was born three weeks ago, and the couple is adjusting to sleep deprivation – they joke Achilles is on "Kuwait time."

Although Roger Roache is unemployed and job-hunting, it's a happy period for them.

The hard part tends to come three to four months after a soldier returns, said Col. Jim Fogle-Miller, state chaplain for the National Guard.

At first, he said, families are in the "honeymoon of getting back." But real life creeps in and stress grows.

Fogle-Miller spoke today about reconnecting with loved ones, part of the Yellow Ribbon Program at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. About 1,000 Florida Army National Guard members and their families got an expenses-paid weekend to learn about resources available to help them adjust to post-deployment life.
read more here
Yellow Ribbon offers help to returning guardsmen

Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD

Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD
by Laura Braddick
February 24, 2011

Staff/Special by Don Naumann

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD

Canton resident Leslie Lugosi is using her passion for filmmaking to call attention to a national issue.

The self-taught director and writer has been making short movies for five years with her film company, BootyTooth Productions.

Her newest work entitled "Listen" follows a Vietnam War veteran who begins to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder episodes after an accident several years since his military service.

"It's based on a short story I wrote," Lugosi said. "My intent was to help people understand PTSD and help those who are suffering from it."

The Atlanta native said she tries to make films that have a positive impact on people and focus on issues important to her.

"My father served in Vietnam, and he was adversely affected by the war," she said. "It's always been a subject very dear to my heart, and it's something we're still experiencing today with soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq."

The movie, which has not yet been publicly released, was filmed entirely in Cherokee County.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD.
read more here
Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD

Teens found guilty in Christmas attack on Marine and his wife

Teens found guilty in Christmas attack on Marine


BRADENTON, Fla. -- Twin 15-year-olds were found guilty of assault charges stemming from a Christmas night attack on a U.S. Marine and his wife outside a Bradenton movie theater.
Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas said Thursday he will review the brothers' background before deciding on a penalty in March.

The incident began during a showing of "Little Fockers." Federico Freire, home on leave from Afghanistan, and his wife, testified they asked the group of unruly teens to be quiet.

Read more:
Teens found guilty in Christmas attack on Marine
Marine home on leave, wife attacked by teens after showing of "Little Fockers"

100-Year-Old Recalls Life As WWII Army Nurse

100-Year-Old Recalls Life As WWII Army Nurse

Ora Pierce Hicks One Of 500 Black Nurses Serving At Time

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- There are not many people who make it to 100 and fewer still with a story like that of Ora Pierce Hicks.

KMBC's Bev Chapman reported that Hicks is a living legend to her family and to those who know about her service in World War II.

She is one of 17 children who grew up in a poor black family in Bogalusa, La. Hicks said her mother nursed the children of white women who couldn’t care for their own in order to make a little money.

Poverty didn’t stop Hicks from dreaming big. Hicks wanted to become a nurse. After working for two years as a school teacher and saving her money, she did it. She met a man who knew the director of a nursing school in Kansas City. He gave her a contact and in 1933, Hicks was enrolled. She graduated in 1936, returned home to Louisiana and probably would have stayed there working as a nurse were it not for the war.

“I heard on the radio that soldiers were dying because they didn’t have enough nurses,” Hicks said. “I wanted to help.”

She enlisted at a time when the Army was desperate for nurses, but not anxious to hire black nurses. They accepted Hicks and the experience changed her life.

One of her first posts was to a P.O.W. camp in Florence, Ariz. Later, she worked in a psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Hospital.

At the end of World War II, there were 50,000 in the Army Nursing Corps. Hicks was one of about 500 who were black. She rose to the rank of major before retiring.
read more here
Life As WWII Army Nurse

Florida Pastor Talks About Shooting at Church

Crime & Courts
Florida Pastor Talks About Shooting at Church
Published February 25, 2011

A South Florida pastor is speaking out after police were forced to fire on a knife-wielding man at his church.

"He was very aggressive," said Luther Memorial Lutheran Church Pastor James Congee. "We have odd things that happen, but not like that."

Pastor Congee has been pastor at the church for nearly a decade and a pastor for more than 30 years and said he has never witnessed a church day like Wednesday's.

"I heard a commotion outside and the janitor came running into the room, and behind him was this fellow with a knife. He was right on top of him," said the Pastor.

Read more:
 Florida Pastor Talks About Shooting at Church

Soldier still missing, last location was Flathead Valley

Soldier still missing, last location was Flathead Valley
Posted: Feb 25, 2011 9:46 AM by Katy Harris (Kalispell)

The parents of missing U.S. soldier Noah Pippin are desperate to find their son, who was last seen in the Flathead Valley back in August.

Some new details are coming out as to why they believe he wasn't alone when he disappeared.

Noah was last seen in August. He grew up in Michigan and completed three combat tours in Iraq, and was driving home to Michigan before preparing to deploy again to Afghanistan.

Flathead County Sheriff's Department Detective Pat Walsh tracked him as far as a Hungry Horse hotel. They also traced a notebook with directions to an area just outside Glacier National Park.

Mike Pippen, Noah's father, says after Montana's News Station first aired the story in November, he received an anonymous tip from someone in Missoula claiming they saw Noah outside a bar with a woman.

If you have any information that may help authorities, or have seen Noah Pippin, call Mike Pippin at 231-883-1445 or Flathead County Detective Pat Walsh at 406-758-5600.
read more here
Soldier still missing, last location was Flathead Valley

What really happened to Pfc. David Jones Jr?

If a 21 year old soldier committed suicide, it is very sad, but we've been reading about suicide deaths for years. Usually when we read their stories, the families report other issues or changes going on before the death. The times when a family does not believe the death was by their own hands are often a very long battle to discover the truth.

St. Johnsville soldier's loved ones dispute Army's suicide finding
But David Jones' loved ones not satisfied with Army report in Iraq case
By DENNIS YUSKO Staff Writer
Updated 10:38 p.m., Friday, February 25, 2011

The would-be fiance of an area soldier who died in Iraq refuses to accept a recently completed Army investigation that says he killed himself in Baghdad.

An Army Criminal Investigation Command probe into the Oct. 24 death of Pfc. David Jones Jr. determined the 21-year-old soldier committed suicide. Results were sent recently to Jones' family in his hometown of St. Johnsville.

"CID's investigation concluded that Pfc. Jones died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that no foul play was suspected in his death," CID spokesman Jeffrey Castro said in an e-mail Friday.

Read more:

Winton and Jones' family, whose name is Bennett, consider his death suspicious and have said he had too much to live for to have taken his life. In the days following Jones' death, family members said they thought he was killed by another soldier in a shooting rampage. Army officials quickly denied that.

Read more:
St. Johnsville soldier's loved ones dispute Army's suicide finding1

Friday, February 25, 2011

Crowd cheers Marines returning home to Central Florida

Last night I went to welcome home some local heroes. 50 Marines came home. Some missed a lot of things while they were gone. One missed the birth of his baby. One came off the bus, soon after, hearing Happy Birthday. It was a wonderful night and it felt good to see so many people show up to say welcome home with balloons and flags, big smiles and really loud cheers. I'll have more on this over the weekend since I shot some video on it.

Crowd cheers Marines returning home to Central Florida
February 25, 2011|By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
Of the many parents who waited nervously for their sons and daughters to come home, Lee Entrekin knew as well as any where they had been, and how fotunate they were to return home safely.

Entrekin left home to serve in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, returning in time, he said, to see his son head to the Middle East as a Marine. His boy returned home safe from that deployment, only to go back about nine months ago.

Thursday night, Lance Cpl. Gregory Entrekin was among about 50 veterans of Afghanistan who returned home to Central Florida. And to his father's great pride and elation, "he came home in one piece."
read more of this here
Crowd cheers Marines returning home to Central Florida

HUD housing vouchers to be given out for homeless veterans

This email came in and is good news for Florida's homeless veterans

Please spread the word.

HUD-VASH vouchers are being given out again. We have them for Daytona, Bervard and Orange county. About 200. Must have been chronically homeless ( at least three times, OEF/OIF, Female, Female with kids. Disabled ( SSI/SSD , SVC Connection ,Non Service Connection). Must be Under $21500 annual income for a single individual. Cannot be currently housed. Housing must be approved by Housing authority.

Must have for each member of the household the following: State I.D., Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, DD Form 214, proof of income, and finally 3 bank statements. Here is a biggy CANNOT OWN PROPERTY, it will be found out.

Hope this helps, they can get the referral from their Primary Care Social Worker

Republicans and Tea Party Extremists Cut Veterans' Right to Attorneys

Maybe, just maybe now people are paying attention to their votes but after putting these people in office, it's too late to say you're sorry now. Why didn't they pay attention to what these people came right out and said they would do before they gave them the power to do it?

New Outrage: Republicans and Tea Party Extremists Cut Veterans' Right to Attorneys
Written by David Rogers
Thursday, 24 February 2011 21:41

Tea Party Slashes Legal Rights of Elderly and Veterans
February 25, 2011, Washington, DC (Politico) - Talk about collateral damage! Taking aim at environmentalists last week, House Republicans dropped a round instead on low-income veterans and Social Security recipients, making it harder for them to retain counsel when taking on the government.

Adopted by 232-197, the budget amendment imposes a seven-month moratorium on all legal fees paid under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), a Reagan-era law designed to help the little guy battle Washington by making it easier for him to afford an attorney.

Conservatives from Reagan’s own West were the driving force, accusing environmentalists of turning EAJA into a taxpayer-financed, money-machine for lawsuits harassing ranchers. But thousands of veterans and elderly found themselves swept under in the process, losing their ability to retain counsel in disputes with government agencies.

It’s not on the level of 1981 when the House briefly cut off minimum Social Security benefits for thousands of elderly Roman Catholic nuns. But with U.S. troops fighting overseas, taking away lawyers from low-income veterans can get pretty close.

Robert Chisholm, a Rhode Island attorney prominent in veterans’ law, told POLITICO: “We’re in the middle of two wars right now and to make it harder for a veteran — fighting for his benefits — to have an attorney is a horrible thing. That’s not what this country is about.”
read more here
Republicans and Tea Party Extremists

5 Minutes Iraq or Afghanistan veterans seek help from the VA

VCS in the Headlines: One New Iraq or Afghanistan War Veteran Seeks VA Treatment Every 5 Minutes
Written by Sharon Ellman
Thursday, 24 February 2011 14:43

VCS FOIA Research in the News
February 28, 2011 (Army Times) - WHAT’S UP: The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seek ing medical treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department has reached 625,000, growing at a rate of about 10,000 new patients a month - or one every five minutes, according to infor mation gathered by Veterans for Common Sense using the Freedom of Information Act.

More than half of the new patients are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder, according to Paul Sullivan, the group’s executive director.
VCS in the Headlines

Immigration officials tried to deport citizen, Army veteran

He wasn't born here but was willing to serve this country and die for it. He played by the rules and became a citizen in 1998 while he was serving. Even with all of this, Rennison Castillo he was taken to jail, then to a detention center in 2005. Do you think $400,000 is enough for what happened to him?

Feds agree to pay wrongly detained vet $400K
Immigration officials tried to deport citizen, Army veteran
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Feb 24, 2011 18:21:14 EST
SEATTLE — The U.S. government has agreed to pay $400,000 to an American citizen and Army veteran from Washington state who was locked up for seven months while immigration officials wrongly tried to deport him.

Rennison Castillo was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in 2005 when he finished serving a jail sentence for violating a protection order and harassment. The native of Belize explained repeatedly that he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998 while serving in the Army, but neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials nor an immigration judge believed him. He was finally released after the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Seattle attorneys took up his case on appeal.

“ICE officers did not listen to me when I told them repeatedly that I was a U.S. citizen and had served in the Army at Fort Lewis,” he said in a statement released Thursday. “They were disrespectful and told me that I would say anything to get out of detention.”

The government gave him a letter of apology written by the assistant U.S. attorney in Tacoma who handled the case.

“I believe that none of my clients ... would ever have wanted to, or knowingly would have, detained a veteran and a United States citizen,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Lynch wrote. “We very much regret that you were detained.”
read more here
Feds agree to pay wrongly detained vet $400K

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Florida marine killed in combat in Afghanistan

Florida marine killed in combat in Afghanistan

The Associated Press
12:15 p.m. EST, February 24, 2011

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — Military officials say a Marine based at Camp Lejeune has died in combat in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department says 23-year-old Cpl. Johnathan W. Taylor of Homosassa, Fla., died Tuesday in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Taylor had been assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune.
Florida marine killed in combat in Afghanistan

Airman's death raises questions of treatment

A family's pain: Airman's death raises questions of treatment

by Chris Roberts \ El Paso Times
Posted: 02/19/2011 12:00:00 AM MST

In Iraq, Senior Airman Anthony Mena's Humvee had never been hit by a roadside bomb.

The El Paso native was responsible for mapping patrol routes and, as driver, avoiding ambushes and other potentially deadly situations. He had confidence he could protect his fellow airmen, members of an Air Force security unit serving in Baghdad.

By 2009, a few years after returning from that deployment, things had changed dramatically.
Numbed by the prescription drugs he was taking for pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, he did not trust himself to drive across Albuquerque for a counseling session.

In July of that year, as he slept, the 23-year-old simply stopped breathing.

The death was ruled accidental. A toxicology report showed he had nine different medications in his blood stream. There were no illegal drugs. There was no alcohol.

He had not taken more pills than the instructions on the bottles directed. In fact, he had been issued 29 prescriptions from the Albuquerque Veterans Administration hospital in the five months he had been treated there, said Willie Mena, the airman's father.

"VA had the oversight, and they failed miserably," Willie Mena said. "Something has to change, because this is not proper. This is not the right way."
read more here
Airman's death raises questions of treatment

VA Releases New Gulf War Report

Veterans for Common Sense sent out an update on what is going on with Gulf War Veterans. The news isn't good but what is good is that VCS is staying on top of all of it.

VA Releases New Gulf War Report

On February 23, VA released the agency's most recent report on "Pre 9/11 Veterans". Huh !? That's VA's new term for troops who deployed to Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.

VA neglected to provide totals on many pages, and many terms and definitions are very confusing, even to experts. The net result is another VA fiasco in urgent need of an editor. VCS offered to help, but VA never called us.

Not mentioned in the report is the billions of dollars spent on healthcare and benefits for hundreds of thousands of veterans disabled, injured, or ill after deploying to a war that should have never been fought.

This was included in the report from the VA. If you think you just forgot what happened, it isn't your fault. The media just ignored it.
Al Jubayl: On or about January 19, 1991, U.S. Servicemembers reported an incident involving a “loud noise,” “bright flash,” and possible “Iraqi chemical warfare agent attack” that occurred in and around Al Jubayl, Saudi Arabia. DoD concluded that the chemical attack was “unlikely.” This and additional information regarding these events may be accessed by clicking on the following DoD website: Structure: It is composed of all unique deployed Veterans in the Desert Storm cohort who were identified by DoD as being present at Al Jubayl for the above incident. Both Al Jubayl and Non-AlJubayl are immediate subsets of the Desert Storm cohort. (page 13)

Khamisiyah: On March 4, 1991, and on March 10, 1991, U.S. Servicemembers destroyed Iraqi “chemical warfare agent rockets,” possibly exposing military personnel to very low levels of chemical warfare agents, at the Khamisiyiah Army Supply Depot, Iraq. This and additional information regarding these events may be accessed by clicking on the following DoD website: Structure: It is composed of all unique deployed Veterans in the Post-Desert Storm cohort who were identified by DoD as being present at Khamisiyah for the above incidents. Both Khamisiyah and non-Khamisiyah are immediate subsets of the Post-Desert Storm cohort.(page 14)
read more of this report here
VA Report Pre 9-11
Also from Veterans For Common Sense

CIA Still Hides Important Gulf War Documents

Twenty years ago this week, U.S. troops invaded Iraq and Kuwait. The offensive U.S. military action came in response to events in July 1990, when U.S. diplomats gave a green light to Iraq's Saddam Hussein signaling he could invade Kuwait without any political, military, or economic consequences.

After two decades, there is still no accounting of the human and financial costs of this clearly preventable war. Our government still hides behind "secrecy," leaving too many Gulf War veterans without answers and without medical care.

Former CIA analyst Patrick G. Eddington's new book, "Long Strange Journey: An Intelligence Memoir" reveals how our CIA is "sitting on" millions of documents relating to widespread chemical exposure relating to Gulf War Illness. VCS thanks Mr. Eddington for his outstanding diligence in the face of so much opposition.

According to top scientists, as many as 250,000 Gulf War veterans remain ill and without treatments due, in part, to CIA, military, and VA stonewalling. Our strong message to the CIA Director Leon Panetta: Come clean now. With hundreds of thousands ill and disabled, have you no conscience for your fellow Americans, Mr. Panetta?

read more of this here
CIA Still Hides Important Gulf War Documents

Bronze Stars for 3 of Alpha Troop’s youngest soldiers

Bronze Stars for 3 who downed rogue Iraqi
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Feb 23, 2011 16:33:30 EST


The U.S. soldiers killed when an Iraqi soldier opened fire at a training center Jan. 15:

• Sgt. Michael Bartley

• Sgt. Martin “Mick” LaMar


Three young soldiers were honored for stopping the shooter:

• Pfc. Kevin Gardner

• Pfc. Raymond Gomez

• Sgt. Martin Gaymon

GHUZLANI WARRIOR TRAINING CENTER, Iraq — Before Marwan Nadir Abdulaziz al-Jabouri sprinted down a hill here Jan. 15 firing an M16 from his hip, the U.S. soldiers he targeted thought of him as a model Iraqi soldier.

He joined in 2008, passed a screening test and was recently promoted to squad leader. No one thought twice when he asked to fall out of formation to fill up his canteen shortly after 8 a.m.

The soldiers with 1st Cavalry Division’s Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade didn’t know U.S. forces had killed his uncle and cousin, or that his father, a lieutenant colonel in Saddam Hussein’s army, had recently kicked him out of his house.

Capt. Thomas Herman’s 22 soldiers waiting to start training with Jabouri’s company had no warning that morning of a shootout that killed Sgts. Michael Bartley and Martin “Mick” LaMar and critically injured Sgt. Robert Fierro.

No one could predict either that three of Alpha Troop’s youngest soldiers would react quickly enough to maneuver and kill Jabouri, preventing a tragedy from spiraling into something much worse. Pfcs. Kevin Gardner and Raymond Gomez and Sgt. Martin Gaymon each earned the Bronze Star with Valor device Feb. 17, one week after Fort Hood, Texas, held a memorial for Bartley and LaMar.
read more here
Bronze Stars for 3 who downed rogue Iraqi

Vietnam Vet's daughter-director uses film to highlight PTSD

Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD
by Laura Braddick
February 24, 2011 12:00 AM

Canton resident Leslie Lugosi is using her passion for filmmaking to call attention to a national issue.

The self-taught director and writer has been making short movies for five years with her film company BootyTooth Productions.

Her newest work entitled "Listen" follows a Vietnam War veteran who begins to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder episodes after an accident several years since his military service.

"It's based on a short story I wrote," Ms. Lugosi said. "My intent was to help people understand PTSD and help those who are suffering from it."

The Atlanta native said she tries to make films that have a positive impact on people and focus on issues important to her.

"My father served in Vietnam, and he was adversely affected by the war," she said. "It's always been a subject very dear to my heart, and it's something we're still experiencing today with soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq."

The movie, which has not yet been publicly released, was filmed entirely in Cherokee County.

With the help of Master Sgt. Gerald Edwards, a Vietnam veteran who served as military advisor for the film, Ms. Lugosi made the backwoods of Canton look like the jungle wilderness of Vietnam.

Read more: Cherokee Tribune -
Canton director uses film to highlight PTSD

University of Vermont research helps with understanding PTSD

Understanding PTSD

Feb 23, 2011 8:28pm

NECN: Anya Huneke) - When you think of PTSD, you probably think of those back from war, or dealing with another tragedy. Some new information out from the University of Vermont helps explain why some suffer more than others.

In a new report published in the journal 'Nature', scientists from UVM and Emory University have identified a hormone - known as 'pacap' - that appears to be linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The researchers found that women with high blood levels of pacap showed more of the symptoms of PTSD. The same correlation was not found in men.
Understanding PTSD

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vietnam vet from Melbourne gets heroism medal

43 years later, Vietnam vet from Melbourne gets heroism medal
Melbourne man's action finally rewarded
6:37 AM, Feb. 22, 2011
Harry Pope had the paperwork, but not the medal.

But 43 years after his act of "heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam," Pope, 64, of Melbourne, has finally received an Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device with the help of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge.

Pope knew he was recommended for the medal with "V" Device for valor he never received, yet never bothered pressing for it after returning home from the long-ago war. It was a time when there was indifference and even hostility toward returning Vietnam veterans.
read more here
Vietnam vet from Melbourne gets heroism medal

PTSD on Trial, update on Nicholas Horner

Pennsylvania Soldier's Double-Murder Trial Set for August
Published February 23, 2011
| Associated Press

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. -- The trial of an Iraq war veteran who is raising post-traumatic stress disorder as his defense in a double-murder case is set for jury selection Aug. 15.

Thirty-year-old Army veteran Nicholas Horner, of Altoona, contends his mental condition drove him to kill a 19-year-old clerk and a 64-year-old bystander while taking about $130 from an Altoona Subway store on April 6, 2009.

Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva on Tuesday ruled the jury will be picked locally, contrary to a defense request that media publicity makes picking an out-of-county jury fairer. The judge says pretrial publicity has died down and noted much of it has not been inflammatory.

The judge delayed the trial until August to give prosecutors time to hire experts to review psychiatric reports prepared by defense experts.

Read more:

IFOC and Wounded Times

As of today I am no longer affiliated with the International Fellowship of Chaplains.

Search continues for missing disabled Vietnam veteran

Search continues for disabled veteran

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham police and volunteers are still looking for Michael Campbell, a local disabled veteran of the Vietnam War. Campbell, who is 65, wheelchair-bound and reliant on an oxygen tank, was last seen Saturday in the 5700 block of First Avenue North in Woodlawn.

Campbell is a white male, 5'8" tall, 130 pounds with hazel eyes and gray hair. He was last seen wearing a black leather vest with an American flag print, blue jeans and a long sleeve white shirt. Campbell runs a transition house for homeless veterans called "Three Hots and a Cot" at the St. Benedict's Veterans Center.

According to Cindy Miller, one of the search volunteers who knows Campbell through the Patriot Guard Riders, Campbell left St. Benedict's Saturday morning around 6 a.m. to go counsel the family of a veteran who had recently committed suicide.
read more here
Search continues for disabled veteran

Lance Cpl. Andrew Carpenter Taken Off Life Support After Being Shot

Killed Marine's Dad Says Son Was Apprehensive
Andrew Carpenter Taken Off Life Support After Being Shot
Reported By Deanna Lambert
In August, Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Carpenter wrote his parents a letter thanking them for being great parents and for giving him all they did. Now, his parents think it might have been his goodbye letter.

"(I) wanted to send a thank you for not just for the packages I receive but also for everything you have done for me," Cindy Carpenter read from her son's letter.
Andrew Carpenter was taken off life support Saturday after he was recently shot in the neck on patrol in the Helmand province, according to the Department of Defense.
On Valentine's Day, Cindy and Kevin Carpenter got the phone call they never hoped to get.
"He said that my son had been seriously wounded in Afghanistan, and he started to read an incident report, and I said, 'Well, is he alive or is he dead?'" said Kevin.
Andrew was brain dead.
"We wanted to hold him, touch him. That's the one thing Crissie (Andrew's wife) didn't get to do," Cindy said.
"Cry on him," said Kevin.
During their last phone conversation with their son in January, Andrew told his father that he was scared, his dad said. Carpenter said that the U.S. military doesn't have the proper resources to be over there fighting.
read more here
Andrew Carpenter Taken Off Life Support After Being Shot

Fire fighter deployed to Afghanistan for a year, paid for only weeks

As bad as it has been for Guardsmen coming home with the lack of support, we keep forgetting about the financial hardship they face while deployed. This is yet one more reminder of what they are up against.

Lancaster firefighter union says city owes money to firefighter serving in Afghanistan

Written by
Local News
LANCASTER -- The Lancaster firefighter union is likely to sue the city if it does not pay a balance the union says a firefighter serving in Afghanistan is owed, a union negotiator said.

The union thinks the city owes Darrell Wallace, a firefighter and paramedic serving a year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan, about $4,500 because of a change in state law, said K.J. Watts, a Lancaster firefighter and fifth district vice president for the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters.

In 2010, state lawmakers passed House Bill 449, which increased from 176 to 408 the number of hours a municipality must pay firefighters and emergency medical technicians per year.

But a 1980 Ohio Supreme Court ruling mandated a municipality's "constitutional home-rule authority regarding military leave of its employees prevails over conflicting state law," according to a Legislative Service Commission analysis of the bill, which took effect Sept. 17, 2001.

The city is pointing to that ruling as its reason for capping Wallace's pay under the new 408-hour standard. Of the 52 municipalities with which Watts negotiates, Lancaster is the only one using the case to exempt itself from the new state law, he said.

"Our position is we are currently following city policy," said Mike Courtney, the city's service safety director. "We've always supported our employees who do perform military service."

Wallace's 2011 military pay from the city ran out in January, Watts said. He was paid for 230 hours -- about $5,800 -- instead of 176 hours because the union bargained for more time for military leave in 2008. But Watts said the new state law should supercede the lower number of hours provided in the contract.
read more here
Lancaster firefighter union

Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

There are jerks everywhere. Nothing new. A veteran can end up being killed by someone just because he's homeless. Coworkers can pull stupid stunts to get a PTSD veteran to go off on them. Some protestors against the war linked in with others, including parents of soldiers, will say stupid things against the men and women they claim they care about. So let's just be honest here. In any group, there will always be a few jerks.

Yet this story about a few jerks from Columbia ended up showing how much veterans are cared about. The response to this story has the blog world on fire, from Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Veterans have a lot to teach the rest of us. They stand together no matter what political party they come from, where they live or how much they make. It doesn't make a difference if they are going to school or running a business.

Columbia had a veteran, a wounded veteran on top of everything else, speak at a hearing for ROTC. While everyone else there wanted to hear the speaker, a few gathered and decided what they wanted to say at the moment they wanted to say it mattered more than anything else. If you've ever tried to have a conversation with egotistical-self-absorbed jerks, you know what I mean. They make it their mission to constantly interrupt what someone else is saying. They are like children jumping up and down, screaming to get attention when grownups are talking. This ended up making the veteran and Columbia look like grownups and the hecklers look like spoiled brats.

ROTC at Columbia University: Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

Marco Reininger
Veteran of the war in Afghanistan, political science major at Columbia University's School of General Studies
Posted: February 22, 2011 01:12 PM

Heckling a speaker -- veteran or not -- during a public hearing intended to further dialogue and constructive debate is, simply put, childish. It is particularly disappointing when the hecklers are members of the Columbia University community, an institution that prides itself with its spirit of free speech, toleration and respect for one's fellow man and woman.

However, at the university's February 15th hearing regarding ROTC at Columbia, the catcalls were directed at Anthony Maschek, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who was severely wounded in combat. A group of ROTC opponents booed and laughed at Maschek's comments in support of the military and called him a racist. A former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant can most likely handle petty booing by a small group of vocal anti-military activists in an otherwise supportive audience. However, the disturbance seemed hostile enough for the moderator to insist that the environment remain one where people "are not threatened."

Thus, I want to caution against labeling Columbia University "hostile" based on the immature actions of a few. It is indeed a place of open debate and discourse of opinion where emotions can run hot and etiquette neglected. Yet, the fact that a discussion regarding the reinstatement of ROTC is even taking place shows the institution's overarching spirit. Yes, it was a veteran who was heckled during the hearing and that deserves special attention. However, the university as a whole has demonstrated its dedication to veterans in recent years and having a few vocal ROTC opponents on campus should not be used to imply the contrary.

The individuals who booed Anthony Maschek revealed their lack of respect for human beings with differing opinions to theirs, which, independent of his veteran status, is tragic. More significantly, while advocating non-violence, they denied dignified, non-hostile treatment to an individual that has shown great integrity, loyalty and a dedication to our country. Yet, the group merely achieved to spotlight their immaturity and undermine their credibility. By not allowing Anthony Mascheck undisturbed sharing of his point of view as a former military man, the group demonstrated their disinterest in engaging in a mannerly debate and exposed their true desire to provoke and instigate.

read more here

Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

Wounded TImes Blog honored Top 50 Blogs for Army Wives

Bravery from the Home Front: Top 50 Blogs for Army Wives (or Spouses)
With a war still going on, more and more are answering the call to fight for their country. There are literally thousands of troops stationed all over overseas, and being a military spouse can be very difficult. However, with the invention of the internet, it is now easier than ever to not only send letters, pictures and videos, it is easier than ever to meet those who have been where you are going.

If you have a husband or wife who is in the army, there is no need to feel all alone. Below, we have gathered the top 50 blogs for army wives and/or spouses. They are authored by wives, spouses, those serving overseas and even those who made it back home and have loads of help for how to adjust back to civilian life.

Bravery from the Home Front

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Soldiers fighting invisible enemy on home turf-TBI

Soldiers fighting invisible enemy on home turf
February 21st, 2011 @ 10:18pm
By Sarah Dallof
SALT LAKE CITY -- An alarming rise in a type of battlefield injury is prompting changes within the military and in how soldiers returning from battle are treated.

Symptoms closely mirror those of post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, the two often operate in a vicious cycle.

Josh Hansen was injured in several blasts similar to these.

Doctors estimate up to 20 percent of soldiers currently deployed will suffer a traumatic brain injury -- something that just a few years ago was often never diagnosed or properly treated. Most will recover with no after affects, but some are changed forever.

When retired Army Sgt. Josh Hansen first saw a modern warfare video posted on YouTube by an insurgent group, it brought back painful memories -- it was one of his missions.

Hansen would suffer eight concussions during two tours of duty from blasts like those shown in the video.

"When we were first getting injured, no one thought of brain injuries. You just pop some aspirin and go back out and do your job," Hansen said.

Concussions occur when an outside force causes the brain to shake in the skull. It's an injury that routinely sidelines professional football and hockey players.

Hansen didn't notice slowdown until his fifth concussion. He says he would be in the middle of a mission when suddenly he had no idea how he'd gotten there.
read more here
Soldiers fighting invisible enemy on home turf

Veteran gets foster home instead of nursing home

Why didn't anyone think of this before? This is such a great idea when you consider there are people in this country taking in homeless dogs. The dogs are cared for until someone adopts them by their foster families. When we were looking for a dog, Save-a-life gave us the option of being a foster family or adopting. We fell in love with our dog, so right away, we adopted him. We were ready to do whatever it took to give him a good home. Veterans in this country have not been so lucky.

Many veterans have no family to help take care of them or even visit them in a nursing home. Doing something like this is an outstanding idea! There was something like this after WWII. My husband's uncle was on a ship that was sunk. He was in the ocean for a few days. When he came home he was sent to live on a farm with a couple dedicated to taking care of veterans. They lived there, were cared about and given something to do with their days. While it gave him a better quality of life even with what was called "Shell-shock" it can only work better now because there is a lot more knowledge of what needs to be done.

Local Veteran is First to Receive One-of-a-Kind Care
Local Veteran is First to Receive One-of-a-Kind Care
Kenneth Gaddis is a Korean War veteran who recently found himself a new home, thanks to the help of the V.A. Medical Center of Dublin.
The V.A. Center started a program to put veterans into a foster home instead of a nursing home. The focus is to give veterans one-on-one care in a person's house, rather than being just another patient in a nursing home.
Kenneth Gaddis is the first middle Georgian to take advantage of this program.
Gaddis' foster 'family', is Lisa Akins. She helps by helping Gaddis make his bed, cook his food, and take him to the store.
But Kenneth says he likes helping Lisa around the house, doing things just like he did when he was younger.
"Yeah, I like to help her if I can," Gaddis says. "Do things that I used bring in the groceries, something like that."
But the V.A. Center needs more help from families for more veterans. According to a V.A. Center spokesman, veterans who are in the foster care program see better health results, because they typically get more attention and exercise.
And Lisa says Kenneth is not a patient, he's a part of the family.
"We just hang out as a family," she says. "He goes out with the family and hangs out with us. Like he's a part of the family."
If you are interested in becoming a foster family for a local veteran, or would like more information about the program, you can click here

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Heart-Ship of Loving Veterans with PTSD

It isn't hard to believe that Lily Casura has become an outstanding hero on PTSD. When I think of all the years we've talked and shared, it is hard to remember all the conversations but this one stood out in my mind as well as Lily's. We were talking about the kind of heartache she was heading into working with veterans trying to heal PTSD. First I told her that it was not impossible, but it was almost impossible to get through to them in the beginning. Then I told her that listening to their stories or reading their emails would break her heart but soon she'd see how great these men and women are.

To imagine that depth of pain comes with a person still willing to do it all over again no matter how much they suffered after is a testament to their character. They do not worry as much about themselves as they worry about their families and what this is all doing to them. They tell stories of how they ended up divorced or how they believe they are heading to it. They don't want to hurt anyone and they don't want to hurt anymore. Lily gets it.

Last week she did a post for Valentines Day. I've been out of my mind with classes and trying to keep up but this semester brings killer classes like typography and screenwriting taking up way too many hours a day. I have time to breathe now that several projects due tomorrow are done and wanted to post what she wrote. When she wrote heart-ship, it went right to the point of what love does when it is anything but normal to most, but normal to the world we live in with PTSD getting in the middle.

February 15, 2011

The Heart-Ship of Loving Veterans with PTSD
Lily Casura
Valentine's Day -- and coming up next week, five years of writing this site -- are making me think about holding the space of loving veterans with PTSD in my heart, and the "heart-ship" sometimes of doing so.

I was warned early on about this, by none other than Kathie Costos, who I esteem highly to this day. A few years into it, she wrote me in response to some problem I was bringing up, "I told you in the beginning when we first started corresponding that they would break your heart while you did this thankless job but the rewards would be worth millions for your heart. I told you they were magnificent! I am so happy they are starting to tell you how much you mean to them. That's really wonderful and even more important they are opening up. That is a big compliment to your work. They have a hard time opening up to anyone."

Well, open up they have...especially in a forum linked to this, which is the Healing Combat Trauma site on Facebook, and all the different relationships that have come out of that.
read more here
The Heart-Ship of Loving Veterans with PTSD

Sunday, February 20, 2011

After Dave Duerson Death Ruled Suicide, Brain To Go To Research

Dave Duerson Death Ruled Suicide, Donating Brain For Concussion Research

NEW YORK — The family of former Bears safety Dave Duerson has agreed to donate his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to athletes who have sustained repeated concussions.

Chris Nowinski at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine told The Associated Press he was contacted by a representative of the NFL Players Association on Friday, then worked with a representative of Duerson's family.

"I can confirm that Mr. Duerson's family has agreed to donate his brain to the CSTE at BU School of Medicine," Nowinski said in an e-mail.

Duerson died Thursday in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. The Miami-Dade medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, Miami-Dade police spokesman Roy Rutland said Sunday. He confirmed that a gun was used but did not specify where Duerson shot himself.

It's unclear why Duerson killed himself, although his company had been forced into receivership several years ago and he had lost his home to foreclosure, former Bears coach Mike Ditka told the AP in a phone interview Sunday.

"I knew he had some problems, I knew he lost the business, I knew all that," said Ditka, whose Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund works to help provide for retired players, which includes funding research into health-related issues such as brain injuries.
read more here
After Suicide, Bears Star's Brain Donated For Concussion Research

Fort Lauderdale police need help after homeless man set on fire

Florida Homeless Man Set on Fire During Fight
Published February 19, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Police in Florida are searching for a man they say set another man on fire during a fight Friday.

Fort Lauderdale police said 58-year-old John Gibbons set 51-year-old William Stouffer on fire early Friday morning while the two were fighting behind a Burger King restaurant.

Stouffer was doused with some kind of accelerant before the other man lit him on fire, Detective Travis Mandell said.

Stouffer's girlfriend told local station WSVN that the men are homeless and both lived in tents near the Burger King.

"All of a sudden, poof, a big ball of fire, and here's Bill screaming like in a big ball of flames," she said.

Stouffer was hospitalized in Miami in critical condition. Police are searching for the man who attacked him.

Police are asking anyone with information on Gibbons's whereabouts to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more:
Florida Homeless Man Set on Fire During Fight

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sally Satel, Something evil this way comes

Sally Satel, Something evil this way comes
February 19, 2011 posted by Chaplain Kathie · Leave a Comment (Edit)
Sally Satel is still at it with the support from American Enterprise Institute. For years she’s been trying to say that PTSD is nothing more than veterans looking for an easy ride. She hasn’t changed and her claims remain that taking care of veterans with PTSD is a waste of money.
Veterans: What’s Wrong with Current Treatments?
As the White House proposes a $7.2 billion allocation in its 2012 budget to fund research and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholar and psychiatrist Sally Satel explains the number of problems with current PTSD treatments and proposes methods to optimize the use of PTSD funding.
Among Satel’s key points:
A “culture of clinical diagnosis” allows mental health examiners to diagnose a veteran’s level of disability before veterans have even begun rehab. This convinces the patient that future health is unattainable, and gives individual veterans dismal prospects for meaningful recovery even before a course of therapy.
Disability benefits themselves can sometimes cause inadvertent damage by incentivizing unemployment and dependency and discouraging veterans from returning to the civilian workforce.
Collaboration between the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) needs to improve. The VBA often aims to maximize veteran benefits while giving no attention to improving clinical treatment, while the VHA often focuses solely on treatment without properly assisting veterans with financial hardships.
Sally Satel can be reached at (202.862.7154) or through her assistant at (202.862.4876). For all other media inquiries, please contact Hampton Foushee at (202.862.5806).
AEI’s in-house ReadyCam TV studio–for live and taped interviews–can be booked through VideoLink at 617.340.4300.
Another load of scholarly wisdom shoveled out on veteran’s heads. Guess she never met the veterans waiting for month after month, even years, to have a claim approved only to discover that a disability worthy of 100% will only receive 50% or less making them file an appeal and fight for the rest. This is not even addressing the fact that until they receive the disability rating, there is no income for them to live off of if they cannot work. This the case of PTSD, veterans usually cannot work because of the medications, flashbacks and nightmares and all around reduced quality of life.
read more here
Sally Satel, Something evil this way comes

Female Sgt. told by Chaplain, rape must have been God's will

This so called "chaplain" told a woman that being raped must have been God's will and then told her to go to church more! No person in their right mind would suggest such a thing. Being a victim of a crime is not God's will. How could a Chaplain say such a deplorable thing? Yet this is going on all the time when soldiers turn to Chaplains for spiritual help. Being a member of the "wrong" denomination, or no affiliation at all, will bring condemnation from some Chaplains as they tell the soldier they are going to hell unless they covert. Now we hear that a female soldier is told it was God's will because she didn't go to church enough?

Military chaplain: Soldier’s rape ‘must have been God’s will’

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, February 18th, 2011
WASHINGTON – A lawsuit targeting the Pentagon contains an astonishing anecdote about a retired Sergeant's experience after being sexually assaulted by a colleague during a deployment to Afghanistan.

The lawsuit, available here (PDF), was filed by 17 military women against Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld in Virginia. It assails "the military's repeated failures to take action in rape cases created a culture where violence against women was tolerated, violating the plaintiffs' Constitutional rights."

Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla alleges in the complaint that in 2006, after her military supervisor repeatedly sexually harassed her, she was raped by a colleague she was working with at the time.

"He pulled her into his bed, held her down, and raped her. He also photographed the rape," it reads. Havrilla reported the incident within a month.

In February 2009, she reported for active duty training and, upon seeing her rapist, went into shock.

"She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain," the lawsuit reads. "When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that 'it must have been God's will for her to be raped' and recommended that she attend church more frequently."

The complains adds that "SGT Havrilla suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression."
read more here
Soldier’s rape must have been God’s will

Friday, February 18, 2011

Suicidal thoughts plague returned veterans

Denial will not save their lives, marriages or relationships with their kids. Denial is just as deadly when families refuse to understand what PTSD is.

After years of writing on PTSD I had a hard time understanding why spouses of Afghanistan and Iraq troops did not ask questions or show any interest in learning what they needed to know. My answer came from a young wife. She said that while her husband was gone, she had enough to worry about. She had to take care of everything at home alone along with worrying about the car pulling up in the driveway to tell her that her husband was not coming home. She didn't want to have to worry about something that may not happen.

A wound by bullet or bomb in war, may or may not happen. The car with the Chaplain inside may or may not come. The tasks that have to be done and kids that need care, still all need to be taken care of even when they come home. The need to understand what PTSD is ahead of time goes a long way toward getting help right away instead of wondering what came home and blaming them for what is happening inside of them.

Families can either make their negative feelings stronger and feed the turmoil or they can ease their minds and help them heal. It all depends on what they know just as much as how much they care.

Why wait to regret what they did not do? A Vietnam veteran's wife called me the other day. They had been married for 40 years but with retirement, mild PTSD got worse. Recently she became aware of what PTSD is and now lives with the regret of the turmoil in her home and what it all did to her kids growing up. I told her that she did the best she could with what she knew and now has the chance to do better. I reminded her that when our husbands came home, there was nothing for us to help us help them. Then I told her that even knowing what PTSD was and knowing what to do as much as I knew what not to do, it was almost impossible to keep my family together. To hold a family together for 40 years knowing nothing is remarkable.

With all the information available today, knowing spouses want to remain uninformed is heartbreaking. Most of what they have ahead of them can be wonderful if they learn now just as much as if their spouse gets help now instead of years later, it can be a great future. The problem is time is being wasted while PTSD takes a stronger hold and negative emotions are fed.

If they learn now, love still lives later.

War’s other casualty: Suicidal thoughts plague returned veterans
FEB 17, 2011
Suicide among veterans is not a simple discussion. With veterans making more than half the calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline since 2007, does the adage of the “ultimate sacrifice” need to be revisited?

More than 134,000 people made calls to the lifeline last year. Of those callers, 61 percent identified themselves as veterans, while 7 percent identified themselves as a friend or family of a veteran.

This means that nearly three-fourths of calls made to the lifeline were related to veterans’ issues.

“What we don’t really know is the relationship between the people who are really going to kill themselves and the population who calls,” said Dr. Dean Krahn, chief of the mental health service line at the VA in Madison, Wis.

The relationship may not be known, but the need is salient.

The Department of Veteran Affairs partnered with the lifeline in 2007 to provide these services for veterans. By dialing “1” after calling 1-800-273-TALK, veterans are routed to a lifeline that caters to their specific needs.

But the lifeline was only established in 2004, a few decades after Steve Nelson and others like him returned home from Vietnam.

For 35 years, Nelson never spoke about his war experiences. Instead, he found solace with drugs and alcohol to dull the memories magnified by his Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
read more here
Suicidal thoughts plague returned veterans

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PTSD "Everything starts to be a trigger."

Some great things come out in this report. First, Vietnam veterans are getting help, even after all these years. Then they are trying to help the newer veterans. Families are stepping up too. Given the fact that older veterans and their families have been there, done that, with basically nothing to lean on, they want to make it easier for the newer families. That's why I do what I do. Back when I started dealing with all of this, there was nothing for me. I was working "without a net" under me or around me the way we have the cyber world at our fingertips ready willing and able to offer the support along with information we hunger for. Wives like me were feeling as if we were totally alone to figure this out all by ourselves. We did. We went through hell to get to the point where we knew enough and most of us remember those dark days. We want to make sure that if we can help avoid extra heartache for newer families, we're there.

For veterans with PTSD, "everything can be a trigger" but when families are aware of what is behind all of it, we can make sure the safety is on. We can either add to the turmoil or we can calm their souls if we are aware.

Vietnam Veteran gets help with PTSD after 40 years of suffering
by Jessica Harthorn
Posted: 02.16.2011 at 11:02 PM

CLIO -- After the Civil War the term "Soldier's Heart" was given to soldiers who suffered intense anxiety because of their experiences.

Today it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Medical experts say hormones released because of stress actually help burn in memories, making it easier for PTSD patients to recall the negative images.

NBC25 found out how its affecting our local soldiers and ways families can spot it.

The cost of PTSD is great. Veterans often lose their families, their jobs, and even their minds.

I talked with one vet who's been living with the disorder for more than 40 years.

Since 1967 Mike Dickinson has suffered intense nightmares.

“You wake up sweating and kicking and trying to get away, and I hit my wife accidently,” said Mike Dickinson, a Vietnam Veteran.

As a Vietnam veteran, Dickinson witnessed many horrific events and thought his anxiety was normal.

“It's one of those man up things you know, nah I’m all right…I found out I wasn’t,” said Dickinson.

Recently Dickinson was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, something clinical social workers say plague 8% of combat soldiers.

“Everything starts to be a trigger, it reminds you of something that was done, or related to something that was done, so you try to avoid that trigger, so you stay away from things and people,” said Robin Fenlon, a clinical social worker.
read more here
Vietnam Veteran gets help with PTSD

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Soldier finds mental health stigma still alive in Guard

Soldier finds mental health stigma still alive in Guard
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Feb 15, 2011 18:01:39 EST
First Lt. Steve Philpot received the phone call every married soldier dreads on deployment.

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t sit by the phone and hope you’re alive. When you get home, get your stuff and get out,” the 28-year-old National Guardsmen heard his ex-wife tell him on the phone in Afghanistan.

Philpot hoped when he came home for his mid-deployment rest and recuperation leave in January 2010 that she would change her mind once she saw him.

She didn’t.

This was a miserable deja vu for Philpot, whose first wife cheated on him while he was away at Officer Training School in 2008. He had yet to turn 27, and the Oklahoma National Guardsman was already twice divorced. This one hurt more, though.

“I couldn’t believe I was going through this again. I hit rock bottom and I knew I needed help,” Philpot said.

The soldier contacted his unit’s rear detachment, which sent a chaplain to his home.

Thus began the long road from soldier needing counseling to Army outcast. Philpot still can’t believe that reaching out for help has further complicated his life.

Philpot is frustrated with the Guard. So frustrated, he regrets asking for help.

“Since I’ve asked the Army for help, I’ve been treated like garbage, like a third-rate soldier,” he said. “I got help at Fort Sill, but coming back to the National Guard it has been nothing but ‘you are a piece of garbage,’” Philpot said.

The Army has gone to great lengths to try to remove the stigma that comes with reporting depression and suicidal thoughts. But Philpot and other soldiers said that while the Army has stood up a suicide prevention task force and instituted programs to deal with depression, more work needs to be done when the soldier leaves a hospital or counselor’s office.
read more here
Soldier finds mental health stigma still alive in Guard

ACLU Wants Probe Into West Los Angeles Veterans’ Facility

ACLU Wants Probe Into West Los Angeles Veterans’ Facility
February 16, 2011 5:10 AM

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union says the federal government isn’t doing enough to help Los Angeles military veterans.
The ACLU wrote Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the U.S. Department of Justice and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking for an investigation into the VA’s stewardship of its sprawling West Los Angeles property.
read more here
ACLU Wants Probe Into West Los Angeles Veterans’ Facility

Photographer embedded with US soldiers severely wounded by bomb

Blast photographer wounds 'severe'
(UKPA) – 5 hours ago
The family of a London photographer blown up by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan have said in a statement that his injuries are "severe and complex".
Giles Duley, 39, underwent multiple amputations after the blast in Kandahar on Monday last week, before being flown back to the UK.
He had been embedded with US troops when he was critically injured by an improvised explosive device.
He was brought back to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for further surgery, and was said to be in a stable condition on Saturday.
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Blast photographer wounds severe

Psychiatric Center patients warned of hepatitis risk

Patients treated at Rockland Psychiatric Center warned of hepatitis risk

ORANGEBURG — At least one patient contracted hepatitis B at Rockland Psychiatric Center and state officials are testing hundreds more to see if anyone else was infected, possibly through the use of a blood-sample lancing device.

The state Department of Health issued an advisory Tuesday so anyone who was treated at the hospital at the same time as the patient who contracted the disease would get tested.

All 229 people who might have been exposed to blood-borne diseases while they were at the state-run psychiatric center have been identified and contacted, said Jill Daniels, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Mental Health.

Blood tests are being done on those people to see if they were infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV while they were at the Rockland hospital. No other cases have been identified yet, Daniels said.

The Rockland Psychiatric Center advisory was the second time in a week that the state warned patients who had been treated at a hospital that they might have contracted a blood-borne disease.

Patients treated at a pain management clinic run by South Nassau Communities Hospital on Long Island were warned that they might have been exposed to hepatitis C.
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Psychiatric Center warned of hepatitis risk

Three Florida doctors and 18 others charged with Medicare scam

3 doctors, 18 others charged in Fla. Medicare scam
By KELLI KENNEDY - Feb 15, 2011 5:25 PM ET
By The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — Three doctors and 18 other people were charged Tuesday with billing Medicare for roughly $200 million in bogus mental health services for patients suffering from Alzheimer's and severe dementia.

Prosecutors allege American Therapeutic Corp. and its sister companies faked medication and care charts and paid the owners of assisted living facilities and halfway houses to bring patients to their seven mental health centers for therapy sessions that were never held.

Some patients also cashed in on the scheme by providing their Medicare numbers, while others were "not coherent enough" to demand kickbacks, according to the investigation by the U.S. departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.
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Medicare scaml

UK Army major fired soldiers by email

Fox apologises to soldiers given redundancy by e-mail

Defence Secretary Liam Fox has apologised to 38 soldiers who heard that they were being made redundant by e-mail, including one who is currently serving on the front line in Afghanistan.
Dr Fox said the situation was "completely unacceptable", and also told MPs he regretted the way trainee RAF pilots had discovered they were to lose their jobs.
Having been summoned to the despatch box to answer an urgent question in the Commons from shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy on 15 February 2011, Dr Fox said: "As a result of the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review, it has sadly been necessary to plan for redundancies in both the civil service and armed forces.
"At all times this should be done with sensitivity to individuals concerned and with an understanding of the impact this will have on them and their families."
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Fox apologises to soldiers given redundancy by e-mail

Army major who fired soldiers by email 'deeply regrets' what he did
Last updated at 9:24 AM on 16th February 2011
The army major who sacked 38 long-serving soldiers by e-mail forcing a humiliating government apology 'deeply regrets' what he did, it was claimed today.
Career manager Andy Simpson sent the message out to men who had each completed 22 years of duty, sparking outrage from Downing Street.
One victim of the spending cuts – a sergeant major in the Royal Tank Regiment – was on the frontline in Afghanistan when he heard the news.

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Army major who fired soldiers by email

Veterans Say Rape Cases Mishandled

Rape is a crime. Simple. So why is it there are some believing they are above the law? Why would anyone in the military not be able to honor the law? This is the part we all need to face. They believe they can ignore it.

This attitude not only insults females in the military, it insults every female veteran slapping their service with a less than worthy middle finger. It insults every woman in this country especially women seeking protection and justice from a rapists.

Veterans Say Rape Cases Mishandled
February 15, 2011 posted by Veterans Today
WASHINGTON – A group of U.S. veterans who say they were raped and abused by their comrades want to force the Pentagon to change how it handles such cases.

More than a dozen female and two male current or former service members say servicemen get away with rape and other sexual abuse and victims are too often ordered to continue to serve alongside those they say attacked them.

Kori Cioca, 25, of Wilmington, Ohio, speaks about how she was raped while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard

In a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday that names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, they want an objective third party to handle such complaints because individual commanders have too much say in how allegations are handled.

The alleged attackers in the lawsuit include an Army criminal investigator and an Army National Guard commander. The abuse alleged ranges from obscene verbal abuse to gang rape.

In one incident, an Army Reservist says two male colleagues raped her in Iraq and videotaped the attack. She complained to authorities after the men circulated the video to colleagues. Despite being bruised from her shoulders to elbows from being held down, she says charges weren’t filed because the commander determined she “did not act like a rape victim” and “did not struggle enough” and authorities said they didn’t want to delay the scheduled return of the alleged attackers to the United States.

“The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it’s the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it,” said Panayiota Bertzikis, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit and claims she was raped in 2006. “From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed.”

Although The Associated Press normally does not identify the victims of sexual assault, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have publicly discussed the cases.

Bertzikis, 29, of Somerville, Mass., now is executive director of the Military Rape Crisis Center. She says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate while out on a social hike with him in Burlington, Vt. Bertzikis complained to her commanding officer, but she said authorities did not take substantial steps to investigate the matter. Instead, she said, they forced her to live on the same floor as the man she had accused and tolerated others calling her a “liar” and “whore.”
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Veterans Say Rape Cases Mishandled
And then we have this study.

Trauma increases risks for alcohol problems in women
February 14, 2011
By Jim Dryden

Young women who have experienced traumatic events are more likely to become alcohol dependent than those who have not, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center (MARC), which is housed in the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine.

The MARC involves collaborations among Washington University alcoholism researchers and scientists at the University of Iowa, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, Arizona State University and Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

The center is preparing to host the 11th Annual Guze Symposium on Alcoholism, which this year will focus on Trauma and Alcoholism, Findings from studies published in the journals Psychological Medicine and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggest that trauma is an important risk factor for alcohol problems in women.
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Trauma increases risks for alcohol problems in women

They prepare for the fact there will be traumatic events when they deploy but what they are not prepared for is being attacked by their own and then betrayed.

Women go into the military as they have since the beginning of this country, legally or disguising themselves and they will keep going into the military with the same patriotic tug of the heart as males. They will deploy into combat zones and while they are technically not supposed to be in combat roles, they are. With the kind of warfare going on as terrorist tactics remove safe zones, combat comes to them.

Why do they serve? Because they love this country and the rights that are supposed to be protected for all citizens but as they are risking their lives they discover they are sub-citizen to their commanders in the military. Rape is a crime. If these same commanders had a wife, sister or daughter raped by someone in the military or in civilian life, they would not be able to put the rapist criminal above them. So how do these same people justify it when it is a servicewoman under their command?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Homeless veteran Charles Lee Cummings was not alone

Homeless veteran gets final salute at Plant City funeral
By GEORGE H. NEWMAN | The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 11, 2011

PLANT CITY - A homeless Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam era had no family or friends at his funeral service.

But in the end, Charles Lee Cummings was not alone.

The staff at Wells Memorial Funeral Home, veterans and others paid a final tribute Thursday to Cummings, who was 68 when he died at Community Care Center.

MacDill Air Force Base provided an honor guard; the Rev. Jim Brady, pastor at East Thonotosassa Baptist Church, delivered the eulogy.

"While one might state that Charles has no family here, I beg to differ," Brady said.

"The family of God is here today. And there are also representatives of Charles' military family. It is often said that a soldier never dies alone. For within his spirit is fixed the memory of times shared with those who, then and now, wear the same uniform as he once proudly wore."

The staff at Wells Memorial, led by Manager Verna McKelvin, made sure that Cummings did not die a forgotten man.

About 30 people – many of them veterans - attended the funeral service for Cummings, who was buried later that day in Bushnell's Florida National Cemetery.

Not much is known about Cummings, who died Dec. 9. He had no home address, and attempts to contact relatives by Wells employees and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office failed.

Cummings was born in Union City, Tenn., and served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1968. Through contacts with veterans agencies McKelvin was able to determine that Cummings was honorably discharged. This was enough to allow a military funeral and burial in a military cemetery.
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Homeless veteran gets final salute at Plant City funeral

More on forgotten veterans funerals

Homeless Vets on the Road to Proper Burials
Updated: Monday, 14 Feb 2011, 7:48 PM EST
Published : Monday, 14 Feb 2011, 7:48 PM EST


ROCHESTER, Mich. (WJBK) - The remains of four homeless veterans were kept at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office. No relatives had claimed the bodies.

Through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Program, an effort began to have them buried at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.

John Desmond, the manger of the Pixley Funeral Home in Rochester, offered to donate coffins and burial preparations. However, his efforts were initially thwarted because he didn't have the Social Security numbers of the homeless vets.

After our story aired, there was an uproar and outpouring of offers to help.
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Homeless Vets on the Road to Proper Burials

Monday, February 14, 2011

Unemployed veterans, congress wants your resumes

Vets can put resumes into Congressional Record
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 14, 2011 15:41:57 EST
An Illinois congressman is promising out-of-work veterans the opportunity to have their resumes published in the Congressional Record, the official record of debate and proceedings for the House and Senate.

He is promising attention, but not jobs.

“Sending me your resume will not get you a job, but it can help force Washington to end the unemployment problem once and for all,” said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who launched his effort last week.

Jackson spokesman Andrew Wilson confirmed Monday that the congressman’s intent is to put the resumes into the Congressional Record “in addition to using the stories in floor remarks, speeches, etc.”

The first four people to take him up on the offer are a retired Navy telecommunications expert from San Diego, a former Army supply officer from Burbank, Calif., a retired Air Force technical sergeant from Snow Hill, N.C., and a former Navy radioman from Bradford, Pa.

Their resumes appear in the Feb. 10 Congressional Record as part of Jackson’s effort to call attention to the plight of veterans who are having problems finding work.

“Service to our nation is an honorable profession, and we should honor that service by seeing that every veteran has a job when their service is over,” Jackson said.

“When you risk your life for your country, we should make sure you have a life when you return,” he said. “No veteran should be left questioning how they will feed their family, wondering about their self worth or fretting about their financial future.”

Jackson said veterans who want their resumes published in the Congressional Record should e-mail them to
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Vets can put resumes into Congressional Record

Vietnam Vet receives Silver Star 40 years late

Veteran Receives Medals After 40 Years
Updated: Sunday, 13 Feb 2011, 5:42 PM MST
Published : Sunday, 13 Feb 2011, 5:42 PM MST

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - From the War Room -- the Army honors several soldiers in Scottsdale on Sunday, one of whom has been waiting more than 40 years for several medals from the Vietnam War.

Luis Molinar accepted awards for his bravery in Vietnam.

“I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m emotional and happy this is happening,” Molinar said.

It was a recognition that had been long overdue.

“To me, this is a closure, a closure of many years in the military and being shot down twice and receiving these awards and recognition,” Molinar said.

On Sunday, Molinar received his Purple Hearts and Silver Star.

“It was a matter of time. I knew this would come, but I wasn't expecting it,” he said.

A pilot during the Vietnam War, Molinar is credited with getting his helicopter back in the air after it was shot down.
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Veteran Receives Medals After 40 Years

Will GOP Congress honor VA funding?

We saw veterans suffering and ignored while the GOP held the most seats in congress before but now there are more Tea Party folks like Bachmann not caring about what veterans need. We all know about the backlog of claims and the need to take care of veterans with the usual wounds along with illnesses, the aging population, increase of Agent Orange illnesses topped of with PTSD and TBI. With all of this, when the need is so great, will they honor veterans with their votes or will they betray them with their lip service?

VA Announces Budget Request for 2012

Shinseki Pledges to Continue to be "Good Steward" of Resources

WASHINGTON (Feb. 14, 2011) - In announcing the proposed budget for the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) during the next fiscal year,
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki emphasized "making every
dollar" count in the $132 billion budget proposal for VA.

"We will continue to wisely use the funds that Congress appropriates for
us to further improve the quality of life for Veterans and their
families through the efficiency of our operations," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

"In the current constrained fiscal environment, every dollar counts,"
Shinseki added. "We have put into place management systems and
initiatives to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and to eliminate

The budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 must be
approved by Congress before taking effect.

Health Care

The budget request seeks nearly $51 billion for medical care. It would
provide care to more than 6.2 million patients, including nearly 540,000
Veterans of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The budget request also includes almost $1 billion for a contingency
fund and $1.2 billion of operational improvements to manage the
appropriated funds in a fiscally responsible manner.

Major health care provisions include:

* $6.2 billion for mental health programs, including $68
million directly for suicide prevention;

* $344 million to activate newly constructed medical

* $208 million to implement new benefits for Veterans'

* Nearly $509 million for research; and

Shinseki noted the department has created "a portfolio of initiatives"
to improve the quality of VA care while making it easier for patients to
access services. Primary care providers will put more emphasis upon
disease prevention and healthy living. New technology - securing
e-mails, social networking and telehealth - will be harnessed to meet
the evolving needs of patients.

For example, in 2010, a daily average of more than 31,000 patients took
advantage of VA's telehome health care. The budget proposal will allow
more than 50,000 people daily to use this innovative, at-home care.

Among the department's operational improvements is a provision that
calls for VA to implement Medicare's standard payment rates, a measure
that will free $315 million for other health care needs.


The proposed budget for the new fiscal year includes more than $70
billion in "mandatory" benefits programs, a category consisting mostly
of VA disability compensation and pension payments.

Shinseki reaffirmed his commitment to "break the back of the backlog" of
claims from Veterans for disability compensation and pensions. VA's
goal is to provide Veterans with decisions on their claims within 125
days at a 98 percent accuracy rate by 2015.

Various initiatives support continued redesign of VA's business
processes and development of a paperless claims system to improve the
efficiency of VA's handling of applications for compensation and
pensions. Among the major projects is one to provide Veterans with
streamlined forms to present to non-VA physicians who are evaluating
Veterans for disability benefits, while another new program allows
online application for claims related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Homelessness Prevention

The funding request includes nearly $940 million for specific programs
to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans and their families.
This funding is a 17 percent increase over the current budget of nearly
$800 million.

"Homelessness is both a housing and a health care issue," Shinseki said.
"Our 2012 budget plan supports a comprehensive approach to eliminating
Veterans' homelessness by making key investments in homeless and mental
health programs."

Education and Training

The requested budget for "mandatory" benefits programs includes nearly
$11.5 billion for VA education, training, vocational rehabilitation and
employment programs, including educational benefit programs VA
administers for the Department of Defense. Approximately 925,000 people
will receive benefits under these programs. Nearly three-quarters of
the funds will go to recipients of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The budget proposal continues development of an automated Post-9/11 GI
Bill claims processing system that will speed tuition and housing
payments to eligible Veterans.

Information Technology

VA will seek nearly $3.2 billion for the new fiscal year to operate and
maintain its information technology (IT).

"IT is the key to bringing VA into the 21st century," Shinseki said. "It
allows for the efficient delivery of health care and benefits."

A recent independent study found that VA invested $4 billion in medical
IT from 1997 to 2007, which generated $7 billion in savings, mostly from
the elimination of duplicate medical tests and the reduction of medical

VA has a major role in the development of the "virtual lifetime
electronic record" as part of an inter-agency federal initiative to
provide complete and portable electronic health records for service
members, Veterans, other family members and, eventually, all Americans.

Through a disciplined approach to IT projects, VA transformed its
software development processes, meeting product delivery schedules over
80 percent of the time.

VA is consolidating its IT requirements into 15 major contracts, which
will lower costs and increase oversight and accountability. Seven of
the 15 contracts are set-aside for Veteran-owned businesses, and four of
those seven are reserved for small businesses owned by service-disabled


Nearly $590 million in major construction is included within next year's
budget request.

"This reflects the department's continued commitment to provide quality
health care and benefits through improving its facilities to be modern,
safe and secure for Veterans," Shinseki said.

The funding proposal provides for the continuation of seven ongoing
construction projects at health care facilities - New Orleans; Denver;
San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Louis; Palo Alto, Calif.; Bay Pines, Fla.,
and Seattle - plus new projects in Reno, Nev.; Los Angeles and San

Also in the budget request is $550 million for minor construction for
such purposes as seismic corrections, improvements for patient safety,
and enhancements for access and patient privacy.

Additionally, the spending proposal includes funds for a gravesite
expansion project at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in

National Cemeteries

VA is seeking more than $250 million next year for the operation and
maintenance of its 131 national cemeteries.

The department expects to inter about 115,000 people next year at its
national cemeteries. Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population is within
75 miles of a VA-run national cemetery or a state-run Veterans cemetery.

For the fourth consecutive time in 10 years, VA's system of national
cemeteries has bested the nation's top corporations and other federal
agencies in a prestigious, independent survey of customer satisfaction.

The fiscal year 2012 budget plan includes $46 million to fund creation
and improvement of state Veterans cemeteries and tribal government
Veterans cemeteries.

Further information about VA's budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 is
available on the Internet at