Sunday, November 30, 2014

When Those Sirens Are Gone PTSD Song for Firefighters

Brooklyn firefighters support paramedic's effort to record PTSD single
Nova News
Carole Morris-Underhill
Published on November 30, 2014

BROOKLYN – The words to Kevin Davison's latest song have been striking a chord with firefighters, paramedics, police officers and other frontline folks since the Kentville singer published the song via social media Nov. 19.

When Davison rolled into Brooklyn Saturday night to perform When Those Sirens Are Gone, a song about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dry eyes were few and far between.

With thousands of video views to date, and positive comments coming in from across North America, Davison is eager to get the song professionally recorded and playing on the airwaves by early 2015. He launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise enough funds.

He's now even closer to his goal. Brooklyn firefighters have donated money to the cause.

“Post traumatic stress has touched everybody in the fire service,” said Brooklyn Fire Chief Andy McDade following their annual banquet.

The firefighters presented Davison with a cheque for $1,000 to help him get the single recorded and mass produced. McDade noted the funding was not from the grant money the municipality provides them, nor was it from the community at large.
read more here

Kevin Davison-PTSD-When Those Sirens Are Gone
Nov 19, 2014
A song I wrote along with Doug Folkins honouring all First Responders and the painful reality of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"We ain't super heroes. We're ordinary men."

Troublesome grey area in service dog law

Misuse, misunderstanding create troublesome grey area in service dog law
Bangor Daily News
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 30, 2014
Ashley L. Conti | BDN Judi Bayly tells her service dog, Kira, a 7-year-old Irish setter, to look at her during lunch at the Olive Garden in Bangor on Tuesday. "The dog gives you the independence to go and do," Bayly said. "Kira's ready to go whenever I am. She's there. She watches over me."

BELFAST, Maine — Judi Bayly’s service dog, Kira, goes everywhere her owner goes. She has to — the calm Irish setter is crucial to the well-being and freedom of Bayly, who has multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Kira has been on Caribbean cruises, shopping trips to Wal-Mart, to lunches out at restaurants, to appointments at medical offices and many other places. She is trained to pay attention to small signs that indicate Bayly’s blood sugar levels are going out of control, and also to nudge open doors and help her owner navigate tricky, small spaces, including public restrooms.

“Without having Kira to get around, I don’t,” said Bayly, who is living in Hampden right now. “I would just have to stay home.”

That’s why Bayly, 62, gets her hackles up when she hears of people abusing the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law that allows trained service dogs to accompany disabled people in all areas where members of the public can go.

“To be in a store or a business where somebody brings a pet dog that has not been trained for public access, it causes a disruption for the working dog,” she said. “I have literally had a dog jump out of a shopping cart, run five aisles over and bite my dog. My dog got bitten by a fake service dog.”

Bayly and other disability rights advocates would like more people to better understand the law, which makes it a federal crime to both use a fake service animal and to discriminate against a disabled person who is using a real one. More information would help smooth relationships between disabled people and business owners, according to Kathy Hecht of Searsport, a University of Maine at Machias instructor who teaches service dog training and uses a service dog herself.

“As somebody using a service dog, you do have rights protected under the law, but you also have huge responsibilities,” Hecht said. “A lot of people say, ‘I have a disability, and therefore, you have to put up with my dog. But nobody has to put up with a dog that is causing problems.”
read more here

Picture of Obama and Hagel Says It All

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. Here's one of them.

For Obama and the Pentagon, an uneasy relationship
President Barack Obama reaches out to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, following an announcement of Hagel's resignation at the White House on Nov. 24, 2014. The friction between the president and the Pentagon has been particularly pronounced during his six years in office, and seems to be affecting his ability to find a replacement for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. SUSAN WALSH/AP

You don't have be inside their heads to hear what they are thinking. Hagel, the Vietnam Veteran Secretary of Defense saying good-bye as President Obama shows he wants to move him along faster. Good luck to the next Secretary,,,,,you're going to need it!

'Nam vets rally Army of volunteers to help disabled comrade

'Nam vets rally to help disabled comrade
WCF Courier
By Pat Kinney
November 28, 2014

Walter Sanders went into the Navy in 1968 expecting he wouldn't be sent to Vietnam. He was sent there anyway.

Now the veteran and his wife of 43 years, Karen, are encountering new battles they didn't bargain for: Walter's disability and other health issues make simply getting in and out of the shower a challenge.

Sanders is getting help from two fellow Vietnam veterans in a project supported by Wells Fargo Bank.

Building contractor Rick Reuter and Larry Walters of the Cedar Falls Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wells Fargo and an army of contractors and volunteers are expanding the bathroom in the Sanders home in the City View neighborhood on Waterloo's east side to accommodate his disabilities.

It's part of an ongoing Wells Fargo program to help veterans and includes a $10,000 grant.

"You don't know what a blessing this is. It's a blessing. I appreciate all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!" said Walter Sanders, who along with Karen could hardly contain their relief.

"God works through people," he said.

Sanders was a Navy storekeeper in Vietnam at Camp Tien Sha near Da Nang. Part of his duties, for which he volunteered, involved moving supplies to frontline troops near Vietnam's demilitarized zone during his tour of duty in 1968. He was exposed to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

Over the past 10 years he has suffered prostate cancer, a stroke, diabetes and multiple brain tumors. He is now considered cancer free but is still being seen at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City. He has mobility and balance issues and uses a cane and a wheelchair. He requires substantial care from Karen.
read more here

Mighty Moms of Wounded at Walter Reed

The Mighty Moms of Walter Reed: Caring for children wounded in war
FOX News
By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel
Published November 29, 2014
“Even under normal circumstances, moms take care of their young like fierce lionesses. But, when those children are catastrophically injured during war, there is no stopping their roaring maternal instincts.”

As Americans give thanks, there is one group of women they especially need to remember over the holidays: the Mighty Moms of Walter Reed. They pick up the pieces when their children return from war.

The stories of ten mothers and their children are featured in a new book, Unbreakable Bonds, The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed.

Some of these mothers have spent up to four years living with their child at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland while they recover from multiple amputations and traumatic brain injuries.

The stories they tell of the challenges they face as caregivers to our nation's wounded warriors are searing, inspiring and uplifting. Fox News interviewed half a dozen of these mothers to learn what they’ve been through and the "band of mothers" that they have formed as a result.

Stacy Fidler's son Mark stepped on a mine while wearing a belt of grenades in Afghanistan. He and his mom have been at Walter Reed since October 2011.

Fidler said she finds support in the group of mothers. “We share the good things and the bad things,” she said. “We clap when they take their first steps and get sad when they get sent back to the ICU.”

Fidler, like many of the mothers, spends almost all her time at the hospital caring for her son.

“Eventually you just end up living in a hospital room. It's your home. You end up moving in, sleeping there, eating there, everything with your kid.”

One theme common among the Mighty Moms is that almost all of them had to leave their jobs and dedicate themselves to caretaking full time.
read more here

Donald "Donnie" Wendt First Responder's Life Remembered

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 30, 2014

Donald Wendt was a firefigher in Bradenton Florida. Yesterday his life was memorialized by an overflow of family, friends and firefighters.

Bradenton Herald Obituary
Donald "Donnie" Wendt
Has left this world to move on to a better world. He is survived by his father, Robert Wendt and his wife, Carol; mother, Mary Maloney and her husband, Dennis; daughter, Ashley Wendt Steele, her husband, Robbie, their daughter, Abbie and baby Steele tbd; sisters, Deborah Wendt, Carolyn Sherry and her husband, Ken. A; nephew, Eric Wendt and his wife, Allison. His second family, the Bradenton Fire Department and a multitude of friends. He will be remembered for his sense of humor, his passion for his job, his example to others, his love for his daughter, his bravery, his willingness to risk his life for others and his loyalty to others. He was a wonderful son, father, brother, "Happy" and friend. This world will never be the same but Heaven has gained a Valiant Angel. We love him. A Celebration of his Life will be 2:00PM, Saturday, November 29, 2014 at Brown and Sons Funeral Homes and Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209. Memorial donations to Paws for Vets.

This was the headline of his life coming to an end
Officer fatally shoots firefighter brandishing guns

It is how most people will remember when they hear his name.
MANATEE COUNTY - A Bradenton firefighter who had been honored for his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom was shot and killed by a city police officer Sunday night after the firefighter reportedly approached officers brandishing two handguns.

At 9:30 p.m. Sunday, neighbors called police to report that Donald Wendt, 50, was outside his home in the 3300 block of Oxford Drive waving a weapon and threatening to kill himself and his sister.

A SWAT team and hostage negotiators were summoned. Wendt was inside when police arrived, so officers set up a perimeter and evacuated people from nearby homes.

Team members were trying to contact Wendt by phone when he re-emerged from the home and pointed a gun at police.

Bradenton Police SWAT Officer Jason Nuttall — a 15-year veteran — fired one shot at Wendt, a firefighter/engineer for the Bradenton Fire Department. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.

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

“It's a terribly tragic situation,” Radzilowski said. “Police officers are upset, firefighters are upset. It's just something you never want to see happen.”

But as with everything else, there was so much more to the story that was not reflected in the headline.
Wendt joined the Bradenton Fire Department in December 2003 after volunteering with Cedar Hammock-Southern Manatee while working at Ten-8 Fire Equipment.

A year later, he spent 13 months in Iraq with the United States Army Reserve. Wendt received a Bronze Star Medal for his efforts.

On May 13, 2005, as a recovery section sergeant with HHC Platoon, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor and Task Force Liberty, Wendt “went to the aid of a fellow soldier who was injured and trapped under a burning vehicle during a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosives Device attack,” according to the U.S. War Office. He used tow chains to move the burning vehicle away from the injured soldier.

Don's life meant so much more to those who knew him. I listened to family members and another firefighter along with a Chaplain talk about the man behind the headline.

They said he was always there when they needed him. He always wanted people to be happy and did whatever he could to make them laugh. He was also there to listen. The problem was he didn't want to talk much about himself. They saw him troubled but as he would start to open up, he would soon change the subject.

Don was rare. He risked his life as a firefighter as well as a soldier because that was what he was put on this earth do to. Yet it was that very quality within him that caused the pain and made him feel as if he didn't want to burden anyone with his own troubles.
Bradenton resident Jeremy Hillengas, who said he's known Wendt for about eight years, reconnected with him Sunday at a local bar, and last saw him around 7 p.m.

“He didn't talk crazy or seem to have any issues,” Hillengas said. “It was a total shock. I was with him literally hours before it happened, and I've been thinking 'Did I miss something,' but there were no signs.”

There were signs but no one knew what those signs meant. While PTSD has made national news long enough for people to know the term, few know what it means.

Wendt joined the Bradenton Fire Department in December 2003 after volunteering with Cedar Hammock-Southern Manatee while working at Ten-8 Fire Equipment.

A year later, he spent 13 months in Iraq with the United States Army Reserve. Wendt received a Bronze Star Medal for his efforts.

On May 13, 2005, as a recovery section sergeant with HHC Platoon, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor and Task Force Liberty, Wendt “went to the aid of a fellow soldier who was injured and trapped under a burning vehicle during a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosives Device attack,” according to the U.S. War Office. He used tow chains to move the burning vehicle away from the injured soldier.

Wendt volunteers with the Bradenton Fire Fighters Association at the annual Community Haven holiday event, received the BFFA Above and Beyond Award in 2005 and was awarded the BFD Distinguished Service Medal in 2008.

Bradenton city councilman Gene Gallo summed it up in the interview with the Herald Tribune.
Gallo said he knew Wendt, who volunteered for a second tour overseas. Gallo has not had a chance to talk to Wendt's family or his fellow firefighters.

“It seems like every day you read about this, but when it hits home, it's different,” Gallo said.

It is different because you know the person far beyond what the headline says about them.

Family members are devastated and so are firefighters. We can only imagine what the SWAT Team is going through. When I got the news from his Mom Mary in an email, my heart grieved. I knew Mary from Facebook but we hadn't met until yesterday. I only knew about Don through what she was willing to share, or should I say, what she was able to share.

It is hard to grasp the complexity of symptoms to distinguish the difference between what life does and what PTSD does. We may interact with someone wondering when they turned into a jerk because we don't know how to wonder what happened to them that turned them into one.

With PTSD, if they don't tell you they are in turmoil, there is no way for you to know why they act the way they do.

When they don't have the professional help they need, they usually find they have no outlet to open up, so they shut down. These folks are not like the rest of us. They are the people who get things done, show up ready to sacrifice their lives if need be and they are actually first responders in every part of their lives.

When you read about them, remember Don's story and then know we have to try harder to help them understand that asking for help is the right thing to do so they can stay here and help more of us afterwards.

The military makes it harder for them to seek help especially when a General came out and said,
Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations.

And then went on to say it had to do with not having a supportive family. I saw his supportive family yesterday and they included about 100 firefighters. I heard how much intestinal fortitude he had and he showed it in Bradenton as well as Iraq.

It is not the fault of the family, or his firefighter family or those who served with him unable to attend the memorial because of weather. It is the fault of military leaders not understanding those who serve under their command.

Iraq Veteran Honored by the Friars Foundation

Iraq War veteran honored for bridging civil-military divide 
Sentinel Tribune
By DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel News Editor
November 29, 2014
Kayla Williams brought the war home with her.

The 1997 Bowling Green State University graduate served as a translator during the Iraq War. That's where she met her husband Brian McGough, a fellow soldier.

That's where McGough suffered a traumatic head injury in 2003.

Earlier this year, Williams brought the fallout of war home to readers in her second memoir "Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War." Williams will receive one of the inaugural Lincoln Awards, bestowed by the Friars Foundation, for her writing.

Her first book, "I Love My Rifle More Than You," was about her tour in Iraq and being a military woman.

Williams will receive the Friars' Artistic Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. The foundation's citation states: "Through her writing, Williams raises public awareness for the betterment of her fellow veterans and civilians alike, as she works to bridge the civil-military divide."

"It's a tremendous honor," Williams said in a recent telephone interview. "I hope it draws increased attention to the messages I'm trying to get out there both in the military and the civilian world."

Though they met in Iraq, a story chronicled in the opening chapter of her new book, Williams' and McGough's courtship didn't begin until after they were back in the United States, and Brian was starting his recovery.

The book covers the "very, very difficult years of recovery," Williams said.
read more here

Veteran Confronts Fake Army Ranger Trying to Get Discounts

UPDATE and Yahoo!
'Fake' Army Ranger in Viral Video May Face Charges

Veteran Of 2/506th Calls Out Fake Ranger At Oxford Valley Mall
Nov 28, 2014

A former Infantryman from Easy Co 2/506 101st sent us this video of him calling out a fake Ranger at a local mall. This guy couldn't answer basic questions that he should've known, he was wearing a CIB with three stars and tried to say he got them all for Iraq and Afghanistan, not possible as you can only get one for both campaigns. I'm guessing he was trying his hand at some discounts. Visit us on Facebook at /Stolenvalor and on the web at (linkded from Digg)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fort Eustis Soldier Surrenders After Standoff

Soldier surrenders after barricading self at base house in Va.
The Associated Press
Published: November 28, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A soldier who had barricaded himself in a home at the Fort Eustis military base has reportedly surrendered overnight to authorities.

According to the Newport News base's Facebook page, the soldier was then brought to a medical facility for a health evaluation.

During the barricade situation Thursday night, the Department of Defense told there was no active shooter. Base spokesman Capt. Kevin Whitlatch said no evacuations were ordered and that the man is an active duty soldier.
read more here

U.S. Marines 4 Tour Iraq Veteran Heading to Congress

U.S. Rep.-elect Moulton's sights set on Armed Services panel
Lowell Sun
By Chelsea Feinstein
UPDATED: 11/28/2014

Congressman-elect Seth Moulton said that he's working to earn a spot on the House Armed Services Committee.

"I think we need the perspective of combat veterans on that committee, and we have a bigger defense industry in the 6th (District) than any other district in the state, so it's important for the district," Moulton, a U.S. Marines veteran who served four tours in the Iraq War, told The Sun Tuesday.

Fresh off his weeklong orientation for freshmen congressmen in Washington, D.C., Moulton said Armed Services is his top choice for a committee assignment. While in Washington last week, he wrote a letter explaining what he could offer to the committee and met with people already on the committee.

Those activities came as part of the traditional rite of passage for freshman congressmen, where Moulton and his colleagues networked, attended seminars on ethics and the legislative process, chose offices and began the process of hiring a staff.

"I want to hit the ground running and start serving the people of the 6th District," Moulton said. "Orientation is important for getting me and my team up to speed."

Despite not hearing anything as of Tuesday night from his predecessor, Rep. John Tierney, who had been elected to nine terms before losing to Moulton in the Democratic primary in September, Moulton said the transition process is otherwise on track.
read more here

'Frozen' princess surprises girl who lost Marine dad

'Frozen' princess surprises girl who lost Marine dad 
November 28, 2014
Anna and Codi singing
(Photo: Colorado Supporting Our Troops)
KUSA – It was a tough summer for 4-year-old Codi.

Her father, Lt. Col. Anthony Alvarado, died while serving in the Marines.

Shortly thereafter, her family moved from California back to Colorado. One of her greatest wishes that she knew would bring her joy was to meet Princess Anna from Disney's hit movie Frozen.

While at a Colorado Supporting Our Troops event in October, little Codi was surprised by the princess herself, played by local artist Aubrie Hamrick.

Together they sang "Let it go" and "Do you want to build a snowman" – as Codi's face lit up.
read more here

Let It Go with Codi and Aubrie Hamrick as Princess Anna. Codi lost her daddy, a Marine, last June. She just wanted to sing with Princess Anna... Colorado Supporting Our Troops made that happen!

Land of the free but do we deserve to be?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 29, 2014

We have the best military in the world. No doubt about it. Patriots obtained our freedom and every generation after them retained it. They filled up cemetery plots during combat and afterwards because we didn't care enough about what they needed from us.

We don't take care of them when they are serving or when they come home. We are all enjoying the rights and freedoms they make sure we have but at the end of the day, we need to answer some questions honestly.

Why are soldiers and families on food stamps?
About five percent more shoppers used food stamps at commissaries in 2013 than used them in 2012. But the increase is actually a sign that use is leveling off instead of quickly increasing as it had been before. Between 2011 and 2012 it went up 13 percent. And back between 2008 and 2009 it went up 70 percent, according to figures from DeCA.

I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, surely we should be paying our military members enough that food stamps are out of the question. On the other hand, is the need for food stamps really as high as it seems?

The story originally broke last fall here and finally made its way to CNN over Presidents Day weekend.

The food stamp increase doesn’t track with the rate of use of the Woman and Infant Children (WIC) subsidy. Army Times reported in October that those numbers were trending steadily downward. About 6 percent fewer military families used WIC at the commissary in 2013 than in 2012.
“On occasion, customers with food-stamp EBT cards found themselves in the wrong line, and we’d have to direct them to use one of the registers with an EBT terminal,” said Gary Hensley, director of the commissary at Fort Benning, Ga., in an announcement from the Defense Commissary Agency. The Fort Benning commissary rang up more than $1.1 million in purchases in the food stamp redemption program in 2007, tops among commissaries.
Why are they getting layoff notices in Afghanistan?
The study believes our newest veterans have financial hardships that make accessing sufficient food more difficult compared to the average citizen.

“We found that 27 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have consistent access to sufficient food,” said University of Minnesota researcher Rachel Widome, Ph.D.,. “That’s drastically higher than the prevalence of food insecurity in the U.S., which is 14.5 percent.”

Research was conducted with the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs, and surveyed 922 veteran records.

The Army says it will soon notify 550 majors that they must leave the service by next spring as part of a budget-driven downsizing of the service.

As the Army looks to reduce its force to 490,000 by the end of fiscal year 2015 and 450,000 by the end of FY ’17, a military personnel official from Fort Hood said Tuesday that 213 captains within III Corps were recently identified by the Army Officer Separation Board to transition from the service in the coming months. At Fort Hood, 91 captains were affected by the OSB, according to Jay Whitaker, the senior military personnel officer, or G1, with Fort Hood’s Mission Support Element.

Fiscal 2016 sequestration marks ‘breaking point’ Everyone wants the U.S. to lead the way in resolving global conflicts and crises, he said, not necessarily supplying the preponderance of forces, but involvement to some extent. The nagging question is, “Do we want to do that or not?” In fiscal year 2016, Odierno pointed out that the budget will go down $9 billion from what it is now. That would have a “significant degradation” on the force “because I cannot take people out fast enough.”

Why do the wounded get this kind of treatment?

The memo encourages "dispositions/discharges as soon as possible." Hospital spokesperson Sandy Dean explained this direction, saying, "We are are encouraging health care providers to be more efficient when handling their paperwork instead of writing discharge orders later in the day ... no patient has been or will be discharged before it is medically appropriate."

With cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems at an all-time high, Dean says civilian caregivers in the hospital's in-patient mental health section are furloughed, reducing beds there from 28 to 22.
The news of veterans getting the shaft at the VA seemed like such a shock yet if you remember, since they didn't remind you, none of it was new. Congress gave us decades of promises to fix what the VA got wrong and support what they got right. Here's a few more stories the national press forgot about.

Why are veterans still finding when they turn to the VA for help healing PTSD, it isn't there?
Howard County Veterans' Service Officer Ross Waltemath estimated out of the up to 10,000 veterans who live in Kokomo and the surrounding area, which has the highest number of veterans per capita in Indiana, around 2,000 have mental-health disorders.

“We've got a lot of vets running around Howard County with real problems,” he said.

But when local veterans seek help for their disorder, they discover it's not easy to find.

Waltemath said there's a two-month wait to see a psychiatrist or mental-health worker at the VA clinics in Indianapolis, Marion or Fort Wayne, where most area veterans end up going for treatment.

He said with the influx of service members coming back with PTSD and other mental illnesses, area VA hospitals aren't equipped to handle the spike in cases.

“The VA health care system is completely overloaded,” he said. “Mental health is one of the areas that's totally overwhelmed all our medical facilities. No clinic is designed or manned anymore to deal with the volumes of people out there.”

Once vets do eventually get in to see a therapist or psychologist, there's a good chance they won't have another appointment for a few months, Waltemath said.

“I've never heard of a VA turn a guy away, but if you have mental-health issues and you get in once every three months, how big of a help is it really to you?” he said.

The problem goes far beyond long waits to get into to see a VA therapist.

One of the biggest issues is the lack of psychiatrists and psychologists who have any military experience or a real understanding of how to properly treat PTSD and traumatic brain injury, said Ken Gardner, an Air Force veteran and clinical therapist at Kokomo Family Psychiatric Center.

He said for most veterans, it's tough to speak to a mental-health worker about their disorder who hasn't served and doesn't understand military culture.

“It's really difficult to relate to a therapist who is fresh out of school and who doesn't understand the experience of the vet,” Gardner said.

Chris Fidler, the local facilitator for the non-profit Vet 2 Vet peer group, said the lack of providers with military experience is one of the biggest obstacles for veterans seeking help.

“People in the military are thrown into something they're not prepared for,” he said. “The military tries to prepare you for it, but who can ever really be prepared to go and kill people and see the horrors that they see? So anybody that tells a combat veteran they understand what they're going through is lying. They haven't been there, and they don't understand.”

Capt. Scott Edwards, a state behavioral health officer and the chief psychologist for the Indiana National Guard, said many mental-health workers at VA clinics not only lack military experience but don't know how to properly treat PTSD.

“The VA providers are supposed to know how to do these treatments, but what I've found is that they aren't very proficient,” he said. “We can't always assume that the VA is offering the appropriate treatment.”

For many vets, the only treatment they get from a VA behavioral health provider is a bag of prescription meds, said veteran's service officer Waltemath.

The situation is even worse for veterans trying to find help at civilian hospitals and behavioral-health centers.

Waltemath said there are hardly any local providers who have any military experience or know how to properly treat PTSD and other mental-health issues related to combat.

“If you have a clinician who can't even spell the word 'deployment,' these vets aren't going to come back to you,” Waltemath said.
read more of this here
Are they right? Yes but it turns out only 13% of civilian mental health providers understand military culture.
A Rand Corp. survey of 522 psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers found that just 13 percent met the study's criteria for "cultural competency," meaning they understood military mores, language and background, and delivered appropriate care for illnesses unique to the military, such as combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

We read the end result far too often. The result of the military refusing to adapt programs that actually work instead of kicking thousands of them out with bad paper discharges every year. Instead of trying to convince the public these soldiers were "damaged" before they enlisted so we aren't supposed to care or hold any of the leaders accountable for any of it. They are unable to accept responsibility for their own mental health testing failing if that actually is the reason as much as they refuse to accept responsibility for their own programs being inadequate for the non-deployed yet they tell redeployed they were trained to be resilient.

Then the VA itself lacks properly trained psychologists and psychiatrists to treat those able to overcome the stigma the military filled them with. Lacking the help they need adds to the stress they are already under but the top off is when members of the press twist words to make it seem as if veterans turning to the VA are only looking for money. Nice little trick being played on millions of veterans with PTSD.

The question we need to start answering is, do we deserve to have the best military in the world? Do we deserve the men and women stepping up to retain our freedom or not? Seems like everyone says stuff like "I know my rights" and scream about freedom of speech and religion but then never seem to understand where those rights come from. Our troops serving today and veterans who served yesterday made sure your rights were defended so you could use the right to ignore them or fight for them.

Do we deserve them or not? When do we start acting like it? When do we take the time to fight for them?

Thieves stole from veteran, community gives her much more

Navy Veteran Robbed Gets Help With Thanksgiving Dinner
News 10 Central Ohio
November 27, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Inside a Hilliard home, a Thanksgiving meal is taking form for a guest these cooks have never met.

"When we saw Jeanette's story we wanted to reach out and help and try to give her a better thanksgiving that's she's had so far," said Mallory Hammond of Pinup Patriots.

She's talking about Jeanette Waldon-- A Navy Veteran robbed on Veteran's Day. Waldon was waiting at this COTA bus stop in Clintonville. She told police two men robbed her of her purse and a gift card she hoped to use to pay for a thanksgiving meal.

"Watching Channel 10 it was just devastating that someone could do that to somebody we wanted to make sure that this will not stand and that she is not alone and that the community will stand behind her," says Hammond.

Hammond's group dresses like the pinups of 1940's and makes appearances at veteran's groups and makes care packages for active military.

"This is the first time we've taken a thanksgiving dinner to a veteran," she says.
read more here

Houston Citizens Join Forces to Get Korean War Veteran Home

When you read about younger families being helped by Congress because they are caring for their disabled veterans, remember this story. That help does not include older veterans and their families.
Local 2 viewers help disabled Korean War veteran get home for Thanksgiving
Click2 Houston
Author: Bill Spencer
Investigative Reporter
Published On: Nov 27 2014

The Korean War -- it's been called America's forgotten war, but for 75-year-old Robert Taylor it's impossible to forget. As an Army foot soldier, Taylor suffered a near fatal head injury when he got into a brutal fight for survival with a soldier from the other side, getting his head smashed in with the butt of a rifle, an injury that has caused Taylor painful seizures his entire life.

Now, five decades later, after suffering a massive stroke last November, Robert and his wife, Linda, have been trapped in Houston for more than a year, unable to return to their home and family in Bristol, Tennessee -- all because they couldn't afford a $10,000 medical transport in an ambulance to get Robert back home.

"It sounds like an old cliché, but it's been like hell for us here," Linda said. "I have no help here to care for my husband and all our family is back home in Bristol."
With nowhere else to turn, Linda Taylor called Local 2 News for help to get her husband back home.

That's when Local 2's Bill Spencer went to work trying to find an ambulance service willing to help this brave veteran. It took more than a month and too many phone calls to count, but Spencer finally found the folks at Abingdon Ambulance Service in Abingdon, Virginia.

Through an incredible act of generosity, they agreed to transport Robert Taylor all the way from Houston back to Bristol -- an 18-hour ride with three trained paramedics by his side the entire time -- and absolutely free.

"We can be a blessing to this family, we have the ability, we have the resources, and it's the right thing to do for any veteran who has served this country," said Keith Martin, of Abingdon Ambulance Service.

In addition to the medical transport, a special GoFundMe account was set up to raise money for the Taylors.

After Local 2 News called loyal viewers to donate, you did just that. In fact, through those donations Local 2 raised more than $14,000 in a matter of weeks for the Taylor family.
read more here
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Friday, November 28, 2014

Camp Lejeune Marine Shot by Police While Rushing Wife to Hospital

WIFE: Marine husband rushing me to hospital when shot by officer during chase
By: Carly Swain, Rachael Cardin, and Clayton Bauman
Nov 28, 2014

The wife of a Marine who is accused of leading police on a chase and attempting to run down an officer says her husband was rushing her to the hospital.

Brandon Henry is facing several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon against a government official, and fleeing or eluding arrest.

Jacksonville police say Henry was driving a vehicle that was first being chased by Camp Lejeune police.

The Wednesday night chase ended up in the city, and investigators said officers initially tried to stop the car near Corbin Road and Huff Drive. Police say the driver suddenly stepped on the gas, speeding straight toward Officer Jan Friis. Police said that officer shot at the car.

Jennifer Henry said she was unconscious in the car as her husband was trying to get her to the hospital. She says her husband was hit by one of the bullets in his arm, while another came close to hitting her. "One bullet came through the front window, the windshield and the other came in the passenger side, right behind my head, close to the door."

Henry, who says she was medically discharged from the Marines, told WITN's Rachael Cardin that both she and her husband suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. She says her husband told her he initially stopped for police, and then had a panic attack. Henry says her husband was only trying to go around the policeman when the officer opened fire.
read more here

Wall Street Journal PTSD Report on Vietnam Veterans Mostly Wrong

Vets Seek Help for PTSD Decades After War
Hundreds of Thousands of Aging Vietnam Veterans Receive Treatment
Wall Street Journal
Clare Ansberry
November 28, 2014

SANDISFIELD, Mass.—Nightmares of a friend dying beside him in a bunker years ago now waken Donald Vitkus.

“There is stuff that you carry from the war,” the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran said.

Mr. Vitkus spends his days in and out of therapy at a residential rehabilitation center filled with mostly older veterans, working on his memory while trying to gain control over disturbing recollections and the emotions they surface.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of aging Vietnam veterans who late in life are now seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder—a mix of flashbacks, depression and sleeplessness springing from a war that ended four decades ago.

More than 530,000 veterans received treatment for PTSD from VA hospitals and clinics through March of this year, nearly double the total through 2006, according to the Veterans Administration. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make up a large portion of the increase but account for slightly more than a quarter of PTSD patients; the rest served in earlier wars, mainly Vietnam.

Many of those Vietnam veterans threw themselves into family and work after the war, keeping busy to avoid thinking about what happened. Now, in their 60s and 70s, they have retired, their children grown, living without the distraction of workaday life. Some no longer have confidants—spouses, friends or siblings.
read more here

Now for something they got wrong among other things.
"PTSD wasn’t identified as a medical disorder until 1980, after the emotional troubles of Vietnam veterans became too overwhelming to dismiss."

The VA didn't compensate for PTSD until the 80's but it was already being used by the mental health community and veterans centers. Vietnam veterans pushed for the research and treatment as well as compensation to take care of all generations of veterans.

The title of the report this came from was this

It hangs on the wall right over my desk so I never forget how long we've been talking about PTSD.
Some experts question the reported rise in PTSD cases. Christopher Frueh, a University of Hawaii psychologist and former clinician and director of a VA PTSD clinic, said the VA has relaxed criteria in determining PTSD—for example, not requiring documentation of exposure to a traumatic event—making it easier for veterans to misrepresent their combat experience.

The article seems to want to send a message supporting an agenda instead of facts. In 2007 El Paso Times had this report about Vietnam Veterans seeking help for PTSD.
In the past 18 months, 148,000 Vietnam veterans have gone to VA centers reporting symptoms of PTSD "30 years after the war," said Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, deputy commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He recently visited El Paso.
That was long before the rules were changed to make it easier for Vietnam veterans to refile claims that had been turned down. Long before research, real research showed that Vietnam veterans were the majority of the homeless as well as the majority of the suicides connected to military service.

In the article them seem to be trying yet again to blame the veteran for not being, well, strong enough to deal with combat on one hand and on the other, being greedy taking advantage of the rule changes. With reporters like this, we have a view of what it will look like 30 or 40 years from now since they forgot what really happened.

Every generation came home with what we call PTSD. My Dad's generation still called it "shell shock" but they all knew what it was. They knew the price being paid by body and mind. Wounds that would never really heal.

My husband's Dad and uncles were of the WWII generation. One of them had "shell shock" and was given a choice. Go into an institution or go live on a farm with other veterans. He picked the farm.

Between WWI and WWII, psychiatric evacuations went up 300%. They tried something different during Kora and brought them down to 3% because they had clinicians pull soldiers out of combat, treat them and get them able to go back to duty.

With Vietnam they tried something else. 12 month deployments so that they were already back home and out of the military before they started to show signs they needed help. Marines did 13 months.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Awarded for Outreach Efforts

Saugus veterans district is honored
Saugus Wicked Local
By Jessica Sacco
Posted Nov. 28, 2014

“For us being young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in our 20s and 30s, we’re making our generation of veterans proud, too.” Andy Biggio

Ryan McLane, district director of veteran services for Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus, Andy Biggio, district veteran services officer, and Coleman Nee, Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Services, after the awards ceremony in Leominster.
Courtesy photo

Saugus veterans’ officials were recognized for outstanding services and community outreach by the state. The Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services presented the Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus district with the Veterans’ Services District of the Year award during a ceremony on Oct. 27.

Every year the department hosts an annual training for veteran service officers to update officials on new policies, procedures and benefits. There are currently 201 VSOs throughout the commonwealth and 22 veterans’ services districts.

During the four-day training conference in Leominster, the department issued three awards: Veteran Service Officer of the Year, Veteran Service Officer Administrator of the Year and Veterans’ Services District of the Year.

The latter represents the hard work and dedication by District Director Ryan McLane and District VSO Andy Biggio.

“The Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus Veterans’ Service District has done a tremendous job of improving outreach and access to state, federal and other benefits for veterans and their families and are a perfect example for what communities can accomplish under a district model,” Coleman Nee, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services said in a statement. “I congratulate Ryan and Andy on behalf of the Department and the veterans in their communities.”

Nee created the Veterans’ Services District of the Year award in 2011, after he released official guidelines on the process for establishing veteran districts.
read more here

PR Campaign Starts to Counter WTU Reports

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 28, 2014

NBC5 and Dallas Morning News did a six month long report on the investigation of how PTSD soldiers were treated in Warrior Transition Units across military bases.
Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Hundreds of Soldiers Allege Mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units Wounded soldiers found harassment and verbal abuse from commanders assigned to care for the injured.
Wounded Times has covered the truth for 7 years and it is far from what the national news will spend time on. Most of the great reporting is done by local news outlets across the country. That is where the reports on No excuse for Fort Hood mistreatment of Soldiers with PTSD came from.

The rest of the media can ignore it all they want but the truth is, while we do have the best military in the world, when it comes to the men and women serving, the leaders are PTSD imbeciles.

To discover how long all of this has been going on, we need to begin with the research the Army did on redeployments in 2006. The Washington Post reported their study showed this.
Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds
Washington Post
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.

More than 650,000 soldiers have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 -- including more than 170,000 now in the Army who have served multiple tours -- so the survey's finding of increased risk from repeated exposure to combat has potentially widespread implications for the all-volunteer force. Earlier Army studies have shown that up to 30 percent of troops deployed to Iraq suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the latter accounting for about 10 percent.

The findings reflect the fact that some soldiers -- many of whom are now spending only about a year at home between deployments -- are returning to battle while still suffering from the psychological scars of earlier combat tours, the report said.

"When we look at combat, we look at some very horrific events," said Col. Ed Crandell, head of the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team, which polled 1,461 soldiers in Iraq in late 2005. "They come back, they know they're going to deploy again," and as a result they don't ever return to normal levels of stress, Crandell said.
read more here

What did the Generals do? Did they make sure no one was sent back? No. As a matter of fact, they ignored their own research. This is an educated assumption simply because as they refused to adapt, they also refused to make sure these redeployed troops were properly cared for in response to what they knew would follow.

They pulled the wool over the public eye with Battlemind.
If BattleMind worked, there would not be more suicides and more attempted suicides than before BattleMind, but do you think they would be able to figure this one out yet? It came out in 2007 and yet again today I hear word of another soldier, a young, newly married soldier, who came back from Iraq and blew his brains out in front of his new bride. Is it because they do not show it to all the troops? Is it because they only show a lousy 11 1/2 minutes to the troops in Afghanistan as the BBC reported? Is it the trainers? Or, is the answer as simple as it does not work?

I don't know but you would think that since some of the finest minds in this country have been put to work on PTSD, they would have reduced suicides and attempted suicides instead of increasing them while they stick their fingers in their ears and hope the problem goes away! If they cannot cope with any of this after all this time, what's it going to be like two or three years from now when most of them have PTSD and they are still doing what does not work? Unit cohesion? Trust? How can they have any when they cannot trust what they are coming back to? How can they when some of them are National Guards and Reservists expected to go back to their civilian lives and jobs?

This was followed by Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
In a speech before the international affairs organization the Atlantic Council on Thursday, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey laid out the virtues of the newly formed initiative, which he called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

"We have been looking very hard at ways to develop coping skills and resilience in soldiers, and we will be coming out in July with a new program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness," said Casey. "And what we will attempt to do is raise mental fitness to the same level that we now give to physical fitness. Because it is scientifically proven, you can build resilience."

"The whole idea here is to give soldiers the skills they need to increase their resilience and enhance their performance," he went on. "A lot of people think that everybody who goes to combat gets post-traumatic stress. That's not true. Everybody that goes to combat gets stressed. There is no doubt about it. But the vast majority of people who go to combat have a growth experience because they are exposed to something very, very difficult and they prevail. So the issue for us is how do we give more people the skills so that more people have a growth experience... We thought it was important to get started on this because everything else involves you treating the problem. We need to be more proactive."

Yet by 2009 it was already followed by a warning that this "program" would increase suicides simply by feeding the stigma.
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness will make it worse
If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.

This training was designed as a research project to help school aged kids feel better about themselves but these yahoos decided to treat soldiers like kids on the playground and tell them they could train their brains to be mentally tough. As we've seen from the reports on Warrior Transition Unit leaders telling PTSD soldiers to "man up" they got the wrong message.

This training told the soldiers if you train right you'll be resilient and they heard if they ended up with PTSD, they were mentally weak. Would you want to admit you needed help after that? Would you want to tell you buddy you are falling apart or need to talk with this idea your brain?

Every single OEF-OIF veteran I talked to pointed to this training as part of the problem but the leaders have not been willing to listen to them.

Generals have been delivering the wrong message at the same time they ignore the right ones. When other generals talked about having PTSD, when MOH heroes talked about their own battles, the DOD failed to get their message.

Ok so now you know more of what has been happening. Just as the PR campaign started to blame soldiers for committing suicide making sure the country knew most of them had not been deployed, they failed to address the simple fact that CSF wasn't even good enough to keep them alive but they thought it would work for those redeployed over and over again?

They play another game of selling how great they are with a "success story" on Warrior Transition Units.
VA soldier interns share transition success stories with WTU soldiers
By Gloria Montgomery
Warrior Transition Unit Public Affairs
November 26, 2014

TEMPLE — It gave her goose bumps, she said as she listened to her former Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit soldiers share stories of their transitioning successes with other WTU soldiers who will soon enter the civilian workforce.

The goose bumps, said Maj. Thelma Nicholls, a WTU nurse case manager, were from witnessing the transformation of her former “broken and worn-down” soldiers into confident and beaming professionals, thanks to the Temple Veterans Affairs’ “intern to hire” philosophy and the Operation Warfighter federal internship program.

“To see how they have transitioned into productive citizens and are now paying it forward is remarkable,” she said, adding how special it was that the WTU interns and VA veteran hires were sharing their positive messaging with Nicholls and nearly 50 other WTU soldiers and family members Nov. 14 at the Olin E. Teague Medical Center in Temple, during a panel discussion on federal internships and employment opportunities.

“It was so uplifting,” Nicholls said. “They are a light for the soldiers who are leaving and thinking there is nothing out there for them. Well, there is something out there, but they have to want it, go for it and be that little light to make things happen.”

It also validated everything about the WTU and the “process” called healing and transitioning, said WTU’s intake company’s 1st Sgt. Renita Garrett.
read more here

Researchers Find Reason PTSD is Not All in Your Head

'Trigger' for stress processes discovered in the brain
Medical Xpress
Medical University of Vienna
"In contrast, the consequences of chronic stress are manifold and can, for example, lead to an increased tendency to suffer from infections but also to high blood pressure, diabetes and an increased risk of cardio-vascular disease right through to chronic headaches, tinnitus or osteoporosis."

At the Center for Brain Research at the MedUni Vienna an important factor for stress has been identified in collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (Sweden). This is the protein secretagogin that plays an important role in the release of the stress hormone CRH and which only then enables stress processes in the brain to be transmitted to the pituitary gland and then onwards to the organs. A current study on this molecular switch has now been published in the top-ranked EMBO Journal.

"If, however, the presence of secretagogin, a calcium-binding protein, is suppressed, then CRH (= Corticotropin Releasing Hormone) might not be released in the hypothalamus of the brain thus preventing the triggering of hormonal responses to stress in the body," explains Tibor Harkany of the Department of Molecular Neurosciences at the MedUni Vienna.
"Now we have a better understanding of how stress is generated," says Tomas Hökfelt of the Karolinska Institutet and guest professor at the MedUni Vienna. This could result in a further development where secretagogin is deployed as a tool to treat stress, perhaps in people suffering from mental illness such as depression, burn out or posttraumatic stress disorder, but also in cases of chronic stress brought on by pain. If a rapid recovery phase follows a period of stress, body and mind are restored to "normal working", which is associated with a suppression of the release of circulating stress hormones.
learn more here

Air Force Staff Sgt. Pearsall Turns Lens Into Healing PTSD

Veterans Portrait Project new passion for former combat photographer 
The Post and Courier
Prentiss Findlay
November 27, 2014
"The physical pain was one thing. I was trained well enough to just kind of suck it up and keep going. I just wasn't prepared for the emotional anguish I was going to feel," she said.
Retired Army First Sgt. Eugene D. Smith enlisted in
1966 at the height of the Vietnam War.
He retired in 1992.
He was photographed for the Veterans Portrait
Project in St. Louis. Stacy Pearsall

Stacy Pearsall prepared to focus her camera on veteran David Ball as she softly sang "Let It Go" over and again, a tune from the Disney movie "Frozen."

She recently completed a year of coast-to-coast travel for her Veterans Portrait Project.

In 33 cities, she photographed men and women who served their country including a 99-year-old Bataan Death March survivor.

In West Ashley, she added another veteran to the list of more than 3,000 for whom she has done portraits. She and assistant Cali Barini set up lights and other equipment in Ball's garage where he was photographed.

It was a good day for Pearsall. The post-traumatic stress disorder that can keep her at home in Goose Creek was at bay.

Pearsall said that she is getting better emotionally.

The portrait project has been a saving grace for her. 

"Four or five years ago I wouldn't be able to sit in this room where we are sitting. I would be buried in the corner over there. I've been pushing my comfort zone to get myself out of this repetitious funk because that's what PTSD does to you," she said.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Pearsall was wounded in 2004 and 2007 during tours of duty in Iraq when improvised explosive device blasts hit armored vehicles in which she was traveling. She received the Bronze Star for her actions helping rescue wounded soldiers. 
read more here

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Alaska Senate Elect Sullivan Family Fined $65 Million Price-Gouged the Veterans Administration

Sullivan’s Family Company Price-Gouged the Veterans Administration
Alaska Native News
Nov 26, 2014

ANCHORAGE – Dan Sullivan’s family company RPM attempted to rip off taxpayers by over-charging for roofing materials, including on Veterans Administration facilities. After a whistleblower reported RPM for price-gouging, the Department of Justice charged RPM under the False Claims Act and won a $65 million settlement.

Sullivan’s family, which owns RPM, has pumped nearly a million dollars into his campaign, raising questions about whether the company expects Sullivan to defend its practice of ripping off taxpayers. Sullivan has not commented on RPM’s False Claims Act settlement or criticized his family company’s decision to rip off the Veterans Administration. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/29/13].

“Other contractors who are considering bilking the government should take heed: False and fraudulent claims on the U.S. Treasury will not be tolerated,” said the prosecutor who won the settlement [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/29/13].

“A growing number of Alaskans are concluding that Sullivan is just in this to promote his own interests and the interests of his family’s multi-billion dollar business from Ohio,” said Mike Wenstrup, Executive Director of the Alaska Democratic Party. “Whether its RPM’s price-gouging his brother’s fish farming company, Dan Sullivan’s family would profit at the expense of Alaskans.”
read more here

Colorado Veterans Outnumbered 5-1 Meeting with VA

Attendance at Colorado Springs VA meeting is sparse
The Gazette
By Tom Roeder
Published: November 26, 2014

More VA workers than vets attended a Tuesday meeting to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts to improve service.

The VA has been under fire for months about long wait times for care, massive backlogs for benefit claims and customer service failures. New VA boss Bob McDonald has ordered the agency's regional offices to hold meetings nationwide to clear the air with vets.

"Our goal here is to provide as much information as we can on a general basis and answer any questions we can," said Lynette Roff, who heads eastern Colorado VA health care programs.

The agency brought workers and representatives for veterans service organizations to Colorado Springs for the meeting, outnumbering the veterans they were trying to reach by almost 5-to-1.

The turnout angered one veteran who showed up.

"The amount of people here is appalling," retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Bill Galvan said.

Galvan tongue-lashed the VA bigwigs for poor customer service and treating "veterans like the scum of the Earth."

Roff told Galvan she wants to hear his complaints.
read more here

Giving Thanks For Marines

Happy Thanksgiving Marines!
These are stories about love. A child given wish and young life celebrated. A couple married 75 years died together. A young Marine seeks future with woman he loves and proposes during football game. Marines welcomed into homes to have a family style Thanksgiving meal far from home.

Cherry Point family celebrates son’s birthday, life at Disney resort
Cpl. Unique B. Roberts II Marine Expeditionary Force

Ask any Marine what Nov. 10 means to them and you’re likely to hear a tale of a birth that took place in a Philadelphia tavern in 1775. One Cherry Point family had much more to celebrate this Nov. 10 than the inception of the Marine Corps.

"We treat every moment like it’s going to be the last moment because no one knows," said Cpl. Devon Morse, whose 3-year-old son, David, spent his birthday with his family at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

David, who shares his birthday with the Corps, was diagnosed with extra-ventricular neurocytoma, a rare form of cancerous brain tumor, in March. The rambunctious toddler with an infectious smile has since endured radiation therapy and two brain surgeries.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation held a party for David at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Havelock, North Carolina, Nov. 2, to grant his wish and ensure he and his family got to spend the week at Walt Disney World.

2nd Marine Division Band to spread holiday joy The 2nd Marine Division Band perform an arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite during the Holiday Concert at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Dec. 15. The program featured a variety of traditional and modern Christmas and holiday music performed by the full concert band, jazz ensemble, party band and soloists.
Locals open homes to Marines for holidays
JDN News
By Adelina Colbert
Published: Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turkey, stuffing, pie — you name it and they will have it.

Thanksgiving Day, about 500 Camp Lejeune Marines will be able to enjoy warm, home-cooked dinners, watch football and enjoy other leisure activities as they spend the holiday in the homes of local residents.

Susan Goodrich, branch head for the Single Marine Program at Camp Lejeune and New River said the Marines for Thanksgiving program allows families in the region to host students from Camp Geiger, Camp Johnson and Courthouse Bay.

“Marines will be placed two to a family if not more,” Goodrich said. “(They) will not only have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day dinner, some of the Marines will be able to play golf. Some plan to have boating activities.”

Goodrich said the program, which started about seven years ago, has grown exponentially. When the program began, families from one community hosted Marines for the holidays.

“I now work with four major communities,” she said.

Chartered buses on the morning of Thanksgiving Day will take Marines to communities in Wilmington, Wallace and New Bern. There, Marines will be greeted by their host families and spend an average of about 10 to 12 hours with the family.
read more here
Married 75 years, couple die together in Mount Holly wreck
Charlotte Observer
By Joe DePriest
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

MOUNT HOLLY Married 75 years, Jim and Kate Frazier, both 94, were headed from a lunch date on Monday when their car ran off a road only a few miles from their Mount Holly home.

Both were killed.

On Thanksgiving, family members will remember a loving, hardworking couple who stuck close to their textile roots.

“They were happily married for 75 years, had lunch together that day and passed together,” Ronald Frazier said of his parents. “I take some comfort in that.”

Mount Holly police reported the vehicle that Jim Frazier was driving ran off the left side of East Charlotte Avenue at 1:53 p.m. and went down an embankment, landing in a creek. Kate Frazier was pronounced dead at the scene and Jim Frazier died later at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia.
The couple were already married, and Jim had a job at Acme when he joined the Marines during World War II.

It would be a long separation for the couple.

When Jim Frazier landed on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima in February 1945, one of his brothers, Paul, was also with the invasion force.

That epic battle would deliver a devastating blow to the family.

An exploding mortar spewed shrapnel into Jim Frazier’s legs and chest. Recovering from serious injuries on a hospital ship, he didn’t know that his brother, also wounded in battle, had died on the same vessel. Paul was buried at sea.

Ronald Frazier said shrapnel from Iwo Jima remained in his father’s body.
read more here

Marine's proposal accepted at Worcester football game
By Bill Doyle
November 26, 2014
Marine Eric Kline leans in to kiss Alyha Pomales after she accepted his marriage proposal at half time during the game between North and South High School Wednesday. ((T and G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON))

WORCESTER — With snow falling, Eric Kline, a private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps, stood in his military uniform at the 50-yard line at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium during halftime of the North High-South High football game Wednesday morning.

Public address announcer Jim O'Donoghue said that Pfc. Kline would be involved in a special ceremony on the field and asked that Pfc. Kline's girlfriend, North High senior Alyha Pomales, join him on the field.

The South High Community School cheerleaders gathered behind Pfc. Kline and the North and South players looked while as he got on one knee in the snow and proposed to Ms. Pomales as he slipped an engagement ring onto her finger. She immediately said yes while everyone on the field and in the stands cheered. Then Pfc. Kline stood up and hugged his fiancée. Then they held hands and raised them to the cheering fans.
read more here
Injured vet, family find reasons to be thankful through hard times

Members of the Blank family gather at their home on Sept. 21, the day Nathanial, front left, left for Army boot camp. The rest of the family are Karen, front center; Abbie, front right; Linden, back left; Jonathon, back center; and Matthew. COURTESY PHOTO

Would you still be thankful if your body had been cut nearly in half by war, wrecking your life’s plans?

Would you still be thankful if you saw your brother or son live in pain daily, struggling to do things as simple as opening a door?

You would if you were Jonathon Blank and his family.

“Of course,” Jonathon said. “My life isn’t over. There’s a possibility of anything happening tomorrow. And I love that, rather than there being nothing because I’m dead.”

Linden Blank said he’s thankful his brother didn’t die in Afghanistan. “I’m thankful to God every day that didn’t happen. I’m thankful for my own survival.”

Among other things, Thanksgiving is a day to remember why we should be thankful. That can be harder some Thanksgivings than others.

This is the Blanks’ fifth Thanksgiving since a hidden bomb exploded under Jonathon on Oct. 26, 2010, during his Marine recon unit’s final mission in Afghanistan. It blew off his legs and a hip, tore up his intestines and ripped apart his left elbow.
read more here

Thankful for NBC and Dallas Morning News Cover Mistreatment of PTSD Soldiers

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 27, 2014

This all may seem like news to the American public, but it isn't. In the Veterans Community we talk about all of this while the press hasn't been interested. Graves are being filled every day across this country yet while the number 22 for veterans committing suicide a day may seem high to them, we know there are a lot more.

This morning as people watch Thanksgiving Day parades, we watch a parade of funerals that didn't need to happen. I'll be attending another one on Saturday for a veteran/firefighter killed by police. One more thing we talk about but the national press is obsessed with reporting on another event.

While Americans gather around their tables to give thanks for all they have with their families and friends, over 8,000 families have an empty chair and broken heart remembering all the other holidays they were grateful for the soldier setting their life aside for the sake of others yet left to suffer until all hope of healing was gone.

This morning military families are grateful for the reporting being done out of Texas because it is about us. About what far too many have known about in our world, but was kept secret from the American public.
Injured Heroes, Broken Promises,” a joint investigative project between The Dallas Morning News and NBC5 (KXAS-TV), examines allegations of harassment and mistreatment in the U.S.’ Warrior Transition Units, which were created to serve soldiers with physical and psychological wounds. Reporters David Tarrant, Scott Friedman and Eva Parks based their findings on dozens of interviews with soldiers, Army officials and medical experts, and hundreds of pages of military documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

It was the responsibility of every member of Congress to know what was going on in their own state so there is no excuse for them to simply come out and be "frustrated" now. Families have been screaming for help for decades while they were ignored. Veterans have been complaining about the lack of care and being betrayed by the Army at the same time they had to listen to generals and politicians talk about the "efforts" to care for those with PTSD.

We saw it all along yet no one seemed to care until Dallas Morning News and NBC 5 decided to actually do something about it.

While the national news stations and papers pretend as if nothing else is happening other than Ferguson, we are attending funerals.
Rep. Michael Burgess, a Dallas-area congressman and physician, expressed frustration that problems continue to pile up in the medical units set up to treat soldiers wounded in combat.
In 2008 another member of Congress was upset as well. The Courier Journal reported this.
Injured in a roadside blast in Iraq, Sgt. Gerald Cassidy was assigned to a new medical unit at Fort Knox, Ky., devoted to healing the wounds of war.

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

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., linked his death in part to inadequate staffing at the unit. Only about half of the positions there were filled at the time. The Army is still investigating the death and its cause, and three people in Cassidy’s chain of command have lost their jobs.

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

Bayh pointed to a September report from the Government Accountability Office showing that more than half of the Warrior Transition Units nationwide had shortages in key positions at the time. Of 2,410 positions, 1,127 — or 47 percent — had not been filled.

That was followed by Spc. Lawrence L. Holloway, 29, of Ponchatoula, La found dead in Fort Drum Warrior Transition Unit.
Holloway joined the Army in February 2004. He arrived at the upstate New York post in October 2004 after completing basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Pfc. Eli Mundt Baker, 22, of Foothill Ranch, Calif., was undergoing advanced individual training at Fort Huachuca, found dead WTU barracks.

That was followed by "Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army’s surgeon general, said there has been “a series, a sequence of deaths” in the new so-called “warrior transition units.” Those are special units set up last year to give sick, injured and war-wounded troops coordinated medical care, financial advice, legal help and other services as they transition toward either a return to uniform or back into civilian life."
There have been at least three accidental drug overdoses and four suicides among soldiers in special units the Army set up last summer to help war-wounded troops, officials said late Thursday.

A team of pharmacists and other military officials met early this week at the Pentagon to look into the deaths in so-called “warrior transition units” — established to give sick, injured and wounded troops coordinated medical care, financial advice, legal help and other services as they attempt to make the transition toward either a return to uniform or back into civilian life.

The Army said officials had determined that among those troops there have been 11 deaths that were not due to natural causes between June and Feb. 5.

Cpl. Scott Vickrey, 23, of Fayetteville, Ark., was found unconscious in his room at Rough Rider Village by his squad leader.

Medical services personnel were dispatched to the barracks room, but Vickrey was declared dead at the scene, Fort Hood said Wednesday.

Rough Rider village is home to Fort Hood’s Warrior Transition Unit for wounded or ill soldiers.

Vickrey joined the Army in 2003 and served a tour of duty in Iraq from February 2004 through February 2005 with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, during which he was decorated for repelling a suicide attacker and again for thwarting a homemade bomb attack.
Soldiers also found body of Spc. Jared Arnn, 21, of Boonville, Ind.

The body of Pvt. Paul Muse, a native of Oklahoma found dead at Fort Huachuca in November 2008.
The horrific stories have been reported for far too many years but nothing changed. Nothing changed because the national media stopped paying attention and let all of it go on and on.

We face it all with a blend of bitterness and hope for justice. Hope that the American public will care enough when they know what has been going on to actually do something instead of settling for anything as if it is better than nothing.
Denton native Zackary Filip, who was named 2010 Soldier of the Year by Army Times, said he was harassed and belittled when he sought help with his post-traumatic stress disorder at the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit.
(Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer)

The war after the war
Wounded soldiers allege mistreatment in the Army’s Warrior Transition Units
By David Tarrant, Scott Friedman (NBC 5) and Eva Parks (NBC 5)
Published on November 22, 2014

KILLEEN — At a shop that sells vacation packages to soldiers in the Killeen Mall, there’s a shrine to Zackary Filip. Newspaper clippings, congratulatory letters from congressional leaders and a large poster of Filip in his Army combat uniform cover a wall.

The Denton native was named 2010 Soldier of the Year by Army Times for his actions while in near-constant combat in Afghanistan and just afterward during the Fort Hood massacre.

Filip, a combat-hardened medic, saved the life of a civilian police officer and treated many other victims of the Fort Hood attack that killed 13 and wounded 32 others five years ago.

By the age of 24, with a Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal with the V device for valor, Filip looked forward to a long, successful military career.

But the Army he served with such distinction wasn’t there for him when he most needed its help, he says.

When he began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, he entered a special program — a Warrior Transition Unit — for soldiers in need of ongoing outpatient treatment. He expected to find the kind of care he needed to heal.

Instead, he once again felt under attack.

Related Stories Part 2: Wounded soldiers have complained of supervisors’ disrespect, unfair treatment and intimidation Complaints about wounded warriors’ treatment pile up
Benn sought to help, but PTSD hindered him
Editorial: Wounded warriors deserve better

NBC 5 takes a closer look at Warrior Transition Units
Hundreds of soldiers allege mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units
Injured soldiers question training of WTU leaders

Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Hundreds of Soldiers Allege Mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units

Soldiers in WTU with PTSD degraded and told to "man up"

Psychiatrist left disillusioned with the Army’s understanding of PTSD

No Excuse For Fort Hood Mistreatment of Soldiers With PTSD

Chuck Hagel's Last Act Should Be Holding General Odierno Accountable For Suicides