Sunday, June 30, 2013

June deadliest month for troops in Afghanistan in 9 months

June deadliest month for troops in Afghanistan in 9 months
Stars and Stripes
By Heath Druzin
Published: June 30, 2013

KABUL -- In a dark reminder that the fighting in Afghanistan is still raging, despite the multinational military coalition’s pronouncements that the war is winding down, June has become the deadliest month for international troops in the country in nearly a year.

Already in June, at least 27 foreign troops have died, including 17 Americans, the most deaths in a month since September 2012, according to, a website that tracks troop deaths. Twenty-five of the deaths were termed “hostile,” or battle-related.

A large part of the higher casualty rate in June is likely due to violence traditionally rising in the warmer months, as insurgents stream back into Afghanistan from their winter redoubts in Pakistan.

Afghan troops have been dying at a much higher rate as they have taken on more responsibility for day-to-day security while facing a still-entrenched insurgency. Almost as many Afghan troops were killed in 2012 alone than the number of U.S. troops killed in the entire nearly 12-year war.
read more here

Boston VA claims prove Vietnam veterans are largest percentage of claims

The media has been focusing on the OEF and OIF veterans as if everyone else was taken care of. The truth is, we didn't take care of Gulf War veterans and we sure didn't take care of Vietnam veterans. That is worth talking about since it also points out one very simple fact. They are waiting in line because no President, no Congress has ever put veterans first. As bad as it is for the newer veterans, if we don't get the VA fixed now, what will it be like for them 20, 30 or 40 years from now?
Boston sixth longest wait for vets' disability
Sentinel and Enterprise
By Rick Sobey
Posted: 06/30/2013

With a seemingly endless number of Vietnam veterans learning about available benefits and countless veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the veteran disability wait in Boston is one of the highest in the nation.

But Billerica Vietnam veteran Frank Busalacchi and Tyngsboro Veteran Agent Chris Dery, who's in a two-year backlog, are not surprised the average Boston claims are taking about a year.

"It's the perfect storm right now," Dery said. "Boston gives some of the best benefits, which keeps all the veterans here. The VA is doing all they can. They're just up against the wall."

As of June 22 in the Boston Veterans Affairs regional office, 10,279 claims were pending, and on average, claims had been pending for 306 days. Boston has the sixth longest wait in the country. The Washington, D.C. regional office now has the longest delay -- 442 days.

One of the issues, Busalacchi said, is that many Vietnam veterans did not file claims when they returned in the 1960s and '70s.

"There was the 'too macho, too tough' mentality," said Busalacchi, who filed an eye and knee disability claim in 1967.

"So they waited and waited and waited, and it's really backlogged."

Only 22 percent of the pending claims are from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The rest are from prior wars and peacetime, with Vietnam War vets -- at 36 percent -- comprising the largest group.
read more here

6 brothers fought in World War II

6 brothers fought in World War II
By John D. Russell
The (Florence) Morning News via AP
Jun. 29, 2013

FLORENCE, S.C. — Most parents would agree keeping up with children while away at school can be a challenge.

Imagine what it would be like keeping up with six sons, all serving in the military at the same time in World War II.

It happened to Florence's Emutral Garrison.

She did the best she could do.

For two years, from 1944-46, Emutral kept up a steady correspondence with her six boys, William, James, Rogers, Daniel, Fred and Charles, sending news from home and, most importantly, transmitting news gleaned from one son to all the others.

Daniel Garrison, 92, one of the last two living brothers, served in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Ordnance chief petty officer from 1941 to 1959. Daniel said the letters from Mom meant everything and were a true blessing.

"My mother had all those letters to write," Daniel said. "She didn't leave any of us out. That's a good mom."
read more here

My husband's Dad and uncles all served in WWII as well. First generations Americans, four brothers, four branches of the military. Dad was Army, Uncle John Marine Corps, killed in Saipan, Uncle in Merchant Marines and another was Navy.

Judge orders public shame for fraud defendants

Judge orders shame for fraud defendants
By Guillermo Contreras
San Antonio Express-News
Published: June 29, 2013

SAN ANTONIO — In what he noted might not be legal, a federal judge on Friday ordered a very public shaming for two former officials of a now defunct contractor for their roles in overcharging taxpayers more than $6.4 million between 2002 and 2008.

Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery sentenced Donald Dean Brewer and his wife, Sherri Lynn Brewer, both 64, to a lifetime of probation and ordered them to publish an admission to their crimes in their hometown newspaper.

The former San Antonio residents retired to Clovis, a small town in southeastern New Mexico, and faced six to 10 years in federal prison.

“There has not been a full and forthcoming acceptance of responsibility,” Biery said. “There's been minimization. You are going to write a letter to be published in the Clovis newspaper. ...It better be a real strong confessional. It better say, 'I am a liar. I am a thief. I betrayed my friends. I betrayed the United States.'”
read more here

Veteran's Home Run race for worthy vets cause of Crawford House

Veteran's Home Run race for worthy vets cause of Crawford House
The Gazette
By Brent Briggeman
Published: June 29, 2013

When it comes to reasons to take an early morning run, well, this one is tough to beat.

More than 280 runners took on a 5K course at Memorial Park at 7 a.m. Saturday for the Veteran's Home Run, a race in its eighth year that raises money for the Crawford House - a haven and treatment center for homeless veterans.

"I like racing for vets and the Crawford House," race winner Paul Mann said. "I know it's a good cause."

The entirely paved race produced quick times, with five course age-group records falling. Mann won in 17 minutes, 34 seconds, with runner-up Jay Meservy finishing 12 seconds later.

Mann, 35, is a Cheyenne Mountain graduate who ran track and cross country at Colorado State.

The finishers behind Mann included a U.S. Marine, a man carrying a POW/MIA flag, runners as young as 8 and as old as 76 and Ross Osborne, who navigated the course in a wheelchair.
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Fort Campbell soldier's death in Afghanistan under investigation

Fort Campbell soldier from NY dies in Afghanistan from non-combat related injury
June 29, 2013

FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky — A Fort Campbell soldier from New York has died in Afghanistan.

A statement from the Army on Saturday says 25-year-old Sgt. Justin Richard Rogers of Barton, New York, died Friday at Bagram Airfield in a noncombat related incident. The Army says it is investigating Rogers' death.
read more here

Raised concerns about mental health did little to stop redeployment from Lewis-McChord

Mental health surveys divert few soldiers from deployment
The News Tribune
Published: June 29, 2013

A small fraction of soldiers deploying out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord during the peak of the Iraq War were removed from combat missions because their answers on last-minute screenings raised concerns about their mental health, according to data obtained by The News Tribune.

Just 250 out of more than 72,000 pre-deployment health surveys reviewed at Madigan Army Medical Center between 2006 and 2010 led to soldiers being taken off combat tours after they revealed signs of ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder or head injuries. That’s less than 0.4 percent of the surveys that were completed.

The numbers appear small, but they come from a group of soldiers who had been considered healthy and ready to deploy when they took the surveys in the months before they were scheduled to leave the country.

“These are the people who have already drawn their gear and are on the ramp,” said Madigan Commander Col. Dallas Homas.

The data shed new light on one of the safety valves military officials put in place after it became clear they would be sending soldiers in an all-volunteer Army on multiple combat tours, continually exposing the same troops to insurgent bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army-supported studies since 2007 have shown that repeated deployments increase the probability soldiers will experience PTSD.
read more here

Same reminder on this one.

Military suicides: an unspoken tragedy

Military suicides: an unspoken tragedy
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Franklin served in the Navy during the Korean Conflict and in the Air Force during Vietnam. He lives in Bedford County.
When Marine Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger, the gun misfired. Had he died that night sitting in his pickup in Kentucky, his death would have been added to the growing number of active duty military personnel who have committed suicide.

Since 2001, more than 2,700 have taken their lives. In 2012 alone, the Army reported 168 suicides; the Navy, 53; the Air Force, 56; and the Marines, 46.

While researchers list financial problems, substance abuse and spousal breakups as causes for this upsurge, in reality they are only manifestations. Most agree the real cause boils down to repeated deployment. Many have pulled three and four tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. After being in a “survival mode” for a year, it takes time to come down, and when they finally do, they find themselves again on deployment, and the cycle begins all over again.

Self-inflicted wounds prior to battle have always plagued military commanders. Since 2001, however, military men and women have taken their lives after they return home because they cannot reintegrate. Kim Ruocco, head of Tragedy Assistance for Survivors, said, “We should expect our troops to need psychological care after all we’ve asked of them.” Ruocco’s husband, a Marine Corps Major, hanged himself between Iraq deployments in early 2005. (“Grim Record: Soldier Suicides Reach new High,” Time magazine, Aug. 16, 2012.)

If re-integration is difficult for men, it is doubly so for our women soldiers. In the minority, they often feel alone. Where a man can always find a fellow soldier with whom he can relate, women find it more difficult. Too, they have issues unknown to men.
read more here
If you think he is wrong on redeployments, here is a good reminder

They did it anyway. Now they say that most of the suicides were not connected to deployment. They never seem to manage to bring up the other causes of trauma like sexual assaults (male and female) abuse of all kinds and training with bombs blowing up.

Evidence in UK soldier’s suicide ‘not sufficiently clear’

Evidence of Mansfield soldier’s suicide ‘not sufficiently clear’ UK
June 29, 2013

The inquest into the death of Mansfield former soldier Ashley Clarkson found that evidence into his death was ‘not sufficiently clear’ that he had intended to end his own life.

Nottinghamshire deputy coroner Heidi Connor delivered a narrative verdict at the hearing on Thursday into the untimely death of the 23-year-old in March 2012.

The troubled ex-Royal Logistic Corps private, had been found hanging at his home on Clifford Street by his girlfriend Chloe.

The day-long inquest, in which numerous witnesses were called including family and military and medical spokesmen, heard that Mr Clarkson had suffered from anxiety and depression, caused by numerous factors that included the death of close family and friends, and the horrors of what he witnessed while on tour of Iraq during his time in the army.

However, the army deemed a low risk in terms of suicidal thoughts by the time he was discharged from the army in 2011.
On the day of his death, and almost a year after his discharge, Ashley had visited his mother at work on the morning, where she said he looked vacant and distant, had been up all night and smelled of alcohol.

Later that day family members became worried after text messages were not being returned by Ashley.

His girlfriend, Chloe Thompson, with whom he lived with at Clifford Street, returned to their house where she found him hanging from the top of the stairs. No letter or suicide not note had been left.

Passing the narrative verdict, Ms Connor absolved responsibility from the army by saying: “For a tragedy like this to be preventable, it has to be predictable. Ashley was not thought to be suffering from a mental illness before he was discharged.”
read more here

Where are the military suicide reports?

End of June and monthly Army suicide report for May has not come out. The 2012 Suicide Event Report has still not been released. Anyone explain where these reports are? Has anyone explained the delay?

Same-sex military couples to benefit from court ruling

Same-sex military couples to benefit from court ruling
KDH News
Brandon Janes
Herald staff writer
Posted on June 30, 2013

Less than two years since soldiers at Fort Hood were prohibited from being openly gay, same-sex married couples in the Army now have more rights than other same-sex Texas couples.

After the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act last week, all military spouses will now receive full military benefits, regardless of their sexual orientation, the Pentagon said.

Many federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, look at where you live before issuing marriage benefits — such as filing joint tax returns.

The Department of Defense, however, looks at where you were married to decide what benefits you receive.

Same-sex military couples who were married in one of the 13 states that issue same-sex marriage licenses will now receive their federal benefits regardless of the state or country where they live.
read more here

Bliss of the Old Soul

Bliss of the Old Soul
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
June 30, 2013

Today is the end of PTSD Awareness Month. On Thursday Kathleen Sebelius wrote about it with this on the end of her piece.
During PTSD Awareness Month, PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, and all year long, we are determined to help our fellow Americans and their families and friends dealing with this debilitating condition. Through continued support for research, education, and treatment, we can help provide the hope and reality of recovery for all for those living with PTSD.
Millions of Americans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but with all the raising awareness happening year after year, we have arrived in a place and time when 40 years of research has produced more suicides and attempted suicides, families falling apart and homelessness.

My focus has always been on veterans and their families but for today, we should talk about all people suffering after traumatic events. After all, we are all still just only human. There are events in our lives that change us. Sometimes people think events make us stronger but they avoid acknowledging the inner strength was already there and was merely given the opportunity shine. The power of the human soul/spirit is something we are all born with. The trick is getting all parts of us connected.

There are some people with everything inside of them working together and they are able to retain bliss in any circumstance. They grieve but are not destroyed. They are saddened but do not lose hope. They are the people walking away after traumatic events believing they were there for a reason, no matter how great or small. They do not think God did it to them or punished them but they survived by the Grace of God.

For others, especially when they hear the stupidly delivered fix it fast slogan "God only gives us what we can handle" they walk away believing they were just punished for something. No one was watching over them. They had been judged. What do you think they will think after hearing those words? God sent His angels to spare them or God sent the angels to harm them?

There is another group closely connected to the first group that needs to be explored so that we can actually do something meaningful on healing PTSD. First we need to understand people like me. I am nothing special. I have an expression that pretty much sums up what life is like for me. "I have finally arrived at a point in my life where I have succeeded at failing."

It sounds bad but in reality it isn't. Everything I have tried to do with my life has failed when you consider that we all equate success with financial gain. I can't pay my bills, find financial support or even begin to pay back my student loans. Everything I do people expect me to do for free and the two books I wrote so far have cost me money instead of making money. Some veterans and family members I helped over the years simply moved on and some of them started their own groups but forget all about me. All of this does tend to cause some depression but I get over it. Why? Because I know I am doing what I was intended to do no matter how great, no matter how small.

When I was working as Administrator of Christian Education for a local church, I asked the youth pastor how she came up with sermons so far in advance. She told me that most of the time she just went by the calendar but when she was inspired to write a sermon, she just went with what was inside of her. It didn't matter how well it went over or not because she was writing it for who was intended to hear it. She just trusted the guidance of her soul. I have heard some of those sermons and frankly there was some kind of divine map questing going on. There were usually several people reacting to the message.

While others may have thought it was not a good sermon, the people needing to hear it got the message because they had connected to it because she connected to her soul and listened.

We all have that capacity. All my life I knew I was supposed to be a writer. My English teacher, Mr. Aucone said I had talent and should be a writer.  He also told me that if he just graded me on spelling, there is no way I would have gotten an A.  Back then we didn't have spell check.
There was no guarantee I would be a good writer and my goals were pretty uncomplicated. In my high school year book my only goal was to graduate.
After having TBI as a four year old, things in my head didn't work the same. For the way my brain takes in information it is easy to lose it fast. I had to come up with tricks to fix what didn't work. One of them is spelling so I thank God for spell check. Considering I am from the Boston area with a full accent and they taught phoenix in school very little has the same spelling as it sounds. The other is the rule of grammar especially when I am writing something that raises my passion level to boiling. Then there is another. Important things I need to hang onto have to find room in my long term memory so I have kick somethings out to fit them in. When I read something I can remember when I had read something else. That is how I come up with old news reports to prove something is not new or prove the new report false. Still it is not the TBI that almost cut me off from listening to my soul. It was everything else that happened.

From 4 to 40 it was one traumatic event after another starting with my Dad. He was a violent alcoholic until I was 13. I lived in fear that he would lash out at my Mom and brothers but even though he never went after me, I feared he would. One day he did on accident. He was pulling apart the living room and didn't see me on the couch. He threw a chair and it hit me. He was devastated. Long story short it was around then that he decided to stop drinking and got help. There was a car accident I should not have walked away from. My ex-husband tried to kill me, then he stalked me for a year. A miscarriage caused me to hemorrhage when I lost twins. Another health crisis after our daughter was born and a massive infection took over. You get the point. Then the biggest reason was living all these years with my husband and what PTSD was doing to him after Vietnam. It was not until years later when all the investigation I had been doing on PTSD that I finally got the clue I had been looking for. What made me different from him?

For my husband his trauma came in Phu Bia Vietnam 7 years before I graduated high school. When we met I didn't have a clue what happened in Vietnam and even less about what war did to those we sent. When it came to PTSD, he had a much different experience than even I could understand. My traumatic events changed me but in a different way than his did. I spent the rest of my life trying to understand why I didn't have it as much as I wanted to understand why he did.

The difference was the way everything in me was connected. Not just my mind, body and spirit connected together but connected back to God and where my soul came from. When you can find bliss in any condition, that is what is happening. After traumatic events caused by natural events, there is not just the event but the threat of it happening again. That only happens when the weather report warns you. Like the hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, only months after we moved here. We went through three of them. The only other time we worry is when something is in the Gulf. There is a huge difference between the type of PTSD survivors of a natural disaster can end up with compared to one done by other humans.

Accidents, crimes including abuse, death of a loved on and health issues can cause PTSD. I went through all of them and some hit me pretty hard but I recovered. These events did change me and the way I think but my strength was not something that developed. It was already there. It is one of the biggest reasons why I find the military's efforts on teaching "resilience" so repulsive. They are trying to teach something to people who already have it without telling them how to find it and get it working with the rest of everything else within them.

My strength was living within my soul and my soul is older than my body since my soul was created long before my body was born. My body is not perfect. It is getting older but will never catch up to the age of my soul. It is from my soul that I was able to make peace with what was done to me in every part of living. To know that God did not do it to me, but in fact, He spared me for whatever reason from the time I was 4, helped me have peace with my faith in Him. To know that I did the best I could with whatever I tried to do helped me find peace with myself. I am not haunted by the past but I am not strengthened by it either. I am only stronger because every part of me works together. When my body is weak, my head tells me to rest and do what I can until strength comes back. When my mind is weak, my spirit takes over. It all works together.

Whatever living does to us can be so much better if we make peace with what has been as much as we find peace living with whatever it is in this moment. When I say I have finally succeeded at failing, I am telling you that no matter what, I am at peace with all that came before, all that is and have faith that whatever comes next, it will turn out however it was meant to be. I no longer seek permission of the world to do what I do. I do not expect anyone to understand what I have to say as much as I expect the people hearing it need to hear it.

The best example I can give on this is often overlooked. When we talk about Christ it is easy to think of the 12 walking with Him but we forget there were many more.
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

We do not know their names but they are not less important than the others they were with on the same mission. Maybe they may have wanted to be as famous as the others but I am sure they found peace with what was required of them instead of what was required of the others. I wonder if they fully understood the impact they really had because had it not been for that multitude, Christianity may not have spread as much as it did because they reached more people and the people they reached, reached even more.

In the end the thing we all have to understand is that we make a difference in lives, no matter how great or small. When we follow where our old souls lead us, we find bliss on this journey. It is not how others view the outcome of our lives but it is how we view it. The sooner we make peace with what happened, the sooner were are ready for what comes next and that, that we can face with all that comes within this old soul.

Florida Atheists put up monument to nothing

Some of my friends are very upset over Atheists putting up a monument near where the Ten Commandments monument is. I am no more upset about this than I am about the fact some people do not believe in God. It is up to them. If this is public land, then they have the same rights believers do. They do not harm my faith any more than idol worshipers hurt the faith of early Christians. As a matter of fact, how they treated the Christians in the beginning caused more people to hear about Christ and they ended up joining no matter what price they would have to pay. They worshiped in hiding knowing if they were caught, they would be put to death.

No one can ever control what is in the mind and hearts of others. This nation began so that all people could worship or not as they see fit. To feel threatened in anyway by a monument put up by Atheists that believe in nothing honors it. How can we complain about nothing? They have an equal right under the laws of this nation. I just find it ironic when they fear Christian symbols like the Cross, as if it does them any harm at all, then turn around and put up a symbol of their faith in nothing.

Atheists unveil monument in Florida and promise to build 50 more
RAW Story
By David Ferguson
Saturday, June 29, 2013

At the unveiling of the first-ever atheist monument erected on government public property Saturday, the organization American Atheists announced that they plan to erect more monuments at locations throughout the country. In a press release, American Atheists President David Silverman said that the organization has plans for 50 more monuments at public sites across the country.

The unveiling took place at noon on Saturday at the courthouse in Starke, Florida, where last year a Christian group erected a monument to the Christian Bible’s Ten Commandments. The new atheist monuments will be placed in similar locations, where Christian groups have erected monuments to their beliefs in public, government-owned places.

“We’re not going to let them do it without a counterpoint,” Silverman told the Miami Herald. “If we do it without a counterpoint it’s going to appear very strongly that the government actually endorses one religion over another, or — I should say — religion in general over non-religion.”
read more here

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Army combat medic, now double amputee, fights to heal

Pa. soldier is in the fight of his life
The (State College, Pa.)
Centre Daily Times/AP
Published: June 29, 2013
Morgen Hummel helps her son, Sgt. Adam Hartswick, lay on a table during a physical therapy session at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sgt. Adam Hartswick grimaces. His upper-arm muscles swell as sweat beads on his forehead.

This exercise, he's pressing a lot of weight — his own.

Having inched out of his wheelchair and across a therapy table, he pushes himself up onto a small perch of twin yoga cushions, and straightens his torso.

He's ready for another workout drawing him closer to new legs, ready to squeeze some more strength from his 22-year-old heart.

"There you go, buddy, yeah," his father, Sean Hartwsick, says.

It's Thursday afternoon in the Military Advanced Training Center gym within the vast Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Everyone who is here, grunting and yelling over the pop and country music in the background, was robbed while in uniform. Their limbs, their past lives, are long gone.

Now, with the help of ace physical therapists and state-of-the-art equipment, they're fighting to regain what explosions and bullets took.

Each person on a mat or machine has a story. Hartswick's began five weeks ago and thousands of miles from his Pine Grove Mills and State College homes.

An Army combat medic, Hartswick lost his legs above the knees and his right index finger to an improvised explosive device on May 14 in Afghanistan. He either stepped on the IED or it was detonated as he and other soldiers came to the aid of an ambushed foot patrol.
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Maine joins other states treating PTSD with Marijuana

Maine approves medical marijuana for PTSD
By William Breathes
in Legislation
Medical, News Thursday
June 27, 2013

Post-traumatic stress disorder isn't just a media buzzword. It's mental and often physical suffering that affects millions of people to varying degrees, often making life unlivable. In recent years, cannabis has been shown - albeit anecdotal - to help improve PTSD symptoms yet many states with medical marijuana laws still don't allow it as a qualifying condition.

As of today, however, there's one less. Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed LD 1062 yesterday, authorizing patients with PTSD to legally access cannabis in that state. Maine joins New Mexico and Oregon in passing MMJ-PTSD legislation this year.

Connecticut, California, Delaware, and Massachusetts also have PTSD provisions in their state laws.
read more here

Wyoming veterans help escort traveling memorial

Wyoming veterans help escort traveling memorial
Ravalli Republic
June 29, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. – Carl Meloche still remembers his worst homecoming.

“I came back from Vietnam in December of ’68,” the Army Special Forces veteran said. “A bunch of us came in and got on the bus at Oakland. We drove through the gate, and there were a bunch of protesters out there, long-haired hippie people, peace signs and all of that.”

He said protesters, chanting and picketing, circled the bus and blocked its passage.

“The bus driver said, ‘We’re going to have to get the MP to clear the road,’” Meloche said.

The Green Berets on the bus had a better idea.

“We unloaded the bus,” Meloche said. “We walked in front and formed a V in front of the bus. And we moved those people, not physically, but mentally. They decided they didn’t want anything to do with the Green Beret, with the veterans who’d just come back from killing hostile enemies over there.”

Earlier this month, Meloche rode as the point man in the motorcade escorting the American Veterans Travelling Tribute into Cheyenne.

The memorial is a wall bearing the names of tens of thousands of veterans who’ve died fighting in every American war since World War II, and it includes every name of the more than 58,000 service members killed during the Vietnam War.

Meloche and fellow Vietnam veteran, Daniel R. Santistevan – both Laramie residents – said riding in the escort’s vanguard brought back memories of the war, faces of fallen friends and the latent fear, frustration and anguish associated with combat.

And both soldiers agreed: The ride was the greatest honor of their lives.
read more here

If you don't know them anymore

If you don't know them anymore
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
June 29, 2013

If you want to know what it is like inside other families of veterans with PTSD, this song very well could be the best explanation of it. "If you don't know me by now" is sung by Simply Red in this video.

It is not a new song but was done in 1972 by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

The beginning of the song is what we went through before my husband was finally getting the help he needed, far beyond what I could give.

If you don't know me by now
You will never never never know me
All the things that we've been through
You should understand me like I understand you
Now girl I know the difference between right and wrong
I ain't gonna do nothing to break up our happy home
Oh don't get so excited when I come home a little late at night
Cause we only act like children when we argue fuss and fight

As much as I expected him to know me, know what I needed from him, I expected him to know I was not going to leave. He expected the same out of me, but too many times I wasn't sure "who" he was. There were times when the trouble he caused made me forget about how most of the time he made my life so much better. The day we got married I said I was marrying my best friend. A couple of years later, mild PTSD turned into full force and I wasn't sure who he was anymore. I had to remind myself and know him all over again.

I would listen to many songs and remember what it was like. Our wedding song was A One in a Million. Sometime later the song that got to me the most was I can't make you love me even though it came out in 1991, it still gets to me.
Our lives have changed so much since then and we found what works for us. Almost 29 years since I took that walk toward him we're still walking together and holding hands.

If you are married to a veteran with PTSD, take a walk with him back in your own history. Take out old photos of better days before you play this video. Look at the memories you shared and try to remember what he/she was like before the changes started to take over. The person you loved is still there. You just have to look for them in a different way. Look at the pictures while you hear the words and then ask yourself if you want to help them find themselves again or not. They were worth loving then, they are worth loving now.

Texas Police Officer, Deputy Shot; Suspect Killed

Sad update
AP: Hood County deputy dies of gunshot wound
Weatherford Democrat
Associated Press
June 29, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Hood County sheriff's deputy died Saturday, a day after being shot by a man who was later killed by police.

Hood County Sheriff's Sgt. Lance McLean died at the John Peter Smith Hospital on Saturday in Fort Worth, Sheriff Roger Deeds said.

McLean was shot in the head by Ricky Don McCommas, 49, when responding to a disturbance call at a home near Granbury about 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Lonny Haschel said Friday.

"Everybody's having a tough time dealing with it," Deeds said. He said McLean was married and had two children.
read more here
Texas Police Officer, Deputy Shot; Suspect Killed
CREATED: JUNE 28, 2013

The suspect reportedly had an assault-style rifle and dozens of shell casings were found at the scene

GRANBURY, Texas -- Two law enforcement officers were wounded and a suspect was fatally shot Friday morning in an incident that ended near Granbury City Hall.

A Hood County Sheriff's deputy was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and a Granbury police officer was transported to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. Their conditions were not known.

Details were sketchy, but the incident apparently started during a traffic stop in the Oak Trail Shores trailer park -- just outside of Granbury -- where a deputy was shot, according to the Hood County News.
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Florida family missing at sea

Florida Family and 4 Others Missing at Sea Off New Zealand
New York Times
Published: June 28, 2013

HONG KONG — Rescue teams were searching the waters between Australia and New Zealand on Friday for a schooner carrying seven people after their boat went missing in stormy seas.

Three passengers on the boat, the Dyche family from Florida — David A. Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; and their son, David — were on their last sailing trip as a family before David, 17, was to leave for college, according to the Web site of The Australian.

The boat, named Nina, left New Zealand for Australia across the Tasman Sea on May 29, and the crew was last heard from on June 4, when one of the people on board, Evi Nemeth, 73, sent a text message to Bob McDavitt, a meteorologist in New Zealand, saying, “Any update 4 Nina? ... Evi.” The message followed a call from Ms. Nemeth saying, “The weather’s turned nasty, how do we get away from it?”
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PTSD Awareness must include first responders

June is PTSD awareness month
Marlena Hamilton
June 28, 2013

TYLER TX, (KETK) — June is post-traumatic stress disorder awareness month.

Not only do men and women from war suffer from this disorder, first responders do as well.

"They are dealing with things that aren't natural for human beings," said Smith County Sheriff's Office Chaplain Doug Haning.

Our police officers, firefighters and ems responders are there in times of trouble.

"We go on what we call auto pilot. Sometimes we are able to stay on auto pilot throughout the scene get through it and then it's time to start dealing with it,'' said City of Tyler Asst. Fire Marshal Laura Mason.

But, they experience situations and tragedies that no one can even imagine.

"Law enforcement and military are a lot alike they have the same stresses 99% of the time your dealing with the ins and outs of your daily business and then there is that 1% of the time where everything is upside down," said Haning.
read more here

PTSD I Grieve from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

PTSD Living In the Shadow of War

PTSD Living In the Shadow of War
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
June 29, 2013
For the Love of Jack, His War My Battle
Kathie Costos
They go where we send them. They are trained to fight. They fight the battles the nation declares. The nation decides when they are finished fighting the war. They come home and fight another war. Then their enemy hides in the shadows. They cannot drop a bomb on it. They cannot shoot at it. They cannot punch it. It will not be killed. It lives on with only one goal. To claim the life of the veteran. It is on a search and destroy mission gaining strength from sucking all that is good within the veteran. It causes then to doubt the reason they had to risk their lives and does not allow them to see there was beauty living within the horror.

They grieve. They grieve for their buddies. They grieve for civilians. Some even grieve for their opponents. Evil people do not grieve for others. It requires a tremendous capacity to care for others to feel the depth of their pain but few understand that.

It is a war that has been going on since the beginning of time when man first went to fight against others.

NBC Washington News did something few other news stations think of doing. They did a report on what is really going on with our veterans, PTSD and suicides.
Finally a news report about PTSD, suicide and Vietnam veterans. When it comes to them and families like mine, we are dealing with being left behind. The worst part is, Vietnam veterans started all the research into PTSD back in the 70's. Had it not been for them, nothing would have been ready for the new veterans. They are also the biggest percentage of the claims and appeals in the VA. The rest of the news stories have people thinking PTSD and suicides are new. That should freak everyone out because of how long the government has been spending billions on but not learning much from. One more point to make here is that Point Man International Ministries started in 1984 long before other groups. It takes mind-body-spirit healing to really heal the veterans and Point Man does the spiritual part. When all three are taken care of, they are not cured but they thieve and live better lives.

I-Team Reports: Suicides From a Long Ago War
NBC Washington
By Tisha Thompson and Rick Yarborough
Friday, Jun 28, 2013

In a city dedicated to honoring those who served, there's a long black wall. It displays the names of fallen men and women who fought with Tom Mahany in the Vietnam War.

As Mahany traced the names craved into the stone, he said, "It's like a shadow that follows you around."

For this former soldier, there are thousands of names missing: Those of men who committed suicide long after their military careers ended. Men like his brother-in-law.

"He put the rifle in his mouth,” Mahany explained. “That's how my sister found him. That’s twenty years after he got back."

Mahany said even though they were both veterans from the same war, they never talked about Vietnam. Never spoke about suicide or "shellshock," what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

"There was no diagnosis then,” Mahany said. “There wasn't any such thing as PTSD in Vietnam. There was no treatment from the V.A."

Janet Kemp is the Director of Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The group we are very concerned about are our Vietnam-era veterans," she told the News 4 I-Team.
read more here

In 2003 FOR THE LOVE OF JACK, HIS WAR MY BATTLE, the story of how we had to fight for what was right, was published. Like most self published books, it didn't make it into many book reviews. It sold for a while but was most read when it was put up online for free. Last year it was re-released for many reasons. The main reason was the delusion too many had that PTSD was something new within Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. There is nothing new about it. It wasn't even knew when Vietnam veterans came home like generations before them. The battle they were willing to fight was in fact new. Vietnam veterans forced the government to begin research into how to treat it and compensate veterans for this wound no one could see with their eyes.

Families like mine were fighting war in the shadows and in secret. We felt there was actually a need to feel ashamed. Ashamed our veterans drank to get numb so they could fall asleep and calm their bodies down. Ashamed they stopped going places with us and we had to use lies to cover our own pain and confusion. Ashamed our love was not enough to make them happy. Oh the list goes on and on but back then, back when they came home, there was very little known about the enemy we had to fight for sake of the men we loved.

It is really stunning to think that we were the pioneers in this war of secrets. We learned by making mistakes. We learned from those who had given up. Mostly we learned from our veteran husbands. My generation had excuses. That is something that causes so much pain in us now. There are no more excuses.

This is the end of PTSD awareness month. Funny when you think about it. With all the publicity PTSD and suicides tied to military service, billions spent every year, charities popping up all over the country, we have arrived in a time when there are now more suicides, attempted suicides, divorces and so many veterans getting into trouble they had to start special courts for them to provide true justice for combat veterans. Stunning!

Veterans crisis phone lines, phone applications, social networking, videos and books, yet just over half of the veterans needing help seek it. It was fascinating to see so much happening yet infuriation with the results took over. How can it be with so much being done they are still taking their own lives? How can it be that with so much information they are still ending up losing hope of healing?

Point Man started in 1984. They took on the spiritual aspect of healing, which researchers across the county admit is a vital part of living better lives. They took on supporting families so they too would understand what it is and how to help their veterans heal along with healing their whole families. Next year it will be the 30th anniversary of this amazing group of dedicated volunteers fighting in the shadows.

Thinking about what we knew and how long ago we knew it, if you are not armed with this knowledge by now, get angry enough to take action and contact members of congress so that they start to actually hold people accountable for the massive loss of life in this war back home.

This is the first video I made on PTSD back in 2006

None of what we read today is new and that is why the news report from NBC is so important. It shows that just because wars end, needing to heal from them is an ongoing battle.

This is Hero After War, one of my earlier videos on PTSD.

Hero After War from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

This is Nam Nights of PTSD Still

Nam Nights Of PTSD Still from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

Coming Out of the Dark was one of the first ones back in 2006. This is what we already knew back then. Had the DOD or the VA used what all they years of research proved, more would have healed instead of losing hope.

Coming Out of the Dark from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.
You can see more of my videos here

Friday, June 28, 2013

Morale in Manning's unit suffered

Commander: Morale in Manning's unit suffered
Associated Press
Jun 28, 1:35 PM EDT

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- Pfc. Bradley Manning's former commander in Iraq says he was stunned and morale among his troops "took a hit" after they learned Manning was suspected of leaking classified documents.

"The last thing I anticipated was an internal security breach from one of our own," Col. David Miller said Friday as the fourth week of Manning's court-martial drew to a close.

"My read of my staff at that time was it was like a funeral-like atmosphere fell over that crowd," said Miller, commander of the brigade in which Manning served as an intelligence analyst in 2010 in Iraq. "That's the best way I would describe it - they were angry, sad ... frustrated all at the same time."

Manning's fellow troops collectively felt the allegations were a blemish on the otherwise good work they'd done in the war zone, Miller said.
read more here

House manages to join forces for military sexual assault victims

House passes bill to stop reprisals against military sexual assault victims
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Jun. 28, 2013

By a 423-0 vote — and for the second time in a month — the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would require independent investigations if military rape or sexual assault victims allege retaliation for reporting the crimes.

The intention is to encourage the reporting of crimes and discourage reprisals.

Sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., the legislation approved Thursday is identical to a provision included in the House version of the 2014 defense authorization bill passed June 14 and similar to a provision also included in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense policy bill.

Passing the free-standing measure is a sign lawmakers are serious about stopping sexual assault in the ranks, as well as an effort by House Republican leaders to boost the standing of Walorski, a freshman representative who won her congressional seat with less than 1 percent of the vote. This is her first stand-alone bill to pass the House.
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Rock Hill hotel honored for taking in wounded Iraq veteran after house fire

Rock Hill hotel honored for taking in wounded Iraq veteran after house fire
By Andrew Dys
Herald columnist

ROCK HILL — The Marines pride themselves on taking care of their own.

Usually the awards go to tough guys in uniforms with battle scars. On Monday, they added to their list of heroes assisting “Wounded Warriors” the staff of a Rock Hill hotel owned by Indian immigrants.

The Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, a unit assigned specifically to helping wounded Marines find help in civilian life after battle injuries, awarded the Rock Hill Holiday Inn staff a special citation for helping retired Cpl. Brian Dunn.

The hotel, with a special discounted rate and services ranging from free meals to room service, put up Dunn, his wife and their four kids for more than six weeks after their home in Rock Hill burned in April.

“The people of this hotel show the real meaning of patriotism,” said Maj. Charlie Hall, a York native and Iraq combat veteran who runs the Marines Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment in South Carolina and North Carolina. “We are proud in the Marine Corps to honor you, who honored us and our great country. You went above and beyond.”
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America's deadliest soldier or stolen valor?

America's deadliest soldier or stolen valor?
Sgt. Dillard Johnson's new memoir claims he killed 2,746 insurgents in Iraq. Some who served with him express doubts.
Christian Science Monitor
By Dan Murphy, Staff writer
June 26, 2013

A new war memoir, "Carnivore" by Dillard Johnson, makes some rather extraordinary claims, according to media appearances and promotional material from publisher HarperCollins. But it's looking likely that these claims are exaggerated, and in some eyes are veering towards stolen valor territory.

The book is subtitled "A memoir by one of the Deadliest American Soldiers of All Time" and in it Sgt. 1st Class Johnson and his co-author write that he had 2,746 "confirmed" enemy kills during his time serving in Iraq, with 121 of those "confirmed sniper kills, the most ever publicly reported by a US Army soldier."

But his claims have sent the online veteran community into an uproar, with many vets calling them implausible and some men who served with him saying his statements are downright falsehoods. He served as a commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle with the 3rd Squadron, 7th US Cavalry, which took the lead in the charge to Baghdad after US forces went over the berm to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"I don’t want to take away from what [Johnson] did do, he did do great things: led a platoon, completed the missions," Brad Spaid tells the Monitor. He is a former staff sergeant who served with Johnson in Iraq and now has a civilian job with the Veteran's Administration and has read the book. "We lost some really good NCOs, guys that we really looked up to, and we feel that … on Facebook and blogs other vets are coming out and calling us out and calling us liars and idiots, and it takes away from what we really did…. We don’t want to become a laughing stock, we want to be remembered for what we did and move on."
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Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Jun 27, 2013

People across the country and right here in East Tennessee are working to bring awareness to a disorder that impacts millions of Americans. Thursday is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that impacts people who have experienced psychological trauma.

Veterans can often experience PTSD, but anyone who experiences trauma can develop the disorder. Psychologists say it's important to reach out for help.

Dr. John Kupfner joined us in the 10News studio to explain more about PTSD. He's a psychiatrist with Peninsula Outpatient Services. You can watch that entire conversation in the video above.

Patriot Guard Riders escorts MIA home from Vietnam

Wisconsin Marine comes home 46 years after his death in Vietnam
June 27, 2013

WASHBURN, WIS. – Marine Lance Cpl. Merlin “Merl” Raye Allen was just 20 when his life ended in Vietnam. Forty-six years later, he’s finally back in his beloved Bayfield County of northern Wisconsin.

An enemy rocket brought down the helicopter he was in over Hue Province. His remains were not discovered until a joint U.S.-Vietnamese recovery team excavated the wreck site last year.

“Merl has never been forgotten. He has always been remembered by family and friends,” his sister, Marilyn Allen Neff, told the Daily Press of Ashland.

Neff and other family members were stunned when they drove into Washburn on Wednesday, completing a trip from Minneapolis, where the family received the casket holding Allen’s remains. They arrived in town with an escort from the Patriot Guard Riders, a national organization of motorcycle enthusiasts who attend funeral processions to honor fallen U.S. military personnel. The streets of Washburn were lined with well-wishers, waving American flags.

“We are overwhelmed, just overwhelmed,” Neff said. “Everybody has just touched our hearts all along the way. This is amazing. We love our small towns.”

Her brother’s remains were solemnly carried into a funeral home by a Marine honor guard, past an honor guard of Patriot Riders standing at attention in their motorcycle leathers.
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Flags to be lowered to half-staff for Vietnam Marine returned home

Firms agree to pay back 50,000 servicemembers hidden auto loan fees

Firms Paying Back Millions on Military Auto Loans
by Richard Sisk
Jun 28, 2013

U.S. Bank and its marketing partner have agreed to pay back $6.5 million to more than 50,000 servicemembers who were hit with hidden fees on auto loans, a government consumer watchdog agency said Thursday.

The Minnesota-based U.S. Bank and its partner, Dealers Financial Services of Lexington, Ky., avoided a potentially bigger payout from a civil lawsuit by agreeing to cooperate with the investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Defense Department.

Under the arrangement, U.S. Bank will pay $3.2 million and DFS will pay $3.3 million to more than 50,000 servicemembers who had outstanding loans from January 2010 until now, the consumer protection bureau said.

The average payment to each servicemember will be about $100, a spokesman for the CFPB said, and servicemembers will not be required to take any action to receive their reimbursement. U.S. Bank and DFS will provide the reimbursements as an account credit or as a check in the mail, the bureau said.
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Gay marriage ruling will help many veteran spouses

Gay marriage ruling will help many veteran spouses
Bloomberg Business
By By Kevin Freking
June 28, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Stewart Bornhoft, who completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, the Supreme Court's decision granting federal benefits to married, same-sex couples means that he and his spouse, Stephen McNabb, can one day be buried together at Arlington National Cemetery.

For Joan Darrah, who served nearly 30 years in the Navy and lived through the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the decision means her spouse, Lynne Kennedy, can join her more generous, less expensive health plan.

Just two years ago, gays and lesbians were prevented from serving openly in the military. Now, with the Supreme Court ruling this week, same-sex spouses of gay veterans and service members will be able to share in their benefits.

The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, reports that 650,000 same-sex couples live in the United States and about 13 percent of those relationships include a veteran. The institute said it's unknown how many of those estimated 85,000 relationships involve marriages. A dozen states and the District of Columbia allow for gay marriage.
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Air Force veteran still jumping out of planes at 80

Veteran skydives for 80th birthday
The Dispatch
By Nash Dunn
June 27, 2013

Calvin Mullineaux waited until his 80th birthday to jump out of a plane.

Mullineaux, who spent close to 20 years flying planes in the Air Force, said he never received the opportunity to bail out of an aircraft or take a training jump.

"I used to tell paratroopers and some of my fellow servicemen, 'I couldn't understand why anyone would ever want to leave a perfectly good airplane,'" said Mullineaux, who lives off Swicegood Road near Churchland.

However, Mullineaux threw any of his apprehensions out of the window earlier this year when he went skydiving in Salisbury on April 20, his birthday.
read more here

This hilarious video uses Rocky "Gonna Fly Now" while they are walking to the plane!

Retired Marine Gen. Cartwright investigated in cyber leaks probe

Retired Marine Gen. Cartwright investigated in cyber leaks probe
Associated Press
Published: June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON -- A former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about a covert cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities, according to media reports.

Retired Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright has been told he is a target of the probe, NBC News and The Washington Post reported Thursday. A "target" is someone a prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence linking to a crime and who is likely to be charged.

The Justice Department referred questions to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore, where a spokeswoman, Marcia Murphy, declined to comment.

The investigation of the leak about the Iran cyberattack is one of a number of national security leak investigations that have been started by the Obama administration, including ones involving The Associated Press and Fox News.

In June 2012, the New York Times reported that Cartwright was a crucial player in the cyber operation called Olympic Games, started under President George W. Bush.

Bush reportedly advised President Barack Obama to preserve Olympic Games.

According to the Times, Obama ordered the cyberattacks sped up, and in 2010 an attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.
read more here

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Veterans deserve the truth no matter how unpopular it is

Veterans deserve the truth no matter how unpopular it is
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
June 27, 2013

How many lives have to be lost before we start asking where all the money is going? When did we just decide no one was responsible for anything? Here are two videos you need to listen to.

Iraq veteran talks about coming home and feeling like a train wreck. He ends this part by talking about when he took his gun, chambered the round and stuck the barrel in his mouth.

He begins talking about how he had the gun in his mouth when his wife walked in. Had she not entered the room when she did, he wouldn't have lived to tell his story.

Paul learned how to know that he was not only forgiven but was able to forgive himself.

We can always say dumb things when we are confronted by someone in so much pain. It is an automatic response to try to fix them. Not because we think we have all the answers, but it is just too hard to see them hurting so much and standing there in silence doesn't seem to be an option. Our silence is what they need sometimes. Just to be there and listen to them helps them heal. Our silence other times ends up harming them more because when they can't find the words, we have to be their voice.

After I was speaking at a Point Man conference I was enjoying the music. I grabbed my camera and shot this video back in 2010. (It is one of the reasons why I decided to go to school to learn how to shoot videos.) As you can see the footage is all over the place. I didn't plan on filming what Paul had to say. I was just standing at the back of the church trying to get some audio of the band that played before him. I was holding the camera, for some reason, didn't think of shutting it off when Paul began to tell his story. When he was done, I told him I filmed him and gave him the option of taking the tape, destroying it or allowing me to put it up on YouTube. It didn't take him long to decide. He said "Put it up because I am tired of losing my guys."

What is important is what he had to say almost three years ago. It is all still going on right now. Paul talked about how Point Man helped him not just heal but inspired him to help others.

It seems as if the groups popping up all over the country, sending out fundraising letters and being sponsored by companies on TV along with an endless supply of corporations sponsoring their events have a lot to answer for, but no one is asking them any questions. The numbers of attempted suicides, like Paul on the brink, should have clued people in a long time ago that when groups talk about the "problem" and show heart tugging images on TV, they never manage to actually say what they are doing about it. I am tired of giving them publicity, even bad publicity, so I won't mention them here but I have a feeling you know exactly what group I am referring to. Most of you have sent enough emails complaining about them. The number of successful suicides reaching a record high after all the money spent with the DOD and the VA "addressing" it and "raising awareness" should have been a clue they are not being held accountable either. Then we also have the high record of calls to suicide prevention at the same time all these numbers are turing bad.

Until all of us get a clue on the lack of accountability from everyone claiming to be "doing" something, none of this will ever be any better for them.

Other groups can come and go but Point Man has been doing the work of healing the "moral injury" that has been in the news lately and working with families since 1984. They started with Vietnam veterans before average people heard about PTSD. What we do doesn't cost a lot of money. How much does it cost to give someone your time, answer an email, say a prayer or take them out for a cup of coffee? Sure we have to pay for Bibles and materials if we have groups. In my case, I attend so many events that I travel with a supply of Bibles because I know I'll be talking to someone in need of these special Bibles written for veterans.

They are suffering but too many huge groups are gaining from their pain instead of investing in their healing. I am tired of it. I was tired of it when I was writing my book, which I know you may be tired of hearing about so I won't write the title this time. I am tired of turing on the TV and hearing about everything but the truth on how things got so messed up for our veterans when we have known about all of this for this long. Most of all I am tired of one more Mom asking why her son or her daughter decided to die instead of staying here. I used to be able to tell them that things were changing but that was years ago. Now I don't know what to say other than try to comfort them while they blame themselves for something that was not their fault.

Not doing anything after you read their stories is part of the problem because everyone will keep getting away with all of this unless we demand accountability all the way around. Don't the veterans deserve at least that from us?

Labor Department Awards $29 Million in Grants to Help Veterans

Labor Department Awards $29 Million in Grants to Help Veterans

From a Department of Labor News Release
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 – More than 14,000 veterans across the nation will benefit from job training, job placement, housing help and other services, thanks to 121 grants totaling almost $29 million announced today by officials of the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

The grants were awarded through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, the only federal program that focuses exclusively on employment of homeless veterans.

"Military service members and their families have been asked to make tremendous sacrifices for this nation. Although homelessness among veterans has fallen, too many of our heroes cannot find jobs or homes," acting Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris said. "These grants will provide those who have served our nation with the means to find meaningful civilian employment and chart new directions for their lives."

The grants will help homeless veterans reintegrate into society and the labor force while providing effective services aimed at addressing the complex challenges that homeless veterans often confront, officials said. The services provided by grantees will include job placement, on-the-job training, career counseling, life skills and money management mentoring, as well as help in finding housing.

Funds were awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and community organizations. These organizations are familiar with the areas and populations to be served, officials explained, and have demonstrated that they can administer effective programs to help veterans.

Dying pregnant soldier’s cries for baby allowed in Fort Hood massacre trial

Hood shooting trial judge: Testimony about dying pregnant soldier
Jun. 27, 2013
The Associated Press

FORT HOOD, TEXAS — A military judge says witness testimony about a dying pregnant soldier’s cries of “My baby! My baby!” will be allowed during the murder trial of the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.

Col. Tara Osborn ruled on motions Thursday in Maj. Nidal Hasan’s case. He faces execution or life without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.
read more here

Afghan deployment was the beginning of the end for captain’s career

Afghan deployment was the beginning of the end for captain’s career
25 minutes ago
by Megan McCloskey
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 27, 2013

Part 2: Red flags add up as Martinez heads downrange

FORT HOOD, Texas — Capt. Anthony Martinez arrived in Afghanistan in June 2010, in command of a 230-person company.

At Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, a base with a couple of thousand servicemembers in southern Kandahar, Martinez was appointed “mayor” of the facility, meaning he was in charge of keeping the place running. If a septic tank burst, for example, Martinez was the go-to officer to arrange for it to be fixed. In all, he was responsible for $141.6 million worth of equipment.

First Sgt. Malaloa Vaomu, the top enlisted soldier in the company, said he and Martinez were stretched thin, and “the level of stress amplified [Martinez’s] issues.”

Martinez, a West Point graduate who by all accounts was an excellent Army officer, started to struggle when he got home from his second deployment to Iraq. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had insomnia and eventually deteriorated in mental health to the point of suicidal thoughts.

About a month and half before deploying, Martinez threatened suicide, but the gesture and other red flags were largely ignored by his commanders. Vaomu had asked for Martinez to be replaced as company commander to no avail.

As the summer in Afghanistan progressed, Martinez increasingly had angry outbursts at soldiers, often ordering counselings for them that his company leadership disagreed with as unnecessary. At one point, for three days Martinez “shut himself in his office and only came out for meals and to use the latrine,” Spc. Brandon Petty testified at an eventual board of inquiry for Martinez’s elimination as an Army officer.

The first week of August, Martinez hit a wall. He decided to quit not just command but the whole Army. He went to his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Calvin Downey, to resign his commission.

Martinez said Downey told him he would send his resignation up to legal, but nothing came of it.

Yet another red flag, unnoticed.

Martinez recalled Downey told him to “keep his head up and drive on.”

“I was so overwhelmed,” Martinez said. “On many nights I would go to my [room] and I thought about killing myself. Even loaded my gun.”
read more here

Army didn't help Captain screaming for help, now they want him out?

When you read editorial comments on Wounded Times and you get the impression I am pissed off, you are correct. Maybe after reading the story of Captain Anthony Martinez you'll get pissed off too. Lord knows with everything going on, we should be!

This is part one and there is another one up on Stars and Stripes to follow this one.
An officer on the brink
by Megan McCloskey
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 26, 2013

Part 1: The rise and fall of Army Capt. Anthony Martinez

From early in his career, Capt. Anthony Martinez excelled in the Army. Then came PTSD and suicidal thoughts. The Army ignored his struggles and sent him back to war. Not until Martinez lost control in Afghanistan did the Army decide to pay attention. Now the service wants to kick him out.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Six months before his deployment to Afghanistan, Capt. Anthony Martinez gravely doubted his ability to lead.

He had post-traumatic stress disorder. He wasn’t sleeping at night and was barely holding it together during the day. He told his boss he couldn’t handle command of the battalion’s largest company. Senior noncommissioned officers asked leadership to remove Martinez.

Six weeks before shipping off, Martinez threatened to kill himself.

Then he wrote a formal memo detailing who should take over the company if he had a mental breakdown while in Afghanistan.

The Army did nothing — except send him to war.

No one in his chain of command questioned whether a suicidal officer, hobbled by PTSD and addled by psychotropic drugs, was fit for combat.

Once in Afghanistan, Martinez quickly cracked under the pressure, and the meltdown some had been afraid of became a reality. He isolated himself, had angry, irrational outbursts and, finally, in the culmination of his ruin, threatened two soldiers.

He told one to get out of his office “or I’ll shoot you in the face.” Then, during an argument with his supply sergeant, he ordered a private in the room to load his weapon — an unheard of escalation on a fellow soldier.

Now the Army wants to act.

After ignoring the issues, the service wants to kick Martinez out for the very behavior that medical experts say proves why he never should have been in Afghanistan in the first place.
read more here

The Suicide Detective misses evidence

The Suicide Detective misses evidence
Wounded Times Blog
Kathie Costos
June 27, 2013

There is a really good article "The Suicide Detective" on the New York Times by Kim Tingley. It is long but a good read. Right now I need to point one part of it out.

The Army has made a "major investment" in this research on top of what they already spent and this goes back to 2009!
A major investment of money and manpower from the Army is set to revolutionize the scope of collecting data on suicidal behavior. Nock and his team are participating in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers, which got under way in 2009 and is the most comprehensive investigation of suicide ever undertaken. The Army’s access to thousands of volunteers who lead comparable lifestyles and excel at following instructions offers a unique laboratory for Framingham-scale longitudinal studies. Nock envisions, for instance, one day beaming the I.A.T., Stroop and other tests to servicemembers’ phones daily — a technological feat unthinkable a decade ago. Those scores might reveal suicidal thoughts in real time. They might also offer a way to monitor patients known to be at high risk and call them if they seem to be entering a dangerous frame of mind.

“Right now, we ask people if they’re suicidal,” Nock said. “And if they say yes, we give them medication to try and make them less depressed or less anxious or less psychotic or to have a more stable mood. And then we talk to them. We do talk therapy. And essentially talk them into not being suicidal anymore. And this over all as a strategy for many people does not seem to be curative.” But if doctors could see which patients are suicidal at a given moment, they might be able to retrain their self-destructive thinking based on their test scores. If, as the I.A.T. seems to suggest, associating yourself more with dying than with living increases your risk for suicide, breaking that association might decrease it.

To find out, Nock is developing computer tasks that he hopes could help get people, through rote practice, to identify more with being alive than dead. His researchers are also starting to test whether training people to think more positively about the past and the future makes them less likely to attempt suicide. Nock often talks about “turning levers,” as if he were a railroad-switch operator manning an existential junction. “Can we think of suicide as resulting from problems with memory or cognition or attention?” he said. “And if so, can we then turn levers on those things to make people less likely to think about suicide? So, it’s not giving a pill; it’s giving a training.”

I am not as happy as I thought I would have been with the title of this article. There is nothing new. People commit suicide for one very simple reason. They have lost hope that the next day could be any better than the day they are suffering in. The reasons their lives are miserable is long and complicated but the loss of hope is the end for far too many. The evidence has been documented by families for far too long.

Some people commit suicide over financial reasons and job loss. Their families are suffering and they feel helpless to change that. Some face health problems with a diagnosis of prolonged suffering and no hope of cure. Some are lonely with no one to talk to or let them know they matter to at least one person on this earth. It all comes down to hope.

With Combat PTSD, it is far different than what civilians face. For the men and women in the military, most had never thought of doing anything other than being in the military, or members of the National Guards. The only other group close to them is law enforcement, followed closely by firefighters, but that group is a bit different because they, for the most part, do not do their jobs with violence. The troops and law enforcement do.

They face the threat to their lives as part of their jobs on a daily basis. They also face the fact that they may have to use violence in response. For them, just like all other humans, they face the same issues everyone else does but they have the added risk factors from their jobs. Survivors guilt is even harder to treat but while it cannot be "cured" they can live better lives with the right treatment.

Just as experts acknowledge there is no one size fits all medication for them, they must also acknowledge there is no one size fits all answer to treating their physical body or their spiritual body. What works for one does not work for all in anything however if researchers continue to avoid the spiritual part of the whole veteran, they will never discover what will offer them the most hope for tomorrow being any better than today is.

One more reminder is 2012 was the highest suicide total on record.

Veterans discuss PTSD and suicide after war

Veterans discuss PTSD signs
Veterans discuss PTSD and suicide after war
Written by
Laura Peters
Jun. 26, 2013

STAUNTON — Ben Shaw had blown all his money on toys and alcohol. He was living on his parents’ couch at 28 years old.

Once a highly esteemed Marine, he came back from the Iraq War in 2007 after being overseas for four years.

He says he doesn’t remember much of his life after he returned home. He took almost all his money to purchase a motorcycle and hit the road. The rest of his cash, he drank it away.

“Don’t ask me what happened during that trip, I was drunk for most of it,” he admitted.

He had found love, then had his heart broken after his fiancé cheated on him, left him and took the ring.

During a PTSD and suicide forum at VFW Post 2216 in Staunton, he told his story about how he thought he could escape all his problems with ending his life.

“Late 2008, I’m sitting here grasping at straws, by process of elimination I tried all these things, nothing’s working, nothing’s sticking.

Nothing was sort of hoisting me out of where I am,” Shaw said. “I remember just mulling over this and at one point I just caught myself saying, well if this doesn’t work, I’ll just kill myself. It was stunning. It was not something I expected. It was not something I intentionally thought about.”

To this day, he can’t explain the thinking behind his suicidal thoughts.
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To learn more about what is going on with suicides after war read, THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR

Iraq veteran gets shock at CMA Music Festival

Home, finally
Lake Norman Citizen
Written by Lori Helms
26 June 2013

Iraqi war veteran's family receives mortgage-free home from local builder just in the nick of time.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Please don't cry on national television, please don't cry on national television ...

Ashley Wiley says that was the lone thought running on a silent loop in her brain one very surreal afternoon a few weeks ago.

She was really trying to hold it together, as the realization of what had just happened slowly dawned on her.

There she was, on stage at a CMA Music Festival concert in Nashville with country music star Kix Brooks, who had just announced she and her husband, retired Army Sgt. Ron Wiley, would receive a custom-built home through the nonprofit organization Operation FINALLY HOME in partnership with local builder Classica Homes. The home will be built in Huntersville in the Treasure Cove community.

"And then I cried on national television," she says.

Considering the sudden and monumental turn of events in the lives of her family that Sunday in early June, her tears of joy and relief — even on national television — are quite understandable, because to say things hadn't been easy the past few years would be an incredible understatement.

A 17-year Army veteran, her husband was injured during his second tour in Iraq in 2009. The Humvee he was driving struck an improvised explosive device, and as a result of the concussion from the blast, Sgt. Wiley suffered traumatic brain injury in addition to injuries to his spine. As if the extreme physical damage and resulting limitations were not enough, he also struggles with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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