Monday, December 31, 2012

Bragg soldier killed in N.C. hunting incident may be homicide

Bragg soldier killed in N.C. hunting incident
The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Dec 31, 2012

SANFORD, N.C. — Authorities say a hunter who died after being shot in Lee County was a Fort Bragg soldier.

Staff Sgt. Robert Devitto, 26, joined the Army in 2005 after graduating from high school in Pennsylvania, according to The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He served tours in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friends found Devitto on Dec. 18 with buckshot wounds to his face and chest after he didn’t return home from duck hunting alone on state wildlife game lands. He died three days later. His death is being investigated as a homicide.
read more here

Two tour Iraq veteran lost everything in fire

At 21 Steven Stack has now survived two deployments into Iraq and now, a fire.
Iraq War Vet Loses Everything In Condo Fire
Edward Moody
December 28, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A large fire ripped through more than a half-dozen condos in Uptown Minneapolis Friday morning, sending huge clouds of smoke into the air and one resident to the hospital.

The flames quickly chewed through three floors at the 100-year-old building on Lake Street and Irving.

The fire burned for hours before dozens of firefighters could finally get the upper hand. The culprit was found to be unattended candles.

The people who lived in the eight-unit building lost everything. Among them was a young Iraq War veteran who says he’s been trying to get back on his feet.

Steven Stack says he heard about the fire while riding the bus on his way home from work.

“I did not expect that it was the building I’ve been staying in,” he said. “You go to work, you get off and you just plan on going about your day.”

Stack says he served two tours of duty in Iraq. The 21-year-old army specialist says he’s been working through post-traumatic stress disorder. He says seeing flames shooting out of his building didn’t help his condition.
read more here

God and family helped homecoming soldier

Soldier Adjusts to Life at Home After Afghanistan
Associated Press
December 31, 2012 (AP)

First Lt. Aaron Dunn deployed to Afghanistan in early March 2012. His 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was charged with engaging Taliban fighters in Kunar Province and mentoring Afghan government soldiers. Upon returning, here are some of his views.

Coming home:

"War and coming home are going to mean different things to each soldier. For me it was God and family. I get my security in life from my hope in God, and my companionship and support from my family. I really didn't worry too much during deployment, because of that faith."
read more here

Soldier from Ocala Florida killed in Afghanistan

Miami Herald
Relatives tell the Ocala Star-Banner that Sims got married in October, and his wife is pregnant.

North Florida private killed in Afghanistan
December 31, 2012

A Florida soldier who was on his first deployment to Afghanistan was killed this weekend in an explosion, the Pentagon said Monday.

Army Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, north of Ocala, died Saturday in Panjwal, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, according to a Defense Department statement.
Read more here

17 Year old prank called suicide prevention hotline

Suicide hot line prank call highlights mental health services available to area families
By Kathryn Brenzel
The Express-Times
December 30, 2012

A call confessing suicidal thoughts sent swarms of law enforcement descending on a house where they expected to possibly find a slain teenage girl and her father, who’d confessed to shooting her.

What they found was a 17-year-old Mansfield Township boy who’d invented the plot as a prank, police say.

The teen, later charged with creating false public alarm, allegedly called a Warren County suicide prevention hot line and said he’d shot his daughter and was thinking of turning the gun on himself. Several agencies responded, ultimately wasting resources and incurring overtime costs, said Mansfield Township police Lt. Michael Reilly.

The threshold of anonymity on suicide hot lines is crossed when the caller threatens harm to others or themselves. At that point, law enforcement is contacted, Reilly said.

“It puts everyone at risk because we don’t know what we’re responding to,” he said of the prank. “Everybody’s short on resources. Any major event, we all help each other out.”

The alleged joke highlighted the severity of making false reports, but it also showed how a county network can react to crises involving children and their families.

Communication between crisis intervention, law enforcement and other mental health agencies is key to quickly and accurately responding to situations, said Warren County Prosecutor Richard Burke.
read more here

How Badly Will Budget Cuts Hurt Troops?

How Badly Will Budget Cuts Hurt Troops?
Dec 31, 2012
Stars and Stripes
by Joyce Tsai

WASHINGTON -- In the final presidential debate, President Barack Obama declared to the American people with unflinching certainty that sequestration “will not happen.”

Two months later, the Jan. 1 deadline is looming, with no debt reduction deal in sight.

Now what?

How quickly and deeply will these automatic defense budget cuts totaling about $500 billion over the next decade hit troops, Defense Department civilians and contractors?

And how much will they hurt?

Many experts agree: “The sky is not going to suddenly fall on Jan. 2,” said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. “In fact, we are likely to see hardly any impacts in that first week.”

But in the weeks that follow, the D0D could begin implementing the furlough plan for civilian employees that was announced before Christmas by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The Defense Department could hit the entire civilian workforce -- about 700,900 full-time employees -- with furloughs. In that instance, offices would not be shuttered.

Furloughs would come in waves and in a rolling manner, so only a handful of civilian employees from each department would stay home without pay each month.
read more here

Wounded Times Year End Thank You

Wounded Times Year End Thank You
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 31, 2012

It has been a crazy, busy, year. In May I finished Valencia College Digital Media Certification. Not bad, ended up with a 3.1 GPA.

The top post this year as well as last year was For Those I Love I will Sacrifice with a total of 35,038 views.

In November I re-released For the Love of Jack, His War/My Battle the book I self published in 2002 trying to warn families about what they were facing with combat and PTSD.

Last month I started a new book, The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War, because of requests from families needing help when someone they love committed suicide. I hope to have it finished next month.

I need your prayers while I get through this because it is emotionally draining.

Up until I was done with college, I didn't want to ask for donations because it just didn't seem right.

In August, I finally received my tax exempt from the State of Florida and was able to start getting donations. Up until then, all the work I did, the travel, equipment, food, phone and everything else was coming out of my husband's pocket. Usually it runs between $1,000 and $2,000 a month depending on how much traveling I have to do. While this is really low for a charity, what I do does not cost much at all, but when you are talking about taking the money out of your personal budget, it hurts!

Donations for 2012
August 24, 2012
Lenny $25.00

August 25, 2012
Rofkens $20.00

August 26, 2012
Fearless $10.00
Theresa $50.00

August 27, 2012
John $10.00

August 28, 2012
Ed and Sue $50.00
Veterans Multi-purpose Center $100.00
Thomas $25.00

September 4, 2012
Ivy $25.00
Aaron $50.00

September 18, 2012
VFW $1,000

October 13, 2012
Judith, $10.00

November 2, 2012
Richard $50.00

November 12, 2012
Kim $20.00

November 13, 2012
Steve $100.00

November 14, 2012
Michael and Patricia $200.00

November 27, 3012
Brian $20.00

December 6, 2012
Lenny $20.00

December 16, 2012
Nam Knights $200.00

This is what your money helped me do and I thank you very much for your support. You helped all of these groups get some attention for the work they are doing.

Videos filmed for veterans around Central Florida for 2012
January 22
Stunt Show Motorcycle Crash
Orlando Bikers Against Child Abuse
February 3
Memorial Service for John Michael Barrett
February 7
WWII Four Chaplains Service
February 12
WWII Montford Point Marine
February 22
Veterans Walk of Honor
March 8
Memorial Service for Daniel Hurley
March 10
DAV Dinner for Wounded Warriors
March 10
Nam Knights Bike Week Party
Dannis Bish
April 12
Three Wounded Veterans
April 15
Orlando Marines Come Home
April 18
Dannis Bish Memorial Service
April 19
April 22
Vietnam Wall Escort
April 29
Guitarists Plays With One Hand
April 29
Veterans Reunion
May 7
Medal of Honor Sammy Davis
Combat? Talk About It
Nam Knights Homes For Our Troops Fundraiser
MOH Sammy Davis Shenandoah
May 27
Ocoee Memorial Day
May 28
Vietnam War Museum Memorial Day
May 31
Glen Haven Memorial Day
June 17
Orlando DAV Volunteers
DAV Convention Candy Man
Member of the Year Award I ended up filming myself getting the Auxiliary Award
June 23
Home Depot Helps DAV
June 28
VFW Military Awards
July 18
Orlando DAV New Officers
July 22
Rebel Rider Magazine Anniversary
July 28
Funeral for Capt. Bruce MacFarlane
August 7
Purple Heart Day
August 18
Lukas Nursery Butterfly Encounter about Spiritual Healing
August 29
DAV Van Dedication
September 15
Orlando Marines Fundraiser
Orlando US Navy Chief Petty Officers
September 23
Renewal of Vows Ambush
October 18
Nam Knights Memorial Dannis Bish
Nam Knights Memorial Eternal Chapter
November 11
Healing PTSD with Horse Power
November 18
Giving Thanks for Veterans
December 8
Coast Guard Fill the Boat
December 16
Coast Guard Fill the Boat Wrap Up
December 22
Brothers in Bras

Videos created for 2012

All of these videos from this year, as well as videos done going back to 2006, were all done for free! The donations above, while deeply appreciated, were not enough to cover the cost of going to these events during the year. The editing program to turn footage into videos is $2,500. Camera equipment along with everything else is very expensive. My car is getting old on top of everything else, so if you want to see more veterans events covered next year, I'm counting on you to carry me through!

Remember, your donations are tax deductible and also cover spiritual counseling I do with veterans and their families.

New Hampshire Nam Knights welcome home Jose Pequeno

If you know the Nam Knights, they do this kind of thing all the time and I do mean "kind" so it is great to see the New Hampshire Nam Knights get some recognition for how much they really do care about the men and women risking their lives everyday. Jose Pequeno was a police chief and was wounded in Iraq. The Nam Knights are members of law enforcement, firefighters and veterans.
Former police chief Jose Pequeno, injured in Iraq, comes home
By RAY DUCKLER Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Iron Mike and Rhino never saw it coming.

They never figured Jose Pequeno, the former Sugar Hill police chief, would react as he did Friday at the Concord airport. Hadn’t that brain injury Pequeno suffered in Iraq pushed him into a world of darkness? Hadn’t that grenade tossed into his humvee nearly seven years ago wiped clean his memories, his emotions, his very identity?

That’s what people like Iron Mike and Rhino, along with the others with the rugged nicknames and the biker jackets and the barrel chests, thought when they greeted Pequeno on his trip home for Christmas.

Instead, Pequeno cried.

So the tough guys did, too.

“I saw him shortly after he came home from Iraq, and he was still in and out of surgery back then, in real rough shape,” said Iron Mike, whose real name is Mike Dempsey. “It’s very personal, but I feel as if he recognizes who we are now. When we talked to him, you could see his eyes light up and his face light up. To me, that tells me that he recognizes the voice, that he gets excited and makes it known through his own way.”

Dempsey is a 51-year-old former Marine with a gravely voice and a passion for motorcycles. He rode with Pequeno’s father in the Nam Knights of America, a philanthropic organization of retired law enforcement officers and military veterans.

They raise money, and they roll out the red carpet for people like Pequeno.

Four Nam Knights joined hands to lower Pequeno down the stairs, off a plane flown by a volunteer pilot from Land O’ Lakes, Fla., where Pequeno is now being cared for by his mother and sister. His wife and three kids still live here, in the small North Country town of Lisbon.
read more here

Sunday, December 30, 2012

'Spiritual Triage' Training for Military Chaplains in Orlando

'Spiritual Triage' Training for Military Chaplains
Dec 25, 2012
Orlando Sentinel
by Richard Burnett

During more than a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military chaplains often found themselves caught between heaven and hell: one moment leading a prayer service, the next dodging enemy fire to be at the side of a dying soldier.

From loss, grief and post-traumatic stress to plain old holiday blues, combat chaplains have seen it all in responding to calls for help from soldiers struggling with issues of faith and doubt, life and death.

Now, with the U.S. out of Iraq, operations winding down in Afghanistan and military spending under budget-cutting pressure, the Army is calling on Central Florida's computer-simulation training industry to create new "virtual" exercises for chaplains -- at a bargain price.

By all accounts, it is the first time the local training-simulation industry has tackled the sometimes thorny issue of war and faith. Considered the country's largest cluster of military-training contractors, the local industry is known more for high-tech weapons simulators than for counseling simulations -- much less religious ones.

Yet training-simulation engineers in Orlando are now crafting "serious-game" software to lead chaplains through a "virtual battlefield" in which they respond to injured and dying soldiers. Dubbed the "Spiritual Triage Trainer," it is based on a combat-medic training simulator that the Army has been using for the past several years.

"The Army's chaplain school really doesn't have a budget for these kinds of things, so we were looking for something we already have that we could reuse," said Beth Pettit, chief of medical-simulation training at the U.S. Army Research Lab's simulation-technology center in Orlando. "We saw this as low-hanging fruit: a low-cost system that could be turned around relatively quickly."
read more here

Formerly homeless vet finds a place in a widow's heart and home

Ken Reusser obituary in the LA Times brings a lot more meaning to this already wonderful story about his widow Trudy.
He received 59 medals during his career, and his 253 combat missions are considered the most ever by a Marine pilot.
After his retirement, he worked for Lockheed Aircraft, where he helped develop the U-2 spy plane, and then the Piasecki Helicopter Co. Retiring to his native Oregon, he was active in veterans groups.
He and his wife, Trudy, made headlines in 2004 when they defiantly refused to leave their home after it went into foreclosure. The couple had lost much of their retirement savings in a high-risk investment and then a swindle by a bookkeeper. Ultimately they were forced to obey a court order.

Now that you know the backstory on this, read what Trudy Reusser did.

Formerly homeless vet finds a place in a widow's heart and home
Published: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
By Mike Francis
The Oregonian

If there's one thing on which everyone -- activists, columnists, elected officials, cabinet secretaries, even the president of the United States -- seems to agree, it's that Americans should support military veterans.

Bind their wounds. Give them jobs. Provide them counseling. Welcome them home. Easy to say, harder to do.

This is the story of one welcoming. It involves a 73-year-old Milwaukie widow and her housemate, a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran.

She was married for almost 35 years to a legendary military aviator, living in a place she and her husband built before he died three years ago.

And he is her helper, sleeping in a warm bed in her spare bedroom, out of the cold and the rain since she invited him in.

If Trudy Reusser and Norm Gotovac seem an unlikely pair, that's because you don't know Reusser.

"She is a wonderful lady," says her friend, Kay Saddler of Hemlock, Ore. "She would give the shirt off her back and the shoes and socks off her feet if it would help a veteran."

Reusser. Why is that name familiar?

Military history buffs will know instantly: Ken Reusser is the most decorated Marine pilot in history. He displayed extraordinary bravery in combat not once, but repeatedly, across decades. He is, it is believed, the only pilot to have survived being downed in World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam. He was awarded the Navy Cross twice, the Legion of Merit with V twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross five times, four Purple Hearts and numerous other commendations.
read more here

LAPD get rocket launchers in gun buyback?

Rocket launchers turned in to LAPD apparently were from military
The Los Angeles Times
Published: December 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Two rocket launchers turned into the Los Angeles Police Department as part of the city's gun buyback event appear to be antitank weapons from the military, experts said.

Police said the people turning them in at the buyback told officers they had family members who were at one time in the military and "they no longer wanted the launchers in their homes."

Several military experts said one of the weapons was probably a version of the AT4, an unguided antitank weapon. It's a single-shot weapon that a soldier fires and then discards the tubing.
read more here

Marine takes down burglar with bare hands

Marine takes down burglar in his parent's Wash. home
The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review
Published: December 29, 2012

After two dangerous tours in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle confronted a new threat on the home front: a burglar in his parent’s Spokane Valley home.

Home for the holidays, the 22-year-old Pohle returned to their house after running errands and found the front door open “as plain as a summer’s day.” The family dog sat in the front yard along the 12400 block of East Desmet Road.

Without hesitation Pohle rushed inside after telling his wife to stay in the car. He stormed into the home, burst into his parents bedroom and took suspected burglar Christopher Schwanke, 43, to the floor.

After a short struggle, Pohle had him in a choke hold and Schwanke pleaded for his freedom. “Let me go, let me go,” Pohle’s mom heard Schwanke begging before he stopped moving.

Pohle credited his military training for the take down move and pointed out the blood on his pants and shirt that didn’t belong to him.
read more here

A different kind of Christmas miracle for a war veteran

Fred Grimm: A different kind of Christmas miracle for a war veteran
Miami Herald
December 29, 2012

Think of it as a kind of Christmas miracle. That what should have happened actually happened. That a war-damaged veteran got the help he needed. That a terrifying scenario — an unhinged former soldier holed up with a cache of assault weapons and ammo — was defused.

What should have happened actually happened, despite irrational state laws governing mental health interventions, despite Florida’s fiscal neglect of mental health services.

The 26-year-old Iraq War vet, his reasoning bent by the stress and trauma of combat (and perhaps a brain injury), had barricaded himself in his two-story town house off 109th Avenue in Northwest Miami-Dade County, where he stewed in apocalyptic notions and insurrectionist paranoia. His relatives were terrified that as his mental state deteriorated, the potential for a deadly confrontation was escalating. They knew he kept a dreadful collection of firearms, a virtual armory, inside a town house not far from a school.

That the vet was in urgent need of mental health treatment seemed obvious. He had covered the interior walls of his home with bizarre drawings and portentous slogans: “Everyone must die.” He had tacked bullet-riddled firing range targets, black human silhouettes, on the wall. He raved that the nation was about to dissolve into some final explosion of chaotic violence. He had strategically placed his guns — police would later find 20 assault weapons and seven other firearms, along with more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition — arrayed near the home’s windows, ready to fend off the imagined final siege. (His town house complex is not far from the K-through-12 Miami Christian School.)

But none of these factors, given Florida’s mental health laws and miserly funding (last in the nation) of mental health services, would necessarily lead to real treatment. All too often, after the mentally ill are taken to one of the county’s overcrowded crisis stabilization centers, they’re out again in a few hours, said Habsi W. Kaba, who runs Miami-Dade’s crisis intervention program.

It could have happened with the vet. That it didn’t, that he was involuntarily committed to a Veteran’s Administration hospital after his Baker Act (mental health) hearing on Thursday, was serendipity. Like I said: a Christmas miracle.
read more here

Montana National Guard "nonexistent suicide-awareness plan"

Veteran: 'I just always hoped that I would be in that freak car accident'
Billings Gazette
10 hours ago
By Cindy Uken

When Casey Elder enlisted in the Montana Army National Guard as a 17-year-old, she was not impressed with the organization’s nearly nonexistent suicide-awareness plan.

She and her friends called it a joke.

She recalls attending a short class during basic training on how to recognize the warning signs of depression and suicide and how to report it. She recalls no specific training prior to her deployment to Iraq, where she worked as a gunner for security envoys, armed with an M249 squad automatic weapon, an M16 and pistol.

While helping rebuild Baghdad’s police departments, her Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb. She suffered permanent nerve damage in her wrist, elbow and shoulder. She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

When she arrived home, Elder, now 28 and living in Billings, said there was a little more talk about suicide awareness and prevention during a one-hour PowerPoint program and she was handed an 800 number to call.

“That’s about the extent of it,” she said.

Once Elder left the Guard, she became separated from those with whom she deployed and others in the military. She did not talk to her fellow service members and became despondent.

“I never wanted to take my own life, but I did struggle with wanting to be dead and not having to deal with the struggles, the PTSD and the brain injury,” Elder said. “I just always hoped that I would be in that freak car accident.”
read more here

Seven of the men who deployed to Iraq with Ryan Ranalli have committed suicide

Veterans twice as likely to commit suicide as civilians

After The Kiss Brandon Morgan Interview

Dec 28, 2012
This February began with one of the most iconic photographs of the entire year, that of USMC Sgt.. Brandon Morgans welcome home kiss with boyfriend Dalan Wells....a photo that has come to be synonymous with the end of DADT. Well we had the incredible fortune of being able to sit down with Brandon and Dalan and to to get their point of view on how that photo has affected their lives and whats in store for their future.

Military suicides and non-deployed

When you read about "non-deployed" servicemen and women committing suicide, you should never dismiss the military connection. These stories will help you understand that these men and women, while just as human as the rest of us, are different from the rest of us. They wanted to be of service to their country and to others. While they were willing to die for this reason, we did not give them a reason to live.

A Mother Talks About Her Son’s Military Suicide
DECEMBER 20, 2012

According to the Defense Department, most military suicides are among people with no history of deployment.

Peggy Scallorn’s 18-year-old son Cody was part of that statistic. Cody was in the Air Force and was only a few months out of basic training last January when he took his own life.

Anchor Marco Werman talks to Scallorn about her son.
click link to hear report

Military Suicide Among Soldiers Who Haven’t Deployed
DECEMBER 20, 2012

The epidemic of suicide in the US military corresponds with the US involvement in parallel wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the latest figures confirm a confusing fact: Most soldiers who kill themselves have never deployed to a combat zone, and the vast majority have never been in battle at all. Frontline reporter Sarah Childress examines what’s behind the statistic.

The stereotype of the soldier who kills himself—a combat veteran plagued by post-traumatic stress -— is a familiar one to Craig Bryan, the associate director of the National Center of Veterans’ Studies at the University of Utah. “That is the storyline that we have created in our society because it’s a simple storyline and it intuitively makes sense,” he says. “The problem is that the data doesn’t support the notion that it is as simple as combat leads directly to suicide risk.”

Last year, 53 percent of service members who killed themselves had no history of deployment, according to the Defense Department’s most recent data. And about 85 percent of military members who took their lives had no direct combat history, meaning they may have been deployed but not seen action.

Suicide is complex, so there’s no simple explanation for why these service members are killing themselves in greater numbers. But experts who have studied the problem say that one factor may be the pressure from the back-to-back wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
click link for more and to hear report

Veterans twice as likely to commit suicide as civilians

Veterans twice as likely to commit suicide as civilians
Billings Gazette
7 hours ago
By Cindy Uken

They return from war traumatized.

They have survived the grinding stress of being in constant danger. They have seen the worst. Some have injuries that will never heal.

To stay alive, they have learned to trust no one and to never show weakness.

It’s something they don’t want to talk about.

And it’s killing them.

Veterans commit suicide at a rate that is twice the national average. In fact, the annual military death toll from suicides has for several years exceeded the number killed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For some returning vets, their injuries are obvious. Many others struggle with unseen wounds like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

But, it’s not just combat vets. In 2010, at least 54 percent of U.S. military suicides had no history of deployment and 89 percent had no combat experience, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s one-year-old Suicide Prevention Office.

Even for healthy veterans, returning home isn’t always a relief. Many miss the structure of military life and the companionship of their comrades. They find themselves competing for jobs with younger workers who have more up-to-date training. And some return to relationships that have withered or even broken in their absence.

It can all be too much.

In Montana, where nearly 10 percent of the population has served in the military, at least 460 veterans committed suicide between 2002 and 2011, according to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.

“We go to war to protect ourselves and to give our kids, our grandkids and ourselves the lifestyle we have every day,” said Kellie Lafave, an RN and suicide prevention coordinator for VA Montana since 2005. “Sometimes we don’t want to think about the consequences of what we ask people to do in order to make that happen.”

The rate of suicides among veterans in Montana reflects the state’s high rate.
read more here

Seven of the men who deployed to Iraq with Ryan Ranalli have committed suicide

Montana National Guard non-existant suicide prevention plan

Seven of the men who deployed to Iraq with Ryan Ranalli have committed suicide

Right now I'm struggling trying to figure out the best post title to do this report justice. Too many parts of this story that need to be paid attention to and yet I'm wondering why we still have to read stories like this after all these years.
Veteran: 'You're taught in the military that you don't ask for help'
Billings Gazette
8 hours ago
By Cindy Uken

“You’re taught in the military that you don’t ask for help,” Ranalli said. “If you do, it’s a sign of weakness, especially in the infantry, to talk to somebody or to ask for help. You’re looked down upon. It’s just kind of beat into you. You’re supposed to be self-sufficient.”
HELENA — Seven of the men who deployed to Iraq with Ryan Ranalli have committed suicide. The latest killed himself in August.

Ranalli, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, saw how the deaths gutted family members.

Despite struggling with the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, Ranalli, 33, vowed that suicide would never be an option.

Yet about 9 p.m. on April 8, an angry and drunken Ranalli mumbled something to his wife, “I love you,” or “You know I will always love you” and sought refuge in the family’s garage.

There, the 200-pound, 6-foot, 3-inch veteran grabbed a parachute cord, wrapped it around his neck and slung it over a beam.

His horrified wife, Jamie, placed a frantic call to his parents who live two minutes away and then went to the garage to be with her husband of two years.

“I thought if I was standing there he wasn’t going to do anything,” Jamie said, choking back tears.

Ranalli’s father cut the cord to rescue his son.

He was transported immediately to the VA hospital.

The drunken episode was the first in about two years.

“I didn’t ever expect that to happen,” Jamie said. “That’s never been him. In my heart I don’t believe it was a serious attempt. I believe it was a cry for help. I believe he was just so overloaded with the feelings and the emotions. Of course, the drinking didn’t help any of that. I believe he was screaming to get him somewhere where he could unload all of this.”

Ranalli remembers nothing of that night, but recalls with precision the events that led to his alcohol-fueled decision.

He was a squad leader with the 502nd Infantry Brigade in March 2003 when it headed the 101st Airborne’s combat air assault into Iraq. The ninth anniversary of the invasion triggered memories of dates when comrades were killed and of defining firefights and battles. He recalled vivid images of combat, images he had suppressed and never discussed.
read more here

In 2007 I asked Why Isn't the Press on a Suicide Watch? Within the list of names was Spc. Chris Dana of the Montana National Guard. His death caused people to take action. Before President Obama was elected the first time, he met with Dana's stepbrother.

August 28, 2008

Spc. Chris Dana's story told to Obama by step brother Stepbrother tells guardsman's story to Obama
Helena soldier took his own life after tour of duty in Iraq
Of The Gazette Staff

Montana National Guard Spc. Chris Dana will never know the impact his life and ultimately his death may someday have on the lives of veterans nationwide.

Dana took his life in March 2007, less than two years after returning from a tour in Iraq. His family believes he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by his combat experience.

Since Dana's death, his stepbrother Matt Kuntz has campaigned for more awareness of the costs of untreated post-traumatic stress syndrome in Iraq war veterans.

Wednesday, he was invited to meet with Sen. Barack Obama to share the message he's been spreading statewide for more than a year. At a quiet picnic table at Riverfront Park, Obama sat across from Kuntz, his wife, Sandy, and their infant daughter, Fiona.
All these later, I am still collecting stories of deaths that didn't need to happen and still asking why the press in not on suicide watch. If I can find these stories in small press outlets, so can they but they just don't bother to.

There is another report from the Billings Gazette released today.

Montana National Guard non-existing suicide prevention plan

Toby Keith welcomed home Major from Afghanistan shocked wife

Because I have videos on YouTube I get a lot of links to other videos. Usually I get the links soon after they are uploaded but this one took a while. Seems like a great way to welcome in the New Year!
Sep 19, 2012
On September 8, 2012, Toby Keith brought a military wife up on stage at a concert in Houston, Texas. She sang a song with him before Toby surprised her with her husband, Major Pete Cruz, who had been away in Afghanistan.

Want to write about Combat and PTSD?

There are times when I hate tracking reports on PTSD from news sources. This is one of those times because this morning I read this utter load of bullshit!

PTSD didn't exist for Vietnam Vets
Freddy Groves
Veterans Post
Before 1980, there was no diagnosis called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Think about that for a minute. If you need a timeline to consider, we had 16,000 soldiers in Vietnam by 1963, and the number escalated rapidly from there. Saigon fell in 1975.

There was no diagnosis for what was surely an existing condition.

There is no way in hell I'd sign up to read the rest of whatever this editorial had because the damage had already been done.

First the author of this nonsense picked the year 1963. What about all the others before that date?
Year Troop Level
1959 760
1960 900
1961 3,025
1962 11,300
1963 16,300
1964 23,300
1965 184,300
1966 385,300
1967 485,600
1968 536,100
1969 475,200
1970 334,600
1971 156,800
1972 24,200
1973 50

But this doesn't seem to mention the number of troops up to the last battle of the Vietnam War, SS Mayaguez May 12, 1975.

Then the author says that "there was no diagnosis called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" but did not do his research because there was, it was researched and started to be treated.
PTSD Forgotten Warrior Project Forgotten About but that is nothing new. People need to pretend this is all new because then they can justify how sickening all of this is. If they acknowledged how many years researchers have been spending money researching the research already done, compare the appalling results we have today with suicides, attempted suicides topping off a very long list of other issues, we'd have to accept the fact none of this suffering should have happened.

The truth is as much as some want to pretend this is all new, it used to be called "shell shock" before PTSD and other names before that.

So if you want to write about PTSD, do some basic research first. This person just did more harm than good not knowing what the hell he's talking about.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Veteran Gets Help Moving Decades of Memories From Foreclosed Home

Veteran Gets Help Moving Decades of Memories From Foreclosed Home
Dozens of friends and strangers helped the Gunn family move and store motorcycles, furniture, photos and more under a strict eviction deadline.
By Lolita Lopez and Samantha Tata
Friday, Dec 28, 2012

The Gunn family was evicted from their Perris home the day after Christmas, and had one hour on Friday to gather 42 years’ worth of personal belongings.

Tina Gunn – whose veteran husband, Justin, inherited the home from his parents – told her friend Laura Herzog about the looming eviction deadline, unaware that she would mobilize a group to help them gather up four decades of memories.

"I went to Facebook," Herzog said. "I called the Marines Corps. Those guys are amazing."

The founder of the non-profit organization, Honoring Our Fallen, felt compelled to lend a hand to a man who gave five years to the Army and another two decades to the National Guard.

"The fact that we are able to help them take all of their belongings so at least they have that, I can rest my head on a pillow tonight knowing that we did something good," Herzog said.
read more here and watch video report

Parris Island Marine killed in motorcycle crash

Parris Island Marine killed in motorcycle crash was expecting birth of third son
December 28, 2012

A Parris Island Marine killed Thursday while riding his motorcycle on Joe Frazier Road was looking forward to the birth of his third son in April, his family said Friday. Cpl. Cameron P. Branum, 23, was assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, serving as a company clerk, helping handle administrative matters and barracks maintenance, Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon, base public affairs chief, said Friday.

Branum leaves behind a wife, Timi, who is pregnant, and sons Gavyn, 3, and Ayden, 1; according to his father, Gregory Branum.

The Marine grew up in a military family with service dating back to the Revolutionary War, his uncle Jeff Branum said. Both he, Branum's father and grandfather served in the military. A cousin serves in the Army, according to family.

"Cameron will never be forgotten," said Gregory Branum, who retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force in 2007 after 24 years.

"And as the military says, 'No man left behind,'" he said. "Cameron will be by our sides forever."
read more here

Thieves stole everything from deployed Marine including underwear

Marine at war robbed of everything
Thieves struck while away in Afghanistan; vets offer help
Written by
Gretel C. Kovach
Dec. 28, 2012

Hammond, 34, originally from Peotone, Ill., is serving her second combat tour. Her husband is assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion, recovering from injuries he suffered in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005.
(From left) Maj. Shane Goodwin, Regional Command Southwest Comptroller; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Grant Murphy, RC (SW) Financial Management Resource Officer; and Gunnery Sgt. Jamie Hammond, RS (SW) Comptroller chief, sing during a memorial for Master Sgt. Scott Pruitt who was killed in action April 28, in Zaranj, Afghanistan.

It had been a tough year to begin with. Then Gunnery Sgt. Jamie Hammond discovered that just about everything she owned except the desert camouflage on her back was stolen while she was in Afghanistan.

All her other Marine Corps uniforms, including the ones she got at boot camp 13 years ago. Her baby spoon. Fossils collected with her grandfather. The safe filled with tax returns and other important documents. Bedding, snowboard, shoes.

Everything, gone.

Hammond, a comptroller chief with Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan, had returned for a conference. The day before her flight back to the war zone, she stopped by Cube Smart in Vista on Nov. 30 to drop off some gear.

“When I lifted the door to my storage unit, I was in utter shock, disbelief, panic and rage. All of the items I had acquired during my childhood and adult life were stolen from me,” Hammond recalled in an email. “It is still hard to comprehend the loss.”

When her yearlong tour ends, it will really sink in, “since there is nothing to unpack.”

The thieves pilfered about $25,000 worth of her possessions; insurance will reimburse her for $2,000, Hammond said. They also charged on her cards, passed her checks to an identity theft ring and tried to obtain a fraudulent mortgage.

“They stole her damn underwear!” fumed Neil Kenny, 63, of Staten Island, N.Y., and a Marine veteran of the 1968 siege of Khe Sanh, Vietnam.
read more here

General Cantwell's Battle With PTSD Leads Him to the Brink

General's Battle With PTSD Leads Him to the Brink
Associated Press
December 29, 2012 (AP)

In the exploding hell of battle, a single hand poked through the earth.

John Cantwell could see the ridges and calluses of the skin, and the pile of desert sand that had swallowed the rest of the Iraqi soldier. The troops Cantwell was fighting alongside in the Gulf War had used bulldozing tanks to bury the man alive.

This hand — so jarringly human amid the cold mechanics of bombs and anonymous enemies — was about to wedge itself, the Australian man would write decades later, "like a splinter under the skin of my soul." It would lead, along with other battlefield horrors, to the splintering of his mind and to a locked psychiatric ward. And it would lead to the abrupt end of a 38-year military career that saw him ascend to remarkable heights as the commander of Australia's 1,500 troops in Afghanistan.

In the process, Maj. Gen. Cantwell would become two people: a competent warrior on the outside. A cowering wreck on the inside.

He hid his agony to survive, to protect his loved ones and — he admits it — to pursue professional glory. But in the end, the man with two selves found he had lost himself completely.

A disheartening number of veterans suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. What made Cantwell so extraordinary was his ability to hide his escalating pain for so long, while simultaneously soaring through the military's ranks — eventually taking charge of an entire nation's troops in a war zone.
read more here

Major General John Cantwell

Big news, the earth is not round and too many military suicides

Big news, the earth is not round and too many military suicides
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 29, 2012

When people thought the world was flat and ships would fall off, it didn't change the fact that the earth was far from flat. Just because people didn't want to believe the truth it did not make what they thought any more true. Now we know the earth is not round. "OBLATE SPHEROID is not as easy to remember as "round," but it is the truth."

Just as ridiculous is what has been floating on the web about military suicides outnumbering combat deaths.

Soldier suicides outnumber combat deaths
In 2012, suicide rates worsened and 212 troops died in combat in Afghanistan
DEC 28, 2012

The number of soldier suicides this year has outnumbered combat deaths. Combat-related deaths in Afghanistan were down to 212 this year, compared to over 400 in 2011, but the number of soldiers taking their own lives continues to rise. According to stats cited by CBS from the Department of the Army, 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide.

Here's some more facts. First this report is missing Marines, Air Force and Navy. This was the latest from the Army suicides at 303. There was another report from the Army with this piece of news.
For 2012, there have been 126 potential not on active-duty suicides (84 Army National Guard and 42 Army Reserve): 97 have been confirmed as suicides and 29 remain under investigation.

Bad enough for you yet? Add this in.
Of that total, the Army accounted for 168, surpassing its high last year of 165

53 sailors took their own lives, one more than last year.

The Air Force and Marine Corps are only a few deaths from record numbers. Fifty-six airmen had committed suicide as of Nov. 11, short of the 60 in 2010.

There have been 46 suicides among Marines, whose worst year was 2009 with 52.

Now let's talk about 18 veterans committing suicide each day. Getting the message yet? While you digest all that, remember, December numbers won't be released until next month. Then there are hundreds more of survivors after they attempted suicides and the over 30,000 saves the Suicide Prevention program claims they saved.

I'll keep posting reports like this and keep hoping that one day some reporter realizes that just because they hear something today, doesn't mean it wasn't happening yesterday.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sadness in success of Veterans suicide prevention hotline

First read this.
Suicide Hotline Fights To Keep Vets And Troops Alive
December 28, 2012
At a suicide prevention center in upstate New York, America's troops and veterans are calling in for help.

And that help is needed more than ever. This past year witnessed a terrible death toll from suicide. For the first time in a decade of war, more active-duty troops have taken their own lives this year than have died fighting in Afghanistan.

According to The Military Suicide Report, a blog that follows news on military suicides, 321 active-duty troops killed themselves this year. The U.S. death toll in Afghanistan this year currently stands at 309.

The suicide hotline is just one way to help them. read more here

Now read this.

Mullane says the Veterans Crisis Line has done 30,000 successful interventions across the country since 2007. But they can't save everyone. Sometimes veterans call only to say goodbye or to let the authorities know where to find their bodies, so their family won't have to.

Those are the parts we need to pay attention to. For all the "charities" out there claiming to be taking care of these veterans, all the "mental health professionals" claiming they are helping them, all the money the congress has spent and the DOD spent along with the VA on "programs" that claim to be working, the suicide prevention hotline still had to save 30,000 veterans and they are still committing suicide along with active duty servicemen and women. That has to be the saddest part of all.

Have reporters lost their ability to ask questions? Why isn't anyone being held accountable for any of this?

Yesterday I received an email from a Mom telling me about her son. God must have been watching over him. He's an Iraq veteran and left a suicide note. I cannot go into details but by the time we talked on the phone everything worked the way it was supposed to and he is getting the help he has needed all along. It could have ended much differently and today his Mom could have been planing a funeral instead of how to travel to see her son in the hospital.

I don't know about you but I've been complaining about all of this so long that even a story trying to focus on positive things being done, I read between the lines in total disbelief.

9 years later, Iraq veteran gets welcome home

9 years later, Iraq veteran gets welcome home
By Stephanie Loder - The (Vineland, N.J.) Daily Journal
Posted : Friday Dec 28, 2012

Former Army Sgt. Wayne U. Games returned from Iraq in 2003, but never got a welcome home celebration.

A 1987 graduate of Vineland High School, Games became seriously ill during his deployment and had to be flown directly to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was admitted to the intensive care unit suffering from high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, and had to be placed on dialysis.

Games, 42, has been classified as 90 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Most recently, he was diagnosed with Waldenstrom lymphoma.

“I never got a homecoming. I just remember getting sick, being flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, then to the United States. It took two days and when we got to Walter Reed it was nighttime and we were met by veterans who handed us some bags,” said Games. “That was my homecoming.”

On Dec. 16, Games received a much more appropriate welcome home and thank you from family, friends and officials who arrived at his Myrtle Street home.

The event was initiated by the “Welcome Home Committee” formed by Mayor Robert Romano to welcome back every soldier. The event was attended by Romano, as well as state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and state assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam. read more here

Fort Jackson soldiers get old fashion dinner for Christmas

Soldier: "We Didn't Expect Much, Not Like This"
Dec 27, 2012
Written by
Steven Dial

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Christmas holiday is a time that many people spend with family. However, getting home to see family can be hard for some of the soldiers stationed at Ft. Jackson.

With that in mind, a local organization donated their time and made a home made old fashioned spaghetti dinner.

"It's just to thank them," said Mike Mancari with the Mother Teresa Knights of Columbus Assemblies.

For the men and women who protect our country, there's no such thing as a Christmas break.

"We didn't expect much, not like this," said Sergio Mendez.

About 200 Soldiers at Ft. Jackson didn't get to go home for Christmas, so volunteers with the Mother Theresa Knights of Columbus brought home to them.
read more here

US Sailors exposed to radiation after Japan earthquake

US Sailors Sue Japan Utility in Radiation Exposure
Dec 28, 2012
Stars and Stripes
by Matthew M. Burke

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan -- Eight sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan are suing Japan’s nationalized Tokyo Electric Power Co., claiming it lied about dangers from a radiation leak when they helped out after last year’s nuclear plant disaster and that they will almost certainly die prematurely as a result.

Their complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, seeks a jury trial and damages of $40 million each for being “rendered infirm” and their bodies being “poisoned” by radiation. It was filed on behalf of Lindsay Cooper, James Sutton, Kim Gieseking, Charles Yarris, Robert Miller, Christopher Bittner, Eric Membrila and Judy Goodwin.

Within days of the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and subsequent radiation leak from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the USS Ronald Reagan was aiding in the search for survivors and bodies from just off Japan’s devastated east coast.

Six of the eight sailors worked on the flight deck during the operation and two worked in the air contamination department. Gieseking is also suing on behalf of her daughter, Autumn, who was born shortly after the deployment.
read more here

Murder Trial Set For February In Brutal Slaying Of Camp Pendleton Marine

Murder Trial Set For February In Brutal Slaying Of Camp Pendleton Marine
Friday, December 28, 2012
By Beth Ford Roth

Camp Pendleton Marine Lance Cpl. Darren Evans will face court-martial in February for the premeditated murder of his roommate, 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Mario Arias.

A Marine Corps spokesman told Camp Pendleton Patch the trial will begin on February 4.
read more here

A newspaper exposes the addresses of its local gun owners

This country has gone gun crazy! Gun owners ran to the store to buy assault weapons because they were "afraid" they would stop selling them. Did that makes sense? Why would anyone want one so badly that it didn't matter what it was designed for and how it has been used way too many times? Then the NRA pushes for teachers to take guns to school? They think more guns is the answer but didn't say much about people shopping at a mall, going to a movie and responding to put out a fire. Well, no I have to take that back since they also thought the answer for those murders was more guns too. Since when was it mandatory to have to have a gun to be a teacher or administrator?

On the flip side we have a newspaper treating legal gun owners like criminals when the names and addresses of gun owners was published and taken from the county clerk's office. In other words, the legal gun owners were outed but they didn't do a damn thing about illegal gun owners. Since when is it a crime to own a gun?

Like I keep pointing out, I know a lot of gun owners and feel safe with them because they know how to use them and respect them. That is the way most gun owners are. Now legal gun owners are being treated like criminals? This is bad all the way around.
Even this bleeding-heart liberal believes gun owners have a right to privacy
A newspaper exposes the addresses of its local gun owners — which violates our rights as much as shoddy gun laws
DEC 28, 2012

In the two weeks since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, much has been written and said about our national obsession with guns – and what do about it. But a suburban New York newspaper’s unorthodox take on the issue has created a brand-new controversy over guns, rights and privacy.

Earlier this week, the White Plains Journal News ran a story with the provocative title “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood.” The story, written by Dwight R. Worley, made few bones about its slant, opening with the chilling details of the shooting murder of a Katona woman last spring.

But it wasn’t the story that raised eyebrows. It was the revelation that after a Freedom of Information request, “Westchester provided the names and addresses of the county’s 16,616 active permit holders” to the paper. And, even worse, its online version featured an interactive map of all the “pistol permits registered with the Westchester County Clerk’s Office,” along with the invitation to “zoom in and out for more information and click on a dot to see details of a permit.” The Journal did also mention, in an editor’s note, that writer Dwight R. Worley owns a .357 Magnum. It didn’t, however, include his New York City address.

The map, thickly dotted with pins, is certainly a stunner to anyone who’s opposed to guns. And of course, inevitably, an irate blogger — and gun owner — swiftly retaliated by publishing the home addresses of the newspaper’s staff. He told CNN Thursday, “I felt they were using this to harass gun owners. So I harassed them back.” The map has also generated a deluge of polarizing responses. On Facebook, one commenter called it “disgusting, just disgusting — and you hacks should be ashamed of what you pass for ‘journalism,’” while another argued, “If someone has a right to a gun, do we not have a right to know if someone has a gun?” Well, do we? And just because a newspaper can do something, does it mean that it should?
read more here

Vietnam Veteran, Senator Jim Webb, no plans to rest

No Rest for Jim Webb
Dec 27, 2012
The Virginian-Pilot
by Bill Bartel

Webb's most praised Senate achievement was a new GI Bill that passed Congress 18 months after he took office. The legislation dramatically improved education and related benefits for veterans. To date, more than 800,000 former service members have used the benefits.

Jim Webb may be walking away after a single term in the U.S. Senate, but that doesn't mean he's exiting public life for good.

And the 66-year-old is not going into retirement.

"I will be working. Trust me," he said in a recent interview in the wood-paneled conference room of his Capitol Hill office.

"My situation is different than most people up here. I didn't come out of a law firm. There isn't a structure that I can easily go back into. But it's a very healthy thing, at least from the way my career has played itself out, to step out every now and then and just think about things."
The victory was the latest chapter in a career that began in 1969 in the Marines. As a lieutenant, Webb served in Vietnam, earning the Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

He worked on the staff of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs after law school, and he served during the Reagan administration as an undersecretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy.

His books, both fiction and nonfiction, include the critically acclaimed novel "Fields of Fire," which is based on his wartime experiences. He's also won an Emmy as a documentary filmmaker.
read more here
Born Fighting
Sense of Honor
A Country Such As This
Lost Soldiers
Emperor's General

Fallen SEAL Met Challenge, Mentor Says

Fallen SEAL Met Challenge, Mentor Says
Dec 27, 2012
The Virginian-Pilot
by Dianna Cahn

The last time John Armato saw his friend and triathlon partner Job Price, the two men went on a training run through the forest, then jumped into a creek and continued to run until it got too deep and they shifted to swimming.

That day last summer in Pennsylvania, they ran and swam and ran and swam some more, having what Armato -- 23 years Price's senior -- called "a really good time challenging one another."

A week later, Price left on deployment to Uruzgan province in northern Afghanistan, where he was commanding a team of SEALs based in Virginia Beach.

"One of the last things we talked about had to do with how proud he was of the men he was leading," Armato said. "He had just a tremendous amount of admiration (for them)."

Price, 42, a Navy commander, died Saturday in what the Defense Department described as "a noncombat-related injury." The Associated Press and other news agencies reported that his death was being investigated as a possible suicide.

Famously secretive, the SEALs don't talk about their missions -- or their losses. But Armato, contacted in Price's hometown of Pottstown, Pa., where his parents still live, described watching a talented young man grow into a dedicated leader.
read more here

Seal Commander's death in Afghansitan

Vietnam veteran with cancer finally gets justice from VA

Jack Bogrett's experience with cancer and the VA takes a turn for the better
Published: Thursday, December 27, 2012
By Mike Francis
The Oregonian

Jack Bogrett's life has changed dramatically for the better since he was profiled in a June 10 story about the frustrations of veterans who live far from Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Back then, his colon cancer seemed to be spreading, he was out of pocket for thousands of dollars of medical charges he incurred outside the VA system, and his history with the Portland VA Medical Center was marked by suddenly canceled appointments, misunderstandings and communications glitches.

Today, the 63-year-old Vietnam vet is getting gold-plated treatment from the VA, he's been reimbursed for more than $16,000 of medical expenses and, most important, his cancer has been beaten back to the point he dares to use the word "cured."

"I haven't felt this good since 2000," he said. "I'm very fortunate."
read more here

Accused killer described PTSD emotional wounds after war

Accused killer described emotional wounds after war
by Diane Moca
Story Created: Dec 27, 2012

MILWAUKEE -- As questions continue to swirl around what would motivate Benjamin Sebena to allegedly stalk and kill his wife Jennifer on Christmas Eve, the Wauwatosa Police Chief says issues related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were mentioned during officer interviews with the defendant.

In an informational video with graphic pictures released by the Elmbrook Church in Brookfield in 2010, Ben Sebena reveals anxieties he suffered after returning from two tours of duty in Iraq.

In the church video, Ben says he shared his painful memories to help other veterans.

"I've been to the dark places, and I want to help bring them to the light," he says after describing the day in 2005 when he was changed forever after he nearly lost his life and watched a friend die, one of 50 deaths of fellow soldiers he says he witnessed.

"A mortar round came down and dropped right behind him. It killed him instantly, and the rest of the schrapnel came and hit me," explained Ben. "I looked down at my knee, and my pants were soaked in blood. And I could see my knee cap. My arm is drooping off my body and holding on by a couple tendons."

In the church video, Ben describes his physical struggle to walk again and the emotional difficulties he faced after the attack -- even when he was attending church back at home.
read more here

Marine arrested in shooting of police officer wife

Marine and Soldier killed in car crash

A broken-hearted fiance announced just before the crash, she's having a baby boy.
Marine among two men killed in west Wichita crash
By Amy Renee Leiker
The Wichita Eagle
Published Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012

A U.S. Marine lance corporal home on leave for Christmas was one of two young men killed in a single-car crash Thursday morning in west Wichita.

Thomas Krausch described his son, Devan, as outgoing, “just an all-around good kid” who was well-loved by his family and friends.

“It seemed like he would always be the one to help somebody else,” Thomas Krausch said. “He made his mom and I very proud.”

Wichita police say Devan M. Krausch, 22, was riding in a 2005 Chrysler 300 sedan with 21-year-old Marcus W. McClellan when the car struck a culvert beside 13th Street about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The car became airborne and struck a power pole and utility lines at 13th and Liberty, near 135th Street West, Wichita police Capt. John Speer said.

The men were westbound on 13th Street at the time of the crash.

Krausch, who was thrown from the vehicle, died after being taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis.

McClellan died at the scene.

Both men were Wichita residents.

Thomas Krausch said his son, a 2008 Northwest High School graduate, was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. He had been home for just a few days.

McClellan’s family did not immediately respond to The Eagle’s request for an interview Thursday night.

The 21-year-old had attended both Bishop Carroll High School and Bethel College, according to his Facebook page. McClellan also is listed as a member of the U.S. Army on the social networking site.
read more here

Marine Arrested in Shooting of Police Officer Wife on Christmas Eve

Marine Arrested in Shooting of Police Officer Wife on Christmas Eve
Ben Sebena is a "decorated U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq before suffering severe arm and leg injuries in a mortar attack," according to the Associated Press
Dec. 27, 2012
Benjamin Sebena, left, the husband of Jennifer L. Sebena, right, a police officer who was fatally shot on Christmas Eve while patrolling in suburban Milwaukee has been arrested in connection with her death.
A decorated Marine has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of his police officer wife while she was on patrol during Christmas eve, officials said today.

The body of Officer Jennifer Sebena, 30, was found by fellow officers of the Wauwatosa, Wisc., police department after she failed to respond to radio calls. She was shot several times, police said.

Authorities released little information on her killing, but said that her husband, Benjamin Sebena, is in custody at the Milwaukee County Jail. He is being held on a tentative charge of first-degree intentional homicide, but has not been formally charged, officials said.

"He is in custody, and we're waiting on paperwork to be brought down to this office," said Mia Williams, clerical assistant at Milwaukee's District Attorney's Office.
read more here

Military suicides in Israel exposed by blogger

Anonymous blogger probe puts light on IDF suicides

Investigation by blogger "Eishton" leads army to release figures on soldiers suicide, sparking public debate.

The police and army investigation of an anonymous blogger has brought the issue of IDF suicides into the public arena, leading the military to release figures on soldiers who take their own lives, and sparking a debate on press intimidation in the country.

The investigation came to light on December 12, when blogger “Eishton” (a combination of the Hebrew words for “man” and “newspaper”) changed the banner of his blog.

“Eishton is currently under a combined police-military police investigation!! I am forbidden to speak about the details of the investigation, whose only purpose is to silence me, harm me and extort me into handing over private and protected information in order to incriminate myself and others,” the banner said.

“If this site crawls to a halt or stops being updated, know that this was done against my will and that I am being subjected to anti-democratic measures, which violate accepted journalistic ethics and censor information that the public has a right to know,” it added.

It later emerged that the probe had been launched in the wake of a three-part investigative report Eishton published beginning in April, which examined discrepancies in the official IDF death toll for 2011 and figures appearing on government-run memorial websites.

Though the Israeli press described the report as an exposé focusing solely on IDF suicides, the long, heavily researched series was based on efforts to determine the identities of all 126 fallen soldiers, independent of the issue of suicide.

Media coverage over the past two weeks led the army to release figures on soldier suicides.

The figures show that there were 14 suicides in the army this year, the lowest in at least 23 years. They indicate that in 2011 there were 21 IDF suicides, and that over the past seven years, the worst was 2010, when 28 soldiers took their own lives.

Before the army launched a program aimed at improving the way mental health issues are handled among soldiers, there were between 34 and 40 per year, the army said on Wednesday.

In his first post in April, Eishton wrote, “Who were these soldiers that the Left says died in vain? Who were these heroes that, because of them, the Right says our country is standing? The fact is, even with all the ceremonies and magic words – memorialization, heroism, memory – no one actually knows who our fallen soldiers are. I decided I would change that. I decided I would study and learn the stories of all 126 who died this past year.”
read more here

US Blogger exposed military suicides in 2007
MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2007
Cause of death, because they served
I went back in Army Times Records to March 2003. What I found is shocking. None of the sites I have trusted have included all of these deaths. When they die back here in the USA, their deaths are ignored. When they die by their own hand, they are forgotten. When they die because of health reasons, they are passed off as “oh well” instead of taking their deaths seriously. These deaths did not have to happen. What is worse is that while AP did their jobs reporting on these deaths, it looks as if Army Times paid attention, the families paid attention, but no one else did. The Hartford Courant, McClatchy News, CNN, along with the other links provided cared. The families cared. We just didn't care enough. They died when they didn't need to die. Some because of health and some because their health was taken because of drugs they were forced to take. Some died because or murder and some by accident. Some, I am sure, are not even on this list or any other list. I tried to find as many as possible. Vehicle accidents are not included unless they are under investigation.

When they were buried I wonder if they played taps? They gave their lives becaue they served. Try to pass off one of their deaths to their families.

Florida reacts to death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Florida reacts to death of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
Tampa Bay
By Robbyn Mitchell
Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, December 28, 2012

TAMPA — It was hot and clear as the military plane zipped through Tampa's airspace.

In front of a frenzied crowd, the plane landed, the door opened and out stepped Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, followed by soldiers returning from kicking Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

"He was larger than life," recalled U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who was at the old Tampa Stadium for that public thank you on May 5, 1991.

"He was a hero who controlled a war that was minimal cost in money and in causalities," Young said. "He went over there, dug them out of the sand, whipped Saddam Hussein's tail and sent them flying back to Baghdad."

Gen. Schwarzkopf came to Tampa in 1988 as the head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. He was ordered by then-President George H.W. Bush to initiate Operation Desert Storm, and the sweeping success of that campaign endeared him the nation and his new neighbors.
read more here

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Newtown asks for donations to be made to needy in victims' names

This town has shown so much compassion for each other and for others that the rest of this country has learned by their example. Good does triumph over evil.

Newtown overwhelmed by gifts, asks for temporary halt of donations
December 27th, 2012

An outpouring of support and gifts for Newtown, Connecticut, in the wake of a mass shooting has forced the town to ask for a temporary halt in donations.

"Our hearts are warmed by the outpouring of love and support from all corners of our country and world," Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra said. "We are struggling now to manage the overwhelming volume of gifts and ask that sympathy and kindness to our community be expressed by donating such items to needy children and families in other communities in the name of those killed in Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14.
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So how much did the NRA donate?

Fox Reporter: NRA New Membership And Donations Have ‘Surged’ Since Newtown Massacre

Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, The Ultimate Fighter

Soldier wins reality show, earns UFC contract
Army Times
By Jon R. Anderson
Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Dec 27, 2012

When Army Staff Sgt. Colton Smith got the nod to represent the Army on Spike TV’s reality mixed martial arts competition “The Ultimate Fighter,” he had to burn through two years’ worth of personal vacation to be on the show. “Sixty days of leave in order to go get punched in the face,” he says with a laugh.

Of course, he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

The two-tour Iraq veteran and Ranger-tabbed infantryman is the first active-duty fighter to win “TUF,” beating Canada native Mike Ricci in the show’s title fight Dec. 16 in Las Vegas with a unanimous-decision win.

Three days later, Smith was back to work at Fort Hood, Texas, where he serves — appropriately — as a hand-to-hand combatives instructor. That’s where OFFduty caught up with Smith during a break in training.
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Veterans frustrated by VA disability claims backlog

Veterans frustrated by VA disability claims backlog
Miami Herald

Infantryman Josh Odom was seven months into his first tour in Iraq when someone lobbed a grenade over the gate at the combat outpost he guarded.

It exploded six feet from the Rockwall native, driving three chunks of shrapnel deep into his right shoulder. One pierced his lung.

Odom wound up at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he spent four months in rehab before completing his military service in May 2010.

Still suffering neck and shoulder pain, he filed a disability claim at a Veterans Affairs Department office in Dallas.

He expected the claim to take a while, he said, but not the nearly 18 months he waited for a partial decision, then eight more for a final ruling.

While he waited, lingering pain combined with frequent consultations with doctors for surgeries made it difficult to work.
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Chesapeake prison opens wing for military veterans

Chesapeake prison opens wing for military veterans
The Virginian-Pilot
Published: December 27, 2012

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The white tile floors, cinder-block walls and rows of steel bunks remind Raymond Riddick of the barracks he stayed in during boot camp in the mid-1980s.

"Only, the beds weren't bolted to the floor," the former sailor said while giving a tour of his dormitory at Indian Creek Correctional Center in southern Chesapeake.

Riddick, who's locked up following a string of car thefts, is one of about 60 former service members serving out criminal sentences in a new veterans dorm at the medium-security prison.

State corrections officials christened the wing during a ceremony last month, saying they hoped the program would change lives and prevent war vets from returning to prison.

Virginia is the latest in a series of states with large military populations, including Florida and Georgia, that have established veterans-only prison facilities to house and assist the growing numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law.
read more here on Stars and Stripes

Historian's new book faults Westmoreland for Vietnam outcome

24 minutes ago
Historian's new book faults Westmoreland for Vietnam outcome
The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)/MCT
Published: December 26, 2012

The following interview with military historian Lewis Sorley focuses on his newest book, “Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam.” Sorley, a West Point graduate, served in armor units in South Vietnam and West Germany before teaching at the U.S. Army War College. He later worked for the CIA and with several global-security think tanks, also earning a doctorate in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.

Sorley’s 1999 book, “A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam,” earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination and was read by military policymakers in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Conducting the interview was Paul Akers, opinion editor of The Free Lance-Star, a daily newspaper in Fredericksburg, Va.
read more here on Stars and Stripes

Number of homeless Iraq, Afghan vets doubles

Number of homeless Iraq, Afghan vets doubles
By Gregg Zoroya
USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Dec 26, 2012

The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are homeless or at risk of losing a roof over their heads has more than doubled in the past two years, according to government data.

Through the end of September, 26,531 of them were living on the streets, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports.

That’s up from 10,500 in 2010. The VA says the numbers could be higher because they include only the homeless the department is aware of.

The increase arrives as President Obama’s goal of ending homelessness for all veterans is showing some results.

The VA attributes the increase partly to more aggressive efforts to identify and assist this younger generation of veteran.

The department says effects of the two wars on them, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and a slow economic recovery have contributed to their homelessness. read more here on Marine Corps Times

VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones

VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones
Gregg Zoroya
December 26, 2012

About half of women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan report being sexually harassed, and nearly one in four say they were sexually assaulted, according to new research by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The study — based on anonymous surveys of female servicemembers who deployed to war — suggest a far higher prevalence of sexual misconduct against women in war zones than is reflected by complaints gathered by the various service branches.

In February, more than 20,000 women were serving in Afghanistan. In the preceding year, only 115 reports were filed alleging sexual assault, according to the Pentagon.
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Anti-Westboro Baptist petition the most popular ever

I believe even this group has the right to say what they want but they do not have the right to hold grieving families hostage and force them to hear their hateful words or read the scumbags' signs. But having the right to hate should not come with a tax exempt.
Anti-Westboro Baptist petition the most popular ever
The White House will have to discuss the hate church after a record number sign a We The People petition
DEC 27, 2012

A petition to label Westboro Baptist Church a hate group has accumulated more than 260,000 signatures, making it the most popular petition to the Obama Administration’s We the People program, Politico reported. Several other petitions urging that the church be stripped of its tax-exempt status have also accumulated tens of thousands of signatures.

Topeka, Kan.,-based Westboro Baptist Church, better known as those ”God Hates Fags” creeps, is already considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Most recently it made news for threatening to picket the funerals of the Newtown massacre victims. The hacker group Anonymous responded with attacks on the church’s online presence.
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The problem is this is not new. Nothing has been done about them after all this time and I doubt anything will be done now.

Petition to revoke Westboro hate group tax exempt

Kan. appeals court: Westboro Baptist must pay taxes on truck
The church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, submitted numerous Bible verses and the text of picket signs in court filings to back up their claim that the protests were religious in nature.

IRS probes Kan. church’s political activity