Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In less than 6 hours, a new year and 12 veterans gone to suicide

In less than 6 hours, we'll be in a new year. In less than six hours, we're going to lose at least 12 more veterans to suicide.
Go out and celebrate tonight but do it with some kind of awareness that no one ever thinks about what happens after we do what we want. After the celebrations, someone has to clean up the mess. After the hangovers, someone has to clean up after the party. There is always someone responsible to put things back in order. So why don't veterans have that? They survive combat but no one cleans up what combat does to inside of them. When will they ever get someone in Washington being held responsible to put things back in order for all of them?

No Charges For Green Berets Friendly Fire Deaths in Afghanitan

Green Berets won’t be punished for Afghanistan 'friendly fire' incident 
Stars and Stripes
By Jon Harper
Published: December 31, 2014

WASHINGTON — The commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command won’t punish two Special Forces soldiers involved in "friendly-fire" deaths in Afghanistan earlier this year, according to officials.

Five American soldiers and their Afghan counterpart were killed June 9 when an Air Force B-1 Lancet dropped guided bombs on their position after they were misidentified as Taliban fighters.

American special operators, conventional troops, and Afghan army soldiers had been battling insurgents in the Arghandab district of Zabul province throughout the day.

Following a U.S. Central Command investigation, Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the investigating officer, blamed the deaths on a series of communication problems between the forces on the ground and the aircrew.

“Had the team understood their system’s capabilities, executed standard tactics, techniques and procedures and communicated effectively, this tragic incident was avoidable,” Harrigian wrote in the executive summary of his report.
The troops killed by friendly fire were
Staff Sgt. Scott R. Studenmund, 24
Staff Sgt. Jason A. McDonald, 28
Spc. Justin R. Helton, 25
Cpl. Justin R. Clouse, 22
Pvt. Aaron S. Toppen, 19
Afghan army Sgt. Gulbuddin Ghulam Sakhi.
read more here

Canada lost 23 firefighters to suicide in the first part of 2014

Canada has a huge problem with PTSD. So does the UK. So does Australia. So does America. So do most countries and the ones hit hardest are the ones civilians depend on the most.

They are emergency responders showing up at accidents on the road while the rest of us complain about the traffic and they are not just trying to save lives, but zipping up bodies into bags.

They are firefighters showing up all over the place from the roads to apartment buildings and homes, never knowing when the next call will be their last while we complain our tax dollars pay them to stand around and wait for it to happen.

They are cops on the streets and sheriffs on county roads making sure people behave and when they don't, they risk their lives just trying to stop them from doing worse but we complain about them, blame them and now, they are being attacked.

What most people don't get is most of them are either veterans or members of the National Guards. One more group we claim to honor yet facts prove we don't.

They are all the first to be there when we need help yet the last to ask for help when they need it. When they finally do ask, the help they need isn't there. No matter how much people love to claim they are doing whatever they can, the truth is, it has all been a better than nothing approach to people who constantly give their best up to and including their lives.

This story is out of Canada but it applies to the US as well.
Firefighters raise calls for help with PTSD
'A lot of times you wish your mind would remove what your eyes have seen'
CBC News
Posted: Dec 31, 2014
A Yukon fire crew at work. Some firefighters are calling for legislation like Alberta's that recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder as a hazard of the job. 'This is a very real occupational exposure,' says Ken Block, Edmonton’s fire chief.
(submitted by Jim Regimbal)

Chris Cleland started as a volunteer ambulance driver at age 16. In 2000, he moved on to volunteer firefighting. Over the years, he’s seen many things. “Been to multiple calls of fatalities and calls of friends and what not,” he says.

Last spring, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I don't, won't say that I was at that point of going to suicide, but I wasn't too far away from it.”

Cleland says the challenge he faced getting his treatment covered shows the need for more provinces and territories to follow Alberta’s lead in making it easier for PTSD to be recognized as a hazard of the job.

The Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs is also calling on the Yukon government to give special recognition to PTSD.

“A lot of times you wish your mind would remove what your eyes have seen, some of the fires you're going to and some of the smells and things that you see at the fire,” says Dawson City Fire Chief Jim Regimbal.

“You put them in the back of your brain but they have a tendency to creep back up.”

Regimbal says Canada lost 23 firefighters to suicide in the first part of 2014.

He helped Cleland get coverage through the Yukon Workers Compensation Board — a process Cleland says "felt like “being left behind."

"He first came to me in May," Regimbal says, "and it wasn't until, let's say, October that his case was approved by WCB."
read more here

PTSD I Grieve

(Moved from Great Americans)
I posted this with the video in 2010.
NamGuardianAngel commented on July 25, 2010
This is why we all need to get the word out about this,,,,, National Guard and Reserve suicide rates climbing By DAVID GOLDSTEIN McClatchy Newspapers WASHINGTON -- Suicides among Army and Air National Guard and Reserve troops have spiked this year, and the military is at a loss to explain why. Sixty-five members of the Guard and Reserve took their own lives during the first six months of 2010, compared with 42 for the same period in 2009. The grim tally is further evidence that suicides continue to plague the military even though it's stepped up prevention efforts through counseling and mental health awareness programs. http://www.miam­­/07/25/1745790/n­ational-guard-and-reserve-suicide.html

The worst thing is, nothing has really changed in all these years. There are just more people doing whatever instead of what is needed.

Pain doesn't end for families after end of war in Afghanistan

Afghanistan war ends but grief endures for Dunedin mom
Howard Altman
December 30, 2014

For Kim Allison, the pain of loss did not end Sunday when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presided over a ceremony in Kabul officially closing out the 13-year-long war in Afghanistan.

On March 11, 2013, Allison’s youngest son, Army Spc. Zachary Shannon, died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Shannon, a 2010 graduate of Dunedin High School, was just 21.

There was no way of knowing it at the time, but Shannon would be the last service member who grew up in the Tampa area to die in Operation Enduring Freedom, as the war was officially called,

Since Oct. 7, 2001, when bombs and missiles began falling on insurgent positions in Afghanistan, 150 service members who listed Florida as their home of choice died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Aside from Shannon, there were 34 men and one woman who listed Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee or Hernando counties as their addresses, according to an Associated Press database.

Allison, 53, says she didn’t pay attention to the Kabul ceremony, didn’t really realize the war was over and didn’t know that her son was the last lifelong Floridian to die.

All she knew was that the grief is enduring — for her son, for all the others who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families and for all those who survived but are still suffering the aftermath of combat.

“I will be glad when the troops come home,” she says, “so that nobody else will go through what we did.”
read more here
Troops listing the Tampa area as home who died in the Afghanistan war.

Oct. 8, 2002: Marine Cpl. Antonio James Sledd, 20, Tampa.
March 23, 2003: Air Force Mst. Sgt. Michael Henry Maltz, 42, St. Petersburg.
May 8, 2004: Marine Cpl. Ronald Raymond Payne Jr., 23, Lakeland.
July 2, 2003: Army Staff Sgt. Michael Wayne Shafer 25, Spring Hill.
June 24, 2006: Florida Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Frederick Fuerst III, 26, Tampa.
June 28, 2006: Army Cpl. Aaron Matthew Griner, 24, Tampa.
April 27, 2007: Army Staff Sgt. Michael D. Thomas, 34, Seffner.
Aug. 28. 2007: Army Sgt. Cory L. Clark, 25, Plant City.
Sept. 28, 2008: Army Sgt. William E. Hasenflu, 38, Bradenton.
June 15, 2009: Army Spc. Jonathan C. O’Neill 22, Zeyphyrhills.
July 14, 2009: Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason J. Fabrizi, 29, Seffner.
July 24, 2009: Army Spc. Justin D. Coleman, 21, Weeki Wachee.
Oct. 23, 2009: Army Spc. Eric N. Lembke, 25, Tampa.
Jan. 24, 2010: Marine Sgt. Daniel M. Angus, 28, Thonotosassa.
Feb. 13, 2010: Army Staff Sgt. John A. Reiners, 24, Lakeland.
March 14, 2010: Marine Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto, 26, Largo.
June 27, 2010: Army Spc. David W. Thomas, 40, St. Petersburg.
Aug. 8, 2010: Army Pfc. Paul O. Cuzzupe, 23, Plant City.
Aug. 21, 2010: Marine Lance Cpl. Nathaniel J. A. Schultz, 19, Safety Harbor.
Oct. 10, 2010: Army Spc. David A. Hess, 25, Ruskin.
Feb. 22, 2011: Marine Cpl. Jonathan W. Taylor, 23, Homosassa.
March 22, 2011: Army Pfc. Michael C. Mahr, 26, Homosassa.
April 28, 2011: Marine Lance Cpl. Ronald D. Freeman, 25, Plant City.
June 2, 2011: Army 1st Lt. Dimitri Del Castillo, 24, Tampa.
July 16, 2011: Army Spc. Frank R. Gross, 25, Oldsmar.
Sept. 4, 2011: Army Pfc. Christophe J. Marquis, 40, Tampa.
Sept. 28, 2011: Army 1st Lt. Ivan D. Lechowich, 27, Valrico.
Dec. 3, 2011: Army Spc. Ryan M. Lumley, 21, Lakeland.
June 11, 2012: Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Kessler, 47, Gulfport.
July 8, 2012: Army Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, Brooksville.
July 8, 2012, Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, 31, Tampa.
Aug. 2, 2012: Army Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton, 26, Largo.
Oct. 13, 2012: Army Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, 24 St. Petersburg.
March 11, 2013: Army Spc. Zachary L. Shannon, 21, Dunedin.
*April 3, 2013: Air Force Cpt. Michael Steel, 29, Tampa.
*Aug. 20, 2014: Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, Ruskin.
*Though troops can list anywhere as an address of choice, neither Steel nor Leggett grew up in Florida.
Steel was born at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa but moved out of state when he was a toddler. Leggett was born in Minnesota and raised in Wisconsin, but his mother lives in Ruskin.
Source” AP News Research Web services.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Iraq veteran with PTSD and TBI missing in Dallas

Authorities searching for missing Dallas-area Iraq Veteran with PTSD, TBI 
December 30, 2014 - 4:54pm
JOHNSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KETK) — Johnson County officials are asking for the public's help locating a missing Iraq veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Joseph Jennings, 33, was last seen at around 7 p.m. in the 14000 block of County Road 511 Venus, Texas, wearing a dark blue jackets, overalls, black duty boots and an Iraqi Freedom ball cap. He is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 220 pounds and has hazel eyes with brown hair.

Authorities stated the veteran was depressed at the time of his disappearance. The Johnson County Sheriff's Office is asking for everyone to be on the lookout for this veteran who served our country. If you know the whereabouts of Jennings, please contact 911 or the Johnson County Sheriff's Office at (817) 556-6060. Venus is located about 30 miles southwest of Dallas.
check here for updates

Army Captains Move Wedding After Commander-in-Chief Planned Golf Game in Hawaii

Soldiers Relocate Wedding to Accommodate Obama's Golf Game
Bloomberg News
Michael C Bender
Dec 29, 2014

An unusual RSVP from the commander in chief leads to an unforgettable moment for Army newlyweds.

Natalie Heimel and her fiancé, Edward Mallue Jr., a pair of captains in the Army, were walking from their wedding rehearsal on Saturday at the 16th tee box at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Hawaii when they were informed they'd have to move their wedding, scheduled for the next day.

President Barack Obama wanted to play through.

It was the second time that day that the couple heard from the nation's commander in chief, whose affinity for golf has, at times, caused political headaches for the White House.

Stationed in Hawaii and knowing the president spends his Christmas holiday on the islands, they invited him to their ceremony on a lark. They had received a letter earlier on Saturday saying Obama regretted he couldn't come and wishing them happiness on their wedding day.
“He apologized and congratulated them,” McCarthy said, adding that it was a “wonderful talk.”

“We were all there, it was perfect,” she said. “Made their day.”
read more here

Do you care twice as many veterans commit suicide than civilians do?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 30, 2014

It looks like Wounded Times will finish off another year of the "does not play well with others" list again.

If you are among the people writing about how awful it is the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill was blocked, then you really need to get clued in once and for all. And I do mean all, as if veterans who listened to the speeches, the promises, hung onto hope and waited for the relief that never came.
Since 2007, Wounded Times has tracked all the bills out of Congress but we've also tracked the heartbreaking results. Each and everyday emails come in with site after site simply repeating the same old crap the national press has been spewing out without one single simple question being asked. If anything they've done before didn't work, why do it again? Do they care at all?

We're closing out yet another year of families devastated by someone they love surviving military service, usually after several tours of duty, and still having to visit graves instead of sharing lives. I don't know about you, but I am damn sick and tired of it. Tired of excuses. Tired of this group and that group pretending they have the answers and know it all, when the results prove they are not even close. Tired of members of Congress doing whatever they can to get the veterans to vote for them but never once living up to the honor of earning it.

Above all, tired of others playing political games, putting raising funds over saving lives and getting their name in the newspaper while we count the names of the veterans in the obituary sections of the same publication. They are only 7% of the population but commit suicide at double the rate of civilians.

These were some of the reports from 2007 Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans
Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005. It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets.

New study reflects much larger percentage of veterans than previous studies, National Institute Mental of Health June 12, 2007 • Science Update
Male veterans in the general U.S. population are twice as likely as their civilian peers to die by suicide, a large study shows. Results of the research by Mark S. Kaplan, DrPH, and colleagues from Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University were published online June 11 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and will appear in the July issue.

To date, most studies on suicide among veterans have relied on data from those getting health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. However, 75 percent of veterans do not get their health care through the VA. This study included 320,890 men age 18 and older in the general population, 104,026 of them veterans, whom researchers followed for 12 years.

Veteran Suicides Twice as High as Civilian Rates by Jeff Hargarten, Forrest Burnson, Bonnie Campo and Chase Cook, News21, Published Aug. 24, 2013
A 2007 law required the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase its suicide prevention efforts. In response to the Joshua Omvig Veteran Suicide Prevention Act — named for an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide in 2005 — the department’s efforts include educating the public about suicide risk factors, providing additional mental health resources for veterans and tracking veteran suicides in each state. The VA’s mental health care staff and budget have grown by nearly 40 percent over the last six years and more veterans are seeking mental health treatment. The law mandated that the VA design a comprehensive program to reduce veteran suicides. Provisions included training VA staff in suicide-prevention techniques, factoring mental health concerns in overall veteran health assessments, providing referrals at veterans’ request to treatment programs and designating suicide-prevention counselors at VA medical centers. It also required the VA to work with the other federal departments on researching the “best practices” for preventing suicides.
And this was the result of Congress writing bills after holding countless hearings on how to prevent them.

Veteran suicide rate double that of general population MISSOULA COUNTY, Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, Feb 27 2013
According to a new report released this month by the United States Veterans Affairs Office, in a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, Veterans are about twice as likely to take their own life as civilians. Montana has the highest per capita percentage of veterans in the country. Montana's also notable for having the highest suicide rate in the country. For veterans these, are statistics specialists at the Montana V.A. Center are painfully aware of, and are working hard to change.
Veterans and suicide: A national issue with local consequences Kirsti Marohn and David Unze, St. Cloud Times, August 25, 2014
Veterans also are dying from suicides at a higher rate than the general population, according to the Times analysis. The average rate of veteran suicides in Minnesota during that six-year period was 30 per 100,000 people, almost double the suicide rate of the overall population of 15.4 per 100,000.
Convoluted Claims Contributed to Suicides Tied to Military
Rate of suicide among Oregon military veterans outpaces civilian rates Oregon Live, By Mike Francis, July 11, 2014
Military veterans made up 8.7 percent of Oregon's population between 2008 and 2012, but they accounted for 23 percent of the state's suicides during that period, according to a recent state report.
The self-inflicted deaths were committed most often by males, but the dead covered all age groups, including veterans of long-ended wars. In fact, the largest segment of suicide victims were men over the age of 55, according to statistics analyzed and reported from the Oregon Violent Death Reporting System by the Oregon Health Authority's Public Health Division.

Arizona Veterans Suicide Rate Double That Of Civilians KJZZ, Anthony Cave, September 03, 2013 The rate of suicide among military veterans in Arizona is more than double the civilian rate. Advocates say veterans need more than benefits when returning from war.The average veteran suicide rate in Arizona from 2005 through 2011 is almost 43 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s according to data compiled by News21, a national reporting project based out of Arizona State University. And the rate should increase as more veterans return home.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs gives disability and college education benefits to veterans, but Thomas O’Donnell said a support system is lacking. He works with student veterans at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. The school specializes in suicide research.
Suicide rate for Oklahoma veterans, active-duty military sees incline
The Norman Transcript, By Chase Cook, Oklahoma Watch, August 28, 2013
NORMAN — Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem.

The 2011 suicide rate for soldiers was about 44 per 100,000 population, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of Oklahoma State Department of Health data. This rate includes active-duty military as well as veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The civilian rate for people over the age of 18 was about 22 per 100,000.

In 2011, 141 of the state’s 684 suicides were veterans, according to state health department records
In our opinion: New bill tackles laudable effort of curbing veteran suicide Deseret News editorial Published: Wednesday, April 30 2014 Of the 18 Utah military personnel on active duty who died in 2013, at least 13 of them were the victims of suicide. Among military veterans living in Utah, the suicide rate is double that of the general population. The numbers are sobering. They speak to a growing need for programs on both local and national levels to better assist returning military combatants and their families.
Military, veteran suicides account for nearly one in every four in Florida ... but the numbers don't explain why, Rate is one of the nation's highest, Florida Times Union, By Clifford Davis, Apr 26, 2014

In Florida, the numbers are staggering.

Although veterans make up only 8 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for more than 25 percent of its suicides, according to the report.

Between 1999 and 2011, 31,885 suicides were reported in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. That would mean more than 8,000 Florida veterans took their lives during those 13 years, according to the VA.

The numbers put Florida among states with the highest percentage of veteran suicides — but the numbers don't explain why.

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” said Caitlin Thompson, the deputy director of Suicide Prevention at the VA.

By now I am sure you now know a lot more than you've read before. Maybe now you'll care enough to make sure the next time you get an email about the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill being held up you'll understand why Clay and all the others deserved so much more from all of us.

Denver Soldier Finds Home Best Medicine After Afghanistan

Home is the best medicine: Greeley soldier hurt in August home for Christmas 
Greeley Tribune
Dan England
December 29, 2014

For The Tribune/Tara Moriarty |
Carey Duvall lifts weights with his right prosthesis. 
Duvall was hurt in an attack in August during a mission 
in Afghanistan and spent the Christmas holiday with 
his parents in Greeley.
Carey Duvall had a good time back home. He got to stay at his parents’ place in Greeley, go see family in Denver and spent some time with friends, including a buddy who wanted him to be in a short movie.

The buddy told him he wouldn’t trust anyone else with the lines, but Duvall, 25, knew better. “He just wants me to play the one-armed apocalyptic survivor,” Duvall said.

Indeed, Duvall did play that part in the movie. As it turns out, Duvall said with a laugh, he was perfect for it. In late August, Duvall was leading his U.S. Army convoy on a routine mission in Afghanistan, on a deployment that seemed so benign he never discussed the possibility of getting hurt with his fiancée.

There was an explosion. The blast was powerful enough to toss his vehicle, basically a heavily armored semi-tractor, 25 feet off the road.

His platoon acted quickly enough to save most of his arm, but the attack broke several bones in his right leg, wrist and pelvis. The worst came to his right hand: He lost four fingers and about half of the rest. He was, of course, right-handed.

Duvall doesn’t mind talking about it. He read an article in “Time” magazine that stated telling the story helps ease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the most common aliments of a solider.

It helps his brain, he said, to relive it. This is exactly the kind of way Duvall, who got a degree in history from the University of Colorado, approaches life: He researches it. “He’s basically a nerd,” said his fiancée, Tara Moriarty.
read more here

Veteran profiled in "Songwriting With Soldiers" death under investigation

Troubled veteran in soldier song story found dead 
Houston Chronicle
December 29, 2014
GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man featured in an Associated Press account of veterans coping with trauma through songwriting was found dead on Sunday, the same day the story was published.

Guilderland police Capt. Curtis Cox said Monday the cause of Adan Olid's death was under investigation and he had no other information about the circumstances, including when the 29-year-old former Marine died. Foul play isn't suspected.

An autopsy was being done Monday, but the cause of death might not be known until toxicology results are available, Cox said.

In November interviews with the AP, Olid spoke eloquently about the feelings he carried after close calls and seeing friends dying during three tours in Iraq. He told of overcoming despair to confront the "ghost-like feeling" of post-traumatic stress disorder after contemplating suicide at the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge and deciding not to jump.

The AP story published Sunday was about "Songwriting With Soldiers" retreats, in which military veterans work with musicians to turn anecdotes and raw feelings into lyrics and melody. The story included a vignette of Olid working with program founder Darden Smith and veteran recording artist Marshall Crenshaw to craft a song titled "I Couldn't See the Sun Shine."

read more here

“Songwriting With Soldiers” Retreats Repairing Pain With Song

Monday, December 29, 2014

More veterans killed by police this year but some survived

Keep in mind as you read these, there are many more but these are just some of the ones on Wounded Times.  There are more being killed but more are surviving.  The horrible fact is, it all depends on where they live and how well the officers are trained. Even with the best training, if we had actually taken care of veterans with PTSD and helped them heal, police officers wouldn't have to face off with them and families wouldn't have to grieve for them.

Police shootings from 2013 as more and more police officers have to decide to shoot or not.

In August of 2014 the family of Brian Beaird settled a lawsuit.
LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a disabled veteran who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police after a pursuit. The family of 51-year-old Brian Beaird filed a wrongful death lawsuit in May, seeking $20 million in damages. Beaird was shot and killed by Los Angeles police last Dec. 13 at the end of an hour-long car chase that was broadcast on TV.
January 2014 Gulf War Veteran with PTSD, Parminder Singh Shergill, killed by police in California

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) – The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office has found that two Lodi police officers who shot and killed a mentally ill man were justified in their actions, and will not face criminal charges.

Police Corporal Scott Bratton and Officer Adam Lockie responded to a 911 call on January 25 made by Parminder Singh Shergill’s sister-in-law where she tells a 911 dispatcher that Shergill is a paranoid schizophrenic who is “going crazy” and was attacking her mother-in-law inside the house.

The officers shot Shergill after, they say, he charged at them while outside and carrying a knife in his hand. However, Shergill’s family disputes the police’s account and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in April accusing the officers of using excessive force.

February 2014

David Linley Chicago, Iraq veteran,
But his final firefight was on his suburban street 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Chicago, and the enemy was local police. When it ended, he'd traded 17 years in uniform for 16 years behind bars. The trouble is, Linley has never gotten that treatment. "I've seen a psychiatrist about every six months for 30 minutes, which is absolutely useless," he says. "I have received no treatment for PTSD at all--nothing." Linley says he sought an antidepressant in anticipation of a VA-sponsored prison PTSD-counseling group. Such counseling depresses Linley, so he wanted to get on an antidepressant for the sessions. He took Celexa, prescribed by a corrections psychiatrist, for about a year, awaiting the counseling. But the VA never came, prison officials say, because there weren't enough veterans seeking such help there. Linley says he stopped being "doped up" on the medicine, which made him "foggy and nauseous," once it became clear the VA wasn't coming.
Esteban Nandin, 25 year old Iraq veteran with PTSD, shot by police in California but survived

Jedadiah Zillmer, Afghanistan veteran, shot and killed by police in Washington
"The Spokesman-Review said Zillmer left the Army in September 2012. A relative told the newspaper that family members suspected he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress but no diagnosis had been made.

Zillmer was shot in the foot during combat in Afghanistan in 2011 and lost part of a toe, the newspaper said.

He was among a group of soldiers who were denied disability benefits from the Army and sued, the newspaper said. A federal judge upheld the Army’s decision in September."
Bobby Canipe, 70, of Lincolnton, "for an expired tag. Deputies said Canipe got out of his truck and grabbed a walking cane out of the bed of his pickup. The deputy thought the cane was a weapon."

Derick Morgan, 30, a vet suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, whipped out a gun in front of his wife and pointed it at his head, threatening to shoot himself.

John Edward Chesney, Vietnam veteran 62, was shot after about an hour-long standoff with police in the 900 block of Broadway. He had a replica.

Brian McLeod, 25, Army Fort Lewis veteran, killed by Deputy Sheriff

Homeless veteran James Boyd

Jerome Christmas PTSD, shot and killed by Shreveport Police

Issac Sims "survived until he returned home. Slivers of glass from broken windows lie beneath walls pocked with bullet holes. In a corner of the garage, a faint stain on the concrete floor has turned the color of rust, time darkening the blood that emptied from his body. Sims was killed here May 25, Memorial Day weekend, a year after his discharge from the Army and thousands of miles from Iraq. He endured two tours there only to die at age 26 in his parents’ home on Kansas City’s decaying east side. The fatal shots were fired not by insurgents but by police. The distinction may have eluded his damaged mind."

An unidentified male soldier surrendered to Fayetteville police late Tuesday following a 90-minute standoff in the parking lot of a Walmart on Skibo Road.

Officers responding to the west Fayetteville store at about 10:30 p.m. found the man inside a car. According to authorities, he was threatening to harm himself.
Jonathan Russ was arrested outside his Phenix City home on Maggy Court in the Silver Leaf subdivision. Police initially went to the home for a welfare check on a child. Russ answered the door with a gun and wouldn't let the officer inside, Phenix City Police Lt. Jason Whitten tells News 3.

Denver A police officer shot and killed a suicidal military veteran after the man aimed a rifle at the officer in the driveway of his home, according to police.

Icarus Randolph
"We were failed, they failed," Ida Allen, sister of the man killed said. "The city failed us." Police say Icarus Randolph charged at an officer with a knife after they were called to the scene by family for a report of a suicidal person. His family says Randolph's mother made a call for law enforcement to check on his mental wellness, saying he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in the Iraq war as a Marine."

Justin Neil Davis, 24, shot and killed by police in Germantown,
McNeal Vallandinghan, who attended Houston High School with Davis and also served in the military, said Davis had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and took medications for PTSD and to help him sleep.

Vallandinghan said he was the last one to talk to Davis before the police arrived at Cameron Brown Park around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and found Davis in his car with a rifle. He said Davis told him he had been at the VA about 6:30 p.m. to have an MRI on his back, and that while he was there, told a VA employee he was having suicidal thoughts before he left.

Scott P. Wines Jr., 29, served six tours in Iraq as a Marine and is now attending outpatient counseling twice a week to cope with what he experienced overseas, said defense attorney Rory Driscole.

Jacinto Zavala, 21,"veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder was shot by police early Wednesday morning shortly after allegedly telling a 911 dispatcher that "they are going to have a shoot-out."

James Michael Marcantonio, 28, is a decorated combat veteran of the Iraq war who suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome that possibly triggered the altercation in which the officer was shot, according to court filings by his defense attorney.

The wife of Jeffrey Johnson, the 33-year-old father and veteran killed during an officer-involved shooting last Friday, says he was dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.

William Smith served in the Army from 2003-2007. He said his son was not the same when he returned from his second tour. Following several years of difficulty where the younger Smith struggled with PTSD, several criminal arrests and the use of illegal street drugs, former US Army Sergeant William Smith was shot and killed by a New Mexico state policeman on Friday.

Anthony Eric Chavez, 24 subdued by a stun gun

In November police officers in Las Vegas were going over their policy
Officers had ordered the driver to exit the vehicle, and when he failed to comply, they devised a plan to flush him out. One officer would fire a beanbag round to shatter the car’s rear window. Another would then shoot a canister of pepper spray.

A witness filmed the standoff in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the early hours of Dec. 12, 2011. The video shows the plan mutate into a killing. The beanbag round was fired. Less than a second later, before the pepper spray could be shot, a third officer blasted seven rounds from his assault rifle into the Cadillac.

The car’s wheels stopped, the smoke dissipated. Four bullets had hit the driver. He was unarmed. Stanley Gibson, a 43-year-old Army veteran, served in the Persian Gulf War two decades earlier and remained besieged by post-traumatic stress disorder. He carried home memories of picking up charred corpses along the so-called Highway of Death, where U.S. forces bombed Iraqi troops retreating from Kuwait near the war’s end in 1991.

Nathan Boyd
called a Veterans Crisis Hotline and told a dispatcher that he had weapons and wanted to commit suicide by forcing law enforcement officers to shoot him.

Boyd’s call went to a New York call center, and soon afterward Tulsa police began searching for the 46-year-old U.S. Army veteran. At around 9:15 p.m., crisis and patrol officers finally tracked his pickup truck to a QuikTrip convenience store at 21st Street and 129th East Avenue.

About 10 minutes later, Officer Demita Kinard said, Boyd exited the pickup with a weapon in hand that was later identified as a pellet gun. That’s when 19-year police department veteran Gregory Douglass fired once, striking Boyd in the neck.

Donald Wendt
Bradenton Police SWAT Officer Jason Nuttall — a 15-year veteran — shot Donald Wendt, 50, who was employed as a firefighter for the Bradenton Fire Department.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said Wendt served two tours of military duty in Afghanistan and may have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Brandon Henry "is facing several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon against a government official, and fleeing or eluding arrest. Jacksonville police say Henry was driving a vehicle that was first being chased by Camp Lejeune police.

Nicholas McGehee, 28
The deputy had responded to a 4 a.m. call, expecting to help 28-year-old Nicholas McGehee with a lacerated foot at a home near the intersection of Aberdeen Lane and Merion Drive. A Utah Highway Patrol trooper went with the deputy to assist, said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park.

But through a window of the home, the officers saw a man holding a shotgun, the sheriff said.

"As they approached the house, [they could see] there was evidently more going on than the medical," Park said.

At some point, McGehee’s wife came out of the house. While the trooper helped her to his car for safety, McGehee came out holding a handgun, Park said.

Donald Wendt's Mom wanted to know when this would end. A lot of families are asking the same question. How do so many survive combat only to die on our streets and in their homes? How many times to police officers have to struggle with all of this? Any idea how many police officers are veterans too? This isn't easy for them either. None of this is easy

Fort Riley Soldier Died at Gun Range

Soldier identified apparent suicide at Ogden gun range 
By The Mercury
December 22, 2014

Police have identified the man who died at an Ogden shooting range Saturday as a Fort Riley soldier, and they believe his death was a suicide.

Pfc. Milton Barrera, 20, died of gunshot wound to the head Saturday afternoon at Ogden’s Best Gun Range, according to a report from the Riley County Police Department.

Police said they do not believe his death was accidental. read more here

Veterans Service Officer Slept with Weapon in Iraq

Veterans Service Officer Kathy Marshik slept with her weapon
Morrison County Record
By Jim Wright, Correspondent
December 29, 2014
In June, the Morrison County Veterans Service (MCVS) Office got new leadership, after the retirement of 27-year director Paul Froncak. And the new leader has been around.

“I slept with my weapon,” Kathy Marshik said while recalling her time in Kuwait and Iraq. She carried that M-16 all the time, she said, during her 15-month deployment with the 142nd Engineer Company, out of Camp Ripley, during the heat of the 2003-2004 occupation of Iraq.

In the meantime, she was 5,000 miles away from her daughters, Sierra and Brianna, ages 6 and 2 then.

“My husband, Glen, was in shock when I told him I was deploying in a few days; and five days later I was gone,” Marshik said, “The worst day of my life was leaving them.”

She was a construction engineer supervisor during her time at bases near Udairi, Kuwait and Balad, Iraq. She was never directly fired upon, but her base was constantly being mortared, she said. Her other military occupation skills were maintenance parts specialist and combat medic.
read more here

Marine Shocks Great-Grandma for Christmas

ABC 6 News
December 28, 2014
DELANCO, N.J. (WPVI) -- A marine from Delanco, New Jersey gave his 94-year-old grandmother the surprise of her life when he came home for Christmas.

The McFadden's knew their marine son would be home for the holidays but his great-grandmother Dee-Dee didn't.
read more here

Veteran Reduced to Tears After 50 Fight to Have VA Honor Claim

If you remember all the reports of veterans waiting too long for claims to be approved, most of the focus was on OEF and OIF veterans, but here's yet one more reminder, they are not the first group of veterans to be forced to fight.
After 50 years, injured veteran is still fighting
Tulsa World
World Staff Writer
December 29, 2014
After 50 years, the VA admitted that his injury was caused by a training accident. And the VA agreed to provide medical treatment.

Bell pulled over on the side of the road, put his hands over his face, and for the next several minutes, sobbed uncontrollably.

David Bell, of Tulsa, talks about his ordeal with Veteran's Affairs while visiting friends at Dan Howard's business at Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport on Dec. 4, 2014. Bell was injured during a training accident at Ft. Sill back in 1964 and spent the next 50 years trying to get treatment from the Department of Veterans affairs.
A 105-mm Howitzer weighs 4,980 pounds, supported by two long arms that stretch out in a V-shape behind the canon. Each arm — or "trail," as the Army prefers to call it — is as heavy as a rodeo bull, enough to snap a human spine like a twig.

It takes four men, grunting and grimacing from the exertion, to lift each trail and reposition the weapon.

On a spring day in 1964, three soldiers lost their grip.

"Everybody was cutting up and playing around," as David Bell remembers the incident. "And the other guys just dropped it."

He was a young private fresh out of boot camp and learning his way around a Howitzer at Fort Sill, 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

The trail landed across his legs and lower back, trapping him underneath. His spine began to burn, as if his vertebrae had turned into hot coals under his skin. The other soldiers quickly lifted the weight off of him, and Bell walked away from the accident. But for the past 50 years — literally every waking moment since it happened, he says — he has been in pain.

Some days are better than others. And on the best days, he can almost — almost — forget that his back hurts. But other days — the majority of days — he can hardly think about anything else.

The back pain, however, isn't what bothers him the most.

"No," he says, fists clenched and jaw trembling with anger. "You know what really hurts? What really hurts me deep down?
The first letter is dated Aug. 2, 1965.

"I will certainly be glad to help you in every way I can," it says. Signed: Page Belcher, member of Congress.

It came in reply to a July 22 request from Bell, asking for the Tulsa congressman's help with his first appeal to the Veterans Administration. Since then, Bell has accumulated a stack of similar letters several inches thick.

April 25, 1979. Signed: Congressman James Jones.
April 3, 1980. Signed: Sen. David Boren.
Dec. 19, 2008. Signed: Sen. James Inhofe.
Feb. 20, 2013. Signed: U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine.

Bell has correspondence from every U.S. representative and senator elected in Oklahoma over the last five decades, plus eight separate White House administrations. And for him, every letter is just another broken promise.

"They all say, 'We want to help.' But nobody ever does anything."

read more here

Clock ticking on Ohio Veterans

Review Capital Bureau
Published: December 29, 2014

COLUMBUS -- The state has paid out more than $68 million to veterans of recent and ongoing military conflicts, thanks to voter-approved bonuses OK'd five years ago.

A total of 84,464 military men and women have received the payments to date, according to the latest tally by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services. The total includes more than 24,000 Ohioans who served during conflicts in Iraq.

In November 2009, voters signed off on a constitutional amendment allowing the state to borrow up to $200 million to pay cash bonuses to Ohio military men and women who served at least 90 days of active duty in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq in current conflicts in those areas, plus those involved in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

Eligible veterans are being paid $100 for each month, up to $1,000, for time served in those areas or $50 a month, up to $500, for those serving in other locations at the time. Families of veterans who died in action are eligible for a $5,000 death benefit.

Similar cash bonuses were approved by voters and paid to veterans of other wars and conflicts, dating back to the Civil War, though the deadline for those payments has long since passed.

Persian Gulf War-era veterans had to apply for bonuses by the end of last year. Veterans who served during the most recent Iraqi conflict (between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2011) have until Wednesday to apply, while there has been no deadline set yet for those who have served during conflicts in Afghanistan.
read more here

Soldier in custody after firing gun at Lewis-McChord

Soldier fires shots in air at Lewis McChord
Associated Press
December 28, 2014

A soldier at JBLM is in custody after firing several shots into the air from a parking lot on base.

Soldier is in custody after shots were fired at JBLM early Sunday morning.
(Photo: Doug Dillon, KING 5 News)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A soldier assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord fired several shots into the air from a parking lot early Sunday.

Law enforcement at the base cordoned off the area after the incident at about 4:30 a.m. Law enforcement agencies from Pierce County assisted.

The public affairs office says the soldier was taken into custody at about 5:45 a.m.

No injuries were reported.
read more here

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Utah Iraq Veteran Killed by Police

Utahn killed in police shooting ‘loved life,’ father says
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published 4 hours ago

"The shooting ended the life of a man who had been a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and had plans to become a nurse.

"He loved life. He loved his wife," said Russell McGehee. "… He had a lot of plans. It’s so difficult to look at a person who has all these plans [and see that end]."

McGehee had wanted to be a soldier since he was 10 years old, and in 2009, he was deployed on his first of two tours to Iraq.

Though McGehee was in the infantry, his father said that "they actually did some special ops stuff to actually catch the bomb makers [who created improvised explosive devices]."
A Stansbury Park man who aimed a handgun at a Tooele County Sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot by the officer early Sunday.

The deputy had responded to a 4 a.m. call, expecting to help 28-year-old Nicholas McGehee with a lacerated foot at a home near the intersection of Aberdeen Lane and Merion Drive. A Utah Highway Patrol trooper went with the deputy to assist, said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park.

But through a window of the home, the officers saw a man holding a shotgun, the sheriff said.

"As they approached the house, [they could see] there was evidently more going on than the medical," Park said.

At some point, McGehee’s wife came out of the house. While the trooper helped her to his car for safety, McGehee came out holding a handgun, Park said.

The deputy commanded him two or three times to put the gun down — but when McGehee pointed it at the deputy, the officer fired three times, killing him, Park said.

McGehee’s father, Russell McGehee, said he understands his son had accidentally injured his foot, and his daughter-in-law called 911 because his son would not go to a doctor. What transpired after that is a mystery to the family.

"I had never seen him pull a gun on anyone. I don’t know what the deal was," said Russell McGehee, who lives in Sanford, N.C., where McGehee grew up. "I don’t know why he would have done that."

Russell McGehee had received a call several hours earlier, while still in bed, that his only son had died.
read more here

“Songwriting With Soldiers” Retreats Repairing Pain With Song

Vets and musicians meet to craft personal songs 
Associated Press
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Iraq combat veteran Adan Olid, center, works on a song with songwriters Darden Smith, left, and Marshall Crenshaw during the Songwriting With Soldiers retreat at the Carey Institute for Global Good on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Rensselaerville, N.Y. Olid is one of more than 100 veterans who have turned their stories into sometimes affectingly personal songs at Songwriting With Soldiers retreats. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
RENSSELAERVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Adan Olid’s life took a turn on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

As he stood at a railing, the troubled Iraq War veteran decided not to jump. He felt inspired to work through the “ghost-like feeling” of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now that pivotal moment for Olid has inspired a song - written, performed and recorded by professionals. The 29-year-old former Marine is one of more than 100 veterans who have turned their stories into sometimes affectingly personal songs at “Songwriting With Soldiers” retreats.

Vets work with musicians hunched over guitars who turn anecdotes and raw feelings into lyrics and melody. Songs are laced with lyrics about “bullet catchers,” sacrifice, “hillbilly armor,” death and, in the case of Olid, renewal on a bridge. “I think music does a lot more than a pill can do,” said Olid, who wants to share his song with other veterans. Olid was deployed to Iraq three times before leaving the Marines as a sergeant in 2011.

Like many veterans, the stress of close calls or memories of dying friends lingered when he returned to Southern California. Music has been a comfort to Olid, especially the music of Johnny Cash and the old rockabilly stars. He uses recorded songs at his job as a counselor for fellow veterans and even plays guitar a little. It was a natural progression for him to attend the recent songwriting retreat at the Carey Institute for Global Good in rural Rensselaerville, near his Albany-area home.
read more here SongwritingWith:Soldiers

Citizens Support Police Because Blue Lives Matter Too

'Blue lives matter' rally held in Denver for police
Ryan Haarer
December 27, 2014

Moment of silence in Denver for slain NY officers.
(Photo: Ryan Haarer)

DENVER- A crowd gathered at Civic Center Park on Saturday to show their support for law enforcement after months of criticism and attacks on police.

The rally is one of many being held across the country. Many were started through social media using the twitter hashtag #BlueLivesMatter.

"They are mostly good people who actually care about their communities and it is hard to see other people tear them down on a daily basis," said Kim Snetzinger who showed up to participate in the rally.

Those in law enforcement will tell you the job has always been dangerous, but it hasn't always been so thankless. This year's events involving the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner brought on an outpouring of anger towards police for what many see as excessive force.

"You can always find somebody to say something negative about you. But we say thank you. Thank you for running towards the gun shots. Thank you for securing our neighborhoods," said Pastor Larry Stevenson, exciting the crowd.
read more here

Organizers hope Sea of Blue is start of national movement
WKYC Staff
December 28, 2014

CLEVELAND -- They called it the Sea of Blue and that's exactly what it was as thousands packed downtown Saturday to rally for police officers.

They covered Public Square as supporters were not only rallying for the officers killed in the line of duty, but every officer and even for people killed at the hands of officers.
read more here

Sea of blue grief: 25,000 cops attend funeral for fallen NYPD officer
December 27, 2014

Thousands of police officers from across the country assembled in winter sunshine in New York City for the funeral of Rafael Ramos, a police officer shot to death with his partner in an ambush last week.

The officers in dress blue uniforms stood outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens for the Saturday morning services. The sea of blue stretched more than six city blocks.

In his eulogy, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered the city's condolences to the Ramos family.

"All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons," he said. "But the most personal is that we lost such a good man."

Vice President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Ramos' two sons.

“You’ve shown tremendous courage these past days,” he said.

He said Ramos and his partner Wenjian Liu were officers who were committed, passionate and vigilant.
read more here

Fort Bragg Operation Toy Drop Helps Families in Need

U.S. Army paratroopers wait to be assigned to chalks before participating in an airborne jump during the 17th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, on Dec. 8, 2014 at Luzon Drop Zone, N.C. Operation Toy Drop is the world’s largest combined airborne operation and allows Soldiers the opportunity to help a less fortunate child in the Sandhill region to receive toys for the holidays.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc Ashley Keasler)
Operation Toy Drop
Posted 4 days ago by Member 30091762

Dozens of parachute silhouettes raining down against the North Carolina sky are nothing out of the ordinary around Fort Bragg, but each December since 1998, airborne operations have taken on a different meaning to America's men and women in uniform with the Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop.

An annual opportunity for Fort Bragg's military community to help families in need over the holidays, Operation Toy Drop combines the efforts of Army, Air Force and civilian service organizations in a truly unique event.

Operation Toy Drop is a week-long, philanthropic project where Fort Bragg's paratroopers (or visiting paratroopers from across the nation) individually contribute new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to local children's homes and social service agencies.

1 in 4 women veterans experienced sexual harassment or assault

It is a good time to look back at Victim advocates want radical overhaul in handling of military sex assaults on Stars and Stripes By Leo Shane III Published: December 29, 2011 after reading this to see that not much has changed since then.

Vets fight for care following sex traumas
By Emily Wax-Thibodeaux
DECEMBER 28, 2014
A recent VA survey found that 1 in 4 women said they experienced sexual harassment or assault.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of female veterans are struggling to get health care and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs on the grounds that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by sexual trauma in the military.

The veterans and their advocates call it the second battle — with a bureaucracy they say is stuck in the past.

Judy Atwood-Bell was just a 19-year-old Army private when she was locked inside a barracks room at Fort Devens in Massachusetts, forced to the cold floor, and raped by a fellow soldier, she said.

For more than two decades, Atwood-Bell fought for an apology and financial compensation for PTSD, with panic attacks, insomnia, and depression that she recalls starting soon after that winter day in 1981. She filled out stacks of forms in triplicate and then filled them out again, pressing over and over for recognition of the harm that was done.
And the Pentagon released data on Dec. 4 that showed that 62 percent of those who reported being sexually assaulted had experienced retaliation or ostracism afterward. read more here

Kansas Iraq Veteran Personal Battle with PTSD Becomes Cause for Others

Kan. vet’s struggle with PTSD motivates desire to help others 
KHI News Service
By Andy Marso
December 28, 2014
After his Army service, Will Stucker earned a bachelor’s degree in family studies at Manhattan Christian College and is now working on a master’s degree in clinical psychology at Emporia State University. He plans to work with other veterans and help them overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome.- photo by Andy Marso
Need is great About one-third of the 2.6 million veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety and depression. The VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, which includes the Topeka hospital where Stucker was treated, is seeing more patients for PTSD every year: up from 1,297 in 2011 to 2,216 in 2014. The costs of PTSD treatment there this year exceeded $28 million
TOPEKA — Sitting in a Junction City coffee shop with his laptop and a pile of textbooks splayed on a table, Will Stucker looks like any other college student, if a bit older than average. But Stucker, 38, has taken a different path to college than most of his classmates at Emporia State University.

His path took him to South Korea and Kuwait, then to a tank rolling toward Baghdad, then to an armored Humvee on the streets of a small town in Iraq where insurgents repeatedly tried to kill him — and two of them almost succeeded.

Then, finally, to a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Topeka, where counselors helped him work through the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he came home with. Stucker is working toward a master’s degree in clinical psychology so that he can help other veterans overcome PTSD. read more here

US and NATO End Afghanistan Mission

U.S., NATO mark end of mission to Afghanistan 
Associated Press
Lynne O'Donnell
December 28, 2014
It ends with 2,224 American soldiers killed, according to an AP tally, out of a total of some 3,500 foreign troop deaths.

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell, center,
cases the ISAF flag during a ceremony at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday.

(Photo: Massoud Hossaini, AP)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The symbolic ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, which will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, most of them American, starting Jan. 1.

Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, rolled up and sheathed the green and white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.

"Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership" between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.

He paid tribute to the international and Afghan troops who have died fighting the insurgency, saying: "The road before us remains challenging but we will triumph."

From Jan. 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan's military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 members of the residual force.
read more here

Orlando VA Medical Center is more than 95 percent complete

VA Medical Center nearly done but disputes continue
Orlando Sentinel
By Naseem S. Miller
December 27, 2014
"Lawmakers say that the House Veterans' Affairs committee will have hearings on VA hospital construction early next year."
VA Medical Center -- Ongoing construction at Lake Nona, on Thursday, September 5, 2013.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel)
After years of squabbles and delays, the long-awaited Orlando VA Medical Center is more than 95 percent complete.

If all goes as planned, the Department of Veterans Affairs will take it over in January, and the hospital will be fully operational by summer.

The $665 million, 1.2 million-square-foot facility at Medical City in Lake Nona is expected to have more than 3,500 employees and serve as many as 115,000 veterans every year.

It is also two years behind schedule and, by some estimates, more than $200 million over budget.

The hospital's groundbreaking was in October 2008, and it was expected to be finished in October 2012. Since then, deadlines have been broken as the VA and its contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, continue to blame each other for the delays.

There have been "numerous issues that surrounded the construction delays," including problems with "contractor manpower shortages and poor management of resources," VA officials said in a statement.
read more here

Reducing Military Suicides Impossible Dream with These Folks in Charge

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 28, 2014

When the subject of suicides tied to military service comes up it feels more like the impossible dream of changing the outcome. Most of what is going on with military suicides has been going on for so long it is hard to hold onto hope they will finally understand what is behind it, especially when veteran suicides are factored in. The numbers are staggering leaving far too many questions leaders never get asked to account for.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

They derived their powers because men and women in this country stepped up for decades putting their lives on the line to obtain freedom and retain it. Congress failed all of them for decades. The wounds are not new. PTSD has been reported under different titles but the lingering effects of war have been carried to the grave. Instead of learning from the past, taking what was proven to provide healing so they can live better lives, failed research projects were passed off as the best thing going no matter what came next.

For starters, Congress should have been demanding answers as to why billions of dollars and a long list of hearings produced such deplorable results. After more was being done, people made money, got promoted, members of Congress got their name attached to bills but never noticed they will forever be connected to massive failures.

There has been a massive deception pulled off by the majority of the members of the press and they didn't even know it. How could they know when they simply reported what they were told, when they were told it to make the news cycle? They didn't think investigating was worth the time to report the truth?

It is a great PR piece but nothing more. Even the author didn't catch what was obviously part of the problem. When you read this part make sure you haven't just taken a sip of coffee. I squirted mine out and have to clean my keyboard.
"So Chiarelli set out to learn everything he could about PTSD and TBI. The task took on even greater urgency a month later, when the Army tallied that 115 soldiers had committed suicide in 2007. That was the most since the Army began counting in 1980 and nearly twice the national suicide rate. Chiarelli’s boss, General George Casey Jr., asked him to figure out why so many soldiers were taking their own lives."

Exactly what happened before and after that is very telling on what Chiarelli learned.
That chart is from The Guardian US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

This is from Senator Joe Donnelly's site on military suicides.
Using an updated method of tracking suicides, DoD also announced in the new military suicide report that 475 servicemembers took their lives in 2013.

This total is slightly lower than the 479 total DoD had previously reported.

While the total number of servicemembers who took their lives declined from 522 in 2012 to 475 in 2013, there was an increase in the number of National Guard and Reserve Members who committed suicide last year. The 134 National Guard Members who took their own lives is a record high, up from 130 in 2012. Last year, 86 Reserve Members committed suicide compared to 72 in 2012.

Like most, Chiarelli had good intentions however he failed to figure out what was going on with the "task" he was given. The number of enlisted went down due to sequestration along with the number of deployed with troops pulled out of Iraq. The flip side was more suicides than combat fatalities. In the Veterans' Community, the numbers went up as well.
General Chiarelli’s Brain Crusade
How one Army officer raised the nation’s consciousness about head injuries
December 27, 2014

Soon after Peter Chiarelli became vice chief of staff of the Army in 2008, a subordinate showed him a bar graph depicting the number of soldiers determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be at least 30 percent disabled. The tallest column was on the far left.

Those are amputations, Chiarelli thought. Or burns.

Then he examined the graph more carefully. Burns were off to the right, accounting for just 2 percent of disabled soldiers. Amputations were in the middle, at 10 percent. The big column, which represented 36 percent of seriously injured soldiers, was labeled “PTSD or TBI.”

Chiarelli was dumbfounded. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is the catchall term to explain the anxiety, anger, and disorientation people can experience after exposure to physical harm or the threat of it. An insurgent attack would qualify, as would the threat of one, which most troops in Iraq faced every day. TBI, or traumatic brain injury, can happen when a soldier suffers a concussion from the blast of a roadside bomb. While some soldiers appeared to recover from concussions quickly, for others the effects lingered for months, or even indefinitely.

What stunned Chiarelli was not just the high percentage but the long-term persistence of PTSD and the aftereffects of concussions. He had been the operational commander of all American ground forces in Iraq. Before that, he’d led an Army division that was responsible for Baghdad. And yet the prevalence of debilitating post-traumatic stress and serious brain injuries was news to him. He had assumed that the stress of a near-miss would dissipate. So, too, would the effects of a concussion. He figured they were no big deal.

“If I had a platoon that lost folks, I had combat-stress teams, and I made sure they were flown to whatever base they needed to go to,” he said. “I knew what my football coach told me about traumatic brain injury: ‘Shake it off and get back in the game.’”

The graph sobered him. As vice-chief, his job wasn’t to focus on war strategy. He was responsible for “the force”—for training and equipping soldiers, modernizing weapons and overseeing the budget, and ensuring the well-being of the half-million men and women in the Army, the second-largest U.S. employer after Walmart. But it also was personal: he had put many of these soldiers in harm’s way in Iraq, and he believed he had a duty to those who returned harmed.
read more here

It will all continue to be a bad dream until the leaders stop being asleep on the job and open their eyes. Otherwise nothing will ever change. Had the reporters dared to delve into the decades of data, they would have not just been asking the right questions but demanding the right answers.

The reports of soldiers coming out of Warrior Transition Units have been around for years but it took a six month investigation, a real investigation, by reporters from the Dallas Morning News and NBC out of Texas to show the entire country how wrong the leaders continued to be.

Once you read this whole article on General Chiarelli, I suggest you read what the attitude was in the Army along with how the PTSD soldiers were actually treated. INJURED HEROES, BROKEN PROMISES

After the news broke this was the result.

Army orders new training for Warrior Transition Units

Texas Congressman Frustrated by WTU Complaints Highlighted in NBC 5 Investigation
This is what reporters should have been asking about.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

WWII Nurse Receiving French Foreign Legion of Honor

Veteran Army nurse to receive French Legion of Honor
Rusty Rice will receive France's highest award for her service in the Army during WWII
Reporter Nadine Maeser Nadine Maeser
December 26, 2014

A Blacksburg woman will be recognized for her service to our country on Saturday.

Rusty Rice served as a nurse in World War II and nearly 70 years later, she's receiving the highest honor from France.

Rice, 94, is set to receive the French Legion of Honor.

She is the second veteran in Virginia to receive it.

“I'm nervous,” she said.

Rice, a New Jersey native, worked as a registered nurse in a maternity ward before joining the Army in her early 20's.

"I was an Army nurse and I happened to be stationed where the Battle of the Bulge was occurring and it was a very difficult time."

Rice said she loved serving her country.

"Much to my mother's horror she wouldn't hear of it, but then my brother was drafted,” she said.

Rice gained her mother’s approval after she explained there might not be enough nurses to care for her brother.
read more here
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