Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Specialist’s sacrifice spurs soldiers to reach out to Afghan villagers

Specialist’s sacrifice spurs soldiers to reach out to Afghan villagers
Stars and Stripes
Published: May 30, 2011

COMBAT OUTPOST NALGHAM, Afghanistan - Spc. Preston Dennis didn’t have to come back just yet. It had been less than a year since he had left Afghanistan, and the Army owed him more time with his wife before he had to return.

But his new unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, was deploying to the Kandahar province. At just 23, he was a veteran and a team leader, and he couldn’t let his men go without him. He and his wife, Heather, signed the official paperwork allowing him to return three months early.

“It’s kind of hard. You want to be there for your family, but once you become a leader, you’re supposed to be there for your military family, too,” said Staff Sgt. Chuck Stevens, Dennis’ squad leader. “That’s what he chose to do.”

A month had passed since Company C arrived in the Nalgham region, just southwest of Kandahar city and about two miles from Sangsar, home of Taliban founder and spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Patrols were going out daily, and most were taking small arms fire. Several improvised explosive devices had been uncovered, and a few had blown. More than 10 soldiers had been wounded.

Just before dusk on April 28, soldiers from the third platoon set out on a night patrol near the village of Sarkilla. As they made their way from a poppy field onto a road, an insurgent spotter was perched nearby, quietly waiting to kill them.

Dennis was at the end of the column and one of the last to leave the poppy field. When it was his turn to step into the road, the silent attacker tripped a device, which sent a current of electricity down a wire to a buried IED. The earth beneath Dennis ripped open in a violent explosion of debris and smoke.
read more here
Specialist’s sacrifice spurs soldiers to reach out to Afghan villagers

Father wonders when suicides due to combat will matter

Even in suicide, soldiers' families deserve condolences from president
By Gregg Keesling, Special to CNN
May 30, 2011 2:18 p.m. EDT

Chancellor Keesling and his father, Gregg Keesling in April, 2009

Gregg Keesling says his son, Chance, died by suicide when he was serving in Iraq in 2009
He says he learned later that the suicide would keep Obama from sending condolences
The White House is reviewing policy; what's taking so long, he asks? This sends wrong message
Keesling: Policy telegraphs that suicide is dishonorable

Editor's note: Gregg Keesling's son, Army Spc. Chancellor Keesling, died in Iraq in 2009. Keesling is president of Workforce, Inc. an electronic recycling company that help provide employment for those coming home from incarceration

(CNN) -- Two years ago, my son, Army Spc. Chancellor Keesling, died by suicide in Iraq. He was 25 and on his second deployment.

Shortly after his death, my wife, Jannett, and I learned of a long-standing policy in which presidential letters of condolence are withheld from families of American service members who die by suicide.

We wrote to President Barack Obama on August 3, 2009, asking him to reverse this policy, and since then we have tried to keep up a steady drumbeat for change. There has been a fair amount of media attention, including from CNN, and recently U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues sent a letter to the president on behalf of this issue, echoing a bipartisan request from House members.

We learned in late 2009 that the White House would be reviewing the policy, when then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told then-CNN reporter Elaine Quijano that the White House had inherited this policy and was reviewing it. Yet as of this writing, we and the hundreds of other families whose children have died by suicide while at war wait for a result.
read more here
Even in suicide

Secondary PTSD over diagnosed?

Considering I met my husband way back in 1982, you may be shocked to hear I agree with this study. Why? It is not that I do not believe there is such a thing as "secondary PTSD" since I know what it is like to live with a veteran with PTSD, but it is more I believe the spouses have been able to avoid it by understanding what it is and their role in all of this.

Do wives end up with paying the price for their husbands' service? You bet they do. It isn't just the stress of deployments they are under or the constant worry of the strange car in the driveway, but it is more of a case of basically watching them die inside. The family of a PTSD veteran has to walk on eggshells, never knowing what will set off a situation. Even something as simple as walking up a husband in the middle of a nightmare can produce a black eye or bloody nose if it is not done right. There is constant stress until they begin to heal. By that time, most wives have figured out what works and what doesn't. Now, we can hang onto anger and hurt feelings and allow them to eat away whatever happiness we should have, or we can understand it enough to be able to forgive and find our own kind of normal to live a happier life together.

Keep in mind this does take two to do it. There are many spouses actually being abused, physically and emotionally. If they have no clue what's going on, it is like living in hell. The kids pay the price as well. Emotional roller coasters are not much fun at all for anyone even if there isn't any kind of abuse.

Living with PTSD can be depressing to the point where we don't eat, don't sleep and some will stop doing things they enjoyed. We go to work, hear other wives complain about stupid silly things and we wish we had their problems instead of facing what we will go home to. I remember those darks days well but maybe I'm one of the lucky ones since I knew all along what PTSD was and what it was doing to my husband.

Over the years I've met a lot of other wives with stories worse than what I had been through and many of them ended up having to bury their husband because of suicides no one wanted to talk about at the time. Support was no where to be found for them, so they had to do it on their own. When I say older wives had nothing, consider the Internet was not around until the 90's.

Today a spouse, female or male, has the ability to find a lot of support out there and a means to heal the family.

I went to see a psychologist even knowing what I knew because the stress caused me to actually feel angry. I'm the type of person slow to anger, and if I get angry, I blow then get over it. I was at a point where I couldn't let go of it. I saw a psychologist for several months fully aware of what PTSD was and talking to her because she understood helped me more than anything else could at the time. I strongly suggest that to avoid "secondary PTSD" a spouse needs to find a support group with people knowing what life is like for her/him.

If this turns out to be a story with a twist and it is under-diagnosed as later suggested in this article, then the need to have support for the spouse can no longer be dismissed.

When none of us get the support and help we need to heal from combat, it all goes beyond our front door and will carry on for generations.

Study: Secondary PTSD Overdiagnosed
May 31, 2011
Military.com|by Amy Bushatz

More than half of military spouses who think they are suffering from secondary PTSD symptoms may have been misdiagnosed, a new study finds.

"A lot of times, people see a spouse that's distressed and say it's secondary PTSD," said Keith Renshaw, a psychology professor at George Mason University who authored the study. "There's kind of an over-assumption that this is prevalent, and that anything and everything that comes up for a spouse is due to that."

Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder has become a common catch-all label in the military community for the intense stress many spouses feel while living with a veteran suffering from PTSD. Unlike caretaker stress or stress from traumatic events in their own lives, secondary PTSD has sudden, specific characteristics including vivid dreams about the servicemember's traumatic event or avoiding reminders of that event, Renshaw said.

The study, due for release this fall, found that up to 41 percent of the 190 spouses it surveyed had symptoms similar to those linked with secondary PTSD. But when questioned further, only about 15 percent of respondents pointed to their husbands' military experience as the sole cause for their stress -- a key trait of secondary PTSD.

The popularity of the term "secondary PTSD" may have been caused by the desire among spouses to give a name to the feelings they are experiencing, Renshaw said. But without mental health expertise to sort through their issues, spouses can easily misidentify their symptoms -- a mistake that may lead to improper treatment, he said.

read more here
Secondary PTSD Overdiagnosed

VA secretary learns what 'rural' means for Alaska veterans

VA secretary learns what 'rural' means for Alaska veterans
The nation's top official for veterans affairs told reporters in Anchorage on Memorial Day that his agency can and must do a better job of reaching military veterans.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki pauses for a chat with Fred "Bulldog" Becker IV of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club after a Memorial Day ceremony May 30, 2011, at the Veterans Memorial on the Delaney Park Strip. Shinseki attended the downtown event and delivered the keynote address at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery observance. He was also scheduled to fly to Bethel and Kwigillingok on his Alaska trip hosted by Sen. Mark Begich.

The nation's top official for veterans affairs told reporters in Anchorage on Memorial Day that his agency can and must do a better job of reaching military veterans.

Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is in Alaska for several days at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich. He spoke to a crowd of hundreds Monday at Fort Richardson National Cemetery.

During his time here, he's meeting with veterans in Anchorage. And he's traveling with Begich, a Democrat from Anchorage who is on both the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, to Bethel and the village of Kwigillingok.

Shinseki noted that Alaska has the highest concentration of veterans in the country, with 17 percent of the state population identified as such. Some 77,000 veterans live in Alaska.

Shinseki is a retired Army general who served as Army chief of staff from 1999 to June 2003. He clashed with then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the planning of the war in Iraq over how many troops were needed, calling for several hundred thousand soldiers during postwar occupation, many more than Rumsfeld wanted. Some military leaders have said since then that Shinseki was right.
read more here
VA secretary learns what 'rural' means

Retired, stop loss, fugitive soldier?

How do you make sense out of something like this? How can this be right?

U.S. army fugitive illegally forced to return to Iraq: Report

By Amy Minsky, Postmedia News

An American soldier, now living in Toronto, was ordered to report to Fort Hood, Texas and then back for more duty in Iraq, even though he had been discharged.
Photograph by: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

A U.S. war resister who is facing deportation from Canada was illegally forced to do a second tour in Iraq, a U.S. magazine reports.

Phil McDowell has been on the lam since 2006, after being ordered to return to the U.S. army less than two months after retiring — and according to GQ Magazine, only a week after being formally discharged.

McDowell served one year in Iraq and finished his tour, even though his feelings about the war had changed and he no longer supported it.

He voluntarily joined the U.S. army one month after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, was sent to Iraq in 2004 and returned to the U.S. in 2005 to serve the remaining year left on his contract before being discharged.

Shortly afterward, he was served a "stop loss," a program adopted in 2002 which extended any active soldier's contract without consent, and which the U.S. government began phasing out in January 2010.

Read more: U.S. army fugitive illegally forced to return

USC Professors Testing New Ways To Treat PTSD

USC Professors Testing New Ways To Treat PTSD

Written by
Nate Stewart
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Memorial Day is when Americans take time to honor those who have died serving in our country's military. For thousands who survive the front lines, they often come home to face another battle: post traumatic stress disorder.

In a lab at the VA hospital, Dr. Shawn Youngstedt is demonstrating the newest treatment for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder called a light box, often associated with the treatment of depression.

"The instructions are to be doing something else while receiving the light exposure," said Dr. Youngstedt.

Patients in the study will sit in front of the white light for thirty minutes right after they wake up. So far, Youngstedt says he's seen it decrease anxiety, depression, and even improvements in memory.
read more here
USC Professors Testing New Ways To Treat PTSD

Soldiers Angel

I was sent a link to Stevie Nicks Soldier's Angel. I finally had a chance to listen to it.

I am a soldier's angel
Through the eyes of a soldier
Through the eyes of a soldier
I am a soldier's mother
Through the eyes of an angel
I am a soldier myself
And no one walks away
From this battle
I'm a soldier myself
In the presence of angels
I am a soldier's widow
In the background at night
I am a ghostly shadow
As I follow close behind them
I try to push them gently
Back into the light
I am a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl
I am a soldier's memory
As I write down these words
I try to write their stories
And explain them to the world
I float through the halls of the hospitals
I am a soldier's nurse
I keep the tears inside
And put them down in verse
I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong and about what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl
I am a soldier's girlfriend
As I look upon their faces
They make me remember my first love
And going out to dances
They make me remember Camelot
And being young and taking chances
They make me fall in love again
They give me all the answers
I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl
I'm a soldier in their army
They are the soldiers of my heart
I try to make them smile again
Though it tears me apart
Their bravery leaves me spellbound
I try to be a small part
Bringing them back again
They are the soldiers of my heart
I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl
I'm a soldier's angel
Through the eyes of a soldier
Through the eyes of a soldier
I'm a soldier's mother
Through the eyes of an angel
I'm a soldier myself
No one walks away
From this battle

Monday, May 30, 2011

When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
May 30, 2011
This Memorial Day, we remember our fallen soldiers. Many have died in combat, but increasingly, for off-duty members of the National Guard and Army Reserves, soldiers are dying by their own hands. Nationally, the number of those who’ve committed suicide has nearly doubled from 80 in 2009 to 145 last year.

On the track team of Philadelphia’s Thomas Edison High School, Jadira Angulo was fast. But not as fast as Ivan Lopez, her teammate.

“I was always right behind him; [I'd] never catch up,” Angulo says. “One day I was weightlifting, and I just started looking at him and this attraction just came over me.”

Angulo flips through a scrapbook that records the couple’s romance: prom, graduation, marriage and the birth of their first child, Maya.

In December 2007, Lopez deployed to Afghanistan. Sgt. Jose Matos says even there, his best friend kept running.

“We’re running on this asphalt, and it’s probably like 102 or 103 degrees. So he would finish his run, come get the other soldiers and bring ‘em back in. He’d be like, ‘Come on stay with me! You can do it! You can do it!’ That’s the type of soldier he was,” he says.

Depression Sets In

After Lopez returned home in November 2008, he found a job at Amtrak. He drank more and was quick to lose his temper.
read more here
When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

Women Fighting and Dying in War, Despite Combat Exclusion Policy

Women Fighting and Dying in War, Despite Combat Exclusion Policy
May 30, 2011
By this Memorial Day, nearly 150 U.S. female troops have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with over 700 wounded. Although Department of Defense policy precludes women from being assigned to ground combat-infantry units, women have for years served in combat situations where they're just as vulnerable.

Marine Lance Corp. Angelica Jimenez, 26, was one of them.

On June 25, 2005, Jimenez was riding in the back of a truck carrying 14 female Marines near the Iraqi hotbed of Fallujah. The all-female unit was tasked with searching and questioning Iraqi women at security checkpoints, ensuring they were not armed with explosives. Since females were not allowed to sleep at the checkpoints as their male counterparts were, every day the women would be driven to and from an American base, making them a visible target each time they hit the road. It was only a matter of time before their luck would run out, and that night, it did.
read more here
Women Fighting and Dying in War

Jacksonville soldier killed in Afghanistan

Jacksonville soldier killed in Afghanistan

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- A soldier from Jacksonville is among the latest American casualties of war.

The Department of Defense says says SSGT Ergin V. Osman died Thursday in Afghanistan. The DOD says the 35-year-old was one of six soldiers killed when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province.

The soldiers were part of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY.
Jacksonville soldier killed in Afghanistan

President Obama Speaks at Memorial Day Service

President Obama Speaks at Memorial Day Service

May 30, 2011 | 15:42 | Public Domain

The President speaks at a Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial Day Concert on PBS

Watch the full episode. See more National Memorial Day Concert.

Watch the full episode. See more National Memorial Day Concert.

One of the last songs was I'll Stand By You. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders wrote it for her children. It is about love and being there no matter what. I used it in the video Hero After War as the first song. When I contacted the Pretenders rep, I was told Chrissie would be honored to have her song used to help the troops coming home.

‘The words they leave to us’

‘The words they leave to us’

Posted : Saturday May 28, 2011 12:34:34 EDT
(The following is a speech given Thursday by Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City where, as Stavridis said, “I humbly accepted this year’s Intrepid Freedom Award. The speech gives some of my thoughts on Memorial Day through letters written by some of the fallen and their families. Please share with me your reflections on this Memorial Day weekend.”)

I want to spend my few minutes tonight with you giving voice to those who cannot be with us. I want to share with you the voices of the fallen and their families.

I want to give voice to the men and women who have given their lives for this nation.

Together, across the years of our nation’s history, they answered the call.

They stood the watch.

They looked neither left nor right.

They did not search for an exit.

They walked steadily and unafraid into mortal danger, knowing all the risks and all the costs.
read more here
‘The words they leave to us’

"We never rid ourselves of the smell of death"

Like men, women veterans bring problems home from war

Jane Ann Morrison

Posted: May 30, 2011

Women fought to be treated as the equals of men in the U.S. military, and now some of them find they're equal to men in another way: post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marine Jessica Goodell had one of the most gruesome jobs in Iraq. She picked up body parts of American soldiers to return them home for burial. Sometimes those remains were vaporized mush, she recalled.

"We never rid ourselves of the smell of death," she said.

In 2005, she came home to fight other battles, battles with PTSD, depression and substance abuse. She didn't tell her friends she was a veteran.

When she finally reached out for help, she wrote a journal, that turned into a book, "Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq."

But there are differences between how men and women cope when coming home from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not much is known about those differences.
read more here
Like men, women veterans bring problems home from war

When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

May 30, 2011
This Memorial Day, we remember our fallen soldiers. Many have died in combat, but increasingly, for off-duty members of the National Guard and Army Reserves, soldiers are dying by their own hands. Nationally, the number of those who've committed suicide has nearly doubled from 80 in 2009 to 145 last year.

On the track team of Philadelphia's Thomas Edison High School, Jadira Angulo was fast. But not as fast as Ivan Lopez, her teammate.

"I was always right behind him; [I'd] never catch up," she says. "One day I was weightlifting, and I just started looking at him and this attraction just came over me."

She flips through a scrapbook that records the couple's romance: prom, graduation, marriage and the birth of their first child, Maya.

In December 2007, Lopez deployed to Afghanistan. Sgt. Jose Matos says even there, his best friend kept running.

"We're running on this asphalt, and it's probably like 102 or 103 degrees. So he would finish his run, come get the other soldiers and bring 'em back in. He'd be like, 'Come on stay with me! You can do it! You can do it!' That's the type of soldier he was," he says.

read more here
When A Soldier Brings War Back Home

Memorial Day has become too happy

by Chaplain Kathie
Rolling Thunder:
Sarah Palin not invited
By Andrea Mitchell and Lauren Stephenson, NBC News
WASHINGTON — One day after Sarah Palin announced her bus tour, a group sponsoring a Memorial Day weekend event she plans to attend said they never invited her.
"She wasn't invited. We heard yesterday she came out with a press release she was coming to Rolling Thunder," Ted Shpak, national legislative director of Rolling Thunder, told "Andrea Mitchell Reports." Shpak is one of three members of Rolling Thunder's current leadership who says he had no idea Palin was coming until it was posted on her website.

When Palin was interviewed about riding on the back of someone else's bike, she said she was there to support the veterans. Memorial Day is not about veterans but it is about the men and women who died. She didn't talk about the missing or the fallen, which is the mission of Rolling Thunder. She used the men and women riding in Rolling Thunder for her own sake.

If she believed in what they stood for, then why didn't she join or ever do this ride before?
1. Membership in Rolling Thunder® Constitution is open to anyone with an interest in educating the public regarding the POW-MIA (Prisoner of War-Missing In Action) issue regardless of race, color, creed or sex. All persons must be 18 years of age or older.

This was all about her, for her and while she did bring extra coverage of what Rolling Thunder does every year, she did not bring anything with her. Did she even make a donation?
Rolling Thunder Riders Praise Sarah Palin's Participation in Rally

“I certainly welcome any positive publicity surrounding our cause, anything to bring attention to POWs and MIAs,” said Jeffrey Stewart, who leads a Rolling Thunder chapter in New Hampshire, a state that will be crucial to Palin if she runs in 2012. “Whether it’s a celebrity or a politician-celebrity -- I’m not exactly sure what she is right now -- having Sarah Palin there means more people will be paying attention to our cause.”

While it is true that leaders of Rolling Thunder would not have been interviewed otherwise, all the talk was about Palin and not about how many people traveled at their own expense from across the country to be there to honor the fallen an bring attention to the missing.

This is what Memorial Day is all about,

But right below this video on the CNN main page, this video link was there.

For Memorial Day, all about grilling

NBC began this morning, Memorial Day with Sarah Palin for heaven's sake!

TV ads tell you to go shopping for a big sale and buy stuff. Most stores are open for business. Go into them and you'll find party supplies like red, white and blue lights to put up for your enjoyment making it all about you celebrating and having fun. Celebrate the 4th of July but no one should be celebrating Memorial Day. Veterans Day is all about veterans. Want to actually honor and do something for veterans? Then take care of them when they come home all the days of the year. Say thank you to them and their families.

Memorial Day comes as troops fight in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan paused Monday to remember the fallen in Memorial Day services, as a war nearly a decade old trudges on.
Some prayed and held flag-raising ceremonies at dawn to recognize the more than 1,400 killed in combat here since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that triggered the war.
"We reflect on those who have gone before us. We reflect on their service and their sacrifice on behalf of our great nation," said Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, who commands a Marine division in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. "We should also remember those serving today who embody that same commitment of service and sacrifice. They are committed to something greater than themselves and they muster the physical and moral courage to accomplish extraordinary feats in battle."
In Iraq, an estimated 46,000 U.S. troops remain stationed there though officials say combat operations are over in a nation that saw more than 4,400 American troops die in combat. Under an agreement between Washington and Baghdad, the troops still in Iraq must leave by Dec. 31.
Black Hawk helicopters churned through the night sky Sunday as a strong wind coming over Kabul's surrounding mountains blew against the flickering candles that cast an orange glow on those gathered for a remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' headquarters.
Earlier in the day, those working there enjoyed one of their five days off a year from building police stations, dams and other projects in a nation torn by decades of war. Col. Thomas Magness, 47, of Los Angeles, California urged the more than 100 corps employees and U.S. troops gathered there to remember the meaning of Memorial Day — advice that could carry home to America.
"While we were playing volleyball today, no doubt some soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice," the corps commander said.
read more here
Memorial Day comes as troops fight in Afghanistan

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Challenges facing veterans

May 29, 2011
Panelists weigh in on the No. 1 burden on our veterans once they return home from war?

Why the Mind-Body Approach to Psychological Trauma Is Not 'Alternative'

Why the Mind-Body Approach to Psychological Trauma Is Not 'Alternative'

James S. Gordon
Founder and director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.

On a recent trip to London, The Guardian interviewed me during Depression Awareness Week about the UK release of my book "Unstuck". The reporter was particularly interested in Center for Mind-Body Medicine's Global Trauma Relief program and our work to bring population-wide psychological healing to places around the world that are afflicted by war and natural disaster.

I'm certainly pleased that the author recognizes CMBM's groundbreaking efforts to teach and support hundreds of thousands of people in Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, Haiti, Southern Louisiana, and U.S. military bases where soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a shame, however, that his tone is so dismissive of integrative medicine and that he fails to recognize the fundamental importance of self-care for psychological and physical healing.

Please note that as of this writing, corrections are being made online for several factual errors, including the following:

In Gaza, we trained 90 clinicians initially; only a few of these were "educators" (as the article states).
CMBM now has 160 groups meeting in Gaza each week, not 48, as reported.

Beyond factual errors, though, I'm disappointed with the tone of the article. I want to emphasize that our approach to psychological trauma relief is not about "belief," as the article repeatedly implies. It is based on hard evidence that is just as rigorous -- actually more so -- than most of that provided by the drug companies he seems to accept as the standard.
read more here
Why the Mind-Body Approach to Psychological Trauma Is Not 'Alternative'

Children of fallen troops turn to each other

We can list the number of the fallen but then we don't think much about their families. For them, for the spouse and the kids, they end up without someone they love and the lifestyle they have known.

Children of fallen troops turn to each other
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — After Brooke Nyren's dad died in Iraq, she sat alone at recess because her classmates didn't know what to say. One of Alexis Wright's fellow kindergarteners questioned if she was telling the truth about her dad's death in the war, while others told her it was too confusing to understand why she didn't have a father.

More than 4,300 children of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are growing up, forging their own paths while keeping the connection to their mom or dad alive in ways ranging from annual backyard barbeques on the anniversary of the parent's death to keeping a music box of his favorite song.

They've endured awkward conversations with people unsure how to respond when they describe how their parent — typically their father — died in the war and unkind remarks from friends at school. Many of them lost not just a parent but their home, too, because they had to move off a military base. As painful as their memories are, those interviewed at a camp for children of the fallen say the experience has made them more compassionate.

The kids interviewed describe the annual "good grief" camp organized by the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors every Memorial Day weekend as one outlet that's allowed them to learn to work through their feelings, and many attend every year.
read more here
Children of fallen troops turn to each other

Family seeks answers in death of diver trainee

Family seeks answers in death of diver trainee
By Joe Gould - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday May 29, 2011 10:02:24 EDT
MARCUS YAM Damien Gennino and Denise Carter, are shown at home in Elmont, N.Y., with a photo of Capt. Juan Lightfoot, a former Marine, who died after he lost consciousness during dive training.

Elmont, N.Y. — It was the third day of Special Forces pre-scuba training and Capt. Juan E. Lightfoot was exhausted.

He gripped the edge of the pool and refused to let go. But an instructor peeled his hands from the edge of the pool and another dragged him away from the wall.

Lightfoot went limp and sank to the bottom of the 11-foot, 6-inch-deep pool. Despite efforts to revive him, Lightfoot never woke up.

Four days later, his family had him removed from life support.

The armed forces medical examiner ruled Lightfoot’s death a homicide.
read more here
Family seeks answers in death of diver trainee

VA infection issues lead to 13,000 veterans' tests

VA infection issues lead to 13,000 veterans' tests
Improper hygiene may have exposed patients to HIV, hepatitis or other blood-borne disease


DAYTON, Ohio — Herman Williams came home safely after fighting in the jungles of Vietnam as a Marine. He was shocked to learn four decades later that his military service had again placed him in jeopardy — this time, because he got a tooth pulled.

Williams is among 13,000 U.S. veterans who have been warned in the last two years that their blood should be tested for potentially fatal infections after possible exposures by improper hygiene practices at five VA hospitals in Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee. This Memorial Day finds the Department of Veterans Affairs under political fire and numerous veterans upset after enduring fear and uncertainty over their health.

"I was scared to death," Williams said.

One afternoon this winter, Williams received a letter warning that he could have been infected during tooth extraction and other procedures in the dental clinic at the Dayton VA Medical Center. A VA investigation found that a dentist who practiced there for decades repeatedly violated safety measures such as failing to sterilize equipment or change soiled latex gloves, potentially exposing patients to HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases.
read more here
VA infection issues lead to 13,000 veterans' tests

When 'Johnny' came marching home

When 'Johnny' came marching home
Experiences among veterans vary; emotional wounds run deep

Highlands Today

Published: May 29, 2011

SEBRING - Monday is Memorial Day and a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

Highlands Today interviewed three veterans on how life was when they returned home. Here are their stories.

World War II

There was no brass band to greet then-Staff Sgt. Robert B. Gleisner when he returned home in 1945 after World War II ended. He was one of about 16 million Americans who served, and one of millions to come back. More than 996,000 American men and women died fighting in the war.

When Gleisner, now 90, took off from Guam to fly 35 bombing missions over Japan in a B-29, he left behind his 2-month-old daughter, his wife, Dorothy, and his dream of piloting planes.

Gleisner was 23 when he was drafted in 1943. He had enjoyed a couple of deferments, but they eventually ended.

He went to basic training and entered flight school as a cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. A supervisor told him he had lots of potential, but an edict from President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended his dream of becoming a military flier.

"All cadets who had been drafted are eliminated from the program," he remembered, his voice quivering, as if reliving the disappointment in his mind. "All cadets who had volunteered stayed in; I was drafted."
read more here
When 'Johnny' came marching home

When Johnny Comes Marching Home(sometimes "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again") is a popular song of the American Civil War that expressed people's longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war.

The original lyrics as written by Gilmore, are:

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.
The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.
Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.
Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest pleasures then display,
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior's heart,
And we'll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

Fort Carson soldier killed by hit and run driver

Police warn of motorcycles on the road
Posted: May 28, 2011 10:34 PM by John Romero

Two motorcyclists are dead after separate accidents in less than 24 hours. The first happened around 8 on Friday night. State Patrol says a man riding his motorcycle veered off the road on I-25 near South Academy. He hit a guard rail and was killed

The second happened just two hours later on Rangewood Drive in Colorado Springs. A car turned in front of two motorcycles, hitting them both. One of the men hit, a Fort Carson soldier, died. The driver of the car drove off from the scene.
read more here
Police warn of motorcycles on the road

After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home

After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home
Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.

Pvt. Johnnie Stevenson cleaned his truck one last time, scraping off the barnacle-like mud and pulling crushed water bottles from under seats. But deployment to Afghanistan was almost over, and his thoughts drifted elsewhere. Was his pregnant fiancée ready to be a mother? Facebook provided so few clues. Nor could it answer him this: Was he ready to be a father?

Capt. Adrian Bonenberger made plans for his final patrol to Imam Sahib. But inside, he was sweating the details of a different mission: going home. Which soldiers would drive drunk, get into fights or struggle with emotional demons, he wondered. What would it take to keep them safe in America?

Sgt. Brian Keith boarded the plane home feeling a strange dread. His wife wanted a divorce and had moved away, taking their son and most of their bank account with her. At the end of his flight lay an empty apartment and the blank slate of a new life.

“A lot of people were excited about coming home,” Sergeant Keith said. “Me, I just sat there and I wondered: What am I coming back to?”

For a year, they had navigated minefields and ducked bullets, endured tedium inside barbed-wired outposts and stitched together the frayed seams of long-distance relationships. One would think that going home would be the easiest thing troops could do.

But it is not so simple. The final weeks in a war zone are often the most dangerous, as weary troops get sloppy or unfocused. Once they arrive home, alcohol abuse, traffic accidents and other measures of mayhem typically rise as they blow off steam.

Weeks later, as the joy of return subsides, deep-seated emotional or psychological problems can begin to show. The sleeplessness, anxiety and irritability of post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance, often take months to emerge as combat veterans confront the tensions of home and the recurring memories of war.
read more here
After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home
I urge you to read the whole article.

How can anyone in their right mind expect them to just come home and go back to the way they were before?

(from the above article)

Three weeks later, Specialist Jeremiah Pulaski, who had returned from Afghanistan in February, was shot and killed by a police officer after he shot and wounded a man outside a bar in Arizona. He was 24.

Specialist Pulaski was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for dashing across an open field during an ambush in December, drawing enemy fire away from his platoon. Later that same day, he killed several insurgents as they were trying to ambush his unit near a village called Haruti.

Captain Bonenberger, Specialist Pulaski’s company commander, said the soldier saved his life twice that day — and it gnawed at him that he had been unable to return the favor.

“When he was in trouble, he was alone,” Captain Bonenberger said. “When we were in trouble, he was there for us. I know it’s not rational or reasonable. There’s nothing logical about it. But I feel responsible.”

We read the end of his story, but we didn't know all of his story.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another PTSD Veteran killed by police after shootout

Friends: Man Killed by Police Officer Struggled With PTSD
Suspect shot man outside of bar

Published : Sunday, 27 Mar 2011

A man killed in a shootout with a Glendale police officer in the west valley early Saturday morning was apparently struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.

Jeremiah Wilson Pulaski, 24, of Glendale was shot to death after several rounds were exchanged between him and the officer.

FOX 10 has learned that Pulaski was a military veteran who returned to the U.S. in January, and he was having a difficult time dealing with the stress from his deployment and return.

Police said Pulaski had been involved in another shooting outside a Glendale restaurant just moments before he was stopped by the officer.(click link for more of this)

How many people read about the end of his life and thought he must have deserved it? Honestly? Had I not been so involved in tracking all of these reports for this long, I may have thought the same thing because it is so much easier to just figure this guy was a criminal and the world is better off without him walking around terrorizing civilians. But I know too many of their stories to ever think that way again.

PD: Suspect opens fire on Glendale officer, shot and killed

A criminal hardly ever enters the military unless there is a lack of troops and a judge cuts them a deal. They are just too selfish to think of it on their own. A bad kid won't go unless he is forced to by his parents. Pulaski, well, as we can see by what happened while he was deployed, he was no coward and he sure as hell was not selfish. He wouldn't have been able to do all he did to receive the Bronze Star for Valor and a lot of his buddies made it back home because of him. When his life ended, especially the way it did, how many in his community treated him like the hero he was when he was laid to rest?

His family and friends, all the people he served with, are left to mourn the loss but beyond that loss, the way his life ended.

The officer, Sgt. April Arredondo, was not the only one left to cope after this.
Mother-in-law on ride-along during Glendale police shooting

by Lisa Halverstadt - Mar. 29, 2011 04:02 PM
The Arizona Republic
A Glendale police sergeant who fatally shot and killed an Afghanistan War veteran early Saturday was accompanied by her mother-in-law.

Patty Bird, 52, rode with Sgt. April Arredondo over the weekend because she wanted to better understand her daughter-in-law's job, Glendale police said.

Just after 1:30 a.m., Arredondo stopped Jeremiah Pulaski, a 24-year-old Army veteran who police said shot another man outside a Glendale bar near 59th Avenue and Greenway Road.

Read more: Mother-in-law on ride-along during Glendale police shooting

So what if we finally made sure none of them came home without everything they needed to heal from where they've been and what they've done? Do we spend a lot of money to train them to go? Training them to use their weapons and strengthen their bodies? So why don't we feel the same need to spend whatever it takes to help them come back home all the way?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Troubled Veterans and Early Deaths After Iraq

Thank you Aaron Glantz for pointing this very important fact out.

"The V.A. database does not include veterans who never applied for benefits or who were not receiving benefits at the time of their death, according to the agency. The V.A. said it also did not keep track of the cause of death."

Most people read about suicides in the Marines, but forget about the fact the Army has their own figures. We can understand that 18 veterans a day commit suicide but still find it shocking. Our minds are just unable to put all the figures together. What we keep missing in all of this is that if they are discharge from service, they are not counted by the DOD and if they do not have a VA rating for their claim, they are not counted by them. No one seems to want to count them, that is, except their families.
Troubled Veterans and Early Deaths After Iraq

Published: May 28, 2011

This month, the Department of Veterans Affairs informed the parents of William Hamilton, an Iraq war veteran, that it was not responsible for his death.

Mr. Hamilton had been admitted nine times to a V.A. psychiatric ward in Palo Alto. He saw demon women and talked to a man he had killed in Iraq. His parents allege that the V.A. illegally turned away Mr. Hamilton — three days before he stepped in front of train on May 16, 2010, at the age of 26.

The agency denied the wrongful-death claim in a one-page letter: “The VA did not breach a legal duty,” wrote Suzanne C. Will, the agency’s regional counsel in San Francisco.
read more here
Troubled Veterans and Early Deaths After Iraq

Glantz did a great job on this as you can clearly see from just these few lines. Think about it. William Hamilton was admitted 9 times but still he ended up surviving combat but couldn't survive being back home with what came home inside of him.

Orlando Navy Exchange 65th Anniversary

It was a great event at the Navy Exchange for their 65th year.  Great way to kick off Memorial Day Weekend. Great music, food and employees of the Navy Exchange! Wonderful job.

Iraq war vet was shot 70 times in home by SWAT captured on tape

Dramatic footage shows moment Iraq war vet was shot 70 times in home... as report reveals he did NOT open fire on SWAT team
Last updated at 6:19 PM on 27th May 2011

A U.S. Marine who was killed when he was gunned down in his home near Tucson, Arizona, never fired on the SWAT team that stormed his house firing 70 times in a hail of bullets, a report has revealed.

The revelation came as dramatic footage of the shooting was released, showing the armed team pounding down the door of Jose Guerena's home and opening fire.

Read more: Dramatic footage shows moment Iraq war vet was shot

Friday, May 27, 2011

Military has spent $32 billion on abandoned programs

Army report: Military has spent $32 billion since ’95 on abandoned weapons programs
By Marjorie Censer, Friday, May 27, 11:00 AM
The Army’s Comanche helicopter was envisioned as “the quarterback of the digital battlefield,” a technologically superior aircraft that could hide from enemies, operate at night and in bad weather, and travel farther than any other helicopter.

Gen. Richard Cody, a former vice chief of staff of the Army, called it the “most flexible, most agile” aircraft the country had ever produced.
read more here
Military has spent $32 billion

Linked from Stars and Stripes

180 troops will share in a settlement of more than $22 million

Banks settle for $22M in SCRA foreclosures case
By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday May 26, 2011 17:57:49 EDT
About 180 troops will share in a settlement of more than $22 million that was reached with two lenders who allegedly wrongfully foreclosed on the service members’ homes without obtaining court orders, in violation of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, the Justice Department announced May 26.

“This will send a strong message to lenders and servicers that they will be held accountable” for protecting service members’ rights, said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Troops “have our backs and they need to know we have theirs,” Perez said.

BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, previously known as Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, will pay $20 million. That’s an average of $125,000 for each of the approximately 160 service members who lost their homes to foreclosure between January 2006 and May 2009, Perez said. The consent order was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California in Los Angeles on May 26.

In the second settlement, Saxon Mortgage Services will pay $2.35 million, an average of $130,555 to each of 17 service members allegedly foreclosed on between January 2006 and June 2009 without court orders.
read more here
Banks settle for $22M in SCRA foreclosures case

Gov. Rick Scott cut $12 million from homeless veterans

He made promises to rich people that he would take care of them but when it came to our veterans after they were promised this nation would care about them, he forgot all about them. Did he think about them at all? No, I doubt it. If they had money, he'd be right there behind them.

Scott also vetoed $12 million for a homeless veterans program in Brevard County pushed by Haridopolos, a Brevard resident.

Scott spoke standing in front of a sign saying "Promises Made, Promises Kept."
Scott signs new Fla. budget but vetoes $615M first



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott signed a $69.1 billion state budget Thursday, but before doing that he vetoed a record $615 million in spending, including money for environmental land purchases, college and university buildings, homeless veterans, public broadcasting and local projects ranging from health care to rowing.
The new Republican governor vetoed more than 150 line items after the GOP-controlled Legislature already had chopped nearly $4 billion in spending.
The austere spending plan is expected to result in layoffs for hundreds if not thousands of public employees, including teachers. A new retirement provision also will effectively cut the pay of those who still have jobs.
Scott went to The Villages, a central Florida retirement community that's a GOP and tea party stronghold, to sign the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 rather than do it in Tallahassee, home to thousands of public employees.
Sumter County sheriff's deputies escorted about two dozen protesters, some holding signs saying "Pink Slip Rick," from the town square. That's where Scott, a former hospital chain CEO, spoke to about 200 supporters at what one GOP staffer called a private event.

Read more: Scott budget

Marine Anthony Adams killed because someone wanted his car

U.S. Marine shot, killed in Greenville-area attempted robbery and carjacking
Friday, May 27, 2011
A US Marine was gunned down in the Greenville section of Jersey City early yesterday and authorities have launched a manhunt to find his killer.

Anthony Adams, 23, of Yale Avenue in Jersey City, was shot during an attempted robbery and carjacking at Bidwell Avenue near Martin Luther King Drive, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.

Adams was taken to the Jersey City Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m., DeFazio said.

The prosecutor said there were numerous witnesses to the shooting and it appears Adams was still seated in his 2002 Ford Explorer when he was shot.
read more here
U.S. Marine shot, killed




(May 30, 2011) Today, we pay homage to those who placed themselves on
the Altar of Freedom for love of country. Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, reflection, and respect-for honoring the men and women who gave their lives in service to the Nation.

On the last Monday of May each year, we observe moments of silence and moments of tribute to acknowledge the sacrifices by these brave few for principles greater than self. In answering their calls to duty-at Tarawa and Normandy, Seoul and Chosin, the Ia Drang and Khe Sanh, and at Baghdad and Mosul, the Shahe' Kot, Korengal, and Marja, or any of a host of other crossroads of conflict-these American men and women stood their ground, held back the dark forces of oppression and destruction, and advanced our founding principles, ideals, beliefs, and values about the right of self-determination. They cherished liberty and loved freedom enough to lay down their lives to preserve our way of life.

Many lie in final rest in our national cemeteries. Whether at Gettysburg, one of our country's first national cemeteries, or at Washington Crossing, our most recent dedication, each VA national cemetery is a sacred place of honor befitting the great deeds and sacrifices of the Fallen.

More than 3.7 million Americans-Veterans of every war and conflict, from our Revolution to the Global War on Terror-have been laid to rest in these hallowed shrines. The quiet serenity, pristine nature, and strict adherence to time-honored Service traditions make our cemeteries the
healing places where families and friends can remember and honor those who gave, in President Lincoln's words, "the last full measure of devotion."

This Memorial Day, a Nation at war prays for peace and the safe return of our sons and daughters, even as it exacts justice from those who trampled our most cherished principles. Now, as then, in addition to our prayers for peace, we pray for the families of the Fallen. And we
pray for the Almighty's continued blessings on this great and wonderful country of ours.

Sexual assaults and domestic violence at Fort Hood prompts "stand-down"

Violence increase at Ft Hood prompts 'stand down day'
By: Chie Saito

Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell declared Thursday Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Stand Down Day. It was a day intended to help eliminate what the Army called "an enemy within their ranks."

Soldiers with Fort Hood’s Headquarter Support Company, III Corps, filled the Old Post Chapel Thursday as part of the post-wide event. Lt. Gen. Campbell ordered the stand down after concerns over a recent increase in the number of reported sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

According to Fort Hood officials, during the week of April 10th-16th there were 11 cases of domestic violence and two reported cases of sexual assault. From May 8th-14th, there were 10 reported cases of domestic violence and three cases of sexual assault.

During the event, soldiers completed classes that taught specific warning signs to look out for in fellow soldiers and intervention techniques to prevent sexual assault.

"After this training, I will be more engaged to watch people to make sure that if something dramatically has changed to where they're acting differently in a situation, I'll be there for them, ask questions and be more involved," Sfc Thomas Ribas said.

According to Army statistics for the 2009 fiscal year, sexual assaults comprised 67 percent of violence in the Army. Fifty-nine percent of those cases involved a soldier being assaulted by a fellow soldier.
read more here
Violence increase at Ft Hood prompts 'stand down day'

Vietnam Vet's example of overcoming PTSD and attitudes

Vietnam vet from Chandler to give Memorial Day speech

Legion leader has privately recalled lost buddies, now he's front, center

by Edythe Jensen - May. 27, 2011 08:05 AM
The Arizona Republic

Photo courtesy Damon Cecil
Chandler resident Damon Cecil was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969. The photo was taken after one of his missions.

In the 43 years since he returned from combat in Vietnam, Chandler veteran Damon Cecil has avoided Memorial Day ceremonies, preferring to privately remember his Army buddies killed in conflict during the late 1960s.

On Monday as the commander of Chandler American Legion Post 35, Cecil, 64, will deliver his first public Memorial Day speech at Valley of the Sun Cemetery, 10940 E. Chandler Heights Road. It comes after years of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles with the negative way returning soldiers were greeted after an unpopular war.

"It is a pretty personal day for me. I have the memories of guys I flew with in Vietnam, their names, their wives' names. I wasn't sociable on Memorial Day," he said.

Cecil and hundreds of others will stand before the graves of 4,240 veterans for an annual ceremony that has been part of Chandler for 30 years. It starts at 9 a.m. with about 20 American Legion motorcycle riders carrying flags into the cemetery from Chandler Heights Road. Participants will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" before a trumpet plays "Taps" followed by a 21-gun salute.

A decorated helicopter pilot, Cecil said he and other Vietnam vets weren't welcome by the American Legion when they returned from combat. He tells how he walked into a South Gate, Calif., Legion hall in 1971 wearing his uniform. An older member "asked me how come we're losing the war over there; are we smoking too much dope or what? I didn't want to hit the guy so I just finished my beer and left."

read more here
Vietnam vet from Chandler to give Memorial Day speech

Marine Cpl. Jared Moore Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Marine Cpl. Jared Moore Killed in Motorcycle Accident
The Camp Pendleton Marine was traveling at a high rate of speed when he lost control of the vehicle and was thrown from it, medical examiner's office says.
By Jared Morgan
May 26, 2011

A 21-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine identified as Cpl. Jared Moore of Lake County, Illinois was killed in a motorcycle accident at approximately 2:50 a.m. Saturday, 1st Marine Division spokesman 1st Lt. Joshua Benson told Camp Pendleton Patch.
read more here
Marine Cpl. Jared Moore Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Vet wounded in Twin Towers on 9/11, then again serving in Iraq

Vet wounded in Twin Towers on 9/11, then again serving in Iraq
Greg Amira was one of several wounded veterans attending a Memorial Day ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base.

By HOWARD ALTMAN | The Tampa Tribune
Published: May 27, 2011

Greg Amira leaned on his cane, medals dangling off his black suit jacket.

Bronze Star. Purple Heart. Army Commendation of Valor.

Amira was at MacDill Air Force Base on Thursday, one of several wounded veterans attending a Memorial Day ceremony there. He says he was moved by the memory of those who died in combat and felt a connection to the 13-foot-long, 1,400-pound hunk of iron near the base flag pole, a girder from the World Trade Center, brought in especially for this ceremony.

On Sept, 11, 2001, Amira, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army reserves, was in the 73rd floor of the South Tower, where he worked as vice president of investments at Morgan Stanley.

"I stayed up there until the planes hit," said Amira, who scrambled out of the stricken building, only to run back in to the North Tower, which was hit first and where most of the people were.

"Between my military training and the fact that my father, Irv, was a New York City police officer, my instinct was to run inside and help."

Amira said he and a firefighter were running around, pulling people out of rubble, checking to see who was still alive. He was in the lobby when the South Tower fell.

"It knocked me out," said Amira.

Then the North Tower fell. He was buried in rubble for five hours.

"I woke up with tubes in me," he said. "My left elbow came out of the skin. I had head trauma, back trauma and holes all over me."

Amira said he was ruled totally disabled by Social Security and Workman's Compensation. He was in line to receive $1.25 million from the Federal Victim's Compensation Fund.

"They told me I didn't have to work another day in my life," said Amira.

Then four years later, the Army called.

They wanted him to head to Iraq.
read more here
Vet wounded in Twin Towers on 9/11, then again serving in Iraq

2 blasts kill 8 U.S. troops in Afghan attacks on foot patrol

2 blasts kill 8 U.S. troops in Afghan attacks
By Deb Riechmann - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday May 27, 2011 6:20:19 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — New details that emerged Friday show that eight U.S. troops who were killed while on foot patrol in southern Afghanistan the day before were hit by two consecutive blasts, with one explosion going off as troops rushed to aid those wounded from the first blast, NATO said.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack in the southern, Kandahar province.

It was the deadliest day for NATO in Afghanistan since April 27, when a veteran Afghan military pilot killed eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor at Kabul airport.

The Kandahar attack started as the troops began to inspect a suspicious object they found while patrolling on foot in the mountainous Shorabak district, 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Pakistan border. The first explosion wounded some of the service members, while the second came as others tried to help the injured, NATO said.
read more here
2 blasts kill 8 U.S. troops in Afghan attacks

Marine never fired on SWAT officers who fatally shot him

Report: Marine never fired on SWAT officers who fatally shot him
By Chuck Conder, CNN
May 27, 2011 8:06 a.m. EDT

Jose Guerena died May 5 after a SWAT team descended on his home in a Tucson suburb with a search warrant.
Deputies fire more than 70 shots during a drug raid near Tucson
Jose Guerena is hit more than 20 times
He never took his weapons off safety, report says
Officers remain on active duty; no legal action has been taken

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine who died in a flurry of bullets during a drug raid near Tucson never fired on the SWAT team that stormed his house, a report by the Pima County Sheriff's Department shows.

The revelation was contained in an internal investigation released by the department Thursday.
Jose Guerena died May 5 after a SWAT team descended on his home in a Tucson suburb with a search warrant. His home was one of four believed to be associated with a drug smuggling operation in the area.

A video released Thursday by the sheriff's department shows the uniformed SWAT team pulling up outside his house, sounding their sirens, banging on the front door -- before kicking it in -- and opening fire shortly after entering the home.
read more here
Marine never fired on SWAT officers who fatally shot him

Missoula-born Marine dies exiting cab in New York

Missoula-born Marine dies exiting cab in New York
Posted: May 26, 2011
by Breanna Roy (KPAX News)

NEW YORK CITY- A Missoula-born Marine died during Fleet Week in New York City early Thursday morning.

The Marines notified the family of Steven Jorgenson, 22, that a car struck and killed him while he was getting out of a cab, headed back to his ship. He was wearing his uniform. The driver of the passenger car that hit him has not been cited.

Jorgenson had been married just seven months. His wife, Hope Jorgenson, was waiting at home in North Carolina for his call that night. She received a call around 4 a.m. from his phone, but all she heard was static on the line.

"Maybe that was his way of letting her know that wherever he was at that time, he was fine," Jorgenson's mother-in-law Grace Hinojosa said. She said it also could have been the authorities at the crash scene dialing his last outgoing number.
read more here
Missoula-born Marine dies exiting cab in New York

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Army Combat Medic-Vet to document soldiers’ graffiti left in Iraq

Vet to document soldiers’ graffiti left in Iraq
By Emily Corio - West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Posted : Thursday May 26, 2011 14:19:38 EDT

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A military veteran from Clarksburg is documenting the war in Iraq through graffiti that soldiers created on military bases. Former Army Combat Medic, Jaeson Parsons, says it’s a way to expose the raw emotions soldiers experience during war.

Parsons knows the mental anguish that comes with spending months away from family in a dangerous place where friends are hurt and killed. He joined the Army in 2005 and began serving in Ramadi, Iraq, later that year.

“It used to be that Fallujah was the bad place to be. Well, when the Marines did the assault on Fallujah, most of the insurgents that weren’t killed moved to Ramadi,” Parsons said.

“I started running missions with a partner medic; I think it was my fourth or fifth day there. We were doing route clearance, looking for bombs ... so we would stay out all night, eight to 12 hours a night, clearing these routes. It was like being stuck in rush hour traffic except you’d get blown up every now and again.”

Parsons’ experience in Iraq left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was medically discharged from the Army in 2009. And his troubles followed him home. He hit a low point that Christmas while visiting his mother in Chicago.
read more here
Vet to document soldiers’ graffiti left in Iraq

Time has come to change policy on condolence letters for suicides

If you have read this blog, even for just this year, you've read enough heartbreaking stories of the men and women dying after surviving combat. For anyone to even suggest suicides would have happened without being deployed, does not understand the difference between a civilian and the kind of person willing to die for this country. Think about it. They face death on a daily basis in combat, most of the time deploying more than once, yet live through it. When they are out of danger from bullets and bombs, they are still in danger because of what happened.

Is this a grateful nation or not? Do we limit the point of it because they took their own lives? If you think we should then you have not considered why they would live through all of it and then not be able to live through surviving it. While there are suicides while on deployments, most of them happen when they are back here. The time to change this policy is right here and right now.
Senators Call on President to Change Condolence Letter Policy for Military Suicide Victims
Published May 25, 2011

A group of senators have asked President Obama to start sending condolence letters to families of U.S. service members who kill themselves, in what would be a reversal of long-standing policy.

Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., co-chairs of the Senate Military Family Caucus, along with nine Democratic senators on Wednesday signed a letter to Obama asking him to end what they say is an "insensitive" practice.

"As you well know, the incidence of suicide among our service men and women has reached epidemic levels due to the stresses of nearly 10 years of continuous combat operations," the letter reads.

"While we appreciate that your administration initiated a review of this policy in December 2009, we understand that this review has yet to be completed. It is long past time to overturn this hurtful policy," they wrote.

More than 1,100 members of the Armed Forces killed themselves between 2005-2009, according to an August 2010 report by a task force assigned to look at suicide prevention among military members.

Read more: Condolence Letter Policy for Military Suicide Victims

7 NATO troops killed in blast in southern Afghanistan

7 NATO troops killed in blast in southern Afghanistan
Military officials did not the disclose the nationalities of the seven NATO fatalities, an unusually large toll for a single incident. Another service member is killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan.

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
May 27, 2011
Reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan—
An explosion in southern Afghanistan on Thursday killed seven Western troops, officials said, an unusually large toll for a single incident.

Earlier in the day, NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, announced the death of a service member in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan's east. The cause of the crash was under investigation, the coalition said.

Western military officials did not immediately disclose the nationalities of the dead. Most of the troops in both the south and the east are Americans. U.S. troops make up about two-thirds of the overall NATO force.
read more here

7 NATO troops killed in blast in southern Afghanistan

13 veterans died while waiting for VA care

In at least 13 cases, Murray said, veterans committed suicide or died from drug overdoses while waiting to receive help from the VA.

Senators tell VA to reduce veteran suicides



WASHINGTON -- With veterans now accounting for one of every five suicides in the nation, the Department of Veterans Affairs is under pressure from the courts and Congress to fix its mental health services in an attempt to curb the death toll.

"The suicide rate is out of control. It's epidemic proportions right now," said Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "There are very few programs that are effective, and there's a serious lack of national awareness."

While the government keeps no official tally of veteran suicides, the VA said last year that veterans account for roughly 20 percent of the estimated 30,000 suicides annually in the United States.

The latest attack on the VA came two weeks ago from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which ordered a major overhaul of the agency. The court said that with an average of 18 veterans killing themselves each day, "the VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations."

Suicides among active-duty troops are also a cause of concern: In April, 25 soldiers killed themselves, equal to about half the deaths in Afghanistan during the month.

Read more: Senators tell VA to reduce veteran suicides

County Court judge considers letting dog calm witness at trial

County Court judge considers letting dog calm witness at trial

Written by
Larry Hertz

In a case that may break new legal ground, an 11-year-old golden retriever trained to help young people ease their stress may get the chance to put her skills to work in a Dutchess County courtroom next month.

The dog, named Rose, was in court Wednesday afternoon as Judge Stephen L. Greller heard testimony at a pretrial hearing in the case of City of Poughkeepsie resident Victor Tohom, who is accused of sexually abusing a young girl. Rose spent most of the two-hour hearing dozing under the prosecution table in the fourth-floor courtroom of the county courthouse in the City of Poughkeepsie.
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County Court judge considers letting dog calm witness at trial

Not so far fetched,,,,,,

What's a dog doing in court?

PTSD on trail:Marine accused of firing on deputies strikes deal

Marine accused of firing on deputies strikes deal
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WINCHESTER -- A Marine veteran of the Iraq War accused of opening fire on three Randolph County sheriff's deputies has struck a deal with prosecutors that would eliminate the most serious charge against him.

Under the terms of the plea agreement submitted Wednesday, Andrew S. Ward, now 27 and of Farmland, would plead guilty to criminal recklessness and battery resulting in bodily injury. Randolph County Prosecutor David Daly would then recommend that Ward receive an eight-year sentence with four years suspended.
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Marine accused of firing on deputies strikes deal