Sunday, September 30, 2012

PTSD: 'All you've got left are these pieces'

A country song about PTSD: 'All you've got left are these pieces'
By Bill Briggs
NBC News contributor

Everything you see in the music video happened to Marine-turned-country-singer Stephen Cochran: Pushing the girl away, boozing into oblivion, the gun on the blanket. It all went down last year.

Stephen Cochran, a former Marine recon scout and now a country-music singer, has penned a new song about PTSD - combat-related symptoms that almost claimed his life in 2011.

Even the actor who portrays Cochran is, himself, a former Marine and Iraq veteran who knows of post-traumatic stress, who has wrangled with identical demons. The actor was not acting.
read more here

Stephen Cochran, wounded veteran, sings Pieces for others with PTSD

Veterans Honored On 50th Anniversary Of Vietnam War

Veterans Honored On 50th Anniversary Of Vietnam War
September 28, 2012
by Daniela Perallon

One by one they read the names of the 1207 Alabamians killed in action and 16 who went missing in action during the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam Veterans Tribute marks the 50th anniversary of the United States entering into the Vietnam conflict.

“It’s a crucible. There’s pressure and problems and you’re stretched to your limit in a lot of ways,” said Vietnam Veteran James Henderson, who also led the ceremony’s invocation.

Mayor Tommy Battle, leaders from Redstone Arsenal, veterans and their family members all read off the names of the killed and missing in action veterans. After each name, they rang a bell, and lit a candle after each reading.

For many in attendance, the tribute was a long time coming.
read more here

Veterans take final Honor Air Flight to Washington

Veterans take final Honor Air Flight to Washington
By Jason Wheeler, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2012

Veterans on Honor Flight return to welcoming crowd

Hundreds of World War II veterans from across Central Florida descended on Washington for their final Honor Air Flight.

Early Saturday morning, veterans from Volusia and Flagler counties met at Daytona Beach International Airport where they hopped aboard a chartered jet.

It was the tenth and final Honor Air Flight put on by a trio of rotary clubs in West Volusia County.

Over the past five years, volunteers raised more than $800,000 to send just over 1,000 veterans to the various war memorials in their honor.

“Well, this'll be the first time that I could, what you call, bear going up and looking at that wall. Because I've got quite a few friends up there,” said Charles Hargrove, Sr., a veteran.
v Hargrove fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
read more here

Shots fired at Winter Springs VFW

4 arrested after shooting

UPDATE October 1, 2012
2 dead, 1 hurt in biker shooting at VFW post in Winter Springs
By David Breen, Orlando Sentinel

WINTER SPRINGS — Two people are dead and one was left critically injured after gunfire erupted Sunday outside a VFW post where members of a motorcycle club had gathered for a charity fundraiser, authorities said.

The shooting happened at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4504 on Edgemon Drive at about 10:40 a.m., according to Lt. Doug Seely, a Winter Springs police spokesman.

Bystanders at the scene said members of the Warlocks motorcycle club were about to depart on a charity run before the shooting. According to Seely, a confrontation in the parking lot preceded the shooting.

Two people were confirmed dead, he said, and a third person was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Seely said authorities think all three victims were motorcycle-club members.

Winter Springs police taped off the neighborhood adjoining the post and evacuated people from a senior center next door. Authorities did not say whether they thought there was a single shooter or more.
read more here
WINTER SPRINGS -- Winter Springs police are investigating a shooting. It happened Sunday morning at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5405 at 420 N. Edgemon Ave. Units from several law enforcement agencies are at the scene. Stay with News 13 and for more on this developing story. read more here UPDATE from WESH
Winter Springs shooting kills 2, injures 1 Shooting happened at VFW lodge read more here
UPDATE 12:17
Two people are dead and one injured after a shooting between two rival motorcycle gangs at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Man "recently discharged" brought gun to talk to God

The Holy Land Experience

A New Jersey man is being evaluated after bringing a gun to the Holy Land Experience.

It happened around 7:30 a.m. Sunday while the park was closed.

Orange County Sheriff’s deputies said the man, who was recently discharged from the military, was vacationing in the City Beautiful with his family when he told them he needed to “talk to God.”

The man was spotted by park employees with a semi-automatic pistol.

He was taken into custody under the Baker Act and transported to Lakeside Alternatives in Eatonville to be evaluated.
read more here

Romney Links Defense Cuts To Veteran Suicides

WATCH: Romney Links Defense Cuts To Veteran Suicides
September 27th, 2012
Henry Decker

In a speech at an American Legion hall in Springfield, Virginia, Mitt Romney tied the rising number of veteran suicides to the legislative battle over cuts to the defense budget.

“We have huge numbers of our men and women that are returning from conflict, that are seeking counseling, psychological counseling, and can’t find that counseling within our system. And, of course, record numbers of suicides. This is a crisis!” Romney declared.

“Given the needs of our veterans, how in the world, as commander-in-chief, you could stand by as we shrink our military commitment financially is something that I don’t understand, and I will reverse it,” he added.

First, veterans’ health care is exempt from the sequestration deal that Romney is attacking. The Obama administration is not abandoning veterans’ needs, as Romney charges.

In fact, the administration has actually been an active advocate for veterans’ care. In August, President Obama signed an executive order directing the Veterans Administration to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals and 800 new peer support counselors, along with expanding the capacity of its crisis line to ensure that veterans in need can meet with a counselor within 24 hours. Furthermore, the Department of Veterans Affairs has seen its budget increase in each year of Obama’s presidency.

By contrast, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan’s budget plan would cut the VA budget by $11 billion. Ryan also voted for the very same defense cuts that Romney criticized today (although he now tries to deny it.)
read more here

Watching this video made me sick.  I heard people clapping when he said all of this. These are members of the American Legion and should know better.

Major General (ret) John Cantwell discusses his battle with PTSD

Cantwell talks about his battle with PTSD
Updated Mon Sep 24, 2012

Exit Wounds
The former commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan, Major General (ret) John Cantwell discusses his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and the prevalence of the disorder in the armed forces.

go here for video

The General's regrets: John Cantwell
27 September, 2012

By Melanie Sim (with Alex Sloan) Australian Forces Commander in Afghanistan in 2010, John Cantwell writes: "When I sent 10 [deceased] soldiers home from Afghanistan I failed that trust and it broke my heart."

Alex Sloan began her interview with General Cantwell by saying it is one of the finest and bravest books that she has read, and it is a book that has changed her life.

General Cantwell's "Exit Wounds, one man's war on terror" is an account of his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and then his very personal war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


General Cantwell says he saw many horrific things during his time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The killings were overwhelming horrible," he told Alex on 666 ABC Canberra Mornings. General Cantwell was in Iraq in 2006 and says his most "horrible memory from that time was confronting the scenes in a market place after a car bomb had gone off.

...Each Thursday, mothers and their kids would go to market places all over Baghdad and exchange their gas bottles. Regrettably just as I was down the road...a car bomb detonated in one of those market places and I will take to my grave the memories of that day."


Events like this started to affect him, but he says he made a great mistake with the way he initially dealt with them.

"The dumb mistake I made was burying the issue and denying it to myself and denying it to my friends and my family ... because I thought it was a sign of weakness that showed I was less of a solider than I thought I was,"

"It's not part of the job profile to have PTSD but in reality it is very much part of the job profile."

General Cantwell says mental illness isn't something to be ashamed of, and he says it is frustrating with the way that PTSD is treated.

"To have an emotional response is absolutely normal and human, otherwise you'd be some sort of psychopath, and it's important that people recognise these terrible memories."

And he says it's more important that after people recognise this, that then they do something about it.


In the early days tried to access counselling but was told he was a big sook, so General Cantwell buried it away, yet it didn't go away.

Going to war

People have questioned why he wanted to be in the army, when the obvious destination was a war front.

He explains he was very determined to go to war.

"Teachers want to teach kids, and surgeons want to operate on people, and soldiers want to go and fight. The trouble is the big adventure sometimes isn't as much fun as you think."
read more here

Bystanders Lift Car Off 10-Year-Old Boy

Bystanders Lift Car Off 10-Year-Old Boy In New Zealand After Collision
The Huffington Post
By Ron Dicker
Posted: 09/29/2012

We often hear of ordinary people unleashing superhuman strength in an emergency. But in Nelson, New Zealand, this week, the heroics required a team effort.

Three bystanders lifted a car off a 10-year-old boy after he became pinned underneath in a collision. The boy, who was not identified, suffered just scrapes and bruises, the Nelson Mail reported. Police are still investigating.

The boy was pushing his scooter on a street crossing when the car plowed into him and dragged him more than six yards, the news outlet said. Some onlookers waved at the driver to stop.

The assistant manager at a Subway, Patrick McDougall, Coffee Shack co-owner Keith Simpson and an unidentified woman heard the crash followed by the screams of the boy and others, according to the Leader. Then they sprinted to the scene and quickly hoisted the vehicle from the front and pushed the car back to free him. He appeared to have been trapped under a wheel.

"It was bloody heavy and I think the driver still had the brakes on, but we got it back," Simpson told the Leader. "Then the boy started talking so that was a big relief.

I hope I never have to see that again."

The trio's actions illustrate the Superman potential in all of us. In August, a slight Massachusetts man named Carlos Castro lifted an SUV to free a neighbor who became trapped underneath when a tire jack collapsed.
read more here

2,000th U.S. Soldier Killed In Afghanistan Insider Attack

Afghanistan War: 2,000th U.S. Soldier Killed In Insider Attack

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan soldier turned his gun on American troops at a checkpoint in the country's east, killing two Americans and at least two fellow members of Afghanistan's army in a shooting that marked both the continuance of a disturbing trend of insider attacks and the 2,000th U.S. troop death in the long-running war, officials said Sunday.

The string of insider attacks is one of the greatest threats to NATO's mission in the country, endangering a partnership key to training up Afghan security forces and withdrawing international troops.

Saturday's shooting took place at an Afghan army checkpoint just outside a joint U.S.-Afghan base in Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman.

"Initial reports indicate that a misunderstanding happened between Afghan army soldiers and American soldiers," Shahid said. He said investigators had been sent to the site to try to figure out what happened.
read more here

Camp Pendleton Marine killed in motorcycle crash

Motorcyclist killed in Oceanside crash
Written by
Pauline Repard

OCEANSIDE — A motorcyclist suffered fatal injuries in Oceanside early Saturday when he swerved into oncoming traffic on El Camino Real and collided with a car, police said.

The county Medical Examiner's Office identified the rider as Ian Copelean Wiseman, 28, of Oceanside, a Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant.

He was southbound on El Camino Real at high speed and passed Skyline Drive, then lost control of the 2011 Suzuki Sport bike about 1:50 a.m., authorities said.
read more here

Think of war like an ex-wife

Think of was like an ex-wife
by Chaplain Kathie
Wounded Times Blog
September 30, 2012

28 years ago today, this was us. It was the day I married my best friend. I can honestly say I still feel that way but there was a time when I wondered "Who the hell did I marry?"

I don't like to look back on the dark times in our life together. It gets pretty painful to remember because of all the years. I'm sitting here right now trying to push the words out and I can't because I don't want to dwell on the worst years since the years after I wrote my book have been so much better.

That is what I want to share with you right now if you think it is all hopeless. It is far from hopeless.

If you think love is all we needed to stay married this long, you are living in dreamland. It takes a hell of a lot more than love to make any marriage work. It takes being willing to go to war to make a marriage work when you are married to a combat veteran.

Put it this way. Think of the war like an ex-wife wanting to take him back so much that she keeps showing up doing all she can to come between you and your husband. That's what Vietnam was to me. I knew I couldn't fight for him unless I was willing to fight "her" with everything I had.

First I had to learn as much as I could about the time he spent with "her." What was Vietnam like? What happened when he was there? Who were his buddies? I was only in grade school when he was there but I did everything possible to learn what he wouldn't tell me.

Once I understood as much as possible, I knew where he was when he was having a nightmare. I knew where he was when he had a flashback. He was with "her" and reliving all the misery "she" inflicted on him.

It took a lot of years and a lot of listening but I had the knowledge to help me know what to do to help him. I keep grieving for the new spouses trying to get through this alone without knowing what they are up against. It was almost impossible for me to do it even knowing what I knew. How much hell they are in when they don't need to be fighting this alone?

The problem isn't lack of love. It is lack of knowledge getting in the way of all of these families and the military isn't going to teach anyone what they don't even understand.

After all these years, this is the type of report we're reading instead of reading about what works.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord tries personal approach to curb military suicides
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
By The Associated Press

When Vicki Duffy asks soldiers what comes to mind when they hear the words "suicide prevention," she gets an earful about stale command briefings and overplayed commercials on military television stations.

Duffy, who is Joint Base Lewis-McChord's suicide prevention officer, said she doesn't take it personally. She's been in the trenches of the Army's program to curb suicides for four years, and she knows those old briefings aren't enough to do the job. "They're valuable," she said, "but they're done in a way that is very old fashioned in the Army."

Duffy and Lewis-McChord commanders this month updated their outreach down the ranks by ditching the old PowerPoint presentations in favor of one-on-one interactions between care providers and soldiers.

The effort peaked in the last two weeks with a leadership retreat for about 80 noncommissioned officers. At the same time, a suicide "stand down" was held in which officers and enlisted leaders took a walking tour of the base's social support services.

No one can say if those steps will save a life, but the idea is to empower more soldiers with resources they can use in a moment of crisis.

Better yet, the courses are intended to help noncommissioned officers monitor and improve the health of soldiers in their charge.

"This has been one of those nagging problems, and I hope we have found a way to positively affect it," said Col. Jeffrey Galin, the top medical officer for Lewis-McChord's I Corps.

"Suck it up and drive on" not working

The outreach marks a change from early in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when commanders did not pay as much attention to emotional or psychological issues.

"It used to be 'suck it up and drive on,'" said Sgt. Thomas Hollis, 46, of Lakewood, a four-time combat veteran from Lewis-McChord's 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment.

"'Suck it up and drive on' isn't working anymore," he said, citing alcohol abuse and suicides as signs of stress in the Army.
read more here

Families have been facing the aftermath of combat all these years without knowing they had to train to fight this enemy as hard as their veteran had to fight to go into combat. Too many had been waiting for the DOD and the VA to tell them what they needed to know and when that didn't happen, they just gave up. They didn't know any better. They thought it was hopeless.

Suicides, attempted suicides, divorces, homelessness, the list of suffering goes on making the headlines as if all of it is some kind of new thing when older wives like me are crying for the suffering all of them are going thru knowing it doesn't have to happen.

Here are some shocking numbers for you to digest.

Over ten years of war with over 2 million deployments.
500,000 veterans with PTSD.
Between 150,000 and 200,000 suicides.
One vehicle accidental death, unknown if it was accident or suicide.
Drug overdose deaths unknown because no one knows for sure if it was accident or suicide.
Homeless veterans figures change because while some are no longer living in their homes, they are being taken in and sleeping on the sofa of a friend but there are tens of thousands with no place to call home.
Suicides of spouse and children unknown. No one knows for sure.

Think these numbers are bad? Think these numbers came from Afghanistan and Iraq veterans? Nope. 

They came from Vietnam veterans.

The number of PTSD Vietnam veterans published in this study came with a warning.

"Treatment from the VA was difficult to obtain. The veteran began to feel depressed, mistrustful, cynical and restless.  He experienced problems with sleep and with his temper. Strangely, he became obsessed with his combat experiences in Vietnam. He would also begin to question why he survived.

For approximately 500,000 veterans (Wilson, 1978) of combat in Southeast Asia, this problematic outlook has become a chronic lifestyle affecting not only the veterans but countless millions of persons who are in contact with these veterans. The symptoms described below are experienced by all Vietnam combat veterans to varying degrees. However, for some with the most extensive combat histories and other variables which have yet to be enumerated, Vietnam-related problems have persisted in disrupting all areas of life experience. According to Wilson (1978), the number of veterans experiencing these symptoms will climb until 1985, based on his belief of Erickson's psychosocial developmental stages and how far along in these stages combat veterans will be in 1985. Furthermore, without any intervention, what was once a reaction to a traumatic episode may for many become an almost unchangeable personality characteristic."
So we were warned what was coming when the troops were sent into Kuwait during the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq to fight in wars no human is ever fully prepared to go into and prepared even less to return back home.

Families were even less prepared because all that was learned in study after study following Vietnam were lessons worse than forgotten. They were ignored!

If you want to read about what our life was like, you can read FOR THE LOVE OF JACK, HIS WAR/MY BATTLE online for a donation of $25 to help me fight for more families just like mine. Make sure you put "book" in the comment section and I'll send you the PDF file.

Point Man of Winter Park is a 501c3
IRS #90-0749457

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Remains of Florida man missing in WWII identified

Remains of Fla. man missing in WWII identified
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Sep 28, 2012

MARIANNA, Fla. — Authorities have identified the remains of a Florida Panhandle man declared missing in action in World War II.

The Defense Department said Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Samuel Lunday of Marianna will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Officials said Lunday and four other U.S. servicemen lost radio contact as their aircraft flew from China to India in April 1943.
read more here

Alliance for Retired Americans talks about news seniors need to know

Alliance for Retired Americans
Here is your September 28 edition:

Past Statements by Paul Ryan Shed More Light on his Policies Regarding Seniors A transcript of a speech made in 2005 by Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has received renewed attention this week, after the national Catholic weekly publication America published an article on his remarks. Ryan, who has long described philosopher Ayn Rand as one of his inspirations, made the speech at the Atlas Society’s 2005 “Celebration of Ayn Rand.” Rand’s 1964 collection of essays is called The Virtue of Selfishness: A new Concept of Egoism.

In his 2005 speech, Ryan took an extremist stance on Social Security and Medicare. He called Social Security and Medicare “collectivist” and “socialistic” and described his plans for privatization. Ryan stated that he supported, “switching these programs— and this is where I’m talking about health care, as well — from a third party or socialist based system to an individually owned, individually pre-funded, individually directed system.” To see the full article and transcript, go to

Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle commented, “These statements by Paul Ryan reinforce that he doesn’t intend to take the proper steps to protect or strengthen Medicare and Social Security, but sees them as a form of Socialism. Yet, Mitt Romney wants him to be his Vice President.” For quotes from Mitt Romney endorsing Paul Ryan's plans, go to

Early and Absentee Voting is Under Way in 30 States
According to NBC’s First Read (, “…voters in 30 states -- including the battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Virginia -- are now casting ballots, either via absentee or early in-person voting.” Yesterday, early in-person voting began in Iowa and Wyoming, while absentee ballots are already being sent to voters requesting them in Alabama, North Dakota, and Illinois. By the end of next week, voters in five more states, including Ohio and Florida, will be on this list.

Many election experts predict that as many as 40% of voters will vote early or absentee for the November 6 election. “The explosion of early voting gives seniors more time to vote in an environment of harsh new voter identification laws in several battleground states,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The Alliance applauds states that have expanded their early voting programs to make the polls more accessible for all Americans.” To see which states have already begun voting, go to For general voting information in your state, go to

Affordable Care Act Saves Seniors $4.5 Billion on Prescription Drugs
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of $4.5 billion on their prescriptions since January 2011 thanks to the 2010 health care reform law. The savings came both from increased coverage and from drug makers’ agreeing to lower their prices under the law. Through August of 2012, beneficiaries had saved an average of $641 this year. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also begun to close the Medicare Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole” - the coverage gap that is on schedule to be completely eliminated by 2020.

Romney: Uninsured can get Health Care in the Emergency Room
Asked on the show 60 Minutes recently whether government has a responsibility to provide health care for the 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured, Mitt Romney responded, “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people—we—if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” However, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of HHS, the cost of a doctor visit in an emergency room averages $922, whereas an office visit averages $199.

Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, responded, “Mitt Romney’s answer showed a lack of comprehension of the actual costs incurred by ER visits. He seems to be saying that the emergency room is a viable health care solution for the millions of Americans who will lose coverage or be kicked off their insurance plans if he repeals Obamacare. To suggest that the ER could ever be a good substitution for affordable health care is utterly unrealistic.”

Alliance Leaders: Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly Honors Easterling
The Institute the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly honored Ms. Easterling on Thursday, giving her the Advocacy Award at the Institute’s Annual Gala Banquet. The Institute is a nonprofit and service organization serving New York’s growing Latino and other ethnic/racial minority seniors, and their families. They serve over 100,000 retirees in the New York City metropolitan area. “I want to thank the Institute for presenting me with your 2012 Advocacy Award. This is a great honor,” said Easterling. “Retirees and activists of all ages have much to be proud of, but our work is far from over,” she told the crowd.

Today, Ms. Easterling is speaking at a tele-townhall with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, while Mr. Coyle is addressing the International Union of Police Associations in Bonita Springs, Florida.

NFL Referees’ Strike is Settled
The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) reached an agreement ending a three-month strike on Wednesday night. The NFL had locked out the regular referees in June, after heated arguments during contract renegotiations with the referees’ union. The main point of contention in the contract negotiations was the referees’ pensions, which the NFL wanted to replace with 401(k)s. NFLRA representatives had noted the unsavory irony of a league generating $8.3 billion in annual revenue wanting to cut retirement benefits.

“The elimination of defined benefit pensions has been happening in too many industries for too long,” said Mr. Coyle. “I congratulate the referees on fighting back.” Football fans everywhere had been up in arms about a call made by a replacement referee at the end of Monday night’s Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers game. This year’s football season, which kicked off in early September, has seen three weeks of controversial calls made by replacement referees.

H.R. 1627 Improves VA Loans

H.R. 1627 Improves VA Loans

New law makes VA loans available to more surviving spouses, disabled vets and single parents, and VA loan limits return to $729,750 to over $1,000,000 for high-cost areas.

On August 6, 2012 President Obama signed The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (H.R. 1627). The new law addresses some of the problems veterans have been facing recently including medical conditions caused by contaminated water used by families stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The signed legislation also makes certain veterans benefits, like VA loans, more readily available.
read more here

Mass. National Guard's Adjutant General Resigns

Mass. National Guard's Adjutant General Resigns
Sep 20, 2012
Cape Cod Times
by George Brennan

The former commanding officer at Camp Edwards has resigned as adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard, even though federal investigators were unable to substantiate a rape allegation against him.

Joseph Carter, who has been on paid leave since March, is stepping down from the $173,214 per year job running the Guard. He is also the former police chief in Oak Bluffs.

"For some months now, the U.S. Army has conducted a criminal investigation into allegations of misconduct by General Joseph Carter, adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard. I have now received their final report. Although the investigators were unable to reach definitive conclusions about the allegations and federal authorities declined to prosecute, the report raises serious concerns about the General's actions and his response to the allegations," Gov. Deval Patrick said in a prepared statement.
read more here

Suicide Prevention Day?

Complaining aout what the DOD has been "doing" to address military suicides, hasn't been enough to get them to change a thing no matter how many succeeded in doing it. Well, now you get a glimpse of one of these Stand Downs from someone who was there and wrote about it.

Suicide Prevention Day?
27 September 2012

Last night I slept on the couch with my sick 3 year old daughter. As I was getting ready for work, my wife woke up with a fever and our baby might have a sinus infection. When my wife asked if I could stay home to help out, I said I can’t… but I would try to get home early. I couldn’t stay home because today is Stand Down for Suicide Day across the entire United States Army.

Today is a great opportunity for Soldiers to stand as one and come together to battle a growing epidemic. The importance of this day has been brought up over the past few weeks and I even received a mass email from General Odierno on my AKO.

I don’t want to talk about the reasoning of this day and what it means, because I can’t stress the importance enough. Rather, I want to talk about HOW the Army goes about training its Soldiers… and why it doesn’t work.

I won’t identify my Brigade because I don’t think that’s fair. Besides, this situation could’ve happened in any unit. As part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), our place of duty this morning was the BDE Chapel. I had hope that we could take this topic seriously, or at the very least escape the office for an hour or two. The acting HHC Company Commander was in charge of leading the training which included the “Shoulder to Shoulder” video and a PowerPoint presentation that would spark conversation. Unfortunately, he was told THAT MORNING he would be responsible for this task (for the record, he did a great job under the circumstances). He asked me to help because he knew I had dealt with situations of suicide before.

When the time came to address the group and share stories, I had a plan of telling the group about SSG Montgomery, or my sister, or even my brushes with suicidal thoughts. I was prepared to pour my heart out in an attempt to possibly make a larger impact then strangers in a video. But not with an audience that wasn’t willing to listen. I think this attitude is one of the biggest problems with suicide in the Army…
read more here

It sucks to be right when they are still dead

I've been called a lot of things in all these years. One of them is "stupid" when I said that we will never know the real numbers connected to military suicides. Time and time again, I point out that when we read numbers, as bad as they may seem, they are only a part of the real numbers of veterans coming home. Back home where it is actually more dangerous for them than it was in combat. Families left in shock, end up blaming themselves.

While this report vindicates what I've been saying all these years, it leaves me with great sadness to have been proven right again. It sucks to be right when they are still dead.

Report: Texas vets dying young at alarming rate
Austin American-Statesman
Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which serves nearly half of recent veterans, does not regularly track individual causes of death, a shortcoming that critics say prevents it from understanding the scope of the problems facing those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — They survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. But they did not survive the homecoming.

A six-month investigation by the Austin American-Statesman of Texas' Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who died after leaving the military found that an alarmingly high percentage died from prescription drug overdoses, toxic drug combinations, suicide and single-car crashes — a largely unseen pattern of early death that federal authorities are failing to adequately track.

The newspaper obtained autopsies, toxicology reports, inquests and accident reports from more than 50 agencies throughout Texas to analyze the causes of death for 266 Texas veterans who served in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and were receiving VA benefits when they died.

The newspaper began with 345 fragmentary, nameless records provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Reporters used obituaries, widely scattered public records and interviews with veterans' families and friends to identify the dead, determine causes of death and reveal a phenomenon that has largely been hidden from public view.

The investigation found that:

— More than one in three died from a drug overdose, a fatal combination of drugs, or suicide. Their median age at death was 28.

— Nearly one in five died in a motor vehicle crash.

— Among those with a primary diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, the numbers are even more disturbing: 80 percent died of overdose, suicide or a single vehicle crash. Only two of the 46 Texas veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with a PTSD diagnosis died of natural causes, according to the analysis.

The 345 Texas veterans identified by the VA as having died since coming home is equal to nearly two-thirds of the state's casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that only includes veterans who have sought VA benefits, meaning the total number of deaths is likely much larger.

Fort Hood soldier shares struggle with suicidal thoughts

Sensing session: Fort Hood soldier shares struggle with suicidal thoughts
Fort Hood Public Affairs Office
Courtesy Story
By Heather Graham-Ashley
III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs

Courtesy Photo
Spc. Robert Kearney, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at Fort Hood, Texas, holds the Buddy Card issued to all Wrangler Brigade troops. The card reminds soldiers to watch out for each other and be a buddy to their comrades. Kearney has already taken advantage of help offered at Fort Hood.
(Photo by Heather Graham-Ashley)

FORT HOOD, Texas -- During a sensing session here with III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., Spc. Robert Kearney stood up and asked a question.

"I wanted to know why it was just senior enlisted and senior leaders talking [about seeking help]," Kearney said. "Why aren't E-4s and below talking?"

The general was meeting with leaders and soldiers from the 4th Sustainment Brigade Monday, following the brigade's loss of three soldiers in less than a week. Campbell wanted to dialogue with soldiers and get their feedback about how to help. When Kearney posed his question, Campbell asked him if he would talk about his story.

Kearney talked.

"I was depressed," Kearney said.

The wheeled mechanic was struggling with a divorce and estranged from his children when he reported for a doctor's appointment last summer.

"It was just a regular doctor's appointment," Kearney said.

On the questionnaire that all patients complete before each visit, Kearney came to the question that asked if the patient thought about hurting him or herself.

Kearney marked "yes."
read more here

Double amputee Afghanistan veteran gets special homecoming

Wounded warrior gets special homecoming
By Luke Duecy
Published: Sep 28, 2012

SEATTLE -- A local soldier came home Friday for the first time since being severely wounded while fighting in Afghanistan.

But what makes his story really special are the men and women who flew him home for free.

The Sawyer family had been hoping and praying for the day they could see their son, brother and friend come home. On Friday, that day finally came. But it was a long and violent road that brought Jereme Sawyer home.

Wounded in a roadside IED attack in Afghanistan, Sawyer lost both his legs at the knees. While rehab and recovery proved painful at times, it was nothing compared to the pain of being away from his family.

Since his injury, Sawyer has been recovering on post in Texas when all he wanted to do was be home with his family.
read more here

Four fallen Marines mourned at Pendleton ceremony

MILITARY: Four fallen Marines mourned at Pendleton ceremony
September 28, 2012
North County Times
Fallen Marines mourned

Marine Lance Cpl. Juan Servin will don his camouflage uniform, pack his bags, pick up a rifle and sidearm and head to Afghanistan's frozen battlefields early next year.

But on Friday, Servin was in his dress blue uniform, escorting and comforting his mother and other relatives at a ceremony for his older brother, Cpl. Anthony Servin, who died in combat in Afghanistan on June 8.

"Anything he did, I did ---- or wanted to do," Servin said of his late brother, one of four troops from Camp Pendleton's 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment whose service was saluted in a hilltop memorial Friday morning.

The other Marines killed during the battalion's recent seven-month deployment were Sgt. Wade Wilson, Cpl. Alex Martinez and Lance Cpl. Joshua Witsman.
read more here

Veterans Wait for Benefits as Claims Pile Up

Veterans Wait for Benefits as Claims Pile Up
New York Times
Published: September 27, 2012

For Dennis Selsky, a Vietnam-era veteran with multiple sclerosis, it was lost documents. It seemed that every time he sent records to the Department of Veterans Affairs, they disappeared into the ether.

For Mickel Withers, an Iraq war veteran with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, it was a bureaucratic foul-up. The department said he received National Guard pay in 2009, though he had left the Guard the previous year, and cut his disability compensation by $3,000. He filed for bankruptcy to protect himself from creditors.

For Doris Hink, the widow of a World War II veteran, it was the waiting. The department took nearly two years to process her claim for a survivor’s pension, forcing her daughter to take $12,000 from savings to pay nursing home bills.

These are the faces of what has become known as “the backlog”: the crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.

Numbers tell the story. Last year, veterans filed more than 1.3 million claims, double the number in 2001. Despite having added nearly 4,000 new workers since 2008, the agency did not keep pace, completing less than 80 percent of its inventory.

This year, the agency has already completed more than one million claims for the third consecutive year. Yet it is still taking about eight months to process the average claim, two months longer than a decade ago. As of Monday, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending.
read more here

This was on CNN last night

KTH: Vets suffer while waiting for benefits

U.S. veterans are fighting for disability benefits they say they're entitled to from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Randi Kaye reports.

To be fair, there are a few things that need to be mentioned. It was just as bad in the 90's when my husband's claim was tied up for 6 years and we had to figure out how to survive. Reporters didn't care back then. They care a little more now but they are doing too few reports, too late to have stopped most of the suffering when the American people could have been motivated to fight for our veterans if they knew all of this. Also to be fair, with the election coming up, you need to know what all of this would look like if Romney had his way. This is from last year before Romney was the nominee.

Dems say Romney wrong on vets' health care
Posted by
CNN's Kevin Liptak
November 16, 2011

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's campaign is pushing back after Democrats released a Web video painting the candidate as insensitive to the health concerns of veterans.

The video, from the Democratic National Committee, hits Romney for mentioning health care vouchers as an option for veterans. The former Massachusetts governor made the comments on Veterans Day during a roundtable with vets in South Carolina.

"Sometimes you wonder, would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition, somebody else that could come in an say, you know each soldier gets X-thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose whether they want to go into the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them," Romney said.

The video released Wednesday by the DNC says the vouchers would amount to "undermining veterans' health care when they need it the most."

The DNC poses the question, "But what if a voucher doesn't cover the care for our wounded warriors?"
read more here
We've already seen how politics took over our obligation to our veterans with Bills tied up or rejected that would have helped them.

Rescuing veterans from the abyss

Rescuing veterans from the abyss
Tampa Bay Times
By Waveney Ann Moore
Times Staff Writer
September 29, 2012

Anthony Sperduto, 53, was taken under St. Vincent de Paul’s wing about two years ago at his lowest point. “They’ve saved my life. ... I couldn’t have survived on the streets,” he said. Now the onetime business executive has been hired to mentor fellow veterans.

ST. PETERSBURG — At his desk, steps from an exposed toilet with two rolls of tissue, a sink, bed, small white refrigerator and microwave, Anthony Sperduto displayed computer images of his life as it once was.

There on the screen were pictures with ex-wife, Maritza, at a banquet, business trips to Hawaii and views of a meticulously decorated, four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot Texas house with 12-foot ceilings and a copy of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam above a fireplace.

As Sperduto, 53, tells it, his world began to collapse in the fall of 2006, starting with a blackout at work, loss of an executive position and back problems that became debilitating. Three years later, Christmas Eve, to be exact, the 6-foot-7 Navy veteran found himself broke and homeless in Florida.

A few miles from Sperduto's room at St. Vincent de Paul's Center of Hope in St. Petersburg, Heather Vazquez welcomed a visitor to her bare, three-bedroom apartment and offered to borrow a couple of chairs from her next-door neighbor.

Vazquez, 38, a military veteran who served two tours in Iraq as a hospital corpsman, has two part-time jobs. Soiled carpet and impoverished state notwithstanding, the apartment into which she moved a few days earlier is the "best home" she and her children — ages 17, 9, 5 and 2 — have had in years, she said. "We were going from hotel to hotel."

A national count recorded 67,495 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2011.

Touting its beefed-up efforts to stem the problem, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the figure represents a nearly 12 percent drop from the previous year.
read more here helping homeless veterans

My Dad was a lifetime member of the DAV as a 100% Disabled Korean War Veteran. My husband is a lifetime member as a 100% Disabled Vietnam Veteran and I am a lifetime member of the Auxiliary. I am also the State of Florida Member of the Year. Why? Because of reasons like this.

Steven Rivera made it home from war only to find himself fighting another battle – this time for food and a safe place to sleep on the very streets he was protecting.

He might still be there – just another homeless veteran statistic – if it weren’t for people like you who help restore hope and dignity to veterans through the DAV.

Because caring patriots like you refuse to allow our heroes to suffer cruel injustices like homelessness and hunger, Steven received help through a special DAV partnership.

Progress has been made on veteran homelessness. But with so many veterans like Steven still out there, you and I must keep fighting for them today.

Unemployment and long waits for benefits are pushing many of our youngest veterans into despair. They’re winding up on the streets in rising numbers.

Women veterans – and their children – are also becoming homeless at an alarming rate. They face added burdens that few agencies are set up to meet.

The government can’t do it all – it takes the American community.

Join hands to help heroes, like Steven, as you give $25 … $50 … $100 or more now!

Shielding Veterans from Despair!

Arthur H. Wilson
National Adjutant
Disabled American Veterans

You can help take care of homeless veterans you read about everyday on this blog.

If you are a disabled veteran, why aren't you a member too? Join the fight to take care of other veterans!

Rep. John Mizuno led a silent march after grandson died

Lawmaker seek answers in death of Marine's son
September 28, 2012

A Hawaii state lawmaker is pressing military officials for a formal investigation into the unexplained death of a 16-month-old boy who died while under the care of his Marine father.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday ( ) that Rep. John Mizuno led a silent march outside the state Capitol with the boy's mother.

The boy died May 20 while under the care of his father, 24-year-old former Marine Cpl. Christopher Bahm. The boy's mother, Jerlee Bahm, says the father was in the process of being kicked out of the Marines when the boy died.

Jerlee Bahm told the newspaper the Marine was court-martialed and found guilty of abusing her. The Iraq and Afghanistan veteran also had traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

O.C. sheriff's deputy cleared in fatal shooting Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr.

O.C. sheriff's deputy cleared in fatal shooting of unarmed Marine
Prosecutors say Darren Sandberg, a 15-year veteran of the department, acted reasonably when he shot Manuel Loggins Jr. in a school parking lot after he refused to follow the deputy's orders.
By Nicole Santa Cruz
Los Angeles Times
September 29, 2012

An Orange County sheriff's deputy has been cleared in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Marine after investigators with the district attorney's office concluded he acted with appropriate force.

In a 13-page letter to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens released Friday, prosecutors said Deputy Darren Sandberg, a 15-year veteran of the department, acted reasonably and with sufficient force given the circumstances of the predawn incident in which Manuel Loggins Jr. was shot in a school parking lot after he refused to follow Sandberg's orders.

"Consequently, although this incident ended tragically, and in hindsight may have been preventable, we find there is insufficient evidence to prove that Deputy Sandberg's conduct violated criminal law," the prosecutors wrote.

Sandberg returned to work in March in a non-patrol assignment. The district attorney's investigation essentially closes a criminal inquiry, although a civil one is pending.

The shooting puzzled those close to Loggins, who remember the 31-year-old married father of three as a deeply religious career Marine and left them wondering why a military member would ignore the commands of a uniformed officer.

"It's usually hard to know what's in a person's mind," said Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan Wagner. "This is no different."

Wagner and fellow prosecutor Susan Price said that shortly before 4:40 a.m. on Feb. 7, Loggins sped his SUV into a San Clemente High School parking lot and crashed into a gate, trapping part of it under his vehicle. His two young daughters were also in the car.
read more here

Original report
2 kids in back seat when Marine from Camp Pendleton was shot at high school

Allen West and Patrick Murphy duel over bad decisions

New Allen West ad features Murphy’s 2003 mug shot;
Murphy camp raises West’s 2003 Iraq incident
Palm Beach Post
by George Bennett
September 28th, 2012

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West released a hard-hitting attack ad today that contrasts his military service with Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy‘s 2003 arrest as a 19-year-old for disorderly intoxication and possessing a fake driver license outside a Miami Beach club.

The 30-second ad, which features Murphy’s disheveled mug shot, doesn’t mention that Murphy was a teenager at the time or that the intoxication charge was dropped and the fake ID charge dismissed.

While Murphy was having his run-in with police, the ad says West was in Fort Hood, Texas, preparing to deploy to Iraq.

“Two men. A country in crisis. You decide,” a male narrator’s voice says at the end of the ad.

Murphy’s campaign responded by bringing up the 2003 incident in Iraq in which then-Lt. Col. West fired a gun near the head of an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation.

Military prosecutors charged West with assault and he potentially faced 11 years in prison and dishonorable discharge. After a military hearing, he was fined $5,000 and allowed to retire as a lieutenant colonel with a full pension.
read more here

Friday, September 28, 2012

Defense contractor had 518 decorated heroes social security numbers online!

UPDATE October 14, 2012

Army vows to help heroes after data breach

Decorated soldiers’ SSNs exposed online
Army Times
By Joe Gould
Posted : Friday Sep 28, 2012

The Army is investigating how a defense contractor’s data breach left vulnerable the Social Security numbers of Army’s most highly decorated soldiers since 2001, when a comprehensive awards database was posted online.

The exposed database contains the 31 Social Security numbers for six Medal of Honor recipients — including former Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry and four posthumous recipients — and 25 Distinguished Service Cross recipients.

“That super sucks,” Giunta told Army Times when contacted about the breach Sept. 28.

“Just the people it encompasses and who’s included, it’s like an attack on America. But people make mistakes. I wish it wouldn’t have happened.”

The database, which contains 518 records of award recipients, appeared to have been posted online by an employee of Brightline Interactive, a creative services firm in Alexandria, Va.

The database also included records of Silver Star recipients, including their names, ranks, unit information, and the date, place and a description of their action. But the Social Security numbers for the 487 Silver Star recipients were not included on the website.

read more here

101st Airborne receives unique gift from former Soldier

101st Airborne receives unique gift from former Soldier
September 27, 2012
by Sgt. Grant Matthes
101st Airborne Division

A unique flagstone rock that naturally formed to the shape of an eagle head was recently donated to the 101st Airborne Division.

“Seeing as it was the 70th anniversary of the 101st Airborne Division, it was the perfect time to present it,” said Paul Tereau, a former member of the Division and resident of the Fort Campbell area.

The stone was formed when quarry workers from Ash Fork, Ariz. were breaking down pieces of flagstone to be used as sidewalks.
read more here

Phoenix Suspect Shoots Self In Head On Live Fox

Video is available at the link below. Not posting it. Too graphic even though Huffington Post blocked the actual suicide.

Car Chase Suicide: Phoenix Suspect Shoots Self In Head On Live Fox
News Feed After 100 MPH Pursuit
The Huffington Post
By Andy Campbell
Posted: 09/28/2012

The vehicle that the suspect allegedly stole before shooting himself in the head. A long car chase with a Dodge Caliber in Phoenix, Ariz., ended with the suspect shooting himself in the head on live TV, appearing to commit suicide.

The driver, recorded live news helicopters, led law enforcement on a dangerous chase, traveling at speeds of nearly 100 mph.

Around 3:30 p.m. ET, at the end of the hour-long pursuit, he drove off the road, got out of his car and ran down a dirt path for a short period. He then appeared to shoot himself in the head and collapsed.

Fox News quickly cut away from the shot and went to commercial after the gruesome incident. Host Shepard Smith immediately apologized for airing what looked like a suicide.
read more here

Amy suicides for August at 25

Army suicides down in August
Stars and Stripes
Published: September 27, 2012

WASHINGTON — Army officials saw a drop in suicide cases in August, but remain on pace for another grim record this year.

Army officials said 25 soldiers – 16 of them active-duty troops – are believed to have killed themselves last month. That’s down from July, when the figure hit an all-time high of 38 suicides among the active and reserve forces.

For the year, the Army has already seen 131 potential active-duty suicide cases and another 80 guardsmen and reservists believed to have taken their own lives. That puts the service on pace to surpass 2010 – the deadliest year for suicides in the service – when 305 servicemembers killed themselves.
read more here

Veterans wait as claims pile up

Veterans wait as claims pile up
By The New York Times, Herald-Tribune
Friday, September 28, 2012

For Dennis Selsky, a Vietnam-era veteran with multiple sclerosis, it was lost documents. It seemed that every time he sent records to the Department of Veterans Affairs, they disappeared into the ether.

For Mickel Withers, an Iraq war veteran with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, it was a bureaucratic foul-up. The department said he received National Guard pay in 2009, though he had left the Guard the previous year, and cut his disability compensation by $3,000. He filed for bankruptcy to protect himself from creditors.

For Doris Hink, the widow of a World War II veteran, it was the waiting. The department took nearly two years to process her claim for a survivor’s pension, forcing her daughter to take $12,000 from savings to pay nursing home bills.

These are the faces of what has become known as “the backlog”: the crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.

Numbers tell the story. Last year, veterans filed more than 1.3 million claims, double the number in 2001. Despite having added nearly 4,000 new workers since 2008, the agency did not keep pace, completing less than 80 percent of its inventory.

This year, the agency has already completed more than one million claims for the third consecutive year. Yet it is still taking about eight months to process the average claim, two months longer than a decade ago. As of Monday, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending.

Skyrocketing costs have accompanied that flood of claims. By next year, the department’s major benefit programs — compensation for the disabled, pensions for the low-income and educational assistance — are projected to cost about $76 billion, triple the amount in 2001. By 2022, those costs are projected to rise nearly 70 percent to about $130 billion.
read more here
Good time to remember how we got here. Two wars producing more wounded veterans, claims made easier for PTSD and Agent Orange plus an ever graying veterans population and the number of employees went down. John Boehner's funny numbers

WWII veteran makes dream come true for Vietnam veteran

WWII veteran makes dream come true for Vietnam veteran
Marietta Daily Journal
by Jon Gillooly
September 28, 2012

ACWORTH — The wish of a World War II veteran made a Vietnam veteran’s dream come true on Thursday in the form of a new Habitat for Humanity house in Acworth.

Before he died in February, the late Army Lt. Col. Ashley Ivey donated a half-acre wooded lot on Womack Avenue off Cobb Parkway to Habitat for Humanity with the stipulation that any home built there go to a disabled veteran.

During the house dedication ceremony, Ivey’s niece, Beth Hoeve of Roswell, recalled how much her late uncle loved his country.

“While serving as a navigator … in WWII, he was shot down in German-occupied Holland, and the Dutch Resistance risked their lives to smuggle him to safety,” she said. “He never forgot their kindness. Col. Ashley and his (late) wife, Ruth, knew the importance of their faith in God and put it into action by serving others.”

Ivey went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He spent his retirement as a substitute teacher at North Cobb High School and as an active member of Acworth United Methodist Church, the Southern Order of Storytellers and other civic and volunteer activities.

Ivey died just months before he could see his dream of providing homeownership to another veteran realized. He had hoped that his donation would inspire others, especially members of the military, to also donate to veterans.

The property he left went to Vietnam veteran Lt. Victor Alvarado of Acworth, a grandfather of seven. A native of Puerto Rico, Alvarado injured his back while offloading 250-pound C-130 tires at Homestead Base, south of Miami, while serving in the Air Force. Later back surgery worsened the problem, he said.
Read more

After brother’s suicide, a helicopter pilot moves into chaplaincy

After brother’s suicide, a helicopter pilot moves into chaplaincy
Army Times
By Meghann Myers
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Sep 25, 2012

Almost as soon as Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Cover enlisted in the Army 10 years ago, suicide was front and center.

“One of the guys in my class had mentioned he wanted to hurt himself,” Cover said. “I was assigned as his battle buddy, so I went with him all day to his [behavioral health] visits.”

As a young soldier, he was a little irritated that he’d been called to take time out of his few free hours a day to babysit a fellow private. They didn’t say a lot to each other at the time, but Cover blames that on his inexperience.

“One of the misconceptions about suicide is that you don’t want to talk to the guy about it, because if you talk about it, you’ll give him ideas,” he said.

Now he finds that talking about it is the best treatment, because if they can talk about it, they’re less likely to actually do it.

Cover supervised half a dozen more guys in the following years. In his last combat mission before returning home from Iraq in March 2011, he flew a Blackhawk helicopter transporting the remains of a soldier who had committed suicide downrange.
read more here

Military absentee voting picks up

Military absentee voting picks up
Army Times
By Karen Jowers
Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Sep 27, 2012

With little more than a month to go before the election, activity has picked up among military community voters overseas.

In the first three weeks of September, when free express military mail service became available for overseas service members and their families, 5,556 absentee ballots were sent to the U.S. with the military-only mailing service — a 65 percent increase over the same period in 2010, when the free express mail service was first authorized for the election season, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Eric Eversole, executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project, said he is not surprised. “You would expect to see a sizeable increase in the number of absentee ballots being returned in a presidential year election as compared to a mid-term election,” he said.
read more here

Navy Vet's suicide note, plea to help others live with PTSD

Remembering John Bates, bringing awareness to PTSD
Sep 23, 2012
Written by
Lauren Scott

NORTH LITTLE ROCK Ark. (KTHV) -- A memorial service Sunday morning honored Petty Officer First Class John Bates' Bates. He was a member of the Navy before being medically discharged. He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before taking his life.

Family, friends and the Patriot Guard came out to the USS Razorback to honor the serviceman. Before Bates lost his battle to PTSD, he left his father a note, requesting he raise awareness to help others.

Bates' father tells us he is honoring that request, starting with today's service. He says, "It's amazing that everyone showed up and showed the support that they are."

John Studdard is proud of his son's accomplishments. He tells us his son served in the Navy for nine years, before being medically discharged after damaging his lungs in Desert Storm. Once Bates came back to the U.S., he worked for Government Services for 14 years before taking his life.

Bates left a note behind, admitting he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his last wish was to bring awareness so others don't battle with PTSD.
read more here

One Humanitarian Crisis You Haven't Donated To

She's right. Americans are so disconnected from everything about combat, they are clueless until it happens in their own families.

One Humanitarian Crisis You Haven't Donated To
Huffpost blog
Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA
Executive Director Harvesting Happiness

Support for the Afghanistan War has hit rock bottom. In a May Associated Press poll, an overwhelming 66 percent of Americans disapproved of the war, with only 27 percent giving our Afghanistan conflict a stamp of approval. But whether we like the war or not, the troops fighting on behalf of America need our support. Our veterans are facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of PTSD, and this humanitarian issue has nothing to do with politics.

As many as one-fifth of the 2.6 million veterans deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq since 2011 battle PTSD, an anxiety disorder characterized by painful flashbacks and nightmares triggered without notice. As the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs struggle to provide veterans with access to treatment services, many warriors and their families are left to suffer through the daily pain of PTSD alone.

Wars are often controversial, but we haven't seen this little public support for a conflict since the most protested years of the Vietnam War. And it seems that we've let our negative view of the war taint our view of the veterans fighting it just when they need our help.
read more here

I used to wonder why there are so many new charities popping up all over the country when there were even more established decades ago. This pretty much sums that answer up. Financial support is lacking for all of us.

I've been doing this 30 years. For most of that time, I held down a full time job, doing this part time. That changed 5 years ago. It's been full time, out of my own pocket and frankly it sucks to be me but I wouldn't stop doing this for all the money in the world.

I get up, read stories like I posted over the last couple of days, like Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor Hero, feeling like a burden to his family so he pulled over on the side of the road one day, pulled out his gun, put it to his head and pulled the trigger. For whatever reason, it didn't fire. And then the MP from Jacksonville committing suicide after suicide prevention training.

I read emails from veterans, family members and worried friends. Then I read emails from especially Moms after they can't understand how their sons and daughters managed to survive combat but couldn't survive being back home.

I have to beg for donations and even when I do that, few come in. A local VFW made me cry when they donated $1,000 to help me. I was over $3,000 in debt. Now it's only $2,000. It takes between $1-$2,000 a month to cover expenses, which is not a lot of money considering I travel all over Florida for meetings and film events the news is no longer interested in covering for veterans.

I don't mind giving up the income I lost as much as it does bother me while I am constantly asked to show up and be there when I'm needed, few show up to help me.

This is why established charities that have the answers are no longer here to answer the questions and millions are being wasted asking the wrong people.

If you can help them then step up. If not, then at least financially support the people who show up everyday.

You know where the donate button is on here so try kick in $5 or $10. It will at least put some gas in my car.

UK, 3 non-combat deaths in Afghanistan

Royal Marines Commando collapses and dies in Afghanistan after sudden illness
Mirror News
By Chris Hughes
25 Sep 2012

The special forces hero was rushed to a military hospital at Britain’s Camp Bastion base in Helmand Province but died

Royal Marines Commando collapses and dies in Afghanistan after sudden illness

The special forces hero was rushed to a military hospital at Britain’s Camp Bastion base in Helmand Province but died

A Royal Marine Commando has died on the Afghanistan front line following a sudden illness while fighting the Taliban.

The special forces hero was rushed to a military hospital at Britain’s Camp Bastion base in Helmand Province but died yesterday.

His devastated family and friends in the UK have been informed of the tragedy by senior officers.

It is thought he served with the elite Special Boat Service, which has played a major role in targeting the Taliban throughout the Afghan campaign, but the illness he suffered is not thought to be related to fighting the enemy.

A Ministry of Defence statement said today: “It is with great sadness that we must announce that a Royal Marine Commando died on 24 September in Afghanistan.

"His death is believed to have been from natural causes. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”

Two British soldiers also died in Afghanistan last Friday and Royal Military Police believed they both killed themselves.
read more here linked from David Icke

Wisconsin Air Force Veteran awarded $1.8 million discrimination suit

Former Wisconsin veterans affairs official awarded $1.8 million in discrimination ruling
Associated Press
September 27, 2012

MADISON, Wis. — A jury has awarded $1.8 million to a former Wisconsin veterans affairs administrator, agreeing that his boss reassigned him to a job 110 miles from home to punish him for backing a former colleague's claims that he was fired because of his race, age and sex.

Gary Wistrom, who was an assistant administrator at the state Department of Veterans Affairs veterans home in Union Grove, was awarded the compensatory and punitive damages Wednesday after a two-day trial in federal court in Madison.

Peter Fox, an attorney for the 30-year U.S. Air Force veteran, issued a statement saying he was pleased with the verdict.

"I am proud to be his lawyer," Fox said of Wistrom. "(He) received the due process that this country provides and that he dedicated his life to protect."
read more here

Coward Senator anonymously blocked COLA Veterans Bill

Update Hold Lifted

It takes a real coward of a Senator to block a raise for veterans and not do it publicly!
Which Senator Put a Hold on Veterans Benefits Bill?
Sep 27, 2012
AUTHOR Jamie Reno

A routine bill for a cost-of-living increase for military veterans and surviving spouses just got delayed for months because of a secret hold by an unidentified Senate Republican.

In what appears to be an election-year stunt that quickly backfired, an unidentified Republican senator on Thursday briefly blocked disabled veterans and their survivors from getting a cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, which typically passes the House and Senate without opposition, was cleared by Senate Democrats but placed on a “secret hold” Thursday by an unidentified Republican senator, Murray says.

Under Senate rules, a single senator is allowed to anonymously keep a bill from advancing toward a vote with what is called a “secret hold.” The senator in this case has not been identified.
read more here

WPVI News doesn't know difference between Medal of Honor and Congressional Gold Medal

Congressional Gold Medal and this is Medal of Honor.
How could a news station care so little about what they reported on they made a mistake like this?

One more thing to notice is the title itself. "Old living" and not Oldest.

Old living Marine receives Medal of Honor
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Lisa Thomas-Laury
Action News

MONTGOMERY CO, Pa. - September 27, 2012 (WPVI) -- A trail-blazing Marine from Montgomery County has received the nation's highest civilian honor, but that's not all that distinguishes Richard Washington from others.'

He is also the oldest living Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

At the age of 102, Richard Washington is finally getting his due.

Richard Washington was among the first African American marines to break the U.S. Marine Corp's strict racial barrier during World War II.

"God bless me, one of these days, I want to be a Marine, but they didn't want me," said Washington.

While other branches of the military had opened the door for blacks, the Marines upheld a policy of exclusion.

"But when the president gave that order in 1942," he said; that's when he was able to enlist.
read more here

Double amputee Marine returns to community greeting

Injured Marine Returns Home to Munford
WREG Memphis
September 27, 2012
by Natasha Chen

(Munford, TN) A marine injured in Afghanistan was due to return home to West Tennessee late Thursday night, after spending nearly a year recovering from an explosion.

As of 11p.m., his flight from D.C. was delayed until early Friday morning. Some supporters in his hometown were still waiting to welcome him back through downtown Munford.

L. Cpl. Christian Brown lost both his legs in the blast last November, and after several months, developed the ability to walk using prosthetics.

Late Thursday night, dozens of Patriot Guard Riders waited with close family and friends at Memphis International Airport to escort him home to Munford.
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At Fort Eustis, the battle against suicide intensifies

This started out to be a great day. This report about Chief Warrant Officer 4 Clifford W. Bauman provides a lot of hope. This approach will help as more and more talk about their own battles.
At Eustis, the battle against suicide intensifies
By Hugh Lessig
September 27, 2012

( Sangjib Min, Daily Press / September 27, 2012 )
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Clifford W. Bauman, right, talks of his experience with PTSD during a round table discussion at Fort Eustis in Newport News on Thursday.
Plagued by anguish and misplaced guilt, Bauman began to drink and lose sleep. Co-workers who enjoyed his joking mood saw his work begin to suffer. He entered counseling, but he wasn't honest with his counselor and didn't make progress.

In December 2002, he downed 20 sleeping pills, wrote a suicide note and passed out. Bauman credits his brother – who "had a feeling" – with stopping by the house and saving his life. That day turned his life around.

"At that point, I realized I had to be honest, I had to be truthful," he said.

He not only progressed through private counseling, in 2010 he decided to tell his story in public. That launched him on a new phase of his life: Trying to reach soldiers who, like him, felt like they were losing control.

— Last year, two soldiers at Fort Eustis died of suicide. So far this year, two suicides are confirmed but officials said Thursday another six cases are under investigation as possible self-inflicted deaths.

The potential rising rate at the Newport News installation reflects the larger battle the Army is waging against suicide. On Thursday, the Army held a worldwide suicide prevention stand down, setting aside routine activity to focus attention on the problem and talk about dealing with soldiers who are suicidal, depressed and who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Statistics indicate the Army has yet to turn the corner.

The good news, according to Betak and others, is that large numbers of soldiers are now coming forward to talk about mental health concerns. That suggests the Army is making progress in reducing the stigma that comes with taking that first step, Betak said.

In 2008, the Eustis behavioral health clinic logged about 3,500 patient visits, Betak said. That increased to about 9,000 in 2009 and 12,000 last year.

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Sailor turned soldier killed by suicide bomber in Afghanistan

Suicide bomber kills Fredonia soldier
Updated: Thursday, 27 Sep 2012
Jacquie Walker
Posted by: Eli George

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A Fredonia man who served his country first in the Navy for six years, and then returned to duty in the U.S. Army, has been killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

Family members tell News 4 28-year-old Army Sergeant Jonathan Gollnitz was devoted to his 4-year-old son and service to his country.

His grandma, Minnie Gollnitz, said, "Guarding the Army headquarters and a suicide bomber comes by and I guess he got blown up."

Gollnitz had previously served in Iraq and had only been in Afghanistan for the past two to three months.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Containers carrying cremains of 56 people found in foreclosed home

Cremains thought to be interred at national cemetery
Sept. 26, 2012
By Kelli Wynn
Staff Writer

Dayton — Dellaina Grundy thought her father’s cremains had been interred at the Dayton National Cemetery more than 10 years ago.

On Tuesday, she found out that his remains were among containers carrying cremains of 56 people that had been found last week at foreclosed Dayton home co-owned by former funeral director Scherrie McLin.

“My mother got a call from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. She was told that they had found his remains in the home,” said Grundy of Jefferson Township. “He assured me that he was positive that my father was not in that grave. He had his remains in his office.”

The coroner’s office so far has contacted 20 families about loved one’s remains being found at the house at 2121 Philadelphia Drive, which is co-owned by McLin’s half sister Tanya Anderson.
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linked from Stars and Stripes

Captain mounts Harley to Stop Soldier Suicides

Posted on September 26, 2012
by Eddie Scarry

Brian Kinsella never had any suicidal thoughts when he served in the U.S. Army. But he knew people who did and who followed through with them.

“I think going through deployment as a single man who didn’t have a family or children at home, I was in a much different place,” Kinsella told TheBlaze. “I didn’t deal with some things that other soldiers dealt with.”

Kinsella’s experience led him to create Stop Soldier Suicide, a non-profit that aims to raise awareness about suicide in the military and offer mental health counseling to soldiers who need it. On Friday, he’s attempting to further his cause by embarking on a 5,000-mile cross-country trip. It starts in Washington state, ends in New York City and he’s doing the whole thing on a Harley motorcycle.

Through the Stop Soldier Suicide website and social media, Kinsella said he’s seen outpouring of support across the country for his trip. He’s hoping many of the people who have reached out, soldiers and non-soldiers alike, will join him on their own Harleys as he passes through their towns.

The suicide rate is a big concern for the Army. So far in 2012 (through July), there have been 66 confirmed suicides among active-duty Army personnel and 50 more potential suicides that are still being investigated. For all of last year, the Army reported 165 confirmed suicides. Among non-active soldiers, there have been 54 confirmed suicides among Army National Guard and Army Reserve personnel compared with 118 confirmed suicides for all of 2011.
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Beau Biden holds veterans roundtable in Columbus

Beau Biden holds veterans roundtable in Columbus
By: Lydia Coutre
The Columbus Dispatch
September 27, 2012

Beau Biden, Delaware Attorney General and Iraq war veteran, stopped in Columbus this morning to talk to veterans about how their care and benefits would look under presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“Governor Romney confuses the defense budget with the (Veterans Affairs) budget,” Biden said. “He talks about wanting to increase the defense budget as if that’s going to help veterans. It doesn't. They’re two separate budgets.”

Sitting around a table in the back of Cup of Joe in German Village, Biden and Rob Diamond, the Obama campaign’s National Veterans and Military Families Vote Director, talked jobs, healthcare and support with about a dozen veterans.

Biden contrasted an $11 billion cut in Veterans Affairs spending in year one proposed in Paul Ryan’s budget with Obama’s spending record. “He’s increased VA spending by more than any president has in 30 years,” Biden said.

These numbers concern Bernard Pontones, secretary and treasurer of Vietnam Veterans of Ohio.
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Veterans may review VA benefit information on foundation website

Veterans may review VA benefit information on foundation website
Sep. 27, 2012
USA Today
By Joan Noricks
Guest Columnist

Believe it or not, Michigan ranks last among the states in its dollar receipt of Veterans Affairs benefits. Yet Michigan is home to more than 704,000 veterans, making it the 11th largest veteran population in the United States.

Clearly, there's a significant gap between the size of our veterans' population and the dollar amount of benefits individual veterans receive. Michigan is below what is called the median Geographic Distribution of VA expenditures (GDX), which is $4,703. Michigan's GDX is $3,409. If Michigan could increase its distribution of benefit dollars to that median level, the state would reap an additional $1.03 billion, which just might be a help to our economy.

The Canton Community Foundation staff and board are still in awe at the unprecedented attendance at our recent third annual Veterans' Summit Sept. 13. Following presentations on specific VA benefits, veterans had plenty of questions and comments.

As we watched veterans pour into the Laurel Manor Banquet & Conference Center for the summit, many armed with their military paperwork, we fully realized that our decision to host the annual forum is on the right track.

Far too many veterans are unaware of their potential benefits and how to obtain them. On the other hand, we heard plenty of frustrated veterans who, in some cases, have spent years trying to get benefits.
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Record high suicide rate prompts Army-wide initiative, again

Army pauses operations for mandatory suicide prevention training
Record high suicide rate prompts Army-wide initiative
By Erin Cox
The Baltimore Sun
September 26, 2012

At Fort Meade, where the suicide rate among service members is six times higher than that of the entire state, a crowd of 75 soldiers offered mostly silence when Mark Fisher asked them to list potential warning signs that a colleague is about to take his or her own life.

Col. John B. Wells, commander of the U.S. Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, listens to mandatory suicide prevention training in the Post Theater on base. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / September 26, 2012)

"The only way we're going to attack suicides is to talk about it," Fisher urged them.

"We have to get it. And this is the only way."

Fort Meade's mandatory suicide prevention training Wednesday was part of an Army-wide initiative undertaken as the military branch is on pace to reach its highest-ever suicide rate. The number of suicides each year has nearly doubled since 2005, from 87 to 165 last year. And the number of monthly suicides doubled from June to July — when suicides outpaced combat deaths of active-duty soldiers.

Aberdeen Proving Ground will hold its "stand down" training Thursday as military installations around the globe temporarily halt operations to focus on suicide prevention.

"Out of 365 days of the year, we're taking a day that was otherwise devoted to something else and saying: That's not as important as this," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said in a conference call.

"The nation has asked our soldiers to carry a heavy load over the past 11 years, and they have not let us down. But suicide is an enemy we have yet to beat."

At the current pace, the Army's suicide rate would be its highest yet at 29 deaths per 100,000 people this year. Fort Meade saw six suicides within the past 12 months among its military population of 11,600 people, base spokeswoman Mary Doyle said. Based on those numbers, the rate for Fort Meade would be more than 50 per 100,000 people.
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DOD condescending attitude kills suicide prevention