Wednesday, September 30, 2015

VFW: VA Turned 'Blind Eye' to Insurer Profiteering

VFW: VA Turned 'Blind Eye' to Insurer Profiteering Off Survivors
Bryant Jordan
September 30, 2015
The lawsuit was settled in 2014 when the insurer paid out a $40 million settlement, but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing. The VFW continued to demand release of the documents, however, arguing that they would enable families and the public to better understand what the company did in connection with its administering of federally subsidized life insurance programs.
One of the country's largest veterans' organizations says it has uncovered proof that that the Veterans Affairs Department agreed to an insurance policy payout system that gave Prudential Insurance Co. an edge in holding onto survivor's money rather than pay it out in a lump sum.

A 2009 document shows that that VA allowed Prudential to pay benefits in the form of an account that survivors could draw on rather than a single payment, as the law governing Service Group Life Insurance and Veterans Group Life Insurance required.

"The documents speak for themselves, and they show that Prudential initiated this program for the money that could be gained, not to help grieving military families -- and the VA knew all about it," VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said. "For an insurance company to profit off the dead is sickening, but for our own government to turn a blind eye to profiteering is something entirely else."
read more here

Looks like the service groups are coming out swinging!
The American Legion has renewed its call for Under Secretary of Veterans Benefits Allison Hickey to resign or be fired.

The Legion, which first sought her removal along with other department officials in connection with a wait-times scandal in 2014, said Hickey now should go because of her connection to officials who used coercion to assume the directorships of regional offices in Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minnesota.

IAVA Chief Criticizes Sanders as ‘Apologist’ for Scandal-Riddled VA The head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, should explain why he didn't early and aggressively investigate the Veterans Affairs Department scandal involving manipulated wait times and the deaths of veterans.

"If you want to be commander-in-chief, let's ask some hard questions of Bernie Sanders on why he didn't do more, why he didn't hold more oversight hearings," Paul Rieckhoff said during a panel discussion on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. "We and others called him out for basically being an apologist for the VA as the scandal erupted around him."

Army Surgeon General Tried to Cover Up Concussion Data?

Report Alleges Army Surgeon General Tried to Cover Up Concussion Data
by Richard Sisk
Sep 29, 2015
The Times' story Tuesday said that Horoho and Caslen "discussed trying to kill an article in The New York Times on concussions at West Point by withholding information so the Army could encourage competing news organizations to publish a more favorable story."
The Pentagon's press secretary said Monday that he was looking into allegations that Army Surgeon Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho sought to delay a Freedom of Information Act request for concussion data and manipulate reporters to cover up potential wrongdoing.
Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, U.S. Army Surgeon General hosts a roundtable with key medical representatives from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, April 24, 2015 (Photo: Master Sgt. Anthony Elliott, PRMC)
At a confrontational news briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary told reporters, "I hear your concerns about this particular incident." He said, "We treat the FOIA process here, as with other government agencies, as incredibly important."

Cook said he was not yet fully informed on the details of the allegations that Horoho and the West Point Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., conspired to delay a FOIA request from The New York Times on concussions in the Academy's mandatory boxing program.

The Times also published an internal Army document that purported to show Horoho and Caslen planned to quash the Times story before it was published by planting favorable articles with other news outlets.

Caslen earlier this month took responsibility for an Aug. 20 pillow fight at the academy in which 30 cadets required treatment for mild concussions, bloody noses, split lips and other injuries. The final injury toll was 24 concussions, a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder, a hairline fracture of a cheekbone and possibly a broken leg. All of the injured returned to duty.

Because the incident that started out as a morale builder turned bloody, a military police investigation was ongoing, Caslen said at the time. "I assure you that the chain of command will take appropriate action when the investigation is complete," he said.
read more here

Pillow fight at West Point turns violent; 24 of 30 injured suffered concussions

UK: Millions Spent on Recovery Empty Beds?

How the British Army and Help for Heroes spent tens of millions on recovery centres for wounded soldiers where beds are empty 
Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 23:54 EST, 28 September 2015
Network of centres is funded by Army with H4H and Royal British Legion
Half of bedrooms at two biggest facilities 'occupied by serving personnel', although the centres are also used by veterans
Costs allegedly went from £70m over four years to £350m over ten years
Charity founder says 'We are not running a Travelodge. These Centres are helping to rebuild lives'

Royal visit: The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry open the

Tedworth House recovery centre in May 2013
Tens of millions of pounds has been spent on recovery centres for wounded soldiers where beds have been left empty, it was claimed last night.

The network of centres is funded by the British Army, in partnership with Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion, to support injured military personnel and veterans.

But only around half of bedrooms at the two largest facilities were reported to have been occupied by serving personnel between August 2013 and January this year.

This figure does not include mentally and physically injured veterans who also use the centres or other visitors. Many facility users only attend during the day.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Sutton, acting chief of staff on the project, told The Times that he had warned senior officers and the Ministry of Defence about what he said was the army's failure to justify how the money was being spent.

'‘The team used to joke how it was like trying to build an aeroplane while taxiing down the runway,' he said.
read more here

Documentary Shows PTSD Decades of Grief and Healing

Film about veterans' trauma to make Maine debut 
The Forecaseter
By Colin Ellis
September 30, 2015
Searching For Home

PORTLAND — The University of Southern Maine will host the state premiere of a documentary detailing soldiers’ wartime trauma and their struggles to transition home.

The documentary, titled “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” will premiere Oct. 3 at the university’s Hannaford Hall, located in the Abromson Community Education Center on 88 Bedford St. An invitation-only reception will be held at 6:30 p.m.; the film will be screened at 7:30 p.m. and a question and answer session with the filmmakers will follow.

Eric Christensen, the director of the 106-minute documentary, said he has made documentaries about individual trauma in the past, which eventually led him to the topic of wartime trauma. The documentary, portions of which were filmed in Maine, features veterans who survived injuries in war and their attempts to transition to life back home, as well as their family members.

The documentary looks at veterans suffering grief and trauma and spans multiple decades, from World War II to modern day conflicts.

Christensen, who lives in Burbank, California, said he hopes the message people take from the film is that recovering from trauma is a process.

“I want people to take away hope from the film and relate it their own traumas,” Christensen said.

He said military trauma is an acute example of trauma, and it is a good analogy that people who are suffering from their own trauma can relate to.
read more here

"Home is not home anymore" - Searching for Home: Coming Back from War - W/ Anthony Edwards from Eric Christiansen on Vimeo.

Built on the pillars of the truth, the healing and the hope, SEARCHING FOR HOME: COMING BACK FROM WAR is an emotional and unflinching look at returning veterans and their search for the“home” they left behind, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Loving Life With PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 29, 2015

Tomorrow is the end of Suicide Prevention Month It is also the anniversary of the day I married my best friend. Hard to believe so many years have gone by but harder to believe that we don't spend much time thinking about the bad times we've had in over 3 decades together.

We were so young, full of dreams and possibilities. We were also carrying memories of a lot of pain. He was married before and it fell apart. I was married before and it did worse than fall apart. My ex-husband tried to kill me one night. Yep, he decided I needed to die.

The last thing I ever thought I'd do again, was be willing to trust someone else enough to get married again. I couldn't help it.

Somehow I just knew I was supposed to be by his side.

It has been a long road for us and everything I do is because of my husband and what he taught me about what real love is.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)
Folks talk all the time about "awareness" yet don't seem too interested in offering much hope. Sure they just have a lot of stuff they looked up online but it a lot different being aware of the reality we face everyday.

I almost lost my husband but we made it even though most of it was during a time when no one was talking about any of this battle after war families were fighting everyday. We were all suffering in silence and searching for hope.

I don't want to dwell on any of that right now. For now, I am asking you to give me an anniversary gift. Don't worry. It won't cost you a dime. It will cost you some pride because if you are still suffering instead of healing, take a good gulp of that pride of yours and do something to change right now.

Bet you didn't think it was wrong to ask for help when you were in combat so why think it is wrong now? You didn't go where you were alone. You didn't train yourself to use the weapons. You didn't just et off a bus from your hometown and jump out of a perfectly good plane hoping the parachute would open up on time or wondering if you figured out how to put it on right. Other folks taught you how do all of it. You had to learn. Then why find so many excuses now to not ask for help?

My husband didn't want to either. Then again, my husband thought that he didn't deserve it. He actually thought he didn't deserve to be happy or loved. Now he knows the difference between what he thought and what was true.

If you are a spouse, you can give me a gift too. Think about all the reasons you fell in love with your veteran. No matter how rotten they are acting, or how big of a jerk you may think they suddenly became, all the good stuff is all still in there behind a huge wall of pain. He/she needs you to help them find themselves again.

Sometimes they had to do some bad things and they think they are evil for having done them but they need to be reminded that the basic fact of war is simple for those who go. They are willing to sacrifice their lives for those they are with. Imagine that kind of love and that is what you saw within them when you decided to spend the rest of your life with them.

Everyone can learn what PTSD is and what it does but you have to look at all of it in a different way. Yesterday is part of the pain we all carry within up but the hope of a different tomorrow keeps all the good stuff alive.

The song from Fleetwood Mac, Don't Stop is one of my favorites. It pretty much sums up what I really want for my gift from you. Don't forget about things that matter but that doesn't mean you have to let them haunt you. You can make peace with the past. Yesterday is gone and there isn't anything you can do to change it. There is plenty you can do to change right now so that it will be a different day tomorrow.
Fleetwood Mac – Don't Stop Lyrics
If you wake up and don't want to smile
If it take just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be even better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you've done
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

All I want is to see you smile
If it takes just a little while
I know you don't believe that it's true
I never meant any harm to you

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Ooh, don't you look back
Ooh, don't you look back
Ooh, don't you look back
Ooh, don't you look back

Don't Stop lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Fort Hood Female Soldier Creates App to Fight for Sexual Assault Victims

Fort Hood Soldier Creates App to Help Sexual Assault Victims
By Tiffany Pelt
Updated: Sep 28, 2015
“The app will allow you access to one touch call for the III Corps Hotline, touch to call for Army OneSource, the local ER, Military and other local police stations,” she said. “Where ever they are at, if they need help all you have to do is push the icon.”
FORT HOOD – It is a new weapon in the war against sexual assault within the military, and the creator is right here at Fort Hood.

“All they have to do is open it,” said Sgt. First Class Sarah Whatley. “Anything they could potentially need would be at the touch of a finger.”

For two years, Whatley has served as a brigade SARC, a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, for the 1st Air Cav Brigade at Fort Hood. She handles all sexual assault complaints for her brigade and helps link the victim to their needed resources.

“I think some of the hardest things for me personally is witnessing how much the event has changed them as a person,” she said. “You can really tell how bad it hurts and how much they break down.”

Dealing with these victims and seeing the pain her fellow soldiers were enduring sparked something within Whatley. Her mission: make the process easier for the victims and bring more awareness to the issue of sexual assault.
read more here

Green Beret Made Morally Right Choice, Suffering For It

Green Beret Discharged for Shoving Accused Afghan Rapist Speaks Out
Fox News
by Judson Berger
Sep 28, 2015

A Green Beret ordered discharged after he and his team leader body-slammed an alleged Afghan child rapist is speaking out against the Army's effort to punish him, as he fights to stay in the service.

"Kicking me out of the Army is morally wrong and the entire country knows it," Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland said, in his first public statement on his case.

The detailed written statement, requested by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was shared by the congressman's office with Hunter, who has advocated on Martland's behalf, intends to submit the statement to the House Armed Services Committee.

Martland's case has received renewed attention amid recent press reports on the U.S. military's handling of child abuse allegations involving Afghan allies. In his statement, Martland gives a blunt account of the September 2011 encounter with the "brutal child rapist," local police commander Abdul Rahman. He acknowledges the confrontation, but suggests the commander exaggerated his injuries -- and argues that the boy's safety, as well as American lives, was at stake that day.

Martland said the Afghan Local Police had been "committing atrocities," raising concerns that many locals viewed as "worse than the Taliban" -- and if locals returned to the Taliban, attacks against U.S. forces would increase.

"While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act," he said.
read more here

Army Veteran Shot In Back After Baseball Game

Army Veteran Shot in the Back after Baseball Game May Never Walk Again
Fox News
Sep 29, 2015

An Army vet may never walk again after he was shot in the back while leaving a St. Louis Cardinals home game on Friday.

Candis Sanna, left, and Christopher Sanna in a picture from the family's 
GoFundMe page to help pay for Christopher's medical bills. (GoFundMe)
Christopher Sanna, 43, was struck in his liver, spine and lungs, according to KMOV. His mother, Candis Sanna, posted on a GoFundMe page on Sunday that "surgeons have confirmed that his spinal injury cannot be repaired."

"They said he could eventually get a little feeling back, but there was no hope for him to walk," Candis Sanna told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It’s horrible."

Christopher Sanna was attending the game against the Brewers with his three brothers to celebrate his mom’s 60th birthday. But he had to work Saturday morning at his job as the manager of an automotive store, and so he left the game early, with his girlfriend, while the rest of his family stayed to watch the final inning. As Sanna walked back to his car around 10:30 p.m., two armed male suspects in a black sedan confronted him and his girlfriend.

"After she gave him her purse, [one perpetrator] pulled a gun," Candis Sanna told KMOV. "That’s when they turned to run, and he shot at them twice."

Sanna served six years in the Army, stationed in Germany, according to the Post-Dispatch.
read more here

Mayor, police pledge more officers near Busch Stadium after shooting
Chris Sanna, second from right, poses for a family photo with his mother and brothers at a Cardinals game on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. He was shot during a robbery after leaving the game. Family photo.

Army Reserve Captains Attacked Outside Restaurant

UPDATE: Army captain assaulted on Plaza out of hospital, back at Ft. Leavenworth
He is at Leavenworth for 12-week course
KSHB 41 News Kansas City
Shain Bergan, Nick Sloan
Sep 26, 2015
The man punched the soldier, according to police. The other five individuals then piled on and began punching and kicking the soldier while he was on the ground.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - UPDATE, 9/28: The Army captain who suffered serious injuries after being assaulted on the Country Club Plaza on Sept. 19 was released from the hospital Monday. He is back at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., being examined by on-base medical crews, according to officials there.

The 37-year-old man was admitted at St. Luke's hospital in Kansas City after being jumped by six assailants outside of the Zocalo Mexican restaurant on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo. Another Army captain he was with was also assaulted, but was treated at the scene and released, according to Fort Leavenworth officials.

Both captains serve in the Army Reserve with the 151st Theater Information Operations Group at Fort Totten, New York. They are at Fort Leavenworth for a 12-week qualification course

Officials said the severely injured captain met with family at the base and was released from on-base medical care Monday.
read more here

Veteran Navy SEAL Wants Top Job As Missouri Governor

Former Navy SEAL Greitens running for Missouri governor
The Associated Press
By Alan Scher Zagier and Summer Ballentine
September 28, 2015

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, a political newcomer who was once courted to run for Congress as a Democrat, on Saturday launched a Republican campaign for Missouri governor in 2016.
Eric Greitens

Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens smiles at a rally where he announced his candidacy into the
2016 race for Missouri governor onSept. 26, 2015, at Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights, Mo.

(Photo: uy Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
Greitens, 41, is already the top fundraiser in a crowded GOP field thanks to an exploratory campaign committee that's raised more than $1 million in recent months, boosting his total haul to more than $2 million.

He touted both his military background and lack of political pedigree before a crowd of several hundred supporters at an announcement in suburban St. Louis near his childhood home.

"I'm running for governor because we need a political outsider to move Missouri forward," Greitens said. "We have a political class of corrupt consultants, well-paid lobbyists, and career politicians who have been in Jefferson City for decades. They have produced nothing for us but embarrassment and failure."

Greitens grew up in St. Louis County, was a Rhodes Scholar after graduation from Duke University, served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and as White House fellow. He's written three books that combine stories of his military service and humanitarian work with lessons on leadership. He founded the nonprofit group The Mission Continues, which connects veterans with volunteer work to ease the post-military transition.

He drew the loudest cheers with a call to extend term limits to all statewide offices and ban lobbyist gifts to state lawmakers.

"I will defeat you, I will expose your lies, I will root out your corruption, and I will see you out of the people's Capitol," said Greitens, adding his own lifetime pledge to never lobby government.
read more here

Monday, September 28, 2015

Air Force Media Heading Home After 7th Deployment

After 7 overseas deployments, Air Force medic looks forward to going home
Herald-Times (Tribune News Service)
By Laura Lane
Published: September 27, 2015
He also served on humanitarian missions twice, to help fight wildfires in California in 2007 and to help victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Matt Scott's world is defined by 15-foot-high cement walls, steel doors, guards with assault rifles, armored Humvees, suicide bombers and vehicle-borne explosives.

It's a short distance to work every day, but he gets transported in a helicopter. It's safer than driving on sabotaged roads in the deserts of Afghanistan, where a thin layer of gray, silt-like dust covers everything in sight and danger lurks always.

When winter cold sets in, air quality deteriorates. "It gets wet and humid and dreary and snowy," the U.S. Air Force master sergeant from Ellettsville, Ind., said. "The people here burn literally everything to stay warm, and the pollution gets very bad."

Six thousand feet above sea level and 7,673 miles from home, the 38-year-old Monroe County native and flight medic is serving out the end of a two-decade military career during which he has been deployed overseas seven times.
read more here

Philadelphia VA Executives Abused Positions For Financial Gain

Report: Senior VA executives abused positions for financial gain
Stars and Stripes
By Heath Druzin
Published: September 28, 2015

WASHINGTON — A senior Department of Veterans Affairs manager hired to clean up a beleaguered regional office in Philadelphia misused her position to create the very vacancy she volunteered for as part of a wider scheme by VA officials to give stealth raises to executives, according to a VA Office of Inspector General report.
Diana Rubens, director of the
Department of Veterans Affairs'
Philadelphia regional office,
is sworn in at a House hearing
in April, 2015.
The Office of Inspector General had been investigating Philadelphia VA Regional Office Director Diana Rubens since March, after it became known that she had received nearly $300,000 in compensation to move about 140 miles from Washington to Philadelphia. While the Inspector General’s office concluded that her moving expenses were allowable, it found she and one other executive had manipulated the VA hiring system to both create vacancies they sought for financial gain in an era of government pay freezes.
The Inspector General has made a criminal referral to the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office for actions by Rubens and St. Paul (Minn.) Director Kimberly Graves, who is accused of a similar scheme to become director of the St. Paul Veterans Affairs Regional Office. No charges have been filed.

Rubens and Graves retained their salaries, $181,497 and $173,949, respectively, despite taking new positions with fewer responsibilities at lower rungs on the federal pay scale. Together they received about $400,000 in moving expenses.
read more here

Congress Sold Out Veterans Care Years Ago

Congress Sold Out Veterans Care Years Ago
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 28, 2015

Just because you may think the VA is behind all the problems, doesn't make it true. The truth is, contractors have been paid a boatload of money to do what you assume VA employees are doing.

There is a great article on Stars and Stripes about whistleblowers Investigator questions VA discipline of whistleblowers from the Washington Post out today.

There are a lot more cases listed but I wanted to make sure you knew about this part.
Brandon Coleman, a therapist and decorated veteran at the VA hospital in Phoenix, the epicenter of last year's scandal. He urgently warned that there was a broader problem with how suicidal patients were being handled.

Five suicidal veterans had walked out of the emergency room without getting help during a single week in January, he told his supervisor. Six days after he spoke with his boss, Coleman recalled, he was suspended from his job. He believes it was in retaliation.
If you haven't heard much about Contractors vs VA Employees, you may have heard about Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. You can read a lot there about some of the shenanigans going on.

Like this one that came out September 2, 2015
A Statement from the Deputy Inspector General
VA OIG Substantiates Whistleblower’s Claims of Extensive, Persistent Problems in Veterans Health Care Enrollment Records

Washington, DC – The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) received a request from the Chairman of the U.S House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to determine the merits of allegations made by a whistleblower about the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Health Eligibility Center (HEC).

The OIG found the Chief Business Office has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data and recommended a multiyear project management plan to address the accuracy of pending Enrollment System records to improve the usefulness of such data.

The OIG published a report on September 2, 2015, addressing the following four questions:
 Did the HEC have a backlog of 889,000 health care applications in a pending status?
 Did 47,000 veterans die while their health care applications were in a pending status?
 Were over 10,000 veteran health records purged or deleted at the HEC?
 Were 40,000 unprocessed applications, spanning a 3-year time period, discovered in January 2013?
We substantiated the first allegation that VHA’s enrollment system had about 867,000 pending records as of September 30, 2014. However, due to serious enrollment data limitations, such as an estimated 477,000 pending records not having application dates, we could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment.

OIG also substantiated that pending records included entries for over 307,000 individuals reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration. Again because of data limitations, we could not determine how many pending records represent veterans who applied for health care benefits.

We also substantiated that employees incorrectly marked unprocessed applications as completed and possibly deleted 10,000 or more transactions over the past 5 years. Information security deficiencies, such as the lack of audit trails and system backups, limited our ability to review some issues fully and rule out data manipulation.

Finally, we substantiated that the HEC identified over 11,000 unprocessed health care applications and about 28,000 other transactions in January 2013. This backlog developed because the HEC did not adequately manage its workload and lacked controls to ensure entry of its workload into the enrollment system.

Then there is another link to that list the contracts for some things like building and equipment but then there are also others like this one.
Q--NEW IDIQ CONTRACT: FUNDING REQUIRED | Medical Disability Exams (MDE) under P.L. 104-275 | VBA Compensation Service | RFQ # VA119A-15-Q-0130
So if you think these are VA employees doing everything that is wrong, keep in mind that a lot of the times what you think is not always true. Next time you hear a politician talk about turning veterans care over to companies operating for profit instead of for veterans, remember this. They already turned too much over to corporations including processing claims.

Harris Corporation Awarded $37 Million Contract to Improve Veterans’ Benefit Claims Process
Under a four-year, $37-million contract, Harris will provide the VBA’s Office of Performance Analysis and Integrity with technical services for the data warehouse including design, development, enhancement, integration, implementation, maintenance and infrastructure support.
VA claims processing contract allows Virginia Beach firm to add 150 jobs
AFGE officials also said that a recent $54 million contract awarded by the Veterans Benefits Administration for claims processing would result in lost jobs for many veterans currently performing that work at the VA.

Here's a contractor talking about what he supplies for the DOD and the VA
Just a taste of how much money is involved, this is about the Air Force but then there are other contracts with other branches as well as the VA and even Warrior Transition Units which we heard a lot about from the Dallas Morning News.
September 2006 - Luke and Associates Awarded $1.9 Billion Contract to Provide Clinical Support Services to the U.S. Air Force

Luke and Associates has been awarded a contract to provide Clinical Support Services for Air Force Medical Treatment Facilities nationwide. This contract has a potential value of $1.9 billion over 10 years. Luke will recruit, qualify and retain clinical personnel of all levels, including physicians, dentists, nurses and pharmacists to provide care at a total of 63 Military Treatment Facilities in 58 geographic locations.

Missing In American Lost Another Veteran Escorting Remains

Crash kills motorcyclist escorting veteran's body, hurt 3 
Des Moines Register
Charly Haley
September 27, 2015
One motorcyclist died and three others were injured Saturday in Iowa when a car crashed into motorcyclists escorting the body of a veteran killed in a similar accident earlier this month.

The crash happened about 1 p.m. on Interstate Highway 80, near Atlantic, when nearly 125 motorcyclists and other vehicles were escorting veteran Bill Henry's cremated remains home to Omaha from the Freedom Rock landmark in western Iowa.

The Iowa State Patrol said Donald Kerby, 81, of Des Moines struck a motorcycle when he changed lanes to avoid a trailer parked on the road's shoulder. Ryan Lossing, 38, of Omaha died, and three other riders were hurt.

Henry was killed after a similar crash near Manassas, Va., earlier this month. The 69-year-old Army veteran died Sept. 14, two weeks after suffering head injuries from a crash that happened as he helped escort six West Coast veterans' remains to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.

Henry co-founded and helped lead the Nebraska chapter of the Missing in America Project, which works with funeral homes to return unclaimed remains of veterans to family members and arrange for military burials.

"It's a tragedy. They (Henry and Lossing) both went before their time," said Larry Schaber, a friend of Henry's who co-founded Nebraska's Missing in America Project chapter with him.
read more here

Major Veterans Groups Come Out Against Killing VA

Carson’s ideas to reform VA concern local veterans
Midland Reporter Telegram
By Erin Stone
Sep 27, 2015
The DAV and other national organizations -- American Legion, AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Paralyzed Veterans of American, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Military Officers Association of America -- signed and sent an open letter to Carson in response to his ideas for reforming the VA.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has encountered much criticism given the sometimes fatal consequences of its long waiting lists. However, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s recent comments about moving veterans’ health care partially into the privatized realm has veterans -- including those who are well aware of the flaws of the current VA -- up in arms.

In an op-ed published last week in USA Today, Carson described improving the VA with what he called “offer choice,” which would give veterans a health savings account (HSA) “to allow veterans to access the best possible medical care at a nearby DOD, VA or civilian medical facility.”

Leaders of veterans’ organizations worry that this will lead to the complete privatization of veterans’ health care and the eventual elimination of the department altogether, especially given Carson’s comments in an August radio interview stating the VA doesn’t need to exist, said Paul Reed, commander and Service Officer for the Permian Basin Chapter of Disabled American Veterans.

Reed believes the new Veterans Choice Program is a concrete example of this incremental movement toward fully privatizing the VA. Through the Choice Program, eligible veterans are sent a Choice Card with which they are allowed to seek covered care outside of the VA if their wait time is more than 30 days or the closest VA is more than 40 miles away from their home.
read more here

UK Military Uniform Is "Upsetting" At Queen Mother Hospital?

Hospital told RAF sergeant to leave waiting room in case his uniform upset other patients
PUBLISHED:25 September 2015

Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville at The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate
Staff moved him to sit in a corner before asking him to sit behind a wall
Family claim they were told it was as they 'didn't want to upset' anyone
Say explanation added that A and E had 'lots of cultures coming in' and staff were worried about his uniform
Mark Prendeville’s (pictured on his wedding day) treatment was condemned as ‘horrifying’ by military figures and Air Force veterans – but follows a string of incidents in recent years where service personnel were snubbed because of their uniform
An RAF sergeant who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan was moved out of a hospital waiting room because staff feared his uniform would upset people from different cultures, it was reported.

Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville’s treatment was condemned as ‘horrifying’ by military figures and Air Force veterans – but follows a string of incidents in recent years where service personnel were snubbed because of their uniform.

Sergeant Prendeville, 38, was taken to the A and E department at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, after chemicals from a fire extinguisher got in to his eyes during a training exercise. He was then taken to an empty corner of the waiting room before being moved behind a corner by hospital staff, The Sun reported.

In an explanation to his family, hospital workers were said to have claimed ‘they didn’t want to upset people’ because they ‘have lots of different cultures coming in’.

Sergeant Prendeville’s father, Jim, said: ‘Mark was moved because of his uniform – he was told that twice. The words they used were: “We’ve lots of cultures coming in”.

‘Mark was quite annoyed, but he’s a quiet lad and didn’t want to cause a fuss.’

Mr Prendeville added: ‘He didn’t care about the burns, he felt worse about how he was treated. I was absolutely disgusted when I heard. I don’t know what is so offensive about a uniform.’

Veterans and military figures condemned Sergeant Prendeville’s treatment. Former Chief of the Air Staff Sir Michael Graydon described the incident as ‘disappointing’.
read more here

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Combat Medic Florida National Guardsman Paying Price for 9-11

If you forgot about 9-11-2001, there were a lot of folks rushing to do whatever they could to help the survivors and find whatever remains they could. One of them was an Army National Guardsman from right here in Florida. Reading his story and what happened to him, it only seemed right to put into context what he did back then. This is from Tampa Tribune great report by Howard Altman.
Garrett Goodwin was a medic, working in the emergency room at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, in September 2001.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, he was in bed, watching TV before an afternoon shift, when he saw what turned out to be United Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Goodwin, a combat medic with the Army National Guard who had experience in disaster recover efforts, says he packed his bag, hopped in his truck and drove down to MacDill Air Force Base, hoping to catch a flight north to help during the unfolding catastrophe.

But nothing was flying anywhere. So he and a friend drove north, toward the Pentagon.

“We did rescue work for three or four hours, but there was no one to save, so we went to New York,” Goodwin says.

They arrived about 6:30 a.m., Sept. 12. Goodwin says he checked in with the military authorities on scene, they told him what he could do, and he was given a “red card” allowing him access.

For the next 24 days, he worked between 18 and 20 hours in what used to be the tallest building in America. It had become a mass grave.
So how did he end up this way?

Tampa man ill just now from help he gave at Ground Zero
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: September 27, 2015

Garrett Goodwin is a casualty of al-Qaida’s war against the U.S.

Shortly after the jihadi organization turned aircraft into weapons, obliterating the World Trade Center in New York, hitting the Pentagon and crashing into a Pennsylvania field, Goodwin made the trip from Florida to Manhattan to help recovery efforts. He spent more than three weeks in the smouldering pile of twisted beams that was once the World Trade Center — the place where Pope Francis on Friday summoned the world to “unity over hatred.”

Now, Goodwin is paying the price.

It includes a stay, since last Tuesday, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he is desperately seeking help for the maladies he believes are a result of his time at Ground Zero.

Finally, after a health scare that started on the 14th anniversary of the attacks, Goodwin realized he needed greater medical attention.

There are many others like him — first responders who have became casualties of war by dint of their time searching the wreckage, first for survivors, then for remains.

Every day, there are more Garrett Goodwins, coming forward seeking help.
read more here

Gunnery Sgt. Gary Campbell Remembers Hill 362 Fallen

Orem veteran promises that Vietnam vets 'will not be forgotten'
Herald Extra
Cathy Allred Daily Herald
September 27, 2015

Gunnery Sgt. Gary Campbell doesn't hesitate to talk about the Vietnam War, because of a promise he made to the dead and dying in the 1960s – they will not be forgotten.
Gary Campbell a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Marines, photographed in Orem on Thursday, September 3, 2015. India Company, the 180-man unit that Campbell was in, sustained 34 dead and 80 wounded when they were ambushed by the enemy during Operation Hastings in 1966. Campbell and many others in his company received the Purple Heart and numerous other awards of valor. JIM MCAULEY, Special to the Daily Herald
His words paint a vivid and stark story against the background of the politics at the time and the humid hot jungles of the country.

“The four stories I tell are the ones that are the most important to me, because they are about my buddies, my men that didn’t come home,” Campbell said.

His voice trembled as he showed an old photo of India Company. The soldiers in the photo are standing on bleachers to get every uniformed Marine in the frame.

“This is my company,” he said. “This picture was taken on Okinawa before we went to Vietnam. Of these people, and there are 180 of them here, troops, Marines; 34 died while I was in Vietnam and over 80 of us was wounded.”

By the time he was 23, the North Vietnamese Army, B Division, was sent to infiltrate the south. Campbell’s battalion was ordered to stop the action. The campaign was called Operation Hastings.

Called India Company, his Marines were sent to take a “rockpile” named Hill 362. The Marines won the battle for Hill 362 on July 24, 1966, but at a price.
read more here

As you'll read in this report going back to 2008, he hasn't forgotten them.
Vietnam veterans traveling back to battlefield to honor comrades
KSL News
Jed Boal reporting
Posted Apr 23rd, 2008
In a few days, a Vietnam War veteran from Utah will head off on a mission of honor four decades delayed. Gary Campbell and nine fellow Marines will travel back to the battlefield where they lost nearly three dozen comrades.

July 24, 1966 was a holiday at home in Utah, but a terrifying battle for Gary Campbell and his fellow Marines on Hill 362 in Vietnam. India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines was on an extended search-and-destroy mission.

The Marines planned to take control of Hill 362 for a radio relay tower, but it turned into a fierce fight with the North Vietnamese. "Absolutely a defining point in your life. For the last 40 years I think about it. It's always there," Campbell said.

Campbell says, "You go through something like this with people, I was with them less than a year, but they're like my brothers."

read more here

CNN VA Fast Facts Too Fast and Missed Most Important Fact of All

Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts CNN Library September 25, 2015 is floating all over the net today. The trouble is, while it is good it isn't good enough to give folks an idea how long all of this has been going on.

They kind-of-sort-of skipped over some of the most important years of all.
More Than 260,000 Can't Get VA Health Care
Associated Press | January 25, 2006
WASHINGTON - More than a quarter-million veterans considered to have higher incomes could not sign up for health care with the Veterans Affairs Department during the last fiscal year because of a cost-cutting move. Those locked out - totaling 263,257 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 - have no illnesses or injuries attributable to their service in the military and earn more than the average wage in their community.

The VA suspended enrollment of such veterans beginning in January 2003 after then-VA Secretary Anthony Principi said the agency was struggling to provide adequate health care to the rapidly rising number of veterans seeking it.

That year the VA population was about 6.8 million. About 7.5 million are enrolled today, with more than 5 million treated.

"There is no reason for the VA to give the cold shoulder to veterans who have served our country honorably," said Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

VA spokesman Matt Burns said VA provides world-class health care to veterans, "particularly our newly returning veterans, those with low incomes and those who have sustained service-related injuries or illnesses."

Iraq veterans are guaranteed health care if they enroll within two years of leaving the military.

2008 Reported by Associated Press VA secretary pledges to cut 5 weeks off wait
Peake wants to reduce wait times from roughly 180 days to 145 days by the start of next year. He cited aggressive efforts to hire staff, noting the VA will have 3,100 new staff by 2009. VA also is working to get greater online access to Pentagon medical information that he said will allow staff to process claims faster and move toward a system of electronic filing of claims.

Peake promised to “virtually eliminate” the current list of 69,000 veterans who have waited more than 30 days for an appointment to get VA medical care. Such long waits runs counter to department policy, and a group of Iraq war veterans have filed a lawsuit alleging undue delays. He said VA plans to open 64 new community-based outpatient clinics this year and 51 next year to improve access to health care in rural areas.

“We will take all measures necessary to provide them with timely benefits and services, to give them complete information about the benefits they have earned through their courageous service, and to implement streamlined processes free of bureaucratic red tape,” Peake said in testimony prepared for a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday.

Veterans Affairs Health Dept. Undersecretary addresses House Appropriations Subcommittee Undersecretary for the Health Dept. of Veterans Affairs Michael Kussman
He also promised to provide “compassionate care” for veterans suffering from mental health issues such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He said that VA expects to treat about 5,771,000 patients in 2009. Kussman also said that in April 2006, over 250,000 “unique” patients were waiting more than 30 days to receive their treatment but that as of January 2001, that figure has been reduced to just over 69,000.
VA to call Iraq, Afghanistan veterans reported by Associated Press April 24, 2008
The Department of Veterans Affairs said Thursday that on May 1 it will start calling 570,000 recent combat veterans to make sure they know what services are available to them.

The first calls will go to about 17,000 veterans who were sick or injured while serving in the wars. If they don’t have a care manager, the VA says they will be given one.

The next round of calls will target 555,000 veterans from the wars who have been discharged from active duty, but have not reached out to the VA for services. For five years after their discharge from the military, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have access to health care at the VA.

The effort will cost about $2.7 million and will be handled by a government contractor.

Vet care spending is at record level reported by USA Today Gregg Zoroya on July 23, 2008
Expenditures hit $82 billion in 2007 because of the rising cost of health care, the expense of caring for an aging population of mostly Vietnam veterans and a new crop of severely wounded troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That exceeds the $80 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars spent in 1947 after most of the 16.1 million Americans serving in World War II left the service, according to a Congressional Research Service report submitted to Congress last month.

An 11 percent hike in spending is slated for this fiscal year to $91 billion and the Veterans Affairs Department has proposed $94 billion for 2009. And still more is needed, said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is seeking another $3.3 billion for the 2009 budget proposal.

“While we are spending more than in previous years, we are still not meeting many of the health care and benefits needs of our veterans,” Murray said.

Last month’s passage of a new GI Bill will add $100 billion in education benefits for veterans over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and his Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama clashed over the bill last month.

McCain opposed it, saying its increased education benefits might encourage troops to leave the military.

Peake: VA needs young, tech-savvy workers reported by By Rick Maze - Staff writer Aug 21, 2008
VA expects to receive almost 900,000 benefits claims this year, and has a backlog of about 400,000 claims
Followed by this report September 14, 2008 from Gazette reporter Jill Bryce, Backlog of veterans benefits appeals growing bigger.
It’s estimated there are 600,000 to 800,000 unresolved claims and appeals with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to veterans’ advocates.

“We have claims that have been pending for a decade, two decades and some that date back more than 50 years. We have appeals from World War II,” said David E. Autry, a spokesman for the Disabled American Veterans in Washington D.C., which represents veterans and advocates and helps them obtain their benefits.
Would have been more helpful to actually do basic research on what has been really behind all this pain and suffering for all these decades. CONGRESS!!!!!!!

If you have some time there are over 25,000 more reports just like those right here on Wounded Times.

Coming Out of The Dark of PTSD Raised Awareness in 2006

If you hate it when I rant then you'll really hate this one. All the talk about raising awareness raises my blood pressure because for all the talk, there is far too little mentioned about how long ago all of this started. Really infuriating when I was part of the beginning of it.
'Out of the Darkness' walkers raise awareness for suicide prevention
Herald Mail Media
CJ Lovelace
September 26, 2015
"Through its growth, we've been able to spread awareness," she said. "We've been able to help the grieving and their process of grieving. We've been able to help our community."
A parade of walkers 800 strong made its way through Hagerstown on Saturday morning, spreading a message of support and awareness for suicide prevention.

Organizers of Hagerstown's Out of the Darkness Walk, now in its third year, said they hoped to raise $80,000 through this year's event.

By Saturday, more than $50,000 had been donated to the cause, helping to fund educational opportunities for the community, research, and assist those in need of mental-health or substance-abuse-related services.

"It's a walk for mental health and suicide awareness, … to break the stigma for mental illness, just bring the recognition to the cause in our community," said Julie Matheny, co-chairwoman of the walk and chairwoman of Maryland's branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Led by a police escort in several sections of the city, walkers marched out of City Park about 10 a.m. and went south along Virginia Avenue, before cutting across Howard Street and onto Summit Avenue heading north.
read more here

Why not use coming out of the dark since it is what worked back in 2006 when I created this video? "Coming Out of the Dark." It went up on YouTube when they were not blocking music. The counts were well over thousands back then because no one else was doing them.  This year I started to put them back up on YouTube.

Coming Out of The Dark of PTSD
4 min - Aug 31, 2006
of PTSD...PTSD is caused by an outside force. You did not cause it but only you can heal it. You did not fight alone then

Wounded Minds PTSD and Veterans
27 min - Mar 14, 2006
and Veterans...Veterans and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The effects on veterans as well as their families. From Vietnam, to the Gulf War, to

Hero After War Combat Vets and PTSD
8 min - Nov 27, 2006
and PTSD...PTSD is coming out in Vietnam veterans although they thought they recovered. The events in the two occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have brought old

Death Because They Served PTSD Suicides
21 min - Apr 25, 2007
. Here are over one hundred of them. How many more will it take before we take care of the troops we sent into combat?...Kathie

When War Comes Home PTSD
5 min - Sep 5, 2006
Did they? Their battle may be over but your's has begun. Learn the signs of PTSD and know when you need to help them....Kathie

PTSD After Trauma
5 min - Sep 1, 2006
After Trauma...PTSD is caused by trauma. From war, acts of nature or acts of man. It is time to end the silence.

PTSD Soldiers Wounded And Waiting
12 min - Aug 24, 2007
And Waiting...The men and women we send into combat are wounded and waiting. Why? Why do they have to wait to have their wounds treated

When War Comes Home Part Two
7 min - Nov 21, 2007
Part Two...Afghanistan and Iraq produce more wounded and more with PTSD from the USA and all Coalition forces. No nation is taking care of any of

Nam Nights Of PTSD Still
9 min - Nov 17, 2007
PTSD Still...Vietnam Vets are being pushed to the back of the line with the new veterans needing so much help. We need to help all of

4 min - Oct 10, 2007
.wmv...We give veterans one day a year of "honor" but they are veterans everyday of the year. We forget that for too many

The old links won't work but you can find most of them from my YouTube Channel. There are more but you get the idea. All this has been going on for far too long to end up leaving more committing suicide instead of actually coming out of the dark of PTSD.

A year after the video came out, it was used in an article from the Virginia Pilot.
Out of the Darkness: Suicide and the military
By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 8, 2007

They're young - an average of just 19 - and far from home. They train for a deadly task in a gut-it-out culture. And then, they go to war.

No wonder suicide has long plagued the military.

From 2001 to 2006, according to the Department of Defense, 1,110 active duty and reserve servicemen and women took their own lives. The largest number were Army (454), followed by Air Force (249), Navy (244) and Marines (163). One hundred and twenty have committed suicide while serving in the Iraq war.

As bad as that sounds, it 's a lot better than it used to be. A decade ago, the military wide rate hovered around 17.3 per 100,000 people. Today, it's down to 11.2 - not much higher than the civilian rate of 10.9.

The turning point came in 1996 when Adm. Jeremy Boorda, the nation's top Navy officer, shot himself after questions arose over one of his Vietnam combat medals.

"That really got everyone's attention," said Cmdr. Anthony Doran, who heads the Navy's effort to curb suicide.
The thing is, for all this awareness raising and all these news reports, and all these groups taking walks to raise awareness,,,,,,too much has not been learned in the process and it has all gotten worse!
July 7, 2010
Twilight of Glory
The things I’ve seen and done would boggle your mind.
I’ve seen the death and destruction created by mankind
in the living hell that I walked away from but could not leave behind.
It all comes back to haunt me now and makes peace impossible to find.
The ghosts of the past that find me in the night
make me wonder if my life will ever be right.
I have tried to forget what I have done,
and now there is no place left to run.
All this in the name of glory!
There is no end to this horror story.
It still does not make sense even now that I am older,
why, when I was so young they made me a soldier
and why I had to be a part of that war
when I didn’t even know what we were there for.
At eighteen I should have been with my friends having fun
not patrolling through a jungle with a machine gun.
I did my part just the same, just for my country
and stood helplessly watching my friends die all around me.
I felt a surge of hate engulf my soul for people that I did not know
and saw children lose their chance to grow.
All this in the name of glory!
There is still no end to this horror story.
There was no glory for guys like me
only bitter memories that will not set me free.
I can never forget the ones who never made it home
some of them dead and others whose fate is still unknown
and the stigma that we lost what was not meant to win
most of us carry that extra burden buried deep within. All this in the name of glory!
Will there ever be an end to this horror story?
In the twilight of glory
there is an unwritten story
each warrior keeps within.
Going back from the wars we are sent to fight
like going from sunshine to the darkness of night
we fade away from the public's mind
and wonder when glory was left behind
as we struggle to find reason to go on
back in a world where we no longer belong.

revised from IN THE NAME OF GLORY
@1984 Kathie Costos
I signed the poem W.T. Manteiv for We Trusted and Vietnam backwards.
It has always been their words reflecting the pain they carry inside of them. All I do is arrange the words to give that pain a voice and then help them connect what is already inside of them so they can heal. Now maybe you know why I get so upset when I read how it is almost as if no one had done anything before new folks decided to do "something" along with getting donations. I haven't had a single donation in over a year but that hasn't stopped me from doing the work.

Yesterday I was talking to a good friend and I told him this may be the last year for Wounded Times since I just can't compete with all the new groups popping up all over the place and not doing much at all. He reminded me, as usual, why I do what I do. It is for them and for families just like mine. I've been doing this for over 30 years, so I've seen what is possible but have also seen what is probable if we keep going in the direction we've been in for the last decade. It is not a happy ending.

Two Deputies Change Veteran's Life after 911 Call

More than 140,000 troops have left the military since 2000 with less-than-honorable discharges, according to the Pentagon.
That was reported by the LA Times April 1, 2015. With that number fresh in your mind, this needs to be added to that fact,
"Many vets with 'bad' discharges are cast off to local mental health services, charities despite suicide risk

Of those suicides, 403 were among ex-service members whose discharges were "not honorable" — for a wide range of misconduct, from repeatedly disrespecting officers to felony convictions. An additional 380 occurred among veterans with "uncharacterized" discharges, the designation used for troops who leave in fewer than 180 days for a variety of nondisciplinary reasons."
That is why this story should matter to every veteran around the country. We know there were 200,000 Vietnam veterans discharged instead of being diagnosed and treated for what war did to them. We know what happened even before they were sent. The question is, "How long will this go on before these veterans get justice?"

They have been shoved out then abandoned but this story will show you how far a human act of kindness can go.

Two deputies change veteran's life after 911 call
KUSA NBC 9 News Colorado
Anastasiya Bolton
September 25, 2015
"I saw someone real," Barnett said. "He was trying to connect with me on just a human level. Nobody's ever tried to do that with me before."
A veteran with PTSD says two deputies helped change his life
(Photo: KUSA)
ARAPAHOE COUNTY – Larry Barnett's girlfriend had to call 911 last week because Barnett, an Iraq vet, had a PTSD episode and she was afraid for his well-being.

"I was done. I was at the point where do or die," Barnett said.

Barnett reached out to 9NEWS to share his story and said he was in a better place to talk. He was adamant about talking because he wanted to share what the deputies who responded to his call did for him.

"In my head I didn't feel like I could live anymore," Barnett said about Wednesday September 16.

Two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 still haunt the Army vet.

He received an other than honorable discharge in 2006, has been suffering from PTSD and fighting with the VA to get an upgrade and then be eligible for services.

September 16, Barnett said he lost it, again.
read more here

The Gazette out of Colorado reported that Congress was going to do something about all of this back in 2013 when Iraq veteran, Representative Mike Coffman on the House Armed Services Committee read about what was going on with these discharges.
Rep. Mike Coffman, a Denver-area Republican who is on the House Armed Services Committee, introduced an amendment to the 2014 Defense Authorization Act that would create a 10-member Commission on Military Behavioral Health and Disciplinary Issues.

The commission would study whether the military discipline system needs to change in light of emerging research on the connection between PTSD and TBI and behavioral problems that can get troops in trouble.
Soldiers who have been discharged include wounded combat veterans who are denied medical care and other benefits because of the character of their discharge.
The problem is when Barnett was victimized he wasn't alone. The Saint Louis Post Dispatch reported this September 29, 2007 Many soldiers get boot for 'pre-existing' mental illness
Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq - as many as 10 a day - are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had "pre-existing" conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vietnam Veteran Disabled Marine Saved by Dog After Hit and Run

Driver hits disabled veteran and dog, dog pulls owner off street 
By Emily Younger
Published: September 25, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A disabled veteran said he owes his life to his pet dog.
“One of the ladies that called paramedics and police said that Maverick stood guard over me while I was on the street,” said Russell.

Russell said neighbors also told him Maverick pulled him from the street and continued to stand over his owner until help arrived.

The two were crossing the street near their southeast Albuquerque home when a driver crashed into them and took off.

“Yeah, he saved my life without a doubt,” said Vietnam Veteran Michael Russell.

It’s a story of a hero protecting another hero.

“I came from a family of veterans and it was not a question whether I was going to volunteer. It was a question of which branch of the service I was going to go in,” said Russell.

Russell is a Marine. He served in Vietnam.
read more here

New York Homeless Veteran Lectured by Idiots Showed True Kindness

Shocking video shows NY man throwing food on homeless vet 
Published time: 25 Sep, 2015

A homeless veteran begs for change on a New York street. Passers-by ignore him, giving their money to a teen begging nearby. One man dumps his takeout on the unfortunate veteran, showing what he thinks of his service. You won’t believe what happened next…

The veteran asks the teen to “watch his stuff” as he cleans up at a nearby shop. A few minutes later he returns, bringing a slice of pizza for the boy. Little did he know that the “homeless teen” was actually part of a social experiment, set up by two brothers from Brooklyn. Mohammed “Moe” and Etayyim “ET” Etayyim became YouTube celebrities for filming a series of prank videos starting in early 2014. They have also made seven “social experiment” videos highlighting child abuse, bigotry and the treatment of the homeless. read more here
 Get a job? That is what an officer said to a homeless veteran. He apologized. The truth is, he had a job and risked his life to save others. Then another idiot dumps his food on the veteran while giving him a lecture. Think about that now that you know what this homeless veteran ended up doing for the teenager he thought was homeless too.

Marine From Virginia Dead After Gunfire With State Police in Michigan

Member of Marines dies after gunfire on Drummond Island
Associated Press
September 25, 2015

DRUMMOND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — State police say two federal agents were helping search for a missing member of the U.S. Marines when they exchanged gunfire with him on northern Michigan’s Drummond Island.

Hours later Thursday, state police found 38-year-old Aaron Andrew Furness of Woodbridge, Virginia, dead inside a remote cabin. Police say Friday the cause is under investigation.
read more here

Marine died of self-inflicted wound after firing at agents on Michigan island
By John Tunison
September 29, 2015

MICHIGAN -- A 38-year-old U.S. Marine died of a self-inflicted injury after firing upon federal agents who were looking for him last week on Drummond Island

State police on Tuesday, Sept. 29 said an autopsy confirmed the cause of death for Aaron Andrew Furness, 38, of West Bloomfield.

Furness was a U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant based at Quantico, Va.

His obituary indicates he served 19 years in the Marines and was deployed for several months in 2007 and 2008 in Iraq.
read more here

Son of Army Psychiatrist "Homegrown Terrorist" Gets 10 Years in Prison

Son of US Army Doctor Gets 10 Years on Terrorism Charge
Sep 25, 2015

A former top University of Texas student who pleaded guilty to charges of recruiting terrorists said Friday he was not anti-American and expressed remorse before a federal judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Rahatul Ashikim Khan, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen and the son of a U.S. Army psychiatrist, is among what federal officials call a growing number of so-called homegrown terrorists who are trying to join or help Islamic insurgents fighting in Syria.

FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee said the bureau has identified roughly 200 people in the U.S. over the past couple years who have planned or traveled overseas to help insurgents.
read more here

Veteran MP Receives Soldier's Medal 42 Years After Heroic Act

Former staff sergeant receives Soldier’s Medal 
Fort Carson Mountanieer
By Staff Sgt. Diandra J. Harrell
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

DENVER — Family, friends, police officers and Service members gathered Sept. 22, 2015, in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 to watch former Staff Sgt. Joseph Gilmore Jr. formally receive the Soldier’s Medal, the highest honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a noncombat event.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette, 1st Congressional District of Colorado, presents former Staff Sgt. Joseph Gilmore Jr. the Soldier’s Medal at the Denver Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 Sept. 22, 2015.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Diandra J. Harrell)
Congresswoman Diana DeGette, 1st Congressional District of Colorado, and Retired Col. Aaron Tucker presented the former 4th Infantry Division military policeman with the medal for his actions during a fire on Fort Carson 42 years ago.

Gilmore, an Aurora native, now retired attorney, repeatedly entered a burning building Feb. 20, 1973, to save its contents.

“I knew what was in the building, which were artillery weapons,” Gilmore explained. “I did not know if they were loaded with ammunition, but I did know that they were loaded with fuel. If that fire would have torched off one of those weapons systems, it would have been catastrophic.”
read more here

Terrifying Outcome From Decade of Awareness

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 26, 2015

If everyone is doing something and nothing changes, that something isn't better than nothing. So when do we actually wake up and change the conversation from how many are failed to how to save them?

I get links in my email all the time and frankly, most of them cause me to just move on. They are really that lousy and have little to do with changing anything for the better. Instead of posting the thoughts they leave me with, I just ignore them. In this case, I struggled to just leave it because things like this have too many connections to what is wrong than what is right.

What is wrong is the military has been off the hook for training them in prevention that has not decreased suicides but allowed the stigma to live on with bombastic, simplistic statements like this in Army Deploys Prevention Programs to Combat Soldier Suicides.
“Obviously, suicide is a very complex phenomenon with a lot going on,” said Army Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, director of the Army Surgeon General’s office for behavioral health. “The main motive for suicide is related to breakup of relationships, usually with a partner.”
If that was the real basis for suicides within the military then why spend so much time on training them at all?
May 29, 2008 – The Army is deploying a multitude of prevention programs as part of efforts to stop soldiers from taking their own lives, senior Army officials said here today. The Army should train its soldiers how to cope with psychological challenges as well as physical ones, Army Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, assistant surgeon general for force protection, told reporters during a Pentagon roundtable. For example, the Battlemind training program prepares soldiers for a combat environment, Cornum said, adding that troops who’ve taken Battlemind training report fewer psychological health problems. Last year, the Army initiated a chain-teaching program to educate all soldiers and leaders about symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and mild brain injury, Cornum said. More than 900,000 soldiers were trained since July, she noted.
When do we get accountability for all these years of leaving service members left without what they need to heal? When do they have to explain to families all this training was continued as more and more committed suicide? When do they have have to account for the fact that with billions spent on this "prevention" they couldn't even reduce the number of non-deployed from committing suicide. How did they expect it to work on those sent on multiple deployments?

By 2013 it was clear "Military And Veteran Suicides Rise Despite Aggressive Prevention Efforts"
The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), already struggling to meet an increasing demand from troops and veterans for mental health services, are watching the suicide rates, and the growing number of those considered "at risk" of suicide, with apprehension.

"It really is extremely concerning," said Caitlin Thompson, a VA psychologist and clinical care coordinator at the national crisis line for the military and veterans.

The warning signs of an approaching wave of suicides are unmistakable.

The news article on K2 radio out of Wyoming problem started with the title itself. "Monster: A Veteran Confronts Suicide" By Tom Morton September 25, 2015. That headline sent a chill up my spine.

It starts with a real number of veteran suicides are double the civilian population rate. That is the what folks need to focus on especially when they have been unchanged over a decade since the reports first started to come out in 2007 when CBS News reported "Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans"
CBS News did an investigation - asking all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for veterans and non-veterans, dating back to 1995. Forty-five states sent what turned out to be a mountain of information.

And what it revealed was stunning.

In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 each and every week, in just one year.
And the article went on with this
It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)

One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)
All of what we've been seeing with "the number of new veterans charities has increased relatively rapidly over the past five years or so, growing by 41% since 2008" reported by Charity Watch A Donor's Guide to Serving the Needs of Veterans and the Military. So why isn't anyone asking what the results are with all these charities and all this awareness raising?

The other thing we should have answers for is why are there so many doing the same exact thing and expecting a different outcome for all the money they raise?
“Suicide. It’s always in the backs of peoples minds,” Keith Smith said.
“Nobody really wants to deal with it straight on because it’s kind of a touchy subject, said Smith, who served two deployments with the Wyoming Army National Guard in Iraq.

The “22″ in the 22Kill organization’s name refers to the number of veterans who kill themselves each day. One active service member commits suicide daily, Smith said.

“You’re looking at 8,000 (suicides) or better by the end of the year.”
If you quote "22 a day" but leave out the disclaimer from the Department of Veterans Affairs study released in 2012 that is was based on limited information, then how do you hope to change anything?

Why leave out the largest group of veterans committing suicide?
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.
Clearly that shows if they continue to repeat what has already failed, the numbers we should see coming are, frankly, terrifying.

Keith Smith said raising awareness is "so that people know what the issue is" but that is actually already known in the Veteran Community. He also said that "suicide is a selfish thing" but that isn't true either.

Wyoming Suicide Awareness - Keith Smith Gives Insight Into #22Kill
Seeing a veteran talking about his service and the seriousness of suicide could have been really powerful had they taken the project seriously. The veteran is chomping on gum appearing to be bored. The interviewer is asking questions that are close to impossible to hear.

MOH Dakota Myer wasn't being "selfish" when he tried to end his own life after "Believing he had become a burden to his family, Dakota turned to the bottle. One night driving home he stopped his truck and pulled out a gun" but as you heard in this interview, the "selfish act" attitude is a huge part of the problem.
Meyer, the 296th Marine to earn the medal, by all accounts deserved his nomination. At least seven witnesses attested to him performing heroic deeds “in the face of almost certain death.”

Braving withering fire, he repeatedly returned to the ambush site with Army Capt. William Swenson and others to retrieve Afghan casualties and the dead Americans. He suffered a shrapnel wound in one arm and was sent home after the battle with combat-related stress. Meyer’s commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Williams, commended him for acts of “conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Capt. William Swenson

MOH hangs around their necks for saving lives but those actions did not end with combat. They decided to keep fighting to save even more lives by publicly speaking out on PTSD.
Sergeant Carter as well as Swenson have “publicly talked about the demons they brought home, and no one is questioning their valor,” Mr. Carter adds. “You can clearly struggle and be tough at the same time, which is a very important message for knocking down stigmas.”

For his part, Sergeant Carter has continued to speak out about the toll combat takes on the lives of soldiers long after they return home from war.

“Know that a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate, dedicated men or women you’ll ever meet,” he said. “Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living what others did not.”

The current talk is that the VA is the enemy, but that isn't true either. The problems within the VA have been going on for decades but Congress has had jurisdiction over the VA, no matter which party is in control, for decades. They keep complaining while veterans wait for the best care they had been promised.

The thing is, Vietnam veterans were told to go to the VA for help with PTSD decades ago for a reason. VA may be saving veterans from suicide
For female veterans using the VA, that number held relatively steady over the 11 years included in the data, averaging 10.3.

The figure for women who didn’t seek VA help started out at 29.9 in 2000 and climbed steadily, reaching 43.6 in 2010.

For male VA users, it fell from 37.3 to 29.1.

In contrast, it rose from 27.5 to 38.3 for male nonusers.
Is it perfect? No. It isn't new either. Nothing is perfect but until we get out heads out of behind, we'll never change what is coming. If we don't change the conversation away from what is wrong, no one will be raising awareness about what is working.

What works is simply reminding them

YOU SERVED TO SAVE, SURVIVE TO SERVE OTHERS because you can help them heal to live to fight against the last battle of war.