Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Driver Ran Over Veteran Couple in Pack On Memorial Day

WATCH: Driver appears to run over motorcycle in Pasco County
By WFLA Web Staff
Published: May 30, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Shocking video appears to show a driver running over a motorcycle in Pasco County. The incident occurred at US 41 and County Line Road around 5:30 p.m. Monday.

In the video, a male driver and female passenger are knocked off the bike. They are both seen standing up. According to Florida Highway Patrol, both people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Robert Paul Vance booking photo (Courtesy Pasco County Sheriff’s Office) 

Abe Garcia posted the video and shared it with News Channel 8. He says the people on the bikes are veterans and for this incident to happen on Memorial Day is a shame.
read more here

Mustard gas test subjects denied veteran benefits

McCaskill: Mustard gas test subjects denied veteran benefits
Stars and Stripes
Travis J Tritten
May 31, 2016

WASHINGTON — The military has acknowledged for decades it performed secret mustard gas tests on troops at the end of World War II but a Senate investigation released Tuesday found 90 percent of related benefit claims have been rejected by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she discovered shortfalls in the benefits process that took her breath away during a yearlong investigation into treatment of the test victims. The release of her findings is accompanied by a new bill – named after an 89-year-old former soldier from Missouri – that fast-tracks VA benefits for possibly hundreds of survivors.

About 60,000 servicemembers were exposed to mustard gas and another chemical agent called Lewisite as part of a clandestine defense research program in the 1940s. Of those servicemembers, about 4,000 had their entire bodies exposed to the chemical weapons. Mustard gas and Lewisite burn the skin and lungs, are linked to a variety of serious health problems and have been banned by the international community.

McCaskill said she believes about 400 of the veterans could still be alive and eligible for benefits.
read more here

VA treats PTSD better than the private sector

Just a simple fact: The VA started all the research on PTSD, so you'd think they would be better prepared than the private sector. They have simply been doing it a lot longer. Veterans do not believe the private sector understands them at all.
Study finds that VA treats PTSD better than the private sector
Tampa Bay Times
By Les Neuhaus, Times Correspondent
May 30, 2016

"It either points to how good of a job the VA is doing or how bad of a job the private sector is doing."
Dr. Katherine Watkins
SEMINOLE — On May 10, 1967, U.S. Marine Corps infantryman John Paul was seriously wounded during a battle in South Vietnam's A Shau Valley near the North Vietnamese border.

"When I got hit, I was standing up,'' Paul, 67, recalled during a recent interview. "I was shot twice in the abdomen and left hip. … I thought I bought the farm."

He spent six months in a series of hospitals, and when he was discharged from the Marines, his limp was not his only reminder of his brush with death.

"I was a mess for years," he said, adding that he drank heavily to medicate the mixed feelings he had about the war.

In 1991, he started getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center at Bay Pines. A recent study published online in a journal produced by the American Psychiatric Association indicates he made a good choice.
read more here

GUEST POST by David Staffa

GUEST POST by David Staffa

The title of the book is:
The Afghanistan War Follies: There is no beauty in truth
David Staffa

I am David Staffa and I served in the Afghanistan War from 2010-2011 as a Special Forces Engineer. Before you read this book, there are a few things that you need to know. Number one, I was a soldier and I tell it like I saw it or as it was told to me.

Second, don’t assume that this is a book about the Afghanistan War combat because you will be disappointed. This book is about my and others experiences and what we have learned from these experiences and how it can help you understand people who have served or will serve in the Afghan War.

Although we had many rocket attacks, human wave attacks and suicide bombers, I will let others tell those stories.

Third, I do not have any political aspirations because I have no ax to grind with anyone; well maybe with a few of those people in Congress but that is another story.

Fourth, this is a book about our struggles to make the “military machine” work in our favor. In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam, 4.3% served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror.

For me, it was also a personal journey. Is the Afghanistan Army, with the help of thousands of U.S. and ISAF Forces and advisors, making any headway against the Taliban? Is the Karzai government “winning the hearts and minds of the people?” Does Karzai and his brother seem more interested in suppressing the Afghan people than in dealing with the corruption and incompetence in their government? I wanted answers to these questions by being “on the ground.”

Join the small percentage that have served recently in Afghanistan and read about military life in Afghanistan.

The names have either been redacted or changed to protect their anonymity. The events portrayed here are reality and are reflective of the author’s experience and observations and of the soldiers that I served with during my military tour in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.

I am intensely curious about the things which I see around me and I was the man of a thousand questions. I earned the right to ask these questions to all people in Afghanistan because I noticed no one else bothered to ask them.

These collection of stories are garnered from many personal experiences and stories related to me by U.S. military officers and enlisted men and women, DIA and CIA personnel as well as U.S. military contractors and Afghan military and civilians. Consider these observations a cross between Rambo, MASH and Hogan's Heroes. You will have first hand knowledge because there are battles on many fronts to be won as we look at who the real enemy is here.

Why Special Forces? It was intriguing to me. I am intuitively a winner and that was my appeal. Plus, I liked the free-lance, unbureaucratic, James Bond-like initiative. Humans, as a whole, have always been my initiative in getting things done rather than using hardware. Hardware is merely the tool for succeeding. This is where the conventional Army (also known as Big Army) loses over Special Forces. They lead from the top down rather than from the bottom up. Better decisions and planning always come from the people who do the work – the bottom up theory. Oh, how I wish the civilian working world would learn from this as well.

Although you will find that many things that I reflect back to you in writing seem to state that things are in disarray with everyone in Afghanistan, such is not the case. I worked with a few good civilians and military people but the point I want to make is that competent people, military or civilian, were the exception rather than the rule. As you read the stories in this book, you can see why I state this. Watching U.S. dollars being wasted in this corrupt country while the people in the United States suffer from an economic crisis was disheartening.

My travels in Afghanistan were many. Bagram, Chamkani, Gardez, FOB Curry, FOB Salerno, Shkin, Camp Clark to name a few. Conversing with civilians, government employees and soldiers from different branches of military services and governmental services gave me an entirely objective view of the war and its effects on the U.S. and Afghanistan civilians and soldiers as well. I saw myself as a plain, ordinary soldier but always intensely conscious of my rank, my position in social life as well as my gift of leading people, staff or getting the job done. I am the last person in the world that would let success go to my head because my personality is not designed as such. Eliciting groups of experts for combined judgments was always my secret of being successful and that is the secret of these stories.

Working with some of my fellow soldiers and soldiers of the units - I wasn’t sure what effect they would have on the enemy but some of our soldiers did frighten me because of their lack of competence and intelligence. Many of us “older vets” wanted to go back and join our younger brothers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thinking is that we can teach them how to stay alive. We want to reconnect with our youth, the thrill of battle, that adrenaline rush that you cannot get anywhere else in the world. I and my brothers wanted to be a father and or a brother to these younger guys. I was able to make this happen for myself and I remember thinking these thoughts as well prior to deployment.

What you read going forward is actually put down in writing in chronological order. This means that the soldiers’ personal experiences as well as mine were put down in writing as soon as I was able to get to my laptop. Nothing is exaggerated but is merely put down in words as I saw it or others, both civilian and military, had relayed to me in conversation.
Dave Staffa

Houston Shooting Suspect Served Three Tours

Army vet behind Houston shooting becomes third mass shooter once stationed at Fort Bliss

Friend of Houston mass shooting suspect speaks out
Grace White
May 31, 2016

HOUSTON -- Officials still don't know what caused a man to go on a deadly shooting rampage in West Houston. However, friends who knew him say he is an Army veteran who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"If precautions were taken before this, even on my part, to reach out for him then it could have been prevented," said a fellow solider, who asked not to be identified.

The soldier told KHOU 11 News he served alongside Dionisio Garza III, 25, in Afghanistan.

"I would have never guessed Garza. Ever. I've seen him talk people down from PTSD moments I'm sure more than I could even count," he said.

However, he told us PTSD was something Garza struggled with too.

"I never thought he had a serious problem with it, he chose to go on a second and a third deployment and not only go, but be a leader there," he said.

Police have still not said why they believe Garza snapped or even why a man from California chose a neighborhood off Memorial Drive in West Houston.

"This is not a place where anyone expects anything like this to happen, kids are about to get out of school, it's about to be summer," said Daniel Irving, one of the pastors at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church.
read more here

Police sources identify suspect in west Houston shooting
A second man identified as Byron Wilson is no longer a suspect and was in fact a Good Samaritan trying to help in the shooting.

The Good Samaritan was shot by the suspect as he tried to help and fight back. Wilson was critically injured, but he is expected to survive.

In total, two people were killed, including the suspect, and six others were injured.

The medical examiner on Monday identified the second deceased victim in the shooting as Eugene Linscomb.

One of the survivors was saved in part by a 17-year-old Boy Scout.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day tribute was held at VFW Post 4287

A Memorial Day tribute was held at VFW Post 4287 in Orlando.  Some Gave All panels offered a stark reminder of what this day is supposed to be all about.

Published on May 30, 2016
Today at the VFW Post 4287 in Orlando, there was a Memorial Day service. One of the special guest was a Korean War veteran about to celebrate his 95 birthday. What no one expected was that he can tap!

Navy SEAL's Brain Studied To Help Others

A Navy SEAL's last act of service: A search for the truth about brain disease and the military
The Virginian-Pilot
By Corinne Reilly
Special to The Virginian-Pilot
May 28, 2016

On the afternoon of March 12, 2014, Jennifer Collins checked her phone and found a message from her husband, Dave Collins, a retired Navy SEAL. He’d texted to say that she should pick up their son from kindergarten, and then this: “So sorry baby. I love you all.”

Hours later, two police officers showed up at their house in Virginia Beach with news that Dave, 45, had shot himself in his truck a few miles away. Although Jennifer had held out hope for any other explanation, she also knew the moment she read it what the text meant. For months, she’d watched Dave disintegrate into a man she hardly knew. She’d tried everything, but nothing had alleviated his severe insomnia, intense anxiety and worsening cognitive problems.

“I was so frustrated that I couldn’t find the answers he needed,” she remembers.

It was out of that frustration, she says, that the idea came to donate his brain to research. She was still answering a detective’s questions in her living room that night when she blurted it out: Tell the medical examiner to do whatever is needed to preserve Dave’s brain. She hoped the decision might help others struggling with what everyone believed explained Dave’s afflictions – traumatic brain injury and PTSD, the most common wounds of the post-9/11 wars.

“That’s what he’d been diagnosed with,” Jennifer says. “I had no reason to think there was anything else to find.”

In June, three months after Dave died, a letter came from the doctor who examined his brain. It left Jennifer stunned.

What had caused Dave’s unraveling was chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease best known for affecting former professional football players. Associated with repeated head trauma, CTE causes neurological decay, has no known treatment and can be diagnosed only at autopsy. It is linked to memory loss, personality changes, depression, impulsivity, dementia and suicide.
read more here

Vietnam MOH Melvin Morris Talks About PTSD

Medal of Honor recipient Melvin Morris speaks of experience
The Ledger
James Bennett Jr.
May 29, 2016
“I had a difficult time after the war; very difficult," Morris said of the mental trauma he and other soldiers go through. "I struggled with it. Post-traumatic stress is no joke. I had a point where I didn't care about my family."
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama, speaks to the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Auburndale on Sunday morning. JAMES BENNETT JR./LEDGER CORRESPONDENT
AUBURNDALE — Melvin Morris still has the Green Beret he first wore officially during a ceremony with President John F. Kennedy.

“It looks rough, but I still wear it,” the Medal of Honor recipient said Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Auburndale.

The 74-year-old retired Army sergeant first class spoke to the congregation about war, his experiences in it, about its impact on those who serve and their families, and when war should be fought.

“There are people that don't like us,” the Vietnam veteran told the congregation on the day before Memorial Day. “They hate us, they hate our religion, they hate this church. They hate the people that go to it.

"I used to think that war was bad," he said. "It's bad if it's for no reason. But to protect our country, our family, our way of life, it may be necessary. There are those that will take us out of this world in a minute without a thought. And it's scary to me.”
read more here

Military Chaplain Shaken by War

Over the years as a Chaplain trained to work with responders instead of those they help, I can tell you that it is a struggle for many of us to reach the point where we ask for help when we need it.

You would think that would be so easy since we know so many others doing the work we do. We usually have an Army behind us to turn to when it gets to be too much yet those I turn to know I am either burnt out or in crisis myself if I call them. It took a long time for me to be able to do that. After all, I am the caretaker of others.

What example would I portray to them if they saw me falling apart? That is what it took years to understand. It tells them I am just as human as they are. Since there is nothing wrong with them needing help from me, there is nothing wrong with me needing help from others.

I am unbroken now after being shattered many times. The thing is, there is no limit to the amount of healing or the number of times it is required. I have built up scars and each one reminds me of how hard it has been before but I got through it because I had help to recover from all of it.

My scars are not from combat but fighting the good fight for those who did what few others have dared to do.

Here is a great article on what Military Chaplains can go through.
What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war
The Washington Post
Michelle Boorstein
May 29, 2016
“The chaplain is supposed to be the one that is unbroken,” Pantlitz said. “When soldiers see a chaplain is broken, they feel it’s okay for them to be broken, too. Other soldiers — okay. But a man or woman of God is not supposed to be broken.”
The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

The 5,000 active-duty men and women often called “Chaps” are the ones soldiers seek at all hours, under strict confidentiality, to share their darkest acts, doubts and fears — even the suicidal thoughts that could end their military careers. And yet chaplains experience post-traumatic stress, too, while carrying out their unique mission to shore up others.
read more here

Veterans With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home

There is a quote in the following article on New York Times that deserves attention. "The military is very good at identifying and amplifying the psychological factors that make a high-performing fighter." While they do a fantastic job of training these men and women to fight in combat, they do a lousy job of training them to fight for their own lives.

That is evident when you read more about the high rate of suicides in those with multiple deployments. When you think about the simple fact they survived all the hardships and risk to their lives, but cannot survive being home, that screams a message of how the DOD still does not understand them.

Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home
The New York Times
MAY 29, 2016

Ryan Lundeby, 32, an Army Ranger with
five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times
An analysis of Army data shows that, unlike most of the military, these soldiers’ risk of committing suicide actually drops when they are deployed and soars after they return home. For the 85 percent of soldiers who make up the rest of the service and were deployed, the reverse is true.

FORT WORTH, Tex. — The dinner crowd was sparse for a downtown steakhouse, a handful of families and couples lost in conversations. Ryan Lundeby, 32, an Army Ranger with five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, took in the scene from his table, seemingly meditative beneath his shaved head and long beard.

He was not.

“He watches, he’s always watching; he notices everything,” said his wife, Mary. “Superman noticing skills, that’s what I call it. Look, he’s doing it now — Ryan?”

“He watches, he’s always watching; he notices everything,” said his wife, Mary. “Superman noticing skills, that’s what I call it. Look, he’s doing it now — Ryan?”

“That table over there,” Mr. Lundeby said, his voice soft, his eyes holding a line. 

“The guy threw his straw wrapper on the ground. I’m waiting to see if he picks it up.”

He did not. Mr. Lundeby’s breathing slowed.

After 14 years of war, the number of veterans with multiple tours of combat duty is the largest in modern American history — more than 90,000 soldiers and Marines, many of them elite fighters who deployed four or more times. New evidence suggests that these veterans are not like most others when it comes to adjusting to civilian life.
read more here

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Vietnam War Memorial In Venice Desercrated

Vandals Deface Vietnam War Memorial In Venice
CBS Los Angeles
May 27, 2016

“It’s a desecration. I mean it’s very simple. There’s no sort of other way around it. It isn’t graffiti,” Francisco said.
VENICE (CBSLA.com) — Vandals defaced a memorial to Vietnam war veterans in Venice – an awful sight on this Memorial Day weekend.

Stewart Oscars welled up as he looked at the vandalized mural located on Pacific Avenue near Sunset Court. It was covered in graffiti from end to end.

“This knocked me out. So sickening. Just sadness…think of all these people. They’re gone,” Oscars said. “I remember the Vietnam war and how friends went to war, and bodies came back. Somehow, it has to be taught that this is not a good idea. This is actually stupid.”

The memorial was dedicated to service members who were listed as missing in action during the Vietnam War.

George Francisco is the Vice President of the Venice Chamber of Commerce. He also runs a nonprofit called Veterans Foundation Incorporated.
read more here

Why do veterans commit suicide?

Fueled By Compassion to Do More Than Care
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 29, 2016

Sunday morning before Memorial Day got me thinking about all the things no one seems to have much time to talk about. Why do veterans commit suicide? 

After all, considering the numbers have not gone down, it seems like a logical question to ask. You'd think that finding the answer after all these years and billions failing to keep veterans alive, it would have been figured out by now, but no one seems to want to talk about that. 

How does a man or women decide life matters so much they are willing to die to save someone else turn into someone not able to find a single reason to live one more day?

When they asked for help during combat, they knew it was the right thing to do to save lives.  So why is it so hard for them to know it is the right thing to do because their life is on the line because of it?

They grieve.  They get confused between witnessing evil and thinking they have become it. They question why they survived when others did not. Then when things fall apart, they wonder what all of it was for, what they are worth now that their "brothers" are not counting on them as they did in combat.  What was all of it for?

They lose hope that tomorrow will be any better than the last day was.

After reading about a veteran surviving combat and attempted suicide this morning, it got me thinking about all the conversations I've had over the years when veterans were twisting things around, forgetting how much good they did
and what they did it for.

They see such horrible things.  Things that civilians see in a movie but their movie is played over and over again streaming from their memories. They can hear the sounds, smell the pungent aroma of death and destruction and feel everything reawakened within them.

One veteran really stands out in my mind right now. He kept asking where God was when kids were being killed.  He saw so many horrible things in combat that he blamed God for all of it.  "A loving God would not just sit back and let all that happen."  

Actually God didn't. The veteran was there to help along side of his brothers because they cared.  Evil people do not grieve for someone else. Evil people do not risk their lives for the sake of someone else. 

The courage they had was fed by love and compassion. That came from the same soul that gave them the courage to do more than just care.

The bad memories become so powerful they block out all the good that happened and all the moments when compassion surrounded the veteran.  He forget when his buddy shoved him to the ground so he would not be hit by a bullet.  He forgot when he got a letter from his girlfriend saying she found someone else and his unit comforted him. Of the times when he and others risked their lives to save the wounded and grieved for those who perished.

For all the talk about raising awareness, it is reprehensible to repeat a number as if their lives didn't matter enough to do more than read a headline.  To ignore what they need to know has been deadlier than combat itself.
State after state put the number of committing suicide is double the civilian rate. The Center for Disease Control said there were over 42,773 Americans committing suicide in 2014That means there are actually over 26,000 veterans committed suicide. Really disturbing when you acknowledge the fact veterans, unlike civilians, put their own lives on the line, were prepared to endure any hardship, did everything possible to survive, then come home and take their own lives.

Even more disturbing is the other fact no one talks about.  The vast majority of those veterans were over the age of 50. They are the largest population of veterans in this country and the largest percentage of suicides.

That study found US Suicide Rate Increases 24 Percent Over 15 Years.
Suicide rates for middle-aged women between the ages of 45 to 64 increased greatly, rising from 6 suicides per 100,000 women in 1999 to 9.8 per 100,000 -- a 63 percent increase. For men, suicide rates were highest for those over 75, with approximately 38 suicides reported for every 100,000 men in 2014, according to the report.

However, middle-aged men between the ages of 45 to 64 saw the greatest rise in suicide rates among males. That age group saw a 43 percent increase, from 20.8 suicides per 100,000 men in 1999 to 29.7 suicides per 100,000 men in 2014, according to the study.

So how does that happen? While they found reason to live during combat, it was usually about those they were with and not about themselves. The birth of the pain begins but they do not allow themselves to feel it. They push all of it to the back of their mind so they can do their jobs.  Others depend on them.  It is not until they return home and everyone is safe, they feel all of it.

Some get really busy working on their transition to living with civilians again while no longer being one of them.  The title of veteran stays with them the rest of their lives. They go to college, get jobs, start families and for a while, they are able to ignore the pain they just don't have time to feel.

If they have mild PTSD, that is easy to do for a while but life happens and other bad stuff happens. PTSD gets worse.  It gets worse into middle age when life changes yet again. Kids are on their own, retirement changes their lives, health issues, loss of family members and friends, all major life changes that are traumatic even for civilians carry more seriousness for a veteran especially when he/she has lost the ability to ignore what they carried home with them.

Curing PTSD is impossible. Healing PTSD is possible with the right information and the knowledge they need to have to know why they have PTSD and they can stop blaming themselves for it.  Believing it is any type of mental illness or because they are weak is the only reality they know because no one told them it hit them because they have such a strong emotional core, they felt it all more.

PTSD is not a wound caused by what is within but what entered into it.  It is caused by traumatic experiences and not what is considered part of normal human life.  Combat is not normal.  No traumatic experience is. Human reaction to surviving it is normal.  No one is ever the same as they were the second before but just as trauma changed them, they can change again and, most of the time, end up being a better person with the proper help to see things differently. It was all based on a courageous love they were willing to die for.
John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Civil War Law for Veterans Not Good Enough for Trump?

Gee, wonder what Trump thinks when disabled veterans get tax breaks?
Trump’s War on Disabled Veteran Vendors
By M. Scott Mahaskey

In the 1990s, Trump had a real problem with a protected class of New York street vendors. We paid a visit to some of them today.

The fight went back to an 19th-century law that gave every veteran in New York the right to “hawk, peddle and vend any goods, wares or merchandise” throughout the state. Designed to create economic opportunities for Civil War veterans, the law has been amended a number of times at various state and city levels.
Former Marine Dan Rossi, a disabled veteran and long-time city street vendor, waits for customers outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 17. Rossi once held about 500 permits to vend throughout the city and ran a successful food cart manufacturing business. But in the early 90s, a new law restricted individuals from holding no more than one permit, and Rossi eventually lost his business. Today, Rossi operates just one cart and blames the Fifth Avenue Association for destroying his quality of life. M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO
They are as much a part of the New York City landscape as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square. But the presence of street vendors along New York City’s posh Fifth Avenue corridor gave Donald Trump heartburn in the early 1990s. Back then, he, along with other local business leaders, urged city and state officials to restrict vendor access to Fifth Avenue, including the space in front of Trump Tower. One target of his lobbying efforts included a special class of business operators: disabled veteran street vendors.

“While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax paying citizens and businesses?” Trump wrote in a 1991 letter obtained by the New York Daily News. “Do we allow Fifth Ave., one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?”
read more here

Benefits like this just from New York.
E-ZPass for Disabled Veterans The New York State Thruway Authority offers free, unlimited travel anywhere on the Thruway to certain, qualifying disabled Veterans.

Property tax exemptions Municipalities have the option to grant an alternative exemption. This provides a property tax exemption of 15 percent of assessed value for veterans who served during wartime, and an additional 10 percent exemption for those who served in a combat zone.

You can find even more on that link to what veterans do receive, which according to Trump, would also qualify "to the detriment of the city" since it is all lost revenue New York honors veterans with.

Veteran Has New Mission After Attempted Suicide, Saving Others

Suicide Attempt: A Soldier's Story
ABC News 25
By Jillian Corder, Reporter
Friday, May 27th 2016

"There's no way that God allowed me to live through this if there is a God - which I know there is - that he would not want me to be helping other people when he saved me through that," Matthew Richard
After struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , or PTSD, for years, Matthew Richard attempted to take his own life in March. (Source: Jillian Corder/KPLC)
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Louisiana, and every 13 hours, someone dies by their own hand, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nationwide, stories of veterans falling victim to mental health disorders are all too common.

After struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , or PTSD, for years, Matthew Richard, 30, attempted to take his own life in March.

"So I looked in the mirror and I said 'God I'm going to countdown,'" Richard said, describing the moment he decided to take his own life, "I said 3, and I took it off safety. I said '3, 2, 1' and I said 'God' and I shot."

To understand what led Richard to this moment, he starts from the beginning of his military career. He joined the Marine Corps in 2005, following in the footsteps of his godfather.

"I told myself since I was 6 or 7 years old that I was going to be a Marine because of him," he said.

Just two years in the service, tragedy struck when Richard was overseas in Ramadi, Iraq.

"I ended up accidentally shooting a best friend of mine over there when we got back from patrol," said Richard.

Richard's gun discharged, killing Lance Corporal Steven Chavez. He went to the brig for a year for negligent homicide and received a bad conduct discharge, meaning his military benefits were stripped. Richard was no longer eligible for help from the VA, forcing him to deal with PTSD on his own.

"I was struggling mentally, physically, and spiritually for a long time after that dealing with it," said Richard.

Richard was in a place he never thought he'd be.

"I've had four or five senior Marines who have come back from war and shot themselves over divorce or other things, and I told myself, 'I'll never do that.'"
read more here

KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Memorial Day can be painful for military men and women

Honoring fallen veterans for their bravery and service this Memorial Day
WWLP 22 News
Tashanea Whitlow
Published: May 28, 2016

Anziano told 22News, his neighbor suffered from PTSD. Two months after returning home from a tour in Iraq, he took his own life. “He seemed fine, but you can’t tell with PTSD. People can hide it very well. They hide it very well.”
AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Days like Memorial Day can be painful for military men and women to remember their fallen brothers. Memorial Day is a time we remember those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

But for soldiers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, this time and every day, can be difficult. “It’s a silent killer. I can be standing in front of you, suffering and you wouldn’t even see, because I can put a smile on my face,” said Anthony Anziano of West Springfield.
read more here

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Law Enforcement Still Struggling to Get Officers to Seek Help For PTSD

Report: Police Departments Need Mental Health Programs
May 26, 2016

Studies show there are about 125 to 150 officer suicides a year and more than 200,000 officers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or some other form of emotional stress
A U.S. Justice Department report prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre urges police chiefs around the country to put mental health programs in place in to help officers cope with on-the-job trauma, including the aftermath of mass shootings.

The report, offered as a best practices guide, was prepared with help from officials including retired Newtown police chief Michael Kehoe, who led the response to the 2012 school shooting and worried over the following weeks that some of his officers might kill themselves.

Most police departments train to respond to mass shootings, but few prepare officers for the psychological fallout, says the report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The 140-page report emphasizes how to prepare for mass shootings, but it says taking steps such as choosing trusted mental health service providers, creating peer support programs, and designating mental health incident commanders also will help officers cope with more common events such as car crashes, suicides and domestic violence.

Law enforcement experts say it has been a struggle to create conditions in which officers feel comfortable coming forward for help.
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Widow Celebrates Life of Husband By Taking Another Plunge

Her Husband Was Killed in Afghanistan 
By TANYA SNYDER (Patch Staff) 
May 28, 2016
She Went Skydiving to Celebrate Him. Alicia Dickinson is part of a new generation of young military widows who are having to rewrite the script of their lives alone. Arlington, VA

ARLINGTON, VA — The woman walking in front of Alicia Dickinson at Arlington Cemetery that September day in 2012 was old. She was also there to bury her husband.

At age 30, Alicia Dickinson was a widow.

“I remember walking behind her, thinking, ‘This is what it’s supposed to be,’” Dickinson said. “Not me.”

Her husband, Scott Dickinson, died August 10, 2012, in what’s called a “green on blue” attack, shot by an Afghan soldier the U.S. forces were training. He was due to come home in 10 days. He was just 29 years old.

“Going to Arlington, you’re reminded of how many young men and women gave their lives and how many young men and women they were married to and now were left to face a new life that you don’t expect at such a young age,” Alicia Dickinson said in an interview.

She’s part of the American Widow Project, a mutual support organization for a new generation of military widows. “There should be a different term when you’re so young,” Dickinson said. “’Widow’ just seems so old.”

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Gulf War Veteran Heartbroken To Find Body of National Guardsman Hanging

Man reacts to finding fellow veteran dead
Mineral Wells Index
Todd Glasscock
May 27, 2016

“It was really heartbreaking,” said Page, a disabled veteran of the Gulf War, his voice breaking over the phone during an interview. “I definitely cried my eyes out.”
GRAFORD – Every Sunday Mike Page walks to a cafe here to a get a paper, and as he does so, he walks past the Old Peppermill liquor store. Until this past Sunday, those walks were uneventful.

On May 22, Page said he found the body of a young man underneath the store's carport. The young man, Dustin Yeoman, 23, had apparently committed suicide by hanging himself.

Yeoman was wearing a military uniform, Page said.

Yeoman's obituary confirms he was in the National Guard. He was living in Graford, but was originally from Ollie, Iowa.

The Index reached out by phone and online to Yeoman's family for comment but has been unsuccessful with those attempts.

Long said he spoke to Yeoman's National Guard Sergeant Major and confirmed he was an Iraq War veteran.
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This quote really pissed me off!

"Though statistics vary, as many as 22 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan commit suicide daily."
I had to leave this comment
It is not "22 a day" and that report from the VA stated it was limited research from just 21 states and it also listed who they knew were missed. That report was not about OEF and OIF veterans only, but of all generations. The majority of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50 and you just trivialized their lives because you used a quote without reading the reports. Dustin Yeoman deserved better and so do all of them. Veterans commit suicide double the civilian rate. As such, when the CDC listed over 41,000 American suicides per year, that translates into over 26,000 veterans a year. They should matter enough to get it right and stop taking the easy way out on reporting on something that is never easy on the family left behind.

Reporters seem to find veterans committing suicide newsworthy however just not worthy enough to do basic research.

Song For First Responders and PTSD Nominated for Nashville Award

Kevin Davison’s song lives on: Canaan man performs for paramedics, nominated for Nashville award
Kings County Advertiser Register
Wendy Eilliott
May 27, 2016

CANAAN - During a Halifax ceremony May 24, country music singer and paramedic Kevin Davidson performed his song When Those Sirens Are Gone. It could soon be an award winner.

Kevin Davison performs May 24 at the Emergency Health Services long term service award ceremony in Halifax.
The Canaan resident was one of 10 Emergency Health Services staff members from the Valley region who were recognized for their service.

"When Nova Scotians need urgent medical care, paramedics, nurses and medical communications officers with Emergency Health Services are there to help," said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.

"They have the training and experience to respond in emergencies and save lives. More and more, they are also working in collaborative health-care teams to improve the care we offer in communities. We are all grateful for their expertise."

The list of long service award recipients is long. The 20-year recipients from Kings County included Davison, Bruce Cruickshank of Canning, Christopher Renaud of Kingston; Rob Merchant of Hantsport; Scott Veinot of Middleton and Karen Cress and Richard Foster of Annapolis Royal.

Jay Marshall of Bridgetown and Paul Dawson of Port Williams were 25-year recipients, while Brian Bunch of Wolfville was a 30-year recipient.
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"We ain't super heroes. We're ordinary men trying to make a difference."
Published on Nov 19, 2014
A song I wrote along with Doug Folkins honouring all First Responders and the painful reality of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Let's get this out to everyone who may be affected or has a loved one at risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Let this be our Anthem!'

If you like the song please go to www.ellentube.com and watch it again on that site. We are trying to get Ellen to notice so we can bring even more attention to this serious issue! Just search "When Those Sirens Are Gone" once you get to the site.

Thank you so much to everyone that has viewed the video.

Military Spends Fortune Training For Combat, Pittance To Come Home From It

Our military spends a fortune on war but little when our forces come home 
Washington Post
By Roger Boas
May 27, 2016

"The Army spends a fortune training its troops to kill but almost nothing to train us for coming home." Roger Boas is the author of “Battle Rattle: A Last Memoir of World War II.”
A recent study by the Rand Corp. concludes that the U.S. military is unable to provide adequate therapy sessions for thousands of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The February study of 40,000 cases, the largest ever, found that only a third of troops with PTSD received the minimum number of therapy sessions needed after being diagnosed. As a veteran, I am appalled.

Though my war experience was 70 years ago, it haunts me to this day. I can still remember the sound that froze my blood. The stomach-churning whistle of a field artillery round, like a thousand shrieking pigs, increasing in a ghastly crescendo until it finally explodes — and bodies fly in every direction.

Anyone who has served in ground combat knows that sound. It’s our worst nightmare. You never know where the incoming projectile is going to hit. You’re either dead or you’ve managed to squeak out alive one more time, deeply shaken. It happens nonstop, any hour of the day or night. It seeps into your bones.
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Army Officers Give Stunning Reminder of What Memorial Day Is All About While Deployed

Grab tissues and remember this is what this weekend is supposed to be about!

Interstate 10 - I'm Gonna Miss You (Memorial Day Tribute) 
Currently deployed in Afghanistan, Interstate 10 still releases their Memorial Day tribute music video (recorded in Afghanistan) to their song “I’m Gonna Miss You”. 

The message is simple:

“Memorial Day is about remembering the ones we lost and supporting their loved ones. It’s about celebrating the lives they lived. 

Thanking them for allowing us the opportunity to come home safe, and most of all, thanking them for a second chance to hug our loved ones.”

They have vouched to donate $500 to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation if they reach 100,000 views on the YouTube music video between Friday's release and midnight of Memorial Day. 

This video and song are in memory of all the soldiers who have died fighting for our country. Especially those they knew personally: 2LT Justin L. Sisson, PFC Jacob H. Wykstra, SSG Benjamin G. Prange, and PV2 Keith M. Williams.

"Please help us spread awareness and remind the public to remember this Memorial Day. For that we salute you, all the way from Afghanistan. 

Thank you." -Andrew and Justin

Learn about our inspiration and backstory here:
This Ain't Goodbye

Soldiers honor Memorial Day with video, chance to give back
Tallahassee Democrat
Ashley White, Democrat staff writer
May 27, 2016

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died serving America. Some decorate military cemeteries. Others visit the graves of the fallen and stand in silent salute. For others, it's time for the beach or barbecue.

Two Army officers who are deployed to Afghanistan are paying tribute with an original song, “I’m Gonna Miss You.”

1st Lt. Justin Wright and 1st Lt. Andrew Yacovone, who co-founded the band, Interstate 10, are doing more than paying homage in song. If their music video receives more than 100,000 views on YouTube between Friday and midnight Monday, they will donate $500 to the Children of the Fallen Patriots Foundation.

The Children of the Fallen Patriots Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides scholarships, supplemental grants and educational counseling to children whose parents were killed in the line of duty.

“We wanted this song to make an impact for the right reason,” Wright, who was born and raised in Tallahassee, said in an email interview. “We thought this was a great way to honor those who have given everything.”
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MOH Staff Sgt. Robert Miller Featured in Medal of Honor Report

Army sergeant charged enemy to help others
Selfless act allowed his fellow soldiers to make their getaway

The San Diego Union Tribune
By Phillip Molnar
May 27, 2016

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller. U.S. Army
As enemy soldiers surrounded his unit in northeastern Afghanistan just before dawn, Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller made a choice.

More than 150 insurgents had ambushed the combined U.S. special operations and Afghan National Army force in the snow-filled Gowardesh Valley in January 2008, exposing the men to automatic weapon fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

In the lead, Miller ordered the men to take cover. Then he charged the enemy to give his comrades time to get away.

The official Army report said he managed to kill at least 10 insurgents and wound dozens more before being killed by enemy fire. He is credited with saving seven American and 15 Afghan soldiers.

“No one wants to go through what we did with losing a child,” his mother, Maureen Miller, said this month from Florida. “To know that your child died doing his duty and saving the lives of others, it makes a big difference in how you’re able to handle that kind of thing.”

Miller posthumously received the Medal of Honor in October 2010 from President Barack Obama.
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Medal of Honor service was here in Casselberry Florida
Military salute during the national anthem, during the Medal of Honor Headstone Dedication Ceremony, honoring U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, in Casselberry, Fla., Saturday, January 22, 2011. SSG Miller was was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008 and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Obama in October. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)

Research Looks At Suicide Among Deployed and Non-Deployed Soldiers

Several things to consider when reading the following. All military forces are "trained in prevention" after being going through medical and psychological testing. If that training did not work on the non-deployed to prevent suicide, then how did they expect it to work on those with multiple deployments? The data researchers were looking at in this study is not new. With the reduction of force size in the Army has gone down, why hasn't the number of suicides been reduced accordingly? Above all, why hasn't the number of suicides reached that often quoted "One too many" the Army finds acceptable?
Suicide Attempts Among US Army Soldiers More Likely Before Combat: Study
Medical Daily
By Susan Scutti
May 27, 2016

"The study looked at a total of 163,178 enlisted soldiers. Of these, 9,650 had attempted suicide: 86.3 percent were men, 68.4 percent were younger than 30"
Over the past decade, suicide attempts have increased in the United States Army. Despite the issue's urgency, little has been done to understand these failed attempts at self-destruction. New research from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences suggests enlisted soldiers never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were at greatest risk of a suicide attempt, particularly in their second month of service.
Never-deployed soldiers were at highest risk of a suicide attempt between 2004 and 2009 of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Reuters
“The higher risk among ND soldiers in their second month of service, a stressful time during basic training and Army acculturation, reinforces the importance of developing and evaluating effective risk detection and intervention strategies early in a soldier’s career,” noted the researchers. “Whether this risk pattern was associated with expanded Army recruitment during war or anticipated deployments or is a persistent pattern of risk among soldiers in training remains to be determined.”

The team also discovered soldiers on their first deployment were most at risk for a suicide attempt during their sixth month of deployment, while previously deployed soldiers were most at risk five months after they returned from the warzone.

“Understanding how people go from health, to suicide ideation, to suicide plans, to suicide attempts, to completed suicide will help us help those at risk and those who are distressed but do not complete suicide,” Dr. Robert J. Ursano, lead author, told Medical Daily.

Among soldiers with one previous deployment, odds of a suicide attempt were higher among those who screened positive for depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their return and particularly at follow-up screening, about four to six months after deployment.
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