Friday, July 29, 2016

Taking Some Time to Unplug

To Readers of Wounded Times

Taking some time off to unplug.  After almost 9 years publishing Wounded Times, this will make a total of 2 weeks off in all that time. No posts until August 2. 

Veterans Court Helping Veteran Stay Alive

A report out of Michigan on Veterans Courts covers the issue of redeployments and the increased burden veterans carry on their shoulders.
Bringing the war home

Suicide has killed more American veterans than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans often return from combat tours accustomed to violence and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, Eling said. A soldier serving multiple combat tours has become more common than it was in previous generations, increasing the risk of mental illness.
Reminder on this part. The Army did a study back in 2006 on redeployments and found they increased the risk of PTSD by 50%. They did it anyway.
U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.
The findings reflect the fact that some soldiers -- many of whom are now spending only about a year at home between deployments -- are returning to battle while still suffering from the psychological scars of earlier combat tours, the report said.

How a high-risk combat veteran is overcoming suicide attempts via special court
By Malachi Barrett
July 28, 2016

MUSKEGON, MI — When Dana Harvey talks about his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his warm tone becomes heavy and listless.

His voice drops deeper and sometimes trails off toward the end of a sentence. There is more weight to his words; each is carefully chosen and seems to sit next to him in the room.

Harvey joined the U.S. Navy at 19 because he wanted to do something that would let him hold his head up high. After he got out, the disabled veteran's experiences in war led to the lowest point of his life.

"I had become real depressed and was drinking a lot and kept having nightmares, like war dreams and night shakes," he said. "I had a little bit of survivor's guilt, they tell me. I guess that's true. I ended up attempting suicide. Actually I attempted it a few times. Six times."

The Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center taught Harvey techniques to deal with his depression, but he didn't stop medicating with alcohol. For the majority of his adult life, he drank to sleep, to stop thinking and cope with trauma.

In the summer of 2014, it caught up with him. Harvey blacked out and became unresponsive while taking care of his daughter Gwendalynn. He was charged with fourth degree child abuse, a misdemeanor charge that could mean up to one year in jail.
read more here

Traffic Stop Leaves Officer Dead and Another Wounded in San Diego

1 San Diego Police Officer Shot, Killed in Line of Duty, Second Seriously Wounded
NBC 7 News
By Jaspreet Kaur and Samantha Tatro
July 29, 2016

One San Diego police officer has died and one remains in surgery after a late-night shooting just south of Downtown San Diego. One suspect is in custody and authorities continue to search for other possible suspects, police said.

At a press conference early Friday morning, San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the officers were conducting a traffic stop shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday in San Diego's Southcrest neighborhood when the shooting happened.

Shortly after stopping their car, the officers called for emergency cover.

When additional officers arrived on scene, they found both officers, who have not yet been identified, with gunshot wounds. One officer, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was taken in a patrol car to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest. 

Doctors were unable to save his life.
read more here

Less PTSD Veterans Alive To Worry About

Died as a result of their service and our neglect
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 29, 2016

Stop "doing something" while pretending it is better than nothing. The results are now worse than ever. 

The latest suicide report from the VA proves that.  In 1999 their research showed 20 suicides a day but we had about 7 million more veterans in this country.  Too few had heard the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder even though they were living with it.  

Now the report says there are 20 a day with less veterans alive to worry about.
"Honor and remember their sacrifice" sounds good and for many, that is the truth.  "Later died as a result of their service" is the part that shows far too few actually do it. Had they cared enough then my generation would not be seeing the same thing we went through for the younger veterans and families just like ours.

It is bad enough being forgotten in all the reporting done across the country as they attempt to tell the stories of veterans committing suicide and charities lining up to "do something" about all this, only to discover no one is talking about, or doing anything for the majority of the veterans losing the last battle after war. It is even worse to discover that absolutely nothing has been changed by any of it.

When our veterans came home, we suffered in silence.  It wasn't that we didn't want to talk.  It was because no one cared enough to listen.  We didn't give up on the American public and many veterans took the fight to Washington, pushing for and obtaining all the funding for research into the wound all other generations came home with. PTSD is not new and things have hardly improved.

'He went to fight a war over there, then he came back and had to fight another war.'
San Antonio Express News
Martin Kuz

Garza shared little with Mata about the causes of the war within him before his death Sept. 18, when he jumped from a freeway overpass on the city’s northern edge. He clutched two yellow blankets that belonged to his young daughter as he fell to earth.
Mata knew only that he had received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder linked to his two combat tours in Iraq. The second ended in 2005, a full decade before his suicide at age 33, and six years before they began dating.

LAREDO — Sara Mata has followed a morning ritual since marrying Manuel Garza five years ago. She pours two mugs of coffee and sits down beside him to talk about what’s on her mind, musing out loud about their children and families, about happy memories and dreams for the future.

Until last fall, the conversations took place at the kitchen table in their modest apartment on Laredo’s south side, the couple surrounded by the clutter of family life.

Now Mata sits at the foot of her husband’s grave in a city cemetery, shadowed by the anguish of loss. She talks to the white marble headstone that identifies him as an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War. She stays long enough that his coffee turns cold.

“There are so many unanswered questions, so many things I would like to know,” she said. “I ask him when I come here.”

“We veterans are very good at hiding things emotionally.That can be useful in a lot of situations. But the problem with suicide is, you can’t come back to life and see what you’ve done.” Gabriel Lopez
read more here
As you can see, there are things that are in fact worse than nothing. It was easier to be suffering in silence thinking no one knew instead of they just don't care enough.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Retired Colonel Meets the Man Whose Life He Helped Save on 9-11

Nearly 15 Years After 9/11, Retired Colonel Meets the Man Whose Life He Helped Save

"When I realized that I was looking at the same gentleman, I started to cry and told him I was so grateful that he was still alive," Maness tells PEOPLE. "We hugged each other and neither of us could believe that we were talking again. What are the odds?"
Medical personnel load wounded Pentagon worker into an ambulance outside the Pentagon on September 11, 2001
Every day for almost 15 years, Col. Rob Maness wondered about the badly-burned man he'd tried to keep conscious on a gurney after terrorists flew a 757 airliner into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Did he make it? Was he still alive? Was he able to fully recover and live a happy and fulfilling life?

"It's something I've always thought about, but I never had an answer," Maness, 54, now living in Madisonville, Louisiana, and running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, tells PEOPLE. "It was always a mystery."

Until now.
read more here

Five Servicemembers Wounded In Afghanistan

Americans injured fighting Islamic State group in Afghanistan
Stars and Stripes
By Corey Dickstein
Published: July 28, 2016

WASHINGTON – Five U.S. servicemembers were wounded in recent days fighting militants aligned with the Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan, Army Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson said Thursday.

The American special operators were accompanying Afghan special forces this week in southern Nangarhar Province, where the Afghans began a major operation that aimed to route the militants from the country, said Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan.

None of the injuries were life-threatening, he said. Two operators were quickly returned to their units and three were evacuated from Afghanistan for further medical treatment.

“They are in good spirits and have talked to their families,” Nicholson said. “We expect a full recovery.”
read more here

VA Denying 1 Out of 3 Emergency Care Claims?

NewsChannel 7 Investigates | VA denying nearly 1 out of every 3 veterans’ emergency claims
WSAW 7 News
By Matthew Simon
Jul 27, 2016

(WSAW) -- Fearing the Department of Veterans Affairs would deny his claim, a disabled Pittsville, Wis., Gulf War veteran avoided going to his nearest emergency department during a recent medical scare.

“My pillow was covered in blood,” Jerry Zehrung said, who lived with a constant infection risk since, having his hip resurfaced eight years ago.

“My wife looks at me, and she's panicked,” Zehrung said. “Her first instinct was let’s get you to the emergency room. And my first instinct was, 'who's going to pay the bill?'”

NewsChannel 7 Investigates discovered a VA executive admitted there are a large number of denied veterans’ emergency treatment claims.

The VA Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Community Care, Dr. Baligh Yahia, testified before a Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee in February.

Yahia told members of Congress, during the 2014 budget year, approximately 30 percent of the 2.9 million emergency claims filed with the VA were denied.

Of those 870,000 denied claims, Yahia said 89,000 were late. Another 98,000 were not emergencies. There were 140,000 claims denied because a VA facility was determined to have been available. In addition, 320,000 more claims were denied because the veteran was determined to have other health insurance that should have paid for the care.
read more here

Suicidal Veterans — Fatal Problems in Arizona

The Phoenix VA Still Has Problems With Suicidal Veterans — Fatal Problems
Phoenix News Times

Shanna Hogan
JULY 26, 2016

"Nor did doctors clue in Lisa about the extent of her husband’s inner turmoil — or, for that matter, anything at all about his condition. This, despite the fact that Luis signed a consent form explicitly naming her and authorizing VA officials to inform her if the 'patient may do harm to him/herself.'"
Luis Mariscal Munoz called the Phoenix VA Health Care System to say he wouldn’t be coming in to work. He drove to a shooting range at the Table Mesa Recreation Area off Interstate 17 and parked. At about 6:30 p.m., having walked about 70 feet from the car, he put a borrowed nine-millimeter handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.

An hour later, Luis’ wife, Lisa Mariscal, arrived at the West Phoenix home the couple shared with their two dogs. Luis had texted her: something about how he was sorry and to read the note he’d left for her. She’d tried to call and text him back, but there was no reply.

Lisa knew that for the past month, her husband had been attending weekly therapy appointments at the VA on Indian School Road, where he worked as a medical laboratory technologist. She was aware that a psychiatrist there had prescribed an antidepressant. But Luis had told her he was just suffering from anxiety.

Then she read the note.

“Please do not feel guilt about my decision,” he had written. “I would like you to feel happy or relieved that I am no longer suffering. You never did anything wrong. No one could have changed my mind.”

• On June 10, 2013, U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Somers took a handgun from his Phoenix home, walked several blocks away, and fatally shot himself in the head. He was 30 years old. In 2007, Somers had returned from his second deployment in Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, a traumatic brain injury suffered in combat, and a slew of other medical issues. Frustrated in his efforts to get mental-health and medical care, he wrote to the VA describing his symptoms as worsening and stating that his health “drives me to consider suicide very seriously on a daily basis.”
• On May 10, 2015, U.S. Army veteran Thomas Michael Murphy killed himself in the parking lot outside the VA’s Phoenix Regional Benefit Office. At the age of 53, he was homeless. Before shooting himself, he e-mailed a suicide note to New Times, in which he blamed the VA for his death. “Thanks for nothing VA,” he wrote.
• On July 23, 2015, former U.S. Army Ranger Antouine Castaneda shot and killed himself. He was 32. After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Castaneda had sought help at the Phoenix VA, where psychiatrists noted that he was at high risk for committing suicide. VA whistleblowers would later allege that he had not been provided with proper mental-health care.
read more here
Also there are more online and you can find them.
2013 KJZZ reported veterans in Arizona were committing suicide double that of civilians
December 27, 2015
PHOENIX - A veteran who was reported missing weeks ago was found dead at the Banner University Medical Center on Sunday.

According to the Phoenix Police Department, 34-year-old Guido Feruglio was found on hospital property dead.

"Indications are he took his life," Officer James Holmes with Phoenix police said.

Goodwill Returned Items to Widow Hero

Fallen Soldier's Belongings Found At Goodwill
News Channel 5
Chris Conte
Jul 26, 2016

Sgt. Hawn was 35-years-old when he was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2005. He was a 1989 graduate from LaVergne High School in 1989 The items left at Goodwill were in his wallet the day he died.
Every once in a while Shane Hubanks and his employees at the Mt Juliet Goodwill find something that doesn't belong inside their store.

Such was the case in May when a shopper brought in a small bag to donate, that no price tag could ever do justice.

"I knew these bags were given to people that had passed away, I looked at my manager and said wouldn't this be tragic if that was that if this was someone's personal items that passed away

In the bag was a driver's license, family photos and a dog tag. Inscribed on the tag was Sgt. Asbury Freddie Hawn's name.
read more here

Passengers Honor WWII Soldier Sacrifice With Glory!

Choir Sings ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ as WWII Soldier’s Remains Taken off Plane
Free Beacon
BY: Alec M. Dent
July 27, 2016

The Iowa Ambassadors of Music Choir found a unique way to honor a fallen World War II veteran.

The choir was on a flight returning from Germany to the United States, along with an Army private who was escorting the remains of a soldier who fought in World War II. 

After the plane landed in Atlanta, the pilot announced the private would be exiting the plane first, explaining his mission and that he would be continuing his trip to Houston, the fallen soldier’s final destination.
read more here

Fake Vietnam POW Veteran Arrested After Elderly Veteran Ripped Off

POW impersonator exploits elderly veteran
News Herald Reporter
July 27, 2016

PANAMA CITY — A man who thought he was lending a helping hand to a fellow veteran and former prisoner of war instead was swindled out of thousands from his savings that he likely will not see again, according to arrest records.

Robert “Bob” Leroy Rogers, 61, was arrested Monday in connection with the scheme. According to police, Rogers claimed to be a veteran and former Vietnam POW with financial troubles in order to borrow more than $18,000 from an elderly neighbor.

Rogers allegedly told 74-year-old William Lipovsky, a former air force master sergeant, he would repay him with up to $1 million after he received a large settlement from the government for his service. However, after several delays and conflicting stories about whether he would be reimbursed, Lipovsky contacted the authorities.
read more here

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two Soldiers Shot To Death Trying To Help Stranger

Two South Carolina Soldiers Killed Defending Woman at Bar, Suspect Charged 
NBC News 
JUL 26 2016 

The military was mourning two soldiers Tuesday who were fatally shot while trying to protect a woman from a gun-toting man in a South Carolina bar. 

Staff Sgt. Charles Allen Judge Jr., 40, and Sgt. First Class Jonathan Michael Prins, 29, "were acting as good Samaritans when they were shot," said Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. 
read more here

Veterans Court Judge Lou Olivera Receives Award For Caring Above and Beyond

Judge who served sentence with veteran in North Carolina given award
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
By Paul Woolverton
Published: July 26, 2016
When a veteran with PTSD and serving probation failed a drug test in April, Olivera sentenced the man to a night in jail and stayed with him, too, to help him cope.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Cumberland County District Court Judge Lou Olivera has been cited by the North Carolina Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism for his work with a veteran in his court.

Olivera was presented with the Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service during a ceremony Friday at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, says a news release from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

"The Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism presents the CJCP Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service to the Honorable Lou Olivera for his steadfast commitment to the principles of professionalism as evidenced by his efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty by his tremendous act of humility and compassion toward a troubled veteran in his court," said Chief Justice Mark Martin. "Because of his selfless efforts, the practice of law will continue to remain a high calling in North Carolina."

Olivera presides over Cumberland County veterans court, a venue that takes into account the experiences and troubles veterans who get in trouble with the law may have from their military service.
read more here

PTSD Afghanistan Missing Veteran Found Safe

ABC 13 News
By Kaitlin McCulley
July 26, 2016

HUMBLE, TX (KTRK) -- A 26-year-old Army veteran was found in Cypress after escaping from a hospital in Humble.

Shane Zhan was being treated at Memorial Hermann Northeast after attempting suicide. According to the Humble Police Department, Zhan escaped Sunday.

His father, Mark Zahn, tells abc13 that Shane walked from Humble to Cypress and started talking to an elderly pastor. The pastor convinced him to contact his family, according to Mark.

Danielle Ursell is his twin sister. She and the rest of her family were concerned Zhan was a danger to himself. She said he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and has been reluctant to get help.

Mark Zahn agreed.

"Keeps the problems inside, doesn't want to talk with anybody," Zahn said. "Doesn't want to share his problems with anybody."

Zahn wants to know how his son was able to escape.
read more here

Veteran of 3 Wars, Abandoned By Family, Buried By Bonds of Love

Military "Family" Buries Veteran Local Family Won't Claim
Rissa Shaw
July 27, 2016

Bundy served in the Army from 1942-1963, seeing combat in both World War II and the Korean War, and was active duty during Vietnam before retiring from Fort Hood as a Sergeant. Officials said he served honorably and would receive full military honors.
KILLEEN - His family wouldn't claim him, but the military did.

On Monday, a local veteran who fought for our freedom through three wars, was laid to rest in Killeen.

While Walter Scott Bundy Junior's living family members didn't show up to his burial service at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, many did to show support for the man they said was their 'brother' in every sense of the word.

"They have a home, they have a family," said Eric Brown, Deputy Director of the Texas State Veterans Cemeteries.

Many who attended the ceremony saluted Bundy, laid their hands on his urn, even gave money to the man they'd never met.

"No one is ever forgotten, they're lost but never forgotten," said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher DeRouen.

Dozens of soldiers, past and present, came to Killeen to honor one of their own who died without a family of his own.
read more here

Marine Survived 4 Tours, Killed by Hit and Run Driver

Marine drill instructor killed in hit and run near Camp Lejeune
Marine Corps Times
Jeff Schogol
July 26, 2016

During his 11 years in the Marine Corps, Tooley deployed four times: twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.
Police are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed Marine Sgt. Michael Andrew Tooley earlier this month in North Carolina.

Marine Sgt. Michael Andrew Tooley was killed on July 16.
(Photo: Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.)
Tooley, 28, was a combat engineer whose duty at the time of his death was as a drill instructor with the support battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Matthew Finnerty.

Tooley's commander, Lt. Col. Tracy Perry, said "the loss of any Marine under any circumstance is a tragedy, especially in this situation."

"We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Sgt. Tooley,” Perry said. “He was a stellar Marine and will be remembered for his dedication to the Corps and the men and women he served with, as well as those he transformed into the future generation of Marines."
read more here

Marine Needs Miracle To Make Dying Son Honorary Marine

ABC News
By Eileen Frere
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"That would mean the world to me," Jeremiah said. "I've had two goals in my lifetime - to be a Marine and to be a drill instructor. If he was a normal child, he's just got that spirit that I think he would have joined the Marine Corps as well."
ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Wyatt Gillette's smile lights up his parents' spirits.

"He knows when people are feeling down and he changes their attitude with a smile," said Wyatt's father, Jeremiah, 29, a U.S. Marine drill instructor.

He first set eyes on his son when he returned from serving in Iraq nearly 8 years ago.

"When I arrived back, I had maybe two weeks of normalcy, if you can call it that, and he became real irritable," recalled Jeremiah.

Doctors tried to figure out what was wrong, as Wyatt regressed. Despite all the hospital visits, Wyatt kept a positive attitude - doing what he loved to do.

"He loves his bike, he loves the sounds of kisses, he loves doing crafts," said his mother Felishia, 27.
read more here

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why Isn't The Press On Suicide Watch?

Military Lives Lost, Congress Doesn't Care About Cost?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 26, 2016

What the hell is going on in Washington? Is anyone really paying attention to what the already elected have done while covering those wanting to be elected? 

There were 110 military suicides in the first three months of this year.  Top that off with the latest suicide report from the VA with "20 a day" as the number they report along with the simple fact there were about 7 million more veterans in 1999 and the same number reported as taking their own lives back then everyday. The press does not seem all that interested. They were not interested in 2007 either.  So why isn't the press on suicide watch if they care at all about any of this?

You can just picture what goes on in Washington when a grief stricken family goes to talk to their elected official begging them to do something about suicides so that no other family has to go through it.  Then the politician promises them they will take action.  They call up a buddy and promise a boat load of cash to come up with some funky program, then they write a bill to get their name on it.  Doesn't matter if it has been done before and failed as long as this new one has their name on it, that is really all they care about.

Sounds absurd to some but to others, it has been a nightmare.

The Associated Press reported on August 17, 2007 the 2006 Suicide Rate for Soldiers Sets a Record for the Army and it turned out that was the highest number in 26 years.
Nearly a third of the soldiers committed suicide while in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a report released Thursday, which said 27 deaths were in Iraq and 3 in Afghanistan.

The report said that the 99 confirmed suicides by active-duty soldiers compared with 87 in 2005 and that it was the highest raw number since 102 suicides were reported in 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War.

Investigations are pending on two other deaths.

Officials reported 948 suicide attempts, but there were no comparisons for previous years.

In the 500,000-member Army, the suicide toll translates to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000, the highest since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate hit a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.
Yes you read all that right so no need to check your glasses. One of the family members going to Washington was the family of Joshua Omvig. 

Well they wrote a bill with Omvig's name on it, voted on it and it was signed by President Bush in 2007. 

It was supported by Rep. Bob Filner who had this to say. "Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 327) to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans."

Sounds like they all cared.  Especially this part.
Mr. Speaker, before I introduce the author of the legislation, I just want to say in introduction, unfortunately, suicide prevention has become a major part of our responsibilities to both active duty and our veterans.
It is a terrible statistic, Mr. Speaker, but as many Vietnam veterans have now committed suicide as died in the original war. That is over 58,000. We have to do as a Nation a better job. The Army just announced recently that the suicide rate among active duty and recently discharged has now reached Vietnam proportions. So we have to do a far better job and we intend to do that.
The author of the original legislation, Mr. Boswell from Iowa, saw this very clearly and introduced this bill.

Looks like no one has been seeing much after that considering the number of enlisted went down and suicides went up. More families hoped that their story, their suffering would make enough of an impact on the politicians but they just repeated what they promised the Omvigs, over and over and over again.

So that press repeats what the DOD says and does not seem all too willing to ask many questions at all.  Why? Do you think any of this would matter to do some basic research?

The latest from the Department of Defense is for the first quarter of 2016 Suicide Report. 58 Active Military, 18 Reservists and 34 members of the National Guard.

You'd think that 110 lives lost to suicide in three months would be important enough to mention but then you'd also have to think that they would find it worthy of mentioning that all this comes after almost a decade of "prevention" being paid to produce higher rates of suicide. 

Oh, no, not just from current members but among the younger veterans committing suicide at triple their peer rate. Nice little secret they don't seem to want to talk about. If they are no longer in the military, they don't matter and the DOD does not have to mention a word about them, even though they trained them to "prevent" this and be "resilient" enough.

Ok, just to go a bit more into proving this, take a look at the chart on the link above. Notice how they also have in other years going back to 2012. If you read Wounded Times all the time, then forgive me but this is worth repeating, since no one else is talking about this. 

What we are going to do here is compare what the press told us about how many service members committed suicide against what the DOD has in the latest report.
Active 321
Reserve 204
National Guard 132
CNN reported on 1/15/13 

Pentagon reports record number of suicides - CNN Security Clearance 

Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 U.S. service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.
According to the Pentagon, 239 military deaths in 2012 have been confirmed as suicides and another 110 are being investigated as probable suicides. The number of suicides in 2011 reached 301; there were 298 the year before.
They missed a few. Then on 2/2/2013 they had "325 Army suicides in 2012 a record" so either the DOD is wrong or CNN is wrong but the bottom line is that all of this is all wrong! How can they go up after all the "efforts" to keep more alive than are killed in combat?
Active 255
Reserve 220
National Guard 134
Military Times reported 1/15/2016
According to the report, 259 troops on active-duty status died by suicide in 2013, down from a record 319 in 2012, including 115 soldiers, 42 sailors, 43 airmen and 45 Marines.
During the same time, 220 members of the Selected Reserve and Guard (87 and 133, respectively), died by suicide, up from 203 in 2012.

Reported by the DOD on 1/16/2015 

There were 229 deaths by suicide among active component service members and 220 deaths by suicide among selected reserve component service members (87in the reserve and 133 in the National Guard).
Active 273
Reserve 170
National Guard 91
Active 266
Reserve 212
National Guard 124
But taking a look at the reports from the Department of Defense Suicide Event Reports we find this.
2012 319 suicides among Active component Service members and 203 among Reserve component Services members (Reserve [n = 73]; National Guard [n = 130].
A total of 841 Service members had one or more attempted suicides reported in DoDSER for CY 2012 
2013 259 suicides among Active Component SMs and 220 among Reserve and National Guard SMs of the Selected Reserve
A total of 1,034 SMs had one or more attempted suicides reported in the DoDSER for CY 2013. 
2014 269 Active Component deaths and 169 Reserve Component deaths were attributable to suicide. 
A total of 1,126 suicide attempts were reported from the four Services

And now the worst thing of all in all of this. The other numbers reported on Army Times 2/15/2015

Personnel strength of the Regular Army has dropped below 500,000 for the first time in 10 years, with 498,642 soldiers being listed on active duty in the most recent official headcount of the force.
Statistics compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center show that as the Army entered 2015 its reserve components had a combined strength of 547,007 soldiers — 349,881 in the National Guard, and 197,126 in the Army Reserve.
The Army drawdown is on track to reduce the active component to 490,000 soldiers by Oct. 1, as required in the fiscal 2015 budget authorization from Congress.

So what the hell is really going on and who is benefiting from it? The troops are not. Veterans are not. Who is getting all the money Congress has been spending over the last decade and WHEN THE HELL WILL ANY OF THEM BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ANY OF THIS?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Veteran Marine Survived Deployments, Cancer And Still Thinks of Others

Former Marine Saves Up to Make Big Gift to Food Bank
Associated Press
by Ben Muir
Jul 25, 2016

Skorna left the Marines in 2011 after four years of active duty, but he said the time he spent in stricken areas fueled his desire to donate.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Thurston County Food Bank receives emails from people who want to help every day. Some offer an egg carton or loaf of bread. Others help wash cars or give cash donations, usually $10 to $50. Wealthier local residents sometimes make donations in the range of $1,000 or $2,000, reported The Olympian.

So when Fran Potasnik, a full-time volunteer at the food bank, checked her inbox and found an email from another prospective donor in April, she didn't think much of it.

Until she opened it and read, "Hi my name is John, and I plan on giving $10,000."

John Skorna, 27, vowed to donate the $10,000 to the food bank's summer lunch program. Potasnik told him a gift like that would provide 2,762 lunches — 20 percent of the 10,777 meals distributed to kids every summer.

"I thought, 'OK, what is this guy?'" Potasnik said. "I then forwarded it to the director and said, 'I don't know if this is for real or not.'"

"My first thought was a little bit of skepticism, but not in a negative way," Food Bank Director Robert Coit said. "John's email had a sense of sincerity and passion. Both Fran and I felt there was something about it that seemed real."

Skorna wrote to Coit that he had most of the $10,000, but would need more time to collect the rest. Coit said he understood and reminded him that no matter the amount, any donation is noble and they would be grateful.

"He's the epitome of what a service person looks like," Ravancho said. "He'll do selfless things with integrity, and he doesn't need someone to say thank you. He could have come in here, given the check and left without saying a word to anyone. That would have been enough for him."
read more here

How Coffee Became Salvation for Soldiers and Veterans

If you read Wounded Times then you know about Point Man International Ministries being started by a Vietnam veteran, Seattle Police Officer meeting other veterans for coffee to help them heal. Just thinking about that simple act of kindness and time saving so many lives makes me proud to be among them.
If War Is Hell, Then Coffee Has Offered U.S. Soldiers Some Salvation
July 25, 2016

"The UFO became a place where soldiers could gather and talk openly about their worries and frustrations, without the military brass around," Gardner recalls. And in Columbia, says Gardner, UFO was a rarity ­­-- a place that "not just black and white but students and soldiers" could share.
During the Vietnam War, GI coffeehouses located near military posts became a place for soldiers to gather and organize against the war. Since 2007, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

In April 1865, at the bloody, bitter end of the Civil War, Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin, a Union cavalryman, wrote in his diary, "Everything is chaos here. The suspense is almost unbearable."

"We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee," he continued. "And nobody can soldier without coffee."

If war is hell, then for many soldiers throughout American history, it is coffee that has offered some small salvation. Hidden Kitchens looks at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
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Australian Veteran Legacy Supports Families After Suicide

How Legacy makes life easier for those left behind
Sun Shine Coast Daily
Janine Hill
25th Jul 2016

"Keeping a promise to a mate is a value ingrained in the Aussie consciousness but, for Legacy, it's not just a belief; it's a solemn duty the organisation has proudly upheld for more than 90 years," Terry Dillon.

LEGACY OF GIVING: Terry Dillon has been giving to Legacy for 37 years.
John McCutcheon
TERRY Dillon might look more like a grandfather than a hero but he is both.

As a volunteer with Legacy, Mr Dillon has made life a little better for the spouses and children of veterans who did not return intact from conflict zones as he did, or who have since passed away.

During 37 years as a Legatee, he has helped "fill the gap" for about 200 of widows and their children whose husbands have died or been incapacitated by post traumatic stress disorder.

He is one of 46 Legatees on the Coast who support 1300 widows,15 children, including five under 10, and 15 dependents with disabilities.

The Vietnam Veteran could have put his energy into the community in any one of ways but was drawn to looking after the dependents of less fortunate diggers.

"Being a returned servicemen, I wanted to look after the widows and children of returned servicemen," he said.
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Marine Veteran-Firefighter Lost Home While Fighting Fire at Camp Pendleton

ABC 7 News
By staff
Sunday, July 24, 2016

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service learned his home was burned to the ground by the Sand Fire while he was battling a blaze at Camp Pendleton.

Sergio Toscano was sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County to battle the Roblar Fire, which broke out Thursday evening.

While Toscano was battling the Roblar Fire, he received word that the Sand Fire was nearing his home on Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Santa Clarita.

"We were assigned to a fire at Camp Pendleton, the Roblar Fire, I was getting text and phone calls from back home updating me on the fire that was going on back home," Toscano told ABC7.

After learning his home had been destroyed, Toscano was pulled from the Roblar Fire and assigned the Sand Fire.
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Female Pilot Flying Again After Losing Leg

Female Air Force pilot amputee returns to the skies
Air Force Times
Oriana Pawlyk
July 23, 2016

Capt. Christy Wise frantically waved her headlamp flashlight to alert a boat jetting toward her to turn away. But Wise, a HC-130J rescue squadron pilot, quickly realizing it was too late, dove as far down to save herself. When she surfaced, she knew the boat’s propeller had severed her right leg.

Capt. Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Almost a year later, Wise — who thought it would be the end of her pilot career — is back in the cockpit, and flew her first mission Friday at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where she is stationed. She is the first female Air Force amputee to return to flight, the service said.

“I have been blown away with the amount of support I’ve had to ... achieve my goals,” Wise told Air Force Times on July 21.

On April 11, 2015, she and her boyfriend were paddleboarding in a cove near Shalimar, Florida. “When I surfaced I immediately thought, ‘Dang it, I should have had a brighter flashlight’,” Wise said. But she later learned it was a hit-and-run accident as the boat did not stop or slow down.
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Do Not Pay the Price of Service With Your Life

About a week ago I got into a conversation with a young veteran about suicide. There have been numerous reports of veterans calling the Suicide Hotline and not getting the help they needed when they needed it. I asked her why they do not just call 911 and ask for help.  She said they do not want to get stuck with the bill.

Stunning I know but it very well may play a part in veteran in crisis not wanting to add more burden on their shoulders.

While Enhanced Eligibility for VA Healthcare has extended free care for combat veterans up to 5 years, too many veteran do not use it.  

Who's Eligible?
Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

  • Eligible combat Veterans will have free medical care and medications for any condition that may be related to their service in theater.
  • Immediate benefits of health care coverage.
  • No enrollment fee, monthly premiums or deductibles.
  • Low or no out-of-pocket costs.  During the five-year post discharge timeframe, there may be small medical care or prescription drug copayments for medical care for any condition not related to combat theater.   See our Copayment page for more information. (Copayment page)
  • Once enrolled, the Veteran will remain enrolled.
  • Enrollment with VA satisfies the health care law’s requirement to have health care coverage. 
  • Medical care rated among the best in the United States.
  • More than 1,700 places available to get health care.
  • VA health care can be used along with Medicare and any other health insurance coverage.

And this part is something else to pay attention to.

Veterans who qualify under this special eligibility are not subject to copays for conditions potentially related to their combat service. However, unless otherwise exempted, combat Veterans must either disclose their prior year gross household income OR decline to provide their financial information and agree to make applicable copays for care or services VA determines are clearly unrelated to their military service.
If you know a veteran in crisis and they cannot get help from the Crisis line, have them call 911 and ask for fire rescue. I have talked to firefighters and police officers about this.  If you call for police, what happens is a veteran in crisis can find themselves under more stress when they see a police officer yet when a firefighter shows up, there is less stress.

Most of the time police officers will go with the department just in case but are there just in case things get out of control.

Keep in mind that a lot of police officers and firefighters are also veterans. They get it! As for the bill, let the VA sort that out afterwards.  

If you are among the veteran with less than honorable discharges CALL 911 and save your life so you can fight to have the discharge changed.  There are about 140,000 of you that happened to adding to the veterans from previous wars having their discharges changed. Do not pay the cost of service with your life!

Australian Army Captain Suicide Between Canada and New York

Behind a mask of despair
Townsville Bulletin
July 23, 2016

Since 2000, data suggests nearly three times as many active Australian soldiers and nearly five times as many veterans have committed suicide as have died in Afghanistan. But before Paul, almost none had been nationally recognised.
ON the second-last day of 2013, a stranger arrived in Saranac Lake, a 5400-person mountain town 112km shy of the Canadian border.

Set amid the patchwork of forest preserves and villages, Saranac Lake is the “Capital of the Adirondacks”, a one-time best small town of New York, and the place where I’m from.

He was a 31-year-old infantry captain in the Australian Army who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Afghanistan two years before. He arrived on the one bus that comes each day: an Adirondack Trailways coach that chugs slowly uphill from Albany.

To get to Albany, he’d travelled more than 17,000km. He was good looking – wholesome and tidy, with intelligent eyes. He’d been a battle captain in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province, near Kandahar, working as part of Mentoring Task Force 3 with about 700 other Townsville soldiers. But he had a medical review coming up and, his family would later tell the police, he feared he might be discharged.

On New Year’s Eve, he bought a shovel and a blanket at the shopping plaza and set off on foot towards Lake Placid.
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Grim Outcome With DOD First Quarter Suicide Report

Department of Defense released the first quarter of 2016 suicide report. In the first three months of 2016 there have been 110 reported suicides.

In the first quarter of 2016, the military services reported the following:

 58 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
 18 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
 34 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
Active 321
Reserve 204
National Guard 132
Active 255
Reserve 220
National Guard 134
Active 273
Reserve 170
National Guard 91
Active 266
Reserve 212
National Guard 124

All adds up to what they are doing is not working and they keep dying because no one is held accountable for failure to help them heal! 

Murder-Suicide Investigation: Police Officer Survived Iraq, Battled Cancer

Waterbury Officer's Death Ruled Suicide; Second Victim Identified
Hartford Courant
Bill Leukhardt
July 22, 2016

Yocher served six years in the U.S. Army, including one tour in Iraq. He then transferred to the Air Force and served a second tour in Iraq. He received honorable discharges from both branches, according to a Dream Foundation release about the September 2015 event.
WATERBURY — A Waterbury police officer who was found dead Wednesday morning outside a slain man's home had committed suicide, state police said Friday.

Hallock Yocher, 37, killed himself in the backyard of 31-33 Marion Ave., state police said.

Authorities on Friday also identified the second victim, James T. Stuart, 39, and said he died from multiple gunshot wounds in his third-floor apartment at 31-33 Marion.

State police are investigating the relationship between Yocher and Stuart. Investigators have not mentioned any suspect in Stuart's murder. Earlier, police called it "an isolated incident" and said there was no threat to the community.

Yocher, a 10-year veteran of the department, had been battling Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of part of the immune system. He was on the job despite his illness but off duty at the time of the Marion Avenue incident, police said.

In January 2014, Yocher, his wife and three children went to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando in Florida, a trip paid for by the Dream Foundation, a California nonprofit that helps terminally ill adults fulfill end-of-life dreams.
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The Gravity of PTSD

When Does Suicide Become An Unacceptable Outcome of War?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 24, 2016

They call PTSD an "invisible wound" assuming it cannot be seen.  After all, it is not a wound of the flesh. Well, you cannot see gravity either, but you can see what it does.

Gravity keeps everything grounded so nothing is up in their air.
the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.
In the same way, you cannot see this wound if you look at a veteran but you can see it if you know the veteran.

Cry for help goes unanswered, suicide follows, a report about Brandon Ketchum on Quad City Times, tells the story of a Marine with two deployments between 2004 and 2008 and then another one after he was diagnosed with PTSD.
He "posted to Facebook a 148-word account of his previous day's visit to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City. The 33-year-old Davenport man had hoped his "emergency appointment" would result in an admission to the psychiatric unit, where he'd found help before."
The thing is, no one saw it until it was too late. He sent the message at 2:11 am when most people were sleeping. Most of the country is still sleeping when it involves veterans in crisis.  When do we actually find suicide an unacceptable outcome of war?

Ketchum was in the Marines until 2013, long after all the "PTSD prevention" Power Point slides missed the power of the point that this is a wound not caused by any type of weakness but caused by the strength of their emotional core. Long after "suicide prevention" was supposed to keep more alive after combat and over four decades of efforts to help remove the stigma of this, yet he was still carrying it on his shoulders being crushed by the weight of his burden.
"Asking for help has only clouded my life with such a stigma that I have carried the 'crazy' or 'broken' labels, forcing me to have to fight for custody of my little girl that I love more than the world."
Some veterans have their families turning their backs on them and they end up alone, on the streets and still suffering. Ketchum had family and friends there for him.

There are some who never seek help, but Ketchum did. 
Brandon said he already had been diagnosed with PTSD by the time he left Iowa for his third deployment. He was taking antidepressants while serving in Afghanistan. By the end of that abbreviated tour, he was also prescribed narcotic pain pills.
He wanted to heal and wanted to start the next part of his life but was trapped because none of the help he received was enough to heal his soul.

The gravity of this wound is strengthened because the simple truth of it is not something they have been shown.  It attacks "serious or dignified behavior; dignity; solemnity" because they are left feeling ashamed of it instead of understanding it.

The same strength of their core that allowed them to carry that burden while others were in danger comes from the same place where it ravages them when the only ones in danger are themselves.

So when do we change the conversation? When do we stop using "invisible" as if that is an excuse for us leaving so many abandoned? If we do not see it, then it is easy to swallow the "raising awareness" crap when talking about the problem has nothing to do with the solution.

Are we finally ready to actually look at the "efforts" the DOD has been doing for over a decade and demand accountability considering evidence proves it does in fact to more harm than good? Are we ready to demand accountability from the thousands of folks running around the country getting plenty of press coverage for what they want to talk about without ever once having to answer for what they know nothing about?

How many more times do we actually have to read about veterans like Ketchum before we have reached the "one too many" suicides we find acceptable?