Friday, August 31, 2012

Soldier survived head shot and returned to duty

Havelock native survives head shot and returns to action with U.S. Army unit
August 31, 2012

Few soldiers take a direct hit to the head and live to tell about it.

But for Army Spc. Roger Bryan Daniels, that’s exactly what happened Aug. 21 in Afghanistan.

Daniels, a Havelock native, was on foot patrol in eastern Afghanistan with other members of the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion when an enemy bullet pierced his helmet.

“It was like getting hit by a bat,” Daniels told the Havelock News during an online interview from Afghanistan on Monday.

Daniels was on a rooftop when he was hit.

“I almost fell off but a guy grabbed me and kept me from falling off,” Daniels said.

“The bullet went through my helmet. It hit straight 90 degrees, took a right and got stuck in the back of my helmet, nicking my head in two places. It hit me on the left side of the head.”

Despite his wound, Daniels had to wait to be evacuated to a hospital.

“It was about two hours before we could get out. The area was kind of ‘hot,’” Daniels said, referring to the firefight.
read more here

Volunteers lend hand at injured Marine's home

Volunteers lend hand at injured Marine's home
August 30, 2012

BEAULAVILLE — Volunteers from the Semper Fi Fund and Home Depot spent many hours sawing, planting and building to make life more comfortable for a local injured Marine.

About 60 volunteers from Home Depot’s “Team Depot” and Semper Fi Fund spent three days provide landscaping and exterior modifications to Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey’s Beulaville home.

In 2009, Mackey was injured by an IED explosion during an ambush while serving in Afghanistan, leaving him with bilateral amputations of both legs above the knees and extensive nerve damage to his arms. Along with the use of prosthetic legs and a wheelchair, Mackey said the renovation project helps to add major steps to his recovery process.

“It really means a lot because there’s a lot of stuff that I can’t do now,” said Mackey, who has been in the Marine Corps for more than 29 years. “Everything that they have done is making my life a lot easier and attractive to come home to.”
read more here

Florida Hospital breach affects 700,000 people

Florida Hospital breach affects 700,000 people
WESH 2 News

A breach in patient information at Florida Hospital once thought to involve 2,000 patients actually affects as many as 700,000.

One man has been indicted in the case and investigators say more is to come. WESH 2’s Bob Kealing uncovered the information on what detectives are calling a massive sale of personal information.

According to an indictment made public Wednesday, a former Florida Hospital clerical worker named Dale Munroe II faces federal charges of accessing the personal information of 700,000 patients over a period of two years.
Read more

Retired Army staff sgt. foils robbery attempt

Retired Army staff sgt. foils robbery attempt
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Aug 31, 2012

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Police in Bellingham, Wash., said a gas station clerk with a hammer stapler chased away a burly would-be robber armed with pruning shears.

The Bellingham Herald reported that police released photos Thursday of the Aug. 20 robbery attempt. They show a 6-foot-tall, 200-pound man wearing a black ski mask walking into Starvin’ Sam’s.
read more here

Florida National Guard Soldier "accidentally" shot during Convention

Officials: Guardsman accidentally shot in Fla.
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Aug 31, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Authorities say a member of a Florida National Guard unit assisting at the Republican National Convention was accidentally shot while examining his personal revolver in a hotel room with another guard member.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said 21-year-old Michael Wdowiak was showing his handgun to Jeffrey A. Spurr when it discharged a single round while in Spurr’s possession. The sheriff’s statement said Wdowiak was hit in the upper body and left hand and required surgery. There was no immediate report on his condition.

The sheriff’s statement said alcohol did not appear to be a factor, and there were no charges. It added at least three others in the room were not hurt. Wdowiak and Spurr are with a guard contingent from Ocala staying at the hotel, it said.
read more here

Vietnam War Veteran Elected Leader of The American Legion

Vietnam War Veteran Elected Leader of The American Legion
Published: August 30, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran has been elected national commander of the nation’s largest veterans organization.

Delegates to The American Legion’s 94th National Convention here chose James E. Koutz of Boonville, Ind., to lead the 2.4 million-member organization of wartime veterans for a one-year term.

Koutz entered the United States Army in August 1969. He attended Basic Training at Ft. Knox, Ky., and Advanced Infantry Training at Ft. Ord, Calif.

In January 1970 he reported to Vietnam and served an extended tour of duty with Co. C 169th Engineer Battalion. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist 5 in March 1971 and quickly joined The American Legion. He is a member of Boonville Post 200 where his father, George, was a World War II veteran and a past commander of the post.

Jim was honored as a life member of his Post in 1991 and served as its post commander for nine years.
read more here

Iraq war vet: ‘Now it’s time to win’ at Paralympics

Iraq war vet: ‘Now it’s time to win’ at Paralympics
By Jamieson Lesko
NBC News

LONDON -- "I love my country. I fought for it, and now it's time to win for it,” said U.S. Army Iraq war veteran Scott Winkler, who was paralyzed in 2003 while serving on a mission in Tikrit.

"When you raise your hand and you swear to your country, that is the chance you have to take. That's the biggest part of being a soldier," Winkler, now a shot putter on the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team, told NBC News.

Bound to a wheelchair for life, he battled depression and went through a divorce. While in recovery at the VA Augusta Spinal Cord Injury Unit in Georgia, it was a struggle to regain self-sufficiency.

"I said enough is enough. I don't want anyone taking care of me and dressing me, bathing me. ... I'm a soldier," Winkler, 39, said.
read more here

New Jersey Pathmark Killings "everyone in the store was a target"

UPDATE September 1, 2012 New Jersey supermarket shooter tweeted before killing

Ex-Marine Suspected in New Jersey Pathmark Killings
Aug. 31, 2012

Officials investigate the scene of a shooting at a Pathmark grocery store in Old Bridge, N.J., Aug. 31, 2012. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

The man suspected of killing two people early this morning at an Old Bridge, N.J., grocery store before shooting himself to death is a 23-year-old former Marine who worked at the grocery store for two weeks, according to the town's mayor.

The suspect left the Old Bridge shopping plaza at about 4 a.m. and returned to a Pathmark grocery store, having changed into camouflage clothing, Mayor Owen Henry said today. He was armed with an AK-47 and an automatic handgun when he entered the store, allegedly firing his weapon.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said the victims were "not specifically targeted; everyone in the store was a target."

"Two of the employees were shot and killed, the others were able to hide and escape," Kaplan said. There were two weapons that were found -- one was an AK-47 and there were multiple magazines that were found in the store and there was also a handgun."
read more here

VA Report on Female Veterans Reveals Special Needs

VA Report on Female Veterans Reveals Special Needs
A recent draft report from the Women Veterans Task Force (WVTF) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outlines the challenges of addressing disability among women veterans.

TAMPA, FL, August 31, 2012 /24-7PressRelease

A recent draft report from the Women Veterans Task Force (WVTF) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outlines the challenges of addressing disability among women veterans. The need to deal with issues unique to women vets arose because of significant changes in the culture generally and the military specifically.

Woman Vets on the Increase

One obvious change is the number of women in the military. In 1950, only two percent of all military personnel were women. Today, 14 percent of active duty military and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserves are female. Women are no longer relegated to support roles, but take part in active combat. As a result, they suffer injuries that are similar to those experienced by male soldiers.

As a result of growing number of women who choose to enter the military, the number of female veterans has also increased. In fact, women make up the fastest growing group of veterans - eight percent of veterans, or 1.8 million, were women. It is estimated that by 2020, 10.7 percent of vets will be female.

Female Veterans Have Different Needs

The report not only recognizes the growth in the number of woman veterans, but also pinpoints the different needs of this cohort. Overall, female veterans have higher service-connected disabilities than their male counterparts. In 2009, for example, 26 percent of female vets and 19 percent of male vets had disability ratings greater than 50 percent.

In addition to generally having higher disability ratings, disabled female vets also have higher incidences of certain types of disabilities, including Military Sexual Trauma (MST). One in five female vets who use the VA for health care is identified as suffering from MST as a result of rape, harassment or assault. This can lead to additional problems, such as depression, substance abuse and PTSD. Women vets suffering from MST are four times more likely to have PTSD and six times more likely to have multiple mental health conditions.
read more here

Ron Paul supporters call GOP Convention a sham

Navy Veterans at Republican convention, Ron Paul supporters call convention a sham. The video quality is not good but try to get past it to listen to what they had to say.
Press Conference - Delegates at RNC - Thursday evening, Aug. 30 - RNC
Standing together, in front of the RNC venue at the Tampa Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. National delegates and alternates, supporting Ron Paul and the Liberty movement, join together in a Press Conference.

Video streaming by Ustream

Call for "All hands on deck" 11 days later

Sometimes I can't stand other writers especially when they write something after I did and even more so when they quote it but never once mention it.

August 17, 2012
We need all hands on deck yesterday! Your site needs to be as good as it can be or we're going to keep reading reports like this.

Here we go again!
All Hands on Deck: How We Can Help Someone Who's Suicidal
08/28/2012 6:37 pm
Lisa Firestone
Psychology expert on relationships, parenting, self-destructive thoughts and suicide; author, 'Conquer Your Critical Voice'

The whole world has felt the impact of recent reports about suicide. The suicide rate in the U.S. military reached almost one a day this year, meaning more U.S. forces died by suicide than in combat in Afghanistan. A UK study published earlier this month showed 1,000 suicides to be linked to rising unemployment and the recession in Great Britain, while the rate of suicides in Greece has reportedly skyrocketed in a time of economic crisis. With National Suicide Prevention month starting this September, now is the time to raise awareness.

Suicide is not just something we hear about in the headlines. It is something that affects us all on a personal level. Almost 1 in 5 people have been personally impacted by a suicide. You never know when someone you care about may become at-risk. It is, therefore, invaluable to gain a better understanding of what goes on in the mind of someone who is suicidal, so we can help them win their battle against the distorted perceptions that are leading them toward this ultimate act of self-destruction.

Taking an "all hands on deck" approach to suicide prevention can truly save lives.

Knowing the warning signs for suicide and the helper tasks that can prevent a suicide equips us with powerful tools for assisting those at risk. It should give us hope to know that suicidal people are ambivalent. Suicidality exists on a continuum and is not a black-and-white subject. I recently attended a presentation given by psychologist and suicide expert Dr. David Jobes, when he was receiving a career achievement award. His talk focused on new studies regarding ambivalence in suicide. Dr. Jobes began his presentation by showing a stirring image on the large screen of a man standing precariously on the side of a bridge. Although his feet were mere centimeters from slipping from the ledge, the man's arms and hands gripped tightly to the railing, clinging on for dear life. Even as he stood on the verge of jumping, his grip showed the will and strength of a man who somewhere inside knew he was ambivalent about taking his own life.
read more here

At 22 Iraq War Veteran Battles Cancer, Isaac all after Katrina

Iraq War Veteran Battles Cancer, Isaac
Aug 30, 2012
Written by
Gannett News Service
Written By: Jon Shirek

POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. -- It was seven years ago when the world watched with jaws dropped as residents of New Orleans were rescued from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters.

And just like seven years ago, all across Metro Atlanta people are again opening their homes and their hearts to Louisiana families needing shelter from the storm, a storm this time named Isaac.

In one home, in particular -- in Powder Springs -- there is inspiration.

It comes from an Isaac evacuee who is 22 years old, who has already been through more life-threatening adversity than most, and who is just hoping he can get back fast to help rebuild his hometown -- again.

"It's devastation after devastation," he said Wednesday evening, and through it all he has learned to be steady as a rock -- for his family, for his hometown of New Orleans.
read more here

Reporter, Marine vet, Austin Tice likely in Syrian custody

Reporter, Marine vet, likely in Syrian custody
By Bethany Crudele
Staff writer
Marine Corps Times
Posted : Thursday Aug 30, 2012

LINKEDIN Freelance journalist Austin Tice is being held by the Syrian government, McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post said. The former Marine captain went missing in Syria as one of the few foreign reporters covering the Syrian civil war.

Former Marine and freelance journalist Austin Tice is likely being held in custody by the Syrian government, according to McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Post.

Tice, 31, a former Marine captain who left the Corps early this year, was one of the few foreign journalists reporting about the Syrian civil war from inside the country. Friends, family and colleagues have not heard from him since Aug. 11.

Tice filed reports for various media outlets, including McClatchy, the Post and Al Jazeera English, the international television news channel.

“If he is in fact being held by the Syrian government, we would expect that he is being well cared for and that he will quickly be released,” said Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy vice president for news, in a statement posted to the McClatchy website.
read more here

Quadruple Amputee Taylor Morris hero's welcome home

Homecoming for Quadruple Amputee Sailor
Posted: Aug 30, 2012
Jessica Daley

An Iowa military hero is home for the first time since being severely injured in Afghanistan. To honor him, a day of celebration took over his hometown of Cedar Falls in eastern Iowa.

Friends rallied together quite the hero's welcome for 23-year-old Taylor Morris. From Patriot Guard Riders to law enforcement to complete strangers, they waited for his arrival Thursday afternoon.

Morris, a navy explosive ordinance disposal tech, lost parts of all four limbs while serving in Afghanistan in May. He's been recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center. His family and girlfriend are documenting it all from re-learning how to walk, dance, pick up a knife and flip a pancake.

"Taylor's such a hero in so many ways," said supporter Samantha Wingert. "It doesn't surprise me at all that all of us would come together to do whatever we can to support him."
read more here

Quadruple amputee Taylor Morris story goes viral

New Law Lets Reservists Respond to Disasters

New Law Lets Reservists Respond to Disasters
Aug 31, 2012
Associated Press
by Gene Johnson

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- As hurricane season arrives, governors have a new resource to call upon in the event of a major disaster: military reservists.

Historically, there's been no mechanism under federal law to order reservists to duty in response to a domestic emergency except in limited circumstances. But the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act changed that, giving governors, who already can mobilize National Guard troops, the ability to request the help of the nation's 380,000 reservists in the event of a hurricane, earthquake, flood, terrorist attack or other disaster.

The goal is for the reservists to be ready to help within three days, Maj. Gen. Luis Visot, the Army Reserve's deputy commanding general for operations, told government and business officials at a disaster response conference in Bellevue on Thursday.

"In any kind of disaster, the governor of the state will first and foremost utilize their resources," Visot said. "But we can out and help and get authorized to do it. ... It's all about thinking about the capabilities that are available to you. If there's a need, you can have access to it."

Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana didn't require such a response, and the new authority has yet to be used. Under it, governors would ask the White House for help from the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine reserves. The reservists could stay on duty for up to four months and could come under the leadership of National Guard commanders already on scene.
read more here

‘The Lucky One’ sparks with romance and action

I saw The Lucky One and thought it was on the best films on survivor's guilt along with a case of mild Combat PTSD. St. Cloud survived but others died and he wanted to know why. He found a picture, stopped to pick it up and lived. He wanted to meet the woman he thought saved his life. It is really a great movie and not just a "chick flick" because when I saw it at the theater, there were a lot of guys there.

‘The Lucky One’ sparks with romance and action

Blu-ray widescreen, DVD widescreen and Ultra Violet Digital Copy, 2012, PG-13 contains some sexuality and violence

Best Extra: “Zac Efron Becomes a Marine” in HD

THE LATEST NOVEL to film adaptation from writer Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”) guarantees romance and friction will ensue.

Zac Efron’s (“Charlie St. Cloud” and “High School Musical”) character, Logan, is a U.S. Marine returning from his third and final combat tour in Iraq. While learning to cope with the aftermath of war, he decides to seek out a mysterious blonde woman (Taylor Schilling, “Atlas Shrugged – Part I”) whose photograph he found on a mission, and held onto as his good luck charm. “It’s a film that deals with fate and confusion. He [Logan] survived [in Iraq] and it doesn’t make sense, and he doesn’t know what to do,” Sparks explains in the “Watch the Sparks Fly” special feature.

Director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) knew Efron had the determination and skill to undergo the intense mental and physical transformation required for the character. The first step of the process required Efron to travel to Camp Pendleton, Calif., meet, and get to know a few sergeants from the 1st Marine Division. “In terms of character study and research, it was priceless. That became Logan. That’s everything that I was able to use for this movie,” Efron states in the “Becomes a Marine” feature.

Once filming commenced in New Orleans, Efron continued to work hard to maintain his physical appearance as a Marine for the film. During shooting, he woke up at 3:30 AM, worked out, and focused on his diet throughout the day. “When he [Efron] decided to do this [film], he pursued it in a really smart way,” producer Kevin McCormick explains in the “Sparks” special feature. “The work he began to put into physically transforming himself was very impressive,” Hicks says.
read more here

St. Cloud also did something that most veterans with PTSD do. They search for what will make them happy and to fill the hole inside of them.

Camp Pendelton Marine with PTSD gets probation and treatment

Marine Sentenced For Firing Shots Outside Bar
Sy Mitchell Schultheis Sentenced To 3 Years Probation
August 30, 2012

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A Camp Pendleton-based Marine who fired bullets into a South Bay bar owner's car after being asked to leave the club was sentenced Thursday to three years probation and referred to a veterans court treatment program.

Sy Mitchell Schultheis, 23, pleaded guilty in June to felony discharge of a firearm in a grossly negligent manner in connection with the Dec. 30 shooting outside South Bay Lounge.

Schultheis -- who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder -- was given credit for time served in jail and sent to the San Diego County veterans court, where he will receive treatment and get help finding a job, Deputy District Attorney Michael MacNeil said.
read more here

22 San Diego veterans committed suicide and 126 attempted it

More than 20 SD vets committed suicide this year
Young veterans account for nearly half of crisis calls
Written by
Jeanette Steele
Aug. 30, 2012

More than 20 San Diego-area veterans have committed suicide this fiscal year, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical system in San Diego.

A total 126 local veterans attempted to take their own lives, and 22 succeeded, the VA said. The facility released the data for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 as part of an effort to highlight its suicide prevention program during National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9 to 15.

The San Diego region is home to the largest concentration of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the nation, roughly 30,000, and those former troops are showing up in the suicide statistics to a greater degree.

Almost half of crisis calls received by the VA’s suicide prevention program are people who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, officials said.

“When we began in 2007, all the calls were from older veterans,” said Paula Saltz, suicide prevention coordinator for the San Diego VA.
read more here

Difference between TRICARE and CHAMPVA

Can someone please explain the difference to Romney?
The Wall Street Journal: Romney Pledges To Expand Programs To Help Veterans Mitt Romney vowed Wednesday to expand employment and tuition assistance for veterans, taking a quick detour from the Republican National Convention to unveil new policy details in a speech here. ... "Right now the VA has a shortage of mental health care professionals. I'll hire more," Mr. Romney told the convention. "Any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a Tricare provider at the VA's expense." (Murray, 8/29).

Maybe then someone can also explain that CONGRESS is responsible for this mess along with the higher fees?

Difference between TRICARE and CHAMPVA
. Medical Insurance Program Through Dept of Defense
. Must Be Retired Military
. Retirement can be from longevity of service, given retirement status due to disability, or early out.
. Must be enrolled in DEERS.
. No disability criteria to be eligible.
. Veteran, Spouse, and Dependent Children are eligible to participate in the program
. Participants receive medical services preferably from in-network private physicians who participate in the Tricare program.
. VA primary care doctors are not part of the in-network physicians for Tricare. Therefore, it does not benefit Tricare members to receive medical services by VA doctors under Tricare.
. Note: VA specialty doctors may be Tricare in-network doctors.
. There are three levels of Tricare benefit packages.
. There is no annual fee for Tricare Standard or Extra, but deductibles apply.
. There is an annual fee for Tricare Prime; but there are no deductibles for basic care services.
. There are numerous sources for obtaining prescriptions.
. Local participating pharmacies, active military installations, and mail out.
TRICARE Resources
DEERS Enrollment Support Office
Attention: CO, 400 Gigling Rd.
Seaside, CA 93955

Tricare Enrollment Office

Tricare Local Office
931 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, FL 32792

Tricare Claims Service

Tricare Web Site

. Medical Insurance Program Through VA
. Cannot Be Retired Military.
. If veteran is also retired military, dependents would not be CHAMPVA eligible and must apply for Tricare.
. No DEERS enrollment for CHAMPVA.
. Veteran must be 100% SC disabled, or died on active duty, or died as a result of a SC disability.
. Spouse and Dependent Children are eligible to participate in the program.
. Veteran is not eligible to participate in the program.
. Veteran is eligible to receive all medical care through VA medical facilities.
. Dependents may go to participating VA medical facilities for medical services.
. Each VA medical facility may elect to provide or not to provide services to CHAMPVA participants.
. There are no annual fees for CHAMPVA.
. CHAMPVA participants are not eligible for obtaining prescriptions through active military installations, but may obtain prescriptions through local participating pharmacies and mail out.
CHAMPVA Resources
CHAMPVA Center - Registration
Post Office Box 469064
Denver, CO 80246-9064

CHAMPVA Center - Claims
Post Office Box 469063
Denver, CO 80246-9063

VA review of Iowa City VA Health Care System

Review of Quality of Care, Management, and Operations, Iowa City VA Health Care System
Iowa City, IA
August 29, 2012

Executive Summary
The VA Office of Inspector General Office of Healthcare Inspections conducted a comprehensive review of the Iowa City VA Health Care System in response to a request from Senator Charles E. Grassley. OIG assessed the merit of allegations about quality of care and that concerns expressed by staff “have been largely ignored.”

All system employees were invited to respond anonymously to a survey about patient care and working conditions through a dedicated OIG internet portal. Individuals responding to the survey could, if they wished, provide specific details and contact information.

Analysis of responses to the survey afforded an opportunity to focus on issues that might otherwise receive less attention.

During two site visits, OIG staff inspected the parent facility and two Community Based Outpatient Clinics, and conducted scheduled and unscheduled interviews with approximately 125 individuals, including senior leaders, mid-level managers, front line employees, patients, and volunteers.

We found that high quality medical care has been maintained. However, we also found that a pervasive lack of support for staff problem-solving is a potential threat to patient safety, and that several process deficiencies were identified. During a prolonged period when key leadership positions were held by individuals on a temporary basis, decisions were delayed or never made, and a highly competent professional staff was frustrated by the persistent ineffectiveness of senior leadership.

We recommended that the Veterans Integrated Service Network Director ensure that system leaders take appropriate action in response to identified problems and communicate action plans to staff. We also recommended that system leaders clarify organizational lines of authority and responsibility and improve components of Environment of Care and Pharmacy management.
read more here

President Obama not waiting for congress to stop Military Suicides


We read the news about the troops and our veterans everyday, so while we are very well aware of what they come home to, you'd think the party claiming for so long they are "pro-military" would actually think about them enough to mention them during the convention that nominated the man they want to lead this whole nation including taking on the role of Commander-in-Chief.

They fight so hard for the wealthy and so hard against women's rights but they don't seem to take much interest in the men and women serving this country or the veterans.
Obama: ‘I Meant What I Said’ on War, Veterans’ Care
By Devin Dwyer
ABC News
Aug 31, 2012

FORT BLISS – President Obama told several hundred troops with the 1st Armored Division here that he kept his promises as commander in chief during the past three and a half years, ending the war in Iraq, drawing down forces in Afghanistan and redoubling care for returning veterans.

His record, he said, was proof that he can be trusted at the helm for four more years.

“I told the American people that all our troops would be out of Iraq by the end of [2011],” Obama said. “At the time I know some folks didn’t believe me. They were skeptical. Some thought the end of combat was just word games and semantics. But I meant what I said.”

“Two years ago I also told you that we’d keep up the fight in Afghanistan,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you the truth. This is still a very tough fight…. Just as in Iraq, we are going to end this war responsibly.”

The message, coming on the heels of the Republican National Convention and exactly two years after the U.S. ended combat operations in Iraq, was as much an appeal to war-weary voters as it was to the troops he leads. Both constituencies are seen as key voting blocs by Obama’s re-election campaign.

As Obama spoke, his top aides pointed out that campaign rival Mitt Romney made no mention of war – or the troops – in his prime time convention address on Thursday night. It was the first time since 1952 that a Republican nominee failed to mention war, even as the U.S. remains engaged in its longest, according to a review of historical transcripts by the Associated Press.

“In an almost 45-minute speech, Romney didn’t find a moment to mention our troops in Afghanistan or how we’re providing for our veterans when they return home,” said senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod. “So American people last night didn’t get any straight answers from Mitt Romney. They got nothing but evasion, distraction and insults.”
read more here

Obama to order VA to add staff, see suicidal vets within 24 hours
Stars and Stripes
Published: August 30, 2012

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Friday directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand mental health services and suicide prevention efforts.

The president will make the announcement in a speech to troops at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he’ll also hold a roundtable with soldiers and their families.

Much of what's outlined in the executive order are initiatives that were previously announced earlier this summer by the VA.

Obama is instructing the VA to ensure that any veteran with suicidal thoughts is seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours -- a standard already set for the VA, but which the department often fails to meet.
read more here

There is a poll on this blog asking if Congress should be held accountable for military suicides or not. So far over 70% of the respondents voted YES.

The suicides have been going on for far too long with nothing substantial being done for their sake and they began before Obama took office. While Congress has passed bills to "stop" the suicides, they did not work. It is almost as if Congress felt they had to do something so they were willing to do anything to just show they cared.

The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill Oct 23, 2007 was passed but did not do enough to stop the suicides.
The House debates the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. The bill is named for an Iraq veteran who took his own life, and recognizes the special needs of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide. The bill follows hearings in the Oversight and Veterans Affairs committees seeking to address the tragic mental anguish experienced by many veterans, and is part of ongoing, comprehensive efforts by the new Congress to make veterans a top priority. Rep. Bruce Braley speaks in favor.

In 2011 they had to come out with Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act

When I was a member of NAMI, I attended a conference when then Senator Obama was running for the Presidency. He sent an aid to address the conference. I asked why people like me were not used to help our veterans heal. She said she'd check it out but apparently when President Obama became Commander-in-Cheif, he didn't get the message. He didn't know how many people were working on Military PTSD and suicides all over the country. If he knew then he would have known that we had used 40 years worth of research to help us all come out with the best way to help our veterans heal. As for me, I've only been doing this for 30 years but I have also been living with it everyday. We could have made great progress in saving their lives if someone in Congress listened. But they held hearing after hearing on the problem and not on the solutions.

We can talk all we want about military suicides but no one has the real total of suicides simply because if they are no longer on active duty and do not have a VA claim, no one is counting them. No one is counting the deaths that could be suicide but could also be accidental. No one is asking why the Suicide Prevention Hotline gets so many calls, yet the suicides still went up. No one is asking why the Bills passed by Congress have not worked anymore than they are asking for any accountability from Congress.

President Obama has proven he cares about our veterans but Congress has not done the same. As the reports come out about Combat veterans surviving combat but dying back home by their own hands, no one is talking about the families and friends left behind or the fact they didn't know what they could have done to help.

The money for the VA budget comes from Congress and they control hiring. We can talk all we want about the wasted money on the conferences, but when we stop and think about how Congress has refused to hire enough workers to do the job, we should all be sick to our stomachs. We can talk about the Federal budget but then we won't look at our own State budget for the VA. But then again, they don't want us to think. They don't want us to think about the Military Suicide Prevention they have been pushing that is a failure under "resiliency" training.

He can enforce his directive all he wants but if they only have what they have already been given, it won't mean a damn thing to them. And I'll have to keep making videos like this one.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Georgia prosecutor seeks death penalty for 3 Fort Stewart soldiers

Georgia prosecutor seeks death penalty for 3 soldiers
The Associated Press
Published: August 30, 2012

LUDOWICI, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia prosecutors will seek the death penalty against three Army soldiers accused of killing a former serviceman and his girlfriend to protect an anti-government militia group, officials said Thursday during tense court hearings in which one victim's stepfather was tackled and handcuffed as he tried to rush the defense table.

Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Sgt. Anthony Peden - all active-duty soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart - are each charged with 13 counts including malice murder, felony murder and illegal gang activity in the Dec. 4 slayings.

The victims, former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, were shot in the head in the woods of rural Long County near Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia. Fishermen found their bodies the day after they were killed.

"I want them gone. I want all of these individuals to disappear," said Nicholas Lee York, the slain girl's older brother, who applauded the decision to seek death for the soldiers. "They took something irreplaceable from me."
read more here

NFL teams with Army for concussion program

NFL teams with Army for concussion program
By Barry Wilner
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 30, 2012

WEST POINT, N.Y. — The NFL and U.S. Army have teamed up on a long-term program to care for and prevent concussions and head trauma, as well as other health issues.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army chief of staff, announced the initiative at the U.S. Military Academy on Thursday.

Goodell and Odierno cited the common traits between soldiers and football players, particularly when dealing with stressful situations that can lead to injury.

“We can bring greater awareness not just to our two organizations, but to the general public,” Goodell said of the program. “We will do all we can to get our players and the soldiers to under what each other goes through. We’ll work to change our cultures by working closely together.”
read more here

Fort Bragg officer charged with DWI, assault

Fort Bragg officer charged with DWI, assault
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 30, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — An Army officer at Fort Bragg has been charged with driving under the influence and assaulting three Fayetteville police officers.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that 41-year-old Lt. Col. Alfonso T. Plummer was arrested Wednesday for an incident that occurred as he tried to leave a nightclub last weekend.
read more here

Canada orders female US GI who fled war deported

Canada orders female GI who fled war deported
By Charmaine Noronha
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 30, 2012
TORONTO — The first female soldier to flee the U.S. military for Canada to avoid the war in Iraq has been ordered deported, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign said Thursday.

Michelle Robidoux said that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has ordered Kimberly Rivera to leave the country by Sept. 20.

Robidoux said Rivera is meeting with her lawyers Thursday to determine her next course of action and was unavailable to comment on the deportation order.

“We are very upset about this decision,” said Robidoux. “The cases of war resisters are not being looked at properly. (Immigration Minister Jason) Kenney continues to intervene by telling immigration officers to red flag U.S. soldiers who are applying for asylum as criminally inadmissible. We think that has tainted the whole process and the government should withdraw that directive.”
read more here

UPDATE August 31, 2012

US Soldier May Appeal Canadian Deportation Order
Associated Press
TORONTO August 31, 2012 (AP)

A U.S. soldier facing deportation after fleeing to Canada to avoid the war in Iraq said Friday that her biggest fears are being separated from her children and being sent to prison upon her return to the United States.

Kimberly Rivera, who has lived in Canada for five years with her husband and four children, was issued a deportation order earlier this week. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has given her until Sept. 20 to leave the country.

"I'm just overwhelmed. I don't want to face reality. I respect Canada's laws and I will still proceed with what it is that I have to do, but I'm trying to take it one step at a time so I don't have meltdowns like earlier," said Rivera, who stepped away during a press conference Friday when she became visibly upset.

Rivera's lawyer, Alyssa Manning, said her client is considering appealing the deportation ruling.
read more here

Vietnam Vet on hunger strike to stop military suicides

Vet Activist Goes on Hunger Strike in Front of White House
August 29, 2012

When the Army released data earlier this month showing that suicides had spiked to an all-time high, Tom Mahany decided he had to do something to focus more attention on the issue. He went on a hunger strike in front of the White House.

Mahany, a Vietnam veteran, has firsthand experience with the trauma of military suicide. His brother-in-law, a Vietnam veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, killed himself in 1991, leaving two sons and a wife behind.

Since then, Mahany learned more about the challenges of treating so-called invisible wounds such as depression and PTSD. He hopes the hunger strike will help push the government to establish a Federal Advisory Committee. Mahany believes such a committee would focus presidential leadership on reversing the rising numbers of suicides among soldiers. Mahany also wants to see the stigma of mental health injuries reduced.
read more here

Honor for All
For Immediate Release

In January of this year Honor for ALL, a non-profit veterans organization dedicated to establishing visible recognition of the invisible wounds, wrote to the President calling for the formation of a Federal Advisory Committee to investigate and consult on the stigma of invisible wounds as it affects the military (and others) in this post 9-11 environment.

On three separate occasions in the months of March through June, we met with members of the President’s staff to discuss the establishment of this Committee with no resultant affirmative action being taken.

Given the recent spike in suicides within the military, we cannot, in good conscious, remain unmoved.

Whatever the administration's current plans are, direct attention to this problem, applied at the highest level possible, cannot be delayed any longer.

In an effort to accelerate the administration’s response regarding the formation of the Committee and the examination of the issues, (please see 12/16/09), I have begun another hunger strike. I have refrained from taking any sustenance other than water on since Sunday, Aug 19 and will continue my fast until we receive unconditional assurance that the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Title 5 U.S.C., is implemented as it was in 1995 by President Clinton to study Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

We ask that the General Services Administration put the establishment of this Committee on a fast track, that the Committee report directly to the President, and that he personally lead the nation to stem the tide military suicide.

For the welfare of all affected by the stigma and consequences of invisible wounds, military or otherwise, we ask that the Committee include in its deliberation at least the following issues:

•A change in the name of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Post Traumatic Stress Injury
•Awarding the Purple Heart for PTSI received in combat operations
•Creation and implementation of a middle school syllabus to properly teach our youth early detection and understanding of those at risk.
•Workplace accommodation for persons with invisible wounds

Nationally, there are many laudable efforts underway in support of our military men and women. But the stigma of stress injury remains deeply entrenched. Military suicide is an intolerable result. No one remedy will suffice. We need Presidential leadership and we need it now.

Thomas Mahany

If you read this blog you read the stories on veterans committing suicide. You know how serious this all is and you also know how many people have failed in taking care of the men and women willing to die taking care of others. The time for excuses ran out a long time ago.

Thousands told to evacuate after Isaac damages dam

New mandatory evacuations as Isaac claims first fatality
By Josh Levs
updated 2:23 PM EDT, Thu August 30, 2012

NEW: Mississippi is cutting a hole in the dam at Lake Tangipahoa
NEW: Isaac is expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday evening
NEW: More than 915,000 customers are without power in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi
A falling tree killed a man in Mississippi, authorities say

(CNN) -- Isaac slashed its way further inland Thursday, claiming its first fatality and stranding residents in flood-prone areas even as it threatened to wreak more havoc in the days to come.

Although the tropical storm weakened and is forecast to become a tropical depression by Thursday evening, the pounding rains are still drenching a large swath of the Gulf Coast.

Mississippi and Louisiana announced mandatory evacuations for all low-lying areas along the Tangipahoa River.

A dam at 700-acre Lake Tangipahoa has not breached, "but has been badly damaged by heavy rains," the Pike County Emergency Management Agency said.
read more here

Flags Lowered for SEAL Killed in Afghanistan Crash

Flags Lowered for SEAL Killed in Afghanistan Crash
August 30, 2012

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags lowered in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL who was among 11 people killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

The order is in effect for Thursday, the same day as a funeral for 27-year-old Petty Officer David J. Warsen of Kentwood.

The service is at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, near Grand Rapids.

Warsen died August 16 along with six other Americans and four Afghans when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed northeast of Kandahar.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran plays Taps for 1,000 funerals

Vietnam Veteran plays Taps for 1,000 funerals

Larry Dupree, a Vietnam veteran and volunteer bugler, recently played "Taps" at his 1,000th military funeral.

Dupress adds his own special touch to the services, announcing the name of the person being layed to rest before he plays.

"As I flew Medivac missions, I didn't know any of those soldiers' names. I was trying to save their lives and bring them back to aid and it's bothered me a little bit through the years I didn't know who they were," he explains.
read more here

‘Walking Miracle' Roland has VFW to thank for heart surgery

‘Walking Miracle' Roland has VFW to thank for heart surgery
Creswell Chronicle
Published: August 29, 2012
Story by Gini Davis

Dennis Roland of Creswell is a "veteran" twice over: he served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1968-1969, and now he is also a survivor of major heart surgery to implant an LVAD (Left Ventricle Assist Device).

Roland's life-saving, half-million-dollar operation was funded through the Veterans' Administration (VA), thanks to the efforts of Creswell VFW Service Officer Vern Beard, who helped Roland secure a VA disability rating and financing for the procedure.

"The VFW helps veterans, and this is one of our success stories, because Dennis' condition was really deteriorating, and if he hadn't gotten this operation he'd probably be dead by now," said Creswell VFW Post Commander Rick Higgins, terming Roland a "walking miracle."

"Not probably—I would be dead," said Roland. "I was getting sicker and sicker. I'm told I was kind of getting that gray coloring, and when you get that ash color you're pretty close to dying."

Roland, 65, was first diagnosed with serious heart problems, starting with a left bundle branch block, in the 1980s and has been receiving treatment through the VA since 2002.
read more here

Army sergeant still missing after jumping off Carnival cruise ship

UPDATE September 2, 2012
Army investigating Fort Stewart soldier missing at sea

Army sergeant still missing after jumping off Carnival cruise ship
By Arelis R. Hernández and Susan Jacobson
Orlando Sentinel
August 29, 2012

Military officials today identified the man who jumped off a Carnival cruise ship Tuesday as an Army soldier stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga.

Sgt. Ronald Kemp, 31, is assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force reservists are still searching for Kemp, who was last seen by Carnival security jumping off the top deck of the ship Tuesday into the waters off the Volusia County coast.

Larson said Kemp's family was notified immediately and Army officials are providing support.

Officials wouldn't speculate on the possible reasons Kemp jumped.

Kemp is an Iraq war veteran, having served two tours overseas. He was assigned to the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield in September 2010 and has been stateside ever since, officials said.

A security guard said he saw Kemp leap from the 10th deck of the into the water 87 feet below at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard said.
read more here

Romney lied to veterans again

First lie is that CONGRESS DID IT no matter what President Obama wanted. As Obama opened the door to more veterans being able to file claims the congress did not come up with the funds to hire enough workers to do it. Now Congress is demanding answers? They are right to question the spending on conventions but how about someone in congress demand answers from the Veterans Affairs committee and how all of this got so bad for veterans when they were supposed to be taking care of them AND ACTUALLY DOING THEIR JOBS?

Second is that Congress is the BANK ACCOUNT HOLDER so it is up to them to come up with the money and figure out who gets stuck with the bill. How Obama managed to do anything is shocking when you consider that members of congress said getting him out of office was their number one job in 2010.

Next lie is more of an omission. Romney and Ryan want to cut everything the troops and our veterans not only need, but already paid for when they served risking their lives.

All of the massive failures on veterans' issues are directly tied to CONGRESS! Romney wants to make it all worse with the full support of his group in congress!

Romney Says Obama Has Failed Veterans
Aug 30, 2012
by Mike Hoffman

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told service members and veterans he would not raise their TRICARE medical insurance fees among other campaign promises in a speech Wednesday to the American Legion National Convention.

Pentagon leaders over multiple presidential administrations have proposed raising TRICARE fees in order to prevent personnel costs from overtaking the Defense Department's annual budget. Congress has repeatedly rejected the proposal.

Romney said as commander-in-chief he would not allow such a proposal to reach Congress.

"I will not ask our war time military to shoulder sacrifices while the rest of government grows," Romney said. "I will not ask our service members, active and retired, to pay more for their health care to free up room for Obamacare."

The Pentagon's efforts to raise TRICARE fees predate the Obama administration and the Affordable Health Care Act, but Romney's remark drew applause from the Legionnaires.

The Republican nominee addressed the convention a day before his speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Romney's speech was a rare opportunity for the presidential candidate to speak about military issues as the economy has dominated the campaign.
read more here

Here's a thought. This is what the House Oversight Committee is supposed to do.

Oversight Committee Mission Statement

We exist to secure two fundamental principles. First, Americans have a right to know that the money Washington takes from them is well spent. And second, Americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. Our duty on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is to protect these rights.

Our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers, because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. We will work tirelessly, in partnership with citizen-watchdogs, to deliver the facts to the American people and bring genuine reform to the federal bureaucracy.

This is the mission of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

2012 Will Be a ‘Tough Year’ For Military Suicides

Marine Commandant: 2012 Will Be a ‘Tough Year’ For Military Suicides
By Edwin Mora
August 29, 2012
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, speaking at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, D.C., said that despite efforts to “abate” the problem, he expects 2012 will be a “tough year” for military suicides in “all the services.”

Amos cited a decline in the suicide rate for combat veterans of the Marine Corps before making those comments.

“What are you doing to address the alarming suicide rate among our combat veterans?” the event’s moderator asked the general, reading off pre-written questions from the NPC luncheon’s audience open to club members, reporters, and the general public.

“Even with the attention of the leadership, I think all the services this year are feeling it, and I guess what I would tell everybody here is there is through no shortage of great effort and leadership on the part of all the services to try to abate this, but this year I think is going to be a tough year for all the services,” said the top Marine corps officer.
read more here

200 U.S. Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala

200 U.S. Marines join anti-drug effort in Guatemala
By Romina Ruiz-Goiriena
Associated Press Writers

GUATEMALA CITY – A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

"I'd say it's extremely unique. This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it's certainly the largest footprint we've had in that area in quite some time," said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Fla .

It was 50 years ago when the U.S. military last sent any significant aid and equipment into Guatemala, establishing a base to support counter-insurgency efforts during a guerrilla uprising. That movement led to 36 years of war that left 200,000 dead, mostly indigent Maya farmers. The U.S. pulled out in 1978.
read more here

Injured Veteran becomes US Open ballperson

Injured Veteran becomes US Open ballperson
Published on Aug 29, 2012

Injured US military man Ryan McIntosh attempts to make it as a US Open ball person to prove that the loss of a leg in battle won't slow him down.

Veterans deserve respect, best health care

Veterans deserve respect, best health care
Aug 30, 2012
Written by Robert Collins

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.” — George Washington
There are hundreds of negative unintended consequences with many more to come from the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the scars of war; some may heal, some may never heal. The ugliest scar, after the death of more than 6,000 brave men and women, is the treatment of returning wounded veterans.

This generation is the most heavily damaged generation in U.S. history. There are more than 50,000 wounded veterans, and hundreds of thousands of veterans with certifiable “invisible wounds.” The U.S. has never experienced this high ratio of wounded soldiers to slain soldiers — 7 to 1. Medical advances, new technology and faster evacuation capabilities have insured more military personnel recover from battlefield wounds. However, treatment for these wounded heroes is inadequate. The problem, overwhelming now, can only get worse. read more here

Back side of National News, Hell for our troops

A wife called police because her husband was suicidal and now they are being evicted from privatized military housing. No, you didn't read that wrong. A private company is in control of military housing. The general public had no idea this has been going on. Why? Because the 24-7 national news only has time for politics and stopped covering what politicians do.
Police Standoff Has Navy Family Facing Eviction
Aug 29, 2012
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
by William Cole

An 18-year Navy man, his wife and their three children -- one of whom is autistic -- are being kicked out of their Forest City military housing because the sailor was stressed, threatened to take his life inside his home, and caused a 12-hour standoff with police before he was taken into custody, the man's wife said.

"I am horrified that Forest City is trying to remove my family from military housing because they did not like the police in the neighborhood when I called thinking my husband might harm himself," said Melissa Carter.

"Suicide is a huge problem in the military right now, so I was shocked that my trying to get my husband help for what is quite possibly a military-related mental break is being treated so callously by private housing."

The action raises the question as to privatized military housing operator responsibilities at a time when military stress is rising and well-documented.

Chad Carter, a 36-year-old sonar technician on the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, was admitted to Tripler Army Medical Center's psychiatric ward after the incident and will be in a civilian post-traumatic stress center for at least four weeks, his wife said.

The incident happened Aug. 14 in Radford Terrace housing. On Aug. 17, privatized military housing landlord Forest City sent the Carters a letter saying their month-to-month lease was being terminated and they had 45 days to move out.

A separate barricade situation Thursday in Moanalua Terrace military housing saw a 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor armed with a shotgun threaten others before surrendering to police, officials said.

Navy Cmdr. J.P. Orlich, the commander of the Pearl Harbor-based destroyer Chung-Hoon, wrote to Forest City on Aug. 22 asking that the lease "non-renewal" be reconsidered for the Carters.
read more here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac brings thousands of National Guard troops

Hurricane Isaac brings thousands of National Guard troops to the region
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
By Paul Purpura
The Times-Picayune

Hours before Hurricane Isaac's full effects were to be felt in New Orleans Tuesday, Army National Guard Capt. Mark Castillon and his soldiers rolled up on a burglary scene in the Bywater neighborhood. Several New Orleans police officers converged on the shotgun home in the 1000 block of Independence Street, and they already had a suspect in custody, a middle-aged with a lengthy rap sheet.

And in a scene reminiscent of the months following Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, the police officers and a detective searched the house accompanied by a soldier who carried an M-4 assault rifle, as other armed soldiers stood nearby on St. Claude Avenue beside their Humvees.

"We have a familiar relationship with NOPD," said Castillon, a Harahan resident who commands Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, a storied unit known as the Washington Artillery at Jackson Barracks. "We're both serving the community as best as we can during this emergency. This is what we're here for, to assist the community."
read more here

It happened again: Man in Afghan army uniform kills 3 NATO troops

Man in Afghan army uniform kills 3 NATO troops
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Aug 29, 2012 16:39:18 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan says three of its troops have been killed by a man in an Afghan army uniform.

The attack is the latest in a rising number of disturbing shootings this year by Afghans soldiers — or insurgents dressed as government troops — on the international forces training them to fight the Taliban as the international coalition withdraws.
read more here

Four Suicides Among MO National Guard Soldiers In 2012

Four Suicides Among MO National Guard Soldiers In 2012
Carol Daniel
August 29, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) - So far this year there have been four suicides by members of the Missouri National Guard.

“Well one suicide is too many,” says Gary Gilmore, Joint Force Chaplain/Senior Army and Air National Guard. “Four is not okay.”

Gilmore tells KMOX News that with National Guard soldiers serving an average of three deployments the challenge of reintegrating into civilian life is extremely difficult.

“When an active-duty unit comes back they go right back to their same job, same pay, same health insurance, same everything,” Gilmore explains. “A National Guard soldier comes back from war and he gets six months of medical benefits.”
read more here

Lejeune Marine pleads guilty to assaulting reality TV star

Lejeune Marine pleads guilty to assaulting reality TV star
August 28, 2012

F. T. Norton - The StarNews of Wilmington
Battery and drug charges were dismissed Monday against Jenelle Evans, star of MTV’s Teen Mom2, while her ex-boyfriend Gary Head pleaded guilty to assaulting her in a June domestic dispute in Leland that ended in both their arrests.

In exchange for the plea, charges of possession of marijuana, simple possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed against Head, an active-duty Marine station at Camp Lejeune.
read more here

White Sox Donnie Veal says trip to Walter Reed won't be his last

White Sox visit Walter Reed Military Medical Center
 August 28, 2012

BALTIMORE -- Five players and several other members of the White Sox visited with Wounded Warriors in Bethesda, Md. before Tuesday’s game.

Pitchers Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Donnie Veal and Nate Jones all traveled to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to spend time with injured armed forces veterans.

The team makes the trip annually and Crain said he had gone several times previously. The reliever said he enjoys the chance to visit with patients to recognize their efforts to safeguard the country and for their sacrifice. He also knows the positive impact a visit can have.

“I just want to go and lift their spirits if they’re down, though most of them have a great attitude about it,” Crain said. “But just to show our appreciation, it’s fun to do that. It is important for us to show that we support them and that we think about them and what they’re doing for us. It brings light and doesn’t let us forget about what’s going on in the world and what’s allowing us as a player to play or for a fan to go watch a game.”

Veal said it was his first trip and it won’t be his last.
read more here

Presidential Proclamations Thanking Vietnam Veterans

Legion Distributes Thousands of Presidential Proclamations Thanking Vietnam Veterans for Their Service
Published: August 29, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS — As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, The American Legion honored veterans of that war today during the organization’s 94th National Convention in Indianapolis.

After getting an overview of the commemoration, the Legion began distributing thousands of presidential proclamations to Vietnam veterans in attendance. The proclamation was signed by President Obama on May 25 and states, in part:

In recognition of a chapter in our Nation's history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return... The Federal Government will partner with local governments, private organizations, and communities across America to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War – a 13-year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced. While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor. Let us renew our commitment to the fullest possible accounting for those who have not returned.
read more here

Maine guardsman dies in Kuwait

Maine guardsman dies in Kuwait
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Aug 29, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine — A soldier from Maine who served in the National Guard has died in Kuwait, military officials said Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Jessica Wing, 42, of Glenburn, died Monday, the Department of Defense said. Officials said her death wasn’t related to combat, but they didn’t provide details on the circumstances.

Wing was a helicopter crew chief assigned to the 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment out of Bangor. The unit provides medical evacuation to patients and military personnel using medically equipped UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
read more here

GOP Convention MIA on Afghanistan and Iraq

Tom Brokaw: 'Striking' That There's Been 'No Mention Of Afghanistan And Iraq'
Wars At GOP Convention So Far (VIDEO)
The Huffington Post
By Rebecca Shapiro
Posted: 08/29/2012

Tom Brokaw weighed in on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote speech on Tuesday night, and wondered why the first night of convention speeches included little mention of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After analyzing Christie's speech with MSNBC's Chris Matthews and David Gregory, Brokaw said he found it "striking" that those who spoke on Tuesday night, including Ann Romney and Christie, did not mention President George W. Bush's 8 years in office or "the two longest wars in America's history, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Brokaw continued, saying that the two wars were "started by the Republican party and promoted by them in the early stages, with the assent of the Democratic Congress and Democratic Senate."

He also pointed out that U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces in recent days.
read more here

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Officials want vets to know benefit help is free

Officials want vets to know benefit help is free
Aug 28, 2012
Written by
Associated Press

NASHVILLE (AP) — Veterans Affairs officials in Tennessee and other states are taking steps to stop the practice of charging veterans to assist them in obtaining certain benefits when there are free services available to help them.

There are people at the county and state level in just about every state who are specially trained to assist veterans with entitlements, such as disability and pensions.

It’s illegal to charge a veteran for providing assistance or filing a claim. But certain so-called financial planners or veterans’ counselors have found a loophole by calling their services a “consultation” and charging a fee that could cost veterans hundreds of dollars.

Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said she knows of one incident where a veteran was charged $700.

“It’s taking advantage of a very vulnerable group of people, who, by the way, are our nation’s greatest citizens,” she said.
read more here

VA Wait Times for Benefits Decisions Vary by Location

About time someone did this! All states do not treat this nation's veterans the same

VA Wait Times for Benefits Decisions Vary by Location
Center for Investigative Reporting
News Report
Aaron Glantz
Posted: Aug 29, 2012

If you’re a Northern California veteran who has waited a year for a decision on a war-related disability claim, you might consider a move to South Dakota – where the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs typically responds in less than half the time.

Returning home from Afghanistan to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Atlanta? Veterans who live in Lincoln, Neb., and Fargo, N.D., get their benefits faster.

The geographic inequity of VA wait times is fully detailed for the first time in an analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Simply put: Veterans in sparsely populated states often encounter quick resolution of their compensation claims for problems ranging from back injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder while those in metropolitan areas languish.
read more here

How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art and how great this guy is! I just received this link in my email and so glad I did!

On December 29th, 2007, my Uncle Jack went home to be with Jesus. On that day, I recorded and uploaded This is the Moment tag and dedicated it to him. Now, we are celebrating his 2 year Promotion Anniversary.

This song, How Great Thou Art, was one of my Uncles favorite songs. I dedicate this to my Aunt Audre in loving memory of my Uncle Jack.

This song was arranged by Tim Workman as performed by Reprise. You can purchase this arrangement by contacting Tim Workman at . Tim has other great arrangements too that you can ask him about.

Vance Perry

Orlando VA gets a new van from DAV Chapter 16

This morning I met up with members of the DAV Chapter 16 as the VA accepted the new van to transport disabled veterans to and from the VA.

Really a great morning for Central Florida Veterans.

What happened to $5 million donated to Aurora shooting victims?

Aurora shooting: What happened to $5 million donated to victims?
By Jenny Deam
August 29, 2012

Tom Teves, right, acting as informal spokesman for the families of shooting victims, speaks during a press conference in Aurora, Colo. (Chris Schneider / Associated Press / August 28, 2012)

AURORA, Colo. — They gathered in unity on Tuesday for the first time, 18 victims or family members of those killed or wounded in the July 20 movie massacre asking what happened to the $5 million raised in the name of their loved ones.

“We’ve come to speak in one voice,” began Tom Teves, who took the role of informal leader of the group crammed onto a tiny stage Tuesday. His son, 24-year-old Alex Teves, was one of the 12 killed when a gunman opened fire in a packed Aurora theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises.” Fifty-eight others were wounded.

His voice rising in anger and then breaking in grief, Teves said at the news conference that the families wanted to know why they — those touched by the tragedy the most — were not included in the process of deciding how the millions of dollars raised would be distributed. “The victims have no voice at all,” he said, accusing those calculating need of being slow and disorganized at best, unresponsive and callous at worst.
read more here

Shineski proves why the VA claim backlog has grown

There is enough proof right here on this blog alone that the problems with the backlog of VA claims started a long time ago and got worse because the door was opened to a lot more veterans. You can start with this post. Overwhelmed VA didn't happen overnight and work your way back for the last five years. The problem is the President may set the agenda but in the end it is up to congress to fund it. If the money isn't there to hire enough employees to cover all the veterans finally turning to the VA, then look at congress. What was this administration supposed to do? Let veterans wait even longer for what they already paid for until congress decided to do something?

The men and women risked their lives serving this country so whatever they need because of it is a debt we owe them and not the other way around! Chaplain Kathie

Shinseki Defends Claims Backlog: 'Let it Grow'
Aug 28, 2012
by Bryant Jordan

In the cases of Vietnam and Gulf war illnesses, the VA is dealing with claims now because "we didn't take care of business when we should have," he said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki defended his agency Tuesday attributing the growing backlog of claims in the VA system on the agency's decision to expand the pool of veterans eligible to issue disability claims.

In a departure from the rhetoric Shinseki has used before Congress, Shinseki said at the American Legion's National Convention that he's not afraid of the claims backlog that has grown to about 600,000 -- a sore point when Senators and Congressmen question him on Capitol Hill.

The VA secretary said he doesn't regret opening the opportunity to issue disability claims to nearly a million veterans of wars going back more than 60 years. He only wishes the decision had been made sooner to give the VA a head start.

"It was the right thing to do … And we will do it again whenever the opportunity to better serve veterans presents itself," he said. "Let's not back away from such decisions, either because we're afraid of, or don't want the backlog to grow – let it grow. We'll work on it. We'll get it down. But let's keep our priorities straight here.
It's about taking care of veterans." read more here

Army Plans Suicide Prevention Stand Down

Army Plans Suicide Prevention Stand Down
Aug 28, 2012
by David Vergun

WASHINGTON -- Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III ordered an Army-wide suicide "stand down," scheduled for Sept. 27, as a way to empower leadership to prevent further loss of life due to suicide.

The stand down is meant to familiarize all members of the Army family with the health promotion, risk reduction, suicide prevention, and comprehensive Soldier and family fitness resources available in the Army.

The stand down will also focus on how to improve the health and discipline of the force and reducing the stigma associated with seeking care for behavioral health issues.

The stand down was issued after Austin visited installations around the Army and listened to Soldier feedback and suggestions, said Walter O. Morales, chief of the Army Suicide Prevention Program.

"He realized more work was needed to address the issue of suicides in the Army and to ensure the awareness and training momentum continues," Morales said.

The last Army-wide suicide prevention stand down took place in 2009. During that event, Morales said, the Army used the "chain teach" approach to push information down to Soldiers.
read more here

Navy veteran cannot sue VA therapist over sexual abuse?

Vet Can't Sue U.S. Over Therapist's Sexual Abuse

CHICAGO (CN) - A Navy veteran cannot sue the U.S. government over sexual abuse by a Veterans Affairs therapist who treated him for mental illnesses, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Wisconsin resident Ronald Lee Glade was discharged from the Navy at 18 or 19 soon after joining because of ongoing mental illness. Sexually abused as a child, Glade suffered from PTSD, panic disorder and bipolar disorder, and may be schizophrenic.

The 64-year-old has been receiving inpatient and outpatient psychiatric treatment over the last 23 years from the VA, both at the agency's facilities and in his home.

In late 2007, a VA therapist began a sexual relationship with him. Though Glade initially resisted, the therapist insisted that it was a necessary part of treatment.

Glade complained to another psychologist in 2008, and after a VA investigation, the therapist admitted the sexual relationship.

Glade sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act, claiming the sexual abuse caused emotional distress that exacerbated his illness.

But because the FTCA specifically exempts claims of battery by federal employees, Glade alleged negligence by the therapist's supervisors in failing to detect and prevent the sexual battery.
read more here

Iraq War Veterans Survived Aurora Massacre

Iraq War Veterans Survived Aurora Massacre, Address Gun Violence Issues
AUGUST 28, 2012

It has been just over a month since the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Anchor Marco Werman talks to two survivors of that tragedy: Iraq war veterans Jacqueline Keavney Lader and Don Lader, who have been honoring those killed by addressing gun violence issues and their own struggles with PTSD after the Aurora incident.
read more here

Relative reported worries about soldier, police say

Relative reported worries about soldier, police say
Published August 28, 2012
Associated Press

SEATTLE – A relative of one of four soldiers accused by Georgia authorities of killing a fellow soldier and plotting anti-government acts came to police with concerns about the man almost a year ago, authorities in central Washington said Tuesday.

The female relative, who didn't want to be named, called police in September 2011 to relay her worries about Isaac Aguigui, who is originally from the small town of Cashmere near Wenatchee, police Sgt. John Kruse said.

The woman told police that Aguigui's wife had died in July 2011 under suspicious circumstances, and the soldier had bought 15 firearms from a store in Wenatchee while on leave from the military.

Kruse said police checked the report and confirmed Aguigui had purchased 15 firearms, including some semi-automatic rifles, and did so legally.

As a precaution, police contacted the Army's criminal investigation division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, which confirmed there was an open investigation regarding the wife's death, Kruse said.
read more here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oklahoma Vietnam Veteran's Dying Wish Granted

Oklahoma Vietnam Veteran's Dying Wish Granted
Posted: Aug 27, 2012
By Steve Shaw
News 9

Hall received a special send-off from the Patriot Guard at Will Rogers World Airport.
BRIDGEPORT, Oklahoma - A Vietnam veteran's dying wish has been granted.

Sixty-three-year-old Dennis Hall has an inoperable brain tumor doctors say will kill him in less than a year. Three weeks ago, we told you Halls' final request was to visit the National Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington D.C.

Since our initial story aired, donations from all across the country have poured into the Hall's home in tiny Bridgeport, Oklahoma.
read more here

175,000 commitments for veteran hires this year

Goal set for hiring 250K veterans, spouses by 2016
by Leo Shane III

WASHINGTON — Officials from the Joining Forces campaign say they have helped 125,000 veterans and military spouses find jobs in the last year and are setting a new goal of getting another 250,000 hired in coming years.

First lady Michelle Obama announced the jobs figures at her appearance at Naval Station Mayport in Florida on Wednesday. She identified several new companies committed to hiring veterans. The campaign had already secured more than 175,000 commitments for veteran hires this year.

read more here

Two Men Rob 71-Year-Old Veteran At VFW

Two Men Rob 71-Year-Old Veteran At VFW
By Eugene Buenaventura
Published Monday, August 27th, 2012
The Yakima VFW

A Vietnam veteran is robbed at gunpoint this morning at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Yakima.

It happened about 6:30, when a 71-year-old employee was preparing to open for the day.

The veteran answered a knock on the back door and two men forced their way in, demanding money at gunpoint.
read more here

Vietnam War Memorial vandalized in Big Spring

Click the link to see the damage done in this news report.

Big Spring Veterans Survey Damage to Vietnam Memorial
Tatum Guinn
CBS 7 News

Big Spring - Big Spring Police are on the search for the people who vandalized the Vietnam Memorial over the weekend.

Veterans are in shock as they surveyed the damage to their Vietnam Memorial and now they're asking one question, "why?"

The Vietnam Memorial is a quiet place where Big Spring veterans go for peace of mind.

"At night a lot of guys wake up with bad dreams...they go out there to the memorial to reconcile why they're here and their buddies are not," Mike Tarpley, Vietnam veteran said.

And it was overnight that their place to honor the fallen was vandalized.

"Its a place we go for peace and it's been destroyed," Tarpley said. "They busted out a window of the cobra helicopter and stole the pilots head. I guess they thought it would be funny."

Also damaged was a display case that held items from past wars. A canteen belt and canteen were taken from the case.

Tarpley says the damage done brings back bad memories.

"It took us back to how we were treated when we came home from Vietnam," he said. "We keep thinking that'll be over with, but when that was done, its like man why cant they leave us alone."

At this time, the police do not have any leads in the case. However, they are offering a substantial reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

If you have any information, call the Big Spring Police Department at: 264-2550.