Monday, August 31, 2015

Fort Bragg Commander Removed For Kissing Spouses--Not His

Colonel Removed Over Accusations of Kissing Spouses, Poor Leadership 
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
by Amanda Dolasinski
Aug 31, 2015
In this file photo from Sept. 25, 2012, Col. Chad B. McRee, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade, briefs soldiers about the importance of buddy aid when it comes to suicide prevention at Fort Bragg, N.C. 16th Military Police Brigade photo

As Congress wrangled with the growing clamor over sexual misconduct in the military in 2013, a Fort Bragg commander made it a practice to give the wives of subordinates unwelcome kisses on the lips at public events.

After an anonymous letter was sent to the commander's superiors, a subsequent investigation led to his removal from his job. But he stayed in the military and was allowed to quietly retire in April 2015 -- more than two years after the initial complaint about his conduct.

An Army investigation -- triggered by an anonymous letter to Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps at the time -- reveals that Col. Chad McRee, former commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade, violated five of eight core expectations for Army leaders, made inappropriate remarks toward officers and noncommissioned officers and was unfairly authoritative toward Family Readiness Group members, officers and noncommissioned officers.
In 2013, McRee was suspended amid numerous allegations, then reinstated for the purpose of relinquishing command.

He was moved to serve as a special assistant to the 18th Airborne Corps Headquarters. He went on leave in December 2014 and retired in April 2015, according to Tom McCollum, a spokesman for Fort Bragg. McRee denies allegations
read more here

Veterans HERD Veteran Needed Help and Did It

Area Veteran falls on tough times; fellow service members lend a hand
By Marissa Perlman, News 4 Reporter
Published: August 30, 2015
Some of the vets helping Gozdan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other physical injuries. But that doesn’t stop them, organizers say they are ready to help.
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – One local Vietnam veteran’s home is in need of a major overhaul, but he can’t afford to fix it. He’s now getting help from neighbors who have also served. Darryl Gozdan lives on the Cheektowaga-Buffalo border.

He’s lived in this home since 1958, and says he has gotten behind on keeping it up. Now he can’t afford to renovate.
read more here

Vets H.E.R.D. Objective
To raise public awareness about the lack of veterans’ resources in our community and also to ensure that no veteran or service member is forgotten upon his or her return home from active duty.

Vietnam Veteran says "I thank God they recognize the soldiers now"

Orangeburg soldier survives as others around him die in Vietnam attack
Times and Democrat
August 29, 2015
“I thank God they recognize the soldiers now. We go through hell in combat. It took me 21 years to get my disability (benefits), and they know what I went through,” he said.
Albert Shuler Jr. spent 11 months in the combat zone in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, surviving six ambushes and a firefight.
The searing heat and drenching rain make the walk up hills and down through valleys longer.

Albert Shuler Jr. is not used to climbing through the Central Highlands of Vietnam, especially with up to 70 pounds on his back. Carrying his personal items, weapon, ammunition and rations, he moves through thick terrain, constantly looking for an enemy he knows is out to kill.

His reconnaissance platoon maneuvers the best it can. A sergeant gets hit. A member of the squad is hit too, and the infantrymen are pinned down amid the bloodshed.

The North Vietnamese Army unleasheas a barrage of fire. Artillery support is summoned. Planes drop bombs against the enemy, but there are two men whose bodies must be brought back.

Shuler and another soldier are asked to do the job. Fright fills him, and he is almost killed by a sniper. But he gets the job done. These men are his fellow soldiers -- even in death.

The dramatic experience is just one of many during the Orangeburg man’s time in Vietnam. Another comes just a week later.
read more here

Today continues The Times and Democrat's print and online series, “Vietnam: They Served With Honor.” The stories based on interviews with local veterans of the Vietnam War will continue on Sundays and Wednesdays through Nov. 11, Veterans Day. For more photos and video, and earlier stories in the series, visit
This is from Wounded Times and shows that while some folks think what OEF and OIF veterans go through is new, it isn't.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vietnam Veteran Finds Forgotten Photos of Never Forgotten

Dawn patrols and downtime in America's ugliest war 
Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: August 2015

One veteran's forgotten photos of Vietnam unveiled after 47 years, showing troops unaware of protests at home - and the many who never made it back
Former artillery officer Christopher Gaynor, now 70, took the images in 1967 and 1968 while deployed

They stayed hidden away for more than 40 years before he reopened them and relived old memories
Shelter: Soldiers are pictured above in cramped conditions near a battery of Howitzer artillery units in Loc Ninh. Thomas Corbin, bottom left with a bandaged finger, was one of Gaynor's war buddies. He died in action a year after this photograph was taken in 1967
These candid images show life on the front lines of the Vietnam war through the eyes of a young soldier, who rediscovered the collection decades after the conflict ended.

In the images by former artillery officer Christopher Gaynor, helicopters swoop down in high-risk troop deployments, convoys rumble through the booby-trapped countryside and infantrymen make tense dawn patrols.

Gaynor, now 70, spent more than a year in Vietnam between 1967 and 1968, taking photographs as he went. As well as showing scenes of battle-ready soldiers and equipment, he also showed his war buddies in their down time.
Photographer: Gaynor is pictured in a more recent photograph, honoring his fellow soldiers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
read more here

Veteran Survived 3 Tours, Attempted Suicide But Not Tampa VA Hospital

Mom questions care at Tampa V.A. hospital
News Channel 8
By Steve Andrews Investigative Reporter
Published: August 29, 2015
Robert Bradford arrived at Haley in May 2012. He suffered paralysis from a gunshot wound to the neck. Robert did two tours of duty in Iraq, a third in Afghanistan. It wasn’t an enemy bullet that turned him into a quadriplegic. Suffering invisible wounds from post traumatic stress disorder, he attempted suicide in 2011. By the time he arrived in Tampa, his mother recalls Robert was eating a regular diet, moved about the grounds with his power chair and went on outings everyday. However, his condition deteriorated and in March of this year Monte told V.A. Secretary McDonald, she wanted her son “out of this grave yard.”
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The mother of a U.S. Army soldier claims the military sent her son to fight a war at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration hospital without ammunition.

Monte Reinhardt claims her quadriplegic son received substandard care, contracted infections and lived in unsanitary conditions. Her son Army Specialist Robert Bradford was a patient at Haley’s Spinal Cord Injury Center for three years.

“He didn’t really receive top notch care, he really didn’t,” Monte stated.

So earlier this year she fired off a letter to V.A. secretary Robert McDonald complaining of “unsafe staffing levels, no respect for sanitation practices,” pointing out Robert’s gums “are near rotten.”

“When I would brush his teeth, and I would not be rushed, the toothbrush would be bloody,” Monte added.

She wrote McDonald, that Robert contracted “a new infection weekly.”

“He would have a U.T.I.(urinary tract infection) and a couple of times it would get to the point where it was just flat out red,” she explained.
Robert died two days after surgery. His uniform shirt now hangs on a chair in her apartment.
The flag that draped his casket sits on a cabinet beside an urn that contains his ashes. read more here

One More Thing About Bikers Getting Old

Time to laugh a bit. 

A friend sent this picture.

Yes, you read it right and don't need to check your glasses.

It says Sons of Arthritis. Turns out there is a website for our generation with even more stuff for us.

They have T-shirts for Ibuprofen Chapter, Titanium Chapter and Hydrocodone Chapter butt I didn't see any Hemorrhoids Chapter.

Nitty-Gritty Reality of PTSD Awareness and Suicide Prevention

Brutal Honesty, We Suck At Being Aware
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 30, 2015

If we are ever going to change a thing on suicides tied to military service, then it is about time for some brutal honesty regarding the nitty-gritty reality of how much we suck at it.

It is long past the time when PTSD Awareness should have been replaced with Healing Awareness. How many more years do we keep repeated the same failed attempts? Frankly it hasn't done anything in all these years. Veterans are still suffering instead of healing.
The National Center for PTSD promotes awareness of PTSD and effective treatments throughout the year. Starting in 2010, Congress named June 27th PTSD Awareness Day (S. Res. 455). For the second consecutive year in 2014, the Senate designated the full month of June for National PTSD Awareness (S. Res. 481). Efforts are underway to continue this designation in 2015.
Five years later and families are still suffering without knowing anything about what PTSD is or what they can do to actually help someone they love anymore than they know how they can make their lives better. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

What good did it do? What good did all the "efforts" to raise awareness do when the numbers show nothing has changed? The men and women suffering Combat PTSD managed to do everything humanly possible to survived combat while still being willing to sacrifice their own lives to save someone else. Yet these same service members struggle to find a reason to stay alive back home where they are supposed to be out of danger. Top all that off with the fact that there are billions of dollars spent every year on PTSD.

We had excuses before the 80's when researchers knew what PTSD but average folks were not clued in. I had no idea back in 82 when my Dad was using "shell shock" to explain it to me when I met a Vietnam veteran. I had to go to the library to learn about it from clinical books and a dictionary because of all the words I didn't understand. That research started me on this odyssey lasting over half my life. I ended up marrying that Vietnam veteran over 30 years ago. We're still together and past most of the anguishing years into the healing years when what is normal for us is far from normal to the civilian world.

What I learned saved lives and helped families just like mine. I still have to accept responsibility for what I failed to do that ended up costing my husband's nephew his life. I knew it all. Knew all the right things to say to help him. I had all the facts and understood what was needed. What I didn't know was how to get him to listen and hear me. His suicide haunts me every time I read about another veteran becoming so hopeless and lost the only way they see to end their suffering is to end their own lives.

Outreach work has supported generations of veterans to seek help. As a matter of fact this report came out in October of 2008
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.
But that came along with being sent to the back of the line almost as if they were not really worthy.
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...

The rest of the country decided that they were going to do the same thing and started charities just for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. It didn't matter that Gulf War veterans, Vietnam veterans, Korean War veterans and WWII veterans waited even longer to have their wounds treated and be reassured they mattered as well.

Most of the "awareness" advocates are not aware of the simple fact most of the suicides, 78% of them are those older veterans they pushed to the back of the line.
Veteran suicide numbers have gone up in recent years with much of the attention focused on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan killing themselves. However, almost seven out of 10 veterans who have committed suicide were over the age of 50, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs study.
Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide - 9 percentage points higher than the general pool.
But it is easier to just go with the flow and talk about what is popular like repeating the number "22" as if it was based on facts and then dismissing the fact that number is being presented pertaining to just Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Easier to avoid mentioning that after all these years of everyone doing everything, or claiming to, more are dead today than alive and healing.
"After two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps Reserve, Steven Vickerman tried to resume a normal life at home with his wife, but he could not shake a feeling of despair.

His parents, Richard and Carole Vickerman of Palisades, went to visit him at a veterans hospital after he suffered a mental breakdown; they were in disbelief. The funny and adventurous baby brother had become sullen, withdrawn and full of anxiety. Vickerman, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, killed himself Feb. 19."

His suicide didn't happen this year. It didn't happen last year. His family buried him in 2008.
"Families like the Vickermans often feel overwhelmed by the guilt and helplessness that surrounds post-traumatic stress disorder. The Vickermans wanted to help their son but did not know where to look for support services or how to deal with the effects of the illness.

The VA, they believed, had failed their son. The services available, they said, were insufficient, and the government should do more to address the issue for returning war vets.

"There should be something that can be done, not only for the proud soldiers but also for their families," Carole Vickerman said. "When you hear the word 'stress,' it sounds so innocuous. It's not stress; it's a killer.""

Families still don't know what to do anymore than they understand what PTSD is, what it does, why it does it or what they can do to make it better by not making mistakes to make it worse.

What good did PTSD Awareness really do? Not much at all other than to raise a lot of money doing Lord knows what for who other than fundraisers. It is still extremely hard to understand what they are trying to actually raise awareness of and who they are trying to inform when they cannot even answer basic questions.

It all sounds great until you actually listen to what they don't say. You never really hear anything helpful or, for the most part, factual.

The first fact they need to know is they are not stuck! They can change again and heal to live better lives but that won't happen as long as folks are still stuck on letting others know how much they really don't know about PTSD and suicides.

You are not alone. There is support.
The Defense Department takes the issue of suicide very seriously and is actively working to reduce the number of suicides.

Defense Suicide Prevention Office serves as the government oversight authority for the strategic development, implementation, centralization, standardization, communication and evaluation of Defense Department suicide and risk reduction programs, policies and surveillance activities to reduce the impact of suicide on service members and their families.

Everyone can help prevent suicide. Know how to recognize common risk factors including chronic pain; feelings of guilt, anger, or shame; exposure to trauma; a sense of hopelessness; relationship problems; and posttraumatic stress disorder. If you are experiencing any of these behaviors or notice them in friends and family who have served in the military, encourage them to seek help right away.

Service members in crisis should seek help immediately by contacting the Military Crisis Line. Dial 800-273-8255 (press 1 for military) for 24/7 crisis support. The crisis line, found at, also provides a chat and text service.

The problem with that is, again, simple. Facts show what they have been doing does not work If it had, then the number of current military suicides would have been reduced to the point where they would be historically low. They are not. They remain high. What makes that worse is the other simple fact on suicides among the OEF and OIF veterans committing suicide. Compared to their peers, they are triple the civilian rate.
Former troops in that high-risk age group — who were also enrolled for care at veterans' hospitals — posted a suicide rate of 79.1 per 100,000 during 2011, the latest data available. In contrast, the annual suicide rate for all American males has recently averaged about 25 per 100,000, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports.
During 2009, the suicide rate for veterans 24 and younger was 46.1 per 100,000 — meaning the deadly pace increased by 79 percent during that two-year span.

For female veterans it is even worse.
The rates are highest among young veterans, the VA found in new research compiling 11 years of data. For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.

The awareness most folks are claiming to raise is different from our reality. If you really want to raise meaningful awareness, then start with the truth, that isn't pretty, isn't popular or lucrative but is vital if we are ever going to stop sucking at what we do for them. Before Congress passes another prevention bill we have to prevent them from doing more harm than good.

UK Veteran Went From Diana's Pallbearer to Tossed Aside

Hero soldier who carried Princess Diana's coffin says Ministry of Defence 'tossed him aside' after he lost a leg and left the Army
Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 03:39 EST, 30 August 2015
Ex-Welsh Guardsman Phil Bartlett hit out at treatment after leaving Army
He says he was 'tossed aside' after losing a leg following 20 years service
Mr Bartlett, 41, was one of pallbearers at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997
But after being discharged he hit financial trouble and attempted suicide
Do you know any of the other pallbearers? Call 02036151861 or email
Earlier this month it emerged that NHS delays are leaving badly wounded Afghanistan veterans wheelchair-bound because many are having to wait months for prosthetic legs that actually fit properly.
Proud moment: Phil Bartlett, 41, (circled) carried the grief of a nation on his shoulders as pallbearer at Princess Diana's funeral. But he said the Ministry of Defence then 'tossed him aside' after he left the Army
A former soldier who carried the grief of a nation on his shoulders as pallbearer at Princess Diana's funeral says the Ministry of Defence then 'tossed him aside' after he lost a leg and left the Army.

Phil Bartlett, 41, an ex-Welsh Guardsman, hit out at David Cameron for the way he has been treated since being medically discharged following 20 years of service in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

He told of how his life went into a downward spiral after leaving the Army, leading to him attempting suicide, and accused the government of 'tossing him aside like a toy'.

Mr Bartlett told Lauren Veevers and Emily Nash at The Sun on Sunday how he went from proudly carrying Diana's coffin to suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and being left jobless, divorced and living in a one-bedroom council house.

Speaking on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the Princess of Wales' death, he said: 'It was such an honour to carry her coffin.
read more here

Pennsylvania Veteran Lost Leg, Lost Twin, Fights To Not Lose More

Pennsylvania veteran rebuilds his life
Scranton area man loses left leg at war and twin to suicide
Pennsylvania Observer Reporter
Scott Beveridge Staff Writer
August 30, 3015
“I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in the Middle East. We have to learn to take that uniform off. It's not going to take overnight to learn how to live like a civilian.”
Scott Beveridge Observer-Reporter
Retired Pennsylvania National Guard Staff Sgt. Earl Granville
speaks in June at Mon Valley Hospital about working for
mental health treatment to lower suicide rate among veterans.
MONONGAHELA – Retired Pennsylvania Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Earl Granville spent a lot of time drinking at bars after his twin brother and comrade in arms killed himself.

“That was my low point,” said Granville, who believes his brother, Joe, was unable to cope with the fact that his twin had lost his left leg to a roadside bomb June 3, 2008, while serving in Afghanistan.

“That horrible human that I was. I thought, 'Do I really want to go on like this?'” said Granville, 31, who lives in the Scranton area.

Granville and his brother served together in Iraq and Bosnia, and then, he said, he decided to go his separate way on a deployment to Afghanistan. His brother was preparing to go back to Iraq until the military prevented that from happening after the roadside bomb sent Earl Granville to the hospital.

At the time, Granville said he was “happy to be alive.”

His brother's depression, caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, worsened after the Army sent Joe Granville's wife, who was also in the service, to Iraq instead of him, Granville said in June while speaking about veteran suicide prevention at Mon Valley Hospital.
Joe Granville, who also was a staff sergeant, took his own life by leaping off a bridge on Dec. 18, 2010.
read more here

The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS) supports planning, analysis, and decision-making activities through the collection, validation, analysis, and dissemination of key statistics on Veteran population and VA programs.

Tiff Over Trift or Thrift in DAV Story of Store

Stories conflict on origin of DAV's 'Trift' store
The Daily Courier
Nanci Hutson
August 29, 2015
The DAV today proclaims itself as the owner of the only "Trift" store in the nation, one hailed for its role in providing housing for homeless veterans and their families as well other services and programs intended to benefit community veterans. The store has been honored as one of the best thrift stores in the state.
The Daily Courier, file photo
The Disabled American Veterans TRIFT STORE truck is not a misspelling – at least not anymore.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Three daughters of a long-deceased World War II Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient known for his mispronunciations have stepped forward to clarify the origins of a misspelled word now synonymous with a local veteran charity.

For at least two decades, the Disabled American Veteran Chapter 16 in Prescott has attributed the unusual spelling of their second-hand store, the "Trift" store, to veteran and professional sign painter Harold Seidel. Seidel donated his services to paint a new sign for the store's new quarters located at 730 N. Fifth St.
read more here

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Houston Deputy Shot Dead While Pumping Gas!

Deputy fatally shot from behind at Houston gas station
The Associated Press
Aug 29th 2015

HOUSTON (AP) — A sheriff's deputy in uniform was shot and killed Friday night while filling up his patrol car at a suburban Houston gas station, according to authorities.

Deputy Darren Goforth, 47, was pumping gas into his vehicle about 8:30 p.m. Friday when a man approached him from behind and fired multiple shots, Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ryan Sullivan told The Associated Press. Once the deputy fell to the ground, the suspect fired more shots.
"In my 45 years in law enforcement, I can't recall another incident so cold-blooded and cowardly." RON HICKMAN, HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF
Police described the suspect as a dark-complexioned male who is believed to be between 20 and 25 years old, and stands about 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall. He was wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts and driving a red or maroon pickup-style truck with an extended cab. Police said an intensive search for the suspect remained ongoing Saturday morning.
read more here

Iraq Veteran Ex-Employee Sues Home Depot

If you know anything about Home Deport you know about Home Depot Foundation and how much they care about veterans, plus they also committed to hiring 55,000 veterans. They have a long history in the veterans community.
Army veteran sues Home Depot, alleging disability discrimination
West Virginia Record
Carol Ostrow
Aug. 28, 2015

WINFIELD—An Army veteran from Putnam County is suing Home Depot, alleging employment law infringement.

Christopher J. Scalf of Hurricane filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 in Putnam Circuit Court against Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., alleging disability discrimination and breach of contract in 2013.

The suit states Scalf was hired June 14, 2013 by Home Depot for the second time and he noted on his application that he was a disabled veteran, having served in the U.S. Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad.

According to the complaint, Scalf sustained multiple injuries including traumatic brain injury during his deployment, was subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and consequently suffers from periodic migraines and PTSD episodes. He alleges when he developed a migraine June 16, he was sent home rather than given a reasonable accommodation at work, and was then terminated June 24, on the pretext of his (June 17) absence.
read more here

So how does something like this happen? There has to be more to the story than what was just reported.

What Do We Do When Responders Need Us?

When They Need Us
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 29, 2014

I have never had "good timing" showing up either too early or too late. Best way to explain that one is that I moved to Florida in 2004 right before Hurricanes Charley, Francis and Jeanne hit Central Florida in just six weeks.

When we were talking to the Realestate Agent about what we were looking for, one of the conditions was "no hurricanes" but the moving truck was long gone and the boxes had been trashed. The day after Charlie hit, we were down Home Depot buying plywood and stain. We drove down the street and our neighbors were making fun of the fact "we didn't have a hurricane in over 30 years but you guys buy plywood the day after" laughing at the stupid New Englanders.

When Francis was predicted to hit, they were standing in line to buy plywood. We were buying nails. When Jeanne was predicted to hit, they were using broken fences to cover their windows. We were buying more nails.

We're now facing Erika downgraded to tropical storm but no one knows for sure what will happen.

We're prepared to wait out the storm this time, just as we have been for every year after 2004 from June to November. While I don't spend too much time remembering that horrible year every season has been flashes of worrying it could happen again. It could have been worse if there were not emergency responders, firefighters, police officers and members of the National Guard willingly leaving their own families for the sake of the rest of us.

Hurricanes come with warnings while they are miles away and meteorologist have a general idea of where it will hit, when it will come and how strong the storm will be. If they aren't talking, we're not worrying.

It would be great if every traumatic event came with warnings and someone able to predict them so that folks could prepare ahead of time. Imagine how many people were able to get away from Hurricane Katrina because they were warned, able to leave and took the warnings seriously. We don't think about them because what happened in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama 10 years ago today.
The tropical depression that became Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and meteorologists were soon able to warn people in the Gulf Coast states that a major storm was on its way. By August 28, evacuations were underway across the region.

Average folks face traumatic events all the time. Sometimes they come from natural events offering some type of warning. Other times they come from accidents with no warning at all. They come from crimes committed by other humans. They come from people we know and all too often from people we trust.

Everyone is susceptible to events but there are others topping off the regular traumas to willingly putting themselves into them everyday for the sake of others.

Firefighters rush to accidents, run into burning buildings and face off with massive wildfires. Not just one time but all the time. When they are not thinking about what they have to do faced with danger, they know any moment can send them into a life-threatening event. We don't want to talk about what they see or have to go through to save lives.
OKANOGAN, Wash. — The three U.S. Forest Service firefighters killed in a wildfire near Twisp last week died as a result of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, or burns to the body, the Okanogan County Coroner’s Office said Friday.

The manner of death was listed as an accident.
From left, fallen U.S. Forest Service firefighters Richard Wheeler, 31, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Tom Zbyszewski, 20.

The three firefighters — Andrew Zajac, 26, Richard Wheeler, 31, and Tom Zbyszewski, 20 — were killed on Aug. 19 near Twisp.

Officials said the three died when their truck crashed down a 40-foot embankment as they tried to escape the fast-growing wildfire and flames consumed their vehicle. All three lived in north-central Washington.
Four others were injured.

All we care about is if they show up when we need them to. As for what happens to them afterwards, we expect them to be able to just get over it to be ready for the next time. We don't talk about them battling PTSD or thinking of ending their own lives. Emergency responders and firefighters are usually well regarded because we're always glad to see them especially when we're in trouble.

Police officers are different. We're glad to see them when we need them but hate to see them in a rearview mirror or when we were doing something wrong. They show up even though it seems more and more of them are hated. It is always stunning to think they still show up for work no matter how badly they are treated by some members of the public. Frankly most of us know there are a lot more good cops risking their lives for us than the few reported by the masses because they are suspected of doing something wrong.

We don't want to think about what their jobs do to them as long as they stay away from us when we don't need them but come when do. We don't want to think about Police Officers and PTSD or the fact that some go from risking their lives to not being able to fight for themselves anymore.

Members of the National Guard show up when we need them at home and deployed into combat operations on the other side of the world if asked to. Most of them are members of fire departments and police departments and a good number of them are also military veterans.

Yep, you know where this going.

We don't talk about them either. Sure we give them passing thoughts of reading reports pretending we understand all of what they face but we don't. Most don't even have a clue what their reality is or what it is like for their families. Oh, ya, that's something else we don't want to talk about. The families they come home to after they risked their lives for us.

The truth is, we want them there when we need them but no one seems to be there when they need us. As all of these folks get ready for yet another massive storm heading for Florida, think about all of them and then do a bit more than wonder what you can do for them and then DO IT! The predictions of their storms have been seen for generations but few took the warnings seriously enough to act.

Veteran's Unlawful-Search Suit Tossed in D.C.

Under the law is a requirement to report anyone who is a threat to themselves or others. That depends on how serious the observer thinks the situation is. Is there a need to act instantaneously? Most of the time, it is, because hindsight could end up coming too late to save a life. Veterans don't call the Suicide Hotline for fun. They call it out of desperation.

After tracking reports around the country, the fact is, when police officers are called, they usually end with officers having to explain why a call for help left a veteran in jail or dead.

In this case, the mental health worker did the right thing and so did the officers, for the most part, because the veteran is still alive and was taken to get the help he needed.
Veteran's Unlawful-Search Suit Tossed in D.C.
Courthouse News
August 27, 2015

(CN) - A veteran has no claims against Washington, D.C., police for searching his home, taking a grenade and several guns, leaving the door open, and letting his fish die, a federal judge ruled.Matthew Corrigan, a former D.C. resident and an Army reservist, phoned the National Suicide Hotline - though he believed he was calling the military's emotional-support hotline - on the night of Feb. 2, 2010, because "he was depressed and had not slept for several days," according to court records.

In response to questioning, Corrigan told a hotline employee that he was a veteran and owned firearms, but did not indicate that he planned to harm anyone or kill himself, he claims. Corrigan turned off his phone, took prescribed sleeping pills and fell asleep, according to his lawsuit.

Unbeknownst to Corrigan, the employee called 911 and reported an attempted suicide. Metropolitan police officers were sent to Corrigan's apartment around 11 p.m., where they reported a strong odor of natural gas, so they had the service cut off.

The reservist says he awoke at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 3, hearing his name being called over a bullhorn, and saw about eight cops in the back yard and 20 in the front, lit up by floodlights.

When he came outside at about 4:50 a.m. and locked his apartment, he refused to give the key to an officer, who said he did not "have time to play this constitutional bullshit. We're going to break down your door. You're going to have to pay for a new door," according to Corrigan's deposition testimony.

Officers then entered and reportedly found a military smoke grenade and whistler device. Corrigan claims police took him to a Veterans Affairs hospital, where he admitted himself for three days because weapons being pointed at him triggered "PTSD hyper-vigilance."
"Under the community caretaking, exigent circumstances, and emergency aid doctrines, Lt. Glover's orders to the [Emergency Response Team] and [Explosive Ordnance Division] Unit to enter without a warrant and search the plaintiff's apartment for people, threats, and hazardous materials were objectively reasonable and, therefore, did not violate the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights," Howell wrote.
read more here

Chicago White Sox Honor Fallen Soldier's Family

Soldier killed in Afghanistan honored at Sox game
Chicago Sun Times
POSTED: 08/28/2015,

When the White Sox invited Pam Toppen to attend Friday night’s game with her family, she was grateful for the invitation in honor of her late son, 19-year-old U.S. Army PFC Aaron Toppen.
Relatives of Aaron Toppen were given a framed White Sox jersey at Friday's game. They are (left to right): Aaron Toppen's brother-in-law Jerry Gralewski; his sister Amanda, holding 6-month-old Aubrey; his uncle Jack Winter, holding the jersey; his mother, Pam Toppen; and his sister, Amy Toppen. His niece Taylor is seated. Aaron Toppen died last year in Afghanistan.
Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times
But she said she never expected the plush suite behind home plate, or the surprise presentation during the Sox vs. Mariners game at Cellular Field — when the family was called out on the field to receive a standing ovation from the crowd, and a framed Sox jersey in honor of Aaron, a baseball fanatic.

“It was just unbelievable,” she said, teary-eyed, after the family came off the field in the second-inning.

“When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, and the Sox gave us his jersey, the tears started flowing,” she added. “Our mission in life is to pay it forward, to help others. We could be mad about what happened, but that’s not who we want to be. And that won’t bring Aaron back.”

Toppen, 55, of southwest suburban Mokena, lost her son last June 9, when he was killed in Afghanistan — along with four American Special Operations Forces members and one Afghani soldier — in the deadliest instance of friendly fire since that war began in 2001.

An Air Force B-1 bomber airstrike mistakenly killed Toppen and the others during a battle with insurgent forces in southern Afghanistan. An Army investigation blamed poor communications.
read more here

Friday, August 28, 2015

VA Medication for PTSD Veteran Sent to "Coo Coo Lane"

VA's use of ‘Coo-Coo Lane’ address still painful for Omaha veteran who has suffered from PTSD
Livewell Nebraska
By Steve Liewer / World-Herald staff writer
August 23, 2015
Florido said he is glad to learn that he wasn’t being targeted, but it will be hard to trust the VA again. He is still stinging from a separate incident seven years ago in which the VA falsely told him he was HIV positive, then waited 30 days to call back and correct the error.
Gabriel Florido opened a package from the U.S. government and discovered an insult.

The decorated Vietnam veteran — who has been treated for post-traumatic stress at the VA for decades — felt humiliated last summer when he realized someone at the Department of Veterans Affairs had altered his address and had mailed his medications to “Coo-Coo Lane.”

“I don’t understand it. I’m hurt, depressed,” said Florido, 64. “I don’t know how long I was a joke for them.”

Florido interprets the fake address as a gibe at his mental health issues. He contacted VA officials repeatedly to complain, but no one has ever apologized or explained to him why it happened.

Last week, in response to inquiries from The World-Herald, the VA finally responded. Officials said the mistake occurred at the Central Iowa VA Health Care System while a new employee was being trained to use the agency’s database.

“It was very unfortunate,” said Kristi Catrenich, a spokeswoman for the Central Iowa VA, “but neither intentional nor malicious.”

Tom Brown, president of the Nebraska Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, was stunned to hear the story.

“Life is tough enough. He doesn’t need that kind of aggravation,” Brown said.
read more here

Tomah VA Medical Center Closing Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

Tomah VA Shutting Psych Unit, Offering Top Dollar for Psychiatrists
La Crosse Tribune
by Chris Hubbuch
Aug 28, 2015
In an effort to recruit psychiatrists, Tomah has increased the starting salary to $240,000, the maximum allowed for a staff physician under the VA's pay scale.

Citing staff shortages, the beleaguered Tomah VA Medical Center is closing its inpatient psychiatric unit, halting psychiatric admissions to a residential treatment center and permanently curtailing urgent care hours.

The hospital stopped admitting new psych patients Wednesday and will temporarily close the 11-bed unit next week, the VA announced Wednesday.

There were two patients in the unit, Tomah VA spokesman Matthew Gowan said. Both would likely be discharged before the Sept. 4 closure, as inpatient stays typically last only a couple of days. Veterans requiring psychiatric treatment will be transferred to VA facilities in Madison andMilwaukee, or to non-VA hospitals if necessary.

The VA will also suspend psychiatric admissions to its Community Living Center, a residential long-term care facility, until more staff are added.

Gowan stressed that the nursing home would continue accepting veterans with non-psychiatric needs.

In a news release, Interim Director John Rohrer said the moves were necessary to ensure the "safe, high-quality care" that veterans deserve and that the unit would not reopen until "we have the necessary psychiatric staff to do so safely."
read more here

Veteran's PTSD Service Dog Murdered in Back Yard

Glendale war veteran's service dog poisoned 
AZ Family
By Jason Volentine
August 28, 2015
It would be a tough loss for anyone, but Darvin was much more than a pet. Long is a Marine and former police officer. He served in Desert Storm and has severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Darvin was Long's service dog – his balance.
GLENDALE, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) - A Valley war veteran's service dog was killed and he believes it was poisoned by someone throwing tainted food over his backyard wall. Julian Long rushed his little dog, Darvin, to an animal hospital on Wednesday.

The dog was having seizures and trouble breathing. Less than two hours later, Darvin had to be put down. "I've never been married, I don't have any kids, and he was my child," Long said.

"On my good days he was there, on my bad days he was there, and he [would do] anything from cuddling to going to get a toy to bring it to me and play to try to divert my attention away from things that I'm dealing with in life." read more here

Police and PTSD "We're Still Human"

Arizona police officers helping combat stigma of PTSD
AZ Central
Jim Walsh, The Republic
August 28, 2015
A Phoenix task force recently released a series of recommendations to help police officers get the help they need early on. That came after former Officer Craig Tiger committed suicide in November 2014. Tiger was fired by then-Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia a year earlier, after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The flashpoint was a simple “hot tone,” the kind police hear all the time.

It brought back two incidents that haunt Brian Romney, the kind that a counselor and a psychologist say damages the middle brain, leaving a permanent mark.

In 2012, as a Gilbert police officer, Romney found himself in the bloody aftermath of a quadruple murder-suicide at the hands of J.T. Ready. There was nothing police could do to save Ready’s girlfriend and three of her relatives, including a baby, from his rampage.

Two years later, Romney was splashed with blood while handcuffing a bank-robbery suspect who had been shot to death by another officer. Although Romney never pulled the trigger, “I played an active part in taking a man’s life,” he said.

The hot tone, a high-pitched noise broadcast on police radio systems to signal an emergency, triggered a reaction two weeks later. Romney started hyperventilating.

“I got in my car. I drove to the Police Department. I said, ‘Something is happening to me. I need help. I need to see a psychologist,’ ” Romney said. “The culture in a police department is to suck it up and go on to the next call. It’s hard for officers to admit they need help, because there is a stigma. They don’t want to be perceived as a weak link.”

“People expect the uniform to make calls like that bounce off, but they don’t. We’re still human.” Brian Romney

Romney took off his uniform. He never wore it again. It was the end of a 12-year career.
read more here

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance - The Documentary from Dangerous Curves Productions on Vimeo.

Doesn't Ben Carson Know Killing the VA Means Killing Veterans Too?

There is so much pure bullshit going on with folks wanting veterans to vote for them but none of them have ever thought how they can deserve votes from the veterans community.

While it is reprehensible for the Jiffy John's (Senator John McCain and Rep. John Boehner) to admit they want to end the VA, it is even worse they stopped being ashamed of it.
More than two decades ago, House Speaker John Boehner said, he floated an idea that was controversial: Why not privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs?
The idea was soundly rejected by veterans’ organizations.
Now, in the midst of a sweeping scandal over allegations that government officials falsified reports on how long veterans were waiting for medical treatment, Boehner said yesterday that the idea still has merit.
“I still like the idea, and especially now,” he said.

John McCain stopped being ashamed back in 2008.
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 21 2008 (IPS) - If John McCain is elected the next U.S. president, wounded veterans could be in for a world of hurt.
On the campaign trail, the Republican’s presumptive nominee has talked of a new mission for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and argued that veterans with non-combat medical problems should be given vouchers to receive care at private, for-profit hospitals – in other words, an end to the kind of universal health care the government has guaranteed veterans for generations.
“We need to relieve the burden on the VA from routine health care,” McCain told the National Forum on Disability Issues last month. “If you have a routine health care need, take it wherever you want, whatever doctor or health care provider and get the treatment you need, while we at the VA focus our attention, our care, our love, on these grievous wounds of war.”

Apparently Carson has been following McCain and Boehner's attempt to kill the VA instead of fixing it. Ben Carson suggests doing away with Department of Veterans Affairs. Ben Carson has a simple plan for fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs -- get rid of it.
Instead of the current system that provides treatment for veterans at government-run hospitals, Carson suggested that they should have a health savings account that would pay for treatment at any medical facility.

I think what’s happening with the veterans is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider,” the Fox News contributor said Saturday. “And if we can’t get it right, with the relatively small number of veterans, how in the world with are you going to do it with the entire population?”
"We need seriousness here" is what he said but just proved he isn't. If he had a clue he'd know that Congress has jurisdiction over the VA since 1946 when the first House Veterans Affairs Committee was seated.
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives was authorized by enactment of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, which was entitled "Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946."
Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
(1) Veterans' measures generally.
(2) Cemeteries of the United States in which veterans of any war or conflict are or may be buried, whether in the United States or abroad, except cemeteries administered by the Secretary of the Interior.
(3) Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans.
(4) Life insurance issued by the Government on account of service in the Armed Forces.
(5) Pensions of all the wars of the United States, general and special.
(6) Readjustment of servicemembers to civil life.
(7) Servicemembers' civil relief.
(8) Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.

Either they are evil or inept. After all these years they have not fixed the problems veterans have suffered from for decades. Did they have any ideas how to fix it for real or just ideas on how to come up with money to give to their backers while pretending to? If evil, then that would mean they just didn't care how many veterans had to pay the price between the time they started to kill the VA and when they ended up killing veterans as well!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fort Campbell Soldier, Father of 5, Needs Prayers After Motorcycle Crash

Fort Campbell soldier remains in trauma unit after motorcycle crash
By Talia Kaplan
Published: August 26, 2015

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Fort Campbell soldier, Nick Sprowl, is in the trauma unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Clarksville police said he was hit by a car on his motorcycle and was seriously injured.

“He’s a fighter,” said wife Stephanie Sprowl. She is wearing his wedding ring because he can’t.

“Both hands are broken,” said Sprowl. “Spine is fractured, neck injuries, both arms are broken.”

She said his jaw, sternum, and ribs are also broken.

“His liver and spleen both have lacerations; his left kidney is damaged,” Sprowl said.

She told News 2 the father of her five young children, ages 2, 3, 6, 8, and 12, will never be the same.
read more here

“Woe to you, blind guides!" for using veterans

End False Awareness
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 27, 2015

There is a special place in hell if you have been using veterans for your own gain. It doesn't matter how you manage to convince yourself that it is all about some "noble" cause to justify your actions. The fruits of your deeds are known to God. The results of your actions are the deaths of veterans by the thousands!

How can you claim you are making veterans aware of anything when you don't have a clue what life is like for them of for families like mine? You are blind to us at the same time you claim to be doing it all for us. You tell us that you are raising awareness but I got news for you, we already know a lot more than you will ever begin to learn. Your false awareness has only raised funds for what you want and not for what we need.

What has changed after all these charities popped up all over the country to "raise awareness" while picking our pockets?

This is a reminder of where we were on veterans committing suicide.
In 2007 CBS News had a headline Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans and in that article a study CBS News asked for. It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets.

Yet the numbers remain the same
The suicide rate among young male veterans continues to soar: ex-servicemen 24 and younger are now three times more likely than civilian males to take their lives, Female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, new research showed but when they factored in the younger female veterans The rates are highest among young veterans, the VA found in new research compiling 11 years of data. For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.
But what most leave out is this simple fact.
"Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide"
Here are just two reports on veterans new groups won't even talk about.
"BAY PINES VETERANS MEDICAL — A man fatally shot himself near a flag pole next to the front entrance of the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office." Deputies identified the man as 61-year-old James W. Violette of St. Petersburg.

Violette was not a veteran or on staff at the hospital.

Sgt. Tom Nestor said Violette told his family he was going to do it at the hospital because he knew they would take care of his body and bury him.
But this didn't just happen. It happened in March 17, 2011. It did happen again on August 25, 2015 when a Vietnam veteran committed suicide.
Ever since leaving the battlefields of Vietnam in 1968, Marine veteran Gerhard Reitmann struggled with the horrific memories of the things he did and saw.

“It was a rough one,” said his brother, Stephan Reitmann. “Emotionally, it did a number on his mind.”

Gerhard Reitmann had trouble holding a job. He often kept to himself and, until recently, cut himself off even from his family.

On Tuesday, Reitmann’s struggle ended.

The man who once served as a guard at Camp David during the term of President Richard Nixon apparently took his own life while parked in his car on the southeast side of the sprawling Bay Pines VA campus shortly after noon, according to officials from Bay Pines and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.

It was near Building 37, which houses the hospital system’s human resources, environmental management and inspector general’s offices.

Bay Pines police are investigating,

Reitmann, of St. Petersburg, was 66.

Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?
Huffington Post reported on August 29, 2011 "Almost half of the 39 veterans charities rated by the American Institute of Philanthropy in its April/May 2011 report received F grades, largely because they devoted only a small ratio of their expenses to charitable programs, in part due to excessive fundraising expenses. Some of these groups defend their spending by arguing that reliance on such ratios is misleading, claiming that new nonprofits may have to spend over 50 percent of their revenue on outreach, education and fundraising for a while. But charities that spend up to 90 percent of their donations on overhead have been widely condemned and were the subject of congressional hearings in 2007."

AUSTIN (KXAN) reported on November 2014 "Professional fundraisers have collected $130,399,567 for veteran organizations since 2001, the records show. But those fund-raisers kept 84 percent of the money donated. Meaning, most of the money you donate never reaches veterans needing help."
Matthew 25:31-46 New International Version (NIV)
Hypocrisy of the Pharisees
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 21:12-13 King James Version (KJV)
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Elite Marketing used veterans
From September 2014 to July 2015 an estimated 40,000 to 800,000 Florida vets were illegally approved for free cellphones under the government’s Lifeline program.

VES a VA Contractor sent veterans to a Doctor after the Department of Justice was trying to take away his license and send him to jail.

Congress and corporations are accountable to no one but God knows what they are doing! I have no need to curse you because you have already put a curse on your own head and you will answer to God for what you have done. You are no better than the charities out there collecting billions a year for using veterans.

Hold hearings all you want to pretend you care but the evidence is all around you! If you did what you claimed then there would be no need for more bills to do the same exact thing as the bills others wrote years before you.  Who do you think you are fooling?

If you are still repeating the 22 a day claim, you are no better than any of the thieves picking pockets. You have been lied to and then repeated the lie instead of actually taking the time to discover what the truth is.  Who are you trying to make aware of the suffering of millions of veterans? Civilians unable to put two simple facts together? "Survived combat willing to die for someone else but gave up living back home and took their own life?" Or are you trying to make veterans aware of what they know far better than you do?

Our families are real! We're not a bunch of numbers. You are using us and screwing with our lives! We're sick of suffering so you can make more money! You have done this to those you see as the least of your brothers at the same time you want the masses to think we are worth it?

VA Paid Psychiatrists Who Were Not Seeing Patients?

VA wasted time for mental health care, money for psychiatrists without appointments
The Washington Times
By Anjali Shastry
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
One clinic in Minneapolis boosted its psychiatric resources by 14 percent, but appointments dropped by more than 21 percent. By contrast, the clinic in Miami boosted its resources by 25 percent and its appointments by 36 percent.

The Department of Veterans Affairs wasted tens of millions of dollars last year on salaries for psychiatrists who weren’t seeing patients, the agency’s inspector general said in a report Tuesday that detailed continued problems in getting veterans the mental health care they need.

Veterans Health Administration clinics were more focused on meeting hiring goals than in getting the right number of mental health professionals on staff, the inspector general said, meaning that most of them had to rush to hire psychiatrists to meet the demand by December 2014.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Committed Suicide in Bay Pines Parking Lot

Suicide at Bay Pines shows pain among older veterans
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman

Published: August 26, 2015

Ever since leaving the battlefields of Vietnam in 1968, Marine veteran Gerhard Reitmann struggled with the horrific memories of the things he did and saw.

“It was a rough one,” said his brother, Stephan Reitmann. “Emotionally, it did a number on his mind.”

Gerhard Reitmann had trouble holding a job. He often kept to himself and, until recently, cut himself off even from his family.

On Tuesday, Reitmann’s struggle ended.

The man who once served as a guard at Camp David during the term of President Richard Nixon apparently took his own life while parked in his car on the southeast side of the sprawling Bay Pines VA campus shortly after noon, according to officials from Bay Pines and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.

It was near Building 37, which houses the hospital system’s human resources, environmental management and inspector general’s offices.

Bay Pines police are investigating,

Reitmann, of St. Petersburg, was 66.
Stephan Reitmann and Aurin moved to St. Petersburg about five months ago from Ohio.

“My partner and I both retired. We were sick of cold and had my brother down here. We were getting the relationship back together.”

Reitmann “was really obsessed with his heath,” Aurin said. “Last month, he thought something was really wrong with him. But his doctors at the VA said he was as healthy as a horse.”

Still, Reitmann was having “a lot of anxiety,” Aurin said.

Last week, Reitmann’s VA doctor increased his anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, Aurin said.

“They said to up his medications a little bit, but it was not helping him,” Aurin said.

“That’s all we know.”

About a week ago, Reitmann’s brother made a pact.

“Stephan would call his brother every day,” Aurin said. “It made him feel better.”

Just hours before killing himself, Reitmann “got a little out of his routine,” Aurin said. “He actually called Stephan first. He said, ‘I wanted to call you first, and let you know that everything is good.’”

The conversation, said Aurin, “was light and fluffy.”

“One hour later, he was in the parking lot at the veterans hospital,” she said.
read more here

Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan Ready to Ram

The rookie is a veteran: Aspiring Ram Daniel Rodriguez is battle tested
LA Times
August 26, 2016
Rodriguez is no ordinary undrafted rookie. He is an Army veteran who served separate tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was wounded in the Battle of Kamdesh, among the bloodiest firefights in the war, and was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with valor device for his actions that day.

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez takes part in a drill during training camp at the NFL football team's practice facility on Tuesday. (Jeff Roberson / AP)
It was impulsive. It was foolhardy. It made no football sense.

Yet Jeff Fisher couldn't help but smile.

The St. Louis Rams coach didn't slam his headset to the ground when rookie Daniel Rodriguez fielded that kickoff nine yards deep in the end zone and, instead of taking the obvious touchback, decided to run it out. Fisher only smiled.

"I was thinking, 'Just let him return it,'" Fisher said. "He's savoring every moment."

First of all, it was only an exhibition game at Oakland. But more important, Rodriguez deserved his moment in the spotlight. OK, so it was miraculous that the 5-foot-8, 180-pound returner was able to get the ball to the 15, but his story is all about miracles anyway.
read more here

New Port Richey Martial Arts Class Free For Veterans

Lightning-fast martial art draws in students in NPR
The Suncoast News
Special to The Suncoast News
Published: August 26, 2015

NEW PORT RICHEY — In a blur of motion, combatants at Gulfcoast FCS Kali clash with sticks and knives in a weapons-based tribal martial arts system called Filipino Combat Systems — or FCS Kali.

The system, used by military teams around the world, was developed by Tuhon Ray Dionaldo, one of the most sought-after weapons experts in 96 countries.

Owner Ray Norton has worked in FCS Kali for five years, two years in his current location. He’s been in martial arts most of his life and also currently is employed as a fireman.

“We have professional men and women — doctors, lawyers, military and ex-military — participating,” Norton said. “It makes no difference if you have a background in martial arts or none at all. At Gulfcoast FCS Kali, everyone starts over. If you come off the street you will be struggling right alongside someone with 20 years of martial arts. It takes time.”

Norton says that the combat system is recognizable from the popular Jason Bourne movies. It’s a style that uses sticks, knives, broomstick, lamps or anything in your hand.

“Classes are free to combat veterans and those who have served in support of combat operations,” said Norton. “The system helps tremendously with post traumatic stress disorder. Some veterans are older, have been out of combat for a while, are injured or cannot do it anymore. FCS Kali becomes a connection back to what they’re used to doing.”
read more here

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Veterans "thrown to the wolves" Memphis VA Medical Center

‘We’re left to the wolves’: Videos allegedly show Memphis VA leaving disabled vets unattended
FOX News
August 26, 2015

Video footage allegedly showing veterans -- many of whom are quadriplegics or paraplegics -- being left unattended at a Memphis Veterans Affairs hospital during staff meetings is reviving concerns about how VA hospitals treat American servicemembers.

The videos, first reported by Communities Digital News (CDN) and said to be filmed at the Memphis VA Medical Center, show patients being left alone for about 30-45 minutes each evening during a staff meeting attended by all hospital staff, whistleblower and former Memphis VA employee Sean Higgins told

Higgins said the videos, filmed by a close friend of his, show a breach of hospital policy, which dictates that even during meetings, there should be a nurse at the nurse’s station. He said the videos all show the spinal injury ward, which contains quadriplegics and paraplegics.
read more here

When you watch this video, think about the fact this is a hospital. There is no one there. No nurses. No doctors. There are patients, but there are no visitors. I have never, ever seen anything like this in my life. I've been to plenty of VA hospitals, civilian hospitals and several nursing homes. The only time I ever saw anything like this was at the Lake Nona VA hospital during a tour OF A HOSPITAL THAT WAS NOT OPENED YET AND NO PATIENTS NEEDING TO BE TAKEN CARE OF!

Paralyzed Veterans of America Reacts to Video Footage of Paralyzed Veterans Left Alone at Memphis VA
August 26, 2015 03:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a recent video aired on Fox & Friends today, a paralyzed veteran who was housed on the spinal cord injury inpatient ward at the Memphis VA Medical Center said he felt "thrown to the wolves" in the video, which showed a nursing station unmanned for an extended period. A former Memphis VA employee and whistleblower who saw the video said patients are typically left alone for about an hour each evening during staff meetings attended by all hospital staff, despite a requirement that at least one nurse remain stationed at all times.

“We can no longer scrimp on the cost of freedom where our Nation's most disabled heroes are concerned.”

Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and a paralyzed veteran himself, said, “This video speaks to a need that our organization has stressed to VA leaders, Congress, and the public for quite some time: VA needs more nurses in specialized care services like spinal cord injury centers.”
read more here

Train Hero Oregon National Guardsman to Receive Soldier's Medal

Oregon Guardsman Who Helped Stop Train Attack to Get Soldier's Medal 
Associated Press
Aug 26, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Aleksander Skarlatos, one of three Americans who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound train, will be awarded one of the U.S. Army's highest honors.
Senior Army leaders say Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard, will get the Soldier's Medal -- the Army's highest award for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy.

Skarlatos was traveling from Amsterdam when the gunman emerged from a train lavatory carrying an AK-47 and a Lugar pistol.

After hearing the sound of gunfire, Skarlatos called on other passengers to act, then charged the gunman, helped wrestle his firearms away and helped knock him unconscious with his own rifle.

"Spc. Skarlatos' actions that day epitomize what we mean by a soldier of character -- one who lives by a personal code where dedication to duty and taking care of others is sacred," said Army Secretary John McHugh. read more here

Chris Kyle Posthumously Awarded Texas Medal of Honor

‘American Sniper' Chris Kyle awarded Texas Medal of Honor 
FOX 4 News
August 26, 2015

The state’s highest military honor was given to the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.
Gov. Greg Abbott presented the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Kyle’s family Wednesday morning.

His wife, Taya, was there to receive it.

Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were killed two years ago by an Army veteran they were trying to help deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced to life in prison.
read more here

2 US troops killed by gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms

A Pensacola staff sergeant was one of two U.S airmen killed Wednesday in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon announced Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, Florida and Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, Kentucky died after the vehicle they were traveling in was attacked near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan.

2 US troops killed by gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms
Stars and Stripes
By Carlo Munoz and Zubair Babakarkhail
Published: August 26, 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two U.S. servicemembers were shot and killed by two gunmen wearing Afghan security forces uniforms who opened fire on their vehicle in southern Afghanistan early Wednesday, U.S. and coalition officials said.

The attack occurred on an Afghan military compound in Helmand province. It coincided with reports that Taliban insurgents had overrun the center of Musa Qala, a strategically important district center in Helmand.

“Resolute Support servicemembers returned fire and killed the shooters,” a coalition statement said.

“We are deeply saddened by the reports out of Afghanistan overnight,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, Pentagon spokesman. “Two U.S. servicemembers operating in support of the Resolute Support Mission were killed yesterday when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Force uniforms opened fire on their vehicle.”

DOD is withholding their identifications 24 hours, as families are notified. Their service branches were not identified.
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"White House Fence Jumper" Killed After Attacking Deputy

Man Previously Arrested For Climbing White House Wall Killed After Attacking Sheriff 
He had a criminal record that included arrests for assault and burglary.
Reuters Posted: 08/25/2015 Aug 25

(Reuters) - A man arrested for climbing a White House fence earlier this year was shot and killed at a suburban Pennsylvania courthouse on Tuesday after he sliced a sheriff's deputy with a knife, the local district attorney said.

Curtis Smith, 34, is accused of entering the lobby of the Chester County Justice Center at about 11 a.m. and slashing a sheriff's deputy on the arm or hand, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said in a statement.

A second deputy in the lobby drew his weapon and shot Smith, who was treated at the scene but later died at Paoli Hospital, Hogan said. read more here

Greek Armed Forces: 3 Suicides in Less Than 30 Days

Shock in Greek Armed Forces: Three suicides in less than a month
Posted by keeptalkinggreece in Very Mix

Greece’s Armed Forces are in shock. A non-commissioned officer of the Land Forces was found dead in his home on Monday morning. According to a statement of the Land Forces General Stab, the 44-year-old lieutenant was ‘fatally wounded at 2 am’ on Monday. “The causes of his death are being investigated,” the statement concluded in a traditional army tone. However, the Greek Federation of Military Associations, speaks of a suicide, noting in a statement that the man “had hanged himself in the early hours of Monday.

The lieutenant put an end to his life just 20 days, after another lieutenant, 38, shot himself in front of his soldiers, on August 4th. Several army units were participating in a army exercise on the island of Samos, when the officer pulled out his gun, put it on his temple, told two soldiers “I say Farewell” and pulled the trigger. Five days later, a 27-year-old soldier shot himself on a Sunday noon, while he was on watch duty in a military camp in Orestiada, in North-East Greece.

Greek media speak of an increase of suicides or attempted suicides in the last two years and that while in the past it was mostly soldiers taking such fatal decisions, “now it is also officers.” Last March a 43-year-old officer of the Air Force jumped into death from the fourth floor. In May 2013 an army officer committed suicide and left a note citing financial problems.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Veteran Died While On Protective Hold After Protecting Others

Iraq war veterans remember Joseph Murphy
KTOO Public Media
By Lisa Phu
August 25, 2015
"Murphy put his life in jeopardy looking out for others." Ed Irizarry
Joseph Murphy (from left, first man kneeling) served in the Iraq War. The squad was led by Ed Irizarry (standing to the left above Murphy). Mike Mercer (far right) was a gunner with Murphy.
(Photo courtesy Ed Irizarry)
Earlier this month, 49-year-old Joseph Murphy died at Juneau’s prison 12 hours after being booked on noncriminal charges.

Among other things, Murphy was an Iraq War veteran. His squad commander says it changed him forever. I spoke to some of the men Murphy served with.
“It’s just a bond. You can’t break that. Time ain’t going to break it. I guess even the death of one of your brothers can’t break that either. Murph will always be my brother,” Mercer says.

Murphy was in the emergency room of Bartlett Regional Hospital the night of Aug. 13. Juneau Police transferred him to Lemon Creek Correctional Center on a 12-hour protective hold. A police spokesman says alcohol was a factor. Murphy died in a holding cell the next morning of an apparent heart attack.
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