Thursday, March 31, 2016

CSM: No Troops Died Looking for Bergdahl

Command sergeant major: No troops died searching for Bergdahl
Stars and Stripes
By Nancy Montgomery
Published: March 31, 2016
Although the podcast concluded that no one was killed in the search, it did discuss two men seriously harmed on missions in the first couple of weeks after Bergdahl disappeared. Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch lost a leg in a gunfight on a mission to find Bergdahl. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen was shot in the head on a different mission; he lost part of his brain, was paralyzed and rendered mute.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Wolf had a message for the families of troops killed in Afghanistan after Bowe Bergdahl walked off his post.

“Their sons did not die looking for Pfc. Bergdahl,” Wolf said on Thursday’s “Serial” podcast, the 11th and final episode of the season.

The podcast investigating the Bergdahl case from seemingly all conceivable angles over the past few months, debunked the persistent rumor that six soldiers from his battalion had been killed during the 45-day, all-out search for Bergdahl. They were all killed in August and September, after the exhausting search effectively had been called off and the mission had changed to secure upcoming Afghanistan elections, according to court testimony.
read more here

Congress Ready to Abandon Veterans To Private Healthcare!

Now maybe you'll understand why Congress has not fixed the problems with the VA. The only way to get what they wanted was to destroy the VA first by letting veterans suffer! VETERANS DESERVED BETTER FROM CONGRESS and the people who put these folks in office should be ashamed of themselves for letting it get this far!
Care commission shocker: The push to privatize VA health care
By Tom Philpott
Published: March 31, 2016

Backlash from veteran service organizations was swift. The American Legion noted that many commissioners are medical industry executives who stand to gain financially if VA care is privatized. Paralyzed Veterans of America said placing vets with special needs into private-sector care “is a death sentence” because community providers are minimally experienced to provide complex care over the lifetime of severely injured veterans.
Seven of 15 outside health advisers appointed to recommend ways to improve veterans’ health services over the next two decades have proposed shutting down all Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and outpatient services, and having its nine million enrollees get their medical care in the private sector.

The 34-page “straw man” document released by the congressionally created Commission on Care calls for an immediate halt to construction of new VA hospitals and clinics, and launch of a “BRAC-like process” to begin closing existing facilities. Shuttering the largest medical system in the country would leave the VA to be “primarily a payor” for the care veterans would receive from civilian community doctors and health facilities.

To entice these physicians and facilities to accept more veterans as patients, the straw man document proposes that VA reimbursement rates be set 5 or 10 percent higher than Medicare pays.
read more here

Military Funeral For Homeless Veteran

Homeless veteran to receive military burial Area groups honor a man whose life remains a mystery
The Journal Gazette
Rosa Salter Rodriguez
March 30, 2016

A U.S. Army veteran who died homeless in Fort Wayne earlier this month will be given a military funeral today with the aid of several area veterans’ groups.

John Pawlowski, 69, died March 5 at Parkview Hospital of natural causes stemming from septic shock, according to Michael Burris, chief investigator for the Allen County coroner’s office. Septic shock is a full-body infection that causes organ shutdown.

Pawlowski’s birthdate, May 17, 1947, and his military service were verified through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Burris said. But much of his life remains a mystery, and no family members willing to step forward to claim the body could be found, he said.

Nonetheless, contacts made through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program by staff members at Fort Wayne’s Klaehn, Fahl and Melton funeral home have yielded a chaplain to conduct the services, as well as members of about a half-dozen area veterans groups who make a practice of participating in military funerals.

They include the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders and American Freedom Riders motorcycle groups; members of American Legion Post 241 in Waynedale; a group of Army members in active service; and representatives of Fort Wayne’s Safe Haven home for veterans struggling with addiction.

David Wilson, Safe Haven’s regional program director, said the agency will receive the American flag typically given to members of a veteran’s family – even though Safe Haven never had contact with Pawlowski.

“To me, it’s tragic when you have someone who served his country and dies and has nothing and no one. It’s tragic, but it happens,” Wilson said, adding that it has happened two or three times in the Fort Wayne area in the past two years.
read more here

Military Bad Conduct Left Over 125,000 Veterans Without Benefits

Over 125,000 veterans denied benefits by the VA – report
Published time: 31 Mar, 2016

“The VA’s board and vague regulations are contrary to law and create a system that does not work for the VA or for veterans… and stops the agency from effectively addressing the national priorities of ending veteran suicide and homelessness,” said the report.

Tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, many with physical and mental injuries, were being denied care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, claims a new report by a veterans’ advocacy group.

“The VA created much broader exclusion criteria than Congress provided, failing to give veterans due credit for their service to our country,” said the report by advocacy group Swords to Plowshares, published on Wednesday.

Under the 1944 GI Bill, Congress expanded eligibility for veteran benefits to almost all veterans, even those with less-than-honorable discharges, provided the misconduct was not so severe that it should have led to a trial by court-martial and a dishonorable discharge. Congress left open the door to benefits for spectrum of discharges between honorable and dishonorable, including “undesirable” and “other than honorable.”

The report found the VA labeled 90 percent of veterans with bad paper discharges as “dishonorable,” even though the military classified them differently.

“The VA’s board and vague regulations are contrary to law and create a system that does not work for the VA or for veterans… and stops the agency from effectively addressing the national priorities of ending veteran suicide and homelessness,” said the report.

Veterans with bad paper discharges were more likely to have mental health conditions and were twice as likely to commit suicide, the report found. They are also more likely to be homeless and involved with the criminal justice system.

“Yet, in most cases, the VA refuses to provide them any treatment or aid,” said the group.

The New York Times cited the example of Joshua Bunn, a US Marine Corps veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. His unit served in “one of the bloodiest valleys in Afghanistan,” killing hundreds of enemy fighters and losing more Marines than any other battalion that year.
read more here

Raymond Schwab ends 17-day hunger strike

With Los Angeles-based lawyer in town, Raymond Schwab ends 17-day hunger strike
Suit seeks injunction against Kansas Department for Children and Families
Topeka Capital Journal

By Phil Anderson
Posted: March 30, 2016

In what has become a public battle against DCF, Schwab, a military veteran, contends his children were removed by authorities and placed in foster care because of his use of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. He and his wife, Amelia, live in Colorado, where his marijuana use is legal.

With a lawsuit written by a Los Angeles-based lawyer ready to be filed at U.S. District Court in Topeka, Raymond Schwab was finally ready Wednesday afternoon to end a 17-day hunger strike.

As he stood at 12:15 p.m. on the steps of the Statehouse, a beaming Schwab proclaimed, “Now I can eat! Maybe we can figure out how to get a barbecue up here.”

A few minutes earlier, Schwab spoke at a news conference attended by about 35 supporters to provide an update on his appeal to regain custody of five of his six children, who in 2015 were removed from his custody by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

read more here

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

No One Stopped To Help Disabled Veteran in Wheelchair After Attempted Robbery?

Cops: Man tries to rob woman in wheelchair with service dog
Orlando Sentinel
Christal Hayes
March 30, 2016

Pawelski told authorities several vehicles passed her during the incident and no one stopped to help. She wheeled herself to a nearby CVS and called her fiancée.

CLERMONT— Sarah Pawelski was already having a bad day.

The 45-year-old's vehicle had broken down along Citrus Tower Boulevard about noon March 22 and she was forced to use her wheelchair to get to the nearest business. That's when things got worse —a man in a car that stopped ostensibly to help attempted to snatch her purse.

Discussing the experience today, Pawelski said she was recently diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, a painful and rare disorder that affected her ability to walk. She said she is also an Army veteran who suffers from severe post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"I don't want to think about it at all. This whole thing has really brought my PTSD to a max and I keep having nightmares and can't sleep because of what this punk decided to do," she said.
read more here

Marine in Famous Photo Survived Even After Being in Bodybag

ABC 30 News

Dale Yurong 
March 29, 2016

Grantham told Action News, "When we got back to triage they actually put me in a body bag."

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A retired US Marine from the Valley has been on one final mission - to find a comrade who he thought died by his side.

In an iconic Vietnam War photo taken in February of 1968 Lance Corporal Rick Hill of Coalinga could found at the top right. Laying on his side was a fellow US Marine named Alvin Grantham. Up until a few weeks ago Rick thought Alvin died shortly after the picture was taken but that was not the case.

Hill recalled the most intense firefight of his two tours. He was shot in one leg and took shrapnel in the other. "I was wounded in the battle of Hue during Tet February 68. We were pinned down. We were in trouble."

Rick noticed a tank rolling by.

"They asked me, got room for one more and they always got room for one more and they threw me up on the tank."

The famous picture of wounded US Marines being medevaced on a tank appeared in Life and Time magazine. Rick's mom told him, "That's the only way I knew you were still alive."

Rick tearfully told us, "For 48 years I look at this picture and look at these guys looking back at me and I always figured it's an honor."

Since 1991 Rick and his wife Hayley have lived the quiet life in Coalinga but that all changed a few weeks ago when someone answered a facebook post about the photo.

"He says, hey I'm the guy laying on the tank without a shirt. I look at my wife and go no way. That guy died."

That's what Rick was told but Alvin Grantham of Mobile, Alabama messaged him and wrote, "Lots of people think I didn't make it."
read more here

Bad Reporting on PTSD Service Dogs

Here's some really bad reporting. This is a story about a charity raising money to supply veterans with service dogs.
"We are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide - and that's only with six states that are reporting," says Jolanthe Bassett.

But there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel -- man's best friend. That's where Jolanthe comes in with Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

"We've paired over 150 dogs since 2010, and in that time we haven't had one suicide attempt," she says. She volunteers with Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs and worked to find Eric his current partner, Sun, after his first dog died tragically.

It isn't 22 a day and the suicide report from the VA was from 21 states, not 6. If folks actually read the report they would know this was limited data and they missed a lot.

The thing about "no attempted suicides" could very well be true however it is important to point out that while PTSD service dogs are very helpful, there have been many veterans with them and they not only attempted suicide, they succeeded.

Also keep in mind that some folks want to imagine these dogs as the "cure" instead of part of the help that is needed. Plus some veterans don't like dogs or can't have them.

For most veterans, even a regular dog is very helpful.  We lost our's last week and we have huge holes in our hearts.  Harry was just a mutt but he gave us a lot of comfort knowing he was always on guard among so many other things. He wasn't just a dog to us, he was part of our family.

Throughout most of our 30+ year marriage we've had dogs, so yesterday we went to meet out new "dogson."  Haven't agreed on a name yet but he sure will have big paws to fill after Harry.

But as you can see, I don't think that will be a problem for this little guy. He isn't even 7 weeks old yet.

Veterans Run 1.500 Miles From Boston to Atlanta

They are running to fund help for PTSD and TBI, which is a good thing. But yet again, they are using "22" as if that is a real number. Will these folks raising awareness ever get the point that it is much more than 'just a number' to use?
PHOTOS: Shepherd's Men run through Lynchburg
The News and Advance
The Shepherd's Men group came through Lynchburg Tuesday, March 28, 2016 as part of a 1,500-mile journey between Boston and Atlanta to raise money for the SHARE Military Initiative, a donor-funded 12-week-program that treats the physical and psychological effects of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Camp Pendleton and Hospital Corpsman Saved Neighbor and Daughter

'She's Family': Sailor Saves Mom, Daughter From Stabbing 
Jennifer Barela and her daughter were attacked viciously by Barela's husband in November
San Diego Miiltary Times
By Brie Stimson and Candice Nguyen 

March 28, 2016

Jaclyn Place, 30, was doing homework in her Oceanside home late one night last November when she heard screams coming from her neighbor’s house.

“The volume was escalating,” Place said. “That’s when I decided to go outside and noticed [my neighbor] was calling for me. As soon as I opened the door I saw her -- then a flash-- it was him running. She was screaming ‘he stabbed me,’ and as she turned I saw blood all the way down her back. I had a fight or flight second, and then went to work.”

Her neighbor, Jennifer Barela, was referring to her husband who had just viciously attacked her with a knife. Place, a lead chief petty officer at Camp Pendleton and hospital corpsman, began assessing Barela’s condition. She also called another neighbor, Staff Sgt. Thomas McDonald with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, instructing him to bring his first aid medical bag.
read more here

VA Claims Examinations Contracted Out For $6.8 Billion

VA Makes Contract Awards Totaling up to $6.8 Billion for Medical Disability Examinations
03/29/2016 11:45 AM EDT

VA Makes Contract Awards Totaling up to $6.8 Billion for Medical Disability Examinations
Provides efficient, streamlined process in support of the MyVA Initiative of Medical

Disability Examinations for Veterans

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the award of twelve major contracts that will enhance its ability to deliver timely disability benefits claims decisions to the nation’s Veterans in line with the MyVA initiative. The contracts make up a $6.8 billion enterprise-wide Medical Disability Examination Program under Public Law 104-275, and represent a major step forward in improving the disability examination experience for Veterans.

A unique feature of this multi-contract award will see the consolidation of the contracts under a single program management initiative, with representation in the central management group from both the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). To date, contracts for medical examinations have been managed by both administrations with varying degrees of efficiency and delivery time of exam reports, which are critical to Veterans’ disability determinations supporting their compensation and pension claim.

The new program management and delivery process will also continue to ensure broad national and international coverage of medical examination requirements to meet Veterans’ needs world-wide. Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits, Tom Murphy noted that, “This will be a major accomplishment for Veterans going forward, not only for the efficiencies and additional oversight, but VA can now maximize the capacity of inherent capability and leverage the contract expertise and capacity as needed. The goal will be to reduce the veteran’s wait times for examinations as much as possible thereby providing faster claims decisions and enhancing Veterans’ experience in a positive way.” Contracts were awarded to the following firms:

VetFed Resources, Inc., 2034 Eisenhower Ave., Ste 270, Alexandria, VA - Large Business
Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc., 3000 Richmond Avenue, Ste 540, Houston, TX - Large Business
QTC Medical Services, Inc, 21700 Copley Drive, Ste 200, Diamond Bar, CA - Large Business

The contracts are being awarded for a period of 12 months with four, 12-month options, with an aggregate ceiling of $6.8 billion. The contract will be managed by VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center based in in Frederick, MD.

Mt Warning ‘unfit’ hiker was actually two-tour Afghanistan war hero

Mt Warning ‘unfit’ hiker was actually two-tour Afghanistan war hero who suffers from PTSD
Gold Coast Bulletin
Jack Houghton
March 29, 2016

“Once I hit the top that’s when my PTSD really took over and it took all my strength not to take the easy way out and leave it all ­behind me,” he said.
A HIKER slammed as “unfit” after being winched by helicopter from Mt Warning is a two-tour Afghanistan war hero who says he froze because of a post traumatic stress disorder meltdown.

The 38-year-old, 115kg army veteran, who did two tours for the Australian ­Defence Force in the Middle East, said he was crippled by a wave of “anxiety” when he reached the mountain’s 1159m peak around 4.30pm on Easter Monday.

Rescue crews were called and 20 men were deployed to get Aaron “Dogga” to safety.
read more here

Veteran Takes Lucky Shot Through Pair of Pants

Man shoots at guest, bullet passes through pants
Sheriff: suspect believed victim was intruder
Record Eagle
By Matt Troutman
March 29, 2016
The man served in the military and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, Borkovich said. He said authorities will reach out to a local veterans' center to get the suspect help.
TRAVERSE CITY — A Suttons Bay man could face firearms charges after authorities said he drunkenly shot at a partygoer leaving his home.

The bullet passed through the victim's pant leg, leaving him uninjured, said Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich. He said deputies responded to a call about the shooting early Tuesday, found the suspect — a Suttons Bay man, 27 — and arrested him.

The suspect apparently hosted guests at his home about a half-mile south of Suttons Bay for a night of drinking. Borkovich said the shooting occurred when the suspect thought someone was trying to break into his home.

"It wasn’t an intruder, it was somebody leaving the house," Borkovich said.
read more here

Monday, March 28, 2016

Commemoration Forgotten Obligation

Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Forgotten Obligation
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 28, 2016

Where were you when they came home? Sure the nation wants to make up for the way Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home decades ago, but from what we've shown them, they haven't seen much evidence that we really care now.  

How could they believe they matter at all when all across the nation more and more folks talk about veterans committing suicide and never once bother to mention they are the majority of those suicides?

America wasn't there when they came home from Vietnam because Americans just didn't care to make sure this nation took care of them.

Some say they didn't know what was happening to them and they point to social media being used today to make them aware of the need. They didn't have any of this back then, but just like when all other generations came home before them, the people managed to learn about their needs simply because they wanted to. With Vietnam veterans, they just didn't bother to even wonder.

Today is still not the day that Americans show up.  Sure they are all doing their grand gatherings to commemorate the anniversary of the Vietnam War but when you look up the definition of what that word means you find this.
Simple Definition of commemorate
: to exist or be done in order to remind people of (an important event or person from the past)
: to do something special in order to remember and honor (an important event or person from the past)

If you look on the VA Website for the 50th Anniversary you'll see this interactive map of events.
This is for the Vietnam War timeline As you can see, Americans started dying long before the acknowledged date.
During April 1956, three U.S. Army nurses deploy to Vietnam to help train South Vietnamese military nurses. They are the first U.S. service women to arrive in Vietnam. About 11,000 service women would eventually serve in Vietnam. Eight die while serving their country in Vietnam. Of these eight, seven would be Army nurses.
Seven U.S. Air Force crewmen die when Pathet Lao anti-aircraft artillery shoots off the wing of a military transport aircraft and it crashes on the Plain of Jars in Laos. Major Lawrence Bailey survives and is subsequently captured. Bailey is released on August 15, 1962, and President John F. Kennedy presents him with the first Bronze Star Medal for service in Southeast Asia.
And at the end of the timeline is this,
On 12 May 1975, a Khmer Rouge gunboat seized an American ship, the Mayaguez, in the Gulf of Thailand and detained its crew. Two days later, U.S. Air Force (USAF) helicopters landed Marines of Battalion Landing Team 2/9 (BLT 2/9) on Koh Tang Island off the Cambodian coast where the crew was believed to be held. Marines from Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines boarded the Mayaguez only to find it deserted. The Khmer Rouge released the Mayaguez crew, who were picked up by a U.S. destroyer at sea. On 15 May, with the recovery of the ship and its crew, the Marines withdrew from Koh Tang Island. The American forces sustained total casualties of 15 killed, three missing in action (later declared dead), 49 wounded and 23 Airmen (18 security police and five aircrew) killed when their CH-53 crashed while deploying. Enemy casualties were unknown. Lieutenant Richard Vandegeer, USAF, whose name is the last one on the Vietnam Veterans Wall, was killed on Koh Tang Island. This concluded the combat involvement of the U.S. military forces after two decades in Southeast Asia.

But when reporters said that Afghanistan was the longest war, most Americans simply accepted it and never thought twice about what that claim did to those who served all those years in Vietnam.

Just as today, most Americans accept that there are "22 veterans a day" committing suicide even though the report from the Department of Veterans Affairs states clearly "To date, data from twenty-one (21) states have been cleaned and entered into a single integrated file containing information on more than 147,000 suicides and 27,062 reported Veterans." on page 11. On page 14 there is this,
However, misclassification was considerably higher among validated Veterans with 11% of true Veterans classified as non-Veterans on the death certificate. Only 2% of true non-Veterans were misclassified as Veterans on the death certificate. The ability of death certificates to fully capture female Veterans was particularly low; only 67% of true female Veterans were identified. Younger or unmarried Veterans and those with lower levels of education were also more likely to be missed on the death certificate. This decreased sensitivity in specific subgroups can affect both suicide surveillance and research efforts that utilize Veteran status on the death certificate. From a surveillance standpoint, the rate of Veteran suicides will be underestimated in these groups.
Followed by page 15 with this,
Currently available data include information on suicide mortality among the population of residents in 21 states. Veteran status in each of these areas is determined by a single question asking about history of U.S. military service. Information about history of military service is routinely obtained from family members and collected by funeral home staff and has not been validated using information from the DoD or VA. Further, Veteran status was not collected by each state during each year of the project period.

But that must have just been too much to read as well. After all, why bother to read a report with so much detail when it is so much easier to just quote a number that was easy to remember? The fact is, Vietnam veterans are the majority of the suicides that are not "22 a day" because their generation is also the majority of veterans.

The VA study found that the percentage of older veterans with a history of VA healthcare who committed suicide actually was higher than that of veterans not associated with VA care. 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.

So where are you now? Are they really important enough to matter to you? Do they deserve your attention and time to actually read the reports? Do you care enough to make sure the rest of the country learns the truth about what we've been putting them through while still ignoring their suffering?

If you really value Vietnam veterans then learn the truth and then live up to what they've been fighting for all these years, that no generation of veterans will ever be left behind again.

Navy SEAL Rear Adm. Brian Losey Forced to Retire?

Navy SEAL admiral’s rare, public punishment
Withdrawal of SEAL leader’s promotion is unusual step after prestigious career

The San Diego Union Tribune
By Jeanette Steele
March 25, 2016

Rear Adm. Brian Losey, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, speaks at the La Posta Assaults and Tactical Weapons Training Complex in Campo on Sept. 25, 2014. MC1 Marc Rockwell-Pate
The career death of Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the Navy SEAL leader being forced to retire after his promotion was blocked in the Senate, marks the most public punishment ever at the top rank of the elite SEALs, who are known for running below the radar with their combat missions and internal business.

Even more tension between Congress and the SEALs may be looming. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, said this week that he will oppose the nomination of Losey’s replacement, Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski.

Hunter told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he has concerns about the incoming SEAL commander’s past performance on contracting, training and acquisitions. He didn’t elaborate on the alleged problems.

Szymanski couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
read more here

Call to Save Veteran Almost Cost Him His Life

Veteran suffering from PTSD to sue Gilbert Police for alleged excessive use of force 
KTAR News 
Cooper Rummell 
March 28, 2016
Attorney’s also claim in the document that Cardenas was Tased later on in the evening while he was strapped to a gurney at a local hospital. His heart stopped but doctors were able to revive him.
PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder plans to sue the Gilbert Police Department for alleged excessive use of force.

Attorneys for Kyle Cardenas filed a $20 million notice of claim against the Town of Gilbert regarding an incident that took place on Sept. 12, 2015.

According to the document, Cardenas was suffering from PTSD-induced delusions while staying at his parent’s house. His mother called the VA Crisis Hotline and requested a crisis team be sent to the home. Gilbert Police officers were sent instead.
read more here

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Maine Legislators Try To Get Veterans Benefits They Earned

Let’s keep this positive momentum going for Maine’s veterans 
Bangor Daily News
By Robert Saucier and John Schneck, Special to the BDN
Posted March 27, 2016
Rep. John Schneck, D-BangorD-Bangor, is a Vietnam War-era
veteran who served in the U.S. Navy
Of the estimated 140,000 veterans in Maine, a staggering 76,500 are not enrolled with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
As lawmakers and members of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, we see the challenges that Maine’s service members often face when they return home to civilian life. As fellow veterans, we are committed to policies that help our fellow servicemen and servicewomen make that transition successfully. The Legislature will soon consider four measures resulting from the work of a special commission that took a hard look at how Maine is delivering services to our veterans. 
Rep. Robert Saucier
D-Presque Isle, is a veteran of the
U.S. Air Force who also served for
24 years in the Maine Army National
Guard, including as commander of
C Battery in Fort Kent and of
Headquarters Battery in Caribou. 

The slate of bills addresses investment in the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services as well as homelessness, transportation and higher education. The Commission to Strengthen and Align Services Provided to Maine’s Veterans brought together legislators of both parties, state officials and representatives of veterans of different ages and genders with the common goal of improving the lives of Maine veterans. It was created by legislation from Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who has seen firsthand the needs of this generation. It’s clear that many of Maine’s veterans are falling through the cracks. The state Bureau of Veterans’ Services serves as a clearinghouse of available resources but lacks the resources it needs to keep up with the evolving needs of veterans. read more here

Veteran, Harry Potter and Lego Healing PTSD?

Legos help ease Iraq veteran's post-traumatic stress
Military Times
Patricia Kime
March 26, 2016
Hogwarts Castle - Brickipedia - Wikia

"And there's a fun element, too. When something is fun, we tend to engage in it more often, and the therapeutic values get bigger and bigger the more you do something," Hawkins said.
Retired Army medic Robin Krauth found relief from post-traumatic stress in a way the 43-year-old never imagined, and it involved her computer and a massive pile of Lego bricks.

In therapy for PTSD symptoms such as debilitating nightmares and crippling anxiety, Krauth was able to achieve a sense of calm in counseling. That peaceful feeling proved elusive at home — until she received a casual gift from her husband, a 1,228-brick Hogwarts Castle Lego set.

“I was excited because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. But as I was building it, I also realized my concentration was up and my anxiety down. I was calm, peaceful,” Krauth said.

With that first set, Krauth had stumbled onto a recreational therapy activity that worked for her, improved her mental state, boosted her confidence and provided a gateway to the world of other adult Lego fans.

"I was surprised — I really didn't play Legos as a child. But when I'm doing it now, I'm focused. All the other fears fall away," she said.
read more here

US Marine Standing Tall Inspires Prince Harry

Standing tall, the 'incredible' amputee marine who inspires Prince Harry 
The Telegraph 
By Gordon Rayner 
27 Mar 2016 

US marine Kirstie Ennis was sent messages by Prince Harry as she fought back from a life-threatening infection following the amputation of her leg.
Prince Harry has saluted the “absolutely incredible” courage of his friend Kirstie Ennis after the US marine fought back from a life-threatening infection following the amputation of her leg.

Miss Ennis, 25, shared pictures on social media showing her standing on her new prosthetic limb in the spring sunshine and posing for modelling shots as she said she was “so thankful for the world around me”.

The Prince boosted her recovery by sending her messages in hospital and is now hoping she will be well enough to compete in the Invictus Games in Florida in May, the Paralympic-style event he launched two years ago.
read more here

Professor Turned Into The Nanny For 4 Month Old

Watch: Professor Holds Former Marine’s Fussy Baby During Class
The Blaze
Carly Hoilman
Mar. 26, 2016

“Taking care of others in a time of need, and even in not a time of need, just loving and caring about others — that God’s purpose,” Dr. Darryn Willoughby

Full-time wife, mother and college student Katy Humphrey found herself in a predicament last week when the babysitter she hired backed out last minute. Humphrey, a former Marine, was counting on the sitter to watch her 4-month-old daughter, Millie, while she attended class at Baylor University.

Knowing that missing class was not an option, Humphrey quickly began brainstorming solutions.

“I had the Marine reaction, since I was in Marine Corps — I have to pull through somehow,” she told KWTX-TV.

So she placed her baby girl in a carseat and headed to class.

“I was thinking, ‘well I hope I can balance both,’” Humphrey said.

She didn’t however, think of what she’d do if Millie got fussy. And that’s exactly what happened.

But instead of getting frustrated at the student who decided to bring a wailing infant to class, the professor, Dr. Darryn Willoughby, went over to Humphrey and offered to help comfort Millie.

“Within the first five minutes Millie got fussy,” Willoughby, the Associate Professor of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation and the Director of Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor, told KWTX-TV. “So I just went over, picked her up, carried her back, and went right back to lecturing without missing a beat.”
read more here

Stand Down Offered Veterans New Outlook With Glasses

Yesterday at the Cocoa National Guard Armory there was a Veterans Stand Down where veterans could receive the usual clothing, food and other services but this one also had Chiropractors and eye exams topped off with receiving glasses. Just amazing watching veterans have a small machine check their eyes so they could see better then end up walking out with glasses. If they could not provide the glasses on the spot, Dr. Bressette would make them for cost and the charity, Through the Eyes of Children, would cover it.
Bill Vagianos Ph.D 
Veterans Memorial Center

David A. Bressette LDO
Through The Eyes of Children

R. Norman Moody

The Patriot Project

Easter The Day God Proved The People Wrong

Why Ask God Why?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 27, 2016

For the majority of the Christian World, today is all about remembering when God actually proved them wrong.

The night before this day, they went to sleep with a lot of questions. They wondered how the Man they thought was the Son of God ended up suffering such a horrible death. They would have run what Jesus said a thousand times in their mind trying to make sense out of what they thought was the end of the story. How could they have believed Him? Why did God let it happen?

They had no way of knowing what would happen on the day the tomb would be found empty even though Jesus told them it would happen that way. As if that was not a strong enough piece of information to give, there was also the fact that it happened when everyone thought that Lazarus was gone forever too. It was even foretold hundreds years before it happened to Jesus, but they still did not believe the end was not really the end, but the beginning of an awakening.

Isaiah 53 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

It is easy to think they were happily shocked by the empty tomb. No one knows if any of them asked "why not" when they received word that Jesus lived again.

When something bad happens human nature takes over and we always want to know why it happened. Did we do something wrong? Did we deserve it? Could we have prevented it? Did God do it to us to punish us? How about, why did God spare us from it being a lot worse?

I am Greek Orthodox and we are known as Easter people because we celebrate the new beginning and rejoice over the fact that Jesus was willing to die for us but defeated death along with all our sins He carried on His shoulders. We will celebrate Pascha on May 1 this year.

Let this day be a new beginning for you.  A day when the person you were yesterday is let go of and take on a new life, free of sins and torment.  Free from asking "why" and you begin to ask "why not" for the future.

When you see a homeless person, remember Jesus was homeless too and depended on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter.

Do not look for miracles that did not happen for you, like hitting the lottery last night when someone else did, but look for the miracles that happen every day in great as well as small ways in your own life.

If you are grieving, then grieve knowing what is behind it.  Is it for the loss you suffered or is it because you believe you deserved it?  God does not send bad stuff into our lives but He does give us what we need to get through it.  Stop and think rationally about what you could have done differently and then actually think about if it would have really been possible to do it with what you knew at the time and within what your human abilities would have allowed you to do.

Veterans have a habit of thinking they could have done things that even a comic book super hero could not have done. Stopped a bullet? Jump in front of a buddy before the RPG was fired? Drive over a bomb before it went off? Spot a sniper before he pulled the trigger? Tell a buddy to duck?

So many things you may want to believe could have happened when it actually could not have been possible for you because no matter how much you love, no matter how courageous you were, you are in fact still just human like the rest of us.  Yet as a human, even you can defeat the death of all the good inside of you.

Remember that you were willing to die for the sake of someone else and that required the purest form of love.  Even in your grief, a part of you is still willing to sacrifice for those you lost.  That is from love.  Use that love to defeat what is haunting you and keeping you from rejoicing when you defeated death and survived combat.

Don't keep wondering "why" it happened and start asking what you can do with the rest of your life for others. Time to roll the stone away and defeat PTSD.  It does not have to win the rest of your life.  Yesterday cannot be changed, but today can start to change at this very second.

Dummy Decided To Take Afghanistan Veteran's Motorcycle While He Was On It?

Combat veteran attacked while on motorcycle by chase suspect fights back
ABC 15 News
Vivian Padilla
Mar 24, 2016

MESA, AZ - While waiting at a stoplight, a veteran's combat skills were put to the test when a wanted man, who led police on a chase , approached him from behind and tried to steal his motorcycle.

Brandon Jenkins was on his bike on Southern Avenue and San Jose when Joshua Michael Monigold, who was driving a white pick-up truck , ran out of the truck and tried to push Jenkins off of his motorcycle just as he was about to take off.

Jenkins, a combat veteran, fought back. He wasn't going to let his bike, which he purchased with money earned during his time in the military, get stolen.

"One minute this dude is trying to rip me off my bike and I'm trying to fight him," Jenkins said. "And then I see two cops pull up and draw their firearms."
read more here

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin Made Sure Others Made It Into Bunker

Marine Killed in Iraq 'Made Sure Everybody Got in the Bunker'
by Hope Hodge Seck
Mar 26, 2016

The remains of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, Calif., arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on March 21. (Air Force/Zachary Cacicia)
The commandant of the Marine Corps paid tribute to a staff sergeant killed by Islamic State rocket fire in Iraq last week, shedding new light on the circumstances surrounding the loss.

Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, 27, a member of Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was killed by indirect fire March 19 at a new artillery outpost near Makhmour, Iraq, shortly after he and a small element of Marines had detached from the MEU in order to support the small post.

Speaking at a Marine Corps Association awards dinner near Washington, D.C. Thursday night, Gen. Robert Neller said three other Marines wounded in that same rocket attack were due to arrive back in the United States that evening, headed for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Reflecting on Cardin's loss, Neller did not prevaricate about a fight that US officials still refuse to describe as a combat operation.

"The loss of a Marine is sad, but I thought about it: He was leading his Marines in combat," Neller said. "They were in indirect fire and he made sure everybody got in the bunker, and he just didn't make it in time. Is that sad? That's sad. But if you're going to go, you want to go in the fight.
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Only The Dead See End Of War--Michael Ware's Darkest Moment

Operation Iraqi Truth: New Documentary Reveals
Why War Is Hell
Michael Ware spent seven harrowing years covering the Iraq War – and he has the scars to prove it
Rolling Stone
By Reeves Wiedeman
March 25, 2016
By 2009, however, another IED attack debilitated Ware's senses of smell and taste – "I get too salty, too sweet, and that's about it" – and he soon realized he had to get out. He moved to Brooklyn, but found himself unable to walk to the corner store, much less work on the book he had a contract to write. He took assignments from CNN that sent him back to conflict zones. Eventually, he went on leave from CNN, citing post-traumatic stress disorder, and never went back. "That's when I started watching the tapes," Ware says.
read more here
Only the Dead See the End of War
His footage captures the violence, fear and confusion that defined the Iraq War, as well as his self-described “darkest moment” of the war, which haunted him long after he left the country.
Directed by two-time Oscar winner Bill Guttentag in collaboration with Australian journalist Michael Ware, Only the Dead See the End of War examines the Iraq War and its moral consequences through the story of the rise and fall of jihadi terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the progenitor of ISIS. A harrowing and graphic account from both sides of the war zone, as well as an illuminating window into the origins of a modern terrorist organization, the film is told through visceral hand-held video footage culled from hundreds of hours that Ware shot while reporting over the course of the war. This unique, on-the-ground view is combined with eye-opening narration for a frank, unsparing look at the Iraq War unlike any before.

Arriving in Baghdad in 2003 as a novice reporter, Michael Ware was initially on a three-week assignment to cover the invasion of Iraq. He left seven years later, having gained unprecedented access to the Iraqi insurgency and American troops, as well as a myriad of demons -- the after-effects of witnessing seemingly endless, horrific violence.
read more here

Only The Dead