Friday, February 28, 2014

Fraud Vietnam veteran claiming Purple Heart and Bronze Star pleads guilty

Veteran who lied about Purple Heart pleads guilty
Walter Eatman claimed to have PTSD, Purple Heart By Melissa Catalanotto
Feb 28, 2014

ST. CLOUD, Fla. —A veteran from St. Cloud has pleaded guilty to making false statements to receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and stealing government funds.

According to court documents, Walter Clarence Eatman, 68, of St. Cloud, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, applied for and received VA benefits for five years. Court documents said he falsely claimed he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss and tinnitus.

Court documents also say he lied about serving in combat in Vietnam for two years and being awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Officials said Eatman never served in Vietnam, nor did he earn a Purple Heart or Bronze Star.
read more here

Orlando Veterans Events

Veterans Events from Cathy Haynes

MARCH 2014 - Upcoming military, veterans and patriotic events in Central Florida
If you wish to be removed from the email list, just let me know.
Please share these events with your friends and interested others and attend.  Post where appropriate.
Welcome Home Celebration and Veteran Resource Fair – Sat. Mar 1 – for returned OEF/OIF/OND and ALL era veterans.  Bring your family for a FREE day (9am – 2pm) at the Central Florida Zoo, 3755 NW Hwy 17-92, Sanford, 32773.  Sponsored by the Orlando VA Med. Center.  Info:  321-397-6116
Highlighted Interview on American Warrior Radio – Sat. Mar 1 – Fallujah veteran Marine Sgt. Marty Gonzalez discusses the incidents of nine years ago and today.  He received three Purple Heart medals and two Bronze Stars in Iraq along with severe wounds – physical and mental.  11am-noon EDT on Saturdays, radio station WMEL - AM 1300    Nationwide broadcast:   AVET Project sponsors this broadcast.
Short Notice – Home At Last Welcome Reception – Sun Mar 2 – This will be the sixth Home at Last project honoring a combat-wounded veteran of the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marine Sgt. Stephen Tovet and his wife, Krystina, will receive a specially planned home from the West Orange Habitat for Humanity special project Home At Last.   Sgt. Tovet was born in Orlando, FL and grew up in Apopka. Stephen and Krystina were Apopka High School sweethearts.  An IED blast during his Afghanistan service in 2011 resulted in loss of his left leg, part of a hand and multiples surgeries to reconstruct the hand and his lower right leg.  Fund raising efforts will continue thru the year. Checks or money orders should be made payable to West Orange Habitat for Humanity and mailed to: P.O. Box 38, Oakland, FL 34760. Please be sure to indicate your contribution is for "Home at Last 2014." Event reception: Tanner Hall, 29 W. Garden Ave., Winter Garden,  POC: Bill Criswell - 407-876-2472
Veterans Court in Orange County - military veterans are needed to be mentors to other veterans who have had some “challenges with the law.”  Offenses are currently primarily misdemeanors.  Attempts will be made to match officers, enlisted, branches and functions.  Pay it back or Pass it Forward by making a difference.  Contact Diana at 407-603-6538 
5th Annual CFNL Wounded Warrior Lone Sailor 5K/10K  – Sat. Apr 5 – Central Florida Navy League sponsors this event at Baldwin Park, site of the former Navy Enlisted Training Base.  More info to come.  See  and
Stand Down in Seminole County – Sat. Apr 12  - Services and information for veterans, especially homeless ones.  Volunteers, service providers and products will be needed.  The date for Orange County will be in Sept.   Contact Sean Gibbs of Homeless Services Network of Central FL, 407-893-0133  
Operation Giveback Golf Tournament – Fri. Apr 25 - Champions Gate International Course, exit 58 on I-4.  8:30am Shotgun Start, lunch buffet, contests, raffles, auction;
All proceeds will benefit wounded warriors, their families, and the children of our fallen heroes. Sponsorships available.  1400 Masters Blvd, ChampionsGate, 33896  Contact: or visit our website: 
Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion – May 1 – 4 – The nations’ largest veterans’ reunion.  Military displays, military vendors, POW-MIA ceremonies, Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.  Wickham Park in Brevard Co, Melbourne.  Take I-95 to Exit 191 or old Exit 73.  Info:  321-501-6896 or 321-427-2843 
Medal of Honor Recipient Recognition – Fri. May 2 – Marine veteran Hershel Williams will be recognized in our community. This WW2 Marine with service on Iwo Jima that earned him the MOH – he is the last surviving recipient from the service on that island.  In addition, he is one of only 2 WW2 MOH Marines living.  The other noble Marine is in very frail health.  Plans for the day include a Meet and Greet starting at 12 noon for about 1 hour at the Museum of Military History in Kissimmee.  The evening highlights with a fundraising dinner.   Proceeds will go to several organizations - including the Hershel "Woody" Williams Foundation that will build a monument in honor of Gold Star Families.  (FYI - Before his enlistment, at age 15 Mr. Williams drove a taxi that also delivered telegrams from the War Department to casualty families.  It left him touched with what happens on the porches of the home front.)  Tables/sponsorships for the dinner will be available. Details will be provided soon.  
The Military Edge Inaugural "Armed Forces Day" Golf Tournament – Sat. May 17, Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Club, 9939 Universal Blvd. Orlando, FL 32819 Fundraising event to benefit scholarship program, job expos, youth programs, and veteran projects .  Please contact Nik Patterson for additional details 513-898-9097
4th Annual Pars & Stripes Forever Golf Tournament - Fri, May 30, at Orange County National.  Camaraderie Foundation organizes this fund raising event to assist military personnel and their families with counseling needs and transition.   Marriages, families and lives are saved.  Sponsorships welcomed.    407-841-0071.
American Legion, Dept of FL Annual Convention – June 12-15 at The Renaissance Orlando at Sea World.  Info:   Mary at 407-295-2631 x232
EXTRAS of Interest:
Attention veterans - The local Center for Personal Excellence ( is developing a national reality TV series focusing on veterans needs, issues and treatments.  For veterans who would like to tell their story and get some help for effects of battle on their mental health. All ages and service eras are welcome, including regulars, reservists and guardsmen of all branches.  The show will initially be filmed in the Orlando Metro area.  Family participation is not required but their involvement may enhance production.  If selected, your story may help others who experienced the same or similar stressors.  Contact Dr. Linda Levine Silverman  at   so you can be contacted, screened, interviewed, etc.  321-945-1153
Items of Interest:
·         American Warrior Radio Show  from 11am-noon EDT on Saturdays, radio station WMEL - AM 1300    Nationwide broadcast: 
· - Veterans News Service covering news that matters to veterans and their families. Local, state and national news and events – especially with videos involving Central Florida military and veterans. Dedicated to defeating Combat PTS.
·         Shades of Green Resort – Armed Forces Recreation Center on Disney property provides various packages for active duty, reservists, guardmen, 100% service connected disabled, and retired military personnel and their families.  Go to  for information.  Special discounts for rooms may be available based on occupancy levels, and special ticket rates.  (407) 824-3400
·         Vet Centers are available for combat zone veterans to help with personal and family readjustment counseling and outreach services.   The nearest centers are located in Orlando, Melbourne, Clermont, and Daytona Beach.
·         The Navy Exchange (NEX) – Mgr. Nancy Devore was transferred to Guantanamo Bay.  Jennifer McComas joins Orlando NEX as Mgr from Key West.  Stop by and say “Hi!”  NEX in Orlando is for all branches of active duty military, reservists, guardsmen, retirees, 100% service-connected disabled veterans and their dependents.  It is located west of Orlando Int’l Airport, about 1 mile south of the Beachline Expy/528 on Tradeport Dr.  Competitive pricing and programs.  7151 Earhart Dr., Orlando, 32827.  407-857-3550
·         Military OneSource is a free service provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) to active duty, Guard and Reserve service members, and their families with comprehensive information on every aspect of military life including deployment, relationships, economics, grief, education, parenting and child care, and much more.
Caring and sharing,
Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran  and military organizations in Central Florida

Operation Safety 91 tribute to military

Operation Safety 91 held their 6th tribute to first responders at the Rosen Hotel in Orlando today. This year members of the military took the spotlight. Ed and Mary Ganster did a fabulous job as always putting this together.
The emcee was Tony Mainolfi, WESH2 News Chief Meteorologist. Col. Danny McKnight, Black Hawk Down Ground Commander and Major Jeff Struecker gave really moving speeches about what happened.

Members of law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders were also honored.

What does "one too many" suicide slogan mean?

What does "one too many" suicide slogan mean?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 28, 2014

The VA's War: Department Of Veterans Affairs And Congress Clash Over Suicide Charges is a headline that deserves many questions.

If you have been paying attention to suicides tied to military service, you must be tired of hearing, “even one suicide is one too many." It doesn't matter if the person saying those words represents the Department of Defense, the VA or service groups. No one ever explains what they mean by "too many."

Too many for what? To cause the Department of Defense to change what they did? For them to be honest with what the records prove? To explain why they stopped releasing the data necessary for researchers to study the demographics of troops committing suicide as well as attempting suicide? The last Suicide Event Report was released in 2012 regarding the number of military suicides for 2011.
The AFMES indicates that 301 Service Members died by suicide in 2011

(Air Force = 50, Army = 167, Marine Corps = 32, Navy = 52).

This number includes deaths strongly suspected to be suicides that are pending final determination.

DoDSER Points of Contact (POCs) submitted reports for 100% of AFMES confirmed 2011 suicides
(Air Force = 46, Army = 159, Marine Corps = 31, Navy = 51)
as of the data extraction date (26 April 2012).

A total of 915 Service Members attempted suicide in 2011
(Air Force = 241, Army = 432, Marine Corps = 156, Navy = 86)

DoDSERs were submitted for 935 suicide attempts
(Air Force = 251, Army = 440, Marine Corps = 157, Navy = 87)

Of the 915 Service Members who attempted suicide, 896 had one attempt, 18 had two attempts, and 1 had three attempts.
This report went on to say "Nearly one-half of suicide decedents had a history of OEF, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), or OND deployment (n = 134, 46.69%), and twenty-three of these (8.01%) had a history of multiple deployments. Suicide attempt DoDSERs reported more previous deployments than did suicide DoDSERs (n = 377, 40.32%). Direct combat experience was reported for 44 suicide decedents (15.33%) and 158 suicide attempts (16.90%)."

The STARRS study finding agrees with this assessment. "Soldiers who have deployed at least once do have an elevated suicide rate compared with Soldiers who never deployed," Schoenbaum said.

Yet since then the DOD has been saying that "most had not been deployed."
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that military members’ risk of suicide was associated with the same factors as those in the civilian population: being male, and suffering from depression and alcohol or drug abuse.

The study by Cynthia A. LeardMann, M.P.H., of the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, and colleagues, comes eight years after the military suicide rate began climbing as the military fought two wars.

The findings of the study — thought to be the first that in addition to tracking active-duty troops, followed servicemembers after they resumed civilian life — counter the conventional wisdom that combat stress, number of deployments and the operations tempo as the U.S. fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had caused more troops to take their own lives.

“In this sample of current and former military personnel … suicide risk was independently associated with male sex and mental disorders but not with military-specific variables,” the study, “Risk Factors Associated with Suicide in Current and Former U.S. Military Personnel,” said.

The press ignored the STARRS report and simply repeated the report the DOD wanted them to focus on.

The other factor to all of this comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
New suicide data released by the department on Thursday showed that the rate of veterans suicide remained largely unchanged over that three-year period, the latest for which statistics are available. About 22 veterans a day take their own life, according to department estimates.

But while older veterans saw a slight decrease in suicides, male veterans under 30 saw a 44 percent increase in the rate of suicides. That’s roughly two young veterans a day who take their own life, most just a few years after leaving the service.

“Their rates are astronomically high and climbing,” said Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention. “That’s concerning to us.”

Yet the VA did not explain why there were so many after this report was released.
VA efforts since 2007 have shown some results. The Veterans Crisis Line — a national phone line — has experienced a steady increase in the number of calls, texts and chat session visits from former soldiers struggling with suicidal thoughts. In 2007, its first year, 9,379 calls went to the crisis line. Each year the call volume has increased, reaching a high of 193,507 calls in 2012, totaling about 840,000 overall, according to the VA.

If they do not have to explain anything, nothing will change. So what do you think "one too many" really means to them?

Paralyzed Marine getting control in smart home

Wounded Marine getting a smart home
Gadsden Times
February 26, 2014
In this Feb. 25, 2014 photo, Jacksonville High School students attend the groundbreaking of a ìSmart Homeî for retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Ben Tomlinson, in Jacksonville, Ala. Tomlinson was shot in the back, leaving him paralyzed him from the chest down. The construction of the home is a joint project involving various charities.
(AP Photo/The Gadsden Times, Eric T. Wright)
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- The next steps toward helping a wounded U.S. Marine become independent happened as organizers from various charities broke ground at the site of his future home.

Retired Sgt. Ben Tomlinson of Jacksonville served in the Marines in the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and deployed twice to the Helmand Province, the center of the Taliban insurgency and opium trade in Afghanistan. He was shot in the back, leaving him paralyzed him from the chest down.

His home will be a "smart home," meaning nearly every facet of the house will be able to accommodate Tomlinson. The cabinets and counter tops raise and lower and the hallways are much wider to accommodate his wheelchair.

The air conditioning, heating and lighting also can be customized, and all of the adjustable functions can be controlled through an iPad or iPhone.
read more here

Did reporter use "race card" on Marine Rafael Peralta's story?

Fallen Marine Rafael Peralta’s family accuses reporter of playing ‘race card’
Supporters still press for Medal of Honor
Washington Times
Stephen Dinan
February 27, 2014

Ten years after a 2004 firefight in Iraq, Sgt. Rafael Peralta’s death continues to ignite controversy, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week refusing to reopen his nomination for the Medal of Honor and the Marine’s family accusing a newspaper of race-baiting in its reporting on the standoff.

Peralta’s mother, Rosa, said in a letter this week that a reporter for The Washington Post seemed intent on trying to get her to say her son was denied the Medal of Honor because he was Hispanic.

Some Marines who were on duty with Peralta on Nov. 15, 2004, the day he and his squad were clearing houses in Fallujah, were stunned that their comrades were now saying the story that Peralta scooped a grenade to himself, saving a number of Marines’ lives, was a concocted lie.

“If you’re trying to smear the legacy of a Marine who’s a hero, who saved my life, then you’re barking up the wrong … tree,” said Nicholas Jones, one of the Marines in the room when insurgents tossed the grenade toward the troops.

Peralta received the Navy Cross for his actions, but his supporters — including Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who also served as a Marine officer in Fallujah during the Iraq War — say he deserves the Medal of Honor.
read more here

If you believe the DOD then ask yourself one question on this. Why would they have given him the Navy Cross for "falling" on a grenade or having it land near him?
Iraq veteran battles for fallen Marine to be honored

Comrades say Marine heroism tale of Iraq veteran was untrue

Sgt. Rafael Peralta will not receive Medal of Honor for saving lives

Did Sgt. Rafael Peralta's actions deserve MOH or not?

Video of Sgt. Rafael Peralta pulling grenade under his body being reviewed for Medal of Honor

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Standoffs with veterans should not happen

UPDATE Add this to the rest
Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD arrested in Troutdale shooting, police say
The Oregonian
By Lynne Terry
February 28, 2014

Troutdale police have arrested an Iraq War vet who shot himself in the foot early Friday.

They said the incident happened about 6:20 a.m. at a residence in the 1400 block of Southeast Chapman Street. They said 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.
read more here

Standoffs with veterans should not happen
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 27, 2014

In South Carolina a police officer shot a Vietnam veteran after a traffic stop. Why? He was reaching for his cane. He's disabled. In San Diego another Vietnam veteran, reportedly suicidal, was shot and killed. In Pennsylvania a SWAT standoff with another veteran ended differently. The veteran was taken into custody.

What makes all of these stories worse is they all happened this week.

Earlier in February in San Diego: A retired Navy petty officer who was shot by a San Diego policeman after raising a military assault rifle in his direction was sentenced Tuesday to probation and ordered to continue counseling and treatment for mental health issues, including a form of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. A report about a Marine in Chicago, a veteran had 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."

Last month a Gulf War veteran was taken into custody in Corpus Christi. In December a Kentucky National Guardsman was arrested and charged in January.

As police increasingly face off with veterans from many different wars, it is clear that these situations should have never happened.

Police officers face split second decisions facing off with veterans in crisis. While some do end peacefully the outcome is never cut and dry. In one state, the veteran is taken to the VA for help but in other states they are put on trial, if they are not killed during the standoff.

Last week I was speaking to a police officer asking him some questions about what they do in situations like the above. He told me they are trained and retrained to know when to call in Crisis Teams. They are training on new tactical weapons that will not kill the veteran.

A veteran in that much of a crisis situation should never happen but as there seem to be more and more, there needs to be a country wide approach to help the police officers take care of the veterans as well as protect other officers and the public until this country does what they need to do to take care of all veterans!

Vietnam Veterans of America: Coast Guard wrongfully discharged hundreds

Veterans group: Coast Guard wrongly discharged members
The Associated Press
Published: February 27, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The U.S. Coast Guard routinely violates its procedures and regulations intended to protect service members from erroneous discharges for personality or adjustment disorders, a veterans group and Yale Law School students alleged Thursday.

Vietnam Veterans of America released a report based on an analysis by the students who looked at a random sample of 265 discharges for the disorders over a 12-year period ending Sept. 30, 2012. Of those, the students found 255 failed to comply with Coast Guard regulations in some way.

The violations can lead to veterans being denied benefits and stigma in finding work, the report says.

"We are disappointed to see that so many members of our Coast Guard have been illegally discharged and denied their rights," said Tom Berger, executive director of VVA's Veterans Health Council. "We are hopeful that this report will spark action to correct this injustice."

Jordan St. John, deputy chief of public affairs for the Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard hadn't seen the report and couldn't comment.
read more here

Vets bill fails in Senate, victim of election-year gridlock

03:09 PM ET
7 minutes ago
Vets bill fails in Senate, victim of election-year gridlock
Posted by
Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett

Washington (CNN) - A Democratic bill designed to make numerous improvements to services for veterans failed in the Senate Thursday, a victim of the partisan gridlock and election-year acrimony that dominates the chamber.

On a largely party-line vote, 56 to 41, the measure didn’t the 60 votes it needed to clear a procedural hurdle.

Republicans cited numerous policy reasons for opposing the bill and were further miffed when Democrats blocked them from offering amendments to try to change it.

“Unfortunately, it’s become standard practice around here for the majority to pursue partisan legislation in a take-it-or-leave-it manner, so it’s unsurprising that nobody other than the Majority Leader and Committee Chairman has been allowed the opportunity to amend this bill,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats accused Republicans of trying to spike the bill by insisting one of their amendments deal with imposing new sanctions on Iran, something the White House has urged lawmakers not to do while sensitive diplomatic talks are underway with Iran over its nuclear program.
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Fort Bragg Command Sergeant Major relieved of duties

Fort Bragg soldier relieved of duties amid misconduct investigation
Fayetteville Observer
By Drew Brooks Staff writer
Feb 27, 2014.

A senior noncommissioned officer has been relieved of his duties after allegations of misconduct were leveled against him.

The soldier, whose name was not released, is a command sergeant major within the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade at Fort Bragg, according to a spokesman from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade has its headquarters and five subordinate battalions stationed at Fort Bragg. Each would have a command sergeant major.

The unit's civil affairs soldiers are part of the special operations community and work with civilian agencies to coordinate efforts between the U.S. government and local populations.

Lt. Col. Dave Connolly, USASOC spokesman, said the senior leader has been "temporarily suspended of his duties pending the outcome of an investigation with respect to alleged misconduct" and declined to offer more details on the incident that led to the allegations or the investigation itself.

More information will be released if criminal charges are filed, he said.

The allegation of misconduct is the latest in a string of accusations against leaders in the Army.
read more here

Houston police officer judged veteran with PTSD service dog

Houston police to disabled vet blocked from restaurant: 'You don't need a dog'
Houston Chronicle
By Heather Alexander
February 26, 2014

Less than a year after Gov. Rick Perry's high-profile announcement of a new law protecting people with service dogs from being refused entry into public places, Houston police and businesses seem to be unaware that anything has changed.

For the third time in as many weeks, a disabled veteran has been told he cannot go into a restaurant because he has a dog, with staff in each incident questioning vets about needing a dog without being blind.

In the most recent case, a veteran, who says he served with special forces in Afghanistan, called the Houston Police Department to back him up when staff at Thai Spice Buffet on Voss said he couldn't come in, Tuesday.

Aryeh Ohayon said the officer didn't talk to restaurant staff, a complaint the manager confirmed.

"The officer said to me, you're not blind, you don't need a dog," said Ohayon, who needs his dog, Bandit, for post-traumatic stress disorder. "It's frustrating and a let down. We put our lives on the line, we want to be treated like normal people."
read more here

DIsabled Vietnam veteran shot by police reaching for his cane

Sheriff: Man reaching for cane shot during traffic stop
By Greg Suskin and Trish Williford
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014

CLOVER, S.C. — The York County sheriff has reviewed the dash cam video of an officer-involved shooting, and placed the deputy responsible on paid leave during the investigation.

Deputy Terrance Knox, 24, stopped Bobby Canipe, 70, of Lincolnton, Tuesday night in Clover, 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.

Knox fired his gun at Canipe several times, striking him once in the stomach area. Close friends said Canipe had surgery Wednesday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and is expected to survive.

Eyewitnesses told Channel 9 they saw the sheriff's car moments before the shooting, parked in parking lot on 321.
read more here

Standoff with police leaves decorated Vietnam veteran dead

Gunman killed in standoff identified as Vietnam Veteran
CBS News 8
Video Report By Marcella Lee, Anchor/Reporter
Updated: Feb 27, 2014

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An apparently suicidal 62-year-old man who was shot and killed after raising a rifle toward officers has been identified as a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD.

A fellow Vietnam veteran who spoke to CBS News 8, and wanted to be identified only as Bob, says John Chesney was the man involved in a standoff at a downtown San Diego retail/residential building on Wednesday.

Bob tells us Chesney was a paratrooper who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He says Chesney was highly decorated, earning multiple awards including a Bronze Star, a Vietnam Service Medal, and a Vietnam Campaign Medal with two stars, indicating he served two campaigns.

Bob told CBS News 8 that Chesney was discharged from the military under honorable conditions, despite media reports to the contrary. He adds that Chesney suffered from PTSD and had trouble getting help because of a lack of resources for local veterans.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Jim Blacketer, a Hometown Hero

Jim Blacketer, a Hometown Hero
By Taylor Langston
Posted: Feb 26, 2014

The year was 1967 and Jim Blacketer was just 18-years-old.

He started training as a Marine at 17, then was shipped out to Vietnam and for the next two years, he served in the jungle of Danang.

His time in Vietnam has left Jim battling multiple ailments he feels are connected to Agent Orange poisoning.

"It has given me quite a few diseases, unfortunately. Parkinson's is one, heart disease is another and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Blacketer said.

The herbicide was used to kill plants, eliminating hiding places for the enemy, but was later found to cause health problems and even death.

"The biggest problem that I have to overcome is the mental problem," Jim said. "Because every day when I wake up, it's easy to say well I've been shaking today and it's easy to say well I'll stay in bed."

But Jim is pushing forward with a new mission in mind, a 26.2 mile mission.

He's training for a marathon on March 23, then in just 30 days to venture on a bike ride up Mount Lemon in Arizona.
read more here

Marine rape victim attempted suicide, rapists walked away

Retired Marine Reveals Secret Suffering of Male Military Rape Victims
Daily Beast
Caitlin Dickson
February 27, 2014

Former Marine Lance Corporal Jeremiah Arbogast tried to kill himself after he watched his rapist walk free. He shared his story, Wednesday, in hopes of helping spark change within the ranks. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide everyday. Jeremiah Arbogast was almost one of them.

“Choosing death was my way of taking responsibility for my circumstances,” the former Marine Lance Corporal told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel Wednesday. “I felt my death would spare my wife, daughter and myself the dishonor the rape brought upon us.”

From the wheelchair to which he has been confined ever since his self-inflicted gunshot wound left him paraplegic, the 32-year-old started the committee’s hearing on the relationship between military sexual assault, PTSD and suicide, with a heartbreaking testimony.
read more here

SWAT standoff with veteran ends peacefully

Oakmont standoff ends with suspect in custody
Man barricaded in home on California Avenue after domestic dispute
by Kelly Brennan
Feb 27, 2014

OAKMONT, Pa. —Authorities took a man into custody Wednesday after a standoff that involved Oakmont police and the Allegheny County SWAT team.

The incident began around 10:30 p.m. after a domestic dispute at a duplex on California Avenue, police said. When Oakmont police arrived, a woman ran from the home and said she was in danger. As she ran back inside a man could be heard shouting profanities, telling officers not to enter, according to Oakmont Police Chief Dave DiSanti.

DiSanti said the woman was the man's cousin. He was staying with her as a guest.

"He said, 'If you enter the premises, the war will be on,'" DiSanti said.

Police immediately set up a perimeter around the home, evacuated four nearby homes and called in the Allegheny County SWAT team.
read more here

One tough Iwo Jima Marine retires after 65 years

World War II vet retires after 65 years with Marines
UT San Diego
By Linda McIntosh
FEB. 26, 2014
World War II veteran Sgt. Maj. Walter Valentine served 30 years active duty in the Marine Corps and another 35 years as a civilian employee at Camp Pendleton.
CAMP PENDLETON — A Camp Pendleton Marine who joined the Corps in 1942, retired earlier this month from his civilian job at Camp Pendleton.

Sgt. Maj. Walter Valentine, 89, served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam over three decades with the Marines and then spent another three decades helping comrades make a smooth transition into civilian life when they retire.

After Valentine finished boot camp at Camp Lejeune, NC in 1942, he joined the 3rd Marine Division and headed for combat in the Pacific as a scout sniper.

He was in the assault landing of Bougainville, now Papua New Guinea, in November 1943, then headed to Guadalcanal for more combat training. Later he participated in the assault landing that recaptured the island of Guam and fought in the battle of Iwo Jima, where he earned a Purple Heart.

“I will never forget the flag rising at Iwo Jima,” Valentine said.
read more here

Top VA health official denies dumping patient records

Top VA health official denies dumping patient records
Navy Times
Leo Shane III
Staff Writer
Feb. 26, 2014

The Veterans Affairs Department’s top health official dismissed a report this week that VA health care system employees dumped thousands of medical appointment records in an effort to cover up overdue work.

Robert Petzel, VA’s undersecretary for health, called the report by the Daily Caller “scurrilous” and confused. He said the moves in question were part of planned administrative work to finalize out-of-date cases, not a cover-up effort.

“No one who needed care was denied care,” he told lawmakers at a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday. “This was a carefully thought out review. There was no attempt to eliminate records.”

A former VA employee told the Daily Caller that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally erased thousands of patient exam requests during a 2009 review in an effort to disguise the staff’s inability to keep up with the increasing workload.
Petzel said more than 3,000 workers systemwide were removed from their jobs last year for substandard performance, and six senior executives were forced to resign for serious errors.
read more here

George W. Bush is too late on PTSD

George W. Bush is too late on PTSD
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 27, 2014

When I read about President Bush wanting to get involved in veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq, I wanted to just ignore "Bush wants change in how PTSD is handled"

There were a lot of reasons. He had a history of ignoring them when he had the power to really make a difference in their lives.

There are always going to be news reports pulling readers in one direction over another. Unless the reader has paid close attention to everything else behind the story, they never really know what is believable so they just assume it is the truth. All of us want to believe we take care of our veterans in this country.

What the veterans talk about is never the same as what the press tells average folks.

There was a letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News summing up what most of the veterans think about all of this.
George W. Bush caused vets' PTSD in the first place
Re: “Easing stigma for vets — Former president calls for shift in approach to PTSD, dropping ‘disorder’ from name,” Thursday news story.

Sickened. Repulsed. Utterly disgusted. Close but not nearly strong enough descriptions of how I felt when I saw George W. Bush weighing in on the problems faced by veterans suffering with PTSD. He wants “disorder” dropped from the term to make these veterans more appealing to employers. He intones that veterans with post-traumatic stress are “people who got hurt defending our country and are now overcoming wounds.”

In 2005 a report came out that the troops were getting contaminated water in Iraq. The VA was warned about troops with PTSD.
The Associated Press reported Feb. 17 that the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has raised concerns in a new report about the ability of the Veterans Administration (VA) to cope with an expected flood of PTSD cases among returning vets.The VA says it has already treated 6,400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars for PTSD, but GAO noted that less than half of those using VA health services are screened for PTSD. Without access to PTSD services, "many mental-health experts believe that the chance may be missed ... to lessen the severity of symptoms and improve the overall quality of life" for vets with PTSD, the report said.
If George W. Bush had actually cared about PTSD and the suffering of our troops would he have his Secretary of Veterans Affairs do this?
November 27, 2005
By Larry Scott

Just six days after canceling one PTSD review, the VA "sneaks in" another
- Culture of secrecy makes agency designed to help veterans their biggest foe

Over the past year, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), led by Secretary Jim Nicholson, has turned a deaf ear to veterans and quietly made numerous decisions designed to strip veterans of benefits and compensation.

Secretary Nicholson came to the VA with no understanding of veterans' advocacy and no experience in the healthcare sector. He had been Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Ambassador to the Vatican. As one pundit put it, "Jim Nicholson can write a good political bumper sticker and knows how to kiss the Pope's ring. That's about it."

But, with Secretary Nicholson at the VA helm, veterans have come to feel isolated from the agency's decision-making processes. And, recent developments have done nothing quell that uneasy feeling.
The latest "unannounced" move by the VA is a new review of PTSD diagnosis, treatment and compensation. The VA's plans came to light on November 16, just six days after they had canceled a review of 72,000 PTSD claims awarded at 100 percent disability. Pressure from veterans' groups and Democrat members of Congress forced the cancellation.

The VA's new PTSD review was not announced by the VA. There was no VA press release. There was no VA press conference. The information was not posted on the VA web site.

Information about the new PTSD review was made public in a press release by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The release, in part, said, "The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it has contracted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on a two-pronged approach to the examination of PTSD."
The VA Budget request was not just too low, but actually cut $13 million from research. Over a million Priority 7 and 8 veterans were cut off while the VA was collecting money for treating veterans. Oh, but we couldn't blog about the real news going on because President Bush had too many defenders while the troops had too few.
Demand for veterans' health care has surged in recent years. During the seven years after the Veterans Healthcare Reform Act was enacted in 1996, enrollment grew 141 percent to 7 million, while funding increased 60 percent, a 2004 report by the Harvard/Cambridge Hospital Study Group said.

Congress in July approved an extra $1.5 billion for veterans' health after the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed a funding shortfall.

About 103,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are currently receiving care from the system, far more than the 23,500 the VA predicted. The surge contributed to about one- quarter of the funding shortfall, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson told Congress in June.

Then there was the fact that over 2 million had their records exposed when a VA employee decided to take the records home.
WASHINGTON (June 7) - Personal data on about 2.2 million active-duty military, Guard and Reserve personnel - not just 50,000 as initially believed - were among those stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee last month, the government said Tuesday.

This report would not end if all that happened while President Bush had the chance to really make a difference. In 2008 suicides started a dramatic increase after the DOD was pushing Battlemind. The next program,
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) was established in August 2008 by then-Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., under the name Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness (CSF2), in an effort to address the challenges being faced due to multiple deployments required by persistent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of focusing only on treatment after the issues arose, Casey wanted to also provide preventative measures to the Soldiers, their Families and Army Civilians to make them stronger on the front end.[1] CSF2 Resilience Training was created to give these individuals the life skills needed to better cope with adversity and bounce back stronger from these challenges. CSF2 (renamed in October 2012), was designed to build resilience and enhance performance of the Army Family—Soldiers, their Families, and Army Civilians. Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is not a treatment program in response to adverse psychological conditions. CSF2 has three main components: online self-development, training, and metrics and evaluation.

This program, started and the suicides went up even higher. So if you really want to praise President Bush for pushing to take the "D" out of PTSD then you just didn't know in his case the "D" stands for denial of what he failed to do when he had the chance.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'I had a flashback:' PTSD common among troops

'I had a flashback:' PTSD common among troops
Posted 5:30 p.m. today

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Ask anyone one who has been in combat, and they'll say there is nothing pretty, organized or fair about war. Some troops bring visible battle scars home. Others have silent battlefield wounds that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

After more than a decade of war, the military is scrambling to provide care for thousands of men and women returning with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Senior Airman Aubrey Hand was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. While undergoing therapy at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, he recalled a frightening experience at home after hearing fireworks on New Year's Eve.

“(I) had a flashback, came to about an hour and a half away from my house in full battle-rattle,” Hand said. “I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember anything, didn’t know where I was. I was off the highway in the woods.”
read more here

"Call Me Maybe" performed by US Army Infantry Soldiers

Aug 19, 2012 A cover of "Call Me Maybe" performed by US Army Infantry Soldiers in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

Original by Carly Rae Jepsen. Directed, filmed, and edited by the troops as a morale boost for our Soldiers here and our families/FRG back home. See you in just a few more months, and thanks for all your support!

Also, a shout-out to our ANA partners for their enthusiasm and excitement to get involved and film the partnered dance scene!

Unfortunately, we are unable to post a mobile version of this video due to copyright issues with the song in accordance with this website's policy. We apologize for this inconvenience but thanks much for your continued support!

A Facebook friend just posted this. I hadn't seen this one before but oh so glad I saw it now!

Canada: Retired Sergeant's suicide tied to PTSD

Retired sergeant Ronald Anderson dies, suicide linked to PTSD
Ronald Anderson, 39, found dead at his home
CBC News
Posted: Feb 26, 2014

Retired sergeant Ronald Anderson, 39, died at his home in Doaktown, N.B., on Monday — the most recent in a spate of soldier suicides believed related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anderson, 39, served with the Canadian Forces in the Royal Canadian Regiment for 21 years.

Anderson retired from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown less than a year ago after being stationed at bases across the country during his career.
read more here

Marine's journey from sand in Iraq to surf in Hawaii

Wounded Marine Bodysurfs to Help Others and Himself
ABC News
Angel Canales
February 26, 2014
Ben Mercier in Baghdad, Iraq. 2006. Ben Mercier

Pyramid Rock Beach, Hawaii — When former Marine Corps Capt. Ben Mercier returned from his deployment in Iraq after being wounded, he said he just didn’t want to be around people. “I was just different. I didn’t know at the time that I had [PTSD] and I was drinking more than I should have,” says 39-year-old Mercier.

He always wanted to join the military. Growing up at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, he admired his best friend’s father who was a Marine pilot. After attending ROTC and graduating from college, he joined the Marine Corps in 1999. He went on to become a logistics officer with the 3rd Marine Regiment and served honorably.
read more here

NATO plans for early Afghan exit

13 minutes ago
NATO plans for early Afghan exit
Stars and Stripes
By John Vandiver
Published: February 26, 2014

STUTTGART, Germany — NATO defense ministers will discuss plans for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 should Afghanistan and the U.S. fail to reach agreement on a key long-term security deal, the alliance’s top official said Wednesday.

“This is not our preferred outcome. But these are the facts — facts that we need to take into account in our planning,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the start of a two-day ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Rasmussen’s comments echoed those of President Barack Obama, who on Tuesday informed Afghan President Hamid Karzai by phone about U.S. plans for a possible exit at the end of the year.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon would “move ahead with additional contingency planning to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.”
read more here

Fort Hood single soldiers welcomed home by Army wives

Spouses help prepare barracks for single soldiers’ return
Fort Hood Herald
Madison Lozano
Herald staff writer
February 26, 2014

Troopers from 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, will be returning soon to Fort Hood and the family readiness groups are ensuring each soldier receives a warm welcome.

Spouses gathered to prepare single soldiers’ barracks Feb. 18, ensuring each came home to a room full of all the necessities.

“It’s a little something to say thank you and welcome home,” said senior battalion family readiness group advisor Lori Brooks. “Just enough to get them through a couple days.”

Brooks led about 10 spouses around the 2nd Brigade barracks, moving quickly to fill each room with goody bags stuffed with snacks and shower caddies overflowing with toiletries.

The group made beds with fresh sheets, folded towels and hung up brand-new shower curtains in about 75 rooms for more than 150 soldiers.
read more here

Congress Owes Veterans

Congress Owes Veterans
Not the other way around
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 26, 2014

Like most Americans I was deluded. I just assumed this country took care of veterans no matter what war, no matter where they lived or what they needed. My Dad was a Korean War veteran, 100% disabled and was taken care of after a fighting to have his claim approved. My uncles were WWII veterans but didn't go to the VA until they were elderly.

It was not until 30 years ago my rude awakening began. It didn't matter which party was in control or who was in the Oval Office at the time. Veterans were never taken care of properly.

While members of the House and Senate are trying to figure out how to pay for the new round of spending on veterans, people need to be aware of the simple facts.

America's Wars Total (1775-1991)
U.S. Military Service during Wartime 41,892,128
Battle Deaths 651,031
Other Deaths (In Theater) 308,800
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 230,279
Non-mortal Woundings 1,431,290
Living War Veterans (Total will be more than sum of conflicts due to no “end date” established for Persian Gulf War.) 16,962,000
Living Veterans (Periods of War and Peace) 23,234,000
Since 1979, VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service has operated Vet Centers, which provide psychological counseling for war-related trauma, community outreach, case management and referral activities, plus supportive social services to veterans and family members. There are 232 Vet Centers.

Yes you read the year right. 1979.

When you read anything on PTSD and veterans remember how long they have been "doing" something.

Congress keeps talking about the number of veterans in this country, however the VA has never had all veterans in their system.
In fiscal year 2008, VA provided $38.9 billion in disability compensation, death compensation and pension to 3.7 million people. About 3.2 million veterans received disability compensation or pension from VA. In addition, about 554,700 spouses, children and parents of deceased veterans received VA benefits. Among them are 170,144 survivors of Vietnam-era veterans and 235,000 survivors of World War II veterans.

1988....Legislation to elevate VA to Cabinet status signed by President Reagan. 1989....On March 15, VA became the 14th Department in the President's Cabinet. (Department of Veterans Affairs)

Secretaries of Veterans Affairs
Eric K. Shinseki 2009 – Present
James B. Peake 2007 - 2009
Bush left a backlog of 816,211 in 2008. This was left after some veterans were just cut off in 2003. VA officials say they must focus on veterans with the greatest needs - those with the most serious service-related illnesses and injuries and those too poor to afford other health care. But many veterans - and the organizations that represent them - say it is a broken promise.
R. James Nicholson 2005–2007
Anthony J. Principi 2001–2005
Before Afghanistan and Iraq veterans required VA.
In FY 2000, more than 3.8 million patients used VA health care, over 2.6 million veterans and family members received monthly VA disability compensation payments
Clinton left a backlog of 400,000 in 2001.
Over the next 5 years, we anticipate losing over 1,100 experienced VSRs due to retirement. To avoid a skill gap, we have added a significant number of new employees and will continue to do so for the next few years. We expect our quality and timeliness will be affected as we recruit and train new employees. It takes 2 to 3 years for VSRs to achieve a full level of decision-making expertise.
We expect a significant increase in workload due to (1) the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-475, also referred to as the Duty to Assist), which requires additional duties in assisting claimants; and (2) a recent regulatory change, which makes diabetes a presumptively service-connected disability for Vietnam veterans who served in Southeast Asia. As a result, we amended our FY 2001 performance target upward from 142 days to 195 days.
Togo D. West Jr. 1998-2000
Jesse Brown 1993–1997
Edward J. Derwinski 1989–1992

It does not matter which of our elected officials are sitting in the chairs because they never take care of the men and women putting their lives on the line. Had any congress been interested in fixing the VA for all veterans since 1989 there would be no need of veterans suffering and waiting for the care that was promised. Congress forgot that the bill is not what veterans owe but is in fact what congress owes them.

Ex-VA doctor says she was forced out after limiting opiate prescriptions

The stories we need to know!

Ex-VA doctor says she was forced out after limiting opiate prescriptions
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Aaron Glantz
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Byron Pitts
ABC News
Feb 25, 2014

Dr. Basimah Khulusi says she was forced out of her job as a rehabilitation specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas City, Mo., after patients complained that she would not prescribe high doses of opiates. She says many of her patients had been addicted to opiates for years yet received escalating doses from VA doctors as their tolerance built.
Credit: ABC News

On the eve of a congressional hearing about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ skyrocketing use of narcotic painkillers, a former VA doctor has stepped forward with new allegations about the agency’s prescription practices.

In an exclusive interview with The Center for Investigative Reporting and ABC News, Dr. Basimah Khulusi said she was forced out last year after patients complained that she would not prescribe high doses of opiates.

“I had to do something about it. And I tried,” said Khulusi, a rehabilitation specialist who worked at the VA hospital in Kansas City, Mo., for five and a half years. “And then, you know, I was let go.”

In September, CIR revealed that VA prescriptions for four opiates – hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine – surged by 270 percent between 2001 and 2012.

That far outpaced the increase in VA patients and contributed to a fatal overdose rate of nearly double the national average, the agency’s own scientists found.

CIR’s report helped spark a congressional hearing. At that hearing in October, VA officials promised to present a plan to address problems with opiate prescriptions within 30 days. A follow-up oversight hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Khulusi said the majority of veterans she saw in the pain clinic already were addicted to prescription opiates – receiving doses as high as 900 narcotic pain pills a month and 1,000 milligrams of morphine a day, 10 times the level she considered safe.
read more here VA's lack of pain treatment options led to opiate addiction, veteran says VA’s opiate overload feeds veterans’ addictions, overdose deaths

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PTSD on Trial Kentucky National Guardsman pushed over edge

Latonia standoff suspect says bills, PTSD and police response contributed to break
Brian Mains and Kendall Herold

COVINGTON, Ky. – A military veteran says a $10,000 bill he received led to a 20-hour standoff with police in December.

"It was just a final straw... a click," Michael Vaughan said on Tuesday.

Vaughan barricaded himself in his house and shot at Covington police officers throughout the night of Dec. 21 and morning of Dec. 22. Police went to his house in response to a call that Vaughan posted disturbing messages on his Facebook page.

His children were in his Michigan Avenue home for most of the incident and were only let go hours before police say Vaughan surrendered to them after setting his house on fire and getting shot in one final volley of gunfire.

Vaughan sits in the Kenton County Detention Center, awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer.

On Tuesday, Vaughan said the bill that came from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service was a result of “bad advice” he received while seeking treatment Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I received bad information from the Kentucky National Guard so I didn't get the help I need," he said.
read more here

Fort Bragg soldier became double amputee because of drunk driver

Fort Bragg soldier, double-leg amputee, recovers after being injured by alleged drunken driver
Nicole Carr
February 25, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been home to Army Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Bruns and his wife Jenny since late 2012.

Each day, Bruns takes one more step. He learns one more lesson, and he's inspired by his fellow servicemen and women recovering from injuries sustained on the battlefield.

Bruns, a Special Operations soldier out of Fort Bragg, has been deployed nine times, including multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's very tough to learn how to walk again," Bruns said during a February workout in Walter Reed's Military Advanced Training Center. "Something you take for granted after mastering it 40 years ago, and then you start all over."

But the 42-year-old double leg amputee and partial hand amputee's injuries are not a result of war.

They're a result of a drunk driver.

On Nov. 10, 2012 the Fort Bragg soldier was attaching his kayak to the back of his pickup truck in front of his Calamar Drive home in Fayetteville. Around 10 a.m., his neighbor Rhonda Renee Sutton Bryant would come speeding down the residential street at 45 miles per hour, on the wrong side of the road. Bruns was pinned between Bryant's hood and his bumper for nearly an hour.

"She didn't stop when she hit me," Bruns recalled.
read more here

PTSD service dog found dead

El Paso Army veteran's PTSD service dog found dead in Nacogdoches Co.
By Donna McCollum
Posted: Feb 25, 2014

A Nacogdoches County resident found a former Army sergeant's beloved post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dog lying dead in a ditch near the Lilly Grove Baptist Church on FM 1638.

Shonyo, a female blue-nose pit bull, had apparently been run over.

The person who found Shonyo took the dog's collars and attempted to contact her owner, Jaclyn O'Shea. However, he was unsuccessful. After word about the missing dog started to spread, the man contacted the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning.

Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges called O'Shea to give her the bad news. The sheriff had one of his deputies go with O'Shea and her boyfriend, Doug Murray, to pick up Shonyo's body.

O'Shea and Murray said they are grateful for the way East Texans responded to their needs. The couple said they now believe in the humanity of others, and that they were overwhelmed by the number of times their story was shared on social media.

The couple has been contacted by people from all over wanting to help or even provide Jaclyn with a replacement dog.

In a previous East Texas News story, O'Shea explained Shonyo's name.

"She's named after my late husband, who was also a veteran," O'Shea said. "He committed suicide about 10 months ago, right when I got her. And she's been snapping me out of my issues that I've had."
read more here

Soldier refuses to salute flag then brags on Instagram


Fort Carson Investigating Viral Soldier Picture

Soldier flagrantly avoids flag salute, sets off online outrage
Army Times
By Tony Lombardo
Staff writer
February 25, 2014

A female soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag — and then flaunted it on Instagram — is the latest service member to come under attack via social media and be accused of dishonoring her service.

Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, whose Instagram handle is “sheffeynation,” posted a selfie with a caption that reads:

“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”

The image was distributed via Facebook and also sent to Army Times. Angry service members, Gold Star mothers and spouses have called for the soldier’s removal from service.

“Any soldier who refuses to salute the flag is in the military for the wrong reason, and should be removed by dishonorable discharge with loss of all benefits,” one Facebook commenter said. “If they won’t salute it, they damn sure won’t fight for it.”
read more here

Therapist Stole Valor of Heroes

Man accused of posing as a veteran
By Joseph Wenzel IV, News Editor
By Eric Parker
Posted: Feb 24, 2014


Earlier this month the I-Team exposed a local therapist who was posing as a member of the United States Army Special Forces.

The investigation by I-Team is being used by a state representative from Bridgeport, who wants to change state law.

State Rep. Jack Hennessy said he can sum up the need for the stolen valor bill he's supporting at the Connecticut General Assembly in two words: Greg Banks.

"It just robs the valor of the men and woman who wear the uniform," Hennessy said.

Hennessy added that the allegations involving Banks were "very much" upsetting.

The bill existed before the I-Team exposed the counselor who's been posing as a member of the United States Army Special Forces. Hennessy cited the investigation by the I-Team as an example of why it's needed.

The I-Team first got a tip about a man named Greg Banks showing up at the Danbury Mason's Lodge in uniform, sporting a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Members said Banks was bragging about his work for the United States Army Special Forces, but the investigation by the I-Team showed he's never served his country.

Man accused of posing as decorated special forces soldier

A man has claimed to be a major for the special forces in the United States Army and received awards for his service.
However, an investigation by Eyewitness News shows that no records of the man's military service, so the I-team went to look for answers. 
Continue reading >>

The Pentagon told the I-Team they have no record of a Gregory C. Banks. When the I-Team uncovered his divorce records, the station found that he mentioned nothing about military service there either.

However the I-Team did find his license as a professional counselor, and it was clear those who knew him in that role had heard his military tales.

When I-Team talked to people at the counseling office for Banks in Farmington, they insisted he was a member of the United States Army Special Forces, a job so secret they asked us to not to report about it.

Banks said on his website that he specializes in treating child and adult patients, specifically those with traumatic experiences and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The I-Team met Hennessy at the Port 5 Naval veterans in his hometown of Bridgeport. He's a new member and he showed the station around their museum where among other displays they have actual versions of the medals Banks wears on his phony uniform.

"When I was a Ranger, I knew that I could be called by my country to go into a combat zone to give up my life and I was willing to do that," Hennessy said. "To have people who have not been in the military to pose as that, it takes away from the people who have actually made their commitment and some the ultimate commitment giving their lives." read more here

Veterans Still Reluctant to Seek Mental Health Assistance

Dr. Joel Vogt said "They don't want to be viewed as being weak and needing help." That sums up the problem Comprehensive Soldier Fitness caused. Once the troops were told they could become mentally tough with this "training" they figured they didn't train right and were mentally weak. Less than half seek help as veterans even after all the years, all the money and all the suicides.
Veterans Reluctant to Seek Mental Health Assistance
By Jim Sannes, Reporter
Posted: Feb 24, 2014

According to a January report from Veteran's Affairs, of the service members that seek assistance from the program, more than half will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

But beyond those, there are many that never even seek help for their mental health. This could be due to the mentality of many in the service.

"Veterans are trained to complete the mission and disregard their own personal feelings," said Marc Lockett, the OEF/OIF/OND Coordinator for the Clarksburg V.A. Medical Center.

While many of the strains of war are obvious to an outside observer, there are still many that lurk beneath the surface, possibly even out of the recognition of the veterans themselves.

Dr. Joel Vogt, a psychiatrist at the center, said that many of the same characteristics that are helpful in combat may cause problems at home. He said this includes over-vigilince and over-aggressiveness.
read more here and watch video report

Walking Point out of PTSD darkness

We keep losing too many veterans after combat. They risk their lives for the sake of others. They lose their lives because they forget why they did what they had to do. They torture themselves because they do not understand the pain they feel so deeply is because they cared. Even with all the horrific events during combat, that depth of love survived strong enough that they still grieve.

Veterans all over the country from all generations want to do one more thing. One more thing for the sake of others. They want to heal so they can help other veterans heal too.
Walking Point out of PTSD darkness

Since 1982 Point Man International Ministries has been helping combat veterans and families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with spiritual healing. Making peace after war should never be about forgetting but always about healing.

PRLog (Press Release) - Feb. 24, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Before Twitter, Facebook, online support groups and long before the Internet reached around the world, veterans were coming together in small groups around the country.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not the subject of news reports but what was happening to combat veterans became the top of the fold articles in every state.

Today there are Veterans Courts but back when Vietnam veterans came home there were only arrests.

Police officers felt helpless when they had to arrest veterans clearly in need of help instead of punishment. One officer in Washington decided to do something about veterans like him.

Seattle Police Officer and Vietnam Veteran Bill Landreth noticed he was arresting the same people each night and discovered most of them were Vietnam veterans, just like him. Bill started to meet with them in coffee shops in 1984 for fellowship and prayer. Much like a unit bonds together, they helped each other heal.

Today Point Man International Ministries is run by veterans from all conflicts, nationalities and backgrounds. Healing combat PTSD and helping veterans find peace after war has been in the news lately, it has been the goal of Point Man for 30 years free of charge. Outposts are led by veterans.

Homefronts have been helping families by offering understanding, support and the knowledge they need to help their veterans live a better quality of life. Marriage is hard enough as it is but when the veteran (male or female) is struggling after war, it can become too much on their own. Point Man Homefronts are led by family members.

Florida is in need of leaders willing to run small groups. We need people willing to learn as much as they are willing to listen. People of compassion and patience fully appreciating the value of changing lives one person at a time.

If you live in Florida contact me by email

If you live outside of Florida visit Point Man and go to the Outpost tab for your state.