Monday, March 31, 2014

Caregivers focus of ABC, at least some of us

It is fabulous that this generation has a lot more than senior veterans and our families have but it is unfair. We've been through all of this longer and had a harder time but Vietnam veterans and families just don't matter enough. All veterans deserve equal care.
The Unsung Heroes Behind the Wounded Warriors
ABC News
March 31, 2014

When Jessica Klein married her husband, Capt. Edward Klein, a 6-foot-tall, West Point graduate, the young couple had plans for adventure, in addition to raising a family.

"We were going to climb Mount Rainier," Klein told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "We were going to go, just do all these amazing things when he got home."

Today, though, Klein is the primary caregiver as her husband, known as "Flip," fights his way back from a massive lower-body injury that he suffered in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.

He lost his legs, an arm and the muscles that allow him to sit. And those are just the visible wounds.

Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole said she witnessed the towering battle that caregivers face when she was at Walter Reed National Medical Center three years ago, caring for her husband, former war hero Sen. Bob Dole.

After speaking with the caregivers and hearing their frustrations, Elizabeth Dole said she decided it was time for the nation to help.

So she and her foundation -- The Elizabeth Dole Foundation -- commissioned a report from the RAND Corp., putting hard numbers to the caregivers to assess their needs and recommend programs that will help them.
read more here

Fort Carson Soldier's Son Missing After Landslide

Fort Carson soldier looking for son missing in Wash. landslide
FOX 31 Denver
Thomas Hendrick
March 31, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Fort Carson soldier has traveled to Washington to help look for his 13-year-old son who went missing after a mudslide wiped out the town of Oso.

KRDO-TV reported Staff Sgt. Jose Mangual traveled to Washington last Monday to help look for his son Jovon Mangual.

Jovon lives with his mother in Washington.

“The feeling is nothing I can explain. I miss my son. I want my son and I will not stop until I find him,” Mangual said.

Managal said he plans to stay in Washington till he finds his son — no matter how long it takes.

“I haven’t had any luck. We’ve been searching for him. We haven’t been able to locate him,” the father said.
read more here

Navy SEALS train 6 year old, show tender side

Mar 30, 2014
Mason Rudder, 6, of suburban Kansas City, Mo., trains with a former Navy Seal at a military training facility near Farmington, Mo.

The boy has a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder and aspires to join the Navy Seals

St. Louis Post Dispatch
By Joel Currier

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, MO. • Mason Rudder peppered bullets from a fully automatic M4 rifle into a car, charged through a field while firing an AR-15, and helped build and set off a wall bomb that blew the door off a building.

Though Mason is no war hero, he got to feel like one Sunday. He is 6 years old and dreams of joining the Navy SEALs.

Mason’s parents, George and Suzanne Rudder, former St. Louis County residents who now live near Kansas City, surprised Mason for his birthday by driving across the state to a tactical training center near Farmington, Mo., to shoot and train with a former member of the Navy SEALs.

“He didn’t know until today,” said Suzanne Rudder, 36. “I think he was just stunned when we got here.”

Mason was born with a genetic disorder (Escobar syndrome) that causes limited movement and a decreased range of motion, his parents say. Mason is about 3½ feet tall and weighs just 32 pounds. Mason’s sister, Haley, 7, also has the disorder; their brother, Collin, 9, does not.
read more here
linked from Stars and Stripes

Two agencies become one for remains of missing U.S. war dead

Hagel announces restructuring of POW/MIA remains offices
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: March 31, 2014

WASHINGTON — A single Pentagon office will now be in charge of the troubled effort to identify and recover the remains of missing U.S. war dead, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday.

The order will create a “single accountable organization that has complete oversight of personnel accounting resources, research and operations,” overseen by the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Hagel said.

The decision follows a series of damning reports in the past year about the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the two agencies that had primary responsibility for MIA recovery efforts. The two will now be combined, along with certain functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, Hagel said.

To improve the search, identification and recovery process, DOD will create a centralized database and case management system containing all missing servicemembers’ information, Hagel said. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner working for the new agency will be the single identification authority. The medical examiner will oversee the science operations of the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, as well as satellite labs in Omaha, Neb., and Dayton, Ohio.

Families of the missing — who Hagel admitted have not always received clear communications from DOD — will also have a single point of contact with the new agency to make it easier for them to learn about search and identification activities.
read more here

VA Maryland to hold annual welcome home for returning veterans

VA Maryland to hold annual welcome home for returning veterans
The Star Democrat

BALTIMORE — For Aliyah Hunter, 32, an Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq, returning home proved to be less smooth than she anticipated. In fact, she was home for two years before she opted to try Veteran’s Affairs health care to address the residual impacts of the war. “The VA was the first to help me understand that something was a little different — that a change had occurred and that I was suffering from some post-traumatic symptoms from the war,” Hunter said.

After separating from the military, and with help from the VA Maryland Health Care System, she began to embrace the transition of being home more openly.

Hunter is joining an estimated 200 other newly returning veterans for the VA Maryland Health Care System’s 2014 Welcome Home Information and Job Fair, which is being held Saturday, April 5, on the Essex Campus of the Community College of Baltimore County in the Community Center Building, 7201 Rossville Blvd., Baltimore.
read more here

Security Guard kicked Vietnam Veteran out of Walgreens

Vietnam Vet Mistaken As Homeless, Kicked Out Of Walgreens
CBS Chicago
Bernie Tafoya
March 31, 2014

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Vietnam War veteran is hospitalized after reportedly suffering an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder for the way he was treated at a Hyde Park Walgreens last week.

Arnetha Habeel, says her 62-year-old husband, Daniel Habeel, walked into the Walgreens at 55th and Lake Park Avenue last Wednesday night and was promptly told by a security guard that he would have to leave or else face handcuffing and arrest by Chicago police.

Mrs. Habeel says that when her husband came out of the store he was visibly upset and kept saying to her that he didn’t do anything wrong. She says Habeel’s blood pressure got worse the more he thought or talked about it, so she took him to the Jesse Brown VA Hospital where he’s been for more than four days.
read more here

More Vietnam vets are getting assistance for PTSD

When the Vietnam Memorial Wall had been up for 25 years, I wrote the following.

This is in eyes of all who stand by the Wall. The reflection is not of today, but of all the yesterdays, of lives gone long ago and of the living with the ghosts of memories. The Wall makes no statement of politics or of right and wrong, but of the lives lost to war. The Wall cannot heal bodies, nor restore the dead to life, but it does heal the soul and arise the memories of who has gone from this earth. A granddaughter views the name of a grandparent she never met. A wife, long ago remarried touches the stone and wonders what could have been. Children see the name as a chill runs through them and some say the spirit of their parent is still found there in the Wall. Above all who walk the path from end to end are the veterans.

Some went willingly because they were asked. Some were forced to go. As the saying goes from Vietnam veterans "All gave some, some gave all" when it was there time to serve. It didn't matter if they wanted to be there or were forced to be there, they served side by side and what mattered the most was each other. They followed their orders equally, bravely and went through things they would have never thought they could have survived. Some still fight the battles to this very day. They say that if all the deaths connected to the Vietnam war were recorded, they would need two or three more walls to fit in all the names. There are names of those who perished from Agent Orange and from wounds of their bodies and minds. Some had their lives taken from them while others committed suicide. All gave some.

The Wall may not have all the names of all the fallen from Vietnam. We may never know all their stories but each one visiting the Wall holds someone in their heart. It may not be a name of someone they knew. It may not be a name recorded on the Wall at all, but it is written in their heart.

The Wall heals souls and in turn managed to begin the healing of this nation. Watch the video above and then plan on watching the documentary. See if we can find that same kind of compassion and passion behind the building of the Wall to do the same for this generation in harms way today. Then thank a Vietnam vet because had it not been for them coming back, fighting for all veterans, we would not have come as far as we are today to eliminating the stigma of PTSD. We have a lot further to go, but the Vietnam veterans paved the way. They are still reaching out their hands to each other and to all other veterans. To me, they will always be the greatest generation because they did not forget those who came after them.

When El Paso Times reported in 2007 148,000 Vietnam Veterans had sought help for the first time in 13 months, it was a mix of emotions. First and foremost, a relief that after years of trying to get Vietnam veterans to seek help, it was working. The downside was that as they were seeking help, the VA was putting off helping them. They were pushing OEF and OIF veterans to the head of the line.
An internal directive from a high-ranking Veterans Affairs official creates a two-tiered system of veterans health care, putting veterans of the global war on terror at the top and making every one else -- from World War I to the first Gulf War -- "second-class veterans," according to some veterans advocates.

"I think they're ever pushing us to the side," said former Marine Ron Holmes, an El Paso resident who founded Veterans Advocates. "We are still in need. We still have our problems, and our cases are being handled more slowly."

Vice Adm. Daniel L. Cooper, undersecretary for benefits in the Department of Veterans Affairs -- in a memo obtained by the El Paso Times -- instructs the department's employees to put Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans at the head of the line when processing claims for medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, employment and education benefits...

By then I had several videos on PTSD up on YouTube and Google.
When War Comes Home PTSD

Veterans and PTSD version 1
All time views:14,283

Wounded Minds Veterans and PTSD version 2

Wounded Minds PTSD and Veterans version 3

PTSD After Trauma on Google

End The Silence of PTSD on Youtube
Views: 2,919

Hero After War Combat Vets and PTSD on Google
Views: 1,772 on Youtube
This is on Vimeo

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

Coming Out of The Dark of PTSD on Google

Coming Out Of The Dark-PTSD and Veterans on Youtube
Views: 4,304
This is on Vimeo

Coming Out of the Dark from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

Death Because They Served PTSD Suicides

They had only been up for a year at that point. Eventually they had to be moved off of YouTube because their program of tracking music had blocked all the music. A couple of years ago, I earned the ability to use music again but I didn't see the point of moving these videos back again. You can watch most of these videos on De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide.

Yesterday I posted Vietnam Veterans are the majority of everything even though the press doesn't seem to care to remember this simple fact. Vietnam veterans have gone from being insulted and attacked for their service, to being admired for the battles they fought for all veterans, to being ignored as they were forced to suffer longer. It isn't a competition to them. They fought for all veterans to be treated properly and have their wounds taken care of. They can stand proud knowing that everything being done for this generation was due to their efforts.

Everything done on Combat PTSD was accomplished because they fought for it but they are the last to receive it. The average citizen has no clue what is going on or how long it has been going on because the national news stations are too busy playing political games or covering international events instead of what is happening right here.

Vietnam veterans are too important to ignore. The worst part is, when you look back on so much being done, if nothing was done right, then we will in fact repeat history. 30 years from now it will be OEF and OIF veterans fighting for a place in line because another war somewhere in the world will create more disabled veterans moving to the front of the line.
More Vietnam vets are getting assistance for PTSD
Akron Beacon Journal
By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published: March 30, 2014

Nearly 46 years after being wounded in Vietnam, Peter Halas applied for and received a post-traumatic stress disorder disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The former Akron resident is not alone.

Dr. Edgardo Padin-Rivera, chief of psychology and PTSD expert at the Louis Stokes VA Cleveland Medical Center, said many Vietnam vets are applying for disability as they remember more about their combat experiences.

In Halas’ case, he already had a disability from physical wounds he received in Vietnam. He was injured by a land mine in 1968.

But his PTSD disability was awarded only recently after specific memories came back while talking about the war with VA counselors.

Padin-Rivera said there are 326,530 Vietnam veterans with a PTSD disability — a figure that is climbing every year.

As veterans age, the ways they had to defend against memories of combat begin to fade and they become more troubled by their war experiences, he said.

“It is about emotions of vulnerability and helplessness,” he said. “And this brings up memories of those time periods when they felt vulnerable and helpless and those experiences have to do with war experiences.”
read more here

Two Tour Afghanistan Marine Reservist-Police Officer Shot

"No Update" From Police, City Officials On New Bern Officer's Condition
Mar 31, 2014

By Monday morning, police and city officials had no updated information available to share as a New Bern officer remained hospitalized after a Friday night gunfire exchange.

Officers said 22-year-old Alexander Thalmann was one of two policemen shot by a suspect during a foot chase in New Bern Friday night.

Chief Toussaint Summers Jr. said both Thalmann and Officer Justin Wester were hit in a gunfire exchange with 35-year-old Bryan Stallings.
Officials with Camp Lejeune told WITN Thalmann is a Lance Corporal with the Marine Corps Forces Reserve. We’re told that Thalmann is a warehouseman with the Combat Logistic Battalion 451 out of Raleigh.

A family friend said Thalmann has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Officials did not have information on how long Thalmann has served, but said it was within four years.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Didn't Live Long Enough to See Documentary

Freedom not free for many vets
New Jersey Herald
Posted: Mar 30, 2014

SPARTA -- The young men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq may not have suffered the disparagement and scorn heaped upon their forebears returning from Vietnam, but the toll of war and its lasting impact remain a common thread that cuts across all generations.

"Many of our young veterans are suffering terribly," said Frankford resident Norman Seider, himself a veteran of the Korean War. "We send 18- and 19-year-old children off to war, and many of them come back damaged for life."

The physical and emotional toll they face -- captured movingly in a 28-minute documentary titled "Freedom Is Not Free" -- was told again and again Sunday through the film and personal stories at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, where a screening of the documentary and panel discussion were hosted by the church in cooperation with the Sussex County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The documentary -- which is dedicated to Gary Webber, a local Vietnam veteran who died during the filming process from the lasting effects of Agent Orange exposure -- is the product of work that Seider, a professional photographer, began two years ago after marching in Newton's Memorial Day parade and hearing others thanking him and his fellow veterans for their service.

Despite their well-meaning gestures, Seider began to wonder if many of them fully understood what that service entails and the challenges faced by a new generation of veterans coming home from war. Soon afterward, Seider asked his friend and fellow Frankford resident, Carl Ohlson, to join him in co-producing the documentary.

The film, in addition to detailing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress and Agent Orange suffered to this very day by those who fought in Vietnam, focuses on a more recent concern -- residue from depleted uranium released by exploding shells -- for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
read more here

Family searches for Iraq Veteran missing in Georgia

Friends, family search for missing local Iraq war veteran
March 30, 2014

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Friends and family of an Iraq war veteran who hasn't been seen since Thursday are pleading for the public's help finding him.

Friends have been out in Cobb County all day Sunday passing out these fliers with photos of Chase Massner.

Massner visited a friend near Bells Ferry Road and got some food Thursday and hasn't been seen since.

"He disappeared, I mean he completely disappeared,” said Massner’s wife Amanda Massner.
read more here

Female Amputee Iraq Veteran World Class Athlete

No dream too big for disabled vet
Lenore Sobota
March 31, 2014

Army veteran Melissa Stockwell won the
paratriathlon world championship
in 2012 in New Zealand.
She will speak Tuesday at Illinois State University.

NORMAL — Army veteran Melissa Stockwell has overcome losing a leg in Iraq to represent the United States at the Paralympics and become a world champion paratriathlete.

Her message to others is: “They can do the same. No dream is too big.”

She will deliver that message Tuesday at Illinois State University as part of Science and Technology Week.

“It's my story – losing my limb in Iraq and … obstacles that have been overcome,” Stockwell said of her talk, “Baghdad to Beijing and Beyond.”

Stockwell was 24-year-old lieutenant when her humvee hit a roadside bomb April 13, 2004. Her leg was amputated above the knee.

While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she swam for therapy. Swimming felt natural to her. It was easy to slip into the pool and she liked her time in the water.

“It made me feel whole again,” Stockwell said.
read more here

Sunday, March 30, 2014

USMC Sgt. Mecot Camara Remembered in Longwood Florida

USMC Sgt. Mecot Camara Fence Installation

Sun. Mar 30 - Honoring the memory of this warrior who was one of the casualties of the bombing of the October 1983 Beirut Barracks bombing.

220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers were killed in what VFW Magazine called “the highest loss of life for the Marine Corps in a single day since D-Day on Iwo Jima in 1945.”

4pm, Sommerville Kids Klub, 1665 EE Williamson Rd, Longwood, 32779. Celebration immediately following at Mulligan’s, 165 Wekiva Springs Rd, Longwood, 32779.

American Brother Elisa Camara Thompson

Veterans:A legacy of pain and pride

A legacy of pain and pride
Washington Post
Written by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
March 29, 2014

More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger — two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.

The veterans are often frustrated with the services provided to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon and other government agencies. Almost 60 percent say the VA is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job in addressing the problems faced by veterans, and half say the military is lagging in its efforts to help them transition to civilian life, which has been difficult for 50 percent of those who have left active service. Overall, nearly 1.5 million of those who served in the wars believe the needs of their fellow vets are not being met by the government.
read more here

This story is the first in a multi-part series examining the effects of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars on the 2.6 million American troops who served and fought.
Find the full results of a nationwide survey of active-duty troops and veterans here.

Military children often feel 'aftershock' of parent's PTSD

Military children often feel 'aftershock' of parent's PTSD
Topeka Capital Journal
By Jan Biles
March 29, 2014

The pain Kristin and Kaili Stowers have experienced as a result of their father's military-related post-traumatic stress disorder can be seen in their eyes and heard in their voices.

The sisters, who attend Prairie Hills Middle School in Hutchinson, have learned PTSD not only affects veterans, but its "aftershocks" also can be felt by the children of veterans.

"I've gotten more nervous, and like with test grades, I'm afraid if I do fail that Dad's going to harm me in some way or just say something to me," said Kristin, 12.

"His PTSD was affecting me, I think, the most out of the family," said Kaili, 14. "I just got quiet. I isolated myself like he was doing to himself. I snapped at my mom a few times like he did.

"They finally noticed, and my mom asked me if I wanted help. I now see a therapist along with my sister. Hopefully, we're going to start getting family therapy."

Their father, Steve Stowers, 43, is a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91 and was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010. After his diagnosis, Steve was medically retired from his duties as a sergeant with the Hutchinson Police Department.
read more here

Marine Embassy Security Guard Bad Behavior

Witnesses: Marine flashed security badge on Obama trip, bragged of being ‘bullet catcher’
Washington Post
By Carol D. Leonnig, Michael Birnbaum and David Nakamura
Published: March 29, 2014

Military officials said they are investigating the conduct of a U.S. Marine who was on assignment for President Obama’s trip to the Netherlands last week, after witnesses said he was talking in detail about his job and passing around his government security badge during a night of drinking at a bar.

The Marine, Korey Nathan Pritchett, was first identified by a Dutch newspaper based on witness accounts and smartphone photos taken during the partying, which happened two nights before Obama arrived at The Hague for a nuclear security summit. The Washington Post confirmed and expanded on that reporting through interviews, social media postings and public records.

The Marine Corps began investigating the alleged behavior after The Post inquired about Pritchett. The Marines did not confirm whether he is the person in the photos.

Pritchett is a security guard at the U.S. Embassy in Monte­negro and reports to the State Department, according to department and military officials. He was on temporary assignment for the Netherlands summit, officials said.
read more here

Ignoring Vietnam Veterans Still

Vietnam Veterans are the majority of everything
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 30, 2014

Vietnam Veterans are the majority of everything but news reports. They are the majority of living veterans, VA claims, VA Backlog, homeless veterans and veteran suicides. They are the minority of the news reports and it is time to remember them or we will repeat the same outcomes.

This morning I was reading a fairly obscure site with the claim there are 22 military suicides a day. The report on the 22 a day did not come from active duty forces but came from a limited study on veterans.

It appears there is a lot of confusion regarding the research on veteran suicides. Time and time again when a reporter or radio host speaks about suicides, they do not know the basic information on this study.

Key points to know: the study came from 21 states, most of the suicides and attempted suicides involved Vietnam veteran age group.

Reporters are not interested in "senior" veterans.

As of 2010 the Department of Veterans Affairs reported that there were 23,234,000 veterans in this country up to the Gulf War (1991) 7,391,000 of living veterans were from the Vietnam Era 1964-1975
WWII Veterans (1941-1945) 1,711,000 out of 16,112,566
Korean War Veterans (1950-1953) 2,275,000 out of 5,720,000
Vietnam War Veterans (1964-1975)  7,391,000 out of 8,744,000
Gulf War Veterans (1990-1991) 2,244,583 out of 2,322,000.

Vietnam veterans and dependents are the majority of those receiving VA benefits. 1,390,078 with 4,157 children and 208,789 spouses.

VA Claims as of March 22, 2014

Vietnam Veterans 36% of 630,110 Pending Claims
Vietnam Veterans 36% of 351,120 Backlog Claims


Updated Roster of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans through November 30, 2013
1,759,433 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans have become eligible for VA health care since FY 2002
1,035,718 Former Active Duty
723,715 Reserve and National Guard

Approximately 58 percent (1,027,801) of all separated OEF/OIF/OND Veterans have used VA health care since October 1, 2001. Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, a total of 621,967 of these Veterans accessed VA health care. The frequency and percent of the three most common diagnoses were: musculoskeletal ailments (612,112 or 59.6 percent); mental disorders (572,569 or 55.7 percent); and symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions (conditions that do not have an immediately obvious cause or isolated laboratory test abnormalities) (567,399 or 55.2 percent). A Veteran can have more than one diagnosis.

23% of Pending Claims
24% of Backlog Claims

Some people confuse "military" and "veteran" suicide numbers.

*Military suicides are reported by branch and were still in the military.

*Veteran suicides are reported among military veterans, no longer in the military but returned to civilian life.

Janet Kemp, RN PhD
Robert Bossarte, PhD
Department of Veterans Affairs began an intensive effort to reduce suicide among Veterans. This effort had its roots in the Mental Health staffing expansion and the Joshua Omvig Bill, and it included both attention to Veterans in crisis as well as those determined to be at high risk for suicide.

VA’s Mental Health Services established a suicide surveillance and clinical support system based on reports of suicide and suicide events (i.e. non-fatal attempts, serious suicide ideation, suicide plan) submitted by Suicide Prevention Coordinators located at each VA Medical Center and large outpatient facility.

VA also began an intensive effort to shorten delays associated with access to NDI data and increase understanding of suicide among all Veterans by developing data sharing agreements with all 50 U.S. states.

The primary source for Veteran suicide information has been limited to those Veterans who receive care in VA. Information on the rate and characteristics of suicide among those who used VHA services is available for the fiscal years 2001—2009 based on information from analyses of mortality data obtained through the National Death Index.

Secretary Shinseki engaged Governors of all U.S. states requesting support and collaboration to improve the timeliness and utility of suicide mortality reporting.

The cumulative cost of the State Mortality Data Project has been $46,771.29 as of 11/16/2012; including FY12 expenditures of $35,094.23 and FY13 expenditures of $11,677.06. All costs associated with the State Mortality Data Project are related to state fees for processing and delivery of mortality data.

November 2012
Data have been received from 34 states and data use agreements have been approved by an additional eight states. Data will be received from these states once the terms of individual data use and financial arrangements are finalized. An additional 11 states and territories have not made a decision regarding our request or are in the process of developing Data Use Agreements for VA review.

To date, data from twenty-one (21) states have been cleaned and entered into a single integrated file containing information on more than 147,000 suicides and 27,062 reported Veterans.

The ability of death certificates to fully capture female Veterans was particularly low; only 67% of true female Veterans were identified. Younger or unmarried Veterans and those with lower levels of education were also more likely to be missed on the death certificate.

Veteran status was unknown or not reported for more than 23% (n=34,027) of all suicides during the project period.

Between 1999 and 2010 the average age of male Veterans who died from suicide was 59.6 years among Veterans identified on state death certificates and 54.5 years among those who could be validated using VA administrative records.
Main Finding: More than 69% of Veteran suicides are among those age 50 years and older.
As some VHA utilizing Veterans experience multiple reported events, this corresponds to nearly 15,000 suicide suicide events reported in FY2012 compared to more than 16,000 in FY2011.
(80%) of non-fatal events occur within four weeks of recieving VHA services
Nearly 50% of the individuals with a VHA service visit in the year preeceeding the suicide event were last seen in the outpatient primary care setting
Main Finding: A majority of non-fatal events were the result or overdose or other intentional poisoning.
When you read about suicides understand that while the reporters do not mention Vietnam veterans, they are in fact the majority of them along with everything else. If your heartbreaks reading about young soldiers suffering understand that Vietnam veterans were also young when they were sent to war and began dying in Vietnam long before the acknowledged start of the war. The first causality on the Vietnam Memorial Wall is
Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who has a casualty date of Sept. 7, 1965.

Vietnam is still the longest war but beyond the years of troops dying in Vietnam, they are still paying the price and still ignored.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Vietnam Veteran finally receives medals after 44 year wait

Vietnam vet receives medals 44 years later
Author: Ian Cull
Multimedia Journalist
Published On: Mar 28 2014

A Coeur d'Alene man who participated in two combat tours in Southeast Asia with the 101st Airborne Division finally received awards for valor Thursday he earned more than 40 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam.

It was due to a paperwork mistake that former Army Sgt. Leon Strigotte had to wait 44 years to receive several medals he earned in Vietnam. The Idaho Army National Guard made sure to thank him for his service, with the state's Guard commander, Brig. Gen. John Goodale, on hand to present Strigotte his awards.

Guardsman and fellow combat veterans manned the hallways of the Idaho Army Guard armory in Post Falls Friday to welcome Strigotte, who served two tours in Vietnam between 1967 and 1969. During his service, he was wounded three times -- once during the Tet Offensive in March 1968 and in the Central Highlands in August and again in December of 1969.

During Tet, Strigotte was injured in a land mine explosion, was rehabilitated and then asked to go back. After his second wound in late 1969 he was sent home. He was later awarded three Purple Hearts for being wounded in combat, but the other medals he had earned were lost due to a clerical error.

He was told that after he was med-evaced from Vietnam his paper trail of what he did didn't quite follow him. One year turned into two years, then two decades. On Friday, 44 years later, that paper trail finally caught up to him. Strigotte finally received the medals he had earned, including the Bronze Star, Air Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
read more here

VA restores aid to homeless veterans

VA restores aid to homeless veterans
March 29, 2014

The VA has reversed course in the face of complaints from community groups and a USA TODAY query and restored aid to potentially several thousand homeless veterans who otherwise could have been left on the streets.

The assistance, for a category of homeless veterans who have less than honorable discharges, had quietly been pulled in recent months after a legal review of eligibility laws.

The support programs -- called highly effective by community support groups nationwide -- funnel money from the Department of Veterans Affairs through local organizations to provide immediate financial support or transitional housing for homeless veterans.

But after the legal review, the VA cut access to the financial support program in December and to the transitional housing program in February for all veterans with less than honorable discharges and for those who served less than 24 months in the military, the VA said.

These veterans are generally ineligible for VA health care, and the agency's lawyers determined that ineligibility for VA health care rendered a veteran ineligible for homeless programs.

Community groups were shocked, particularly given President Obama's stated goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. "There is something morally wrong here," said Phil Landis, president and CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego, a transitional housing program that turned away 14 homeless veterans in February after the policy change. Ten had served in or during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Landis said.
read more here

Vietnam Veterans Monument Dedication in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry today paid tribute to Texas veterans who served or gave their lives in the Vietnam War at the unveiling and dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Monument on the Texas State Capitol Grounds.

The ceremony was held on Texas Vietnam Veterans Day, which marks the anniversary of the day the last American combat troops left Vietnam.

Afghanistan Veteran with PTSD died of overdose at Miami VA Rehab

IG: Vet overdosed while in VA rehab center
Army Times
By Patricia Kime
Staff writer
March 29, 2014

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan died of a heroin and cocaine overdose last year while receiving treatment at a Miami Veterans Affairs residential treatment facility, according to a VA inspector general report released Friday.

The veteran, who was in his 20s, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological conditions as well as traumatic brain injury. He had a history of drug abuse while in the Miami VA Medical Center substance abuse residential rehabilitation program and had previously lost leave privileges for continued use of alcohol and illicit drugs.

But according to the IG report, the medical facility staff failed to check him for contraband after he had been allowed to leave for an afternoon and also failed to monitor the facility closely, increasing the potential for visitors to bring in banned substances or for patients to leave to get them.

According the the IG:
■The security surveillance camera for the program did not work at the time the patient died and still didn’t work three months later when the IG team visited.

■A staff member was not present at all times as required.

■Staff often stayed in a back room with limited view of the unit and no view of the entrances or exits.
read more here

Marine battled back, yet fell to suicide

Marine battled back, yet fell to suicide
Infantryman who lost legs in combat seemed to be triumphing, but invisible wounds proved fatal
UT San Diego
By Gretel C. Kovach
MARCH 28, 2014

Farrell Gilliam was buried in Fresno Jan. 21, carried to his grave by Marine pallbearers and friends.
(Courtesy Gilliam family.)

He rarely spoke of it. Not to his family or best buddies, fellow Marines or medical staff watching over him.

But Cpl. Farrell Gilliam had endured far more by the time he died this year at age 25 than most people could comprehend.

The Camp Pendleton infantryman survived three months of combat in 2010 with the “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Sangin, Afghanistan — one of the deadliest battlegrounds of the war.

Amid firefights and insurgents’ bombs, Gilliam saw limbs strewn across the ground. He loaded broken, bleeding bodies for medical evacuation, and grieved for the friends they could not save.

Gilliam’s tour ended early when his legs were blown off by an improvised explosive device, or IED. “Farrell’s Fight,” his struggle on the homefront that his big brother helped him chronicle online, included more than 30 surgeries and three years of rehabilitation.

It was a story of triumph over wounds that would have been fatal in earlier conflicts. A story that was coming to an end, but not how anyone who knew him expected.
read more here

Presidential Proclamation -- Vietnam Veterans Day

Presidential Proclamation -- Vietnam Veterans Day

On January 12, 1962, United States Army pilots lifted more than 1,000 South Vietnamese service members over jungle and underbrush to capture a National Liberation Front stronghold near Saigon. Operation Chopper marked America's first combat mission against the Viet Cong, and the beginning of one of our longest and most challenging wars. Through more than a decade of conflict that tested the fabric of our Nation, the service of our men and women in uniform stood true. Fifty years after that fateful mission, we honor the more than 3 million Americans who served, we pay tribute to those we have laid to rest, and we reaffirm our dedication to showing a generation of veterans the respect and support of a grateful Nation.

The Vietnam War is a story of service members of different backgrounds, colors, and creeds who came together to complete a daunting mission. It is a story of Americans from every corner of our Nation who left the warmth of family to serve the country they loved. It is a story of patriots who braved the line of fire, who cast themselves into harm's way to save a friend, who fought hour after hour, day after day to preserve the liberties we hold dear. From Ia Drang to Hue, they won every major battle of the war and upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.

Eleven years of combat left their imprint on a generation. Thousands returned home bearing shrapnel and scars; still more were burdened by the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress, of Agent Orange, of memories that would never fade. More than 58,000 laid down their lives in service to our Nation. Now and forever, their names are etched into two faces of black granite, a lasting memorial to those who bore conflict's greatest cost.

Our veterans answered our country's call and served with honor, and on March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam. Yet, in one of the war's most profound tragedies, many of these men and women came home to be shunned or neglected -- to face treatment unbefitting their courage and a welcome unworthy of their example. We must never let this happen again. Today, we reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations: to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us. Half a century after those helicopters swept off the ground and into the annals of history, we pay tribute to the fallen, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served, and the millions more who awaited their return. Our Nation stands stronger for their service, and on Vietnam Veterans Day, we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 29, 2012, as Vietnam Veterans Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Vietnam War.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956.

His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who has a casualty date of Sept. 7, 1965.


The first casualty names inscribed were Dale R. Buis and Chester R. Ovnard (this name was a misspelling, it should have read Ovnand) were military advisors, killed on July 8th, 1959 in Bienhoa, while watching a movie in the mess tent. The light had been turned on to change the movie reel and that is when snipers opened fire. The name of the movie was "The Tattered Dress", starring Jeanne Crain.

Although 1959 is marked as the beginning on Panel 1, East wall, a Captain (Army) Harry G. Cramer was killed 21 October 1957 during a training action. He is listed on line 78, panel 1, East wall, which was added approximately a year after the Memorial was dedicated.

1975 was the year that the last 18 casualties (Daniel A. Benedett, Lynn Blessing, Walter Boyd, Gregory S. Copenhaver, Andres Garcia, Bernard Gause, Jr., Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove, James J. Jacques, Ashton N. Loney, Ronald J. Manning, Danny G. Marshall, James R. Maxwell, Richard W. Rivenburgh, Elwood E. Rumbaugh, Antonio Ramos Sandovall, Kelton R. Turner, Richard Vande Geer) occurred on May 15th during the recapture of the freighter MAYAGUEZ and its crew.

Veterans train to climb Denali, while blind

Blind veterans train on Quandry Peak and Mt. Lincoln for Denali ascent
Summit Daily
Melanie Wong
March 28, 2014

SUMMIT COUNTY — To Scott Smiley, Colorado mountains are the crunching of snow underneath his shoes, the scent of pine needles, the chirping of birds and the feel of fresh, alpine air on his skin.

Because the military veteran and instructor is blind, what he won’t see is the whiteness of snow or the sight of towering peaks, until guide Eric Alexander paints a mental image of the rugged mountains.

“I still think it’s one of the most beautiful things,” Smiley said. “The air is fresh, pure and clean. I live in Spokane, Wash., and you don’t get those senses hitting you all the time. There’s the beauty of seeing things, but those pictures go to my mind and it puts a smile on my face.”

Smiley and fellow veteran Marty Bailey both fought for the U.S. Army in Iraq, where they lost their sight — Smiley to a car bomb and Bailey to a grenade explosion. But being blind hasn’t dampened their sense of adventure. The two were in Colorado in mid-March to train for a May trip up Alaska’s Denali mountain (Mount McKinley) — North America’s tallest peak. Joined by Vail Valley resident and mountaineer Eric Alexander, the two got some altitude training in Summit and neighboring Park County by climbing Quandary Peak and Mount Lincoln — two of the state’s above 14,000 foot peaks.
read more here

Retired National Guards Iraq Veteran looking for lost soul

Orange veteran looking for lost soul during hike
The Recorder
March 28, 2014

ORANGE, Mass. (AP) — It was 1948, three years after the end of World War II, when Earl Shaffer, a U.S. Army veteran from Pennsylvania, hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, something no one else had done to that point.

More than 14,000 people have hiked the entire trail since Shaffer, and U.S. Army National Guard veteran Joe Young of Orange says he hopes to be one of the next.

Many have attempted the 2,180-mile trek — some have finished, some have not. They've done it for many reasons: the challenge, the sheer exhilaration or just to be able to say they did it.

Others, like Young, decide they want to do it to find the piece of their soul they lost somewhere along the way — Young says he lost his in Iraq.

The 61-year-old veteran retired after spending 42 1/ 2 years in the National Guard. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involves the threat of injury or death.

It’s obvious that he doesn’t like to talk about the specifics of what he saw in Iraq when he was deployed from 2003 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2006. He served at Abu Ghraib prison and says if someone tries to push him too hard into talking about it and he starts to feel too uncomfortable, he simply leaves the room.

‘‘I hope that sometime during my six-month hike with 13 other veterans I find that piece of my soul I'm looking for,’’ he said just days before he left for Georgia on March 14.
Recognizing the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of long-distance hiking, Warrior Hike has partnered with the conservancy, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and the Pacific Crest Trail Association to create the ‘‘Walk Off the War’’ program, which takes place all over the United States.
read more here

Florida National Guard trains with The Florida Forest Service

Mar 28, 2014
The Florida National Guard trains with The Florida Forest Service. The goal for the Forest Service was to burn off land as a prescribed burn while the Guard trained on how to put fires out using Bambi Buckets.

Canada: Korean War Veteran Finally Gets Help For PTSD

Nightmare ends: Korean War veteran finds peace after half-century struggle with PTSD
MARCH 28, 2014
After struggling with the effects of PTSD for 50-odd years, 82-year-old Korean War veteran James Purcell began treatment with psychologist Sarah Bertrim, left. ‘If there’s anyone out there thinking the way I was, I want to tell them to get help,’ he says.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen

PEMBROKE, Ont. — It was a nightmare Jim Purcell took to his bed every night for more than 50 years.

It featured his best buddy, Bob Casey.

The two grew up together in a hardscrabble section of Halifax. They played together, went to school together and, when they were 18 years old in 1951, they joined the army and went to fight in Korea together.

Jim is 81 and has lived his adult life in Pembroke. He has a daughter, two sons and grandkids.

Casey didn’t live to grow old.

In the muddy, rat-infested trenches of the Korean hills, they had a bunker to sleep in and, like many 18-year-old boys, Casey loved to sleep.

The Chinese shell scored a direct hit on the bunker while he was napping.

“He got his head blown off,” says Purcell. “Casey come out there like a chicken with its head cut off, except it wasn’t quite off. He come to the door of the bunker and just dropped. That stayed with me for years. I’d wake up screaming, ‘Get out of the bunker, Casey. Get out of the bunker.’”

When the former Royal Canadian Regiment corporal says the image haunted him for years, he means 48 years.

That translated into an adult life of hard drinking, bar fights, trouble with the cops, anger, depression, failed treatment and, in his later years, what the psychologists and psychiatrists call “suicidal ideation.”
read more here

Friday, March 28, 2014

Team Minuteman marching thru Boston to save veterans

26.2-mile march to raise awareness of mental illness among military veterans
Boston Globe
By Jacqueline Tempera
MARCH 28, 2014

Walking 26.2 miles is a physical feat in itself, but imagine trekking the distance while carrying an extra 50 pounds.

That is what a group of 100 people will attempt early Saturday morning, all to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide among military veterans, according to US Army Captain Justin Fitch.

“We do this to represent the burden our brothers and sisters are carrying,” said Fitch, who said he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after his first tour in Iraq in 2006. “We carry the weight that they can no longer carry themselves.”

The group, dubbed Team Minuteman, will walk the route of the Boston Marathon while carrying weighted rucksacks. This journey, called “Carry the Fallen” will raise money for Active Heroes, a charity group working to build a military family retreat in Shepherdsville, Ky.

Teams across the world will complete similar walks, said Fitch.

Fitch has served two tours in the military. The first, a 15-month tour in Iraq in 2006, and the second, a seven-month stint as a support officer in a special operations unit in 2009, he said.

After his first tour, he said, he suffered PTSD and depression and contemplated suicide.

“I was in a very dark place,” said Fitch. “But I got help and came back even stronger. Some aren’t so lucky.”
read more here

CNN No Time Left for You

CNN No Time Left for You
I have very little free time so what I watch on TV matters. I used to watch the national news stations. With FOX and MSNBC taking political sides, I stopped watching them. CNN is no longer interested in covering national news. Pretty bad when you discover Larry King is even complaining about the way they abandoned this country.

Larry King laments CNN coverage of missing plane.

CNN has no time for wounded veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (maybe they thought the war was over)

Top three states with most wounded are California with 886, Texas with 791 and Florida with 544. Check your state on Last update on page was September 2012.

From Iraq there are 3,086 California, 2,810 Texas and 1,433 Florida. The total wounded in Iraq for US Forces was 22,516.

There is so much happening all over this country but CNN has become a joke. No longer interested in reporting news that matters to the nation.

Soldiers Respond to Dangerous Truck Accident

Soldiers Respond to Dangerous Truck Accident
Blackanthem Military News
By Capt. Jimmy Kow, 3rd Battalion, 348th Regiment, 158th Infantry Brigade
Mar 27, 2014

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – Three Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 348th Regiment were among the first to respond to an overturned 18-wheeled tractor-trailer carrying flammable material on Interstate-59 in Hattiesburg, Miss. March 11.

The truck, carrying liquid acrylonitrile, an explosive compound, skidded off the road and crashed into the embankment.

“I was just doing my job as a Soldier,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Christy, a combat medic was the first Soldier to arrive at the scene.

Christy explained he parked his vehicle in the distance and ran up to the truck within a minute after the crash. When he arrived, a civilian was trying to kick in the windshield to free the driver. Christy said he immediately took control of the situation and directed the driver to free himself and climb out from the door.

As the driver was climbing out of the vehicle Capt. Amanda McDonald, a chemical officer and a nurse by trade, arrived to provide assistance.

The truck was leaking diesel and hazardous fumes from its cargo. McDonald and Christy escorted the driver away from the fumes before McDonald further evaluated the driver.
read more here

Vietnam War POW Jeremiah Denton Jr. passed away at 89

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., Vietnam POW and U.S. senator, dies
Washington Post
By Emily Langer
Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., a retired Navy rear admiral and former U.S. senator who survived nearly eight years of captivity in North Vietnamese prisons, and whose public acts of defiance and patriotism came to embody the sacrifices of American POWs in Vietnam, died March 28 at a hospice in Virginia Beach. He was 89.

The cause was complications from a heart ailment, said his son Jim Denton. Adm. Denton was a native of Alabama, where in 1980 he became the state’s first Republican to win election to the Senate since Reconstruction.
read more here

Denton is featured in Two Men, Two Fates about Vietnam POWs on Stars and Stripes.

More than 700 servicemembers became prisoners of war in Vietnam.

None endured longer than Floyd James Thompson and Everett Alvarez Jr.

The two men represent the extremes of the POW experience -- in captivity and in life. By Chris Carroll

Denton Jr. Blinking Morse Code 'T-O-R-T-U-R-E'

US WW II veterans receive Legion of Honour in France

France bestows Legion of Honor on 14 U.S. vets for WWII efforts
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: March 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — They were willing to fight and risk death in France’s time of need, and this week in Washington, a grateful ally gave thanks.

Thirteen U.S. veterans of the Second World War pinned on the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration, in a ceremony at the French Embassy. Relatives of a 14th veteran who died days before the ceremony received the award in his name.

“In the darkest hours of our history, if you had not been by our side, France would not have been liberated,” Olivier Sérot-Alméras, French consul general in Washington, told the men. “We know, and we will always remember what the price was — 60,000 American soldiers were laid to rest on French soil.”

France has long given the Legion of Honor to U.S. veterans who made particular contributions to freeing the country from German occupation, but there is a special resonance to the ceremonies this year.

With the 70th anniversary of D-Day fast approaching, the number of living U.S. veterans who fought in France is in sharp decline, and many fewer are likely to see the next major anniversary of the invasion. Of those honored Wednesday, the youngest was 88, while most were in their 90s.

Despite the intervening years, their memories of war — of both horrors and triumphs — remain incredibly vivid for several of the veterans who spoke to Stars and Stripes at the ceremony.
read more here

Canada: "PTSD is a horrendous injury"

‘They’re not to be shunned, they’re to be respected’
MARCH 27, 2014
“When a veteran is wounded, it’s not just the one individual, it affects the whole family; it’s the children, it’s the spouses, everyone who knows that individual,” Critchley said.

Steve Critchley says his organization, Can Praxis, unlike the federal government, “walks the talk” when it comes to helping Canada’s veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although he doesn’t like to use the word “disorder.”

“That actually upsets me. The evidence now shows that there is physical damage to the brain,” Critchley said as he presented “How are Canadian military veterans surviving in a civilian world?” to SACPA at Country Kitchen Catering Thursday afternoon.

“These individuals are wounded. They’re not to be shunned, they’re to be respected. The challenge is that you cannot see mental injuries. PTSD is a horrendous injury. It really messes people up in an ugly way. There’s no easy fix for it.”

PTSD affects personalities, relationships, sex drive and even the ability to hold a simple conversation. But it also affects people differently and there is no one cure-all solution, said Critchley, a retired former harassment investigator, harassment adviser and an assisting officer for the Canadian Forces.
read more here

Boynton Beach Police Officer "Happy" feet

Mar 23, 2014
Boynton Beach Police Officer Ron Ryan shows off his smooth moves dancing to Happy by Pharrell Williams after responding to a call about a house party last night. Watching this will make you happy!!!

Retired Medevac pilot reflects on 27-year Army career

Medevac’s memories: Retired pilot reflects on 27-year Army career
Harker Heights Herald
Bob Massey
Herald correspondent
March 28, 2014

Retired Col. Otis Evans remembers the very long and harrowing day of Dec. 1, 1968, like it was yesterday. The day began at 4:30 a.m. with a mission to extract a wounded soldier from Vietnam’s trenches.

“We received fire, but it didn’t disable the aircraft. We tried another route in and it was the worst choice we could have made,” he said. His rescue mission suffered a barrage of enemy fire, destroying the tail rotor system of his helicopter and causing the chopper to crash.

Not willing to abandon their mission, Evans and his crew loaded up another helicopter and made another attempt to that same location later in the evening when there was very little action.

Unfortunately, the soldier they were sent to retrieve was dead.

“Regardless, we were still bound and determined to bring the soldier out,” Evans said.
read more here

Another bill to improve Veterans Affairs benefit claim process

In June of 2008 we heard promises of fixing the claims backlog when there were 879,291 claims waiting to be honored. Way back then, thousands of veterans had died waiting.
Report: 8,763 vets died waiting for benefits
Army Times
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 15, 2008 14:56:15 EDT

The title of the House committee report sums up what happened: “Die or Give Up Trying: How Poor Contractor Performance, Government Mismanagement and the Erosion of Quality Controls Denied Thousands of Disabled Veterans Timely and Accurate Retroactive Retired Pay Awards.”

The report by the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform domestic policy panel, released Tuesday, concluded that at least 28,283 disabled retirees were denied retroactive pay awards because rushed efforts to clear a huge backlog of claims led program administrators to stop doing quality assurance checks on the claims decisions.

And of the original 133,057 potentially eligible veterans, 8,763 died before their cases could be reviewed for retroactive payments, according to the report.

At issue are the Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments and Combat-Related Special Compensation programs, approved by Congress in 2003 and 2004 to allow large numbers of disabled retirees to receive full concurrent military retirement pay and veteran’s disability compensation.
In February, the backlog was said to be “more than 39,000” cases. Jonas said she had been assured that the backlog would be cleared by April.

That did not happen, according to the subcommittee report, because Lockheed Martin, the contractor hired in July 2006 to compute the complex retroactive pay awards, had difficulty making the computations fast enough to eliminate the backlog quickly. The complexity of the computations also hindered Lockheed Martin’s ability to develop software to automate the process. read more here
So why is there yet one more politician introducing yet one more bill to fix what has been broken all this time but forgetting it wasn't fixed before? The likelihood of a bill being written the right way once and for all is slim until they figure out what they already got wrong.
Rep. Dan Maffei introduces bill to improve Veterans Affairs benefit claim process
Robert Harding
March 27, 2014

U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei is seeking to improve the Veterans Affairs benefit claims process for families of deceased veterans.

Maffei, D-Syracuse, introduced a bill Thursday, the Veteran Families Fairness Act, to assist veterans' families and ensure the veteran's benefits aren't lost.

Right now, a veteran's parents, spouse and children under 18 years old are considered eligible survivors who would receive benefits from the VA if the veteran passes away during the claims process. But there have been cases of veterans who die without a spouse, living parents or children under 18. In those cases, the veteran's benefits are lost, Maffei said.

For eligible survivors, there are challenges. In order to receive the deceased veteran's benefits, they must start from the beginning of the claims process, even if the veteran had already gone through the process and was waiting to receive benefits.

According to figures from the VA cited by Maffei, approximately 22,000 veterans died with a pending claim in the 2013 fiscal year. Some veterans died while waiting up to three years in the VA claims process and yet, their family members were unable to receive benefits because they weren't considered eligible survivors.

Maffei said his legislation will help address these flaws in the VA claims process.
read more here

It Depends on Which Part of the Sky You See

It Depends on Which Part of the Sky You See
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 28, 2014

Maybe you live in Florida and can get thru winter without putting on a coat. How could you understand someone freezing to death in a northern state because they cannot afford to buy one?

Maybe you have been healthy and complain about insurance premiums being deducted from your paycheck because you don't need to go to a doctor. How could you understand someone dying because they got sick, needed to see a doctor but couldn't afford to go?

Maybe you have been lucky all your life. If you never had to worry about paying bills, how would you be able to understand someone who has had everything wrong happen to them?

We are all human, living under the same sky, but we only see what is right over our heads. Sometimes the sun is shining over us. Sometimes it is dark. It all depends on what part of the sky you see.

If you are a combat veteran, one of the lucky ones returning home, able to overcome the memories of where you've been, how could you understand another veteran unable to do it?

So many times there is a heartbreaking story in the news of a veteran suffering from PTSD with a comment from another veteran attacking the one the story is about.

No one leaves combat without being changed by it. The only difference is change comes in different levels and outcomes.

One veteran may come home more caring about others. Maybe he never had the opportunity to focus on anyone but himself in the civilian world but was drafted into service during Vietnam. Once there, he had to quickly acknowledge that his life depended on the others he was with and in return their lives depended on him. He was conditioned to pay attention to them and learned how to care.

One veteran may come home pushing family members away from him because he is in so much pain. Maybe he cared too much about the others he was with and it broke his heart.

The only way for his heart to be mended is for another veteran to care enough about him they want to help because even though fighting in Vietnam ended, the battle goes on back home for far too many. PTSD is claiming more and more lives everyday.

If the sky is clear over your head, try to understand that it isn't clear over everyone.

During combat they knew they could lean on you.
During combat they knew you would not leave them behind.
During combat they knew you would pick them up when they were down.
During combat they knew you cared about them.
So why do you pretend to not care now?

If everyone is talking about 22 veterans a day committing suicide
you need to wonder why they don't matter as much today as they 
did during Vietnam because most of the veterans wanting to end 
the pain they carry are Vietnam Veterans.

Vietnam Vet's Grandson Comes Home to Save Life

Grandson returns from Afghanistan to donate part of liver to dying Vietnam vet
By Bob Hallmark
Posted: Mar 27, 2014
Ricky Glenn returned from Afghanistan to donate part of his liver to his dying grandfather, a Vietnam vet.

It's an amazing story of family, love and honor from one East Texas soldier to another. A dying Vietnam veteran is in desperate need of a liver transplant and his grandson is stepping in to help.

Rick Homer spent four years in the Marines and 16 in the U.S. Army. He survived the savage fighting in Vietnam, but now the 62-year-old Longview man is dying.

"I found out about it a little over three years ago. I have hemachromatosis, which is genetic. The liver doesn't purify the blood like it supposed to. The only time I've got left is what the good Lord gives me," Homer says.

He could have been on a donor list for years, but his grandson, 21-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Ricky Glenn, came to his rescue.

"The loss and the regret of me not doing anything would have outweighed this. I'm the firstborn grandson I carry my grandfather's name," Glenn says.

Glenn arranged with his commanding officer to be flown back from Afghanistan to Baylor Medical Center to be tested as a match.
read more here

Florida funeral bill prevents Vietnam Veteran being laid to rest

Staten Island veteran, who asked for Arlington burial, still at Fla. funeral home 15 months later
Staten Island Advance
By Timothy Harrison
March 28, 2014

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Almost 15 months after he died, John L. Matyi, a disabled Vietnam War veteran who lived on Staten Island for six decades, still hasn't been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his dream since he left the battlefield in 1970.

The Army awarded Matyi a Purple Heart.

Later, he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and subsequent alcoholism.

But according to Matyi's only survivor, his brother Alex, none of that mattered to Brown Funeral Home in Lecanto, Fla., which handled his cremation last year, when money ran short and the $1,200 charge couldn't be paid.

Alex Matyi said the funeral home assured him months ago that the service would be taken care of.

"I got all the papers from the V.A. for the burial," he said. But without a confirmation from Arlington seven months after his brother's death, he called officials at the cemetery, who searched for a week for the missing remains.

"I was under the impression that he had already left that funeral home," Alex Matyi said. He called the funeral director, who, according to Matyi, said: "No he's still here - it's a matter of $1,200."
read more here

Vietnam Vet William Welsh Killed in Washington Mudslide

Vietnam Vet William Welsh Is Confirmed as Latest Mudslide Victim
NBC News

Another victim of the deadly Washington mudslide was formally identified by authorities Thursday night.

William E. Welsh was a 66-year-old electrician who was on his way to install a hot water tank when the mudslide ripped through the Stillaguamish Valley. The Army veteran served in Vietnam.

According to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office he was killed by "blunt impact" injuries.
read more here

Thursday, March 27, 2014

ABC Nashville show films at Fort Campbell

Soldiers, families participate in TV show filming
Kentucky News Era
By Carla Jimenez
New Era Staff Writer
March 26, 2014

The airfield on Fort Campbell transformed into a concert scene Wednesday afternoon — but it wasn’t a real concert.

The fake show was for another show: ABC’s show “Nashville,” and soldiers on Fort Campbell and their families got to watch the crew film and also be part of the concert scene.

The show, which centers on a rivalry between two country singers, filmed a concert scene taking place at Fort Campbell with soldiers from the military post in the background. Wearing a star-spangled scarf, Connie Britton — who plays reigning country queen Rayna James on the show — thanked the soldiers as the real heroesand superstars.

It’s that same patriotic sentiment Melvin Kearney said the show really takes to heart. Everyone from the crew to the stars understands and truly appreciates all service men and women.

Kearney plays Bo, a bodyguard for one of the country stars on the show. He’s also a veteran who served as a sergeant for two combat tours in Iraq. So for him, seeing all the soldiers and families gathered for the filming was a lot like coming home.
read more here

Aging veterans and Combat PTSD

PTSD 101 Course
National Center for PTSD

Transcript for: Aging and PTSD
Welcome to PTSD 101. These PTSD 101 podcasts were extracted from online multimedia courses and may refer to tables, charts, or videos. To view the complete courses, which include all these elements, and to find out about earning free continuing education credits, please go to

Today we are going to talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, Aging and PTSD.

Hello and welcome. My name is Dr. Joan Cook and I am a psychologist on faculty in the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and am a researcher at the National Center for PTSD.
Veteran 1:
Our company went in with 220 men and by nightfall only 23 of us were still able to fight. We lost almost 90% that day. I got captured in September 30th of 1944, and I was a POW from the 30th of September until April the 15th of '45. And I never told anybody about my experiences, because I didn't want to remember exactly what I'd seen. What I've seen, you cannot describe! It's too horrible.

Why is the topic of aging and PTSD so important? The answer is for numerous reasons.

The number, proportion and diversity of older adults in the general population are steadily increasing, particularly in industrialized countries, where older adults are expected to constitute 33% of the population by 2050.

Compared to the scientific investigation of exposure to potentially traumatic events and potential mental health effects in other age groups, much less is known about those aged 65 and over.

The graying of the population can particularly be seen in Veterans served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In Fiscal Year 2009, almost 100,000 Veterans received services in the VA Specialized Outpatient PTSD Programs. Of these, 41% served during the Vietnam War era, 1% during the Korean War era, and 1% during the World War II era. The remainder served during other eras. So although we are losing our World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans to death, our Vietnam Veterans, which comprise a large part of our patient care in VA, are on average 59 years old and aging.

A number of my colleagues and I suspect that trauma and PTSD in older adults is under-recognized and thus under-treated. Lack of recognition of the effects of trauma including PTSD or misattribution of symptoms to other psychiatric or medical problems can have serious consequences for older adults.

Indeed it may have negative implications for older adults’ treatment and recovery, including the design of inadequate treatment plans, administration of poorly focused or inappropriate psychotherapy, medication or other medical intervention.
Veteran 2
My PTSD has changed as I've gotten older, like in my 50's, in that things have gotten more intense: my feelings, sounds, startle response. It seems like my health problems, I'm finding out now, are more related to Vietnam and the side effects of the herbicides.

And the stress, heart condition, diabetes, it just seems to pile on year after year. I find I'm getting more and more illnesses associated with my tour in Vietnam. As I've gotten older, I'm getting the nightmares more intense; waking up with the heart palpitations the sweating, you know, shortness of breath.

Veteran 3:
Well for me, when I retired, I struggled with--I had more time to think with my PTSD so, even though I was getting the treatment, I felt like I was doing well, there were episodes where, because I was getting older, I didn't feel as strong as I used to. I felt more vulnerable.

Two empirical studies present the strongest evidence to date of a link between PTSD and dementia. In one investigation, researchers followed over 181,000 Veterans over six years, including more than 53,000 with PTSD. Those with PTSD were more than twice as likely to develop dementia.

In another investigation, older Veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD, or who were Purple Heart recipients, were compared to age and gender matched Veterans with no PTSD or Purple Heart. There was a greater prevalence and incidence of dementia in older Veterans with PTSD. Those who had PTSD, but whom were not Purple Heart recipients, had almost twice the odds of developing dementia as those who did not have PTSD but were Purple Heart recipients or the comparison groups. The authors concluded that PTSD may be a greater risk factor for dementia than combat-related trauma alone.

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