Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Veteran-owned businesses face problems with VA

Veteran-owned businesses face problems with VA
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Nov 30, 2011 15:38:26 EST
Lawmakers grilled Veterans Affairs Department officials Wednesday about why veteran-owned businesses ranked eighth in priority for government contracts despite laws and regulations that are supposed to put veterans first.

The answers provided at House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing were murky.

Thomas Leney, executive director of VA’s office of small and disadvantaged business utilization, said veteran-owned businesses “have priority in open market purchases.”

When asked what that meant, he said he was not an expert on government contracting and couldn’t really explain it. “I am not the person to answer that question directly,” he said as he appeared before a joint hearing of the veterans’ affairs committee’s economic opportunity panel and oversight and investigations panel.
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Police say Bliss soldier shot, killed superior

Police say Bliss soldier shot, killed superior
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Nov 30, 2011 15:07:15 EST
EL PASO, Texas — Police now say the woman a Fort Bliss soldier shot and killed earlier this week was his supervisor.

An El Paso police statement released Wednesday said Fort Bliss soldier James Steadman killed Lykisha Gooding on Monday. Before shooting her, Steadman also shot and wounded Gooding’s husband, Kelvin Gooding, who answered the front door at their home.
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40K troops to leave Afghanistan by end of 2012

40K troops to leave Afghanistan by end of 2012
By Deb Riechmann and Slobodan Lekic - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Nov 29, 2011 9:29:54 EST
KABUL, Afghanistan — Drawdown plans announced by the U.S. and more than a dozen other nations will shrink the foreign military footprint in Afghanistan by 40,000 troops at the close of next year, leaving Afghan forces increasingly on the frontlines of the decade-long war.

The United States is pulling out the most — 33,000 by the end of 2012. That's one-third of 101,000 American troops who were in Afghanistan in June, the peak of U.S. military presence in the war, according to figures provided by the Pentagon.
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Iraq Veteran Charged In Shooting Of Officers In Two States

Veteran Charged In Shooting Of Officers In Two States
Nov 29, 2011
by Tim Wetzel

LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. – The man accused of trying to kill two law enforcement officers on the Tennessee -Alabama border was an Iraq war veteran.

The Army said 23-year-old Joseph Shriver was in the Army for 3 years and based at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Shriver served in Iraq for more than a year, and was discharged from the Military last April.

It all started in Madison County, Alabama around 11:30 p.m. Monday when Shriver allegedly robbed the Super Stop on Moores Mill Road.

A deputy spotted his vehicle shortly after, and stopped him. That's when he allegedly opened fire.

"The offender in the Toyota exited his vehicle and fired multiple rounds from an assault rifle, striking the vehicle and the deputy multiple times," said Brent Patterson with the Madison County, Alabama Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Brent Beavers was critically injured after being shot in the face. Grainy cell phone video showed the scene as paramedics rushed him to a Huntsville hospital. His fellow deputies followed behind.
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The VA missed serious warning signs that presaged local vet’s violent breakdown

Walking Wounded: The VA missed serious warning signs that presaged local vet’s violent breakdown

By Michael Barajas
Adan Castaneda in 2005 after joining the Marine Corps.
Early in the morning of May 27, 2011, Adan Castaneda grabbed his .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and called a taxi to drive him from his San Antonio apartment to his mother’s Spring Branch home, roughly 30 miles north of the city. Standing at the end of the dark driveway, Castaneda raised the pistol and peppered the house with gunfire as his mother and stepfather slept inside. He fired 23 rounds into the one-story country home, bullets buzzing through curtains, shattering windows and digging into walls, door posts, and framed family photos. Police found him wandering the streets four blocks away.

Castaneda’s arrest that night marked the unsettling finale of a breakdown that began with his return from the Iraq War more than two years earlier, says his mother, Maria Anna Esparza. Discharged days after Christmas in 2008, Castaneda had become increasingly depressed, paranoid, and delusional, Esparza says. He’d begun to hear voices, violent voices.
Now after nearly six months in solitary confinement in the Comal County Jail without mental health treatment, a judge declared Castaneda incompetent to stand trial on November 10, the day the Marine Corps celebrates its founding. When he completes a 120-day state hospital stint in the hopes of restoring his competency, Castaneda will likely go back to court to face charges that, if not dropped or reduced, could put him behind bars for over a decade.
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Military wife talks about husband's rage after combat

Caregiver Confronts Husband’s Combat-related Rage

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 30, 2011 – When her soldier husband was injured in Iraq, Catrina Tomsich gave up everything to be with him. She shut down her business, left a support network of friends and uprooted their 5-year-old son, Brayden, to move here to help him recover.
Army Sgt. John Tomsich and his wife, Catrina, play with their son, Brayden, at the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Nov. 10, 2011. Tomsich came to Brooke Army Medical Center for treatment for a spinal injury. Catrina Tomsich put her business on hold to join him. DOD photo by Linda Hosek

She did so without hesitation, but not without fear.

Her concerns didn’t center on her husband’s recovery -- his injuries weren’t life threatening -- or their uncertain future, but on her own safety and that of her son’s.

Catrina’s husband, Army Sgt. John Tomsich, had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since 2005. The noncommissioned officer maintained a stoic front for his troops, but barely could contain his rage at home.

“For five years I heard, ‘I hate you; I don’t love you anymore’ every day,” she told American Forces Press Service. “That can definitely take an emotional toll on someone.”

Catrina first noticed a change in her husband after his 2005 deployment in Kosovo, his first since he joined the Army in 1998. He was there during a period of political tension, he recalled, and was out shopping one day with several of his leaders when hostilities broke out around them. Weapons were fired, he said, but no one was seriously injured. They wound up cornered in a hotel, uncertain of what would occur overnight.

“That’s where the anger started,” Tomsich said, “but I didn’t talk about it to anyone.”

Noncommissioned officers couldn’t discuss their problems with anger or depression, he believed at the time, or the troops under them would question the integrity of their leadership. Instead, he said, “You try and fight it and not tell anyone you have problems.”
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Spokane veterans have to wait up to 87 days for mental health help?

Senators tell VA to speed up care for mentally ill vets


WASHINGTON -- Senators gave a public scolding Wednesday to the director of mental health operations for the nation's veterans, saying the federal government must speed up services for those with post-traumatic stress disorder and other afflictions.

Faced with a 34 percent increase in the number of veterans who have sought mental health services since 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs has not kept pace, said Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

As a result, too many veterans are waiting far too long to get help, which is leading to a rash of suicides, increased drug abuse and other problems, said Murray, who heads the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Offering an example from her home state of Washington, Murray said veterans seeking psychiatric help in Spokane have had to wait an average of 21 days for an appointment, with a maximum wait time of up to 87 days.

"We need to fix this now," Murray said at a committee hearing that she called to examine the topic.
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Marine survives bullet wound to neck while serving in Afghanistan

Local Marine survives bullet wound to neck while serving in Afghanistan

by Phil Anaya / KENS 5

Posted on November 29, 2011

Norma Szekely is the proud mother of Tony Szekely, 21, who is a Marine fighting for this country in Afghanistan. However, she will now forever remember what it was like to not know if her son would return alive.

It was Sunday when Norma received a call from a surgeon in Afghanistan notifying her that Tony had been shot in the neck. For several hours Norma and her husband were left wondering if Tony might be paralyzed, or even survive at all.

“We got a call from the surgeon at 10:36 a.m., we didn’t get a call from Quantico until 2 p.m. and that was to tell us our son was listed in serious critical condition,” said Norma.

Finally, after hours of suspense Norma and her husband received another call from the surgeon and made it clear how a miracle had happened to Tony.
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The Stuff of Dreams: How Sleep Eases Emotional Trauma

The Stuff of Dreams: How Sleep Eases Emotional Trauma
"Our dreams help us heal" unless they are bad dreams that make going to sleep something to fear. For combat veterans with PTSD, sleep is not something to look forward to. Many of them have terrible dreams and medications are often unable to stop the broken sleep pattern.

Nov, 30, 2011
Scientists have unlocked one of the great mysteries of the human experience, how we deal with traumatizing experiences that could leave us emotionally crippled. It happens during an "elegant ballet of biology" that softens painful memories, according to psychologist and neurologist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research team.

And here's the amazing part: It all happens while we sleep. Our dreams help us heal.

"When you snooze you win," Walker said during a telephone interview.

Walker's team produced strong evidence that supports an assumption among scientists that a specific phase of sleep, called rapid eye movement, or REM, plays a key role in helping us deal with troubling emotions. Until now, there has been "little to no" evidence that's true, and there was even less understanding of how it works.

But the Berkeley team found that during REM, which is also the time we dream, stress chemicals are suppressed in the "emotional hub" of the brain called the amygdala. The research shows that after a good night's sleep, even potentially traumatizing experiences are softened.
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Journalist Greg Jaffe On The Divide Between Soldiers And Civilians

Journalist Greg Jaffe On The Divide Between Soldiers And Civilians
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Members of the 101st Airborne Division march in Fort Campbell, Ky. (AP)
By: Alex Ashlock

We spoke to Washington Post military reporter Greg Jaffe today about the fertilizer being used to make improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. The ammonium nitrate fertilizer is made at two plants in Pakistan and slips easily across the border into Afghanistan, where at a cost of only $40, it’s turned into a deadly weapon.

Jaffe has been covering the military for the last 12 years and besides focusing on the actual fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has also written about the divide between the military and the rest of society, because such a small percentage of Americans have any connection to the military.

Jaffe has been to Fort Hood in Texas, and this week he’ll be visiting Ft. Campbell in Kentucky to work on another story about that gap.
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War Vet Arrested in Ala., Tenn. Officer Shootings

War Vet Arrested in Ala., Tenn. Officer Shootings
November 30, 2011
Associated Press
FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. -- An Iraq war veteran shot an Alabama deputy sheriff in the face during a police stop minutes after a convenience store robbery late Monday, and then led police on a chase into Tennessee, where an officer was wounded during a shootout with the suspect, authorities said Tuesday.

Joseph Scott Shriver, 23, who gave a Lincoln County, Tenn., address but also had a Texas driver's license, was charged in Tennessee with two counts of attempted murder, evading arrest and possession of a firearm. He has a total bond of $1.6 million.

Madison County, Ala., District Attorney Rob Broussard said Shriver is likely to face attempted murder and assault charges there, according to The Huntsville Times.

Shriver served in the Army from 2008 until last April and was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to the U.S. Army. The former infantryman deployed to Iraq from November 2009 to August 2010. An Army human resources spokesman declined to disclose details of his separation from the service.
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Removal of Cross From Army Chapel in Afghanistan Stirs Controversy

When I wrote about another cross, Keep the Cross at Camp Pendleton it was obvious I had a strong opinion. On this one, I am torn.

Removal of Cross From Army Chapel in Afghanistan Stirs Controversy
By Michael Gryboski
Christian Post Reporter
The U.S. Army has removed a cross that was prominently placed on the front of a chapel located at the remote base of Camp Marmal in Northern Afghanistan.

Although soldiers at the Central Asian base considered the cross to be an inspiring symbol, officials said that having a permanent sectarian image on the chapel violated army regulations.

As Army Regulation 165-1, 12-3k reads in part, “The chapel environment will be religiously neutral when the facility is not being used for scheduled worship. Portable religious symbols, icons, or statues may be used within a chapel during times of religious worship.”
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Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Improves TBI and PTSD in Veterans

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Improves TBI and PTSD in Veterans
by Sheela Philomena on November 30, 2011
Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen benefits veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), say researchers. The findings are available online now in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Sixteen US veterans injured in Iraq who had been diagnosed with mild-moderate traumatic brain injury/post-concussion syndrome (TBI/PCS) or traumatic brain injury/post-concussion syndrome/post-traumatic distress disorder (TBI/PCS/PTSD) were enrolled in the pilot study. They completed a history and physical exam as well as a clinical interview by a neuropsychologist, psychometric testing, symptom and quality of life questionnaires, and baseline SPECT (Single-photon emission computed tomography) brain blood flow imaging prior to treatment. The veterans then underwent 40 treatments of low-dose hyperbaric oxygen therapy during 60-minute sessions over a 30-day period. They were retested within a week after treatment.
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From 2010
Hyperbaric chamber may treat TBI
By Amy McCullough - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 30, 2010 17:17:40 EDT
The Defense Department hopes to find a better treatment for the 100,000 troops who have been diagnosed with mild Traumatic Brain Injury since 2003, and it’s looking at hyperbaric chambers — often used in cases of carbon monoxide poisoning — for the answer.

Although there have been studies looking at the impact these pressurized oxygen chambers have on TBI patients, none have been able to definitively answer whether hyperbaric oxygen can reduce or eliminate chronic symptoms of TBI such as headaches, memory loss and mood swings. A new clinical trial, which is expected to begin in January 2011, is designed to do just that.

The study, conducted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, in Virginia, and the Army Research and Materiel Command, in Maryland, is expected to run for at least 18 months. It will include about 300 participants, mostly soldiers and Marines, and will build upon other ongoing studies on TBI treatment, said Col. Richard Ricciardi, director of the research evaluation and quality assurance and surveillance directorate at DCoE.

Five sites will participate in the study: Fort Carson, Colo.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Brooks City-Base, Texas; and possibly Fort Hood, Texas, although negotiations are still ongoing there, Ricciardi said.
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from 2009

How serious is this? This is a video from 2009.

PBS NOW - Fighting the Army Part 3
Uploaded by LawyersServing on Apr 8, 2009
PBS Now investigates the thousands of soldiers who are scarred by war, and then thrown out of the military under personality disorders or for mis-conduct, and not getting treated for their service-connected injuries. Iraq veteran Jonathan Norell was among the 40,000 troops thrown out of the military for mis-conduct since 2001, even though a military doctor recommended the battle-scarred medic be medically retired due to his severe PTSD. NVLSP investigator and OIF veteran Andrew Pogany is interviewed and discusses the more than 200 wrongful discharge cases he has worked on with the advocacy organization. Military spouse and advocate Carissa Picard, with Military Spouses for Change, talks about Norell's case and the need to care for our military. Discusses a military policy changes requiring service members discharged for a personality disorder to be screened for PTSD and TBI. US Army Sgt. Chuck Luther and his family are interviewed about the impact of his struggle with the military and PTSD. US Army Col. Elspeth Ritchie is interviewed. The story aired June 13, 2008.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two tour Iraq Veteran, in coma after road rage attack in Oregon

Iraq War vet in coma after apparent road rage assault at Pendleton, Ore., rail crossing
November 29, 2011

PENDLETON, Ore. — A 24-year-old Iraq War veteran is reportedly in a coma following an assault at a Pendleton, Ore., railroad crossing that so traumatized a witness he has trouble recalling it.

A Kadlec Regional Medical Center spokesman in Richland, Wash., said Monday that Kenneth Pittman was in serious condition in intensive care.

Pittman's ex-wife, Rhiannon Smith of Pendleton, tells the East Oregonian that Pittman escaped injury during two Iraq tours with the Oregon National Guard.
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Rise in PTSD cases from two wars strains military resources

They were warned. They were warned when 9-11 came and experts sounded the alarm bells across the country that Vietnam veterans would be flooding the VA with emergency calls for help. They knew the secondary stressor of this country being hit would send even mild cases of PTSD into overdrive. They were warned when the troops were sent to Afghanistan that there were not enough mental health and claims processors standing by to take care of all the wounded, by body and mind. They were warned again when they decided to send troops into Iraq. Nothing was done until it was too late. What made all of this worse was the fact that the Internet was starting to reach more and more veterans so they understood if they needed help, it was there for them. People like me were getting them to go for help after years of trying. What we didn't tell them was that they would have to get into a very, very long line to get the help they needed.

Now, behind on the flow already waiting, more and more will seek the help they need to heal from the wars we sent them to fight. Pretty appalling all the way around.

Rise in PTSD cases from two wars strains military resources
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY Updated 2h 48m ago

Ten thousand combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder flooded into VA hospitals every three months this year, pushing the number of patients ill from the disorder above 200,000 and straining resources, Department of Veterans Affairs data to be released today show.

The increase is more than 5% per quarter, according to data obtained by USA TODAY, and it occurs as the VA struggles to move veterans quickly into therapy. New mental health patients at about a third of VA hospitals wait longer than the department's goal of 14 days or less, according to a USA TODAY analysis published this month.

"Demand for mental health care is only going to continue to grow as thousands more troops return home," says Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., head of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "The VA still has work to do to decrease wait times … reduce the stigma around seeking care and to provide access to care in rural areas."
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Veteran of San Jose Police Department Kills Wife, Self

Veteran of SJPD Kills Wife, Self: Police
Motive for murder-suicide remained a mystery Monday.
By Lori Preuitt
Monday, Nov 28, 2011

It's a double tragedy for the San Jose police department. A veteran officer of the force took his own life over the holiday weekend and according to the Gilroy police, he took his wife's life as well.

Gilroy police are handling the murder-suicide case that touches the community of Gilroy and the San Jose Police Department.

The couple was found dead inside their Gilroy home Sunday night. Police said family members called police when they could not get a hold of them.

Inside, officers found the bodies of Christopher and Lynn Shimek. They said Christopher Shimek, first killed his wife and then killed himself with a gun. Police did not disclose how Lynn Shimek, 43, was killed.

Christopher Shimek was a San Jose Police sergeant and had worked in the department since 1995. The Gilroy police chief called the San Jose police chief late Sunday night to give him the news. Department spokesman Jason Dwyer said Sgt. Shimek showed no red flags or signs that he was having any kind of trouble. Dwyer said many officers knew or worked for Shimek and were shocked to hear what he had done. He said staff was being offered counseling.
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Fellow veteran donates wheelchair

Fellow veteran donates wheelchair

By Mike Gunning
Published November 29, 2011
GALVESTON — Al Perdew didn’t have much to feel thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. Two days earlier, he’d discovered someone had broken into his truck and stolen his wheelchair. But Christmas already is here for the Marine Corps veteran.

“I just can’t thank him enough for this,” Perdew said after hearing that another veteran was donating a wheelchair that had belonged to a recently deceased friend. “It really helps restore my faith in people.”

Perdew left his home early Tuesday morning only to discover someone had broken into his Chevy truck and removed his wheelchair, along with other items.

Galveston police have no leads.
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Vietnam vet prays for thief who stole valuable wheelchair

by Tiffany Craig
Posted on November 28, 2011

GALVESTON—A Vietnam veteran was the victim of a car thief but they stole more than money and electronics.

“I think once they got in there, they realized they had a Cadillac in the back,” says Al Perdew. “So, they took it.”

Al Perdew’s modified wheelchair, which is worth more than $1,700, was snatched as well. He needs it to get around after having his leg partially amputated.

“Maybe they do have a family member that needs a wheelchair,” Perdew said. “They got a nice one.”
Perdew said he got home from rehab last Monday and left all the items in his truck because he was tired. He slowly walked inside using his new cane.
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Murder, suicide hits close to home

Murder, suicide hits close to home

Contributor: Alicia Coates

"Columbus police said Monday that both were in the military."

Fresno County is morning the lose of a Fowler high Alumni.

21 year old Ruby Grant was killed in a murder suicide this Sunday in Columbus, Georgia.

She moved there and joined the army after graduating high school.

Police say her husband shot her in the head and then himself.
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Maryland woman opens her home to returning military families

Maryland woman opens her home to returning military families
By Brian Shane, USA TODAY

BERLIN, Md. – Tina Pearson says she made a friend through her church who was a single mother and Iraq veteran. The woman's toddler son, she told Pearson, had forgotten his mom when she returned from deployment, and getting to know her again took months.

That heart-rending tale inspired Pearson to transform her three-bedroom home just outside Berlin, Md., into a haven she calls "Home of the Brave," where servicemembers and their families can visit to spend quality time together.

Using her own money, she had the first floor renovated for wheelchair accessibility and built herself separate living quarters on the side of her home, so visitors could have privacy. "What if she and her son could have gone somewhere like this?" said Pearson, 40. "It's quiet; it's peaceful. Just have a few days to talk and play trucks or draw. Would that have sped it up a little bit?"
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Medal of Honor Hero Dakota Meyer fights contractor over Pakistan contract

Dakota Meyer was a hero in combat and it looks like he is still fighting for his brothers. He is being retaliated against because he didn't want Pakistan to end up with scopes with all that is going on over there.

MoH Recipient Meyer Sues Contractor

November 29, 2011
by Bryant Jordan
A former Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for repeatedly racing into a firefight to try and rescue fellow Marines is suing defense giant BAE Systems, claiming the company ruined his chances for a job in the defense industry by claiming he was unstable and a problem drinker.

Former Sgt. Dakota Meyer filed the lawsuit Monday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Meyer, who worked for BAE Systems earlier this year, claims in the court documents that BAE retaliated against him when he objected the company’s decision to sell high-powered sniper scopes to Pakistan. He also says his supervisor at BAE ended his chance at getting a job with another defense contractor by alleging Meyer had alcohol and psychological problems, the paper reports.

Meyer was hired by BAE in March. Not long after that he sent an email to his supervisor objecting to company plans to sell the scopes to the Pakistan military.

"We are taking the best gear, the best technology on the market to date and giving it to guys known to stab us in the back," Meyer told Bobby McCreight in the email, according to the Journal.

"These are the same people killing our guys."
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TBI continues to trouble the military

TBI Continues to Trouble the Military
By Grace Hood and Jim Hill
The solider readiness center at Fort Carson, CO.
Grace Hood / KUNC
In the wake of the 2007 Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal, then President George W. Bush promised the “best possible care” to wounded soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Years later, the military is still struggling to treat and diagnose the most common war wound: Traumatic Brain Injury.

An NPR News investigation, in partnership with ProPublica, has found that military leaders are refusing to carry out a testing program as Congress ordered. Military's Brain-Testing Program A Debacle is the latest in the NPR/ProPublica series entitled "Brain Wars: How the Military is Failing its Wounded."

This issue isn't just contained to Washington, as investigations and reports from Fort Carson have shed light on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and it's deleterious effects here in Colorado.

One soldier, Shawn Lynch, had to fight for his diagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Grace Hood and Micheal de Yoanna found a tale of frustration in their investigation:

In reflecting on his experience, Staff Sergeant Lynch said he feels like the system never gave him the benefit of the doubt until his final appeal. But that's not how the Army sees it. When asked about Lynch's long and winding case, Col. Terrio at Fort Carson said: "That's exactly what we were working for is to make sure that if there was this chance that he could have possibly of sustained a traumatic brain injury that that would get documented for him."

In October, Colorado Public News, reported that the Military Lags on Promising Treatment for Brain-injured Soldiers. Another Colorado veteran, Margaux Vair, suffered from TBI and has found relief through oxygen treatments.
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Silver Spring family throws hero’s welcome for young Marine

Silver Spring family throws hero’s welcome for young Marine

22-year-old returns home for a visit after seven-month tour in Afghanistan
by Jeremy Arias, Staff Writer

Jeremy Arias/The Gazette Lance Cpl. Grant Romano Gates (left) and his mother, Donna Romano (right), celebrated Gates' return from a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday in Silver Spring.

For one Silver Spring family, the holidays came early this year as Lance Cpl. Grant Romano Gates returned home from a seven-month tour of duty in southern Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“He’s my sloppy kid, it’s so obvious that he’s here; his things are all over the place,” said a smiling Donna Romano, Gates’ mother, as she watched her son make himself a plate of food in her living room Sunday afternoon. “But I don’t care.”

Gates, 22, left home almost a year ago to begin training at Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. Within months of arriving in California, Gates’ unit — 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment — was deployed to Afghanistan, Gates said. A machine-gunner in the infantry regiment, Gates spent most of his time in the Sangin Valley of the Helmand Province, a long sliver of land on Afghanistan’s southern border with Pakistan, where clashes between the Taliban and U.S. or NATO forces still are common.

“People ask me, ‘Why would you ever want to do this?’” he said Sunday, reflecting on his time overseas. “It’s what I wanted to do when I first joined, what I’ve always wanted to do. We did a lot of good out there; we took a lot of casualties, but I know overall that we did a good job out there.”
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For many returning women vets, fight not yet over

For many returning women vets, fight not yet over
The Tampa Tribune
Published: November 29, 2011
Last month, Josefina Reyes went to work for Tampa Bay Crossroads, a rehabilitation and counseling center that came into being in 1977, the year she was born.
Josefina Reyes was a homeless veteran until she found help and a new career with Tampa Bay Crossroads. Now she counsels women with more stress than she had.
Reyes serves as an intake counselor for women veterans, most of them homeless or headed that way, and helps assess their problems and begin to find solutions.

For Reyes, who served three years with the Army, leaving as a corporal in 1999, this is familiar territory.

Until recently, she, too, was homeless, unable to translate her military experience as a truck driver and vehicle fueler into the civilian world.

Now, instead of being on the receiving end of counseling, Reyes helps guide women out of the downward spiral.

There's no shortage of need.

There are about 300 homeless women veterans in Hillsborough County, according to Sara Romeo, chief executive officer of Tampa Bay Crossroads.
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Colleges Face Challenges With Influx of Military Veterans

For Veterans' Day, I asked students at Valencia College what professors could do to help them enter into the next part of their lives after combat. Here's what they had to say.

Colleges Face Challenges With Influx of Military Veterans

By Sandra G. Boodman
NOV 29, 2011
This story was produced in collaboration with

When Brian Hawthorne enrolled at George Washington University as a 23-year-old junior after two tours in Iraq, the former Army medic was unprepared for the adjustment.

"I felt like I was on another planet," he said of his first semester in 2008. Hawthorne recalled feeling whipsawed by the abrupt transition of "going from an environment where people around you are dying every day and trying to kill you" to a campus where he was surrounded by people who didn't know anyone in the military.

Academics provided no refuge. "I was very worried because I couldn't concentrate," said Hawthorne, who had graduated near the top of his Westchester County, N.Y., high school class. "I would read one page and forget what I'd just read." In danger of flunking out, he sought help on campus and was referred to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the District, where doctors quickly diagnosed a mild traumatic brain injury caused by his proximity to bomb blasts.

Hawthorne's experience is emblematic of the challenges — social, academic, psychological and medical — facing the rapidly growing population of veterans who are flocking to colleges around the country, and the health demands placed on the schools they are attending.

Propelled by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which took effect in 2009, 2 million veterans, many of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are eligible for generous benefits that can amount to a full scholarship. At George Mason University, Virginia's largest public school with more than 32,000 students, for example, the number of veterans has almost doubled, from 840 in 2009 to 1,575 last spring.


Vets on Campus Face Unique Challenges

November 29, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS -- Army veteran Ben Miller remembers the isolation he felt when he enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the fall of 2009.

"I would show up on campus, talk to absolutely no one and go home," said Miller, 27, who did three tours in Iraq as a counterintelligence specialist. "I didn't feel like I really belonged."

With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and enhancements to the GI Bill, colleges and universities are expecting a surge in veteran enrollment unseen since World War II.

But some academics and veterans' advocates are warning that many colleges are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of former service members. Many veterans face a difficult transition to civilian life, ranging from readjustment issues to recovery from physical and mental injuries.

And they say without special attention, many will fail to graduate.

"If colleges are not prepared to help transition Soldiers from combat you do run the risk of losing an entire generation," said Tom Tarantino of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "The GI Bill isn't a thank you for your service. What it really is is a readjustment benefit. It is giving them the opportunity to do something that is constructive for their mind and their body, that gives them a mission and allows them to move forward in life. It's a backstop so you're not walking right off the plane from combat in to the civilian world. It was designed to be a soft landing."
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A life of service may be honored by a city

Many combat veterans returned home from war ready to do even more for the sake of others. Many went to work as police officers and firefighters. Some went to work for the cities and towns they lived in. When they were no longer able to do those jobs due to the service they already provided the nation in war, they ended up with a loss of income as well as a loss of ability to continue the "mission" of serving others. This is an idea that should be support across the nation. This is about taking care of the men and women that always took care of others.

Lynn council set to tackle disabled vets pay
Originally Published on Tuesday, November 15, 2011
By Chris Stevens
The Daily Item
LYNN - The City Council is expected to discuss a proposal that calls for paying retired city employees - who are also veterans - an extra benefit if they retired with a disability.

Lynn resident Lorraine Bourgeois hopes that if the proposal passes it will bring an end to a decade-old battle to get veterans the money she believes they deserve.

"It is too late for my father, Norman Bourgeois, a retired firefighter or my uncle ... they died," she said. "So the best way to honor (Norman Bourgeois) is to finish this struggle because he initially started this 10 years ago."

Norman Bourgeois, according to his daughter, pushed the city to adopt Chapter 157 of the Acts of 2005, which would allow a community to retroactively calculate veterans benefits into pensions for retired state or municipal employees who ended their careers on disability.

Bourgeois took up her father's fight four years ago and will ask the council's subcommittee on Veterans, Youth and Elderly tonight to approve the act. It has already been approved by the city's Retirement Board.

Retirement Board Administrator Gary Brenner said the board voted 3-1 with City Councilor elect G. Buzzy Barton, Claire Cavanagh and Richard Biagotti voting in favor, John Pace voting against and Chairman Michael Marks not voting. Brenner said it would cost the city $269,000 to pay the retired veterans retroactively.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Fort Bliss: 2 soldiers killed in Monday shootings

Two Fort Bliss Soldiers Die in Domestic Dispute
by: Julie Fisher 2 hours ago
November 29, 2011
Two Fort Bliss soldiers are dead after separate shootings in a domestic dispute. El Paso Police say Fort Bliss Soldier James Steadman shot two people, then was killed by a third woman at a seprate location.

Steadman reportedly shot Lykisha Gooding, killing her. Before shooting her, he wounded Kelvin Gooding who answered the front door.
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Monday, Nov. 28, 2011
Fort Bliss: 2 soldiers killed in Monday shootings
Police believe shootings are connected

El Paso Police Departmnent, Fort Bliss

EL PASO, Texas —
Two soldiers who Fort Bliss officials said were involved in Monday's shootings died from gunshot wounds. Police investigators believe both shootings, the first in Far East El Paso and a second in the northeast, are connected.

Around 6:42 a.m. on Monday, police found an unidentified woman, 39, dead inside an east El Paso home in a gated community on the 3700 block of Coco Palm Drive near Montana Avenue.

Police spokesman Darrel Petry told KFOX14 the woman died from a gunshot wound. A man at the scene was taken to a hospital for a gunshot injury. Petry said the extent of his injury is unknown at this time.

About two hours later, police officers responded to an aggravated family fight at an apartment complex on the 8900 block of Kenneth Drive around 8:34 a.m.
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NATO trucks in limbo after Pakistan retaliation

NATO trucks in limbo after Pakistan retaliation
By Riaz Khan and Sebastian Abbot - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Nov 27, 2011 8:49:56 EST
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Hundreds of trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan backed up at Pakistani border crossings Sunday, leaving them vulnerable to militant attack a day after Islamabad closed the frontier in retaliation for coalition airstrikes that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

As Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani attended the funerals of the victims, including a major, the U.S. sought to minimize the fallout from the crisis, which plunged Washington’s already troubled relationship with Islamabad to an all-time low.
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Afghan officials: Fire from Pakistan led to attack

The account challenges Islamabad's claims that the attacks were unprovoked
updated 11/27/2011 1:15:45 PM ET
Print Font:
ISLAMABAD — Afghan troops and coalition forces came under fire from the direction of two Pakistan army border posts, prompting them to call in NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Afghan officials said Sunday. The account challenges Islamabad's claims that the attacks, which have plunged U.S.-Pakistan ties to new lows, were unprovoked.

It also pointed to a possible explanation for the incident Saturday on the Pakistan side of the border. NATO officials have complained that insurgents fire from across the poorly defined frontier, often from positions close to Pakistani soldiers, who have been accused of tolerating or supporting them.
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Target Shoppers Step Over Walter Vance As He Collapses, Dies

That warm fuzzy feeling people used to have Christmas shopping for someone else has been replaced by greed. Imagine Christmas morning giving a gift to someone knowing you walked over a dying man to buy it!

Black Friday: Target Shoppers Step Over Walter Vance As He Collapses, Dies

The Huffington Post Tara Kelly
First Posted: 11/27/11

A Black Friday shopper who collapsed while shopping at a Target store in West Virginia went almost unnoticed as customers continued to hunt for bargain deals.

Walter Vance, the 61-year-old pharmacist, who reportedly suffered from a prior heart condition, later died in hospital, reports MSNBC.

Witnesses say some shoppers ignored and even walked over the man's body as they continued to shop, reports The Daily News.

Friends and co-workers saddened to learn of his death, expressed outrage over the way he was treated by shoppers.

"Where is the good Samaritan side of people?" Vance's co-worker Sue Compton told WSAZ-TV.

"How could you not notice someone was in trouble? I just don't understand if people didn't help what their reason was, other than greed because of a sale."
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Think you know what women do in the military? Think again.

Think you know what women do in the military? Think again.
Armed Sources
Blogging military and veterans news with Lindsay Wise
Meet Katariina Fagering: a Marine veteran, warrior poet, artist and mom openly coping with post traumatic stress.

I interviewed Fagering last week for an article about Women’s Inpatient Specialty Environment of Recovery (WISER), an acute psychiatric in-patient program at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Houston. The 45-year-old Heights resident and mother of two is one of a growing number of number of female veterans seeking health care at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide as more women join the military and take on de-facto combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Katariina Fagering talks to local women in Iraq in 2006. Photo courtesy Katariina Fagering
During Fagering’s 2006 deployment, she went door-to-door with another female Marine to talk to Iraqi women — a mission her male counterparts couldn’t do because of cultural taboos. This type of “engagement” carried out by women attached to male infantry and special forces units has become an integral part of the U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s dangerous work. Fagering’s friend, Maj. Megan McClung, was the first female Marine officer to be killed in the Iraq war. She died in a roadside bombing in 2006, devastating their entire brigade. “Everyone knew her, she was an exceptional athlete, more energy than humanly possible, smart, funny, and a mentor to so many,” Fagering said. “It’s hard to talk about.”
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War drawdowns wreak havoc on Guard soldiers' lives

Here is something else that we just don't think about. When National Guard and Reservists are deployed, their entire lives back here are changed.

War drawdowns wreak havoc on Guard soldiers' lives

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press – 4 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two months ago, Demetries Luckett left his job in Michigan, turned in his cable box, sent his daughter to live with her mother, and headed for Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

As a 1st lieutenant in Michigan's National Guard, he was being deployed to Afghanistan.

But just a month after he arrived for training, the Army decided Uncle Sam didn't need him after all.

Now Luckett's unemployed and back home in Harper Woods, Mich. — a victim of the Obama administration's ongoing effort to pull at least 33,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by next fall.

Unlike active-duty soldiers who are stationed at U.S. military bases across the country and can be sent on a moment's notice to a conflict anywhere in the world — the nation's citizen soldiers have civilian jobs and lives they have to set aside when they get those deployment notices.

And unlike active-duty soldiers, Guard members may have little to go back to, if their country changes its mind.

Luckett is not alone.

In the last 60 days, as many as 8,900 Army National Guard soldiers were either sent home early from Iraq or Afghanistan, or were told that the Pentagon's plans to send them to war had either been shelved or changed. As a result, U.S. military and Guard leaders have been scrambling to find alternative missions for many of the soldiers — particularly those who had put their lives and jobs on hold and were depending on the deployment for their livelihood.

"If you're a 25-year-old infantryman, and you're a student at Ohio State University, and you decide not to register for school in July because you were going to mobilize, and we say your services aren't needed anymore — that becomes a significantly emotional event in that person's life," said Col. Ted Hildreth, chief of mobilization and readiness for the Army National Guard.

Guard members scheduled for deployment, he said, often quit or take extended leaves from their jobs, put college on hold, end or break their apartment leases, sell or rent their houses, and turn their medical or legal practices over to someone else. And in some cases, in this flagging economy, Guard members who may be unemployed or underemployed are relying on the year-long paycheck, which can include extra money for combat pay or tax-free benefits.
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Top Marine Says Service Embracing Gay Ban Repeal

Top Marine Says Service Embracing Gay Ban Repeal

By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer
MANAMA, Bahrain November 28, 2011 (AP)

Since the lifting two months ago of a longstanding U.S. ban on gays serving openly in the military, U.S. Marines across the globe have adapted smoothly and embraced the change, says their top officer, Gen. James F. Amos, who previously had argued against repealing the ban during wartime.

"I'm very pleased with how it has gone," Amos said in an Associated Press interview during a week-long trip that included four days in Afghanistan, where he held more than a dozen town hall-style meetings with Marines of virtually every rank. He was asked about a wide range of issues, from his view of the Marine Corps' future to more mundane matters such as why he recently decided to stop allowing Marines to wear their uniform with the sleeves rolled up.
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Local Woman Raises $40,000 to Help Wounded Warriors with a Cookbook

Local Woman Raises $40,000 to Help Wounded Warriors with a Cookbook
Gladys Rodriguez gathered recipes from Marine moms, wives, family and friends before she self-published a cookbook.
By Mitchelle Stephenson

Gladys Rodriguez is an American in love with her country. Sure, she loves her husband and her children and her job, but she really loves America in a way that only people who have lived in other places can.

The Crofton resident said it is the home she “chose.”

Rodriguez and her husband immigrated from Cuba (via Chile) in 1970 and took the oath of citizenship on July 4, 1976 at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Rodriguez works full time in Davidsonville at Homestead Gardens.

But spend a few minutes talking to Rodriguez about her story and she quickly moves the conversation to her enthusiasm for a charity close to her heart.

That charity is the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, which helps wounded warriors and their families with financial assistance and other necessities.

Rodriguez has raised more than $40,000 for the Semper Fi Fund through sales of a cookbook that she self-published with recipes from military wives and mothers.
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Hunter kills himself after accidentally shooting friend

If you still don't understand what guilt can do to a person, read this and it may help you understand veterans with PTSD along with the recent report that guilt is a huge factor in their suffering.

The report says that after accidentally shooting Birch, Bolgnani killed himself according to another person there.

Two dead in Vermont hunting accident
Two hunters from Bennington County, Vt., are dead after an apparent accidental shooting-suicide Saturday afternoon.
Vermont State Police say they were called to a location off of Howe Pond Road just after noon for a call of two men with gunshot wounds.
Upon arrival, troopers found the men, Benjamin Birch, 39, and Timothy Bolgnani, 49, both of Readsboro, dead.
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PTSD veterans focus of Leverage episode

Last night while watching Leverage I thought about how right they were along with how most people wouldn't know it. Most of the programs for PTSD are nothing more than research with veterans being used as lab rats. When the report that Half of Vets Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan Need Medical Attention alarm bells should have shaken the entire country but they didn't seem to wake anyone up. This didn't wake anyone up either. Almost half of military suicides came after seeking help

Medications are given but found to either not help or in many cases, do more harm than good like Hundreds of Soldiers & Vets Dying From Antipsychotic--Seroquel

While the number of servicemen and women taking their own lives went up, no one was asking about who was being held accountable, what research programs were canceled for failures or what was being done to get it right for a change.

There is a lot of money to be made off veterans suffering. The Leverage episode focused on that as well. It should leave everyone wondering who is making money off of our veterans being tortured by what is supposed to be helping them. The people working for the VA can only use what they are given, only know what they are told, so if they are told this medication works, this program works, they use it. All of them are based on research done by companies making money off developing them.

'Leverage' Recap: 'The Experimental Job' (4.11)
November 27th, 2011 9:57pm EST
By: Brittany Frederick
TNT's Leverage crew returned tonight with the first of seven remaining season four episodes - and "The Experimental Job" made me glad to have them back.

When a homeless veteran dies in the middle of a party full of rich kids, the police write it off as a heart attack. His daughter thinks differently; she tells Nate and Eliot that her dad was part of a university sleep study involving PTSD and she's suspicious.

She has a reason to be: Hardison singles out a well-connected, BMW-driving kid named Travis (Jonathan Keltz), who also happens to be a member of the university's "Order of the 206," as in the 206 bones in the human body. No, that's not ominous at all.

The backdrop allows Nate, Parker and Hardison to go back to school, the former as a substitute professor and the other two as students. While Hardison befriends Travis, Parker gets to poke around in the research lab, where she gets trigger-happy with the button that electro-shocks a poor volunteer.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

SWAT team's shooting of Marine causes outrage

Nov 27, 1:49 PM EST

SWAT team's shooting of Marine causes outrage
Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Jose Guerena Ortiz was sleeping after an exhausting 12-hour night shift at a copper mine. His wife, Vanessa, had begun breakfast. Their 4-year-old son, Joel, asked to watch cartoons.

An ordinary morning was unfolding in the middle-class Tucson neighborhood - until an armored vehicle pulled into the family's driveway and men wearing heavy body armor and helmets climbed out, weapons ready.

They were a sheriff's department SWAT team who had come to execute a search warrant. But Vanessa Guerena insisted she had no idea, when she heard a "boom" and saw a dark-suited man pass by a window, that it was police outside her home. She shook her husband awake and told him someone was firing a gun outside.

A U.S. Marine veteran of the Iraq war, he was only trying to defend his family, she said, when he grabbed his own gun - an AR-15 assault rifle.

What happened next was captured on video after a member of the SWAT team activated a helmet-mounted camera.
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Afghan soldiers called in deadly NATO airstrike

Afghan soldiers called in deadly NATO airstrike
By Rahim Faiez and Sebastian Abbot - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Nov 27, 2011 10:26:46 EST
ISLAMABAD — Afghan troops and coalition forces came under fire from the direction of two Pakistan army border posts, prompting them to call in NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Afghan officials said Sunday. The account challenges Islamabad’s claims that the attacks, which have plunged U.S.-Pakistan ties to new lows, was unprovoked.

It also pointed to a possible explanation for the incident Saturday on the Pakistan side of the border. NATO officials have complained that insurgents fire from across the poorly defined frontier, often from positions close to Pakistani soldiers, who have been accused of tolerating or supporting them.
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After 60 years, Korean War vet with stress disorder seeks vindication, upgrade in discharge

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011
'Punishment did not fit the crime': After 60 years, Korean War vet with stress disorder seeks vindication, upgrade in discharge

BELLEVILLE -- Ralph Simonton grew up in rural Clinton County, the youngest son of a proud military family.

Each of his three brothers served in the armed forces. And each one received a burial with full military honors.

Simonton, 80, wants the same thing for himself.

The last surviving member of his family, and a wounded Korean War veteran, Simonton has spent the last decade fighting for the restoration of his military benefits, including the right to a military funeral.

He knows he's facing a tough battle. He also knows time is running out.

Simonton, of Belleville, has undergone surgeries for a heart ailment, a perforated colon and a hernia.

He continues to suffer from the nightmares, depression, anxiety and other symptoms of the severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he acquired after taking part in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Korean War.

"When I hear any loud noise, I jump," he said. "I want to take cover. I still have dreams about the war. ... I dream all the time about the guys who died. Almost every one of my friends were killed."

During one battle against Chinese troops, Simonton nearly died from a grenade attack. The rest of his platoon died.

Simonton was later nominated for the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. But he never received those decorations, nor will he under Department of Defense rules.
The same rules forbid him from obtaining access to Veterans Affairs health care or receiving a military burial.

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Deployed Camp Pendleton Marine's Thanksgiving Message

Deployed Camp Pendleton Marine's Thanksgiving Message
A Marine in Afghanistan sends home a holiday message
By Lea Sutton
Thursday, Nov 24, 2011

Source: Deployed Camp Pendleton Marine's Thanksgiving Message | NBC San Diego
While we're here at home, enjoying the holiday with friends and family, many of our military men and women are deployed overseas.

Sgt. Bryan Mayorga is spending the holiday in Afghanistan. The Camp Pendleton Marine, a mechanic for “Huey” and “Super Cobra” helicopters, says he's staying busy.

"The tempo is high, we're working a lot. That's our main focus right now. Just focused on getting the job done," said Sgt. Mayorga.

From Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Sgt. Mayorga says its all work and no play for now.

He leads his Marines to keep helicopters safely flying. Those helicopters provide air support to keep coalition forces safe on the ground.

Bonding helps ease the deployment.

"I've noticed that [camaraderie] has really built up quickly in the past two weeks that we've been here, so that's always a good thing. It helps build a strong work center and a strong bond among the Marines," said Sgt. Mayorga.

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When you are not "that" anymore

When you are not "that" anymore
Chaplain Kathie

I've had my share of successes and honestly, more failures, in my life. I went from being my parents little girl to a rowdy teenager in the blink of an eye. My parents are both gone now, so I am no one's daughter. I went from being the kid sister to two brothers, to being no one's sister after they passed away. One of my brothers passed away at the age of 42 and the other at the age of 56.

I've had a lot of jobs. Most of them came with a title and some power. With each job change came the realization I was not "that" person anymore. I'd go from being the "go to" person with all the answers into a new employee needing help finding the ladies room. While I took my experience with me, I had to let go of who I used to be.

I used to always have a date but then I got married to someone no one wanted me to marry. It lasted less than two years. I was no longer his wife and had to change my name back to the name I had all my life. Then I fell in love again and again had to change my name. 27 years ago I became Kathie DiCesare, wife, then Mom. Each time we moved I became someone else's neighbor. I was not "that" neighbor everyone knew. I became another stranger in a new neighborhood, discovering where to shop and the best way to get around traffic.

Almost 4 years ago I lost my job working for a church because of the economy. Not able to find anything I really wanted to do, I went back to college. In classes with students my daughter's age, with most knowing a lot more than I do about the equipment and programs we're using, I had to let go of my pride so I could learn what they know. I was a professional but I'm not that anymore. I'm a student.
Angel Art

I used to have a reputation of being Nam Guardian Angel. I've been online forever it seems but no matter how hard I worked or what I knew, time has proven me right, but it didn't do much good when no one with any power to change what was wrong knew I was alive. My website is shut down now because I just couldn't afford to keep it going or find the time to change it. After almost 20 years, I am no longer Nam Guardian Angel, but now just one more blogger trying to make a difference, hoping and praying what I do does some good to someone. While my "this and that" have changed, I am still the "who" I always was.

Each one of us goes through changes in our lives when we have to face the fact we are no longer "that" anymore and we become some other "that" looking back on what we used to be.

Young men and women leave ROTC heading for the place in their lives where they always wanted to be. They couldn't think of doing anything else. They go into the military planning on spending the rest of their working lives there but end up wounded and discharged from their dreams. They have to go from "that" career they always wanted to do into the unknown wondering what else can fulfill them the same way.

A combat medic going back to college is opening up text books remembering he used to have the life of a wounded soldier in the palm of his hands. He used to spend his days in danger but now spends them under pressure to pass a test so that he can become a "that" he wants to spend the rest of his life doing.

Each one of the veterans we have in this country has gone from being "that Soldier" "that Marine" "that Sailor" "that Airman" or citizen soldier in the National Guards or Reserves, into being civilian all over again. But for them, it isn't "all over again" because they've seen a side of humanity they will never forget. It has become a part of them. All the evil they saw mixed with love. Yes, love. The kind of love that developed to the point where they are willing to die to save the life of someone else. The love that causes them to give up everything the rest of us spend time with like our families, watching our kids grow up day to day and sleeping in our own bed every night. While they are no longer doing "that" in the next part of their lives, it is part of them.

The rest of us look at them and expect them to just move on but we never seem able to understand that we never really moved on from the "that" that we used to be. I am still my parent's daughter, my brother's sister, just as I still have the same mind that was able to learn each new job I was given a title to. I am still the same person that started to reach out to veterans almost 30 years ago in a local newspaper back home and face to face. Back then we did't have computers on our desk at home, laptops to take with us or even cellphones. While everything we "do" changes, who we are remains constant.

For combat veterans, the "who" they always used to be is still in there but we have to help them find themselves again after "that" part of their lives is over. While we all have regrets in our lives, their regrets involve lives. Help them to see what was good because they were there and doing "that" they managed to do. If they regret being where they were because they no longer see the reason as "honorable" help them to see their original intent was. Help them to see that it was about fighting for each other in the end because that is what it all boils down to.

There is one more thing that helps them. Help them feel "that" again. The sense of belonging to a group of people so unselfish they were willing to anything for someone else. There are so many groups in this country today they could join. Look them up online and find one that suits them. Patriot Guard Riders, Rolling Thunder, some motorcycle groups and organizations out there doing good for their communities seems to work best for them but as long as they feel that sense of belonging again, that's really all that matters.

Ret. Lt. General Hugh Smith tells PTSD Veterans they are not alone

Backed by retired Lt. Gen., 'Not Alone' helps veterans from all wars deal with PTSD
Nov. 26, 2011
Written by
Philip Grey
The Leaf-Chronicle
Whether welcoming troops home from deployments or working with PTSD sufferers, Smith is vociferous in his support of our warriors. / THELEAF-CHRONICLE/PHILIP GREY

People meeting retired Lt. Gen. Hugh Smith for the first time likely get the impression of a tough, no-nonsense man who does not suffer fools gladly.

They would be right.

They also might get the impression of a hard-nosed combat veteran who would tell a soldier claiming to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to "suck it up, drive on and stop whining."

They would be dead wrong.

If the general has one message for PTSD sufferers, it is this: "You are not alone."
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American Legion Riders feel honored to ride for the fallen

American Legion Riders honored by their participation in motorcycle processions for fallen soldiers
8:08 PM, Nov. 26, 2011

Written by
Nicholas Huba
Staff Writer

American Legion Post 129 Rider Michael Schaffer was riding his motorcycle during the procession for fallen Army Sgt. John Lyons through Seaside Park and noticed something that struck him.

“Riding through Seaside in the winter, there is usually no one around. I remember coming around the corner and seeing this guy in his late 60s, early 70s standing in the parking lot by himself,” recalled Schaffer, 62, of Long Branch, regarding the Nov. 10 procession. “This guy made an effort to come out in awful weather and say ‘thank you.’ He did not have to, but he wanted to.”

The American Legion Riders, which was started nationally in 1993 in Garden City, Mich., are members of the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary or the Sons of the American Legion who also are motorcycle enthusiasts.
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Crash kills Schofield Barracks soldier and injures 3 others

Crash kills Schofield Barracks soldier and injures 3 others

By Star-Advertiser staff
Nov 26, 2011
A crash at Schofield Barracks left one soldier dead and three others serious injured this morning, according to an Army statement.

Three injured soldiers, two men and one woman, all 19, went to the Queens Medical Center in serious condition, an Emergency Medical Services supervisor said. The fourth soldier died at the scene. All four soldiers were assigned to the 25th Infantry Division.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Florida Gov. Scott doesn't want to pay to care for homeless veterans

Scott serves up Thanksgiving dinner, explains cuts to homeless veterans program

From the Naples Daily News:

As eight tables of eight filled up in the bustling dining room, where pumpkin, pecan, apple and lemon meringue pies lined several side tables, the Scotts rushed back and forth, grabbing plates heaped with fixings for their two tables from an assembly line of volunteers at the kitchen counter.

“I care completely about all these programs,” said Scott, whose budget cuts earlier this year slashed funding to some veteran and farm surplus programs that helped the homeless.

“All the programs are very important, but nobody wants their taxes to go up,” Scott explained, noting that businesses also can help spur the economy. “They’ve got to grow. We’ve got to make this a place people can do well.”
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Deputy District Attorney didn't meet "criteria" before suicide

EXCLUSIVE: Deputy district attorney sent angry email before suicide
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Officers spoke to Trevino at her home and she seemed OK, he said. She didn't meet the criteria required to detain her for mental evaluation, and police did not confiscate any weapons."

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Christine Trevino sent an email with "My Death" in the subject line to at least 50 people, including District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, two weeks before she shot herself to death Thursday evening in Oceanside, according to documents obtained by North County Times.

The email, which Trevino sent the evening of Oct. 26, prompted measures by the district attorney's office to "keep her safe," an official said.

Trevino's message appeared to accuse Dumanis' administration of taking the side of another employee with whom Trevino had been involved in a dispute, and warned the administration not to try to "cover up" Trevino's death as a mental health issue.

The email's final line said, "YOUR administration is to blame!"

Trevino, 51, killed herself with a handgun during a traffic stop about 6:35 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Vista Way and Jefferson Street, Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata said last week.

She shot herself as a Carlsbad police officer was speaking to her through her driver's side window.
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2 deputies shot responding to domestic-violence 911 call

2 deputies shot responding to domestic-violence 911 call
By Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel
3:37 p.m. EST, November 26, 2011

Two Volusia County deputies are recovering after being shot this morning when they responded to a domestic-violence call.

The Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about 4:50 a.m. reporting that Corey Reynolds, 27, had tried to kill his ex-girlfriend at her home in DeBary, deputies said. Reynolds was arrested on charges of felony battery and two counts of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer.

The 24-year-old woman told investigators Reynolds threw her down and began to strangle her because she told him to leave. They used to live together, and Reynolds wanted to get back together, she told deputies.

Deputy John Braman and Deputy John Brady arrived at Reynolds' house on Huntington Street in Deltona about 5:30 a.m. and tried to arrest him. The deputies and Reynolds struggled as they tried to handcuff him, and Reynolds pulled out a handgun and shot Braman and Brady, the Sheriff's Office said.

Braman was shot in the right shoulder and left arm, and another bullet grazed his neck. He was taken by helicopter to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
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Navy personnel heading home from war zones

Navy personnel assigned to other services in war zones are heading home, too
By Drew Brooks
Staff writer

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - They sometimes call themselves sand sailors.

They are the thousands of U.S. Navy personnel who have fought in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or who have worked in Kuwait supporting the two operations.

On Friday, more than 30 sailors who had been deployed as individuals and attached to other service branches took one step closer to home, turning in their body armor and other gear and preparing to fly to the United States.

In addition to the sailors who have fought and worked alongside soldiers, Marines and airmen for the past decade of war, others are playing a key role in the drawdown in Iraq.

"We've been here for quite a while," said Capt. Keith Jones, commander of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Forward, a Navy unit that falls under the 1st Theater Sustainment Command. "And some of the last troops in Iraq will be my sailors."
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Lynne Griffey painting to help fund Wreaths Across America

'Wreaths Across America' to benefit from sale of Clarksville artist's painting
Nov. 25, 2011
Written by
Philip Grey
The Leaf-Chronicle
The subject is beautiful in its simplicity — rows of standard military tombstones rising above a blanket of fresh snow at Kentucky West Veterans Cemetery, with only the green and red of Christmas wreaths to mark the stones and keep them from fading into obscurity.

The subject of the painting is perfectly aligned with the artist’s cause — to keep America’s deceased veterans from being forgotten.

The painting has been donated by well-known local artist Lynne Griffey for the purpose of furthering the “Wreaths Across America” program, an effort that is backed in this area by the local Gold Star Wives Eagles chapter, together with the American Legion.
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Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis posthumously awarded Silver Star

Soldier posthumously awarded for saving lt.
By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Nov 26, 2011 8:26:37 EST
Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis and his soldiers had visited this observation post before.

Manned by the Afghan Border Police, the OP sat in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province in the east, in Pachir Wa Agam district.

On that day, Nov. 29, 2010, Jarvis and members of his platoon were at the OP to conduct an assessment of the unit’s 155mm rockets. But the routine mission took an ugly and tragic turn: A member of the border police opened fire on the troops, killing six American soldiers.


Six soldiers from 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were killed Nov. 29, 2010, when an Afghan border policeman opened fire on them. They were:

• Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis, 36, of Tell City, Ind.

• Staff Sgt. Curtis A. Oakes, 29, of Athens, Ohio.

• Spc. Matthew W. Ramsey, 20, of Quartz Hill, Calif.

• Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen, 21, of Beaver Dam, Wis.

• Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, of Senoia, Ga.

• Pvt. Buddy W. McLain, 24, of Mexico, Maine.


Our database of valor awards

Jarvis, 36, and his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Will Janotka, turned toward the fire but quickly realized they were in the gunman’s line of sight.

Jarvis immediately pushed Janotka out of the way, saving his lieutenant’s life.

But Jarvis, a husband and father, was mortally wounded.

For his actions, Jarvis was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, and was honored during a ceremony Nov. 10 at Fort Campbell, Ky.
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PTSD rates of sexual dysfunction were as high as 80%

If you are having a problem with sex, you need to know that you are not alone and it is tied to PTSD. One more thing to consider is the side effects of a lot of medications you may be on. Talk to your doctor about this and you'll be surprised what can be done about it. It is a part of PTSD but doesn't have to be.

Sexual Dysfunction among Veterans

Most studies on sexual dysfunction among veterans with PTSD have looked at Vietnam veterans. In those studies, rates of sexual dysfunction were as high as 80%. The high rates led some mental health professionals to suggest that decreased sexual desire should be considered as a symptom of PTSD.

Sexual Problems in Veterans with PTSD
By Matthew Tull, PhD, Guide
Updated November 22, 2011 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
Military veterans have been found to be at high risk for a number of mental and physical health problems, including pain, substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, one problem that may not be discussed as commonly is sexual problems in veterans with PTSD.

Sexual problems or sexual dysfunction can refer to a wide range of issues, including decreased sexual desire, premature ejaculation, or erectile dysfunction. Additional information on the many forms sexual dysfunction may take can be found at the website on Sexuality. Studies have found that people who have been exposed traumatic events may be more likely to experience sexual dysfunction.
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Deployments Taking a Toll on Military Kids Again

Before troops were sent into Iraq, before they were sent to Afghanistan, long before they were sent to Kuwait, we knew a lot about PTSD but the general public didn't. Once wars are declared over, in the public view, it should be over and done with. They never notice the combat casualties kept coming. They came in the health issues caused by chemicals like Agent Orange. They came with the suicides of veterans. They also came with health issues caused by war in their children as well as suicides of their children because Daddy went to war.

If you take Combat PTSD seriously, the following should be no surprise to you. After all, Australia did a study in 2000 on the relationship of families after war and the veterans sent to fight them. Now some want to bring this hidden price of war out in the open. One thing to keep in mind as you read this, while it has not made a "big" news story, it has been an huge issue for military families going back many generations.

When you think about the stress on adults, you need to think about the stress on kids when they have to adjust to another deployment and time to worry about their parent not coming back.

Deployments Taking a Toll on Military Kids
Posted on 18 November 2011

By Richard Sisk
The War Report
The reality of what happened is nearly unbearable for the two Army wives to speak about, but they said that being silent would be worse.

In June 2009, Daniel, the 12-year-old son of Tricia Sparks Radenz and Lt. Col. Blaine Radenz, hanged himself at Fort Hood, Tex. Last January, Ashton, the 13-year-old son of Ambra Roberts and PFC Luke Roberts, attempted to hang himself at Fort Benning, Ga. He is still undergoing hospital treatment.

“We live this daily,” said Radenz, whose husband has served two tours in Iraq. “We have to get the word out. People have to realize how difficult it is” to keep a military family together through repeated deployments to combat zones, Radenz said.

Ambra Roberts, whose husband has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and two other advocates met privately today at the Pentagon with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff and the military’s point man on suicide prevention, to discuss the impact on children of coping with the constant fear that their parents won’t come home.

Numerous studies by the military and government agencies have documented the growing number of suicides among active duty servicemembers and veterans. The latest statistics show that a servicemember commits suicide every 36 hours, and a veteran kills himself or herself every 80 minutes. Military wives are also susceptible to suicide.

But until recently, there has been little research on the effects of the current wars on the children of military parents. Earlier this year, a study by the University of Washington School of Public Health showed that adolescents with a deployed parent were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than the children of civilians.
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This is part of the research done in Australia in 2000.

Morbidity of Vietnam veterans: suicide in Vietnam Veterans' children, supplementary report 1: a study of the health of Australia's Vietnam veteran community

released: 7 Aug 2000 author: Commonwealth Department of Veterans' Affairs and AIHW

Analyses suicide patterns among Vietnam veterans' children highlighting time trends, age and sex distribution, location and method of suicide. It is a supplementary report to Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans: Volume 3 Validation Study which recommended that suicide in veterans' children be further investigated and the result drawn to the attention of the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service. This report extend the knowledge about the health of Vietnam veterans and their families.
You can read the full report on this link.
Suicide in Vietnam Veterans' children
In the Validation Study the 111 ‘validated’ suicides were confirmed by matching information provided by the veteran about the child’s name, birth year, sex and State/Territory of residence to the National Death Index (NDI) to confirm that the cause of death was suicide. The NDI contains identifiable information for all deaths occurring in Australia from 1980, as contained on death certificates.
The 230 ‘estimated validated’ number of suicides was based on the assumption that the number of suicides ‘not able to be validated’ should be allocated to either ‘validated’ or ‘not validated’ according to the number in each of these categories. This assumption was based on the overwhelming confirmation of suicides of veterans’ children, where veterans had reported such events in the Morbidity Study. The ‘not able to be validated’ cases refer to reported cases from the Morbidity Study where the veterans did not respond to the Validation Study or were unable to be contacted.
In this report a number of key demographic variables were extracted from the NDI to enable an analysis of the demographic characteristics of those veterans’ children who suicided. The data items used are age at death, sex, birth date, Statistical Local Area of usual residence, and suicide method.
In the following section the suicide rates for veterans’ children are based on the 230 ‘estimated validated’ suicides from Table 1. In the other sections, characteristics are discussed for the 111 ‘validated’ suicides from the Validation Study. These cases represent those children who have been successfully matched to death records and therefore have information available from the NDI. An implicit assumption of this discussion is that the characteristics identified for the 111 ‘validated’ suicides reflect the characteristics of all 230 estimated veterans’ children suicides.

Community helps Silver Star Hero because the VA didn't

We read about the backlog of claims everyday and some just get on with their lives as if it isn't a big deal, but in the end the number represents a veteran coming home wounded with no money to live. In this case he is a Silver Star Hero wounded while saving lives.

Specialist Daniel Foster came home with teeth damaged in a blast but his claim was tied up so the teeth had to wait. No money coming in, bills had to wait and he almost lost his house. The VA had his life on hold after his service but his community wanted to help him get on with his life and they did something about it.

Donations pour in for O.C. Army specialist
Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient Dan Foster was in danger of losing his house until strangers stepped up to help out.

Army Specialist Daniel Foster, right, salutes his commanding officer Lt. Col. Robert J. Harman after being awarded the Silver Star in a ceremony just before the start of the game at Angels Stadium. He was awarded the Silver Star for actions while protecting his unit from attack in Afghanistan.
COSTA MESA – Army Spc. Dan Foster was frustrated.

He'd been home for months, living with his father in Costa Mesa, but he still hadn't received benefits from Veterans Affairs - benefits he needed to rebuild his teeth, among other things, and get his life back on track.

What's more, because of the delays in his benefits and inability to find work, his finances were drying up. His family home in Costa Mesa was facing foreclosure, and he was behind on payments.

Was this a hero's welcome?

In April, the Angels fan was awarded a Silver Star during a special ceremony at Angel Stadium in Anaheim for his actions while on guard duty in May 2010 in Afghanistan.

Foster had stopped a suspicious cargo truck from reaching his tower, which had been filled with 500 pounds of explosives. When the truck exploded, the force threw Foster to the ground as shrapnel from the blast shattered his jaw and cut his face. Over the next half-hour, Foster continued to fight, stopping at least one other suicide bomber, Register reports state.

Still, even a hero was caught up in red tape.

And when a friend learned introduced Foster to Deanne Tate, president and CEO of the nonprofit Veterans First.

"He filed for his benefits and he just waited," Tate said.
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