Sunday, July 31, 2011

Defending discounts to debutantes while ditching defenders

Just can't take it anymore right now. Screaming at the TV doesn't do much good so here's a rant to let me blow off some steam.

Defending discounts to debutantes while ditching defenders is sickening but some folks in congress are damn proud of it. Isn't that what all of the fighting about the debt has been about? They say let everyone suffer because paying down the debt is so all fired important all of a sudden but you better not touch the tax cuts the wealthy have. The troops? Veterans? Security with police and firefighters? Well, guess average people in this country no longer matter and security is now just a memory of a buzz word they used for years to frighten people. That words has been replaced by the boogyman of "debt" but they forget about the debts we already owed.

Some in congress are no longer ashamed they want to cut spending on veterans after years of struggling to begin to be able to have wounds treated, like Agent Orange and PTSD. Some go after retirement as if they shouldn't be able to collect military retirement and social security even though they paid for it.

Orlando just sent off reservists heading into Afghanistan to risk their lives stopping bombs from blowing up more of our soldiers. Instead of just worrying about doing what they have to do, we sent them off worrying about getting their paychecks to pay their bills. Such a sorry comment on how little some in congress really think about them.

We used to hear a lot of talk about how the President had to be supported if we supported the troops but that was a different President back then. Now this President doesn't even deserve a tiny bit of respect from them and supporting the troops means nothing. Didn't they think we'd notice any of this?

The rest of the world has been watching and there is more than just our credit rating at stake here. We're losing our honor. We are showing the world that in this country the American dream has become a nightmare for the many so that dreams can come true for the wealthy as they ship our jobs overseas and then get tax cuts for doing it. Our troops come home with no jobs to go to if they are lucky enough to be able to work and if not, they have to wait for a year or more to be able to see an approved claim with a disability check.

There was a report a couple of years ago saying that more and more military folks were leaving the Republican party to become Independent. I bet after all this, there won't be any more military families in the Republican party. That party has been hijacked and they are just too greedy to notice the difference they are trying to make in this county will destroy it.

McConnell toned it down a bit in this but it pretty much sums it up.

The Dems used it in this video and from what we've all seen the last year, they are doing whatever it takes no matter how many of us have to suffer.

Now the Dems have shown some backbone, which is good but it's too little to late for the people who switched over to being Independents. Maybe someday the folks in Washington on both sides will remember that while the wealthy do fund their retirement, if we didn't vote for them, they would be just another rich debutante wanting to hang out with people just like them and ignore the rest of us.

Two veterans from different generations discover how much they share

JARDINE: Despite fighting in wars apart, two veterans find they're brothers in arms
By Jeff Jardine

Two weeks ago, when The Bee invited Vietnam War veterans to share their experiences in Southeast Asia, we knew we'd get some compelling responses and moving stories.

We have. None, though, may be more moving and compelling than this one:
Four years ago, Army vet Ronn Cossey of Turlock was invited to ride in the parade and speak at the annual Veterans Car Show at Pismo Beach. The event raises money to aid veterans.

There he met Zeb Lane of Ohio, who had served in the Marines' Lima Company in Iraq. Lane's unit lost 23 men — 14 in a single explosion — in 2005. Lane was among the 40 survivors wounded in the fighting around Haditha.

He had come to Pismo Beach to auction artwork to benefit the Lima Company Memorial to be built in Columbus.

These men, who fought in different wars in different decades, spent hours talking that weekend. They compared battle notes and what has happened to them since leaving the military. They became friends. They formed a bond.

In Lane, the 63-year-old Cossey saw a younger version of himself — a veteran who experienced the horrors of war and will deal with them for the rest of his life.

In Cossey, the 30-year-old Lane found someone who understands combat, fought the internal war that followed, and who can help him navigate the emotional no-man's land of post-traumatic stress disorder.

War does horrible things to good people, and many simply cannot turn in their demons when they muster out and return to civilian life.

Read more:Despite fighting in wars apart

Defense tries to blame PTSD on what the Ohio serial killer did

A serial killer is not "normal" no matter what they use to excuse what they do. No one in their right mind would be able to do such horrible things and then wake up the next morning as if it was just part of an average day unless there was truly something wrong with their mind but while Sowell very well may have PTSD, it is very unlikely that's all that's wrong with him.

Serial killers show signs growing up. They don't just "snap" or decide, "hey, I need something to do today so I'll go out and butcher someone" to break up the day. How about this guy is evil? How about he has no soul? He's a sex offender, killer and then topped all that off with abusing the corpse. Not convicted of killing one woman but in killing 11 of them.

For all the compassion and understanding we have for veterans with PTSD, to excuse all of this as a byproduct of PTSD, is a lawyer so desperate to save this man's life, he'll try to blame everything but the man himself for what he did. He must have not noticed there are millions of veterans with PTSD but not millions of serial killers.

Defense tries to depict Ohio serial killer as mentally ill in bid to avoid death penalty

By Associated Press, Updated: Sunday, July 31, 2:53 PM

CLEVELAND — Defense attorneys are trying to spare the life of an ex-Marine convicted of killing 11 women by painting him as someone who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.

The sentencing phase of trial begins on Monday for Anthony Sowell, a sex offender who was found guilty July 22 of murdering the women and abusing their corpses, which were hidden in his home and buried in his backyard.

The jury, which sat through weeks of disturbing and emotional testimony, saw photographs of the victims’ blackened, skeletal corpses lying on autopsy tables and listened to police describe how their bodies had been left to rot in a home that smelled so bad neighbors complained — believing the source of the stench was rotting meat from a nearby sausage shop.

Now the defense wants to convince jurors that Sowell, who exhibited little emotion during the trial, was mentally ill and doesn’t deserve to die. If the jurors don’t decide on the death penalty, Sowell faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
read more here
Defense tries to depict Ohio serial killer as mentally ill

Stars and Stripes wants to know: Did you join the military because of 9-11?

Did you join the military in response to the 9/11 attacks?
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 25, 2011

Stars and Stripes: Servicemembers of 9/11
Did you join the U.S. military because of the September 11 attacks?

If so, Stars and Stripes wants to know your story.
go here to fill out form
Did you join the military in response to the 9/11 attacks

Camp Pendleton Marines counter nudist beach invasion

Marines counter nudist beach invasion
Published: July 30, 2011

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., July 30 (UPI) -- The Marines say the beach at Camp Pendleton in San Diego is off limits to civilians whether they are wearing clothes or not.

The Los Angeles Times said the Corps has found itself in the middle of a beef between civilian nude sunbathers who say California state park rangers have crossed on to federal land to order them to cover up.

Read more:
Marines counter nudist beach invasion

Canadian inquest calls for 24 hour police link with mental health access

Inquest jury calls for mental-health link for police
By Danielle Bell, Postmedia News July 31, 2011

Following the death of a 48-yearold Nanaimo man - shot and killed by police in October 2009 - a jury has recommended setting up a 24-hour link for police to access mental-health information.

In a special inquest looking into the shooting of Jeff Hughes, the jury also recommended that officers be held accountable faster to reduce inconsistencies. It suggested video and audio recording equipment be provided to police and called for having a emergency response team and negotiators available at all times.

Read more:
Inquest jury calls for mental health link

Army wants to rid top ranks of toxic leaders

Army wants to rid top ranks of toxic leaders
By Michelle Tan and Joe Gould - Staff writers
Posted : Sunday Jul 31, 2011 8:25:09 EDT

The Army is working to flush toxic leaders from its ranks. A survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his or her superior as “toxic and unethical,” while only 27 percent believe that their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.

“You could look at this and say 82 percent of Army leaders are doing good and great things, but our nature isn’t going to be congratulatory,” said Col. Thomas Guthrie, director of the Center for Army Leadership, which has conducted the Annual Survey of Army Leadership since 2005. “Eighteen percent is too high even if it is perceived. It’s trying to change those climates out there, those individual behaviors, that’s taking some time. We do have to invoke some change, and we have to look internally for that.”

“I’m not surprised that some leaders have figured out how to balance the demands on their time better than others,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a statement to Army Times. “We’ll address the concerns described in the report.”
read more here
Army wants to rid top ranks of toxic leaders

Army has had a shortage of counselors since 2008

Army eyes hiring 130 substance abuse counselors
The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jul 30, 2011 16:04:12 EDT

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Army officials say they want to hire 130 substance abuse counselors for 54 military installations, including Fort Bragg.

The Army hopes to hire the counselors by October, according to The Fayetteville Observer.

The Army has had a shortage of counselors since 2008, according to Dr. Les McFarling, director of the Army Substance Abuse Program, adding that the Army wants to have 562 counselors, but has struggled to fill jobs.
read more here
Army eyes hiring 130 substance abuse counselors

Manager of Homeless Veterans' Shelter, living high on the VA's money

Living high on the VA's money
Nancy Cook spent freely on meals, clothes, rent; official audit under way

Sunday, July 31, 2011

When Nancy Cook dined out, she used a debit card to cover the tab.

When she paid her personal cell phone bill, she used the same card.

When she withdrew cash, she used it again.

The only problem is that the card wasn't hers. It drew from a taxpayer-funded account used to pay bills for homeless veterans at the North Charleston shelter Cook then managed as its executive director.

Some expenses were for the legitimate benefit of the center and the veterans.

Others -- clothing and antiques at high-end King Street boutiques, pricey meals at fine restaurants, rent at her private-practice office -- were questionable. Cook even used the Good Neighbor Center's account to pay her personal federal withholding tax.

For more than 15 years, Cook had managed the 32-bed Spruill Avenue shelter where homeless veterans sought help finding work, obtaining permanent housing and overcoming alcohol and drug addiction.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the primary source of the grant money that bankrolled Cook's lifestyle, did nothing to stop her spending. VA officials conducted annual inspections at the nonprofit shelter, but rarely reported more than minor health or safety violations.

VA inspectors' financial reviews were perfunctory and relied on Cook's documentation.

Cook's management went unchallenged until last fall when The Post and Courier published its first reports detailing problems at the shelter.

Now Cook, a former Charleston County School Board chairwoman, is at the center of a federal investigation.

Auditors said this year that the shelter owes the government more than $122,000 in grant funds that were spent inappropriately. Now they are probing whether Cook broke federal laws.

Cook was fired in May and her access to the shelter's funds has been suspended.

read more here

Living high on the VA money

Combat hospital at Kandahar Airfield, a daily fight for life

Near Afghanistan’s front lines, a daily fight for life

THE COMBAT HOSPITAL at Kandahar Airfield is among the most advanced treatment facilities to ever operate in a war zone. Roughly 70 percent of its patients come straight from the battlefield. In addition to U.S. and coalition service members, the hospital treats Afghans. For the staff, every day is spent working to keep death at bay.

PART ONE | The NATO hospital at Kandahar is among the most advanced treatment facilities to ever operate in a war zone. Their job is to save the war's worst casualties.

By Corinne Reilly
The Virginian Pilot
© July 31, 2011


The doctors can hear the wailing before their patient is even in sight.

A second later, a flight medic bursts through the trauma department doors. His face is serious. He’s short of breath. Outside, corpsmen rush to unload a soldier from a military ambulance that carried him here from a Black Hawk. Two dozen doctors, nurses and surgeons have been awaiting their arrival.

“Who am I talking to?” the medic shouts.

“Here!” blurts Lt. Cmdr. Ron Bolen, the head of the hospital’s trauma department. He points to the Navy doctor leading the team that will examine the soldier first.

“OK, you’ve got tourniquets on both legs,” the medic gulps. “The right one is totally gone to at least the knee. He lost a lot of blood.”

The doctor hurriedly inquires about vital signs, fluids administered in the field, and the weapon that caused the explosion that did all this.

The next question would usually be whether the patient is conscious, but this time no one has to ask.

Outside, the wailing is getting louder.
read more here
Near Afghanistan front lines

Soldiers and suicide: Widow says despite pleas, help never came from Fort Bragg

You'd think there wasn't much that would leave me stunned after all these years but here I sit, shaking my head in disbelief.

A soldier came home showing signs he needed help. A wife responded, asked for help for him, the way we always say families need to act. The military keeps saying they are there to help, have programs ready to help, chaplains ready to offer spiritual support and they take military suicides seriously. Everyone seems to have done all they could to help Sgt. Adrian Simmons heal, except the Army itself. He's dead. She's a widow. Will anyone be held accountable for letting all of this happen? No. No one has been held accountable for any of their suicides. Numbers go up, claims of taking all this seriously go up but no one gets justice for any of this.

Soldiers and suicide: Widow says despite pleas, help never came
By John Ramsey
Staff writer
Staff photo by James Robinson
Nicole Simmons' husband, Sgt. Adrian Simmons, died July 5 after he went into the garage of their Hoke County home and shot himself. She says he had suffered symptoms of PTSD.

"Simmons said that after her husband died July 5, soldiers told her the Army was opening an investigation into what happened. But she wasn't contacted for an interview until Wednesday, hours after the Observer sent an email to the 82nd Airborne Division asking why no one had talked with her."

Three months before her husband shot himself in the family's garage, Nicole Simmons said, she met with a chaplain and her husband's commanders at Fort Bragg.

Help me, and help my husband, Simmons said she told Lt. Col. Marcus Evans and Command Sgt. Maj. Herbert Kirkover.

Her husband, Sgt. Adrian Simmons, had changed, she said she told them.

Simmons, who is pregnant with their second child, thought he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He couldn't control his temper, and his memory was terrible, she said.

"I said, 'Something is wrong with my husband. He is saying he wants to blow his brains out. He is getting so short-tempered, so short-fused, anything will make him blow,' " Simmons said she told the commanders. "I said, 'I think he needs a psychological evaluation.' "

Soon after that meeting, the 24-year-old Simmons said, a soldier came to the family's Hoke County home to confiscate her husband's personal guns. Hoke County Child Protective Services visited and determined that the couple's 2-year-old son was safe as long as the guns remained out of the house.

But the Army never sent her husband to a counselor, Simmons said.

read more here
Widow says despite pleas help never came

San Jose has problems when Reservists deploy

This report shows that while most reservists working for San Jose are cops, which has been known for a long time by some, it also shows how they lose income when they deploy. San Jose tried to make up the difference in pay but as you'll read, they didn't do it right. Some reservists have had to pay back money, putting hardship on top of hardship.

San Jose audit suggests limits on military reservists' pay

By John Woolfolk
Posted: 07/30/2011

"Reservists have the support of the City Council and don't have the support of the city administration; that's been the case from the very beginning," said Christian, who is still paying off nearly $10,000 in overpayments from his tour in Afghanistan.

When America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, San Jose did its patriotic part by renewing a policy of subsidizing employee military reservists -- most of them cops -- who were summoned to the battlefield.

But with those conflicts dragging on nearly a decade, a new city audit suggests limits on a program it says is so generous that it creates an incentive for repeated and extended military tours at a time when San Jose is suffering crippling budget shortfalls and staffing cuts. Last month, the city was forced to lay off 66 cops.

The recommendations follow years of criticism of administrative errors in the program, which socked some returning veterans with demands to give back thousands of dollars in overpayments.

Some part-time soldiers question some of the audit's conclusions and say that they bolster a sense among reservists that city administrators want to discourage their military service.

"It's an effort to one way or another force reservists not to serve their country and make it as difficult as they can," said San Jose police Sgt. Brian Christian, a former Marine Corps reservist who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003.

The program pays the difference between reservists' city wages and lower military salaries while continuing health and retirement benefits. Recent changes have reduced the overpayment problems that the Mercury News reported in 2006 and a civil grand jury criticized in a 2007 report. But the audit of the program, extended indefinitely in 2007, recommends slapping a time limit on tours and dropping provisions that render reservists more than "whole" while they're on leave. The city pays reservists' pension contributions while deployed rather than deducting them from their pay, even though they also are earning military retirement, the audit pointed out.
read more here
San Jose audit suggests limits on military reservists pay

San Jose had to lay off cops but this happened all over this country with budget cuts. This left the rest of us wondering if our protection matters as little as taking care of our protectors. After 9-11, almost 10 years ago, all the talk was about how valuable the first responders were to all of us. Firefighters rushing into burning buildings, risking their lives to save others. Cops putting themselves in danger everyday and families wondering if they would get the phone call to change their lives forever. We all talked about the men and women being sent to Afghanistan in response to what Osama ordered. These men and women were all heroes, worthy of our attention, prayers and worth every dime that had to be spent on sending them.

The problems came when our talk was not of equal measure to our actions. They did everything that was expected of them. We just didn't do what was expected of us.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The 686th Engineer Company, Orlando leaves for Fort Bliss

Troops concerned about national debt debate

By Mark Jenkins, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, July 30, 2011 5:47 PM
The 686th Engineer Company prepares for deployment to Afghanistan.

More than 180 troops received their marching orders, and left Orlando Saturday with a ceremony. They said goodbye to their families, and prepared to deploy to Afghanistan.

"We're all pretty pumped and excited to go," says Army Cpl. Shannon Sabsook.

Sabsook is part of the 689th Engineer Company. They search for road-side bombs, which is the number one killer of US troops in combat operations.

"It's a very dangerous job," Sabsook said. "I'm thankful we have very good equipment."

These troops are deploying during a time of economic uncertainty. While the war wages on in Afghanistan, the money battle continues in Washington.
read more here
Troops concerned about national debt debate

Army enlisting families on soldier healing

As Gomer Pyle said, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" It looks like the Army is finally getting this right. Ignoring how important the families are when it comes to mending the bodies and minds of combat troops has contributed to what we've been reading all of these years. Now, maybe, God willing, they finally have their ammo loaded in the right weapons. It did little good telling them they could train their brains to be "tough" when they already were and ended up blaming themselves for PTSD. It didn't do much good to show them a Power Point that put them to sleep. It has done little good to medicate them into numbness. Even for the veterans they managed to get past the stigma of PTSD so they understood it, they were not served because the families they needed to help them heal were left out. A soldier could go and deny things they were doing either because they didn't want to admit it, forgot about it or didn't think it was important to mention. A spouse can correct what the veteran got wrong. They can also end up discovering how they react matters. Respond the right way and they help the healing but if they respond the wrong way because they didn't understand or know what to do, they made things worse. This gives everyone a better chance to heal.

Army unveils new website for wounded, injured, ill soldiers' families and caregivers

Written by
Philip Grey
The Leaf-Chronicle

The Army Warrior Transition Command has added another tool in its holistic approach to caring for wounded, ill and injured soldiers.

Available online at Army Warrior Transition, the Comprehensive Transition Plan Learning Module is a resource developed to help families and caregivers of a Warrior in Transition, defined as "a soldier with complex medical needs requiring six months or more of treatment or rehabilitation."

The definition can include soldiers severely wounded in combat, injured on the job in peacetime or wartime, or suffering from a long-term illness.

At the Army's 29 Warrior Transition Units in the United States and Europe, supporting some 8,500 soldiers requiring long-term treatment and rehabilitation, the soldiers are given one mission — to heal and transition successfully, either back to active duty or into the civilian world.

In the past decade the Army has worked on treatment methods that go beyond medical care and make soldiers active participants in their own treatment.

The online program focuses on educating family members and caregivers on the role they can play in assisting the soldier through the process, which consists of seven parts — intake, assessment, goal setting, rehabilitation, review, pre-transition and post-transition.
read more here
Army unveils new website for wounded

Senator Coburn wanted to cut Vietnam Veterans off of Agent Orange Claims

Linked from Veterans for Common Sense

Press Release

July 20, 2011

No. 11-16

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Sen. Coburn to Vietnam Veterans:

No More Agent Orange Claims

(Washington, D.C.) – "Sooner or later, some senator or congressman was going to target benefits earned by veterans," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "It seems that Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) is the one who has taken aim and fired."

Senator Coburn, a medical doctor with a well-earned reputation as a fiscal conservative, has offered an amendment to H.R. 2055, the Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs and related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012. His amendment would require proof of a "causal relationship" rather than a "positive association" of certain illnesses to Agent Orange exposure. "If enacted, this measure will significantly restrict Agent Orange benefits and care. VVA vigorously opposes this amendment," Rowan said

"This measure is wrong-headed. It is out of touch with science – and with the intent of the Agent Orange Act of 1991. It attempts to undo two decades of policy. Currently, veterans are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange if they served 'boots-on-the-ground' in Vietnam and, in some instances, along the demilitarized zone in Korea," Rowan said. "If they develop certain maladies that the VA Secretary has determined, on the basis of sound scientific and epidemiological research, that a positive association exists between the exposure and the occurrence of the disease, they are entitled to health-care and disability compensation.

"Congress, in part, settled on this mechanism because it was nearly impossible for Vietnam veterans to prove that their exposure to Agent Orange caused their health conditions, many of which are ultimately fatal," Rowan said. "Requiring a causal relationship, which is well nigh impossible to demonstrate, would essentially mean that benefits due to Agent Orange exposure would be out of reach for Vietnam veterans."

"If the senator feels that Agent Orange benefits and needed medical care ought to be stripped from Vietnam veterans and their families, then he should introduce a bill and arrange to hold a hearing," Rowan said. "But there has been no bill, and no hearing. And if his colleagues really do care about the health of Vietnam veterans, they ought to stand with Vietnam Veterans of America, with all Vietnam veterans and our families, and with most of our colleagues in other Veterans Service Organizations. We call on a bipartisan majority of Senators to reject the ill-advised Coburn amendment out of hand."

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

Former homicide prosecutor now yoga guru for combat vets

Former homicide prosecutor now yoga guru for combat vets

By Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel
1:02 p.m. EDT, July 30, 2011

During his 22 years as a Broward County prosecutor, David Frankel tried cases so saturated in mayhem and madness they sounded like horror fiction. The case of the severed head. Death by acid bath. The mutilation of the gurgling prostitute.

But the cases were real.

Outside the courtroom, Frankel struggled to balance the stress of trial work and the suffering of the crime victims he represented by studying Hindu philosophy and practicing theyoga he learned years ago from his grandmother.

Eventually, however, that balance was lost. "I felt I had reached the peak of what I was doing in law, but I didn't sleep well," Frankel said. " It was swallowing me whole. I had to make a change."
read more here
Former homicide prosecutor now yoga guru for combat vets

Family of amputee tossed from roller coaster files wrongful death suit

Hackemer family files wrongful death suit
Probe results prompt change in position
By Matt Gryta and Dan Herbeck

Updated: July 30, 2011, 9:28 AM

The family of a decorated Iraq War veteran who died after flying out of a roller coaster at the Darien Lake amusement park has decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family of James T. Hackemer, who was allowed to board the Ride of Steel coaster on July 8 despite having no legs, launched the State Supreme Court lawsuit on Friday against two companies associated with the park.

Hackemer, 29, of Gowanda, lost both legs and a hip in 2008 after a roadside bombing in Iraq, where he served as a sergeant in the Army.

He died after he was ejected from the 208-foot-high roller coaster during a family outing at Darien Lake.

According to family attorney Denis J. Bastible, park employees violated Darien Lake’s own safety rules when they allowed the double amputee to ride the coaster.

“They didn’t train their employees to follow the rules and the result was tragic,” Bastible told The Buffalo News. “[Hackemer] leaves two very young children behind, and his family is doing terribly.”
read more here
Hackemer family files wrongful death suit

Navy vets seek benefits for Agent Orange illnesses

Navy vets seek benefits for Agent Orange illnesses
WASHINGTON – Doug DeWitt served his country in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, but now he feels abandoned by the nation for which he fought.


WASHINGTON – Doug DeWitt served his country in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, but now he feels abandoned by the nation for which he fought.

Forty years after his service, the 67-year-old Anaheim, Calif., resident suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments that he blames on exposure to Agent Orange, the main chemical the United States sprayed during the war. He has tried for years without success to get disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I don’t have the strength that I used to have. I can’t do the walking I used to because of the pain in my legs,” he said. He added that the VA has not been helpful in resolving his claim.
“They won’t listen to you. You can talk till you’re blue in the face,” he said.

Read more: Navy vets seek benefits for Agent Orange illnesses

Troops should not have to worry about pay on top of everything else

If I hear one more elected official whine about the need to not raise taxes on anyone, including ending the funding of the wealthy with their tax cuts, while the troops are worried about being paid while in combat, I'll never vote again. I haven't missed one single election since the age of 18 and thought it was my duty to vote but it is sickening when members of congress causing this mess don't have to worry about their own pay but the troops do. Veterans do. The elderly do. These debts have been paid forward already so why are a bunch of men and women elected to office able to get paid for shooting off their mouths but those shot at have to worry yet again about their pay checks?

Mullen hears litany of budget, debt worries from troops as he travels Afghanistan

By Associated Press

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — A half a world away from the Capitol Hill deadlock, the economy and debt crisis are weighing heavily on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

And the top question on their minds Saturday even as bombings rocked the city around them, was one the top U.S. military officer couldn’t answer.

Will we get paid?

“I actually don’t know how the answer to that question,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a group of troops, while at the same time telling them they will continue to go to work each day.

But he offered a bit more optimism than defense officials have acknowledged when those questions have come up in recent weeks.
read more here
Mullen hears litany of budget, debt worries

Tough talk about putting their foot down for yet another round of them wanting to take away from others to help out the rich is evil. How many times will they be allowed to get away with this? When will they make sure the people defending this nation have at least their pay protected? They have enough to worry about already like if they will have jobs when they are discharged but this congress has not been interested in creating any jobs. They've been too busy taking them away. State after state has lost jobs but this congress doesn't give a damn. They point to the fact the "stimulus" money didn't work without ever saying that all the money was not used and too much of it is still sitting in the bank.

Congress gets paid if they work or not so they just don't care at all.

Editorial: Will Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Stop Veterans' Disability Checks?
Written by VCS
Friday, 29 July 2011 14:19

Veterans' Social Programs Remain Vital Success for Veterans and America
July 29, 2011 (VCS) - Is history repeating itself? On July 28, 1932, veterans died in Washington, DC for our freedom to assemble and demand action from our government.

On that date, World War I veterans had gathered on the National Mall to collect deferred pay, only to be met with indifference by Congress and Republican President Herbert Hoover, claiming there was no money. Hoover fought for business deregulation, fought against social programs, and he fought for low taxes for the rich and corporations, some of the causes of our Great Depression. Sound familiar?
Let us take a moment today and thank the Bonus Army marchers. In the end, Hoover's maltreatment of veterans is credited, in part, with the landslide victory of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who later saved our country from the Great Depression with his extensive and successful New Deal social programs. Congress eventually paid the veterans in 1936. The U.S. military, led by FDR, would later defeat Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy in World War II.
read more here
Will Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Stop Veterans Disability Checks

Vietnam vets gather to reflect

Viet vets gather to reflect

12th annual reunion expected to draw hundreds
By Jeff Alexander
Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
Published: Saturday, July 30, 2011 2:11 AM EDT

GREENVILLE — Greene County will be hosting the 12th Annual Northeast USA Vietnam Veterans Reunion this weekend in Greenville. The event is designed to help veterans facilitate solidarity and healing for those who have served and their families who struggled with the challenges they faced while a loved one was overseas.

“We were first bought together by word of mouth and then the online community. It started with about 50 guys in 1999 and peaked in 2007-2008 with 1,000 people,” said organizer Bill Fay.

As the U.S. remains engaged in armed conflicts, Fay somberly said, “War is very serious business. I do have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it can linger. I cope one day at a time and I try not to put any strains on myself. Sometimes even watching the news can trigger it.”
read more here
Viet vets gather to reflect

Fort Campbell Battle within fort may decide war on suicide

Battle within fort may decide war on suicide
Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune Updated: July 29, 2011 - 11:37 PM
Fort Campbell, home to the most often deployed combat force in the Army, is using new approaches to combat an alarming rate of suicide.


Sgt. Patrick Cummings suffered his second traumatic brain injury when a 155mm shell exploded midbarrel as he and other soldiers fired a howitzer against the Taliban. The blast should have killed everyone within a 100-yard radius, but here was Cummings, sitting on a table at the All American Tattoo Company outside Fort Campbell, spending his Valentine's Day night alongside two fellow soldiers who also survived the blast.

The tattoo the men will share memorializes the searing experience they shared, a time-honored military tradition for commemorating brushes with death. But a new deadly danger has been waiting inside Fort Campbell for those preparing for or returning from war, an epidemic of suicides that has shown how ill-prepared the military is to deal with the psychological and emotional injuries of nearly a decade of conflict.

"The problem is you are drilled on these tests from boot camp, 'Suck it up. Be a soldier,'" said Kat Cummings, who accompanied her husband to the tattoo parlor. "They come home, they went through their surgery, the very last thing they thought about was counseling for what they went through," she said. "I understand why these guys are knocking themselves off."

Home to the 101st Airborne, the Army's most often deployed contingency force, Fort Campbell sprawls across 106,000 acres of western Kentucky and Tennessee. The base and its inhabitants bear the scars of nine years of constant warfare, the air thick with equal measures of adrenaline and trauma, soldiers preparing for war, soldiers trying to recoup.
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Battle within fort may decide war on suicide

Real-life guitar heroes, Warrior Spirit

Real-life guitar heroes
By Jim Kavanagh, CNN
July 29, 2011 4:28 p.m. EDT

Wounded veterans form band to encourage comrades
Founder Paul Delacerda survived roadside bomb attack in Iraq
Singer Robert Ferguson proudly shows off prosthetic leg
"It's an inspiration," therapy center case manager says

Paul Delacerda, from left, Levon Ingram and Robert Ferguson form the core of the band Warrior Spirit

Atlanta (CNN) -- From reveille to marches to taps, music plays a vital role in the life of a soldier. One disabled Iraq veteran says he believes it may play an even more important role for wounded warriors.

Paul Delacerda spent 15 years jumping out of airplanes with the Army's vaunted 82nd Airborne Division before he blew out his knee, ending his paratrooper career. But he wasn't done serving. He fought his way through grueling rehab and back into the Army on his third attempt.

No longer able to jump, Delacerda was serving on the ground in Iraq when his life changed suddenly and forever.

"A lot of bad stuff happened that day," he said.

Delacerda, a staff sergeant, was driving a truck on a route-clearing mission -- searching for roadside bombs -- in the dangerous Tal Afar area in 2005.

"The pucker factor in that is greater than you can imagine," he quipped.

As Delacerda and his squad crept down the road, chaos broke out all around them. A youth of about 12 threw a grenade, and the soldiers shot back, he said.

"Suddenly everything went black," Delacerda recalled. An improvised explosive device had exploded under the truck.

The blast didn't tear Delacerda's body apart, but it violently knocked his brain around inside his skull. Everyone in the squad survived, but Delacerda's military career really was over this time.

Now he suffers severe headaches, numbness in his arms and legs, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder and profound memory loss. Sometimes he doesn't recognize close friends. On one occasion he found himself inside a Walmart, unable to remember his own name, let alone why he was there, he said.
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Real-life guitar heroes

Warrior Spirit Band
“Our Story”

As musicians we have the ability to share our love of music with others and present our story through lyrics and sound. The Warrior Spirit Band has the potential to do so much for our men and women of the armed forces that have sacrificed their ability to lead a normal life after being wounded or disabled in a combat zone. Warrior Spirit will help bring selected veterans outreach programs to the spotlight and will raise awareness of the struggles that our service men and women go through upon returning home and reacclimating to a normal life.

According to recent VA estimates, approximately 6,400 veterans take their own lives each year. A growing number of these veterans are those that served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Warrior Spirit Band wants to help reduce those numbers by using music as a positive tool for veteran transition and support. Studies have also shown that music can have a positive effect on various mental conditions, including PTSD.

Veterans' homes slip away

Veterans' homes slip away


The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Aguiars have lots of company. Veterans have always faced daunting problems in finding jobs, obtaining promised benefits, and meeting other challenges when they reenter civilian life. But to those problems has been added the fear of losing their homes. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral region, home to about 60,000 veterans, is a microcosm of what is happening to former service people all over America.

After the Second World War, returning veterans were welcomed home to two of the most successful government initiatives ever - the FHA and VA housing programs - which put millions of them into their own homes for the first time.

Today, later generations of veterans are being confronted by much different housing policies - ones that can toss them out of homes they've bought with their life savings.

John Aguiar is a veteran of the Gulf War, a former intelligence analyst for the Army who took part in Operation Desert Storm in 1990 when U.S. forces brought Saddam Hussein to heel after he invaded Kuwait.

Aguiar and his wife, Syrena, built a house in Cape Coral, Fla., after relocating from Chicago to be nearer her parents. Using proceeds from the sale of their Chicago house, they bought a lot in a new subdivision in the Cape, a middle-class suburb across from Fort Myers in southwest Florida.
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Veterans homes slip away

Teams deliver ‘psychological first aid’ on the street

July 29, 2011
Teams deliver ‘psychological first aid’ on the street
By Emily Younker

JOPLIN, Mo. — When Daryl Whitecotton came to his front door on Wednesday, he was greeted by his new friend, Susan Myers.

For a few minutes, Myers drilled him on his post-tornado living conditions. Did he need more ice? More water? Any help in getting some of his utilities hooked up?

And then came a question Whitecotton likely wasn’t expecting: Had she given him a stress ball yet?

“I ain’t got stress,” he joked, accepting the red ball and squeezing it in his right hand as he talked.

Whitecotton is one of about 21,000 people across Joplin who have received “psychological and emotional first aid” from Healing Joplin, a collaborative effort led by Ozark Center to help tornado survivors put their lives back together, said Debbie Fitzgerald, project manager.

Additional support

U.S. Navy Chief Stanley “Mike” Wade will discuss his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder in talks this weekend. Wade was diagnosed with — and has since overcome — the disorder following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and several military deployments.

Wade’s presentation is set for 10 a.m. today in the Justice Center at the Missouri Southern State University, 3950 E. Newman Road. Residents who think they might be experiencing psychological effects from the tornado are encouraged to attend.
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Teams deliver psychological first aid on the street

Marine's mission to help children

Marine's mission to help children

By Tyana Willams

Winston Fiore, 26, of Indianapolis is on a money making mission.

"I've raised a little past 25% of my goal of raising $25,000," said Fiore.

Curious why? The young marine says while deployed in Senegal earlier this year, he decided he wanted to see the world. But he wanted to have a reason to travel. He says after seeing all the poverty he decided to make a trek for charity.

"I decided I was going to spend a year, dedicate a year, to traveling part of the world I hadn't been to on foot. So I could connect with locals and decided if I was going to spend a year walking, I should tie in a good cause."

His cause is raising money for the International Children's Surgical Foundation.
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Marine mission to help children

Stamps Commemorate Misunderstood Merchant Marine

'An Overdue Honor:' Stamps Commemorate Misunderstood Merchant Marine

All-volunteer maritime industry is recognized as the backbone of America's growth and strength, and unsung heroes of World War II.

By Bruce Goldfarb
July 29, 2011

Aboard the John W. Brown docked at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor--one of only two Liberty ships remaining out of a fleet of more than 2,700 built during World War II--people line up to buy an everyday household item, but one that holds special symbolism.

For Friday and Saturday, the venerable ship has been designated a special post office by the U.S. Postal Service. On Thursday, USPS issued a set of “forever” first-class stamps to commemorate the U.S. Merchant Marine, and they were going fast.

Since America’s founding, the maritime industry was integral to the nation’s growth and security, said Postal Service Vice President Jim Cochrane at a July 28 ceremony at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Port, NY.

The stamps “pay homage not only to the ships, but to also to the valor of the thousands of dedicated members of the U.S. Merchant Marine who served their country and served it honorably,” Cochrane said in a USPS statement.
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Stamps Commemorate Misunderstood Merchant Marine

Couple commits suicide at Chapel where they married 40 years ago

40 years ago they took their vows but whatever happened between then and now may remain a mystery. Whatever happened to them ended when they traveled across the country to end their lives where they began.

Las Vegas couple commits suicide together outside Florida chapel where they married 40 years ago


Friday, July 29th 2011, 2:07 PM


When death did them part, Patricia and Bruce Wright were together at the Florida church where they wed 40 years earlier.

The Las Vegas couple, after a 2,400-mile odyssey, committed suicide side-by-side beneath an oak tree at the Friendship United Methodist Church.

"It was a romantic tragedy," their nephew, Daniel Johnson, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"Life started for the two of them there, and that's officially where life ended for them."

Bruce Wright, 60, put a shotgun to his head while wife Patricia, 57, used a rifle to inflict her fatal wound, said Bob Carpenter, spokesman for the Charlotte County, Fla., sheriff's office.
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Las Vegas couple commits suicide

Soldier may be tried for fifth time for double murder charges

Military Hearing for Soldier Charged with Double Murder After Four Inconclusive Trials

July 29, 2011
Prosecutors have been unable to convict Army Sgt. Brent Burke of a double murder in four civilian trials and had decided to not try him again. But Burke now faces the likelihood of a military trial in which a unanimous jury is not necessary to find him guilty.

After two hung juries and two dismissed mistrials, the case has been turned over to the military where only two-thirds of the jury would have to believe him guilty in order to convict him.

"I wouldn't say it's common," said Victor Hansen, a professor of law at New England Law and a retired Army lawyer, referring to the military trying a soldier for a crime that was previously tried in a civilian court.

Burke was charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of his estranged wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law from a previous marriage, Karen Comer. The two women were found shot dead on Sept. 11, 2007 in Comer's Rineyville, Ky., home when one of three children at the house called police.

In June, after another mistrial, charges against Burke were dropped.

Less than two weeks later, the military charged Burke with two counts of premeditated murder. There is no issue of double jeopardy between a civilian court and a military court.
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Military Hearing for Soldier Charged with Double Murder

Friday, July 29, 2011

Paying It Forward In New Oxford

Paying It Forward In New Oxford
One Woman Grabs The Cash To Give To A Helper Who Needs It
Nava Ghalili
Multi-media Journalist
10:30 p.m. EDT, July 27, 2011

LANCASTER, LANCASTER COUNTY— A mother of three is thanking her Babysitter in a big way in Oxford Township, Adams County.
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Paying It Forward In New Oxford

Orlando Non-Profit Gets VA Grant to Help Homeless Vets


Orlando Non-Profit Gets VA Grant to Help Homeless Vets
Thursday, July 28, 2011
By: Tom Parkinson

July 28, 2011

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is awarding $5.5 million dollars in grants to help homeless Florida veterans.

About a million of that is going to the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida.
In a recent, one night head count, the group found 1125 homeless veterans in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
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Orlando Non-Profit Gets VA Grant to Help Homeless Vets

Drill Sergeant archer misses target, hits woman in her house 100 yards away

Woman Struck by Drill Sergeant’s Errant Arrow
July 28, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch|by Kim Bell
ST. JOHN, Mo. - An archer apologized Wednesday after an errant arrow sailed through the window of a house here, striking a woman in the face as she ate a doughnut.

The man, an Army drill sergeant who was practicing archery in his backyard Tuesday morning when a shot flew far beyond his target, said he prides himself on being safe.

"I can't explain how bad I feel," Robert "Ben" Joiner said Wednesday. "I thank the Lord she wasn't more injured than she was."

Joiner, 26, spoke to a reporter at his home after posting bail to be freed from the St. Louis County Jail. He faces two felonies after the incident: second-degree assault and armed criminal action.

The arrow traveled more than 100 yards - through Joiner's backyard, through a section of thick woods, and into a neighbor's backyard - before it crashed through a double-pane kitchen window of a house.
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Woman Struck by Drill Sergeant Errant Arrow

Dogs Helping Local Veterans to Regain Freedom

Dogs Helping Local Veterans to Regain Freedom
By Maria Scali
Fox 8 News Reporter
12:24 a.m. EDT, July 29, 2011

CLEVELAND— No doubt you've heard that dog is man's best friend. That is particularly true for some area veterans.

Specially trained dogs are helping those who fought for our freedom, regain their freedom. It is made possible through the local Veteran's Best Friend program.

Frank DeLorenzo served in Iraq and works with the Army Wounded Warriors program at the Cleveland VA Hospital. He is also the co-founder of the Veteran's Best Friend Program. His dog Nina, a Labrador/ Shepherd mix, is never far from his side.
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Dogs Helping Local Veterans to Regain Freedom

Vets with PTSD, government reach settlement

Vets with PTSD, government reach settlement

By KIMBERLY HEFLING Associated Press
Posted: 07/29/2011

WASHINGTON—More than a thousand Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder would be given lifetime disability retirement benefits such as military health insurance under the terms of a settlement reached between the government and the veterans.

Attorneys for the veterans, the Justice Department and the military jointly filed a motion on Thursday that spelled out the terms. The settlement must be approved by a judge to be final.

It also affects another thousand veterans who already had lifetime retirement benefits, but would receive a higher disability rating from the military. All of the veterans affected by the settlement would potentially receive new monthly disability compensation.

The settlement stems from a 2008 class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington by veterans unable to serve, at least in part, because of the anxiety disorder who said they were illegally denied benefits.

The law requires the military to give a disability rating of at least 50 percent to troops discharged for PTSD, but each of the plaintiffs received a disability less than that, said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, a nonprofit organization that represented the veterans.
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Vets with PTSD government reach settlement

from CNN

Vets with PTSD get benefits under settlement
From the CNN Wire Staff
July 29, 2011 9:09 a.m. EDT

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder filed a class-action lawsuit
They claimed they were denied benefits
A settlement in the case will afford them compensation
Thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffer from PTSD

Washington (CNN) -- Anthony Koller's squad was ambushed in Iraq. He saw his friend die. He spent 14 months at war and returned home with a diagnosis that has become all too common for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans: post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Army discharged him but he did not receive medical benefits to which he said he was entitled. There were times when the family, with three small children, did not have any health care coverage at all.

But relief is on its way for Koller and more than 1,000 other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who suffer from PTSD. Under the terms of a class-action lawsuit settlement announced Friday by a veterans advocacy group, those veterans will now receive lifetime disability benefits.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program said the U.S. military violated the law by failing to assign the veterans a 50% or higher disability rating that is needed to qualify for benefits.

"These veterans served our country in time of war, but have waited three to eight years to receive the disability benefits which they've earned for their service," said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of the veterans advocacy group.

"Today, a terrible wrong to our nation's war veterans is being righted," he said.
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Vets with PTSD get benefits under settlement

“Pattern of conduct” by Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS

Probe requested by McCaskill results in resignation of senior Administration official
Senator pursued whistleblower allegations of contractor fraud, waste at Labor Department
By Press Release
Waynesville Daily Guide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A top official at the U.S. Department of Labor has resigned after an Inspector General investigation, requested by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, found that the official, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS) Raymond Jefferson, circumvented rules and regulations to secure government contracts for friends and colleagues.

McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, was approached late last year by a whistleblower who shared allegations of contracting fraud committed by senior officials within the Department. A thorough investigation by the Labor Department’s Inspector General (McCaskill’s request for an investigation is available on her website, HERE) resulted in a report released publicly today.

The report (executive summary HERE) describes a “pattern of conduct” by Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS, Raymond Jefferson, “which reflects a consistent disregard of federal procurement regulations, federal ethics principles, and the proper stewardship of appropriated dollars.”

McCaskill was informed yesterday that as a result of the investigation, Jefferson has resigned.

The Labor Department has also taken control of procurement authority in the VETS program to ensure that no contracts can be awarded without approval of senior officials outside the program.
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Probe requested by McCaskill results in resignation

GOP elected and veterans? Frankly my dear they don't give a damn!

If there is anyone left in this country still under the delusion the Republican party is for veterans, they will never wake up. The people who really cared about the troops and veterans in the GOP retired a long time ago yet some just assume they care because they say so.

All you have to do is look at all the Bills over the last ten years to know what the truth is, who voted for veterans and who voted against them.

Social Security and Medicare are part of how veterans pay bills just like their disability checks. Everything we need on a daily basis to live is on the line while most of the Republican elected fight tooth and nail for the sake of the tax breaks for the rich. They are not fighting for us. Frankly my dear, they just don't give a damn about the debt this nation owes veterans. After all, since most of the members of congress are in the ranks of the rich, how could they possibly understand that the debt they are talking about putting on hold was due payable as soon as the men and women entered into the military. They will let everyone suffer so that their rich friends get to keep their tax cuts no matter who has to suffer.

White House to veterans: Boehner's plan will endanger your benefits

Joe Newby, Spokane Conservative Examiner

On Tuesday, Obama Administration officials met with representatives of veterans groups in an effort to frighten them - just as the President did with seniors earlier in July - into believing that the Republicans would endanger their benefits in the event America defaulted on its debt.

Although Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, said she believes the military will continue to be paid in the event of a default, officials said the plan being worked on by House Speaker John Boehner “would endanger veterans benefits,” according to Joseph R. Chenelly of the Disabled American Veterans.

“They said the president understood veterans’ anxiety and regretted it,” he said, the Washington Post reported.

According to the Post:

Tuesday’s meeting came on the eve of an online protest meant to protect veteran benefits during the debt crisis negotiations. DAV, the nation’s largest group representing disabled veterans and their families, is organizing a “virtual march on Washington” on Facebook for Wednesday.

Thousands of virtual marchers have registered for the online protest, according to the DAV. Though it will take place primarily on Facebook, links to participate will also be available at and on Twitter, using the hashtag #March4Vets, organizers said.

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White House to veterans

This goes on to print how some veterans are blaming Obama for telling them what's on the line but when you stop and think about all of this, the target of righteous anger should be the members of congress not fighting for us. They expect us to forget about all the money that went missing in Iraq they never even thought of looking into. Any idea how far billions could go in taking care of the wounded coming home? They allowed the wars to be ongoing with no one checking on where the money was going but now they complain? They didn't even demand the two wars were made part of the budget as if they were not worth it. All they did was demand the money be there so that we would "support the troops" and now, now suddenly they care about the debt because both wars are in the budget?

I feel sorry for anyone blindly supporting members of both parties without knowing who is the "friendly" and who is the "enemy" of veterans.

Police officers get training on combat brain injuries

A Day of TBI Training for Albemarle Police
Reported by Julie Bercik

Some Albemarle County police officers spent Thursday afternoon in the classroom. They discussed the effects of post traumatic stress disorder and other traumatic brain injuries for soldiers.

Ben Shaw, a veteran peer specialist with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, led the training session. The former marine served time in Iraq.
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A Day of TBI Training for Albemarle Police

AWOL soldier arrested with bomb items near Ft. Hood

AWOL soldier arrested with bomb items near Ft. Hood
An AWOL soldier from the U.S. Army has been arrested, and bomb-making materials discovered in his motel room, near Fort Hood, Texas.
by, CBS News

Army Pvt. Nasser Jason Abdo, 21, who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Kentucy, was arrested on Wednesday in Killeen, Texas, on an outstanding child pornography warrant.

Abdo was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Company E at the time of his arrest.

Killeen police arrested Abdo Wednesday afternoon at America's Best Value Inn on South Fort Hood Street after responding to a report of a suspicious man.

FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said Thursday that firearms and "items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder" were removed from his motel room.

Abdo, who's from Garland, joined the Army in March 2009. He went AWOL on July 4, on the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan.

A law enforcement official told CBS News that Abdo had asked how to build explosives at a gun store near Fort Hood. His questions about explosives made the gun store worker suspicious and contact police, the official said.
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AWOL soldier arrested with bomb items near Ft. Hood

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Triple amputee veteran's wife tells lawmakers of long-term cost of war

Marine Lost Arms, Legs; Wife Tells Lawmakers of Long-Term Cost of War
July 27, 2011

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz (@arlettesaenz) reports:

Crystal Nicely, the wife of one of three surviving quadruple amputees in the Marine Corps, put a face to the long term costs of war by sharing her experiences navigating the system as a non-medical attendant for her husband.

“For me, I'm not only my husband's caregiver, non medical attendant, appointment scheduler, cook, driver and groomer, but I'm also his loving wife faced with my own stresses and frustrations,” Nicely said at a hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “To be clear this is not an issue of being overwhelmed with caring for my husband, but what is upsetting is the lack of support, compassion and benefits for these individuals. It needs to be just a little bit easier.”

Her husband, Marine Cpl. Todd Nicely, lost both arms and both legs when he was hit by an IED during a foot patrol in Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2010. Since his injury, he has spent a year recovering at Walter Reed and has received prosthetics, which enable him to be a little more independent, even recently being able to drive.

“It has been a long journey since that day in the early 2010 and you would think that it would be easy for someone to lose hope and motivation after such a catastrophic injury, but my husband has been a fighter since day one. In recovery, he displayed the same irresistible warrior spirit for which the marines are so beloved,” Crystal Nicely said.

But the Nicely couple has confronted red tape throughout their time at Walter Reed as they’ve struggled with delayed paperwork, and slowly trained warrior unit personnel. Cpl. Nicely waited 70 days for doctor to complete a medical summary for his disability review, which delayed his release from Walter Reed and retirement from the military.

The CBO estimates the medical costs associated with the Veterans Health Administration’s treatment of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could total between $40 billion and $55 billion over the next ten years.
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Cost of war

School helps military vets find peace of mind

School helps military vets find peace of mind

Karen Meyer
More: Bio, News Team
July 28, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Combat veterans often struggle to adjust to life once they return home. Many experience psychological challenges that require support from therapists who understand and are trained in this area.

A local school of psychology is making this possible.

Adler School of Professional Psychology's military psychology program will be starting this fall. It prepares students to work as clinical psychologists either as members of the military or as civilians.

Joseph Troiani is a retired U.S. Navy commander and an associate professor at Adler who created the military program.

"Two years ago we decided to formalize, that by the development of a specialty track of elective courses to better prepare the student interested in either going into the military as a military psychologist or in working with veterans," said Troiani. "For example, we have a course called 'The Psychology of Combat and Conflict.' ... We also have additional classes dealing with disaster response."
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School helps military vets find peace of mind

Norwegian chaplain training with VA grieves for homeland

Visiting Norwegian chaplain grieves for homeland
Written by
Kirsti Marohn

A month ago Kyrre Klevberg’s family returned to their home in Norway overlooking a peaceful lake and island that last week became the site of unspeakable terror and tragedy.

Klevberg, a military chaplain, is wrapping up three years of work and training at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System, where he has worked with veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

On Monday, he’ll return to his homeland that has been shaken by the deadly attacks on a government building in Oslo and a youth camp just 2 miles from Klevberg’s home, as survivors and families of victims deal with their own trauma.

“I’m really grieving and being both angry and sad about the upsetting news,” Klevberg said.
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Visiting Norwegian chaplain grieves for homeland

Georgia Reservist blames crash diet during murder trial

Ga. soldier charged with slaying superior blames crash diet after being ordered to lose weight

By Associated Press, Published: July 27

FORT STEWART, Ga. — Attorneys for an Army Reserve soldier on trial for murder in Georgia say he killed a superior because he was dehydrated and delirious from a crash diet after being ordered to lose weight.

Army Staff Sgt. Rashad Valmont’s fiancĂ©e testified Wednesday that he quit eating and put in extra hours at the gym and sauna after being ordered by a supervisor to shed 3 percent of his body fat quickly. Two days later he walked into a different superior’s office holding a Glock handgun, took aim and shot the man six times.
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Ga soldier charged with slaying superior

Congressman Joe Walsh dead-beat dad?

Walsh made a speech about passing on this nation's debt to his kids but he has not taken care of them in the first place. This guy along with everyone else suddenly talking about the debt never seems to manage to understand the debt we already owe to veterans.

Ex-wife: Ill. congressman owes $117K child support
Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, the tea party-backed Republican who squeaked into office last year by vowing to bring fiscal responsibility to Washington and who has been one of President Barack Obama's most outspoken critics during the standoff over the debt ceiling, is being sued for more than $100,000 in unpaid child support, a newspaper reported.

The Associated Press

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, the tea party-backed Republican who squeaked into office last year by vowing to bring fiscal responsibility to Washington and who has been one of President Barack Obama's most outspoken critics during the standoff over the debt ceiling, is being sued for more than $100,000 in unpaid child support, a newspaper reported.

The freshman congressman's ex-wife, Laura Walsh, filed the claim against him in December as part of their divorce case, saying he owed $117,437 to her and their three children, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in a story published Wednesday. She contends that Walsh loaned his own campaign $35,000 and took international vacations but said he couldn't afford child support payments because he was between jobs or out of work.
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Ex-wife: Ill. congressman owes $117K child support

Senate defeats attempt to sink VA funding bill
By Josiah Ryan - 07/20/11 12:54 PM ET
The Senate voted 69-30 on Wednesday to table an amendment offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have killed the Veterans Affairs (VA) funding bill.

Vitter wanted to stop the bill because the Senate has yet to pass a budget for 2012. He argued it makes no sense to move spending measures without a budget framework approved by the Senate.

"The point this amendment makes is a pretty simple but basic and important one,” said Vitter from the floor on Tuesday. “We don't have a concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012. We're in the process of passing an appropriation bill with this bill, spending money without a budget, without a game plan, without a framework.”

"That's clearly putting the cart before the horse and clearly having things backwards in a dysfunctional process," Vitter said.
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Senate defeats attempt to sink VA funding bill

Cost of Treating Veterans Will Rise Long Past Wars

The time to debate the price of war is before they begin. After that, the price being paid by the men and women sent, should never be open to discussion. They should just be taken care of. War causes death. War causes wounds. While the congress may be able to easily accept the price of replacing equipment they should never, ever debate the price of taking care of the veterans. Anyone in congress even suggesting that funds should be cut from them as more and more are added to the ranks of combat veterans, should resign from office. They don't belong there. Any congressional district with a member of congress defending tax cuts for the wealthy at the same time they talk about cutting anything to do with veterans, should recall them and get them out of office. They have shown their loyalty is with the wealthy and they don't care about the men and women serving this nation with their lives instead of their mouths delivering yet one more speech on how much they "support the troops" when they turn around and take away from the veterans.

Cost of Treating Veterans Will Rise Long Past Wars
Published: July 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Though the withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan will save the nation billions of dollars a year, another cost of war is projected to continue rising for decades to come: caring for the veterans.

By one measure, the cost of health care and disability compensation for veterans from those conflicts and all previous American wars ranks among the largest for the federal government — less than the military, Social Security and health care programs including Medicare, but nearly the same as paying interest on the national debt, the Treasury Department says.

Ending the current wars will not lower those veterans costs; indeed, they will rise ever more steeply for decades to come as the population of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan expands, ages and becomes more infirm. To date, more than 2.2 million troops have served in those wars.

Studies show that the peak years for government health care and disability compensation costs for veterans from past wars came 30 to 40 years after those wars ended. For Vietnam, that peak has not been reached.

In Washington, the partisan stalemate over cutting federal spending is now raising alarms among veterans groups and some lawmakers that the seemingly inexorable costs of veterans benefits will spur a backlash against those programs.

Though there is currently strong bipartisan support for veterans programs, some budget proposals, including from Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, and Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, have called for trimming benefits for veterans and military retirees.
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Cost of Treating Veterans Will Rise Long Past Wars

Onslow County DAV chapter seeking donations

Not to be confused with DAV 16 Orlando FL

Disabled American Veterans Chapter 16 seeking donations

Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2011 12:00 am
Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
End of Active Service - for those who hit this date, it is a time to hang up their utility uniforms and prepare for their life in the civilian community. At times, some of these service members leave the military disabled - physically or mentally.

The life ahead of them may become hard at times and some may need a shoulder to lean on. For that, veterans have Disabled American Veterans Chapter 16, a nonprofit organization in Jacksonville, N.C. The chapter's mission is to help veterans, be it providing transportation, helping when a bill is overdue or providing a much-needed wheelchair or set of crutches to a handicapped veteran.

The Onslow County chapter is able to assist veterans all because of donations, fundraisers and volunteers from the surrounding community, including Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and its tenant commands.

Now, the chapter is hosting events to raise money to keep providing their services to military families. Fundraisers include raffles, bingo nights, crafts sales and ‘pig pickins,' a whole pig barbecued to perfection. Additionally, the chapter is always looking for volunteers.

"We can help with (Veteran Affairs) claims and can also transport veterans to and from appointments from places like Winston-Salem to Durham, N.C." said John Bryant, the commander for Chapter 16. "Right now we're raising money to buy a 15-passenger van to help with transportation and we're also looking for more volunteers who are willing to donate some time."
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Disabled American Veterans Chapter 16 seeking donations

DAV Jacksonville

Multiple Stressors Up Suicide Risk Among Military Personnel

Multiple Stressors Up Suicide Risk Among Military Personnel

By: NEIL OSTERWEIL, Internal Medicine News Digital Network

BOSTON – Both veterans and active-duty military are at significantly greater risk for suicide than is the general population, underscoring the critical need for identification of suicidal thoughts and prevention of suicidal actions, said clinicians who specialize in the mental health needs of current and former armed service members.

Of the 30,000-32,000 Americans annually who commit suicide, about one in five is a veteran – an average of 18 veteran suicides a day, according to the National Violent Death Reporting System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 1950 through 2005, despite four wars, seven recessions, and unprecedented advances in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, the overall American suicide rate has not changed, said Dr. Janet Kemp, Veterans Affairs national mental health director for suicide prevention at the VA Office of Mental Health in Washington.

"It’s not that people haven’t been paying attention to it, but to be perfectly honest, we’re not that far ahead in our ability to change the problem," she said at a symposium on the complexities and challenges of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.

For active duty military, particularly those who are deployed to combat zones, a combination of "rage, guilt, and despair" and ready access to firearms can be a deadly combination, added Col. John Bradley, a physician who serves as chair of Integrated Health Services in the department of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

"It’s not simply exposure to bad things, but it’s the emotional response to those things that really creates the distress for our returning veterans, and in particular, anger and survivor’s guilt are important themes," Dr. Bradley said.
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Multiple Stressors Up Suicide Risk Among Military Personnel

300,000 surveys to be mailed on Camp Lejeune toxic water exposure

Camp Lejeune Water: The Newest Study
Michelle Bliss (Roderick McClain contributed audio for this report) (2011-07-27)

WILMINGTON, NC (WHQR) - The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is mailing out 300,000 surveys between now and December to study the effects of water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

At the same time, an act that would allow Lejeune veterans and family members to receive health care through the VA sits in a U.S. House committee.

Between 1957 and 1987, carcinogens like benzene were leaked into the wells on base. WHQR's
Michelle Bliss attended a public forum in Wilmington last week where researchers spoke to a group of active Marines and sailors, veterans, civilians, and their families about the study.

"I spent a quarter of a century in the United States Marine Corps. No has been more disillusioned and more disappointed by the conduct of the leadership of our organization than I have been about this situation with this water."

Jerry Ensminger offered opening remarks to an audience scattered among mostly empty chairs. He's a veteran who lost his 9-year-old daughter Janey in 1985 to childhood leukemia, one of the many illnesses linked to the contamination caused by underground fuel tanks on base and a small dry cleaning business.

Less than a hundred people attended the event, a disappointing turnout for advocates like Ensminger, who don't want others to find out like he did, nearly 14 years ago.
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Camp Lejeune Water

Veteran's Suicide through Explosion Threat Sparks Duluth Stand-Off

Veteran's Suicide through Explosion Threat Sparks Duluth Stand-Off
Wed, 07/27/2011 -

By Jacob Kittilstad and photojournalist Jeff Ernewein, FOX 21 News

DULUTH-A police perimeter shuts down a West Duluth neighborhood after a Persian Gulf veteran threatens to kill himself. His planned suicide method was explosion.

A “flash-bang” fires, a military man falls: 32-year-old Miles Froberg's suicide standoff ends with an explosion but not the one he may have planned.

"I called around,” neighbor Brett Hiemenz said, “And [I] figured out what was happening. He was planning on blowing himself up in the house."

Neighbors say they saw their streets become a warzone at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning as the Persian Gulf veteran holed up with rumored weapons at his 3400 block, West 5th Street address.

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Veteran's Suicide through Explosion Threat

Was Iraq veteran's war book made of memories or not?

Maybe the more important question to ask here is; "What's the difference?" but when you read on you understand that for the men also involved in these accounts, it does matter to them.

Comrades Question Iraq Veteran's Memoir, Memories

By HILLEL ITALIE AP National Writer
NEW YORK July 28, 2011 (AP)

For the past four years, Luis Carlos Montalvan has been advocating for injured Iraq war veterans.

Since serving two tours of duty, for which he received two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart, the former Army captain has become a strong critic of the war and a promoter of better care of those who served. His writings have been published in The New York Times, the Huffington Post and other outlets, his commentary aired on CNN, NPR and elsewhere.

He now has a popular book about the injuries he sustained in a 2003 attack and the psychiatric service dog, Tuesday, trained to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. The story of Montalvan and his faithful companion inspired freshman U.S. Sen. Al Franken's first piece of legislation — a program designed to give service dogs to wounded veterans.

But several men who served with Montalvan allege that he has exaggerated or fabricated details of key events in "Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him." Documents obtained by The Associated Press contradict Montlavan's claims about the extent and severity of his injuries.

The book, co-written by Louisville, Ky.-based author Bret Witter and published by Hyperion, includes a blurb from Franken. It was released in early May and has climbed as high as No. 18 on The New York Times list of best-sellers for hardcover nonfiction. And Montalvan continues to attract attention, most recently appearing with Tuesday on David Letterman's "Late Night."

"Literally every combat experience he's had in that book that I'm familiar with is based on a modicum of truth interspersed with incredible embellishments on his part," former Staff Sgt. Len Dannhaus, who treated Montalvan in the attack's immediate aftermath, told the AP in an email.

"He's doing a disservice to other veterans; he could use his truthful experiences to help. Instead his lies will ultimately result in bringing a negative light on others who are trying to advocate for those in the same boat (like myself) without all the public scrutiny."

Capt. Todd Hertling said he responded to the scene in the immediate aftermath as leader of the team that secured the area of the 2003 attack described by Montalvan and strongly disagreed with Montalvan's account. "Montalvan's embellished story is detrimental and offensive to honest veterans who have sought help for the unseen wounds of war," Hertling said.

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Comrades Question Iraq Veteran's Memoir Memories

National Guard Members Keep An Eye On Day Jobs

National Guard Members Keep An Eye On Day Jobs

July 28, 2011
More than 1,300 soldiers are deploying to Iraq this month for the Kentucky National Guard's final mission there: helping to shut down U.S. military operations. But some soldiers are coping with not only the pressure of deployment, but also the stress of putting their civilian jobs on hold.

The Kentucky National Guard's 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade will primarily be in charge of convoy security in Iraq, making sure U.S. equipment gets safely to Kuwait and onto ships. They represent half of the 2,600 troops they'll be joining from Oregon, Virginia and Utah.

But the brigade's first stop is Camp Atterbury, Ind., where soldiers get their final training before mobilization. There, Sgt. First Class Matthew Kelly was preparing to leave on his fourth overseas deployment. Kelly says that his new mission brings a mixed sense of closure and anxiety.

The Department of Defense coordinated a recent trip to Camp Atterbury so civilian employers could see some of the Guard's live-fire training exercises. Norman Norris is a supervisor for Louisville's Department of Corrections, which has several employees serving in the Guard. He says it's important for employers to understand what soldiers are sacrificing when they deploy.

"When his orders come through, he's got enough to deal with already. He doesn't need to worry about 'Am I going to have a job when I get back? Am I going to have my position when I get back?'" Norris says. "That stuff's automatic. There's no questions asked. There's not a general attitude of 'Oh, he's gone again.' No. He's not going to Disney World, he's not going to California; he's going to a war zone."

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National Guard Members Keep An Eye On Day Jobs

Wind knocked down Vietnam traveling wall, community raised it again

Community rallies to patch up veterans' wall
Storm damages display in Ohio
Written by

Slammed to the ground by a powerful storm, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will need some touch-up work after it returns home to Brevard County later this week.

The community rallied in the small Ohio town where the nearly 300-foot-long wall was knocked down by sudden and powerful winds. It was patched up for a festival within three hours of the fast-moving storm.

"The whole town came out," said Greg Welsh, who manages the wall for the Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard. "When they heard it happened, they came with tools and wanted to know how they could help."

The Brevard veterans group used to pay between $3,000 and $8,000 to rent a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall for its Wickham Park reunion, billed as the largest reunion of its kind in the nation. The Traveling Memorial Wall was built for use at the annual Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion in Melbourne and for rent elsewhere. The wall, plus truck and trailer to transport it, costs in excess of $250,000.

Since 1996, Welsh and his wife, Maureen, have taken the wall across the eastern half of the nation for reunions and other events.

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Community rallies to patch up veterans wall