Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'I'm very alive': Army veteran declared dead 4 times

'I'm very alive': Army veteran declared dead 4 times
By WESH.com
PALM BAY, Fla. — Despite rumors to the contrary, Army veteran Jerry Miller is still very much alive.

"I'm alive. I’m very alive," Miller told WESH 2 News.

The U.S. Veterans Administration has declared him dead four times, but Miller, a Brevard County resident, has refuted the claims.

"To me, it’s stupid. I can’t die but one time. They have killed me four times," he said.

Miller, a former drill sergeant, served 10 years in the Army. He said he lives on a government pension and Social Security.
read more here

Air Force punished Dover whistle-blowers

Probe: Air Force punished Dover whistle-blowers
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Federal investigators have concluded that Air Force officials at the military mortuary in Dover, Del., illegally punished four civilian workers for blowing the whistle on the mishandling of body parts of dead troops.

The Office of Special Counsel said in a report released Tuesday that they have recommended to the Air Force that it discipline the three officials who allegedly retaliated against the whistle-blowers. The three were not identified by name. It said one is an active-duty military member and the other two are civilians.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said in a statement that he has appointed a two-star general to review the findings and take "appropriate action." Donley said reprisals against whistle-blowers are unacceptable.

Donley said he and the Air Force's top officer, Gen. Norton Schwartz, "believe strongly there is no place for reprisal in the Air Force. Reprisals against employees are unethical and illegal and counter to Air Force core values."

Disability Claims Overwhelming VA

Disability Claims Overwhelming VA
Backlog fueled by veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and Agent Orange cases

By Steve Vogel The Washington Post


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a growing backlog of disability claims, fueled by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a policy change making it easier for Vietnam War veterans to file Agent Orange-related claims.

The number of pending claims before VA stood at 853,831 on Friday, an increase of nearly 100,000 from last year and nearly 500,000 from three years ago.

“Nearly 1 million veterans today are stuck in the backlog, and more than half wait at least half a year to find out if their claim has been processed,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Although VA has processed nearly a million claims over the past year, another 1.3 million new claims were filed during the same period.

Of the approximately 2.2 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 624,000 have filed disability claims and many more are expected. In addition, more than 200,000 Vietnam War veterans have filed claims based on new regulations adopted in 2010 making it easier to get compensation for health problems caused by exposure to defoliants such as Agent Orange.
read more here

Two tour Marine Iraq Veteran shot by police officers in Scottsdale

Scottsdale police identify man shot to death by officers
by Ofelia Madrid - Jan. 30, 2012 09:54 PM
The Republic

The man Scottsdale police shot and killed after he threatened officers with pool cues was a former Marine with two tours of duties in Iraq, according to family members.

Jason Edward Prostrollo, 25, was shot dead early Saturday after officers were called to the north Scottsdale home of Prostrollo's acquaintances, police said.

Around 4 a.m., police received a call from a 35-year-old woman saying Prostrollo, a guest in her home, was drunk and fighting with her 50-year-old boyfriend, and had a knife.

Prostrollo worked in reconnaissance as a sergeant in the Marines and was discharged two years ago, said Prostrollo's father, Warren Prostrollo of Paradise Valley.

Warren didn't have any additional information about what happened the morning of the shooting, but he said the account of Prostrollo's actions in a police report "sounds so unlike him."

read more here

Train loaded with military vehicles on YouTube stuns viewers

Uploaded by walstib373 on Jan 19, 2012
Military equipment train loaded with tanks and other vehicles of war rolls through Morgan Hill, Calif. on Jan. 19, 2012. The train originated in Oxnard and is headed to the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong. This train ran as the UP 7623 SOXHR-17 via the Coast Line.

Uploaded by 911Infowarrior on Jan 20, 2012
This video was uploaded to facebook via mobile by a Mr Andrew Tuckman yesterday, January 19th 2012, with the following caption.

I began filming this after a dozen or so train cars went by on a stretch of track south of Santa Cruz California. Where are the military vehicles going? Why are they being shipped? What could this possibly be for? Barack Obama, what are you up to?

Air Force Rise in suicides leads to 1-day standdown

Rise in suicides leads to 1-day standdown
By Brian Everstine - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jan 30, 2012 7:03:36 EST
The Air Force has begun 2012 with a spike in suicides, prompting leadership to direct bases to stand down for resiliency training even as additional airmen have taken their lives.

As of late January, the Air Force has recorded 15 suicides — including active duty, National Guard, Reserve and civilians — up five from the same period last year. The increase in the beginning of the year led Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy to issue a memorandum to major commands requiring that all units schedule a one-day standdown to “refocus on resiliency.”

“Our Airmen are too important to lose in this manner, and the costs to individuals, families, friends, co-workers, and our mission are beyond measure,” the Jan. 12 memorandum states.

Suicides through Jan. 26 total almost half of the 29 active-duty suicides in 2011. No January in the past eight years has had more than 10 airmen commit suicide.

In 2011, the Air Force confirmed 29 active-duty suicides, along with 27 in the National Guard and Reserve. An additional 13 active-duty cases were still pending confirmation.

Even while bases around the world were holding their resiliency days, two more airmen were suspected of committing suicide, including a 21-year-old airman first class at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., on Jan. 18 and a 43-year-old chief master sergeant on Jan. 21 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
read more here

The problem is, this is actually part of the problem. They have been doing "resiliency training" for far too long and the result has not been good.

Resiliency takes a village

Posted 1/30/2012

Commentary by Col. Rory Welch
Vice Commander, 45th Space Wing

1/30/2012 - PATRICK AFB, Fla. --
It happens to everyone. Life gets complicated, works gets busy and the end result is stress; lots of stress.

The problem is that too often people don't know where to turn when stressed, and there is a stigma that asking for help makes you less promotable, less reliable or marks you as "that guy."

"None of us are absolutely and perfectly equipped to handle the unique, ever-evolving rigors of military service; and, occasionally, each of us may require, to varying degrees, some form of assistance," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, in his speech at the Caring for People Forum.

The fact of the matter is we all cope with circumstances that affect us in different ways, and we all might have to ask for help in dealing with personal issues from time to time. We must be open to the idea of getting help when we feel that we need it, and encourage fellow Airmen or family members to do the same when they experience difficulties.

There have been many Air Force lives lost to suicide with no explanation other than they didn't get the help they needed. And while suicide prevention is a complex process, one Airman going without assistance is one too many.
read more here

Ind. Guardsman injured in blast recovering after surgery

Ind. Guardsman injured in blast recovering after surgery

Hammond, IN, USA
Ads by Google
Romney's 5 Falsehoods
Mitt Will Say Anything. 5 Recent Falsehoods & Counting Exposed Here.
Associated Press
12:03 p.m. CST, January 30, 2012

The only survivor of a roadside bombing in Afghanistan that killed four members of an Indiana National Guard unit is recovering from surgery during which six titanium plates were implanted in his shattered face.

Relatives of Pvt. Doug Rachowicz said the 30-year-old Hammond soldier underwent the five-hour facial surgery Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Kathy Rachowicz said her son has undergone multiple surgeries since the Jan. 6 roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan, but she said Friday's surgery was expected to be the final surgical procedure he'll need.

"Now he will start to heal," Rachowicz told The Times of Munster.

She said officials may inform her son sometime Monday of the deaths.

Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville; Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet; Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis; and Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill., were killed in the explosion.

All four, along with Rachowicz, were members of the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineering Company.
read more here

Veterans Court: 'I Was Afforded Mercy and was Given Grace by People I Never Expected it From

Veterans Court: 'I Was Afforded Mercy and was Given Grace by People I Never Expected it From'
Hector Matascastillo, a former Army Ranger, spoke about the importance Veterans' Court programs like the one Washington County launched Monday in Stillwater are for vets who find themselves embattled in the criminal justice system.
By Shawn Hogendorf

Former Army Ranger, Hector Matascastillo, talks about the importance of Veterans Court programs like the one Washington County unveiled Monday in Stillwater. Credit Shawn Hogendorf

Eight years ago, former Army Ranger, Hector Matascastillo, found himself standing in front of his home, armed with two unloaded pistols, and surrounded by eight Lakeville police officers.

“January 24, 2004, that was my intersection with the criminal justice system,” Matascastillo, who served on 13 military deployments said Monday morning at the unveiling of the Washington County Veterans Court diversion program.

That night, Matascastillo, 39, of St. Paul said he went into a disassociative state of mind due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that hadn’t been treated—other than self medicating—and wound up in his front yard in an armed standoff in the midst of a flashback.

“In my mind I was engaging one individual after clearing a room,” he said. “The whole incident was about four-minutes long. About 30 seconds into it I realized I wasn’t where I thought I was and that I was surrounded by police officers who all had their guns out at me.”

At that moment, Matascastillo said, he was faced with the question: “Do I want to survive this thing?”

As he began to realize what was happening, the situation “quickly evolved” into feelings of shame, Matascastillo said.

“I couldn’t believe it. My kid was watching while this was happening. I was out of control,” he said. “I thought I failed and let everyone down. I didn’t live up to the creed. I wanted to die at that point.”

Eventually, Matascastillo gave up his weapons and went to the ground.

That’s when the healing started.
read more here

Boy With Cerebral Palsy Walks Into The Arms Of Dad Returning From Afghanistan

UPDATE May 12, 2012

It looks like the "big boys" finally picked up on this fantastic story. What took them so long?Old news new again

Get ready to cry again!

Boy With Cerebral Palsy Walks Into The Arms Of Dad Returning From Afghanistan
A little boy determined to defy doctors is inspiring people around him.
Posted: 7:45 PM Jan 30, 2012

Six-Year-Old Michael Cooney of Onslow County was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy near his first birthday. His mother Melissa says doctors said he'd never walk again.

But this past December, Michael's dad returned home to Camp Lejeune after a six month deployment-- and for the first time Michael walked to his father.
read more here

Are Vietnam veterans too old to heal?

Are Vietnam veterans too old to heal?
Chaplain Kathie

I get this question a lot. There was a time when I thought it may be true but life told a totally different story.

After watching my husband get worse on a daily basis it was hard to hope for better days. He refused to go to the VA. When my Dad, a Korean War veteran, met him, he said "He's a nice guy but he's got shell shock," I figured I could handle the symptoms that went with him. I had no clue it would get worse. So many years after Vietnam, I thought "what you see is what you get" and I was fine with that. Then I began to wonder what my Dad was talking about. Why was this man I loved so different from all the veterans I grew up with? My Dad, my uncles were WWII veterans and I had a cousin that was a Vietnam vet. What was all of this about?

That's when I started to study the Vietnam War and discovered the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was 1982.

The longer PTSD goes untreated the more damage is done but it is never, ever, hopeless to heal. When PTSD is considered mild, most of the issues going along with combat trauma is reversible. Nightmares can be killed off so they can sleep at night without medications and most of the cross effects on the families are avoided so the families stay together, leaning on each other for support. The problem is, most of the time what they need to heal early on is something they don't receive. Families are usually left out. They don't know what they can do to help the veteran heal and end up harming them even more. Disfunction in the family, pointing fingers and blaming them for the trouble in the home ends up reinforcing how they already feel about themselves and this makes PTSD worse.

As the years go on PTSD gets worse left untreated much like an infection gets worse without treatment, more and more "tissue" is destroyed and the infection claims more territory. We all know what happens when an infection is finally treated. It leaves a scar. The depth of the scar depends on how long the infection was allowed to spread out.

With Vietnam veterans there is a lot more work to do to help them heal but it is never too late to start. I've seen them restore relationships with their adult children and often their estranged spouse. That is how amazing these veterans are. Most of the time they will end up working with newer veterans in some organization like Point Man International Ministries because they understand what it is like to be a member of this unique class of combat veteran. One out of three will end up with PTSD. Right now the rates are a bit higher because of the number of redeployments. We are seeing National Guards and Reservists coming in at 50%, Soldiers at 40% and Marines at about 30%. When Vietnam veterans tackle a problem, they do it 100%! The newer generation thinks it is all about them but when you ask a Vietnam veteran what they get out of helping this generation of veterans, they say it is healing themselves as well.

My advice after almost 30 years is, learn all you can what PTSD is and get help as soon as possible. If you end up with medication that is not helping, talk to your doctor and get on something else. Don't stop there. Make sure your treatment includes all of you. Your overall health needs to be addressed with diet and exercise to retrain your body to work better. Your spiritual health needs to be addressed since PTSD is more of a spiritual wound than a simple psychological one. As time goes on, relationships pay a price, so the people in your life need to be included in on the healing too. They may not know what you went through, but they do know what it was doing to you and them as well. What you cannot cure, you can find peace enough to live with it and learn how to overcome it. PTSD does not have to win. The longer you wait, the stronger it gets.

This is a good article on this topic.

Are you too old to heal?
by Heidi Schussman Gilbert, published on January 30, 2012

Most of us have at least one person in our family who has served in the military during wartime. These men and women live amongst us, some suffering more than others, some not suffering at all. As they age their sense of self worth comes into focus, and they struggle to explain themselves to younger family members. Talking about traumatic events experienced during war is stressful and exhausting. So the question is “Should we dredge up old painful memories? Are our grandfathers and fathers too old to heal?”

Apparently Frazier Sheppard and Laverne Shimanek feel you are never too old to heal. Sheppard (US Army, Vietnam) and Shimanek (US Marine, Korea) are both veterans of war and now they reside at Carmichael Care and Rehabilitation Center where Sheppard is President and Shimanek is Vice President of the Resident Council.

Shimanek and Sheppard frequently meet together to decide what would be best for their fellow residents. They then present the idea as a vote, or just try an activity and see how it goes. For some time they have noted a tendency for veterans to huddle together in the facility lobby, family room, or courtyard and talk quietly amongst themselves. Semper Fi, Hoorah, and a sharp salute are shared up and down the hospital corridors. Sheppard and Shimanek brought the idea of creating a social time for vets to Tracy Haroldson, the Activities Director.
read more here

For Soldier Disfigured in War, a Way to Return to the World

This is truly an amazing story of one of the many wounded in our name. Watch the video, hear his voice and then think of all he went through. It will bring a tear to your eyes so grab some tissues first. WOW.

For Soldier Disfigured in War, a Way to Return to the World
By Sarah Kramer and Meaghan Looram
The Shock of Recognition: After nearly 30 operations, Joey Paulk began to resign himself to his appearance. But with help from a program that aids badly burned veterans, he received surgery that revived his self-confidence.

Published: January 30, 2012

Specialist Joey Paulk awoke from a coma in a Texas hospital three weeks after he was burned nearly to death in Afghanistan. Wrapped in bandages from head almost to toe, he immediately saw his girlfriend and mother, and felt comforted. Then he glanced at his hands, two balls of white gauze, and realized that he had no fingers.

So it began: the shock of recognition. Next came what burn doctors call “the mirror test.” As he was shuffling through a hallway at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he passed a large mirror that he had turned away from before. This time he steeled himself and looked.

His swollen lower lip hung below his gums. His left lower eyelid drooped hound dog-like, revealing a scarlet crescent of raw tissue. His nostrils were squeezed shut, his chin had virtually disappeared and the top half of one ear was gone. Skin grafts crisscrossed his face like lines on a map, and silver medicine coated his scars, making him look like something out of a Terminator film.

“This is who I am now,” he told himself.
read more here

Monday, January 30, 2012

New treatment facility helps soldier make rapid progress against TBI

New treatment facility helps soldier make rapid progress against TBI
ProPublica and NPR
Published: January 30, 2012
When Army Sgt. Victor Medina returned home from Iraq in the summer of 2009, his life was a shambles. His tour had been cut short after he suffered a concussion during a roadside blast. Though his injury wasn't visible, he struggled with balance and noticed that his ability to read, think and even talk had changed for the worse.

But in the spring of 2011, Medina became one of the first patients at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, the military's $65 million, state-of-the-art treatment center for brain-injured soldiers.

During his three weeks at the Bethesda, Md., center, the staff developed a rehabilitation program designed specifically for Medina. His recovery has progressed rapidly ever since, he and his wife, Roxana Delgado, told ProPublica and NPR.

Medina has continued to work from El Paso, Texas, by videoconference with a speech therapist based at the center, and he said his stutter is improving. After his injury, he had struggled to read more than a paragraph; now he says he can read and absorb two pages in one sitting. Medina also was ordered to stop driving after his injury, but he told ProPublica and NPR that he has regained his ability to do that, too.

"It's like night and day," Delgado said of his improvement.
read more here

July 2011
Report: Pentagon Center For Brain Injuries, PTSD Is Dysfunctional

Man tries to sell Pat Tillman’s game-worn cleats on eBay

Man tries to sell Pat Tillman’s game-worn cleats on eBay … for $3.2 million
By Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner – Sun, Jan 29, 2012

The Internet is a haven for weirdness at the best of times, but once in a while, you come across something that makes you wonder just what people are thinking when they get up in the morning. So it was when we discovered that a guy with the handle "az-jt" (actually 51-year-old Jerry Martin) put up an eBay listing for a pair of cleats supposedly worn by the late Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals defensive back who died in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004.
read more here

St. Louis service records center, recovery from 1973 fire continues

At military records center, recovery from 1973 fire continues
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Published: January 30, 2012

NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Debra Griffith didn't know where to turn when her father, a Korean War veteran with a failing heart, asked to be buried at a military cemetery near his boyhood home in Indiana.

With her parents long divorced and the family scattered across the country, Griffith had no clue where to find the records attesting to Lewis Lower's military service — or whether they even existed.

She turned the problem over to her husband, who learned of another hitch in granting Lower's final request upon contacting the National Personnel Records Center in north St. Louis County.

The file may have been among the millions destroyed 39 years ago in a fire that burned for two days through the sixth floor of the building in Overland the center once occupied.

The near-impossible task of restoring the charred documents that survived continues to this day — a labor of love and duty for archivists either too young to remember or, in some cases, not even born when a significant chunk of America's past went up in smoke.
read more here

Lawmakers to question VA pharmaceuticals purchasing practices

Lawmakers to question VA purchasing practices
By Patricia Kime - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jan 30, 2012 10:01:06 EST
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is looking into whether the Veterans Affairs Department spent $333 million on pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other purchases without having contracts for the transactions.

The committee will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday to question VA officials on whether the department made purchases last year without contracting for them and whether the unauthorized buys have been going on for years — an issue reported in December by Bloomberg News.
read more here

Fake "casket" airmen "conduct brought discredit both to the military and themselves"

No criminal wrongdoing in casket photo case
By Jeff Schogol - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jan 30, 2012

FACEBOOK Airmen attending Air Transportation technical school at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, posed for this photo dated Aug. 23. Air Force investigators have concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing by the airmen who posed for the photo.
Investigators have concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing by the airmen who posed for a picture around an open casket case with another airman inside wearing a noose around his neck and chains across his body.

However, the instructors in charge of the airmen in the picture have received administrative punishment because “their conduct brought discredit both to the military and themselves,” according to a news release from the 37th Training Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.Dated Aug. 23, the photo was taken by airmen with the 345th Training Squadron at Fort Lee, Va., where airmen learn to load and unload aircraft.
read more here

Medal of Honor Hero Sal Giunta helping veterans heal from PTSD

Iowa hero helps fellow servicemen
By Matthew Hansen

Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta spoke in Omaha Monday, helping to raise money for a local non-profit that aids service members with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Giunta spoke to reporters and then delivered the keynote address during a fundraising luncheon for "At Ease," a Lutheran Family Services-affiliated group that offers anonymous counseling and other help to troops, veterans and their families struggling with PTSD.

At Ease "Is seeking out those who slip through the cracks," Giunta said. "That is awesome. That is important."
read more here

Stolen 18-Wheeler Slams into ROTC Bus after Fort Hood visit

Stolen Vehicle Slams into ROTC Bus, 18-Wheeler

Posted: Jan 29, 2012

KILLEEN (KCEN) -- 44 ROTC students are shaken up after a man driving a stolen vehicle slammed into their charter bus and an 18-wheeler traveling through Killeen on West Highway 190 Saturday evening.

The accident occurred on the 1600 block of West Highway 190 around 7:00 p.m. Saturday when a white male driving a 2007 Chrysler Sebring rear-ended the bus, causing the Chrysler to hit the guardrail and finally making contact with an oncoming 18-wheeler.
read more here

Major Jamie P. Murphy awarded Bronze Star V

WWR Marine Receives Bronze Star

January 30, 2012
Marine Corps News
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- Marines, sailors and family members gathered here to honor a Wounded Warrior Regiment staff member during an award ceremony at the regimental headquarters Jan. 27.

Major Jamie P. Murphy, the Wounded Warrior Regiment's future operations officer, was presented the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" device by his former commanding officer, Lieutenant Col. J.D. Harrill.

Murphy earned the Bronze Star for his heroic service in connection with combat operations against the enemy while serving in Marjah, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Harrill, the former commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), traveled from Camp Lejeune, N.C. to present Murphy with his medal. With him, was Sgt. Maj. Richard Mathern, the former sergeant major of the unit.
read more here

Camp Lejeune Marine Arrested After High-Speed Chase

Police: Camp Lejeune Marine Arrested After High-Speed Chase
By Jon Erickson / Reporter
January 29, 2012

HOLLY RIDGE -- Authorities seized a Camp Lejeune Marine’s motorcycle after the Marine allegedly led police on a 20-mile, high-speed chase.
Steven Cruz, 21, was speeding on Highway 17 in Holly Ridge shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday, Holly Ridge Police Chief John Maiorano said.
Cruz throttled his Honda motorcycle to more than 100 m.p.h. in the chase that wound to North Topsail Beach, police said.
read more here

The Invisible War: Sundance Film Review

Maybe this should be titled "It's not new just because it is news to you." but this has been going on for a very long time. Women have been complaining about attacks, rapes and a lot of other things the general public has not been made aware of, and it is high time everyone knew. The only problem I see with this is because of the changes in attitudes and more support women have been getting to come forward, it ends up looking as if the newer veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are the only groups that have done this. Look back in history and you'll see that none of this is new.

The veterans subjected to sexual assaults should be fully supported and the criminals should not only be removed from service but put in jail. This is a crime no matter where it happens but when it happens at a time when these men and women are supposed to be able to trust each other with their lives, the last thing they should have to worry about is not being able to trust them with their bodies.

The Invisible War: Sundance Film Review
12:15 AM PST 1/29/2012 by David Rooney

The Audience Award winner for best documentary at Sundance 2012, Kirby Dick's shocking investigation into widespread sexual assault in the U.S. military is an urgent call to action.

PARK CITY – A gut punch of moral outrage, Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War presents overwhelming evidence that the U.S. military’s purported zero-tolerance attitude to sexual assault is a charade. It illustrates the human cost of that sham with heart-wrenching displays of courage and dignity in the face of institutional indifference. Destined to draw major editorial attention, this hard-hitting advocacy film exposes the dirty secret not as an attack on the armed forces but as an indignant petition to protect the more vulnerable among their ranks.

Emotionally powerful interviews with rape victims, conducted by Dick’s producer Amy Ziering, form the core of the documentary. But even without putting faces to the issue, the statistics alone are staggering. Department of Defense data shows that 20% of servicewomen experience rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment, causing a higher rate of PTSD among them than among men in combat.

Given the repercussions – violence, ostracization, loss of rank or career – it’s estimated that 80% of sexual assault cases in the military go unreported. With 3,158 cases recorded in 2010, that puts the likely total for the year at more than 19,000. Of the more than 108,000 veterans who screened positive for Military Sexual Trauma (MST) in 2010, 45.7% were men.
read more here

Iraq vets thankful for appreciation at parade

Iraq vets thankful for appreciation at parade, reflect on their service, role of faith

Joseph Kenny | jkenny@archstl.org

Waving flags and holding signs, people three deep along the parade route yelled "Welcome home," "You rock" and "We salute you" to troops who have returned from Iraq. They were taking part in the nation's first Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day on Jan. 28 in Downtown St. Louis.

Catholics from Missouri and Illinois were among the thousands who gathered for the salute or took part in the parade. It started as an idea between two friends who quickly put together an official thank you to the men and women who served their country in Iraq. They began a Facebook group, Make January 28th Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day, that ignited thousands of passionate citizens to donate time, money and services for the cause.

David Behle, a Reservist who served in Iraq, said, "It's nice to be recognized. It means a lot." A member of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville, he wants to see a similar event when troops return from Afghanistan.

"It's hard to believe that private citizens came up with this idea in three weeks time and made it this huge — a turnout like this on a January day," said Richard Cullen, quartermaster of a VFW post in Illinois. He is a member of Holy Ghost Parish in Jerseyville, Ill.

Cullen said his parish pastor, a veteran of the Korean War, and the parish have supported the troops as have many other churches. He noted that while he was in the Army serving in Iraq and Germany he was lucky to have a Catholic chaplain serving his battalion. "It's nice to be able to go to a service and practice your faith," he said, noting that it was a time to put aside worries. Whether it was in a tent or under a tree, it was really nice to have that."
read more here

Welcome Home the Heroes Vigil and Parade - Images by St. Louis Review

National Guardsman searches for post-deployment work

National Guardsman searches for post-deployment work
By Kyle Martin
Staff Writer
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012
This is the statistical snapshot of Bret Tindall:
He’s young (28), a post-9/11 soldier (one month home from Afghanistan) and, like many other veterans from this decade’s wars, unemployed (13.1 percent).

Here’s what the numbers don’t show: Tindall has a 6-year-old daughter who just lost her two front teeth; he’s got a baby girl who’s a month or two from taking her first steps; his wife works long hours to put food on the table.

He has held a lot of jobs — welding together school buses, building furniture — but he was out of work before his deployment last year. He started his job search just before Christmas, but two interviews and a nervous habit of biting his fingernail is all he’s gained.

“It’s been a shock,” Tindall said. “There’s really not a whole lot out there.”
read more here

Battle Over Banner Supporting Our Troops in Little Falls

Battle Over Banner Supporting Our Troops in Little Falls

Created: 01/29/2012
By: Jay Kolls

It all started when a citizen was told to remove her signs of protest from her front yard. Robin Hensel's yard was a beacon of billboard material protesting the government and the War On Terror. But she tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the city told her the signs had to go because city code only allows one sign per yard. So, she turned her attention to a downtown banner that says "We Support Our Troops."
read more here

Wounded Minn. Soldier Returns Home To Start New Career

Wounded Minn. Soldier Returns Home To Start New Career
By: Michelle Knoll
Created: 01/29/2012

A Minnesota soldier is back home looking for a new career. Matt Birr is returning from Fort Carson, Colorado where he was recovering for a bullet wound to the head. Birr who made sergeant the day before he retired, was shot in August 2009 while serving in Afghanistan.

His retirement comes just weeks before Rep. Gabby Giffords who suffered an similar injury. Birr and his mother have been following Giffords progress closely and say it mirrors much of his recovery.
read more here

Over 800 South Carolina National Guard soldiers set to deploy this weekend

Over 800 soldiers set to deploy this weekend
Jan 29, 2012
By Stefanie Bainum

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Over 800 local soldiers from the 118th Infantry Army National Guard will be deployed this weekend. A ceremony for the soldiers and their families was held on Saturday at the National Guard armory in North Charleston.

One-by-one Lowcountry soldiers are preparing for what could be a year-long deployment to Kuwait.

"It's kind of bittersweet. This is the end of the training we've been doing everyday, including online training, several trips to other countries for training, but it's the beginning of what's in front of us," said Captain Plowden Dickson of the 118th Infantry.

For Dickson's family -- it's a sacrifice they've made before, but one that always takes some getting used to.

"We openly talk about missing him, our feelings, we just try to keep our routine the same and incorporate the deployment into our lives by writing letters and staying active," said Laurie Dickson, wife of Captain Dickson. "It is bittersweet, but we know that he's going to go out there and make a difference as well as all the soldiers and it's an honor being a military spouse."

It's a goodbye no family can prepare for-- but one military families across the country face everyday.
read more here

Wisconsin National Guard Major and wife to appear on The Amazing Race

Wis. Guard soldier, wife to appear on The Amazing Race
By The Associated Press
CREATED JAN. 29, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin Army National Guard officer and his wife will compete in the latest installment of the CBS series "The Amazing Race."

Dave and Rachel Brown will be one of the 11 couples competing against each other in a trek around the world for $1 million. The show pits teams against physical and mental challenges.

Maj. Brown says 16 years of service in the Wisconsin guard and a recent deployment to Iraq should help him with the challenge.
read more here

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sen. Scott Brown released his military service record

Mass. senator releases Guard service records
By Steve LeBlanc - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jan 29, 2012 14:16:49 EST
BOSTON — Sen. Scott Brown released his military service record Saturday documenting the more than three decades he has served in the Army National Guard.

The records include his promotions, awards and officer evaluation reports, which offer high praise of Brown’s service during his years in the military.

An officer evaluation report from 1985 was typical, describing Brown as “a young and aggressive officer.”

“He is self-motivated and learns very fast. He has the potential to be promoted to a position with greater responsibilities,” the report said.

Brown, R-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee, is facing a tough re-election campaign.

His office said the documents show the reason he was passed up for a Guard promotion to lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General Corps in 2003 and 2004 was due to a missing document in his file.

Brown’s office described the failure to include the document — which showed that he had completed the necessary Command and General Staff Office Course — as an administrative oversight. They noted that after Brown appealed to show that he had completed the required military education, he received the promotion in 2006.

The same oversight caused the Army National Guard to place Brown into the Retired Reserve from July 2005 through December 2005, his office said.

Brown first enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard in 1979.
read more here

Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter's actions deserve Medal of Honor

Marine hit by grenade rates MoH, buddies say
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Jan 29, 2012

Lance Cpls. Kyle Carpenter and Nick Eufrazio were posting security together on a dusty rooftop in Afghanistan when an insurgent tossed a hand grenade at them. The world melted in a white-hot blast, and the two men were rocked by an explosion that could be heard nearly a mile away.

More than a year later, the Marine Corps continues to investigate what occurred, said Lt. Col. James Fullwood and Capt. Michael Manocchio, who served as two of the senior officers in their unit, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., during that deployment. Other personnel in the compound during the Nov. 21, 2010, attack insist there’s no doubt Carpenter shielded Eufrazio from most of the blast, and deserves the Medal of Honor.

“Kyle covered that grenade,” said Hospitalman 3rd Class Christopher Frend, the corpsman who first rendered medical care to Carpenter and Eufrazio. “Grenade blasts blow up; they don’t blow down. If he hadn’t done it, what we found would have looked completely different.”

The case’s profile was first elevated publicly after the state legislature in Carpenter’s native South Carolina credited him in a resolution last March with taking “the full blast from an enemy hand grenade in seeking to save a fellow Marine.”
read more here

Marine Lance Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, hero Marine honored

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter discusses recovery

Command Sergeant Major James Smith moves from police captain to top NCO at WTB

Trading his bars in for stripes
Smith moves from police captain to top NCO at WTB
Jan. 28, 2012
Warrior Transition Battalion Command Sergeant Major James Smith has risen quickly to the top of two demanding professions at nearly the same time. / Leaf-Chronicle/Philip Grey
Written by
Philip Grey

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — The Command Sergeant Major of the Warrior Transition Battalion on Fort Campbell should be a familiar face to many Clarksvillians.

Just a few months ago, before he traded uniforms and insignia, he was Captain James C. Smith of the Clarksville Police Department.

Now, as the top non-commissioned officer of the WTB, Command Sgt. Major Smith has taken on a job that would seem to be as different from his role at CPD as could be imagined. However, the two jobs do intersect at a few points, which is partly why Smith was chosen by WTB commander Lt. Col. William G. Howard for the important role of overseeing the daily needs of Fort Campbell’s wounded, ill and injured soldiers.
read more here

Interstate 75 crashes kill at least 10 near Gainesville

Interstate 75 crashes kill at least 10 near Gainesville

By David Breen
5:04 p.m. EST, January 29, 2012

Interstate 75 is shut down this afternoon in Alachua County after a series of fatal crashes killed 10 people overnight.

Lt. Patrick Riordan of the Florida Highway Patrol said cars and trucks piled up amid poor visibility from fog and smoke from nearby wildfires. At least 18 people were taken to area hospitals as well.

At least 12 passenger cars and about seven semi-trucks were involved in the crashes, which happened at about 4 a.m. in both northbound and southbound lanes near Mile Marker 379, the FHP said.

FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said it could take days to piece together how many separate accidents took place.
read more here

U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq

Where was all the talk about our deficit when all of this was happening? Will the men running for President have to answer that one?

U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq, audit finds
By Josh Levs, CNN
January 29, 2012

NEW: The U.S. is keeping Iraq out of the loop on some projects, report says
NEW: The U.S. Embassy in Iraq disagrees with that complaint
The Defense Department can't account for about $2 billion in past spending, report says
The department acknowledges a "records management issue"

(CNN) -- The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.

The reports come from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government in 2004 gave the Department of Defense access to about $3 billion to pay bills for certain contracts, and the department can only show what happened to about a third of that, the inspector general says in an audit published Friday.

Although the Department of Defense (DoD) had "internal processes and controls" to track payments, the "bulk of the records are missing," the report says, adding that the department is searching for them.

Other documents are missing as well, including monthly reports documenting expenses, the audit says.

"From July 2004 through December 2007, DoD should have provided 42 monthly reports. However, it can locate only the first four reports."
read more here

Some veterans wary of GOP frontrunners’ tough talk on foreign policy

Some veterans wary of GOP frontrunners’ tough talk on foreign policy

By Zac Anderson
Tallahassee bureau
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012

JACKSONVILLE — After spending two tours in Iraq and losing two friends in combat, Army veteran John Fails listens with skepticism to the tough foreign policy talk coming from the GOP presidential frontrunners.

“Every deployment has a cost,” said the 27-year-old, who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 and now studies public policy at the University of North Florida.

From covert operations against Cuba to confronting Iran over nuclear weapons, the Republican candidates — with the exception of Rep. Ron Paul — are largely pushing a hawkish approach to conflicts overseas.

In the past, such bellicose talk may have been guaranteed to win over support in this generally conservative region, with a heavy concentration of retired and active duty service members.

But Fails and other veterans interviewed on the campaign trail expressed the weariness of a segment of the population asked to bear the brunt of nearly 10 years of war in two countries, conflicts that killed more than 6,000 American soldiers and cost the country at least $1 trillion.

Florida has 19 military bases — including the Central Command for Iraq and Afghanistan — and more than 1.6 million veterans, so perceptions about who would make the best commander in chief can play a big role in presidential contests. Veterans’ support helped seal Sen. John McCain’s victory in the state’s 2008 Republican primary.
read more here

Marine from Los Angeles is found dead in La Jolla

Marine from Los Angeles is found dead in La Jolla
January 28, 2012

A 20-year-old Marine from Los Angeles has been found dead in the La Jolla section of San Diego, the Marine Corps announced Saturday.

Cpl. Cody Adler was found dead Thursday. No information was released on where his body was found or the cause of death.

He was a small-arms technician assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

Adler's death is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
go here for updates

Marine robbed and shot in critical condition

Marine critically wounded in Church Hill shooting

Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: January 29, 2012

Richmond police are seeking the public's help in the search for a man who shot and critically wounded a Marine reserve sergeant after a robbery on Church Hill late Friday.

The victim was shot while walking with his girlfriend in the 600 block of North 33rd Street after being approached by a man who displayed a gun and demanded money, police said Saturday.

After the victims complied with the request, the man was shot.

The suspect was described by police as black, about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a skinny build and possibly in his late 20s. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored hoodie with a white-and-black or red bandana covering the lower portion of his face. The bandana possibly had a houndstooth print design, police said.
read more here

N.J. leads the way in combating G.I. suicide

N.J. leads the way in combating G.I. suicide
Jan. 27, 2012

Written by
Gene Racz
Staff Writer

PISCATAWAY — Now that $40 million has been secured in the final 2012 federal budget to support military suicide prevention efforts, some involved in the legislative process are left wondering why it took so long to pass Congress.

Of the funds, $20 million will support suicide prevention efforts for active-duty soldiers and reservists at the Department of Defense, while the other $20 million will support veterans suicide prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Activities funded may include outreach to vulnerable soldiers and veterans through TV, radio and social media, as well as direct suicide intervention efforts.

Part of the legislation, first introduced by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., in 2010, was originally entitled the “Sergeant Coleman Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act.” It passed the House of Representatives unanimously twice but was blocked by members of the Senate minority.

The delay was attributed to criticisms regarding the necessity of special programs for part-time soldiers, in addition to a suicide hotline, Vets4Warriors, which is run out of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway.
read more here

Colorado Springs homicide investigators look for answers after deadliest year ever

Colorado Springs homicide investigators look for answers after deadliest year ever
POSTED: 01/29/2012
By Sara Burnett
The Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — The night was quickly going south.

Just after 8 p.m., a 60-year-old parolee had shot two people — killing one — in an AutoZone parking lot. Less than 20 minutes later, officers on a domestic-violence call shot a 21-year-old who threatened to kill his girlfriend and then pointed a gun at them.

Lt. Kirk Wilson, the man in charge of the Colorado Springs Police Department's homicide unit, was en route to that second shooting when the worst call of the night came in: Three teenagers, two of them brothers, had been shot, apparently victims of road rage.

Two of the young men already were dead. The third would be pronounced dead a short time later, making July 27, 2011, the deadliest night in what would turn out to be the deadliest year in Colorado Springs history.

There were 32 homicides here last year — a 33 percent increase over 2010 and four more than the previous record, set in 2007.

The other major cause for alarm were the deaths of seven children, all 2 years or younger. In each case, police arrested a parent or caregiver.

"We had way too many of those," said 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, whose district includes Colorado Springs.

Many of those cases involved families with ties to Fort Carson, May said. And most were not families that had prior contact with county human services.

"I think a lot of these are parents who couldn't believe they did this — who never would have seen themselves doing something like this, except for in that one moment," May said.

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, a military wife, said many military families face the added stress of deployment or the return of a service member. Because of the transient nature of the population, they may not have the support system they need.
read more here

Biden visits Pendleton's wounded Marines

Biden visits Pendleton's wounded Marines

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Vice President Joe Biden visited with wounded Marines and their families at the Warrior Hope and Care Center at Camp Pendleton Friday, calling this generation of warriors the finest the world has ever seen.
read more here

JBLM: Crowded base posted highs for DUI, misdemeanor crimes in 2011

JBLM: Crowded base posted highs for DUI, misdemeanor crimes in 2011
By Associated Press
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — With a full base for the first time in a decade and more soldiers stationed here than ever before, Joint Base Lewis-McChord last year recorded new highs for misdemeanor crimes and for offenses involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to statistics provided to The News Tribune.

Felonies and domestic violence crimes were up in 2011 compared with the previous year but were down significantly compared with 2008.

The statistics reflect crimes committed on and off base.

The local numbers are not dramatically different than Armywide trends, although the Army last year did see a small decline in total misdemeanor offenses after a six-year high.

Commanders are reluctant to draw conclusions from the local numbers because Lewis-McChord has more active-duty soldiers than it’s had in recent memory. Its 34,000 active-duty soldiers represent 15,000 more service members than were stationed here in 2003.

“We did not see any increase in crime that we do not normally attribute to the increase in population,” Col. Bob Taradash, Lewis-McChord’s top military police officer, said in an interview before his latest deployment to Afghanistan.

However, the consequences of those crimes appear to be increasing, as the military enters a time of reducing its forces and tightens its standards for staying in uniform.

read more here

Recent suicides highlight chronic stress officers face on the job

As much as veterans have hold of my heart, cops come in a very close second. There is a huge difference between the level and type of PTSD military and law enforcement personnel end up with. They do not just respond after the event happens. Their jobs require them to often participate in the event itself. They use weapons. They have to use violence in response to violence. They see others wounded and at the end of the day they wonder if tomorrow will be their day. Considering both professions come with a lot of hatred from too many people, it makes everything harder on them.

Wednesday I was speaking with a Chaplain for the Orlando police. He is a minister, a veteran and ex-motorcycle cop. He said that when a firefighter shows up, everyone is happy to see them but when a cop shows up, no one is happy. It usually means they are in trouble or totally upset because a crime has been committed against them.

The number of exposures to traumatic events add to all the stress they already feel.
Recent suicides highlight chronic stress officers face on the job
JANUARY 29, 2012
Greg O'Dell was a respected law enforcement official and a married father of two when he drove his car to a residential street in Scio Township two days before Christmas last month, got out, and killed himself.

O'Dell, 54, the chief of the Eastern Michigan University Police Department, never told his colleagues he suffered from depression. Now, a month after his death, the department is trying to move forward while struggling to understand why a man who seemed to have it all would take his own life.

"He never let on that he had any issue," said Bob Heighes, Eastern's interim police chief.

In the past month, three men from public safety careers have died of suicide in southeast Michigan. Some public safety officials say it highlights the chronic stress law enforcement officers face and the challenges of persuading them to get help.

On Jan. 6, Daniel Armitage, an Ann Arbor firefighter whose wife had been hospitalized with domestic abuse injuries, lay down in traffic on Interstate 696 and was killed. Three days later, a border patrol agent stationed in Gibraltar killed himself in the parking lot of a Trenton hospital.

Studies show police officers have a higher suicide rate than the public. About 140 to 150 police officers kill themselves each year, or 17 per 100,000, according to Badge of Life, a group of active and retired police officers, medical professionals and surviving families of suicides from the U.S. and Canada. The rate for the general population is 11 per 100,000.

"Police officers are human," said John Violanti, a research associate professor at the University of Buffalo who has studied the suicide rates of police, military personnel and firefighters. "They not only have to put up with life's usual struggles, they also have to put up with this job that exposes them to death, human misery, abused kids. They can't get rid of this baggage and it eats at them."
read more here

80 Wis. soldiers still wait for service benefits for Iraq deployments

80 Wis. soldiers still wait for service benefits

Associated Press
January 28, 2012

OSHKOSH, Wis.— Dozens of Wisconsin National Guard soldiers are still waiting for thousands of dollars owed to them for their service in Iraq.

The delay is due to bureaucratic glitches and clerical errors, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported.

The soldiers, members of the Wisconsin National Guard 1157th Transportation Co., spent much of 2006 and 2007 in Iraq. When they came home they were due extra pay or days of leave for serving multiple deployments, but some never received what was owed to them because of errors in the way the Army computed and paid the benefits.

"It's frustrating," said Richard Vander Sande, one of the roughly 170 guardsmen and women in the unit. "

For some it's the issue of the money. For some it's the principle. If soldiers are owed something, they should be paid."
read more here

Fort Benning soldiers acquitted after facing court-martial

Fort Benning soldiers acquitted after facing court-martial in beatings of ex-soldier and woman
First Posted: January 28, 2012

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Two Fort Benning soldiers have been acquitted of assault charges in the beatings of a former soldier and a woman in Columbus.

A military jury in the court-martial of Army Pvt. Nathan Smajda found him not guilty Friday of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily injury in the downtown attacks last April. A second soldier, Pvt. Dillon Fisher, was acquitted by a court-martial panel earlier this month.
read more here

Wilder Marine killed in Afghanistan returned to Idaho

Wilder Marine killed in Afghanistan returned to Idaho
by Justin Corr

Posted on January 28, 2012 at 4:47 PM
Updated yesterday at 5:08 PM

BOISE -- After making the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, the remains of a Marine from Wilder are back in Idaho.

Lance Corporal Kenneth Cochran was killed in combat on January 15 -- he was just 20 years old.
Cochran always wanted to be a Marine.

"We grew up hearing stories about my dad, and his time in the service," said Michael Cochran, Kenneth's sister. "So, it was kind of ingrained in us to be awesome and go for your dreams. And Kenny's dream was to become a Marine."
read more here

Arkansas Iraq War vet gets life in prison for killing girlfriend

Arkansas Iraq War vet gets life in prison for killing girlfriend
Published January 28, 2012
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Iraq War veteran who sought acquittal on a capital murder charge in the death of his girlfriend has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

A Pulaski County jury of six men and six women deliberated about 90 minutes Thursday and eight hours on Friday before finding Steven Russell Jr. guilty.

Russell called police in November 2009 and told them had had shot Joy Owen, 24, a North Little Rock High School teacher, to death after an argument at the apartment the two shared, records show. He told officers where to find the gun he used, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in a story for Saturday's editions.

At the time of Owens' death, Russell was on probation for a 2008 domestic battery conviction. Prosecutors alluded to the conviction in Russell's trial, but gave no details. The assault was included in Russell's mental health records and forensic reports submitted to the jury.

Russell's defense team admitted he killed Owens, but blamed the shooting on post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by his war service in the Middle East. Owen served in the Iraq War in 2003.
read more here

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland featured in CNN report

Florida Evangelicals a different breed of voter than brethren in Iowa, South Carolina
By John Sepulvado, CNN

(CNN) – Conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed has called the Bible Belt home for decades, but he grew up in Miami in the 1970s, when the city was emerging as a diverse megalopolis.

Among his middle school friends were Jews, Catholics and Methodists.

Then, at age 15, Reed's family relocated to the sleepy mountain town of Toccoa, Georgia, so his dad, a doctor, could take a better-paying job.

“It was very conservative,” says Reed, who now lives outside Atlanta. “At first – as would be true of any 15-year-old – I didn’t like it. I think it was a culture shock.”

Ultimately, the mostly evangelical residents of Toccoa shaped Reed’s faith, helping lead him to Jesus in his 20s. But in terms of his faith-based organizing, the well-known activist drew more on his experiences in hyper-diverse Miami.

"Later on in life, when I became a leader in the Christian Coalition, I had a greater appreciation [for] ethnic and religious diversification,” Reed says.

That could be good news for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is looking to regain momentum from chief rival Newt Gingrich, after the former speaker’s upset in South Carolina, in Florida’s Tuesday primary.
A more centrist evangelicalism

As a percentage of GOP voters, there are fewer evangelicals in Florida compared to South Carolina and Iowa, where Rick Santorum won the presidential caucuses, according to CNN exit polls from 2008.

In that year, evangelicals accounted for 40% of Republican primary voters in Florida, compared to 60% in the Iowa caucuses and South Carolina primaries.

And compared to those other early primary states, Florida is much more religiously diverse. In the 2008 primary there, Catholics were nearly a third of the Republican vote, with other kinds of Christians, Jews and those with no religious affiliation each claiming a chunk of the vote.

Still, evangelical Christians claim a bigger share of the Florida Republican vote than any other religious tradition. There also are signs they may be more tolerant of a Mormon candidate than born-again Christians in the Bible Belt and Midwest.

In the South Carolina primary, Romney claimed 22% of the evangelical vote, compared to 44% for Gingrich, according to CNN exit polls.

Florida’s evangelicals are “more open” to the idea of a Mormon in the White House, according to Orlando area pastor Joel C. Hunter.

“Our nature, of being a fairly mobile state, with a lot of tourism and a lot of transcultural and transnational interaction really makes us boundary spanning, rather than sticking to our own affinity groups,” Hunter says.

He leads a congregation of 15,000 at Northland, a Church Distributed, a nondenominational megachurch of the kind that are more popular in Florida than in Iowa or South Carolina.

“For any independent church, you’re going to be open – necessarily open – to non-ready made boundaries, open to other religious groups,” Hunter says. “You’ll be more likely to partner with groups that aren’t necessarily like your own.”

The pastor cites his church’s partnerships with local synagogues and mosques to help local homeless children. For Hunter, teaming up with different religious traditions follows the example of Jesus.

“Jesus talked to the people, the religious leaders others wouldn’t talk to,” he says.

“As an evangelical, I should be ready to talk to a lot of people that aren’t like myself, because that’s what I see in the life of Christ, and I’m looking to build relationships.”
read more here

Thousands at parade honoring Iraqi war vets in St. Louis

January 28, 2012 3:33 PM

St. Louis hosts parade for Iraq War vets
Participants in a parade to honor Iraq War veterans make their way along a downtown street Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(AP) ST. LOUIS — Thousands of people lining downtown streets cheered wildly as veterans, some wiping away tears, marched through St. Louis on Saturday during the nation's first big welcome-home parade for Iraq War veterans.

Several hundred veterans, many dressed in camouflage, walked alongside military vehicles, marching bands and even the Budweiser Clydesdales. People in the crowd held signs reading "Welcome Home" and "God Bless Our Troops," and fire trucks with aerial ladders hoisted three huge American flags along the route.

"It's not necessarily overdue. It's just the right thing," said Maj. Rich Radford, who became a symbol of the event thanks to a photo of his young daughter taking his hand while welcoming him home from his second tour in Iraq in 2010.

Since the war ended, there has been little fanfare for returning veterans aside from gatherings at airports and military bases — no ticker-tape parades or large public celebrations — so two friends from St. Louis decided to change that.
read more here

Veterans Share Stories at Iraq War Parade in Mo.

By JIM SALTER Associated Press
ST. LOUIS January 29, 2012 (AP)
Veterans who attended the nation's first major Iraq War parade Saturday in St. Louis said they appreciated the welcome home, even though some expected to be redeployed to Afghanistan or elsewhere in the coming months. Here are a few of their stories:

Army Maj. Rich Radford had two long tours of duty in Iraq under almost constant threat of violence.

Radford, a combat engineer, spent 15 months on his first tour starting in January 2004, then about 10 months when he went back in September 2009. He earned the Bronze Star for his service.

"Every day we were in danger," Radford, 40, said, "because the Iraqis didn't like us, didn't want us in their country. They would sell out our positions, our missions."

Radford, a 23-year military veteran, marched in the parade with his two children, Aimee, 8, and Warren, 12. An image of the father and daughter upon his return home from the second tour of duty is emblazoned on T-shirts and posters associated with the parade, fashioned from a photo taken by Radford's sister of Aimee, then 6, reaching up for her father's hand as family greeting him at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.
read more here

Thousands at parade honoring Iraqi war vets
Saturday, January 28, 2012 12:30 pm
A downtown parade to honor Iraq war veterans stepped off at noon today at Kiener Plaza.

Thousands of people lined the parade route on Market Street, cheering, waving American flags and holding signs "Welcome Home."

Christine Willey of Webster Groves was one of those along the parade route. Her nephew served in Afghanistan and was wounded in Iraq when his Humvee was hit by an explosive.

"I think he would appreciate it a lot," she said of the parade. Her nephew, of Wentzville, who suffered brain injuries, was unable to attend the parade.
read more here

Thousands at St. Louis parade welcome home Iraq War vets

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Thousands of people have turned out in St. Louis for the nation's first big parade welcoming home Iraq War veterans.

Several hundred veterans, many dressed in camouflage, marched Saturday afternoon through downtown along with marching bands, politicians and even the Budweiser Clydesdales.
read more here

Pawn shop looking for family of Purple Heart Army Pfc. Leroy Bryant

Pawn shop seeks Purple Heart recipient’s family
The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jan 28, 2012 11:17:07 EST
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A central Ohio pawn shop buyer says he bought a military combat medal from a seller in hopes of returning the Purple Heart to the family of the original recipient.

A seller who reported finding a Purple Heart on a street sold the item to Uncle Sam’s Pawn Shop in Columbus this week for $30, according to TV station WCMH.

The medal is inscribed for late Army Pfc. Leroy Bryant of Franklin, who fought in the Korean War. Records show Bryant was listed as missing in action and later presumed dead after he was captured in February 1951.

Buyer Gary Chasin said the medal doesn’t belong in his pawn shop. Chasin said he would like to return it to Bryant’s family.
read more here

A father’s anguish: Military killed my son with prescription pad for Seroquel

A father’s anguish: Military killed my son with prescription pad
By John Lasker - The Daily Caller 01/28/2012

A father who has lost two sons to war told The Daily Caller that the U.S. Central Command’s policy of allowing troops to deploy with a 180-day supply of the antipsychotic Seroquel has contributed to the deaths of troops and veterans. Seroquel, he said, has tragic side effects that military leaders have ignored in their quest to combat insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among fighting men and women.

The father, West Virginia school principal Stan White, said there are better ways to treat troops and veterans who suffer from PTSD. But because the maker of Seroquel, London-based AstraZeneca, has so much influence over Congress and the military, he insisted, that peer counseling and other treatment options are being shoved aside in favor of low doses of the drug.

White’s suspicions are slowly being validated by a series of studies, legal settlements, and military rulings — including a recommendation from the Department of Defense’s own advisory body on pharmaceuticals.

“I think AstraZeneca is so strong and has so much power that no one can speak out,” said White, who has remained stoic despite his losses. “Money talks. I truly believe AstraZeneca and other big pharma companies have control over Congress.”

His first son, Army Sgt. Robert White, died in combat in Iraq. When Robert’s younger brother Andrew returned from his own tour in the Middle Eastern country, a Veterans Administration doctor prescribed a combination of Seroquel and antidepressants for his PTSD.
read more here

Final Thoughts from the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

Final Thoughts from the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

This week I invited the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Peter Chiarelli to provide a guest entry addressing an issue of great importance to both he and I and the Army’s other senior leaders. As General Chiarelli prepares to retire on January 31st after three and a half years spent as VCSA and nearly forty years of service to our Army, I want to take this opportunity to thank him for the remarkable job he has done and the immeasurable impact he and his wife, Beth have had on the lives of Soldiers, Army Civilians and Family members around the world. He is a true Patriot, a great American and undoubtedly one of our Army’s very best.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army (Photo Credit: Daniel Cernero, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs)

“It is truly remarkable all that our Soldiers have accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past decade they have done an absolutely magnificent job fighting two wars in difficult and demanding environments.

That said, they are undoubtedly tired and stressed, and many are dealing with challenges including physical and psychological wounds, injuries and illnesses incurred as a result of their service. Among the most difficult are the non-visible wounds of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. I frequently refer to them as the ‘signature wounds’ of this war.
read more here

Cesar and the Dog Whisperer crew have been filming at Fort Hood

Cesar in Fort Hood

This week, Cesar and the Dog Whisperer crew have been filming a new episode at the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas. While on base, Cesar got the chance to visit the Army and Air Force Exchange Service store—where Dog Whisperer products are now being sold—and spend some time with many of the families and soldiers stationed there.

Working with a Border Collie and Sheltie that live on the base, Cesar learned rather quickly that while their military owners live and breathe exercise and discipline in their own lives, they don’t necessarily do it with their dogs. “It is always surprising when leaders, particularly military leaders who are accustomed to strict discipline, do not apply the same discipline and structure with their dogs,” said Cesar.
read more here

Navy diver dies during training off N. Carolina

Navy diver identified
Updated: Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 1:39 PM EST
Published : Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 1:39 PM EST

Dominic Ross
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WAVY) - The Navy has identified a Fort Story-based sailor who died Thursday while diving off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2nd Class Petty Officer Taylor Gallant, 22, of Kentucky, died while conducting diving operations off the North Carolina coast, according to Lt Cmdr. John Gay with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs.
read more here

Navy diver dies during training off N. Carolina
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jan 27, 2012 15:16:31 EST
A U.S. Navy diver working from a Canadian ship off the North Carolina coast died during training operations Thursday, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command announced Friday.

The diver’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The diver, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12, was embarked on HMCS Summerside during preparations to take part in Bold Alligator, a major amphibious training exercise slated to begin Jan. 30.
read more here

Veteran receives house for free from Operation Finally Home

Veteran receives house for free from Operation Finally Home
Posted on January 27, 2012
FORT WORTH - Perfect strangers came together to help make the dream of home ownership come true for a veteran.

On Friday, Air Force Captain Jason Vest and his family moved into a brand-new, two-story house in north Fort Worth. It was donated through the Operation Finally Home program.

"You’ve turned this chapter in my life, something that was really going the wrong direction, now it’s better than I would have ever dreamed," Vest said, from the driveway of his family’s new home.
read more here

West Point amputee gymnast returns to competition

Army's Avelino overcomes amputation

Gymnast injured in 2010 accident

Army's Andrew Avelino raises his arms after competing on the high bar at the 2012 West Poin Gymnastic Open at Christl Arena on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.TOM BUSHEY/Times Herald-Record

By Ken McMillan

Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 01/28/12
WEST POINT — Gymnastics has changed Andrew Avelino in a way no one could have imagined.

A freak accident during a training session in the fall of 2010 damaged his knee in such a way that it cut off blood supply to the lower part of his right leg and eventually required an amputation. Even in the worst days that followed, Avelino was determined to return to West Point and the Army gymnastics team.

In the amputee community, Avelino's procedure is considered "a paper cut,'' he said. That's because he still has five or six inches of his leg remaining below his knee and with a sufficient prosthetic and proper rehabilitation Avelino could resume a normal life.

That wasn't enough for Avelino — he wanted to return to gymnastics, and his doctors and therapists at Walter Reed Hospital were confident that he could.
read more here

Fort Riley Suicidal Soldier Surrenders To Riley County Police

Suicidal Soldier Surrenders To RCPD Officers
Police are not releasing the name of a Fort Riley soldier they say stole a friend's handgun and tried to shoot himself before surrendering to officers.
Posted: 5:53 PM Jan 27, 2012
Reporter: Lindsey Rogers

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Police are not releasing the name of a Fort Riley soldier they say stole a friend's handgun and tried to shoot himself before surrendering to officers.

Lieutenant Josh Kyle, the Riley County Police Department's Public Information Officer, released the following statement Friday:

"On 01-26-2012 at about 1636 hours the RCPD received a report of a past burglary on Crestwood Dr. in Manhattan, KS. Further investigation revealed that a suicidal Fort Riley soldier had taken a handgun from an acquaintance without their knowledge. The RCPD’s investigation quickly transitioned from that of a past crime to a search for an armed suicidal male.
read more here

Friday, January 27, 2012

NCO arrested for murder of Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux

NCO arrested, charged in Carson killing
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 27, 2012 17:37:33 EST
FORT CARSON, Colo. — A combat engineer at Fort Carson has been arrested and charged in the slaying of a food operations specialist in the barracks at the post, officials said Friday.

Sgt. Vincinte L. Jackson, 40, is being held on suspicion of premeditated murder and murder in the death of Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux, 28, of Houston, according to an announcement and documents released by the post. Authorities found Fonteneaux’s body on Jan. 8 in the barracks where she lived.
read more here

Pa. man gets Bronze Star, diploma 70 years on

Pa. man gets Bronze Star, diploma 70 years on
By Bruce Siwy - (Somerset, Pa.) Daily American via AP
Posted : Friday Jan 27, 2012 16:18:21 EST
SOMERSET, Pa. — He was 19 years old, fighting Nazis on the shores of Normandy instead of fighting off sleep in an introductory college course.

Alfred V. Domineck was just 17 when he dropped out of the Conemaugh Township Area School District because his parents wouldn’t allow him to play football. He was drafted into military service soon after.

And on Thursday he was welcomed to an emotional and unexpected salute from his community and friends.

“This is something I didn’t expect,” Domineck told the crowd after receiving not only an honorary high school diploma but the Bronze Star. “I got some things that I really enjoy.”
read more here

Iraq veteran accused of posing as policeman

Iraq veteran accused of posing as policeman
By Nigel Duara - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jan 27, 2012 18:34:22 EST
PORTLAND, Ore. — Police anticipate more charges against a guardsman who allegedly posed as a Eugene police officer for at least a year, making traffic stops and volunteering at a youth center.
read more here

NY LaGuardia Airport "Heroes Welcome Home" from Iraq

From Bill Taylor, Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (Ret.) in Massachusetts...

Good stuff! For those who don't know.. that's a bad-ass weapon system hangin' out the side of the fuselage on that AC-130.

I don't ever remember this happening before, but "Way to GO NY"!

Our last AC-130 crew traveling home from Iraq was diverted to LaGuardia Airport for a mechanical problem. They were thankful that such a busy airport allowed them to land there. They were absolutely surprised and overwhelmed by the incredible "Heroes Welcome Home" that they received. The crew didn't expect any sort of fanfare, but you can see from the pictures that LaGuardia went all out. Thank you to those wonderful folks at LaGuardia who made our troops feel so special!

Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, injured by a grenade, discusses his recovery

Video: Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, injured by a grenade, discusses his recovery
JANUARY 17TH, 2012

As mentioned on this blog yesterday, this week’s Marine Corps Times cover story focuses on Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, the Marine infantryman who has achieved a miraculous recovery after sustaining a grenade blast near Marjah, Afghanistan, in November 2010.

Marine Corps Times has taken some heat for reporting that there are questions over whether Carpenter covered the grenade to protect his buddy, Lance Cpl. Nick Eufrazio. Actions along those lines have yielded prestigious valor awards in the past, obviously.

read more here

September 24, 2011
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter getting help from his neighbors

March 10, 2011
Marine Lance Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, hero Marine honored