Sunday, March 31, 2013

VA Claims backlog of 915,000

Amazing when you actually discover the year this happened.
Bill: Have VA pay old claims automatically
Marine Corps Times
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jun 30, 2009

A North Carolina lawmaker proposes tackling the backlog of veterans’ disability claims by awarding benefits to veterans after 18 months if their claim hasn’t been processed.

Veterans Affairs Department officials have told Congress they are, on average, processing disability compensation claims within 162 days and have a goal of cutting the average to 120 days. But Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., is one of many lawmakers who think there is a limit to how patient veterans could be in waiting for money they are due.

“Backlogs are at the point where veterans must wait an average of six months for a decision on benefits claims and some veterans are waiting as long as four years,” Butterfield said in a statement. “Veterans deserve better than this.”

Butterfield introduced a bill on Friday, HR 3087, that would automatically approve a veteran’s claim if no decision is made by the VA within 18 months. The bill doesn’t say exactly how the VA would do this, but creates a task force to monitor VA to make sure the 18-month deadline isn’t met with an arbitrary denial just before the claim must be paid.

The bill comes as the number of unprocessed veterans claims exceeds 915,000 — a 100,000 jump since the beginning of the year. In testimony two weeks ago before a House committee, VA officials said the current 162 days is 17 days less than one year ago, a sign that they are beginning to make process. click link for the rest

Fort Hood Master Sgt. arrested for refusing to put weapon down

While I do not agree with what Master Sgt. Grisham did I have to agree with the fact that just because a veteran or member of the military has PTSD, they should not lose their gun rights. They are not the ones civilians have to worry about any more than they have to worry about anyone else with PTSD. Do some commit crimes? Yes, just like the minority of civilians do. Do they commit suicide with a firearm? Yes, the majority use guns but again, as with civilians, most with PTSD do not commit suicide. The means is not as important as the reason. If they had the proper help instead of programs that do not work, we wouldn't see so many killing themselves. If they were not given medications that were not intended to treat PTSD and have terrible side effects, we wouldn't see so many of them going from being willing to die for the sake of someone else into killing someone else.
NCO arrested for refusing to put down weapon
Army Times
By Jon R. Anderson
Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Mar 30, 2013

Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham, a conservative military blogger and vocal gun rights activist, was arrested March 16 in Temple, Texas, after a scuffle with a local police officer.

The incident unfolded after someone spotted Grisham carrying “an assault-style rifle” as he and his teenage son were walking along rural roads near the Temple airport west of town, said Temple Police Department spokesman Cpl. Chris Wilcox.

Wilcox said walking on a road with a rifle is not against the law, but “if you have an AR15 or an assault weapon of some type and someone calls that in, we’re going to go and investigate it. I imagine any police department in the country is going to do that in light of all of the shootings that have taken place.”

An officer was dispatched to check things out. Wilcox said the officer approached Grisham and told him to set down the loaded rifle that was slung across his chest so the two could talk.

Instead, Grisham “became very irate and angry and yelled at the officer he was not going to take his gun,” Wilcox said.

A scuffle ensued, with the officer eventually drawing his service pistol and pinning Grisham against the patrol car until backup units arrived. A search also revealed that Grisham, a counterintelligence agent stationed at nearby Fort Hood, was carrying a concealed pistol, for which he had a permit.
The arrest came the same weekend Grisham was quoted in Military Times defending gun rights for troops with post-traumatic stress. He has been open about his own diagnoses following tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
read more here

Texas District Attorney and wife found dead

Mike McLelland, Kaufman County District Attorney, Found Dead With Wife In Texas Home

KAUFMAN, Texas -- A sheriff's deputy says authorities are investigating the deaths of a North Texas county district attorney and his wife who were found dead in a home.

Kaufman County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Justin Lewis said Saturday that the county District Attorney, Mike McLelland, and his wife, Cynthia, were found dead in a home in an unincorporated part of the county. Authorities have blocked off the street where the couple's last known address is located.
read more here

Saving a Fort Carson soldier's life

Saving a Fort Carson soldier's life
Straight talk to talk down a man threatening suicide
Eric Singer, Weekday Evening Anchor
Mar 29, 2013

Seconds count when you get a call that someone you know is threatening suicide. Captain John Rigsbee got the call at the end of January at his home. A fellow soldier was holed up at his residence, "The service member had barred himself in the bathroom with a weapon threatening to kill himself."

Captain Rigsbee and others got to the Fort Carson soldier's home to make sure he didn't end his life, "It was two hours of trying to talk him down and taking the gun from his head." Captain Rigsbee and another man stayed the first night with the soldier to make sure he was in a good safe place and wouldn't try to harm himself. Captain Rigsbee told me, "I think it's something people should do, not only as a part of a job but as part of being a decent human being that's what we should do."
read more here

Soldier celebrate Easter in Afghanistan

Soldiers, civilians celebrate Easter with sunrise service
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Before the sun began to rise over the Afghan mountains, music and prayer filled the air as service members and civilians gathered to celebrate Easter Sunday at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, March 31.
U.S. Army chaplain Maj. Steve Prost, (right), a native of Platte City, Mo., speaks with soldiers and civilians during the Easter sunrise service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, March 31, 2013. Prost serves as the brigade chaplain for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)
The early morning service began with the invocation by U.S. Army chaplain Maj. Steve Prost, brigade chaplain, assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and native of Platte City, Mo., said there couldn’t have been more perfect weather.

The service featured a pastoral prayer, scripture reading, and a musical performance by U.S. Army Sgt. Amelia Shields, unit supply specialist assigned to Company C, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas.

The native of Stone Mountain, Ga., said she was grateful to be asked to participate in the morning service. “I am honoured to be here amongst my fellow soldiers this glorious morning,” read more here

Eat, pray, love, forgive, heal

Eat, pray, love, forgive, heal
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 31, 2013
Easter morning
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew:26
Christ knew what was supposed to happen and that it would be for the sake of others. He was doing it out of love as He had said before that dark night.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15)

38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

The time had come where He knew His life would be surrendered but even in those moments, He had the choice to turn around, walk away and live. He made the choice of His own freewill to do as God wanted Him to do.

After His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, He looked at the people standing there, some mocking him and some believing the end was a failure as He was dying. Yet even in those moments His thought were for others.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

He knew what it felt like to be abandoned by God as God had to sit back and watch the suffering of His Son so others would know how to live, love and forgive as well as be forgiven.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).(Matthew 26)

The followers of Christ felt as if they were wrong. They lost Jesus and questioned what it all meant because they couldn't understand that while they saw it all as a failure, the life of Christ was all about sacrifice and love. It was not until Sunday when they began to understand what it was all about and their grief was healing as the began to look at all of it a different way.

We all need to do the same. Our bodies need food to live, but we are not just flesh and bones. We need to pray so our souls can stay connected to God and gain the strength to go through our own struggles in life. We love. To love your children is easier than to love someone when they hurt you so you need to forgive them. It is harder when you believe you are the one that hurt someone else, so you need to also forgive yourself as Christ forgave the people who though they were right standing by the cross as He was dying.

You can heal your body but to heal what others cannot see, you need to look at things differently. Roll the stone away from your own eyes and see how much you are loved.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Veterans face paying more for America's debt?

Veterans say they wrote a blank check to Uncle Sam the day they signed up to serve. Our first President was a General named George Washington and pretty much felt the same way.
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
I have that quote at the bottom of my emails for this reason. They are the first people we thank in November on Veterans Day and their families are the ones we think about on Memorial Day. Too bad too many have such a short memory of the price these men and women paid for the sake of the rest of the country.

Mine is a military family. We don't ask for much and as a matter of fact, wish we didn't have to. The price we are paying everyday for my husband enlisting to go to Vietnam is something we would rather do without. Since he came home so long ago, the war came with him in his body and his mind. He's the reason I do what I do everyday.

Since I read so many reports from across the country for this site, I read some things I wish I didn't ever see. Comments like the VA is a free ride for fakers and they just want the money. Politicians saying that the VA should be privatized and give the disabled vouchers. These same people line up to slam the VA and complain about how much they are messing up, but all of them have very short memories.

It doesn't matter what year they served, or what political party was in charge at the time they were sent. It doesn't matter what nation they were sent to. It shouldn't matter if the American people agreed with it or not because the people they elected sent them. Sent them to do a job and risk their lives to get it done.

We read about the contaminated bases they lived on along with their families. We read about the weapons used that caused their illnesses like Agent Orange. Over and over again we read about the dangers they face for our country from one generation to the next. We also read about people talk about how grateful they are and the debt they owe to the men and women getting the job done but when the rest of this country decides this group is not worth taking care of as much as it was when there was more money in the budget is sickening.

22 million veterans are not being taken care of because they are not all wounded, ill, poor, needy, elderly or receiving a dime from the government. Think about that for a second. We can't even properly take care of a smaller percentage than 7% of the population after they signed their lives over?
Veterans fight changes to disability payments
By Kevin Freking
The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Mar 30, 2013

WASHINGTON — Veterans groups are rallying to fight any proposal to change disability payments as the federal government attempts to address its long-term debt problem. They say they've sacrificed already.

Government benefits are adjusted according to inflation, and President Barack Obama has endorsed using a slightly different measure of inflation to calculate Social Security benefits. Benefits would still grow but at a slower rate.

Advocates for the nation's 22 million veterans fear that the alternative inflation measure would also apply to disability payments to nearly 4 million veterans as well as pension payments for an additional 500,000 low-income veterans and surviving families.

"I think veterans have already paid their fair share to support this nation," said the American Legion's Louis Celli. "They've paid it in lower wages while serving, they've paid it through their wounds and sacrifices on the battlefield and they're paying it now as they try to recover from those wounds."

Economists generally agree that projected long-term debt increases stemming largely from the growth in federal health care programs pose a threat to the country's economic competitiveness. Addressing the threat means difficult decisions for lawmakers and pain for many constituents in the decades ahead.
read more here

Will Fort Hood Families ever get justice after massacre?

There is just no way to put it otherwise. First it was delaying the trial over the "shooter" wanting to have a beard. He said it was his religious right but didn't manage to explain why he didn't have to have one before the massacre. The families had to wait.

Now it is all about him once again and the DOD is saying that the Purple Heart for the wounded and murdered would "adversely affect the trial" so families have to wait again!

Defense Department says giving Purple Heart to Fort Hood survivors would hurt Hasan trial
By Pamela Browne, Catherine Herridge
Published March 30, 2013

Legislation that would award the injured from the 2009 Fort Hood shooting the Purple Heart would adversely affect the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan by labeling the attack terrorism, according to a Defense Department document obtained by Fox News.

The document comes following calls from survivors and their families for the military honor, because they say Fort Hood was turned into a battlefield when Hasan opened fire during the November 2009 attack. Fox News is told that the DOD “position paper” is being circulated specifically in response to the proposed legislation.
read more here

Will they honor the wounded and the families after the trial is finally over? Will they finally get some justice then?

The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War release date


Well it is the end of March and it is still not finished. To bring justice to the families of these veterans it has taken longer than I thought it would. There is too much information that has to be in this book.

With the fact congress and the DOD have wasted about a billion dollars on "suicide prevention" I decided that the release date will be, appropriately enough April 15, 2013, tax filing date.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Letter to Jean Baptiste Le Roy, 13 Nov. 1789

I doubt Franklin thought of how the two of them would end up being connected for so many military families.

Every piece of information in this this book has come from news reports, Congress, the VA, Department of Defense and editorials I have done over the years on Wounded Times. Information that has been forgotten by the very people talking about and responsible for all of it all this time. You'll be shocked at what has been going on when you weren't looking but they were suffering.

I am going it alone as usual. I haven't been able to find an agent so it will be up on Amazon and Kindle. Check back for updates over the next couple of weeks.

Department of Veterans Affairs should draft temps

Department of Veterans Affairs should draft temps
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 30, 2013

The claims backlog problem didn't start last month or last year, but started a long time ago. It got worse because as Afghanistan and Iraq were creating more and more disabled veterans, older veterans who were waiting for far too many years joined them after their claims had been denied.

This isn't from this year but from August 2008.
More than half of wounded troops slipping through the cracks
"The VA needs aggressive, pro-veteran leaders, for more additional funding for staff, office space and for screening and treatment equipment," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense. "The VA needs more streamlined policies so that veterans don't need to fill out a 20 page form in order to get care."

Sullivan said his organization decided to file suit when it became clear the agency wouldn't take action on its own. Before helping to found Veterans for Common Sense, Sullivan monitored disability claims for the VA. In 2006, he resigned in protest.

"In 2005, while working at VA, I briefed senior VA political leaders that VA was in a crisis of a surge of disability claims of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans," he said. "I recommended in writing that the VA hire more claims processors to make sure the veterans get their benefits faster instead of facing six month delays or even longer."

"The VA didn't do anything to help the veterans. What the VA actually did was several things to lock the doors and block veterans from getting mental health assistance from VA," Sullivan added.

There is a lot more that has been going on for a very long time.
Stressed soldiers sue for disability benefits
Soldiers: Army denied them disability rating, so they were denied benefits
Lawsuit filed by veterans advocacy group on behalf of vets with PTSD
In October, Army ordered all future PTSD sufferers to be eligible for benefits
Soldiers want eligibility to go back six years

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army intentionally denied benefits to soldiers suffering from a widespread stress disorder after they returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, a veterans advocacy group charges in a suit filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, accuses the Army of illegally cutting off benefits to thousands of veterans and their families by refusing to assign a proper disability rating to those veterans after they had been discharged with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As a result, the veterans have been denied benefits, including, among other things, lifetime monthly disability payments and free medical care for themselves and their families.

"I experience firsthand the horrors of war" said Juan Perez, an Iraq veteran and one of five plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "My expectation was that the military would be there for me, and my country would be there for me. Instead, the way I was treated felt more like a slap to the face."
There was also this report when President Bush's Administration fought a lawsuit to get veterans the care they needed.
During an interview given in November for the original CBS story, Dr. Katz told reporter Armen Keteyian that "There is no epidemic in suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem." When pressed for an answer to explain the VA's inability to come up with any suicide statistics among veterans, Katz replied "That research is ongoing."

However, "After a public records request, the VA provided CBS News with data that showed there were a total of 790 attempted suicides by VA patients in the entire year of 2007." This number does not match up at all with a private email sent by Dr. Katz to a colleague in which he states that the VA has identified "about 1000 suicide attempts a month in patients we see at are medical facilities," a far cry from his public estimate of 790 a year.

So how to we fix the backlog and take some extra stress off of PTSD veterans and other disabled vetearns? Draft and Army of temps to get things moving.

During a conference in Orlando a couple of years ago a VA representative stated that it takes two years to train a claims processor. We don't have two years. Some say that temps can't deal with the sensitive data of veterans. I think they are wrong.

One of the temp jobs I had was for a social services organizations to help them transfer data from one program that didn't work with the new one. All the data had to entered in for millions of files. The agency hired 20 of us to work as temps and get them caught up freeing the other employees to keep the flow going so that people didn't have to wait for it to get done.

The key is, we were fast and accurate. They tested us to see how well we did before they hired us on. Very few mistakes were made and we were able to get the data in weeks ahead of what they originally thought it would take.

We had sensitive information but were removed from the subjects we were entering the data for. It was straight out data with no emotional connection to the cases.

The DOD and the VA have programs that do not work together. There are not enough claims processors and it will take too long to get them trained and ready to go. Instead of making veterans wait, they should take the files that need to be transferred and get temps to get the job done.

That will free the processors up so they can work on the claims instead of doing the task of entering information. Keep the temps on until the backlog is cleared up and hire the good ones. It sure will cost a lot less than hiring a contractor to do it and then being faced with data breaches and delays. Veterans have waited far too long while one hand of the VA is trying to make up for mistakes of the past and the other is trying to figure out how to get today done.

This is from a Vietnam veteran talking about his county Veterans Service Officer and the debate about replacing a retiring officer.

I served my country during the Viet Nam conflict. In 1997, I had a heart attack. In 2009, I had another heart attack. My hearing is not good. When I heard about Nellie, I went to see her. She helped me sign up at the VA, which was one of the best things to happen to me. I received hearing aids from the VA. I also found out my heart problems are caused by Agent Orange. I was set at 60 percent disabled and receive compensation from the VA. In January of this year, I had double bypass surgery. Nellie helped me file another form and now my disability has been raised to 100 percent.

Backlog at a 20th century Veterans Administration

Backlog at a 20th century Veterans Administration
Jack Jacobs

It has been more than two decades since the Veterans Administration was elevated to a cabinet department. But its dreary public image endures and not without reason: veterans wait a staggering average of nine months for their disability claims to be processed and the delay gets longer all the time.

In a stark departure from how he has operated until now, Secretary Eric Shinseki, who oversees the administration, is seeking to change the public perception. I interviewed him on March 27th during his visit to a veterans’ jobs fair in New York City.

Shinseki, a retired Army general, was twice wounded in Vietnam. As Army chief of staff, he incurred the opprobrium of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership in 2003 by delivering news it didn’t want to hear: A large number of American troops would be required to secure Iraq once Saddam Hussein was deposed. So, although he is a shy, modest man, he’s not necessarily a shrinking violet.

Nevertheless, amid the inability of the VA to cope with the logjam of claims, Shinseki has not been much of a visible presence outside his department. Until now.

Shinseki’s main message for the public, and his critics, is that veterans who need medical care are enrolled for treatment right away. While the quality of care varies from hospital to hospital, and veterans in sparsely populated areas need to travel some distance to a facility, there seem to be no bureaucratic impediments to timely medical care.
read more here

My comment
Thank you for adding in what was done for Vietnam veterans in talking about the backlog, however, it would have been better if you also added in what was going on when troops were coming home wounded from two wars. Less workers for more claims and then there was this piece of news. "In 2000 the VA had 578,000 claims but went to 838,000 in 2008. That same year the VA was trying to do online claims. It was also later in the year of 879,291 in backlog including 148,000 Vietnam veterans who finally filed claims in 2007."

Senator Reed Announces $4.79 Mill More Towards Ending Homelessness

Senator Reed Announces $4.79 Mill More Towards Ending Homelessness POSTED BY ALEX FERRERAS MARCH 29, 2013 (Source: Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless) – Today at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless annual awards luncheon, U.S. Senator Jack Reed presented Sue Bodington, Deputy Director for Programs at Rhode Island Housing, with the 2013 Jack Reed Advocacy Award for her deep and abiding dedication to promoting affordable housing and combating homelessness in Rhode Island for more than 30 years.
Today, Senator Reed also announced over $4.79 million in federal funding for programs working to reduce homelessness in Rhode Island. The federal Continuum of Care (CoC) grants support 43 local housing assistance programs that offer a wide variety of services for homeless veterans, the mentally ill, families, single men, women and children. read more here

Will Vietnam Vet get justice after 3 attempted suicides?

We have Veterans' Courts today because of what happened to Vietnam Veterans and we have "programs" for PTSD because of what they fought for. This veteran is an example of what they came home to. How much do you want to bet this veteran was misdiagnosed?
Decades Too Late With Schizophrenic Vet's Suit
Courthouse News
March 29, 2013
WASHINGTON (CN) - A schizophrenic veteran is about 25 years too late to sue for wrongful discharge and disability benefits, a judge for the Court of Federal Claims ruled.

An action must be filed within six years of a claim occurring for the court to have jurisdiction, according to the ruling. The military discharge being disputed here by Monroe Quailes Jr., however. dates back to 1979.

"Despite the court's recognition of the difficulties in seeking redress that plaintiff has encountered over the years, it is compelled to grant the government's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction," Judge Edward Damich wrote.

Quailes served two tours in Vietnam with the Army as a quarry machine operator and a cook before returning stateside in 1972. He soon began experiencing psychiatric problems that led to a suicide attempt in 1973 and subsequent outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

A routine physical conducted before Quailes was honorably discharged in April 1975 showed "no psychiatric problems." After another suicide attempt in July that year, however, Quailes entered outpatient care at a private psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C.

Quailes nevertheless succeeded less than a year later in enlisting in the Navy - "somewhat surprisingly, in light of the indications of his troubled history," Damich noted.

Soon thereafter, he went AWOL (absent without leave) twice in August 1976, then returned to service before taking an "unauthorized absence" in October. In November, he was declared a deserter.

In December 1976, Quailes was arrested in Easton, Md., on charges of burglary and grand larceny in connection with a home break-in. A third suicide attempt while incarcerated in the county jail landed him in a Maryland psychiatric hospital.

Quailes ultimately withdrew an initial plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and pleaded guilty to the break-in in December 1977. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended.
read more here

Acknowledged pullout of Vietnam 40 years ago but too many never really left

I could not bring myself to post on this yesterday for a couple of reasons. The first one was that the end date on the Vietnam Memorial Wall is not 1973, but is 1975.
The youngest Vietnam KIA is believed to be Dan Bullock at 15 years old.
The oldest person on the Wall is Dwaine McGriff at 63 years old.
At least 5 men killed in Vietnam were 16 years old.
At least 12 men killed in Vietnam were 17 years old.
There are 120 persons who listed foreign countries as their home of record.
At least 25,000 of those killed were 20 years old or younger.
More than 17,000 of those killed were married.
Veterans killed on their first day in Vietnam 997 (unconfirmed)
Veterans killed on their last day in Vietnam 1,448 (unconfirmed)
Number of Chaplains on the Wall -- 16 (2 Medal Of Honor)
Number of Women on the Wall -- 8 (7 Army, 1 USAF - 7,484 served)
There are 226 Native Americans on the Memorial.
There are 22 countries represented on the Memorial.
Most common name on the Memorial "Smith" with 667 veterans.
The most casualties for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 casualties.
The most casualties for a single month was May 1968, 2,415 casualties were incurred.
On Vietnam pullout anniversary, veteran hopes war won't be forgotten
March 29, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was 40 years ago today that the last American combat troops left Vietnam, and one veteran hopes a younger generation won't forget the war.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund president Jan Scruggs says the war no longer resonates with most Americans, with 9/11 now serving as their seminal moment.

But as school kids stood on the National Mall gazing at the wall etched with the names of more than 58,000 U.S. troops killed in Vietnam, Scruggs was hopeful the memorial itself will keep the war's memories alive. He says it has become an educational device, and he enjoys seeing how kids react to it.

While today marks the end of the U.S. combat mission, Saigon's fall two years later is generally remembered as the end of the war.
read more here

The other reason I couldn't do it is I was working on THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR, and facing the daily reminder of how many we lost after Vietnam to suicide, much like we are losing today. When they came home, no one thought about them even though they are the reason we know so much about PTSD today and what can be done to save their lives by helping them heal. The acknowledged pullout anniversary of the Vietnam War was yesterday but for far too many, they never really left.

Woman charged with killing husband

DC woman who worked at Walter Reed hospital charged with fatal shooting of husband in DC
By Associated Press
Published: March 29

WASHINGTON — An employee of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been charged with fatally shooting her husband in their District of Columbia home, police said Friday.
Lalchan, who on her LinkedIn page identifies herself as a pharmacist at Walter Reed, called 911 just after midnight Thursday to say that she had shot her husband, police said. Officers found Christopher S. Lalchan lying dead on the living room floor with a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Police said they found four unregistered weapons — two pistols, a revolver and an antique gun — in the couple’s Southwest Washington home.
read more here

Navy SEAL Team 6 member died, another injured in parachuting accident

Navy SEAL Dead, Another Injured After Arizona Parachuting Accident
AP/The Huffington Post
Posted: 03/29/2013

UPDATE: NBC News is reporting that the Navy SEAL killed in the incident is from SEAL TEAM 6, the group that carried out the killing of Osama bin Laden.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- One of two Navy SEALs injured during parachute training in southern Arizona has died while the other man remained hospitalized Friday, authorities said.

The names of the two SEALs, both from an East Coast Naval Special Warfare Unit, weren't immediately released and military officials said the accident was under investigation.

U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Kenneth McGraw said the SEALs were practicing "routine military free-fall training" when the accident occurred about 12:30 p.m. MST Thursday.
read more here

Friday, March 29, 2013

Problems with VA claims, more of the same, they wait

I am trying diligently trying to finish THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR, that I still hope to finish before April, a couple of days away, and getting really aggravated with the recent reports about how bad it is for our veterans. The issue with me is, not that it isn't happening, but that it has been happening all along. Some talking heads on TV get all hot and bothered about all of this for a while then they just move on to other things. The veterans can't just move on. Their problems do not go away just because reporters don't talk about them anymore and if we don't finally, once and for all, get this right, then we will read more bad reports like we did 7 years ago.
Lawmakers address problems with VA programs
Mercury News
Mar 03, 2006

The VA's disability compensation program sends checks to 2.7 million veterans for injuries suffered during military service. Yet high error rates, lengthy appeals, backlogs and wide regional inconsistencies mean many veterans wait years for decisions. One result, detailed by Knight Ridder: Thousands of older veterans die with their claims still pending.

Although the Bush administration expects the backlog to continue rising, its 2007 budget proposal calls for decreasing the staff that directly handles such cases - 149 fewer workers, from the current year's 6,574.

The VA has long wanted to reduce its backlog to less than 250,000 claims. But the department's most recent projections have it rising to nearly 400,000 by the end of 2007.

In addition, the average time to process claims, which the VA had said would drop to 145 days, or 125 days, or even 100 days, is projected to increase this year and next, to more than 180 days.

Democrats and Republicans on the committee say the administration also needs to beef up its appeals division, generally the source of the longest waits for veterans. In 2005, the average response time for a board decision was 622 days - well above the department's goal of 365 days.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) June 16, 2006
"With an estimated one third of the 1.3 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan facing mental health challenges upon their return, I am concerned that they are not getting the services they need," Murray wrote. "It is unacceptable that they are encountering VA waiting lists that render mental health care 'virtually inaccessible.'

More than half of troops discharged treated at the VA

Iraq, Afghan wars will cost $4 trillion to $6 trillion, Harvard study says
By Alan Zarembo
Los Angeles Times
Published: March 29, 2013
Of the 1.56 million troops that have been discharged, more than half have received treatment at Veterans Affairs facilities and filed claims for lifetime disability payments, the study found.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately cost between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, with medical care and disability benefits weighing heavily for decades to come, according to a new analysis.

The bill to taxpayers so far has been $2 trillion, plus $260 billion in interest on the resulting debt. By comparison, the current federal budget is $3.8 trillion.

The costs of the wars will continue to mount, said the study's author, Linda Bilmes, a public policy expert at Harvard University.

The largest future expenses will be medical care and disability benefits for veterans, Bilmes predicted. "The big, big cost comes 30 or 40 years out," she said.

The wars, taken together, will be the most expensive in U.S. history — and not just because of their duration. The government has greatly expanded the services available to veterans and military personnel over the last decade. Compared with past conflicts, a far greater proportion of returning service members are seeking medical care and benefits.
read more here

Car dealer charged with mistreating Alabama National Guardsman

Car dealer charged with mistreating guardsman
By The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Mar 29, 2013

“Just because this boy joined the National Guard is no reason for him not to pay me,” Nuss said.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A north Alabama car dealer was indicted on federal charges of refusing to lower the interest rate in a vehicle deal with a National Guard member who was sent to war.

Carl Ralph Nuss, 74, of Cullman was indicted on two counts of violating a federal law that mandates breaks for service members who are called to active duty, federal prosecutors said in a statement Thursday.

Nuss, who owns North Alabama Wholesale Autos, denied doing anything wrong and claimed the guardsman’s family was trying to get out of paying for a vehicle.

Authorities said a 22-year-old service member bought a Ford Sport-Trac from Nuss in 2011 and was later called to active duty in Afghanistan. The guardsman requested a reduction in his 25 percent annual interest charge to 6 percent, as required by the law, but Nuss refused, said the statement from prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the dealer then hired two men who repossessed the $9,700 vehicle.
read more here

Bravo Company 1978 and Hep C Germany veterans seek justice

Artie is starting a support group for all veterans with hepatitis c so we can help one another deal with the virus and over time prove it was transmitted by air gun and needle while in service.

This support group is for all veterans and any that wish to get it started with me please have them contact me at my email or my home (3520503-2569). If they leave a message I can call them back at the end of the day.
Earlier today I received a phone call from a veteran about what happened to him in Germany because of the some of the Hepatitis C posts I have up.
Vietnam veterans and Hepatitis C jet gun delivered
Bush shafts Hepatitis C veterans
Hepatitis C Cases Appearing More In Vietnam Veterans and this one about a Florida veteran winning his lawsuit after a colonoscopy

I told him a couple of things he could try and one of them was getting his story more out in public so that maybe, just maybe he could get some justice for himself but he wanted to do it for other veterans more. That's right! As soon as I said it could help other veterans, he agreed right away. So here is his story along with a couple of responses he received from other veterans.

Kathy, in Dec 1978 I was stationed with the 1st bn 39th mechanized infantry 8th infantry division Baumholder Germany with Bravo company from sept 19 1977 to sept 26 1980.

In dec we received a flu shot in the basement of Charlie company from the medics and it was alive vaccine. When we got there for the shot they switched to a needle since the air gun stoped working just before we got there.

They took the needle and inserted into the vial vaccine and one after the other gave us the shot. In line in front of me was a guy named cagola,red and roy and not long ago I talked with roy who informed me he had hepatitis at the time of the shot.

I was later that evening taken to the infirmary since I eneded up with the flu and had a temp of 104.6 and was labled patient #52 with many still coming in after me.

The medical staff were short of people and when they could not get my temp down they started a IV which was already used on another patient.

A guy in Charlie company who I believe was a medic was supposevely murdered in jan 1979 but when I checked on it the soldier they said was killed by the bieder meinhoff gang also known as the red faction army killed the guy with a ice pick and took his id. I checked and found that soldier was killed in 1985 long after I was there but the guy in Charlie company was a medic and thios was the story they spred about his death.

I have found out besides myself that six others in my unit endedup with hep c and 2 alone were in my platoon ,one was from csc company and at the time I was told we were quarantined due to tb breakout and after talking with others found out it was hepatitis.

I have the proof to prove it happened and hope some is willing to listen on the facts that it can be spred my air gun innoculations and my fondest hope is to help all veterans past and present. My home number is 352-503-2569. Im sending a pic of me and my girlfriend so you know what I look like. god bless artie
He received this reply
I for sure do NOT have it, but remember that 1/39 was deemed Non Combat Ready for a period of time over this. That's why we were warned in formation. I have about 6 friends on facebook that were in my company back then that may remember it. If you would like to try to contact them I could see if any remember this incident.
and this one from another veteran
I am doing well thanks. Hope all is well considering your medical condition. I do remember the outbreak of hepititis in the 1/39 Infantry. I don't remember exact year, but I was in Baumholder from 1978-1982. What I remember was my medical platoon sergeant was totally again the air gun for innoculations. But also in that same time frame, I don't know if it were 1/39th Infantry or the 1/87th Inf there was a medic(s) that got into the safe that store narcotics that were to be used in war time. The medic(s) used needles and syringes to break through cellophane and draw the narcotics out. Those narcotics were inventoried monthly by a disinterested person and inspected annually by the division surgeons office. Why I mention this to you as there was discussion that possibly some folks contracted the hepititis virus as some folks shared needles when using the narcotics. In fact, the virus was found in a medic who died of overdose.

If there is something I can help you with I will. Of course, it's been 35 yrs ago or so, so my memory isn't the greatest....but I do remember that out break.

If it happened to you too, get your story out there and give lawyers a chance to fight for you. You shouldn't have to fight for what you have been dealing with, but you are not fighting alone.

Learning From Marines About Military Suicides

Learning From Marines About Military Suicides
Posted: 03/28/2013
Joseph Bobrow
Founder and president, Coming Home Project

Veteran military writer Tom Ricks posted an important blog on his Best Defense column in Foreign Policy. Researchers Dr. Frank Tortorello and Dr. William Marcellino, sponsored by the Marine Corps' Training and Education Command and Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning, did something novel. They listened to Marines, who described in great detail their experiences of stress and distress. What did the researchers learn? They found that crises of meaning were central. Some Marines were able to bounce back, say by forgiving themselves for perceived errors on the battlefield. Others judged themselves harshly for perceived failures. Yet others remain plagued by doubts. The researchers saw real people describing their struggles to make sense of things done, not done, or witnessed.

This follows on an earlier study that revealed a critical factor in military suicides: overwhelming emotional pain. Meaning and emotional pain; quintessentially human elements. Another "no duh" moment. When will we wake up and learn to see what's right in front of us?
read more here

People have lost their minds! Military funerals for "heroes" only?

OMG! Are people really this clueless? If you know the history of military service in this country, even a little of it, then you know that the draft was making some go to war and some of them died, some were wounded and some earned medals for heroism. Now some yahoo comes out and says that only those who died in combat deserve a military funeral because of money? What about those who died of their wounds and were not killed during deployment?
Columnist: Ditch Funeral Honors for Non-Hero Vets
March 29, 2013
Spouse and Family News
by Amy Bushatz

“Bear in mind that most veterans did nothing heroic. They served, and that’s laudable, but it hardly seems necessary to provide them all with military honors after they have died.”

This is the argument offered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bill McClellan in his recent column on why the federal government should no longer provide military funeral honors to veterans.

Give honors only to those who have died in combat, he writes. If others want honors they should look to their veterans organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VWF) to provide them.

“Everybody knows government needs to cut costs,” he writes. “This is exactly how you do it. You identify things you don’t need, and you cut them.”

McClellan bases his knowledge of the lack of heroism in veterans off his own experience in Vietnam.

“I did nothing heroic. Nor did any of my close friends. But I knew people who did, and it devalues the real heroes to say that everybody was one,” he writes. “If everybody is a hero, nobody is.”

I can see how he arrived at this conclusion. He’s saying that in a drafted military you are there because you have no other choice.
read more here
Bushatz can see how he concluded that? Really? People have lost their minds!

WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam wars all had men drafted serving right along the side of those who enlisted. The day they take off their civilian clothes and put on a uniform is the day they become part of the mighty minority of members of the military. To give them anything less than a proper military funeral after spending the rest of their lives as veterans would be the ultimate disgrace.

TSA changes the way they treat wounded war fighters

TSA Allows Wounded Warriors Expedited Screening
Mar 28, 2013
by Stephen Bajza

Current TSA procedures can be time-consuming at best and invasive at worst. Scrambling to take off your shoes and shove all your carry-on belongings into a few plastic bins is not a process commonly considered enjoyable. For those with disabilities or serious injuries, the process can be much more grueling and uncomfortable.

Fortunately for Wounded Warriors, starting today the TSA is initiating a new policy change to expedite airport screening. While veterans and servicemembers currently do not need to remove their shoes or boots at TSA checkpoints, this reform offers a new level of comfort and trust to those who have been severely injured in service to the United States.

The new TSA benefits include:
Expedited screening
Curb-to-gate service
Wounded Warriors will not have to remove shoes, light outerwear, jackets, or hats.
read more here

Five Things the Bible Got Wrong?

I admit that I did not watch all of The Bible because of how much they got wrong in the beginning. That is why when I saw this headline I was hopeful someone else noticed the mistakes too. I was wrong.

Heresy! Five things 'The Bible' got wrong
Joe Alblas / AP
"The Bible" didn't always stick to its inspiration.
By Randee Dawn, TODAY contributor

“The Bible” miniseries has truly brought in divine ratings for The History Channel these past few weeks. Despite at least one major road bump (Satan appeared in a black hooded robe and was promptly compared to President Barack Obama), the episodes -- which selectively feature certain stories in both the Old and New Testaments -- have been well received by millions of viewers every week. But as the series comes to a close Sunday, it’s worth asking – just how accurate was the series, in the end? Telling the story of The Bible is a tricky business, said biblical scholar Dr. Peter E. Enns, who teaches Bible Studies at Pennsylvania’s Eastern University. But it was clear, he notes, that series creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had an agenda – and that every episode they told had one goal: To get to the climax of Jesus’s life and death. (click link for the rest)

I wish that these were among the list of mistakes.

They got the names wrong of Abraham and Sarah
Genesis 17 5 No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.
Lot's daughters in the movie were young yet when you read that they seduced their father, it is clear they were not little girls.
Genesis 19:35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

Genesis 19:37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today.
They got the age Jesus began His ministry wrong.
Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. Luke 3
There is more they got wrong but you'll have to read the Bible to discover how much. If you can think of the others leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Jury awards Orlando Iraq veteran $26 million

Florida jury awards $26 million to war veteran injured in car wreck
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - An Iraqi war veteran who suffered permanent brain damage in a 2008 motor vehicle accident in Florida has won a $26 million jury verdict, his lawyer said on Thursday.

"He's got a huge hole in his right frontal and temporal lobes," said Alexander Clem of the law firm Morgan and Morgan in Orlando.

Dustin Brink, 31, hit his head on the asphalt pavement in Kissimmee, Florida, after his motorcycle was clipped by a car driven by Juan Pereles, said Clem. Pereles and his father, Juan de Los Santos, who owned the car, were named in a lawsuit filed in 2010.
read more here

Florida town tells Marine Iraq veteran "take down the flag"

Marine veteran ordered to remove American flag from his yard
Published March 29, 2013

A U.S. Marine has been ordered by local officials to remove an American flag and flagpole that he installed outside his Florida home after returning home from serving in Iraq.

Gregory Schaffer told that he received a citation from the town of Hypoluxo, Fla., listing the flagpole as a violation of the town's permitting code.

"It's sad. It's sad that we have to go through that just to fly a flag," Schaffer told the station. The 24-year-old Marine said a neighbor filed a complaint with the town within days after he installed the flagpole in his yard.
read more here

If Resilience Training worked, they wouldn't need an app for that

Aside from military suicides breaking records, more veterans committing suicide, arrests up and veterans flooding the VA seeking help, these are the stories that should prove once and for all the bullshit we were fed about Battlemind preventing all of this did not work. But what did the DOD do? They pushed the same lame approach so there are now 900 suicides prevention programs. Technology is a wonderful thing but from where I sit with thousands of reports to go through to finish my book on military suicides, THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR, if what they were doing worked, veterans wouldn't need an app for help with PTSD.
Help for PTSD, brain injuries may be only an app away
By Bob Glissmann
March 29, 2013

Darryl Summers merges onto Interstate 80, but in his mind, he's back in Iraq, leading a convoy of Army trucks, tanks and heavy equipment in an armored Humvee.

When you're responsible for escorting 50, 60, 70 vehicles behind you, Summers says, you keep constant watch for roadside bombs. It's dangerous. You're on edge. You don't let other drivers impede your progress.

In the heavy Omaha traffic, with other motorists cutting him off, the U.S. Army veteran becomes anxious and starts speeding and driving aggressively, just as he had on those Iraqi roads. As soon as he can, he pulls over and pulls up an app on his phone called PTSD Coach.

Summers, 49, runs through the app's stress-assessment tools and its breathing and relaxation techniques. The exercises, he recalled in an interview, helped him to compose himself.

“It spirals you from where you're at to a more calm, relaxed state,” he said, “so you're ready to hit the road again or ready to re-engage.”
read more here

Support the troops? Then pay attention all the time!

Last night I put up an old post I found on the fact the Army Medical Corps had downsized to a lower rate than they had after the Gulf war when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were creating more wounded. Medical technology had caught up enough so that even some quadruple amputees survived. But was you can see there were still problems most people didn't know about.
As more wounded soldiers return from war, critics say staff shortages and turnover have affected the quality of health care at Army posts across the nation.

Overall, the Army’s Medical Corps has downsized significantly since the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s, dropping from 5,400 to 4,300 physicians and from 4,600 to 3,400 nurses.

According to the Department of Defense, more than 29,000 service members have been wounded in action in Iraq or Afghanistan in the last six years, compared with fewer than 500 in Operation Desert Storm.
I got upset with the Daily Show's Jon Stewart because while he was rightly paying attention to what is happening to our veterans today, it had been going on for a very long time.
Apr 24, 2008 “Since 2006, the number of claims has grown 15 percent. The amount of time it takes to make decisions on disability claims is two to three year. On an average, it takes four years to get an appeals decision.”
That is the biggest problem this nation has when they keep chanting "USA Support the Troops" when they want to but when they need to, they are just too busy doing something else.
According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 Veterans Service Representatives in June 2007 compared to 1,516 in January 2003. But what would have happened if after the troops were being sent into a second war, the VA was prepared to take care of them with their claims as well as their wounds? Would older veterans have suffered even longer than they already had? Would it have helped to know all their years of fighting to make sure PTSD was treated for all veterans was worthy of their efforts?
“U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.” (Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD Army Finds, Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson, December 20, 2006)
The VA's mental-health experts started pushing for specialized PTSD programs in all medical centers in the 1980s. Top VA officials agreed "in concept" that it would be a good idea. But in 2005 and 2006, despite telling Congress that it was setting aside an additional $300 million for expanding mental-health services, such as PTSD programs, the VA didn't get around to spending $54 million of that, according to the Government Accountability Office.”
• Despite a decade-long effort to treat veterans at all VA locations, nearly 100 local VA clinics provided virtually no mental-health care in 2005.
• Mental-health care is wildly inconsistent from state to state. In some places, veterans receive individual psychotherapy sessions. In others, they meet mostly for group therapy. Some veterans are cared for by psychiatrists; others see social workers.
• The lack of adequate psychiatric care strikes hard in the western and rural states that have supplied a disproportionate share of the soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — often because of their large contingents of National Guard and Army Reserves.
Moreover, the return of so many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is squeezing the VA's ability to treat yesterday's soldiers from Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
"We can't do both jobs at once within current resources," a committee of VA experts wrote in a 2006 report, saying it was concerned about the absence of specialized PTSD care in many areas and the decline in the number of PTSD visits veterans receive. (McClatchy 2007)

Department of Veteran Affairs promising to beef up its mental health services in response. Veterans of previous conflicts continue to have problems as well, and the VA has estimated that a total of 5000 suicides among veterans can be expected this year.
However, CBS News has now completed a five-month study of death records for 2004-05 which shows that the actual figures are "much higher" than those reported by the VA. Across the total US veteran population of 25 million, CBS found that suicide rates were more than twice as high as for non-veterans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide accounted for 32,439 deaths in 2004. (Stunning Veterans Suicide Rate, David Edwards, Muriel Kane, CBS, November 13, 2007)
But that same year officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $2.6 billion on their credit cards as reported by the Associated Press Hope Yen. What did they spend the money on? $3.1 million purchases including casinos, high price hotels, movie tickets, and high end stores.

By 2008 another $2.7 million was handed over to a contractor to make phone calls. Yep~phone calls! 570,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to be called to find out why they hadn’t gone to the VA.

“The first calls will go to about 17,000 veterans who were sick or injured while serving in the wars. If they don’t have a care manager, the VA says they will be given one.

The next round of calls will target 555,000 veterans from the wars who have been discharged from active duty, but have not reached out to the VA for services. For five years after their discharge from the military, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have access to health care at the VA. The effort will cost about $2.7 million and will be handled by a government contractor.

The agency has faced complaints that a backlog in claims and bureaucratic hurdles have prevented some recent veterans from getting proper mental and physical care. Earlier this week, two Democratic senators accused the VA’s top mental health official of trying to cover up the number of veteran suicides and said he should resign.” (VA to call Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Associated Press, April 24, 2008)
As for the reports on military and veterans committing suicide, hope of actually doing something eroded when the media refused to correct their published numbers. If they can't even get that right, and the public doesn't spend their time tracking news reports, nothing will change and when the next round of Congress takes their chairs, when the next Administration takes the Oval Office, the men and women risking their lives will face more and more suffering and some other TV personality will be complaining about what hasn't happened. The ugly truth is, they are paying the price for their service no matter who is in the chair.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Senator Evan Bayh complained about inadequate staffing in 2008

Did you know in January of 2008 there were less doctors and nurses working for the wounded?
Shortages could be hurting Army health care
By Laura Ungar
Gannett News Service
Posted : Saturday Jan 12, 2008

Injured in a roadside blast in Iraq, Sgt. Gerald Cassidy was assigned to a new medical unit at Fort Knox, Ky., devoted to healing the wounds of war.

But instead of getting better, the brain-injured soldier from Westfield, Ind., was found dead in his barracks on Sept. 21. Preliminary reports show he may have been unconscious for days and dead for hours before someone checked on him.

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., linked his death in part to inadequate staffing.

The Army is investigating the death and its cause, and three people have lost their jobs.

“By all indications, the enemy could not kill him, but our own government did,” Bayh told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Not intentionally, to be sure, but the end result apparently was the same.”

As more wounded soldiers return from war, critics say staff shortages and turnover have affected the quality of health care at Army posts across the nation.

Overall, the Army’s Medical Corps has downsized significantly since the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s, dropping from 5,400 to 4,300 physicians and from 4,600 to 3,400 nurses.

According to the Department of Defense, more than 29,000 service members have been wounded in action in Iraq or Afghanistan in the last six years, compared with fewer than 500 in Operation Desert Storm.

I am seriously considering adding a post of the day for DID YOU KNOW? I keep finding more and more reports on my blog that reporters have forgotten about. All the reports they have done lately have been complaining about now but ignored yesterday.

Fallen soldier, Zack Shannon, honored by friends, strangers

Fallen soldier, Zack Shannon, honored by friends, strangers
Mar 25, 2013
Ashley Porter

Dunedin, Florida-- From Tampa to Dunedin, crowds lined the streets with flags, signs, and sadness for a fallen soldier.

The reason behind their determination, waiting hours for the motorcade of Army Spc. Zack Shannon, could be summed up by the words of six-year-old Jacob Rooks: "Zack died for our freedom."

From the intersections of Clearwater to the sidewalks in front of Dunedin High School, one word resonated: hero.

Shannon was killed on March 11 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. He was the first graduate of Dunedin High School and its JROTC program to ever be killed in action.

"Zack made a difference," says Commander Rick Schock, who taught Zack at Dunedin High School. "Zack was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was unfortunately killed in action. He wanted to fly helicopters, he wanted to be in the Army and when I last saw him, he was very, very happy."
read more here

Final escort of Dunedin soldier comes through Tampa today
Times Staff
Monday, March 25, 2013
Go there for wonderful video.

Feds can’t keep up with ills from 2 wars

Study: Feds can’t keep up with ills from 2 wars
By Greg Zoroya and Greg Toppo
USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

The federal government is failing to keep pace with a torrent of ailments and issues generated by two wars for the more than 2 million Americans who served overseas since 9/11, according to a sweeping assessment by a panel of leading scientists.

The nearly 800-page study, completed over four years by the Institute of Medicine and released Tuesday, portrays a nation struggling to anticipate and understand consequences of a decade of war and grueling demands placed on its military and unprecedented kinds of wounds troops have suffered.

The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are trying to help, but “the response does not match the magnitude of the problems, and many readjustment needs are unmet or unknown,” says the report by the institute, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

The nation waged war in Iraq and Afghanistan in unprecedented ways, the study found, using a limited-size, all-volunteer force; deploying troops repeatedly for up to 15 or 18 months at a time; allowing less than a year of rest between tours; and filling the military’s ranks with historically high numbers of women, parents, National Guard troops and reservists.
read more here

my comment
The Washington Post reported in 2006 the Army found redeployments increased risk for PTSD by 50%, but did it anyway. RAND found resilience programs do not work and among the reasons are people cannot be "trained" to be resilient plus these programs do not work in military culture. There are so many reasons but no signs the DOD has learned from them. 900 Suicide Prevention programs and record level of suicides taught them nothing.

The most frightening thing of all is that I don't even have a degree but in 2009 I came right out and warned if they pushed the Resilience Programs, suicides would go up. How scary is that when hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent on "professionals" with degrees up the wahzoo haven't figured it out yet! But then again, this was on Army Times this morning too.
Army defends battlefield social science program
By Tom Vanden Brook
USA Today Posted : Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — Army Secretary John McHugh defended the use of military social scientists on battlefields despite some initial “command, training and personnel challenges” with the program in its early years

McHugh sent a letter recently to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the Armed Services Committee who had raised concerns with McHugh about the Human Terrain System after USA Today reported that an internal Army report had found team members falsified time sheets to inflate their pay and had engaged in racial and sexual harassment. The program, launched in 2007 with civilian social scientists, was aimed at helping commanders understand local populations and avoid antagonizing them.

Army internal reviews, including a 2010 report obtained by USA Today under the Freedom of Information Act were used to “increase oversight, improve personnel selection and enhance effectiveness,” McHugh wrote to Hunter on March 15.

Hunter said he’s not convinced the program, which cost the military $58 million in 2013, is worth the investment.

“The problem here is that the Army’s take on things overlooks an investigation that raises some serious concerns and doesn’t account for program shortcomings and criticisms,” Hunter told USA Today.
read more here

Human Terrain Systems CGI began in Canada with Serge Godin and Andre Imbeau revenue $1.4 billion and by 2012 it was $3.7 billion.
CGI Federal, Inc., Manassas, Va., was awarded a $42,485,968 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The award will provide for the procurement and development of the Human Terrain System. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2016. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with four bids received. The U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Va., is the contracting activity (W911S0-11-D-0058).

Lockheed Martin MS2, Liverpool, N.Y., was awarded a $26,321,139 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to support country field service representatives. Work will be performed in Liverpool, N.Y., with an estimated completion date of July 30, 2012. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with three bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-06-C-T004).

For dog lovers
K2 Solutions Corp.*, Southern Pines, N.C., is being awarded a $34,394,858 firm-fixed-priced contract for life cycle sustainment for the Marine Corps’ fleet of improvised explosive device detector dogs, including kenneling and daily care, operational training for Marine handlers, logistics support, transportation, support during overseas operations, and associated materials. The contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $91,022,617. Work will be performed in Southern Pines, N.C. (70 percent), Twentynine Palms, Calif. (20 percent), and overseas (10 percent), and is expected to be completed by September 2012. If all options are exercised, work will be completed March 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $34,394,858 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured as a total small business set-aside solicitation via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with two offers received in response to the solicitation. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-11-C-3015).

This was from 2011
Jardon and Howard Technologies, Inc., Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $3,700,178 modification, which brings the total of all prior modifications/increments to $7,656,178, under previously awarded contract (HQ0034-10-F-2094) to provide administrative support services to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., Woodland Hills, Calif., and Fort Meade, Md., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 28, 2015. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with three bids received. Washington Headquarters Service is the contracting activity.

This was from 2005
Jardon and Howard Technologies Inc., Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $7,568,727 ceiling amount firm-fixed-price, time and material contract for the Military Communities and Family Policy Services to provide the technical, training and administrative support required to implement programs on a national and international basis to provide innovative options for approaching the challenges that military members and their families encounter on a daily basis. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla., and is expected to be completed in March 2006. Contract funds in the amount of $7,568,727 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61339-05-C-0111).
along with this one
Jardon and Howard Technologies Inc., Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $7,087,539 ceiling amount time and material contract for the Victim Advocates, Shelter and Seriously Disabled Veterans Services which are programs and initiatives offered by Military Communities and Family Policy Services to provide counseling for the seriously injured, victim and shelter services for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault in the military services and provide the support necessary to manage and coordinate services and internships for seriously disabled veterans, as a result of their services on Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Global War on Terrorism. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla., and is expected to be completed in March 2006. Contract funds in the amount of $7,087,539 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61339-05-C-0109).
For more contracts go here

Veterans prefer face-to-face interaction to find jobs

Hiring Our Heroes 2013: Veterans prefer face-to-face interaction to find jobs
by Kristina Puga

Today, more than 500 veterans attended the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes job fair in New York City. The program, which launched last year, is committed to hiring 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. So far, 108,000 have found jobs as part of the campaign in the last year.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are currently 1.3 million Latino veterans — 308,000 of whom are from the Gulf War and have an 11.7 percent unemployment rate. This is almost two percentage points higher than non-veteran Latinos.

Ronal Arevalo, 30, was a specialist in the U.S. Army from 2003 until 2011 and has been looking for a stable job since 2012. He got to the fair bright and early and is feeling hopeful.

“I don’t have a college degree yet,” says Arevalo, who was born in Colombia, but is now a U.S. citizen residing in the Bronx, NY. “I learned leadership, discipline and can adapt to any environment thanks to the Army.”
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Ohio AG probe: Veteran service groups misused $10M

Ohio AG probe: Veteran service groups misused $10M
Associated Press
March 27, 2013

CINCINNATI (AP) — A state investigation alleging more than $10 million in charitable funds held by veterans services organizations for job training and other services was misused also found that some veterans posts in Ohio set up fake career centers instead of using the money to help unemployed veterans.

The Ohio attorney general's office said an agreement between the state and the Columbus-based AMVETS Department of Ohio, Ohio AMVETS Career Center and AMVETS Department of Ohio Service Foundation requires reforms that include revamped accounting and reporting practices, written financial policies and the removal of personnel in various AMVETS offices and boards.

The probe found some of the 59 AMVETS posts in Ohio set up satellite career centers that were only "facades," amounting to little more than an "outdated computer in a corner," according to court documents filed Tuesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus. Some used the money intended for centers to reimburse themselves for items such as "rent" for the centers and to pay a member as a "career center coach," who often did little more than register veterans for an online course, the documents state.

Investigators who posed as veterans in need of job help said that they were often told a computer wasn't working or that a post had no career center.
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Disabled Vets at Walter Reed can't find parking?

"The lack of parking became a big issue in 2011, when 2,000 employees from the now closed Walter Reed hospital in northwest D.C. were reassigned to the Bethesda campus. There are plans to add more spaces over the next five-to-10 years."
Parking Crackdown at Walter Reed Patrols stop employees from taking spots away from patients
NBC Washington
Thursday, Mar 28, 2013

Parking at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda can be a challenge. Now, it's getting a little easier for veterans who go there for treatment but can't find a parking space. read more here

VA’s appalling failures not recent

VA’s appalling failures not recent
By Sid Salter/Syndicated columnist
The Picayune Item
March 27, 2013
STARKVILLE, Miss. — While recent national press attention to ongoing problems at Mississippi’s G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center in Jackson is welcome and needed, the failures of the overall VA service apparatus in Mississippi are not recent problems.

In short, former U.S. Rep. Sonny Montgomery — Mississippi’s “Mr. Veteran” and author of the modern G.I. Bill that bears his name — must be spinning in his grave. There have been significant failures and poor service to veterans documented by state and local media since 2008.

This month, the New York Times focused a national spotlight on complaints from five federal whistleblowers who accused the Jackson VA of missed diagnoses of fatal illnesses, improper sterilization of medical instruments and, in some cases, criminal conduct.

The newspaper article documented alleged abuses going back to 2009 and VA investigations and reports based on those allegations. In addition, the federal Office of the Special Counsel documented allegations that VA managers instructed public affairs employees to tell the press that “no violations were found to have occurred.”

On June 2, 2008, I wrote a lengthy news story for the Clarion-Ledger outlining the claims of a Mississippi whistleblower that brought to light improper benefit denials and poor service to veterans at the VA’s Jackson Regional Office.

In that report, I uncovered documents that showed that that claims for Mississippi’s then-233,888 military veterans — including Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans — weren’t being processed in a timely manner. Those claims led to a VA and congressional investigation.

The information documented that in April 2008, claims at the U.S. Veterans Affairs’ Jackson Regional Office were processed 53 percent slower than the national and regional average. That included claims from combat veterans seeking help for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Sid Salter is right. It is not new and last night I was watching the Daily Show as Jon Stewart got angry about all of this but I left this comment about what had been happening.

VA assistant secretary blames others
I track all these reports and last night I was glad it was covered but wow are you wrong. The number of VA Service Reps was 1,516 in January of 2003 but in 2007 there were only 1,392. In 2000 the VA had 578,000 claims but went to 838,000 in 2008. That same year the VA was trying to do online claims. It was also later in the year of 879,291 in backlog including 148,000 Vietnam veterans who finally filed claims in 2007. That same year, the a defense contractor was given a contract for $2.7 million to make 555,000 phone calls to veterans to find out why they had not gone to the VA. Obama changed the rules for PTSD claims and Agent Orange Claims but with the mess that was there before, Congress didn't increase funding enough or hire enough staff to even catch up. Suicides are up and there are 900 DOD suicide prevention programs congress finds the money for but they are not working. RAND took a look among other researchers and found why they failed but DOD won't listen.

Marine, celebrating birthday hit by Gucci Mane for wanting picture

It was the Marine's birthday on top of everything else. He came back from Afghanistan in October. Now he has ten stitches in his head.
Gucci Mane Arrested After Allegedly Assaulting Soldier With Champagne Bottle
ABC News
By Kevin Dolak
Mar 27, 2013

Rapper and actor Gucci Mane had been arrested in Atlanta on assault charges after he allegedly hit a photo-seeking soldier in the head with a champagne bottle at a nightclub.

The rapper, whose real name is Radric Davis, turned himself in to police and was booked at the Fulton County Jail Tuesday. He was expected to go before a judge this morning. It’s unclear whether he has entered a plea.

Mane, 33, who plays a gang kingpin in the new movie “Spring Breakers,” was in the VIP area at the Harlem Nights club in Atlanta March 16 when a soldier approached the area to have a photo taken, according to ABC affiliate WSBTV.
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This is the report from before he was arrested.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nearly 8 million U.S. residents have PTSD

More insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome with PTSD
Clinical Psychiatry
News Digital Network
Nearly 8 million U.S. residents have PTSD, which is now recognized to be prevalent not only in veterans but in the broader population.
SAN FRANCISCO – Posttraumatic stress disorder independently increased the risk of insulin resistance by 80% and metabolic syndrome by 40% in a retrospective study of 207,954 veterans.

The incidence of insulin resistance was 14% higher and the incidence of metabolic syndrome was 12% higher in 11,420 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compared with 196,534 without PTSD, after adjusting for the effects of age, gender, ethnicity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of premature coronary artery disease, and obesity, study coleader Dr. Ramin Ebrahimi reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Insulin resistance is known to increase atherogenesis and atherosclerotic plaque instability, resulting in greater risk for MI. The cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and abnormal cholesterol levels) has been associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
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Orlando officer shot at during struggle with suspect

Police: Orlando officer shot at during struggle with masked man on scooter
Suspect taken to hospital

Police: Orlando officer shot at during struggle with suspect

ORLANDO, Fla. —An Orlando Police officer was shot at by a suspect in the Baldwin Park neighborhood of Orlando on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

According to police, the officer was working in uniform and issued a citation to a driver during a traffic stop near the intersection of Fox Street and Juel Street.

A short time later, the driver of that vehicle returned to the scene on a scooter wearing a mask and intentionally ran a stop sign in front of the officer, police said. The officer tried to stop the suspect and he crashed his scooter, police said.
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Amputee Combat Medic relives it everyday on purpose

When I first posted this story all I could do was put WOW for the twitter feed. Now he is even more amazing than I thought he was. Watch the news report and know how incredible REdmond Ramos is.PTSD-Amputee-Combat Medic Afghanistan veteran helps troops train
Amputee veteran says reliving IED explosions in training exercises eases his PTSD
10 News
Michael Chen

SAN DIEGO - An amputee veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder is playing a major role in military training drills by reliving the trauma of his own injuries.

Through makeup and Hollywood special effects, the horrors of war are revealed in graphic detail and loud explosions during a training exercise at Stu Segall Productions.

Redmond Ramos is in the middle of the action and he is exactly where he wants to be.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing to relive it," he said.

Two years ago and three months into his first deployment to Afghanistan, Ramos – a Navy combat medic based at Camp Pendleton – stepped on an improvised explosive device, or IED.

"I just heard firecrackers and this big noise," said Ramos.

Months later, his leg had to be amputated.

He was medically retired and diagnosed with PTSD. Noises made him anxious, but he says the symptom subsided after a few months.

When he heard about the realistic training offered by Strategic Operations to help new Navy medics, he asked for a job.
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