Saturday, March 31, 2012

Disabled veterans hit the slopes at winter sports clinic

Disabled veterans hit the slopes at winter sports clinic
John Moore / Getty Images Blind military veterans snowshoe up the mountainside with the help of instructors on March 28, 2012 in Snowmass Village, Colorado.
More than 350 U.S. military veterans are taking part in the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic held between March 25-30 in Snowmass Village, Colorado. The cliinic is co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Disabled American Veterans. It teaches winter sports with the aim to motivate veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, and neurological problems to heal both mentally and physically. read more here

Fire Department response to trauma should be lesson to military

Whenever you read about a traumatic event, the back story is there are people rushing out afterwards to take care of the responders.

 In 2008 I spent most of the year training with crisis teams. Some of teams were training to take care of survivors but most were focused on the responders. If civilians can understand the necessity of taking care of the people putting their lives on the line, then the military should have learned this a long time ago.
Missoula Firefighters Work To Prevent PTSD, After Fire Kills 11-Year-Old MISSOULA COUNTY By Alissa Irei March 30, 2012
Within 48 hours of a high-stress call, Missoula firefighters participate in two mandatory group therapy debriefings.
MISSOULA, Mont. -- It's been two weeks since an 11-year-old boy died in an early morning house fire in West Missoula. It was a tragedy for a family, a community and a fire department. "Most of us are husbands and fathers, and we can identify with that situation and the feelings and emotions that are involved in that," Missoula Fire Department EMS Coordinator Ben Webb said. "People think sometimes that we're superhuman or we're robots and we don't have feelings, but we have feelings and emotions when we deal with a tragic incident like that." Not all firefighters are willing to admit that, says Jeff Dill, an Illinois battalion chief who founded Counseling Services for Fire Fighters and Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. read more here

No evidence Bales was drinking says lawyer

Afghan suspect attorney: 'Government hiding evidence'
(2:02) Mar. 31, 2012
The attorney for the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians says the government is "hiding evidence" and not giving his defense team the cooperation they were promised. (The Associated Press)

Judge Awards $44 Million for '83 Beirut Attack

Judge Awards $44 Million for '83 Beirut Attack
March 29, 2012

Associated Press
by Frederic J. Frommer

WASHINGTON - A federal judge has awarded $44.6 million from Iran to victims of the 1983 suicide truck-bombing attack on U.S. Marines in Beirut. But the money will be difficult to collect. U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth awarded the money Wednesday to two servicemen who were injured, Jeffery Paul O'Brien and Daniel Lane Gaffney, and their family members. The lawsuit claimed that Iran was involved in the attack, which killed 241 servicemen. read more here

Too many disabled soldiers on hold puts Army at risk

Disabled Soldier Backlog Puts Army at Risk
 March 26, 2012
by Michael Hoffman

The backlog of soldiers too injured to serve is growing so large that it could affect the Army’s ability to go to war. Army leaders plan to reduce the size of the service by 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers each year over the next decade, but that’s not counting the 20,500 troops Army doctors have declared unable to serve.

Budget cuts, combined with the end of the Iraq war and drawdown in Afghanistan, have forced the Army to cut end strength by 80,000 soldiers.

The 20,500 soldiers tabbed to leave the service because of disabilities, however, still remain on the books.

The backlog is caused by failures in a system built to transition those soldiers out. Quite simply, Army doctors classify more soldiers as too injured to serve than the system can separate each year. The number of soldiers in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System has grown by 42 percent just this past year.

It’s grown from 11,900 soldiers to 20,500 soldiers since 2009. Army medical leaders expect that number to continue to rise. The Defense Department adopted the IDES -- and it will apply each one of the services -- but the Army is in most dire straits. Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the Army’s top manpower officer, described the system to Congress as “fundamentally flawed,” saying, “The biggest area that we need help is in the disability evaluation system.” read more here

Vietnam vets to be officially welcomed home Saturday

Vietnam vets to be officially welcomed home Saturday
Updated: Mar 30, 2012 6:18 PM EDT
By Steve Crump, Reporter
HARRISBURG, NC (WBTV) - Thousands of eyes will be focused on the big infield stage at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for this weekend's Vietnam Veteran's Homecoming Celebration. However, expect moving moments to be delivered by etched words in small print.

On hand will be a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial that's found in our nation's capitol. It has the names of more than 58 thousand veterans who lost their lives in that conflict, but these days there's a different kind of pain.

Vietnam era veteran Keith Arbuckle is part of the Patriot Guard Riders that travels with the exhibit, and is grateful for the overdue greetings of gratitude. "Knowing so many Vietnam veterans to see what they go through, and they have a lot of pain, "he said. "So much anger that's been bottled up. They've had to go through this for 30 something years. "It's never too late." read more here
Vietnam veterans to be officially welcomed home Saturday 3:21

Gulf Coast Vietnam Veterans Salute

Gulf Coast Vietnam Veterans Salute
 Published : Saturday, 31 Mar 2012

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The public is invited to participate in the Gulf Coast Vietnam Veterans Salute honoring Vietnam & Vietnam Era Veterans who live along the Gulf Coast. The community celebration provides a unique opportunity for community groups, faith-based groups, and local businesses to express their respect and appreciation for Vietnam Veterans.

The event offers many ways for Vietnam Veterans to enjoy connecting with their fellow Veterans. Civilians are encouraged to participate by lining Government Street in downtown Mobile to cheer for the Rolling Thunder Honor Ride Parade. After the Honor Ride Parade, the community is invited to join the Vietnam Veterans and their families for the opening ceremony and special activities at Battleship Memorial Park. The celebration, which is free, will be held in the area just outside the museum. read more here

Ron Paul supporter Army Reserve soldier reprimanded

Reserve reprimands cpl. who spoke at Paul rally
By Ryan J. Foley -
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Mar 30, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A soldier who went on national television in his military fatigues to endorse Ron Paul’s presidential campaign after the Iowa caucuses has been reprimanded but not dismissed from the Army Reserve, a spokeswoman said Friday. The Army determined that Jesse D. Thorsen violated policies that bar soldiers from participating in political events in their official capacities or while in uniform. Experts say a reprimand may become a problem if Thorsen seeks a promotion or could be used to justify more serious punishment if he gets in trouble again. read more here

Air Force mortician pays price for whistleblowing

Air Force mortician pays price for whistleblowing
March 30, 2012
 By David Martin (CBS News)
MAGNOLIA, Del. - On Friday, the military released documents that explain how incinerated partial remains of 9/11 victims went into a landfill. Some officers from the Dover Air Force Base mortuary wanted a burial at sea overseen by a chaplain, but instead the remains were declared medical waste. The Dover mortuary has also been accused of mishandling the remains of fallen troops. One man tried to stop it, but he paid a price. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin has his story. It is a grim and solemn sight: flag-draped caskets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. But unseen is an even grimmer fact: Many of the bodies inside those caskets have been blown to pieces. read more here Air Force campaign of retaliation

Sgt. Ryan Sotelo Honored For Bravery During Afghanistan Battle with Silver Star

Camp Pendleton Marine Awarded Silver Star
 Sgt. Ryan Sotelo Honored For Bravery During Afghanistan Battle
March 30, 2012
 SAN DIEGO -- A Camp Pendleton Marine was honored Friday wit h the country's third-highest combat award for his heroic actions while deployed in Afghanistan. Sgt. Ryan Sotelo became the latest Camp Pendleton Marine to be decorated for bravery in battle when he was awarded the Silver Star in a ceremony in the San Mateo section of the base.

On Thanksgiving Day 2010, Sotelo's squad left their forward operating base in the Sangin district of southern Afghanistan to hunt for a Taliban commander. The squad came under intense enemy fire, which killed the officer in charge, 1st. Lt. William Donnelly. The citation read, in part: "Sprinting into the open under enemy fire, Sotelo went to retrieve his fallen commander who was in the open." read more here

MOH Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry " Troops Can Draw Strength From Each Other"

War Hero: Troops Can Draw Strength From Each Other
 By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
March 30, 2012 –
Service members can draw strength from each other rather than attempt to deal with tough times alone, a highly decorated wounded warrior who triumphed over great adversity said here today.

Adversity “is not best dealt with by oneself; it’s overcome by the help of others and hard work and the will to get through it,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, the Army’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient, told an audience of nearly 750 behavioral health experts and military leaders.

Petry discussed his recovery and the people who helped pull him through during the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s Warrior Resilience Conference. This conference, in its fourth year, is intended to equip service members, units, families and communities with resilience-building techniques and tools.

Petry was wounded May 26, 2008, during an operation to capture an insurgent leader in a compound in Afghanistan’s Paktia province, near the Pakistan border. His unit was met with heavy automatic weapons fire when they moved into the area. He and several of his fellow soldiers were wounded and sought cover as an enemy lobbed a grenade at the unit. Although wounded in both legs by assault-rifle fire, rather than turn away or seek cover, Petry picked up the grenade to throw it back at the enemy. Instead, the grenade detonated, amputating his right hand. Still, Petry remained calm, put on his own tourniquet and continued to lead.

Last summer, President Barack Obama awarded the country’s highest military honor to the Ranger. Petry became only the second living veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to receive the Medal of Honor.

Petry credits his ongoing recovery to the troops, medical personnel and family members around him. He recalled his first night in the hospital.

A female soldier, part of an explosive ordnance disposal unit, visited him before even his family arrived. She had lost both of her arms above the elbow during deployment. Still, “she had the greatest attitude,” Petry said, recalling how she played ping-pong without arms.

“I was in awe,” he said. read more here

Suicide followed weeks of turmoil

Suicide followed weeks of turmoil
Police reports detail Hamrick's final days
Written by Lou Whitimre News Journal
Mar. 30, 2012

MANSFIELD -- Military services were conducted Thursday for Russell Hamrick, the same day charges were filed against a man accused of stealing his wallet and credit cards. Police reports also detail repeated complaints by Hamrick in the weeks before his death. Hamrick, 48, died in a 30-foot plunge from a bridge to Richland B and O Trail on March 22.

Richland County Coroner Dr. Stewart Ryckman ruled the death a suicide.

The Mansfield man attempted suicide on at least two other occasions, in 2010 and 2011, police say.

Hamrick reported a variety of complaints to police in the last two weeks of his life, including theft, assault, being threatened at knifepoint and being burned with cigarettes.

Relatives believe Hamrick was tortured and pushed to the edge figuratively, if not literally, according to Randy Hamrick, Russell's brother. Hamrick served 10 years in the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard. Military services were conducted by the Richland County Joint Veterans Burial Squad. Only hours earlier, Mansfield police arrested Kevin Davis, 20, of 140 Wood St., on a felony warrant citing forgery charges stemming from purchases made with Hamrick's credit cards. read more here

Wife of Capt. Michael McCaddon talks about his suicide

Widow says Army stress, apathy led to husband's suicide
March 30, 2012
CNHI  ROCKPORT, Mass. - Army Capt. Michael McCaddon, M.D., died on duty nine days ago. He wasn't shot, he wasn't blown up, and he wasn't a victim of the other horrible ways soldiers die in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCaddon, 37, killed himself on March 21 at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he delivered babies and cared for women brought to the hospital.

His widow, Leslie McCaddon, 36, says her husband fell victim to the heavy stress the military inflicts on all soldiers -- no matter their mission -- and a tough-guy military culture that discourages them from seeking assistance for mental health issues.

She said her husband had been "severely depressed" for seven years, became verbally abusive and that eventually it became too much for her to bear. So she returned with their three children -- ages 10, 8 and 6 -- to her hometown of Rockport, Mass., five months ago. read more here

For one attorney in Horner trial, PTSD is a personal experience

Horner attorney reflects on trial

DeFazio disagrees with Dickey making PTSD argument

March 31, 2012
By Phil Ray ( , The Altoona Mirror

 Attorney David J. DeFazio of Pittsburgh, who represented Nicholas A. Horner in the death penalty phase of his murder case this week, has a unique perspective about the many issues raised during the trial. It is something nobody involved in the trial knew about, not Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva nor even DeFazio's co-counsel, Thomas M. Dickey of Altoona. Dickey, who was Horner's trial attorney, emphasized that the 31-year-old Army veteran suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his war experiences in Iraq.

Post-traumatic stress, Dickey said during the months leading up to the trial, was the "seed" that eventually led to Horner killing 19-year-old Scott Garlick and 64-year-old Raymond Williams on April 6, 2009.
DeFazio said his father, Pfc. Joseph DeFazio, was a World War II Army veteran, who, like Horner, was on full pension from the Army because of post-traumatic stress. DeFazio, 57, grew up with PTSD in his household. He said his father had many of the same symptoms as Horner: He didn't like crowds; he kept to himself; he never talked about the invasion of Normandy or his Bronze Star or his Purple Heart. read more here

Truth about veteran's service forces memorial change

Truth about veteran's service forces memorial change
 Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Updated Mar 29, 2012

Donald E. Armold was third on the list of Vietnam War veterans whose names were included on a bronze plaque at a Mount Joy memorial when it was unveiled in 2010. It appeared just under the inscription "HONORING ALL WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM." Armold also was the grand marshal of last year's Marietta Memorial Day parade.

His full-page bio in the parade program lists him as "VIETNAM VETERAN." There is only one problem, and it's a big one. Armold, 68, of Manheim Township, isn't a Vietnam War veteran. He did serve in the U.S. Marines from 1961 until 1966, but never set foot in Vietnam, doing his service stateside and on cruises in the Mediterranean and in Guantanamo Bay. The memorial committee recently ordered and installed a new plaque — minus Armold's name — for the Mount Joy monument at a cost of $3,000. read more here

Naomi Wolf calls Katy Perry video propaganda

When it comes to FOX cable news, it is no secret how I feel about them. In this case, they proved me right again. The title of this article is "Left Calls for..." and not just "Naomi Wolf."

I am an Independent because I have issues with both sides. One lesson we should all learn from the people in the military is they manage to work together for a common cause and put each other above any political ties. I wish the media could manage to do the same.

 Personally don't care about what Naomi Wolf has to say. I've read it before but it didn't change my mind about Katy Perry's video. I thought it was great when I posted it and I still do.
Left Calls for Katy Perry Boycott Over Marine Video
March 30, 2012 LOS ANGELES –

Katy Perry transforms herself into a U.S. Marine in her latest power-pop single, "Part of Me," which addresses female empowerment and pays particular tribute to service women. However, at least one media type doesn't support Perry's Marines shout-out. Prominent feminist Naomi Wolf, author of "The Beauty Myth" and one of many who were arrested amid the Occupy Wall Street protests last year, is urging Americans to boycott the singer, labeling her video "a total piece of propaganda for the Marines." read more here

 So why did FOX give Naomi Wolf more power than she deserves by suggesting she speaks for the "left" in this country? I have friends on both sides of politics and they never agree on anything politically but what they all agree on is their dedication to the men and women serving in the military today and the veterans of yesterday. If anything, there needs to be more "propaganda" like this to get people to pay attention to the sacrifices the troops make everyday!

Marine general opens up about battle with prostate cancer

Marine general opens up about battle with prostate cancer
By Dan LaMothe
Marine Corps Times

 MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – In the midst of planning a complicated drawdown in forces, the Marine Corps' three-star manpower chief received startling news: He had cancer. Not just any cancer, either.

Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead, deputy commandant of manpower and reserve affairs, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer that could spread and kill him if it weren't treated quickly. He received the news in January after a battery of tests that began in November with his annual physical, he said. The score on his prostate-specific antigen blood test, or PSA, had increased in the previous year, raising the prospect that something was wrong.

 "Once they told me, 'You've got cancer,' I said, 'Whoa,' " Milstead said. "The C-word can be intimidating. The range of options goes from denial to acceptance, and I think I was able to jump pretty quickly up to, 'OK, I've got cancer. How am I going to deal with this?' " Milstead, 60, is far from alone.

One in six men will get prostate cancer, and one in 33 will die from it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 Recovery frequently depends on a key factor that worked in Milstead's favor: early detection. read more here

Miami VA names new chief for 57,000 veterans

Veterans Affairs names new Miami VA chief

 Paul M. Russo is coming from North Carolina to replace Mary Berrocal, who retired in November.


Paul M. Russo, a three-decade veteran of health work at the Veterans Health Administration, has been chosen to take over as the new director of Miami’s regional VA health care network, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday.

 As director of the Miami VA Health Care System, Russo will oversee delivery of health care to more than 57,000 veterans living in South Florida and an operating budget of $478 million. read more here

Utah war veterans share sobering perspectives of PTSD

Utah war veterans share sobering perspectives of PTSD Summit
 Counselors, social workers learn about veterans’ challenges.
By Kristen Moulton

The Salt Lake Tribune
Mar 30 2012
(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Iraq War veteran Gordon Ewell, left, of Eagle Mountain, shakes hands with Col. Gregory D. Gadson, who is with the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program, as they talk during the Utah Veterans and Families Summit at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Justin Watt, an Iraq war veteran, felt he had landed on another planet when he came back to America.

"You go from playing high-stakes poker and doing stuff that matters," to dealing with clueless civilians, said Watt, who was on a Friday panel telling social workers and therapists what it’s like to return from war. The discussion was one of more than 30 sessions at the Utah Veterans and Families Summit, which itself was part of the three-day Generations conference put on by the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute.

A job fair for veterans was also part of the summit at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. The disconnect that warriors feel was the focus of the panel, led by psychologists at the Veterans Affairs George E. Wahlen Medical Center who work with vets who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury. That’s the name used to describe the suffering many vets have over what they did or did not do in war.

 In Iraq, Watt said, "I needed to keep my guys alive and myself alive and hunt down the Number 2 targeted guy in al-Qaida." Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. military airstrike in 2006. Watt was in the 101st Airborne, which was part of the mission to get al-Zarqawi.

Back home, Watt’s job at a buddy’s Salt Lake City computer company put him in the cross hairs of angry customers. "I come home and guys are screaming at me because their computer has been out of their hands for eight hours," said Watt. "You just want to choke them." Vets with PTSD often are angry, but it’s complicated by the fact they are trained, as warriors, to use anger, said Tanya Miller, a VA psychologist.

 "They are trained to turn fear into anger and anger into action," she said. read more here

Colleges listed as Military Friendly may be more money friendly

`Military friendly' college lists prompt concerns
Education Writer

 In press releases and ads, colleges love boasting they're "military friendly" and "veterans friendly" - and that isn't just because veterans are usually good students and campus leaders. It's also because the newly expanded Post 9/11 G.I. Bill will pay colleges of all types around $9 billion this year to educate nearly 600,000 veterans, and virtually every school wants to expand its slice of that pie.

 But some schools touting their spots on proliferating lists of "military friendly" colleges found in magazine guides and websites have few of the attributes educators commonly associate with the claim, such as accepting military credits or having a veterans organization on campus. Many are for-profit schools with low graduation rates.

 The designations appear on rankings whose rigor varies but whose methods are under fire. Often, they're also selling ads to the colleges. Some websites help connect military and veteran students with degree programs that may match their interests, but don't disclose they are lead aggregators paid by the institutions - often for-profit colleges - whose programs they highlight.

 "They're not real rankings," said Tom Tarantino, a veteran who is deputy policy director of the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "What they are is advertisement catalogues." Labeling them "a huge problem," he called for standards to be established for proper use of the term "military friendly" schools. read more here

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Nam Knight killed in motorcycle accident in March

Nam Knights Westside Rest In Peace Christopher "NK Woody" Woodard June 11 1981 - March 28 2012 On March 28, 2012 we lost a great man, father, husband, Brother, and true American Hero. A tragic motorcycle accident prematurely took our Brother from us.

Dover documents show how 9-11 remains ended up in landfill

27 minutes ago
Dover documents show how 9-11 remains ended up in landfill
Stars and Stripes
Published: March 30, 2012

WASHINGTON – The summer after the 9-11 attacks, Air Force personnel pondered whether to ceremonially disperse ashes of unidentified biological remains from the Pentagon crash site at sea, or to dispose of them as waste. In a report released in February, an investigation headed by retired Army Gen. John Abizaid concluded there had been a breakdown of procedures and command authority at the Dover Port Mortuary, leading to improper handling of servicemembers’ remains. “Debate raged throughout the department” about what to do with the biological material in questions, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness Joanne Rooney said Friday. read more here

Deadline near for military spouse fellowships

Deadline near for military spouse fellowships By Karen Jowers - Staff writer Posted : Friday Mar 30, 2012 The deadline for military spouses to apply online for the financial counselor fellowship program is midnight Eastern time, Saturday. The Military Spouse Fellowship Program provides military spouses with the education and training they need to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor designation. The fellowship is sponsored by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, through a partnership with the National Military Family Association and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. read more here

Afghan Policeman Kills 9 Sleeping Fellow Officers

Afghan Policeman Kills 9 Sleeping Fellow Officers

March 30, 2012
Associated Press|by Amir Shah
KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan policeman killed nine of his fellow officers as they lay sleeping in a village in the eastern Paktika province on Friday, police said, blaming the attack on the Taliban.
Provincial police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran said the incident took place in Yayakhil town of Yayakhil district.
Bowal Khan, chief of Yayakhil district, identified the gunman as Asadullah, who goes by one name. He said the gunman was assigned to a small command post when he woke up at 3 a.m. for guard duty. He then used his assault rifle to kill the nine men sleeping inside the post, took their weapons and piled them in a pickup truck.
According to Khan, Asadullah then sped away in the truck.
read more here

Sgt Bales case echoes loudly for ex-soldiers on hotline for vets

Afghan massacre: Sgt Bales case echoes loudly for ex-soldiers on hotline for vets
By Kari Huus,

LOS ANGELES – The young men who answer the phones at the National Veterans Foundation's hotline for troubled veterans speak with an authority that comes from having faced down the same demons that plague their callers.

All are combat veterans, having served up to four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all have struggled with either PTSD or traumatic brain injury – the signature wounds of these conflicts – or both.

For them, the story of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians during his fourth combat deployment, triggers mixed emotions – horror over the senseless rampage but also empathy for a soldier who, in their view, apparently was pushed beyond the breaking point. But their more immediate concern is the impact it may have on the troubled voices on the other end of the phone lines they answer each day.
read more here

Combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts share their experiences with PTSD, and their reaction to reports that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly gunned down 17 Afghan civilians.'s Kari Huus reports.

68 year old Ex-Marine's medic alert alarm got him killed by police

When I came across this, Black Marine Veteran killed in own home after accidentally calling authorities
it was hard to believe, so I did a search and found the news report.

‘Officers, Why Do You Have Your Guns Out?’
Published: March 5, 2012

The niece stood in the darkened stairwell of the Winbrook Houses, listening, as 20 feet away five police officers yelled at her uncle, who had locked himself in his apartment.

It was 5:25 on a chill November morning. The officers banged loud and hard, demanding that her 68-year-old uncle open his door.

“He was begging them to leave him alone,” she recalls. “He sounded scared.” She pulls her shawl about her shoulders and her voice cracks; she is speaking for the first time about what she saw.

“I heard my uncle yelling, ‘Officers, officers, why do you have your guns out?’ ”

The string of events that night sounds prosaic, a who-cares accumulation of little mistakes and misapprehensions. Cumulatively, though, it is like tumbling down the stairs. Somehow the uncle, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former Marine who had heart problems and wheezed if he walked more than 40 feet, triggered his medical alert system pendant. The system operator came on the loudspeaker in his one-bedroom apartment, asking: “Mr. Chamberlain, are you O.K.?” All of this is recorded.
read more here

Depression Key Risk Factor for Suicide in Homeless Veterans

Depression Key Risk Factor for Suicide in Homeless Veterans
March 28th, 2012

Suicide is a leading cause of non-natural death among older veterans. Rates of suicide among veterans are nearly double that of the general population. Many veterans struggle with mental health problems, including posttraumatic stress (PTSD), drug or alcohol abuse, and depression as a result of having been in combat. With increased access to firearms and knowledge of how to use them, these individuals are more likely to act on suicidal thoughts when they occur. Additionally, older veterans, many of whom are unemployed and impoverished, often remain isolated, and if they do attempt suicide, will likely be left unattended for long periods of time, making their chances of survival even slimmer.
read more here

PTSD Iraq Veteran proves help better than lockup

Local Iraq War Vet Makes History When U.S. Attorney Decides Against Prosecution
Mar 29, 2012

Written by
Scott Brown

HAMBURG, N.Y. - Over the past ten years, brave Western New Yorkers have sacrificed their lives, and others their mental health, while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One local veteran, Britten Walker, came home very troubled and did some things he never would have done but for the impact his service had on him.

Federal prosecutors recognizing that fact, treated him not as a criminal, but instead with compassion.

To say that Britten Walker has come a long way over the past few years is a huge understatement.

Today he's a talented artist preparing for a showing of his work.

And a dean's list student at ECC.

But except for a decision by U.S. Attorney William Hochul, a guy known for locking people up, Britten Walker could have been serving up ten years in prison.

We'll get to what turned out to be that life changing moment for Britten Walker in a minute, but first the back story of what led him there.

"The region we were in they called it the 'Triangle Of Death,'" said Walker.

Back in 2006 and 2007, Britten was a sergeant in the infantry serving in Iraq during a a period of very heavy fighting.
read more here

Sgt. Dennis Weichel's body being flown home after saving child

Army sergeant who gave life to save Afghan child being flown home for burial
Published March 29, 2012

An Army sergeant and father of three from Rhode Island who gave his life to save an Afghan child from being run over by a 16-ton armored fighting vehicle is being flown back to the U.S. and will be buried Monday.

Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, died in Afghanistan last week after he dashed into the path of an armored fighting vehicle to scoop up the little girl, who had darted back into the roadway to pick up shell casings, according to the Army. Weichel, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, was riding in the convoy in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan when he jumped out to save the girl, who was unhurt.

“He would have done it for anybody,” Staff Sgt. Ronald Corbett, who deployed with Weichel to Iraq in 2005, said in a quote posted on the U.S. Army website. “That was the way he was. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was that type of guy.”
read more here
‘Hero’ Rhode Island National Guardsman Gives Life to Save Afghan Girl

Wake for RI soldier killed in Afghanistan

Thursday, March 29, 2012

House GOP votes for Ryan budget THAT DID NOT INCLUDE VETERANS!

House passes GOP budget
By Alan Silverleib, CNN
updated 5:41 PM EDT, Thu March 29, 2012

House of Representatives passes GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan
Ryan budget includes big changes in Medicare, tax code
Democrats say the plan would hurt the elderly and middle class
They argue that the plan is a betrayal of last year's deficit reduction deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday passed the GOP leadership's 2013 budget plan -- a measure that has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate but creates a clear contrast between the two parties on a number of critical tax and spending issues ahead of the general election.

The resolution passed in a strongly polarized 228-191 vote. No Democrats backed the measure; only 10 Republicans opposed it.
red more here

GOP budget written by Paul Ryan did not include veterans

Police, Air Force launch program to save lives of veterans in crisis

Police, Air Force launch program to save lives of veterans in crisis
By Jackie Valley
Thursday, March 29, 2012

The call did not sound good: man barricaded inside residence, possibly suicidal.

Nellis Air Force Base leaders mobilized. They knew the airman recently had returned from a war zone and other obstacles loomed in his life.

Nellis officials drove to the scene and met Metro Police, who were trying to coax the man outside. They joined the conversations, offering insight into this man’s life.

“It ended up a good news story in the fact that the individual came out and got care on base,” said Maj. Christopher Johnson, a security forces squadron commander at Nellis.

The encounter — and positive outcome — planted a seed in authorities’ minds: If they could share information about veterans in distress, it might help de-escalate other, similar situations and ultimately save lives. Planning for the new program, Veterans In Crisis, began immediately in the fall.
read more here

‘Hero’ Rhode Island National Guardsman Gives Life to Save Afghan Girl

‘Hero’ U.S. Soldier Gives Life to Save Afghan Girl

By Luis Martinez
Mar 29, 2012

It is a compelling war-zone story of heroism of a U.S. soldier who gave his own life to save an Afghan girl from certain injury.

Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, died in Afghanistan last week as he lifted an Afghan girl who was in the path of a large military vehicle barreling down a road.

Weichel, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, was riding along in a convoy in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan when some children were spotted on the road ahead.
read more here

Iraq vet uses rear naked choke to stop robbery

Iraq vet uses rear naked choke to stop robbery
By Maggie Hendricks

You walk into a store and see someone holding up the cashier. What do you do? If you're Zack Thome, an Iraq vet and someone who has trained in MMA, you slap a rear naked choke on the offender and choke him out.

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

Grassroots group continues to help wounded warriors

Grassroots group continues to help wounded warriors
Sixth annual barbecue will move to new Walter Reed facility
By Ron MacArthur
Mar 28, 2012

Photo by: Ron MacArthurDelaware Community Appreciation Group organizers Butch and Linda Elzey take part in a benefit event at the Greene Turtle in Lewes.
Walter Reed has officially relocated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. and now a local grassroots veteran support group says it's moving its annual barbecue to the new site, and its goal of helping wounded warriors remains steadfast.

For the past six years, the Delaware Community Appreciation Group has been raising money to provide a barbecue for wounded warriors at Walter Reed. During the event, organizers Butch and Linda Elzey hand out gift cards to wounded warriors to the tune of more than $200,000 over the years to hundreds of wounded soldiers to help pay for incidentals while at the hospital.

The group is planning its sixth annual summer barbecue at the new location. In addition, Elzey said DCAG is taking a slightly different approach to helping wounded warriors. “We are going to keep more of our money closer to home to help vets who are returning to Delaware,” he said.

He said it doesn't take a lot of money to make dramatic differences in veterans' lives. “Some vets are coming home to problems they don't know they have,” he said. “Some families are broken apart because of two to three or more deployments.”
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Nicholas Horner Trial:Victim's son says justice was served

Williams’ son: ‘We do feel justice was served’
March 29, 2012
By Kay Stephens and Amanda Gabeletto
The Altoona Mirror

HOLLIDAYSBURG - Family members whose loved ones were killed almost three years ago by Nicholas A. Horner left the Blair County Courthouse on Wednesday night with a sense of satisfaction.

"We felt the death penalty would have matched the crimes, but we do feel justice was served," said Matthew Williams as he stood on the courthouse patio, shortly after hearing that Horner, the man who killed his 64-year-old father almost three years ago, will never get out of prison.

"We don't think Mr. Horner got off easy by any means. He has a life sentence in prison, so we feel good about that. And we're also just happy to be done with this after three years."

Horner, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday night. After additional testimony Wednesday, the jury deliberated about 75 minutes, until almost 9 p.m., before announcing that it couldn't decide between life in prison or death, which leaves the court to impose two life sentences.

read more here
Nicholas Horner Convicted

Investigation clears Madigan's forensic psychiatrists of PTSD wrongdoing

Investigation clears Madigan's forensic psychiatrists of PTSD wrongdoing
by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News
Posted on March 28, 2012 at 6:28 PM
Updated yesterday at 6:41 PM

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- They've been suspended from their jobs, their medical ethics questioned. They've even been subjected to death threats. All because Madigan's forensic psychiatrists reversed several PTSD diagnoses.
Those same doctors have reportedly been cleared in the first of three separate investigations.

Questions surrounded 17 cases in particular, and whether doctors deliberately lowered the number of PTSD cases to save the government money. Wednesday, the Army Surgeon General came under fire once again for the scandal.

On Capitol Hill today, Lieutenant General Patricia Hororo told a congressional subcommittee the army is reevaluating how it diagnoses soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We're looking at everywhere we have variance and we're looking at how we can decrease that variance and be able to ensure we have one standard across army medicine," she said.

Doctors at Madigan first came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed 17 soldiers initially diagnosed with PTSD were told they didn't have the condition afterall-- changes made when Madigan's forensic psychiatric team reviewed their cases.

Army Specialist Jared Enger says doctors were already treating his PTSD when he was told his diagnosis had been reversed by Madigan's forensic psychiatristic team. "Talking to a doctor on the phone trying to dispute the fact I didn't have PTSD while I was in an inpatient program for PTSD," recalls Enger.

But in at least one investigation--those same doctors appear to have been cleared.
read more here

Sen. Murray questions Army Surgeon General about PTSD diagnoses at Madigan
The Joint Base Lewis-McChord medical center is under investigation

Web reporter
Q13 FOX News Online
7:08 p.m. PDT, March 28, 2012

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Wednesday questioned the policies surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses at Madigan Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army Surgeon General.
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Woman Accused of Helping 86-year-old WWII Vet Commit Suicide

Woman Accused of Helping 86-year-old Vet Commit Suicide

March 28, 2012

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (KTLA) -- Orange County sheriff's deputies have arrested a woman for allegedly helping an 86-year-old Laguna Niguel man commit suicide.

Elizabeth Barrett, 65, is accused of helping Jack Koency, a World War II veteran, kill himself with a cocktail of drugs on Sept. 30, 2011.

Koency's death at a senior living complex in Laguna Niguel was reported by Barret, a self-described social worker.

But, investigators say what may have initially seemed like a natural death turned out to be anything but natural.

The first sign of foul play came when sheriff's deputies found a motion-activated video camera that Koency had hidden in his apartment.

"He was part of the greatest generation," Deputy District Atty. Ebrahim Baytieh said about Koency.

"He fought in World War II, and unfortunately he came back and he suffered from depression, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was paranoid."
read more here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fort Campbell medic saves neighbor's child from choking

Fort Campbell medic saves child from choking
Mar. 28, 2012

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — A Fort Campbell Soldier’s heroic act helped save the life of a 4-year-old boy from choking.

Spc. Katherine McIntire, an Army medic assigned to the 194th Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion, 101 Sustainment Brigade, was awarded an impact Army Achievement Medal March 22, for saving the boy’s life.

“People think our job in the Army is focused on combat, but it is also about helping people,” said 1st Sgt. Christopher A. Barnes, company first sergeant. “Specialist McIntire was in the right place, at the right time, with the right training.”

The incident occurred Jan. 13. According to reports, McIntire was sitting on her couch watching television at home when she was startled by her neighbor screaming for help and stating that her son was choking. She ran toward the sound of yelling and saw the 4-year-old child lying face down on the floor.
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Nicholas Horner Pennsylvania Iraq war veteran convicted of first-degree murder

Pennsylvania Iraq war veteran convicted of first-degree murder
Published March 27, 2012
Associated Press

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. – An Iraq war veteran has been convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two people during a west-central Pennsylvania sandwich shop robbery nearly three years ago.

The Altoona Mirror says Blair County jurors deliberated for about five hours Tuesday night before convicting 31-year-old Nicholas Horner of Altoona in the shooting deaths of a 19-year-old clerk and a bystander during the April 2009 robbery.
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Veterans battle PTSD stigma -- even if they don't have it

Veterans battle PTSD stigma -- even if they don't have it

By Stacy Lu

Fresh from a tour of duty in Iraq where he earned a Bronze Star, Ryan Gallucci didn’t expect a simple job interview to be such a memorably unpleasant experience.

“I was interviewing with a P.R. agency when my military service came up. Some of the questions got a little prying. ‘Oh, so what did you do over there? And what was that like?’ ”

Though he was called back for subsequent interviews, Gallucci said the experience left a “sour taste in my mouth.” Now the deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, Gallucci suspects the interviewer for that other job may have been more curious about his mental health than his experiences in Iraq.

Research shows he may be right: Some employers are wary of hiring veterans because of potential mental health issues.

“There’s a whole host of questions you can’t legally ask, but I must say that somehow in interviews it comes out,” says Jim Pabis, a Colonel in the New York Army National Guard and Iraq combat vet who runs an executive search firm in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Nearly half of employers -- 46 percent -- said PTSD or other mental health issues were challenges in hiring employees with military experience, according to a 2010 Society of Human Resource Managers survey. And a 2011 survey of 831 hiring managers by the Apollo Research Institute found that 61 percent were "less favorable" toward hiring military personnel when considering war-related psychological disorders.
read more here

Looks like the government has done a lousy job of getting the truth out about PTSD. Over 2 million Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and a tiny portion of them end up in the news in a bad way. The vast majority of them can't find work because of a few bad reports?

Here's a link to a story on this blog going back to 2010

Are veterans being discriminated over PTSD or just because they are veterans?

IAVA can't get a meeting with Department of Veterans Affairs?

Vets group disappointed with lack of VA meeting
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 27, 2012
A band of 26 members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America expressed one disappointment about its trip to Washington, D.C. — and even a bit of insult — for a group that arranged hundreds of meetings with top government leaders.

“The one meeting we couldn’t get was at the VA,” said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army officer who is founder and executive director the group “In fact, we haven’t been able to get a meeting more than 1,000 days, which seems very odd considering all of the issues facing veterans that we would like to discuss.”

A key issue IAVA is pushing during its visit — which has become an annual trip to talk about unemployment, education and healthcare — is a membership survey that found widespread employment problems, general dissatisfaction with how the VA is treating mental health and trauma from sexual assault, and concerns about whether the VA and Defense Department are doing enough to tell veterans about what help is available.
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IAVA is the country's first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide, IAVA is building the next greatest generation with a three-pronged model based on advocacy, awareness, and assistance. IAVA programs empower our community online and offline, and include Smart Job Fairs, our signature New GI Bill calculator and Community of Veterans, a veterans only social network.

Lake Nona Orlando VA hospital delays could cost $120 million

Orlando VA hospital delays could cost $120 million
March 27, 2012
By Mark K. Matthews, Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The largest contractor building Orlando's overdue VA Hospital told Congress on Tuesday that red tape and design errors could add $120 million or more to the original $665-million price tag – an overrun that ultimately would fall on U.S. taxpayers.

The estimate, revealed during a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, is the first time the construction firm, Brasfield & Gorrie, has publicly attached a dollar figure to problems that have postponed the hospital's opening from next October to summer 2013, if not later.

The cost increase floored even veteran lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat who has fought for years for the project.

"I am not a happy camper," Brown said. "That is unacceptable."
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Marine Clay Hunt's suicide causes group to take action

Group Aims To Help Young Vets With Civilian Life

Rick Collins Says 'Unseen Wounds' Aims To Guide Young Vet Away From Alcohol, Drugs, Isolation, Suicide

March 27, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- A local group is planning to give struggling young veterans entering civilian life some free help.

After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clay Hunt – who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – left the Marines and became an advocate for veterans. A year ago – at the age of 28 – the Texas veteran committed suicide.

Rick Collins called him a friend.

"His death is an example of person who gave his life for service to his country," said Collins.

"When he left the service, the support wasn't there for him."

Hunt's death was one motivating factor in Collins' bid to heal the "unseen wounds."

Collins, who served with the British Royal Marines, is starting a free local program called "Unseen Wounds" to guide struggling young veterans away from the path of alcohol, drugs, isolation and suicide.
read more here

Also on this story

Marine Clay Hunt another after combat casualty

Marine Clay Hunt's suicide not counted as "military suicide"

FBI says AWOL soldier stole Microsoft Paul Allen's identity

AWOL soldier stole Microsoft co-founder's identity, FBI says

Associated Press
March 27, 2012, 1:26 p.m.
An AWOL soldier's simple scheme to defraud one of the richest men in the world has landed him in federal custody, according to a criminal complaint.

In the complaint unsealed Monday, federal investigators allege Brandon Lee Price changed the address on a bank account held by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, then had a debit card sent to his Pittsburgh home so he could use it for payments on a delinquent Armed Forces Bank account and personal expenses.

Price called Citibank in January and changed the address on an account held by Allen from Seattle to Pittsburgh, then called back three days later to say he'd lost his debit card and asked for a new one to be sent to him, an FBI investigator wrote in a criminal complaint filed in February.
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Dr. Frank Ochberg talks about Sgt. Robert Bales and the nature of PTSD

Sgt. Robert Bales and the nature of PTSD
by Steve Edwards
Mar. 27, 2012

Some, including his lawyers, say Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of killing 16 people in Afghanistan, may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Others disagree.

Nevertheless, the incident, Bates' frequent tours of duty in Afghanistan and the growing violence in the country have put PTSD back in the spotlight. In fact, WBUR's On Point devoted an entire hour to the subject yesterday.

Of course, PTSD affects more than just soliders in war zones. It affects children and families living in such areas, victims of natural disasters, and some say, even affects the residents of some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods.

Dr. Frank Ochberg was among the scientists who came to define PTSD during its earlier years.
read more here


Frank M. Ochberg, M.D.

Gift From Within

Fort Campbell soldier's body discovered in lake

Soldier's Death Under Investigation
By WSIL Manager
Story Created: Mar 27, 2012

POPE CO. -- Illinois State Police are investigating the death of a soldier whose body was discovered at a Pope County lake.

The body of Timothy A. Clark, 21, of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was found inside a vehicle submerged in the water at Lake Glendale.
read more here

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act to help veterans decide

Sens.: Grade schools that take GI Bill benefits
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 27, 2012 14:26:35 EDT
A new Senate bill proposes to create a consumer report card for every school covered by Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to disclose information about their policies on transferring credits to other schools, their average student loan debt, their course or degree completion rate, and how many graduates find jobs in their chosen fields.

The GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act is the latest effort by lawmakers to provide a warning to those using generous veterans’ education benefits that some schools may make big promises but deliver very little.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman and chief sponsor of the bill, said it is a response to “stories of frustration, confusion and even manipulation.”

“We have seen that in certain instances, our service members and veterans have been misled just to boost enrollment of students with this very lucrative benefit,” she said, referring mostly to some for-profit schools that use recruiters or salespeople to sign up students.

“We have seen reports of veterans who utilize the benefit for one school only to find out that when they want to move on to graduate school, the degree they received from the first school is inadequate,” Murray said.
read more here

Psychologist says Nicholas Horner was in a ‘dreamlike state’

Expert: Horner lacked intent
Psychologist says veteran was in a ‘dreamlike state’

March 27, 2012
By Phil Ray
The Altoona Mirror

HOLLIDAYSBURG - Nicholas A. Horner was in a "dreamlike state," or delirium, when he shot three people, killing two, during a 2009 robbery and getaway, a defense psychologist testified Monday in Blair County Court.

It was caused by repeated use of medication, and it also meant Horner was unable to form an intent to kill, psychologist Ernest Boswell of Minnesota said.

"He was operating at a different level," he testified.

Horner, who served three tours with the Army in Iraq, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but Boswell said it was not the cause of the April 6, 2009, incident at 58th Street Subway.

Horner, 31, is charged with killing Scott Garlick, 19, and wounding Michelle Petty, both Subway employees.
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Murray helps meet the nation's obligation to all the casualties of war

Murray helps meet the nation's obligation to all the casualties of war
The armed services have an ally in Washington's U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to help them rethink how they deal with post-traumatic stress disorder within their ranks, and to help veterans after they leave active duty.

Seattle Times Editorial

AMERICANS who saw heavy combat suffer a toll in health, happiness, marital status and earning power as civilians. So concluded a major study in 1985, followed by others.

The devastating traumas of combat experience, and exposure to the hazards and tensions of a war zone, are as old as the Trojan War, and as fresh as the multiple deployments of U.S. troops spread across two conflicts.

One thing has changed. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, has emerged as a tenacious advocate for service personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental health issues.

What apparently has not changed is the military's own ambivalence about the condition. Anyone who wants to stay in the service believes it's a career-ender to acknowledge the flashbacks, nightmares and depression that characterize PTSD. At the very least, it could compromise a promotion.
read more here

Survey Gives Glimpse Into Minds of Recent Veterans

Survey Gives Glimpse Into Minds of Recent Veterans
March 26, 2012

The 2012 edition of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s annual survey of its members came out on Monday. The largest such survey by the group to date, its results provide some interesting insights into what’s on the minds of recent veterans today.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that employment, mental health, disability benefits, health care, education (including the G.I. Bill), suicide and families — in that order — were the top concerns of the more than 4,200 members who responded.

Nearly 17 percent said they were unemployed when they took the survey in January, a higher rate than was documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put the veterans’ unemployment rate for January at 9 percent.

Of those who are working, 37 percent said they worked for the government at some level, far outpacing the second largest industry listed, health care and pharmaceuticals, which tallied 8 percent. Similarly, of those looking for work, the largest group, about a quarter, said they wanted to find jobs in government.

In its summary of the survey, I.A.V.A. noted that because many local, state and federal agencies have been trimming their work forces, “the threat to veteran employment may grow.”

More than one in three respondents, 37 percent, said they knew someone who had committed suicide, down slightly from last year’s result. Asked if the person who committed suicide was serving or had separated from the military, respondents were almost evenly divided: 30 percent said the person had separated when the act occurred; 27 percent said the person was serving but not deployed; 25 percent said the person was serving and deployed. Another 11 percent said the person was in the National Guard and not deployed.
read more here

Department of Veterans Affairs offering free training for rural clergy

PTSD attacks the soul. Plain and simple. It is an attack and does not begin within. PTSD only strikes after a traumatic event and it hits humans in all walks of life. We hear more about PTSD connected to combat for several reasons. The biggest one is the number of times these men and women are exposed to traumatic events and the violent nature of the trauma. Another reason is because they are a tiny minority in this country. Less than 1% serve today. With over 300 million people in the USA, we have about 24 million veterans but these are the latests figures from the VA about the number of them needing care.

VA Annual Benefits Reports for 2011
Number of Veterans and Survivors Receiving Compensation Benefits at the End of Fiscal Year 2011 is 3,710,215

Veterans received service-connected disability benefits 3,354,741

Survivors received service-connected death benefits 355,474

Veterans Receiving Service-Connected Disability Benefits at the End of Fiscal Year 2011 by Period of Service
World War II 191,425
Korean Conflict 148,180
Vietnam Era 1,161,473
Gulf War Era 1,203,834
Peacetime 649,829

According to the report the number of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is 501,280. Yet this nation has a problem taking care of them? The Paul Ryan Budget did not include our veterans as if they are a burden to be forgotten.

Some will say it is the government's job to take care of them so they don't have to do anything when our veterans come home from combat. Yet when the government needs more money to do it, we hear about the deficit and passing on our debt to our children. When it comes to our veterans, this is a debt we owe to all veterans and it was paid for in advance when they offered their lives in service to this nation. Shame on us!

Every single one of us needs to do all we can when they come home. This includes members of the clergy helping them heal spiritually. If you live in a rural area, you are needed for the veterans and their families. Time to step up!

Matthew 9:37-38
New International Version (NIV)
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Rural Clergy

March 22, 2012

VA Offering Training for Rural Clergy

Finding New Ways to Connect Rural Vets with VA Services

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2012) -- Members of the clergy in rural areas can sign up for free, one-day workshops offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs to educate these community leaders about the concerns of Veterans and the services offered by VA in their communities.

“VA has always recognized that faith is an important healing resource for many Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These new workshops will provide training that will help community clergy in supporting Veterans in rural areas.”

It is estimated that one-fourth of people who seek help for mental health problems go to members of the clergy. “In addition to providing good spiritual care, we hope clergy will recognize the presence and severity of mental health problems, and know when and how to collaborate with health care professionals,” said Chaplain Jeni Cook, Associate Director of VA’s National Chaplain Center in Hampton, VA.

Workshops will run through June in rural parts of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Community clergy and Veterans Service Organization representatives are invited to attend.

Participants will learn about VA benefits and services and about how to contact local VA facilities to request information or assistance for Veterans.

Workshop topics will include post-deployment readjustment challenges, the spiritual and psychological effects of war trauma on survivors, and the important role of community in helping to reduce mental health stigma and support Veterans and their families.

Seating for the workshops is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information about dates and locations, visit Rural Clergy Training or contact Jim Goalder at 1-800-872-9975 or at

If you are a veteran with PTSD and need spiritual help you can contact Point Man International Ministries

Monday, March 26, 2012

Memorial march for Bataan vets draws 7,000

Memorial march for Bataan vets draws 7,000
The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Mar 26, 2012
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — Nearly 7,000 have participated in a march at White Sands Missile Range to honor the 70th anniversary of the Bataan Memorial Death March.

The special ceremony also drew more than a dozen survivors, including 94-year-old survivor Ben Skardon of Clemson, S.C.
read more here

Governor poised to settle Virginia War Memorial issue

Governor poised to settle Virginia War Memorial issue

By Bill Sizemore
The Virginian-Pilot
© March 26, 2012

A long-running dispute over how to honor Virginians killed in America's 21st century wars is grinding slowly toward resolution, but the final chapter of the saga could still be years away.

One reason it's taking so long is the unique nature of the "war on terror," which poses questions that past wars didn't: What does it encompass? When did it begin? When, if ever, will it end? And how will we know?

State lawmakers have wrestled with the quandary for four years. Now it appears Gov. Bob McDonnell may have the final word.

At the center of the dispute is the Virginia War Memorial, a glass and marble monument on a picturesque hillside with a panoramic view of the James River and downtown Richmond. In some ways, its mission has been a moving target from the beginning.
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A big salute to Staten Island's Vietnam Vets

A big salute to Staten Island's Vietnam Vets
March 26, 2012
By Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- To recognize the sacrifices of those who served in the Vietnam War, state Sen. Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Matthew Titone joined veterans and elected officials yesterday afternoon at the fourth annual Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration.

In 2008, Lanza (R-South Shore) and Titone (D-North Shore) authored legislation designating March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in the state of New York after hearing the stories of Vietnam veteran Lester Modelowitz.
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Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day attracts crowd

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day attracts crowd

March 26, 2012

The Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day attracted hundreds of people Sunday to Guadalupe for a ceremony, barbecue and more.

The Central Coast Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 982 organized the third annual event, which this year included unveiling the signs naming a segment of Highway 1 as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
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Vietnam veterans to be honored at Homecoming in Charlotte

Vietnam veterans to be honored at Homecoming in Charlotte
March 26, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina residents who served in Vietnam will be honored at a special event in Greensboro this week.

The USO of N.C., Charlotte Motor Speedway and N.C. Association of Broadcasters have worked together to organize the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration for military members and their friends and family.

The event, which was announced last December as the first of its kind in the region, is set to be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 31.
read more here

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event held in Tulare

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event held in Tulare
Mar. 25, 2012

Written by

Post of colors by the Tule River Native Veterans Post 1987 and the Blood River Drum group and Joey Garfield of Native Blessing during the welcome home Vietnam Veterans Day program hosted by Central Valley Vietnam Veterans on Saturday at the Tulare Veterans Memorial building. Michael Alvarez
A little rain didn't stop Valley veterans from honoring Vietnam War veterans Sunday in Tulare.

Plans were to hold the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event at Veterans Park in Tulare, but with a strong storm approaching over the weekend, organizers arranged Saturday to move it indoors, inside the neighboring Tulare Memorial Building

Despite the rain, the event drew about 500 people — well above the 300 to 400 estimated to have attended last year in the park, said Kent McNatt, a Tulare native and one of the event's organizers.

Sunday marked the third year in a row that Central Valley Vietnam Veterans has put on the event in Tulare.

The event was organized to support a 2009 proclamation signed by then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger designating March 30 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" in the state. That date signifies the date the last U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1973.
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Vietnam War Mom talks about son being killed by another soldier

During a Vietnam War Veterans Day, a woman spoke about losing her son at the age of 19, but he didn't die in the usual way. Back then, it probably didn't even make the news. He was killed with three others others by one of their own.

There are so many lessons Vietnam taught us but we just never learned them.

Vietnam veterans honored decades after traumatic war


March 26, 2012
"Things like this bring everything back," said Louise Pina, 87, of New Bedford, whose son Luiz Pina Jr. enlisted in 1964 and was killed Dec. 2, 1966, at the age of 19, when another man he was serving with "went berserk" and shot him and three other men.

NEW BEDFORD — Former Mayor Scott Lang called on the country to expedite troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, speaking Sunday at an event in honor of Vietnam War veterans about the parallels between the two conflicts.

"We are seeing history repeat itself," he said at the Vietnam War Veterans Day of Recognition in the Fort Taber museum. "The moment we ask as a nation, just as we did during the Vietnam War and what's happening right now, 'For what purpose are we there?' it's time to bring our troops home.

"The Vietnam War veterans can understand and explain this circumstance better than any other individuals in the United States."

Lang's speech Sunday afternoon was met by loud applause from the audience of more than 100, including at least 32 veterans of wars from World War II to Iraq.
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Habitat for Humanity program helps veterans by giving them homes

Habitat for Humanity program helps veterans by giving them homes, home repairs

By Marian Rizzo
Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
Dexter and Maricel "Marty" Smith love to show off their home.

The four-bedroom dwelling — with its gable roof, screened front porch and landscaped yard — satisfied a longtime dream for the couple.

They and their four boys had been living with Marty's sister since they moved to Ocala in 2003, but they wanted a fresh start and a home of their own. They applied with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County and moved into their new home in September 2006.

As veterans of the U.S. Army, the Smiths are among a half-dozen veteran families serving as role models for Habitat's new housing program, Project Patriot. The program began March 1 and will be providing homes or home repairs for area veterans.
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N.Y. Officer Stabbed By Former Officer-ex Marine

N.Y. Officer Stabbed By Former Officer

An emergency services police officer suffered a stab wound to his stomach and arm in a Hempstead home Sunday during a confrontation with an emotionally disturbed former correction officer.

March 25--An emergency services police officer suffered a stab wound to his stomach and arm in a Hempstead home Sunday during a confrontation with an emotionally disturbed man, Nassau County police said. The injury is not considered life-threatening, police said.

The man was identified by police as Christopher Sargeant, 32. He is a former correction officer in New York City who was terminated March 12 for a medical disability, according to department spokeswoman Sharman Stein.

Neighbors said Sargeant served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Public records show that in 2001 he lived at the Marine base in Camp Pendleton in San Diego.
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Thousands wrongfully discharged for personality disorders

Veterans study says thousands wrongfully discharged for personality disorders
Stars and Stripes
Published: March 26, 2012

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Defense Department violated regulations by discharging thousands of servicemembers under the pretense of personality disorders during the past decade, according to a study by Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans Services Clinic at Yale Law School.

The study data — obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests — reinforces previous smaller studies from the General Accountability Office and supports claims by others that the military diagnosed combat veterans with personality disorders to avoid paying retirement benefits to servicemembers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

While PTSD constitutes a medical disability, personality-related diagnoses are considered pre-existing conditions by the Defense Department.

The data showed that 31,000 servicemembers were discharged from 2001 to 2010 because of personality disorders, a group of disorders in which a person’s behaviors and thoughts differ from their culture’s expectations, causing work and relationship problems.

The Army alone discharged 734 soldiers for personality disorders in 2002, but that number steadily climbed to 1,078 by 2007, according to the report, which was released last week.
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Combat PTSD: Understanding the menace of memories

Understanding should have started with the reporter getting some real numbers.

Combat PTSD: Understanding the menace of memories

Sunday, March 25, 2012 - Tango of Mind and Emotion
by Jacqueline Marshall
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2012 - The more combat situations a soldier experiences, the greater is his or her chance of acquiring post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many of us consider that to be stating the obvious, but there are statistics that make the obvious concrete.

A study assessing the incidence of PTSD in troops leaving Iraq found that soldiers not involved in fighting had a PTSD incidence rate of 4.5%. For those in intense combat once or twice, the incidence rate more than doubled to 9.3%. The number is 13% for troops in three to five combat situations. More than five exposures and the occurrence rate of PTSD shoots up to 20%.

The study’s “silver lining” is that after five or more combat experiences, 80% of the troops studied did not report symptoms of PTSD. Still, the number of troops with them is significant. The Military Health System reported 39,365 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007 were given a diagnosis of PTSD.
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Military Scrambles To Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghanistan Massacre

It is looking more and more like the medication Bales was on was part of this.

When I wrote about the connection between what Bales is accused of doing and medications he was probably on for PTSD and TBI, I didn't think about Mefloquine. Army: PTSD treatable; some diagnosed return to war,,,with meds
By most accounts, Sgt. Robert Bales has PTSD and TBI. If true, then sending him back into combat, more than likely, included medications for both. Is anyone looking into what medications he was on and if they played a role in what happened more than PTSD and TBI? Most medications the troops are given come with clear warnings about side effects.

Looks like I should have.

Robert Bales Charged: Military Scrambles To Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghanistan Massacre
Posted: 03/25/2012
Mark Benjamin

WASHINGTON -- Nine days after a U.S. soldier allegedly massacred 17 civilians in Afghanistan, a top-level Pentagon health official ordered a widespread, emergency review of the military’s use of a notorius anti-malaria drug called mefloquine.

Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has severe psychiatric side effects. Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military has used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops.

The U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely in 2009 because of the dangers, now only using it in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. The 2009 order from the Army said soldiers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury should not be given the drug.

The soldier accused of grisly Afghanistan murders on March 17 of men, women and children, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2010 during his third combat tour. According to New York Times reporting, repeated combat tours also increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bales' wife, Karilyn Bales, broke her silence in an interview Sunday with NBC's Matt Lauer, airing on Monday's Today show. "It is unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children. He would not do that," she said in excerpts released Sunday.

On March 20, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. The task order from Woodson, obtained by The Huffington Post, orders an immediate “review of mefloquine prescribing practices” to be completed by the following Monday, six days after the order was issued.
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This was posted here January, 2008. Just goes to show what they new back then. It is a long post with some of the results of what they got wrong in human terms.

VA issued warning on Lariam in 2004
VA Warns Doctors About Lariam
United Press International
25 June 2004
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs is warning doctors to watch for long-term mental problems and other health effects from an anti-malaria drug given to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.The drug is mefloquine, known by the brand name Lariam, which has been given to tens of thousands of soldiers since the war on terrorism began. Some of those soldiers say it has provoked severe mental and physical problems including suicidal and violent behavior, psychosis, convulsions and balance disorders.

Last year the Food and Drug Administration began warning that problems might last "long after" someone stops taking it.

Fort Campbell tries to stop soldier suicides

Spc. Adam Kuligowski's problems began because he couldn't sleep.
Last year, the 21-year-old soldier was working six days a week, analyzing intelligence that the military gathered while he was serving in Afghanistan. He was gifted at his job and loved being a part of the 101st Airborne Division, just like his father and his great uncle.

But Adam was tired and often late for work. His eyes were glassy and he was falling asleep while on duty. His room was messy and his uniform was dirty.

His father, Mike Kuligowski, attributes his son's sleeplessness and depression to an anti-malarial medication called mefloquine that was found in his system. In rare cases, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucination and psychotic behavior.

Army curbs prescriptions of anti-malaria drug Mefloquine
Army curbs prescriptions of anti-malaria drug
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Almost four decades after inventing a potent anti-malarial drug, the U.S. Army has pushed it to the back of its medicine cabinet.

The dramatic about-face follows years of complaints and concerns that mefloquine caused psychiatric and physical side effects even as it was used around the globe as a front-line defense against the mosquito-borne disease that kills about 800,000 people a year.

"Mefloquine is a zombie drug. It's dangerous, and it should have been killed off years ago," said Dr. Remington Nevin, an epidemiologist and Army major who has published research that he said showed the drug can be potentially toxic to the brain. He believes the drop in prescriptions is a tacit acknowledgment of the drug's serious problems.