Friday, September 30, 2016

Air Force Couple Flying High

Face of Defense: Married Air Force Pilots Serve, Fly Together
Department of Defense
By Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Thornbury
22nd Air Refueling Wing
September 29, 2016
“It makes it easier to talk about what’s going on at work, because we understand very intimately what’s going on in terms of the struggles to make the mission happen,” Chrystina said. “We understand each other’s challenges better than most.”
The couple that flies together
Capt. Chrystina Jones, left, 350th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, and Maj. Matt Jones, 349th ARS pilot, pose with their son, Dec. 2015, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. They both “refuel the fight” as KC-135 Stratotanker pilots, an aircraft that first took flight for the first time 60 years ago. (Courtesy photo)
For Air Force Maj. Matthew Jones and Air Force Capt. Chrystina Jones, love found them as C-130 Hercules pilots, and, over the years, gave them a different set of wings as KC-135 Stratotanker pilots and even added two more to their aircrew: their son and daughter.

The couple is relatively new to the KC-135, qualifying 14 months ago. Although a different mission brought them together, Matt relates his past and present with his wife with the tanker as it approaches its 60-year anniversary of its first flight.

“Chrystina and I share history together,” Matthew said. “The KC-135 has its own great history; it is just incredible for us to be a part of it.”

Before marriage, the couple served in the same squadron as C-130 pilots where they trained together. While they never operated a mission together, they did deploy with each other for five months to Iraq. As tanker pilots, they are assigned to different squadrons: Matt is a “Bandit” of the 349th Air Refueling Squadron; and Chrystina is a “Raven” of the 350th ARS.
read more here

Unclaimed Veterans Left to Rot in VA Morgue

Bodies Of Unclaimed Veterans Languish At Hines VA Hospital, Whistleblower Claims
CBS News
By Charlie De Mar
September 26, 2016

(CBS) – The bodies of military veterans lay unclaimed for weeks at a time at the Hines VA Hospital, a whistleblower alleges.

Staff from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington are in town looking into that complaint.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reports.

When 68-year-old Marine veteran George Taylor died, no family or friends claimed him. Earlier this month, Jackie Gluekert and her funeral home made sure the hero got a dignified send-off — a burial in an a national cemetery.

“It is a final salute, and I’m proud to do it,” Jackie Glueckert says.

A whistle-blower inside the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital says unclaimed vets aren’t getting the proper goodbye they deserve.

Internal emails obtained by CBS 2 reveal at least two unclaimed vets sat inside the morgue for at least 30 days this summer, allowing the bodies to badly decompose.
read more here

And from the VA rules,
***If a Veteran dies while at a VA facility under authorized VA admission, and the remains are unclaimed, the facility director will ensure proper burial for the Veteran as defined by VHA Handbook 1601B.04, Decedent Affairs, Section 8, “Unclaimed Remains.” If a Veteran dies at a non-VA facility under authorized admission at VA’s expense, and is unclaimed, contact the closest VA healthcare facility to arrange for proper burial of the unclaimed Veteran. A listing is available here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Florida Combat Medic Veteran Thinks Suicide is His Only Answer After Decades of "Awareness"

Jacksonville veteran feels suicide is only answer despite push to raise awareness during September
Florida Times Union
Joe Daraskevich
September 28, 2016

Terry Russell Bass Jr. joined the Army when he was 19 years old. He believed in the military and was willing to give his life for his country so strangers could enjoy the feeling of freedom.

He’s now 35, living with his wife and three children in a mobile home on Jacksonville’s Westside, and he’s ready to kill himself so his family doesn’t have to struggle anymore.

“I’m tired,” Bass said recently as he sat on his couch wearing one of his four white undershirts and a pair of ragged athletic shorts. “If it’s OK for me to die for my country, then why is it not OK for me to die because I’m tired of being tired?”

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the military and veteran communities in Northeast Florida have been working to spread the message of awareness and assistance that has eluded Bass for so long.

The Navy announced a new suicide-prevention program Sept. 16 called Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life, or SAIL. The new national program provides continual support to supplement regular mental-health treatment for the first 90 days after suicide-related behavior.

“We are going to assign an advocate to follow up with them, kind of like being in aftercare,” said Command Master Chief Donald Henderson of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

He said a lot of times suicidal thoughts among sailors stem from something happening away from the base. Issues with family life or illicit drug use are common things that can lead to suicidal thoughts, Henderson said.
read more here

Duck Dynasty Legacy Of Service Vietnam Veteran to Iraq Veteran Son

Duck Dynasty's Si Robertson Reveals Son Suffers Post-Traumatic Stress From Iraq War
Christian Post
September 29, 2016

"America sends these boys and women to war. They come back. [And when we came back from] Vietnam it was not a good reception. So today, we've gotten better. I've actually been in airports where a soldier walks on a plane, some people out in first class get up and say, 'Hey soldier, take my seat," he told CP.
Si Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame and actor Kevin Downes take to CP Voice about the new film "Faith of Our Fathers" on July 1, 2015.
"Duck Dynasty" star Si Robertson revealed in a recent interview that his son, a U.S. Army veteran who completed eight tours in Iraq, suffers from post-traumatic stress, and urged Americans to do more to help veterans.

Robertson made the revelation in an interview with FOX411 while promoting his new book, Si-Renity.

"Look, we send them off to war, OK. We send them over there and we ought to look after them when they come back," the reality TV show and outspoken Christian said about veterans.

"My son had that post-traumatic stress from what he saw over there. He did eight tours of Iraq. I hadn't thought about it 'til he had one of those episodes one day. His wife called me, and I went over to help her because he was out of it. And afterward we got to talking and he said, 'Dad, you've got to understand, I've got three years of that in my mind,'" he explained.

The elder Robertson, who is a Vietnam veteran, admitted that he hadn't thought about it in that way until then.

"We have some of our soldiers who've done seven or eight tours either in Iraq or Afghanistan. So they're dealing with a lot of trauma. We need to do a better job when they come back. Take care of 'em better," he said.
read more here

Fort Bragg Whistleblower Office Special Council Servant of the Year

Well folks we have a great update to the story Army settles Womack whistleblower case with former employee 

OSC Awards Its 2016 Public Servant of the Year 
CONTACT: Nick Schwellenbach, (202) 254-3631;

WASHINGTON, D.C./September 29, 2016 –
This afternoon, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) honors Teresa Gilbert as its 2016 Public Servant of the Year. Ms. Gilbert was a civilian infection control analyst at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She disclosed violations of infection control policies and regulations that created a significant threat to the health and safety of members of the military and their families treated at Womack. Her disclosures resulted in improved hospital conditions and significant disciplinary action against senior leaders at Womack.

OSC gives its Public Servant of the Year to a federal whistleblower who has demonstrated exceptional courage in bringing to light a serious disclosure of wrongdoing. The award recognizes the whistleblower’s bravery and dedication to public service and furthers public understanding of the important role that whistleblowers play in holding government accountable.

As the hospital’s only board‐certified infection control specialist, Ms. Gilbert observed the use in operating rooms of unsterilized equipment, as well as other deficient infection control practices. She initially made her disclosures to the hospital, which failed to act. She then turned to the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits hospitals. The Joint Commission confirmed that the hospital had 19 systemic deficiencies, including the lack of an infection control plan and a staff inadequately trained to perform their duties.

In response to the Commission’s findings, the Army began an internal investigation into the problems in April 2014. Ms. Gilbert provided information to Army investigators, including the actions taken against her after disclosing problems to the Commission. As a result of the Commission’s findings and the Army investigation, operations at the hospital were shut down for over a week, senior leadership was relieved of command, several managers were disciplined, and Ms. Gilbert’s second line supervisor was issued a reprimand. During the course of the investigation, Ms. Gilbert’s first line supervisor retaliated against her by cutting her work hours in half and engaging in other pretextual personnel actions, which culminated in her proposed removal.

Over much of 2014 and 2015, OSC investigated her case, finding no legitimate basis for Ms. Gilbert’s removal. In September 2015, the two sides reached a settlement on her whistleblower retaliation claim.

“Teresa Gilbert is a true hero whose efforts likely saved the lives of soldiers at the Womack Army Hospital in North Carolina,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. “When Ms. Gilbert became concerned about the unacceptable risk of infection at Womack, she refused to stand idly by and watch. Her tenacity and bravery should serve as an example for us all.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from four federal statutes: The Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing, and to serve as a safe channel for allegations of wrongdoing. For more information, please visit our website at

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Caregivers Military Normal World For Us

Hidden Heroes of Forgotten Veterans 
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 28, 2016

"There are more than 5.5 million caregivers for the nation’s military wounded or ill, and they often go unrecognized." said Tom Hanks and then he called us hidden heroes.

I was reading about this early this morning waiting to clock in at work. Imagine having to do my job all day after having this in my mind.

When I hear folks talk about "caregivers" I get upset for several reasons. One is that all of this is still going on where those among us caring for a veteran are being called "hidden heroes" and then, from the flip side, older ones like me have been forgotten about.

Over three decades spent taking care of not just my husband, but other veterans everyday, and all of this following my youth with my Dad, another disabled veteran from the Korean War. My Mom was a caregiver too. She was first generation American and so was my Dad. My uncles served in WWII and so did my husband's Dad and his uncles.

With that in mind, it makes me want to cry that there seems to be this impression that only the new caregivers matter and only they have the unique issues brought on by their veterans service. It makes me angry they have to "deal" with any of this at all considering we fought for all of it for decades. Yes, that long and it has not been easy but it was necessary. 

We did all of it without the internet, or any of the social media sites because they didn't exist. We did it with social gatherings in the veterans community and we did it face to face, making phone calls and writing letters we actually had to put in a mailbox.

We learned the hard way. My Dad used the term "shell shock" after he said my then boyfriend seemed like a "nice guy" and only after he spoke about five words during a family get-together. I had to go to the library to understand what I was getting into.  Even though I learned what PTSD was and why he had it, what it was doing to him, I had nothing to help me with what I had to decide to face or not, other than a deep love for my best friend. I haven't regretted any of it because he was always worth the fight.

Wives like me had to fight the VA and fight our husbands to give them the chance to heal but first we had to make them believe there was something worth living for. It was a lot harder than most think it would be. But this was our military normal, far from what civilians have to deal with in ordinary marriages.  Sure, we had the usual arguments about taking out the trash and not spending enough time with the kids or us, but then we had to learn the rest that comes with this.

We learned how to walk away and let things calm down. How to stand and fight when it was necessary and take on even our own families when their advice was get a divorce. We had to learn how to navigate the VA system and how to fight for claims to be honored at the same time we had to fight to make sure our veteran did not give up.

We learned how to wake them up after yet one more nightmare from the foot of the bed so that we would not be in striking distance. How to calming bring them back after a flashback. How to hold them when they couldn't stop shaking and how to deal with someone passing judgement when their facial ticks, body twitches and involuntary mouth movements were out of control.

We learned how to do a lot of things but one thing came naturally. Loving them was the easy part. It was easy for us to walk away from co-workers complaining about their husbands being selfish or acting like it was the end of the world because they wanted to do something without them. We were doing things without our husbands because they were having a bad day or just not in the mood to be around people.

We learned how to look for a booth instead of a table when we finally got to go out to eat and how to get our friends to go to the movie with us because a dark theater with a bunch of strangers is the last place a veteran wants to be. They were worth all of it because whatever they could give, they gave it all to us. Just as they gave all they had to give for the country when they were putting their lives on the line, as they did for the men/women they were with, there was nothing they held back except their pain.

Sharing those emotions took a great sense of trust and that, that they learned from us. I can walk into a dark room as my husband sleeps without him jumping up or waking up because I made a noise. Think that is a small thing? Then you must not have spent much time with one of them or you'd know how hard something like that hits them.

If you really want to honor us "hidden heroes" then make a difference in a real way and not just by sharing our stories. Do something about stopping the worst from happening by making sure our elected officials do their jobs and folks running all these charities do theirs because from where I sit after 3 decades, not enough has changed for the better and far too much has changed for worst.

Tom Hanks joins call to help military caregivers
Published: September 28, 2016

There are more than 5.5 million caregivers for the nation’s military wounded or ill, and they often go unrecognized, Hanks said.
WASHINGTON — The public service announcement begins with Tom Hanks introducing himself on a black screen.

He walks over to a man in a wheelchair, who is missing both legs and is flanked by his wife and two daughters. His name is Chaz Allen – Airborne, wounded in combat. Hanks calls him a hero and thanks him for his service.

Then Hanks introduces himself to Allen’s wife, Jessica. She’s a hero too, Hanks says. Because Chaz Allen needs a lot of help, and his wife is also raising their two girls.

“Which makes me want to thank you for your service, Jessica,” Hanks says. “You are a hidden hero.” read more here

Tom Hanks talks Hidden Heroes
Stars and Stripes

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moron Left Female Disabled Veteran Nasty Note On Car

Nasty note left for disabled veteran
By NBC4 Staff
Published: September 27, 201

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (WCMH) — A trip to a Colorado Springs Lowe’s culminated with a nasty note left on the windshield of a disabled veteran. Catherine Rodriquez suffers from debilitating seizures after an incident four years ago while she was serving in the military.

“I ended up with anaphylactic shock, and the lack of oxygen caused me to have epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medication,” Rodriguez told KKTV. After several brain surgeries, Rodriguez now has a service dog and a parking placard so she can use parking spots for people with disabilities.

“I can be very difficult to get to the vehicle and I sometimes do not remember where we are parked,” she said. “I get lost in stores and stuff sometimes.”

After Rodriguez and her husband finished their shopping trip in Lowe’s, they returned to his truck and found a note stuck to the accessible parking sign.

“Sure don’t look or ‘act’ handicap! Don’t care what you think!” the note read.
read more here

35 to 40 Percent of Crisis Calls Rolled Over?

Veterans Affairs suicide hotline leaves many calls unanswered, legislators told
Tales of idle staff and cries for help buried in voicemail spur the House to pass a corrective bill.
Associated Press
Matthew Daily
September 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline’s former director.

Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.

An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems, said Hughes, who left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails.

The House on Monday unanimously approved a bill requiring the VA to ensure that all telephone calls, text messages and other communications received by the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by an appropriately qualified person. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill’s sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but “this hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”
read more here

Hmmm, ok how about back in 2015 there was a report about this too.but they outsourced care.
In 2013 there was a veteran told to call back on Monday and he wondered if that meant he can kill himself then.

And then in 2011 they took in a record number of calls.
But within all this are a couple of overlooked factors. First, Congress has been holding hearings on all this all along going back to 2007 with the bill they wrote starting all this prevention, oh, and then writing more of them, spending more money on repeats when they couldn't that the first one right. The other factor is just as simple. We're still talking about "raising awareness" as if nothing has been done before, when in fact, it has all been done to death. Their deaths.

Troy Vietnam Memorial Destroyed by Unlicensed Driver

Police: Unlicensed driver destroyed Vietnam memorial in Troy
Oneida Daily Dispatch
By Nicholas Buonanno
September 27, 2016 

A Troy woman was ticketed after crashing Sunday morning into a memorial just dedicated just last year to a city native who died in the Vietnam war.
Troy firefighters look over a memorial dedicated in 2015 to a Troy man killed during the Vietnam war that was destroyed Sunday morning when it was struck by a vehicle. SIDEWINDER PHOTOGRAPHY
The incident occurred on Sunday morning near the bridge at Spring Avenue and Hill Street in Troy.

City police spokesman Capt. Daniel DeWolf said Neressa Harden, 36, failed to stop at the intersection of Spring Avenue and Ida and Hill streets, proceeding through the intersection and crashing into a memorial to Robert Felter, a U.S. Marine who was killed in action Dec. 11, 1965.
read more here

Monday, September 26, 2016

FUBAR Researchers Want to Link PTSD and TBI Together Still?

Well there was some common sense on TBI and PTSD back in 2008 and it came out of Canada.
"There's potential to say the brain damage caused by a concussion alters brain chemistry and increases your risk of developing PTSD, but just seeing a blast like that is enough to make someone depressed, and those feelings can cause further anxiety disorders." Dr. Greg Passey, a Vancouver-based PTSD expert and military veteran, said brain trauma coupled with exposure to battle events could easily lead to PTSD.
And in 2013 there was $760 million spent to research it.
As part of its collaborative effort, the Army is participating in a $60 million research study for TBI, sponsored by the National Football League, General Electric and athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour, he said. Also, $700 million has been allocated toward both PTSD and TBI as the result of a White House executive order for a renewed effort in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs Department and other organizations.

So why all this BS as if any of this is new?

War Studies Suggest A Concussion Leaves The Brain Vulnerable To PTSD

Studies of troops who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have found that service members who have suffered a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury are far more likely to develop PTSD, a condition that can cause flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety for years after a traumatic event.
This part really gets me. Do they really think that the troops and veterans are like animals?
And research on both people and animals suggests the reason is that a brain injury can disrupt circuits that normally dampen the response to a frightening event. The result is like "driving a car and the brake's not fully functioning," says Mingxiong Huang, a biomedical physicist at the University of California, San Diego.

Patriot Guard Riders Brought Vietnam Veteran from Hospice to Harley

Patriot Guard Riders escort disabled Vietnam War vet for his birthday
FOX 2 St. Louis
SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

TROY, MO (KTVI) - A veteran got quite the escort service to his birthday party. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted hospice patient and Vietnam War veteran Benny Thompson to a flag ceremony in his honor. It's part of the "Gift of a Day" program sponsored by Crossroads Hospice.
read more here

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Suicide Awareness: Something Worth Living For

Something Worth Living For
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 25, 2016

Did you have something to risk your life for? Obviously you did or you wouldn't have joined the military. Were you willing to die to save someone else? Easy to guess that was a fact and you proved that one everyday you were deployed. So after all that, with the life of others mattering that much, why are thinking about taking your own life? Isn't there something worth living for?

That is the part no one has been able to explain to me. The thing is you can come up with all reasonable answers but none of them really equal to anything being any harder than combat. You survived all that. While coming back home shouldn't be this hard for you or any veteran, none of it is as hopeless as you think it is.

When I told the truth about what was going on in the Veterans' Community, folks wanted what was easy to understand. Like some saying they are raising awareness and getting away with taking a couple of headlines, quoting numbers as if they even begin to understand the report they came from.  

Anyway, after thirty four years I figured since those folks are winning attention for themselves while veterans have been losing their lives for decades, it was time to do some fabricating of my own. Most of the characters came from listening to veterans over all these years and blended with imaginary situations. They got into trouble for something worth the risk.

Everyone is talking about veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. No one is talking about the fact that the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of fifty. Yet our older veterans have more wisdom about what needs to be done than the younger generation has begun to understand.

So I created a story to tell what it is like for the newer veterans wrapped in a mystery, blended with a fictitious conspiracy using homeless veterans as lab rats in order to create the perfect soldier. 

These veterans were among the eleven thousand kicked out of the Army in 2013. This came after years of prevention training, the military telling us they were taking all this seriously at the same time they betrayed the very men and women willing to die for the sake of someone else. They got away with it because the American public wasn't paying enough attention.

A group of proven heroic soldiers are transferred to a old fort taken over by a high ranking member of the Army to protect them from being kicked out as well. Each of them had multiple deployments and even though they were suffering for their service they did not leave their military family.

The story is about passing judgment, raw emotions, survivor guilt, nightmares, flashbacks and losing hope that anything will ever get better. It is also about being betrayed by some while being supported by the family they entered into when they became the smallest minority in the nation. 

Those willing to die to save the lives of others yet having to search for a reason worth living for are all over the news but what is being talked about is far from the real world they live in.

You are not like the other 90+% of the population who never put their lives on the line. They suffer PTSD too and they commit suicide, but you risked your own life because other lives mattered more. Seems there should be a "veterans lives matter" movement because obviously most of you missed that. Still you don't fit in with them now that you live everyday as a veteran. You do fit in perfectly with other veterans and they are ready to help you heal so you can pass the healing along to others. That's something worth living for!

Ask yourself a question they don't want you to think about. "How does raising awareness save a single life?" What good does it do anyone to talk about a fabricated number of veterans killing themselves when they still don't know how to heal?

It is time to change the conversation from suicides to surviving. Evidence has shown no sign of suicides being reduced, no matter how much money they spend or how many times sad outcomes get into the news. You don't need someone to tell you that you don't want to live anymore. You need someone to give you back hope so you know there is something worth living for.  

RESIDUAL WAR will be on Amazon soon so get ready to see a world they only heard about from slogans.

Iowa Veterans Get New Veterans Affairs Office

World War II vet overwhelmed by new VA facility
Joe Cadotte
Sep 23, 2016

The new Pottawattamie County Veteran Affairs Office has nearly four times more space than the old office, which operated out of an old church for more than 50 years.
After more than 10 years of hard work and half a million dollars in donations, Pottawattamie County has a new veteran affairs office.

It’s an emotional day for Iowa combat veterans.

"It's a special day,” said World War II Army Combat Veteran David Appel. “It's good to know we aren't forgotten."

Seventy-one years and three months since Appel came back from fighting three years in the Pacific Theater of World War II, he stood in a building built for veterans like him, made possible by donations from his community.

"I appreciate you doing all this for us regardless of which war you were in,” Appel said. “One war is not any more important than another. It's something that had to be done."
read more here

Home Sellers Turning Down VA Mortgages For Veterans?

Few Homes Available to Armed Forces Veterans
NBC News Miami
By Tony Pipitone
September 23, 2016

“The bad news is that a lot real estate professionals don’t know what is a great program.” David Kurz

Chris and Martyka Myers thought they’d found the perfect home.

“I was wowed by it. I walked to the backyard and a big wonderful pool in the back and the house was just beautiful,” Chris Myers said.

The couple says the price was high, but the sellers were willing to drop down the price to $379,000. “But as soon as I told them about the VA loan -- that portion of the talk -- they basically shut down the conversation at that point,” Myers said.

Members of the Armed Forces, veterans – like Chris Myers – and their families make many sacrifices while serving here and abroad. That’s why in 1944, the U.S. government created a military loan guaranty program to help returning service members purchase homes. The program gives big breaks on fees and down payments to veterans.

But the NBC 6 Investigators found out that four of every five home sellers in Miami-Dade area say they will not consider Veterans Administration financing – closing the door to veterans, if they want to use the benefits the government says they deserve.
read more here

House of Warriors Healing US Female Veterans in Israel

U.S. Veterans With PTSD Find 'Common Bond' and Healing in Israel
NBC News
By Dave Copeland and Peter Jeary
September 25, 2015

Miguel, 27, recently returned from one such trips, which included visiting the Beit Halochem — 'House of Warriors' — rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv, which supports wounded veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces.
U.S. veterans Katherine Ragazzino and Jackie Ann Kirkwood hug after being baptized in the Jordan River in northern Israel. Dave Copeland / NBC News
Female U.S. war vets are finding help for their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) far from home.

Thanks to a pioneering program, they've gone to Israel — and speak of a "common bond" shared with their Israeli counterparts.

"I came with the goal that I needed to meet people that I could talk to," said Kamilla Miguel, who was only 17 when she enlisted in 2007 on the advice of her grandmother.

She returned from Afghanistan aged only 22 but drifted, avoided her family, turned to alcohol and hung out with the wrong crowd.

Heroes to Heroes, which is nondenominational, was established by Judy Schaeffer, the daughter of a World War II veteran. Schaeffer said she felt she "had to do something to help" after visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2009.
read more here
Remember when Sebastian Junger said that "incidence of PTSD is low" in Israel? Well, this pretty much blows that theory. PTSD happens after traumatic events. That is the only way to get it and the best way to heal it is with peer support. Had the female veterans in Israel not had a problem, there wouldn't be anything like this for them.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Orlando Scores Zero on Homeless Veterans in a Good Way

Homeless Vet Count: Tampa 180 - Orlando 0
September 23, 2016

It was six years ago when President Barack Obama vowed to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Nearly a year later, that hasn't happened.

But there have been successes. Two states, Virginia and Connecticut, and dozens of cities like Orlando are considered to be at “functional zero” having ended chronic homelessness among veterans. That means homeless veterans have an immediate system of housing and services at their disposal.

Bob McDonald, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, visited Florida this week to congratulate Orlando on their success and to help push Tampa to that final goal of no veterans living on the streets.

McDonald got a personal tour of Bernie Godette’s one-bedroom, fully furnished apartment at Haley Park Apartments in Tampa. After six years of being homeless, he delights in having a home with features like an icemaker and clothes washer and dryer.

“It ain’t always been this way,” Godette told McDonald. “I’ve been sleeping in tents, in the woods, in my car, sleeping at bus stations, sleeping in homeless shelters, sleeping in missions. So, God has really blessed me.”
read more here

Airman Receiving Silver Star for Bravery in Afghanistan

Airman to receive Silver Star for watery heroism, battlefield bravery in Afghanistan
Air Force Times
By: Stephen Losey
September 23, 2016

"By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Airman Hutchins has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force," the citation said.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- A tactical air control party airman will be honored with the Silver Star for a dangerous and watery rescue of his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, and charging a Taliban position in a subsequent battle two days later.

Then-Airman 1st Class Benjamin Hutchins, a tactical air control party airman, was deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009, serving alongside soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, in a speech Tuesday at the Air Force Association's Air Space Cyber conference. Hutchins and the soldiers were on the west bank of the Murghab River one cold morning, watching a resupply airdrop of cargo containers when one fell off-target and splashed down in the river, Carlisle said.

Two soldiers jumped in to recover it, Carlisle said, but misjudged how fast the river was flowing and were quickly pulled downriver. Hutchins sprang into action, Carlisle said. He stripped off his armor, helmet and other gear that would weigh him down, and dove in after them.
read more here

Five Dead After Gunman Opens Fire At Mall

Washington shooting gunman hunted by police after deadly mall rampage
CBS News
September 24, 2016

BURLINGTON, Wash. -- Police searched Saturday for a gunman authorities said opened fire in the makeup department of a Macy’s store at a mall north of Seattle, killing five people before fleeing toward an interstate on foot.

An image capture from surveillance video shows the gunman in a deadly mall shooting in Burlington, Washington, on Sept. 23, 2016. WASHINGTON STATE PATROL
People fled, customers hid in dressing rooms and employees locked the doors of nearby stores after gunshots rang out just after 7 p.m. Friday at the Cascade Mall. A helicopter, search teams and K-9 units scoured the area for a rifle-carrying man.

“We are still actively looking for the shooter,” Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Francis said at a news conference. “Stay indoors, stay secure.”

Francis said police were seeking a Hispanic man wearing black and armed with a “hunting-type” rifle last seen walking toward Interstate 5.
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Tom Arnold Thinks Mental Illness is a Choice?

Tom Arnold Opens Up About Nephew's Tragic Suicide: 'People Who Are Suicidal Shouldn't Be Able to Buy a Gun'
Cathy Free
September 23, 2016

"My nephew was a sweet, good-hearted kid, but he was sad and angry after the Army sent him home early with an honorary discharge because of issues revolving around a suicide attempt," Arnold, 57, tells PEOPLE exclusively.
Tom Arnold
Spencer Arnold, a 24-year-old Army veteran who came home from Iraq with chronic depression, decided on impulse last May that he'd had enough. After a phone argument with his girlfriend, he picked up one of the five loaded guns he'd recently purchased and kept on his nightstand, and shot himself in the head in his Iowa City, Iowa, apartment.

Now Spencer's uncle, actor and comedian Tom Arnold, is speaking out about the tragedy during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, hoping to rally people to get behind tighter gun control laws and prevent those with mental illness from purchasing firearms.

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This is the part that really gets me upset. "Where I come from, mental illness is shameful and a choice" WTF? Did he really say that? Mental illness is not a choice but as long as people like him are this uninformed it will remain something to be ashamed of instead of treated. Want to know why the stigma is so strong? Read the rest of the article.

Arnold's brother did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. 

"He and the rest of my family are outraged at me for speaking out about this," Arnold tells PEOPLE, "because in their minds, suicide is something that you don't discuss publicly. Where I come from, mental illness is shameful and a choice."

Another Fort Hood Solider Found Dead of Gunshot Wound

Soldier found dead in Texas identified as Bellevue native
By Source: Fort Hood Public Affairs Office
Sep 21, 2016

FORT HOOD, Texas A soldier killed by an apparent gunshot wound in Killeen, Texas has been identified as a Bellevue native.

Fort Hood officials identified him as Pvt. Nathan Joshua Berg, 20. He was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound Sept. 17 in Killeen, Texas.

Pvt. Berg, whose home of record is listed as Bellevue, Nebraska, entered active-duty military service in May 2016 as an combat engineer. He was assigned to Reception Detachment, United States Army Garrison, Fort Hood, Texas, since September 2016.
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Ground Zero Responder Turned Away From Hospital Because of PTSD Service Dog?

Ground Zero Worker Turned Away from Hospital When He Brings Service Dog
NBC New York

By Lori Bordonaro
September 23, 2016

Hazan later told NBC 4 New York, "At a mental health care facility, it makes it an egregious violation of human rights."
A ground zero first responder suffering post-traumatic stress disorder was turned away from a New York City hospital when he tried to bring his service dog to a therapy session, he says. Fifteen years after responding to ground zero, former New Jersey EMT Jamie Hazan had finally gotten the perfect prescription for his post-traumatic stress disorder: Bernie, a service dog.

He takes Bernie nearly everywhere, including doctors appointments. But when Hazan arrived at New York State Psychiatric Institute hospital in Washington Heights for his therapy session Tuesday, he was told Bernie wasn't welcome.

Hazan began recording the exchange on his cellphone.
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Tennessee Family Struggles to Bring Son's Body Home After Suicide

Tennessee family raising money to fly deceased veteran’s body from Springfield to Memphis
The Register-Guard
By Elon Glucklich
SEPT. 22, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — A mother in Tennessee hopes the public can help raise money to fly her military veteran son’s body home, after he committed suicide in Springfield last weekend.

Taylor Lee Odom
Pfc. Taylor Lee Odom, 23, hanged himself Saturday, his mother, Jenniffer Palazola-Herrin, said. After being injured during training in the U.S. Army, he was medically retired from the military in July 2015. He moved to Springfield five months ago to study automotive technology at Lane Community College under the GI Bill.

Odom had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for four years, Palazola-Herrin said, stemming from a traumatic brain injury he received in a training accident at Fort Carson in Colorado.

In the 2012 accident, Odom was thrown from a Humvee and partly crushed as it rolled on him, local news reports said at the time.

Even as he slowly recovered, Odom suffered from symptoms related to his PTSD, Palazola-Herrin said, speaking from her home in Memphis.

He attempted suicide before, she said, and care was subpar at the Memphis-area Veterans Affairs hospitals where they sought help.
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Camp Pendleton Suicide Awareness Walk With Over 1,000 Side by Side

Marines, sailors march for suicide awareness
OC Register
Erika I Ritchie
Staff Writer
Sept. 23, 2016

‘Suicide didn’t take away my husband’s pain, it just transferred the pain to those that loved him.’
More than a 1,000 Marines and sailors take part in Camp Pendleton's second annual Suicide Awareness Walk. The event was held at the base on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Camp Pendleton.)
CAMP PENDLETON – Chad Robichaux, a Force Recon Marine and former MMA fighter, spoke to Marines and sailors Friday about the military lives lost to war and the far greater number of military lives lost to suicide.

“I was thinking about how as a young Recon Marine I’d respond to a suicide pep talk,” said Robichaux. “I’d probably be a little arrogant and not want to listen. But I’ve been on the other side of it. After eight deployments to Afghanistan in the special operations community, I know that’s one extreme. The other is just military service and the stress it brings. Military life will change you 100 percent. The change will be either for the worse or the better, that’s up to you.”

Robichaux now runs the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program, dedicated to curtailing the high veteran suicide rate and helping American military and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He spoke at the seaside base as part of the second annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk.

“We lost 6,882 in combat since 9/11,” he said “But the more significant number is the 22 lives a day from suicide. Since 9/11 we’ve lost 120,000 to suicide. We learn to push through in our mission but sometimes, we can’t push through in our personal lives.”

Robichaux relayed the story of a Marine wife he recently counseled. Her husband had shot himself standing in the street surrounded by police. The last thing he said to police was, “Tell my wife, I’m doing this for her,” Robichaux said.

“She later told me, ‘Suicide didn’t take away my husband’s pain, it just transferred the pain to those that loved him.’”
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Vietnam Veteran Has Faith to Help Fight PTSD

Pet Tales: Vietnam veteran is thankful for his 'Faith'
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Linda Wilson Fuoco
September 24, 2016

Forty-seven years after Bill Fennell fought with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, he still suffers from the invisible wounds and scars of post-traumatic stress disorder. He has nightmares, anxiety in crowds and daytime panic attacks that make him reluctant to leave his house in Carnegie.

But everything is better since Faith entered his life in June.

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette
Faith is a Guardian Angel Service Dog that belongs to Bill Fennell
of Carnegie. Mr. Fennell served in the U.S. Marine Coprs in Vietnam.
Mr. Fennell, 67, says he is a man of faith — with a lower case “f”. Faith — with a capital “F” — is a German shepherd who was bred, trained and named at Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Inc. in Williston, Fla.

“My wife, Debra, and I were praying for a good dog,” Mr. Fennell. “God winked at us, and I got a dog named Faith. She is everything I could ask for.”

Faith gets along well with the family cats, Cisco Kid, Rocky and Sheba.

Mr. Fennell, a retired postal worker, says he sleeps better because Faith, 4, “senses when I’m having a nightmare.”

The dog lies on his chest and licks his hand, and he is soothed into a restful sleep.

Faith’s need to be walked and exercised forces her companion out of the house. “I have trouble meeting people, but now they come up to me to ask about my dog.”

He’s happy to tell them about Faith but sorry to tell them they can’t pet her because she’s working.

It takes one to two years and $22,000 to raise and custom-train a dog to meet the specific needs of a veteran. Faith was funded by Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans, a collaborative effort between Veterans Cable Services in Bethel Park and Guardian Angels.

Anthony Accamando of Eighty Four, Washington County, is a Marine veteran who founded the Life Changing group. Since November 2015, the organization has raised $176,000 for eight dogs placed with Western Pennsylvania veterans. They hope to fund a total of 11 dogs by Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.
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First All Female Veteran Honor Flight Brings Women Together

First all-women Veterans’ Honor Flight from Columbus visits D.C. war memorials
Department Veterans Affairs

Jennifer Sardam
September 21, 2016

“Most times, women were not wanted overseas unless you had a nurse’s degree, and you could take care [of] or nurture the men that were injured,” said Dorothy “Dottie” Wolfe, who served in the Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserve and Air National Guard. “But I served, and I was proud to have served. I would have gone had they sent me, under any situation. That’s what you signed the contract for, and I knew it.”
Honor Flights from across the country bring Veterans to Washington, D.C., several times a week.

But Sept. 10, the Honor Flight Columbus organization out of Ohio sent the group’s first all-women Veterans’ Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. While there, 81 women—Veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War—visited their respective monuments.

The trip to Washington kicked off with a hosted event at the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and included stops at a number of sites: the Iwo Jima Memorial, the U.S. Air Force Memorial and the memorials for World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught—one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history—was among those who greeted the group at the WIMSA Memorial; in 1966, she was also the first woman to deploy with an Air Force bomber wing.

“It means so much to see this group of women come in and see what the memorial means to them, because it does mean something to them,” said Vaught. “It is seeing their service to our country paid tribute to by the nation. And yet with it all, there comes laughter and joy, and that’s the way it ought to be about serving our country.”

As the pioneers of their times, these women blazed a path that until then was only traveled for men. And yet despite their contributions, they weren’t so readily accepted as equals.

“My career field was supposed to be aerospace jet mechanic,” said retired Air Force Veteran Phyllis Collins, who goes by the nickname “Sunshine.”

“And the guys didn’t like me there … I was supposed to be working on a dead battery. They hooked it up, and I got zapped,” she said. “So I changed my career field real fast. I became a military cop.”
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Sunny 105.9 Paco Lopez Not Ashamed of National Anthem

Paco Lopez has been playing Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner everyday at noon.  This is in response to some athletes deciding they would rather sit or kneel instead of acknowledging while this nation is not perfect, some are risking their lives everyday because it is even worth dying for.
This is Paco at the opening of Rock and Brews in Oviedo. Paco is a Marine, you know because "once a Marine always a Marine" and he's the one remembering our veterans at the VA.  

The coolest thing is, he plays some of the calls coming in thanking him for doing it.

Today someone called in and said that he was in his garage working, stopped, put his hand over his heart when his neighbor was walking his dog, stopped to ask him what he was doing.  When he told him, the man stopped, put his hand over his heart and the dog sat down.

So if you want to turn to Sunny 105.9 at noon on Monday. I look forward to it now especially when I think of the price paid by those serving today and those carrying the weight of their service from before so guys and make millions playing a game and sit it out. Oh, by the way, according to Forbes it looks like a lot more Americans think this country is worth taking a few minutes to honor.

NFL's TV Ratings Continue Slide Amidst National Anthem Protests

Whitney Houston - Star Spangled Banner

Among the annals of national anthems as a prelude to sporting events, few have topped the one delivered by Whitney Houston before Super Bowl XXV in 1991 in Tampa. A woman, her incredible voice and the bare minimum of extraneous notes. Her rendition came at a particularly patriotic time, just after the onset of the Persian Gulf War, and was released as a single. It was re-released after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Houston donated all proceeds to charity. She ranks among the best of all-time because of the circumstances and ... that voice..

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Billionaire Pledges $325 Million to Help PTSD Veterans

Billionaire Investor Steven Cohen Pledges $325 Million to Combat PTSD in Vets

by Jen Wieczner
SEPTEMBER 22, 2016,

Cohen said he plans to invest $325 million during a five year period in his two new initiatives to help veterans and prevent them from committing suicide, a recent phenomenon among vets that has alarmed policymakers.
His own son was a Marine.

Steven A. Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund manager whose former firm SAC Capital pled guilty to insider trading charges, rarely does speaking gigs. Always extremely private, the investor has hardly ever spoken publicly since the 2013 settlement.

But Cohen, who has since transformed his firm into a family office called Point72 that manages $11.6 billion of mostly his own money, broke his silence Thursday. The occasion was a special and deeply personal one to him: The kickoff of his inaugural Cohen Veterans Care Summit (or just “Cohen Cares,” as it’s called for short), a two-day meeting held in Washington, D.C. at the Ronald Reagan Building, a block away from the White House.

His speech led the convention of medical and policy experts focused on pursuing new research and breakthroughs for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries, frequently seen among recent veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inspired by his son Robert who served as a U.S. Marine, deploying to Afghanistan in 2010, Cohen has since stepped up his philanthropic efforts focused on the mental health of military veterans—particularly the 2.7 million who served in the “War on Terror” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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Lt. Col. Ira Stephen Eadie Was From Lake City

Lake City pilot killed in California spy plane crash
By Staff
September 21, 2016
LAKE CITY, Fla. - The pilot who died Tuesday after ejecting from a U.S. Air Force U-2 spy plane that crashed into a mountain in Northern California was a 20-year veteran who grew up in Lake City.

According to his family, Lt. Col. Ira Stephen Eadie had been stationed in California for the past six years. Before joining the Air Force, he was in the Navy and flew P-3 patrol aircraft out of NAS Jacksonville.

A co-pilot who also ejected has survived.

Eadie (pictured below) leaves behind a wife and six children, ranging in age from 6 to 25 years old.

Eadie's father told News4Jax that the couple met in Lake City and they were excellent parents devoted to family. He asked the community for prayer.
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USS Wasp Sailor's Death Under Investigation

U.S. Navy sailor dies of non-combat injury off Libya
By Andrew V. Pestano
Sept. 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense on Thursday said Devon M. Faulkner, a U.S. Navy aviation boatswain's mate airman, died from a non-combat-related injury while supporting the U.S.-led coalition operation against the Islamic State in Libya.

Faulkner, 24, from Raleigh, N.C., was assigned to the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Wasp, which left in late June for a 6-month tour in the central Mediterranean Sea. The incident that caused Faulkner's death on Tuesday is under investigation.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fort Hood: Ret. General Robert Cone Passed Away at 59

Former TRADOC, Fort Hood commander Gen. Robert Cone dies
Army Times
By: Kevin Lilley and Michelle Tan
September 20, 2016

Left to right, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry pray at a memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas, for the victims of the Fort Hood shootings on Nov. 10, 2009.
Photo Credit: Jay Janner/Pool via AP
Retired Gen. Robert Cone, who led Army Training and Doctrine Command and was the top general for III Corps during the deadly 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people, has died at age 59.

“He was a great friend, a brave warrior and a uniquely gifted Army leader. His loss leaves a big hole in our ranks and in our lives,” said retired Gen. Carter Ham, president of the Association of the U.S. Army, in a statement.
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Marine Shot in LA, Left For Dead, Passed Away

Camp Pendleton Marine dies three days after he was mysteriously shot and left for dead in South L.A.
LA Times
Veronica Rocha and Matt Hamilton
September 20, 2016

A U.S. Marine Corps training command said in a statement that his death weighed heavily on everyone’s hearts.

“The overwhelming support and prayers we witnessed in support of this young man are a testament to the mighty son, friend and warrior that he was,” the training command said.
A 19-year-old Marine from Camp Pendleton who was shot this weekend while visiting friends and family in South Los Angeles died Monday night, coroner’s officials said.

Carlos Segovia died at 8 p.m. at California Hospital Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner. Segovia had been hospitalized in grave condition since the weekend.

He was found at 11:35 p.m. Friday slumped over and unconscious in a Dodge Charger in the 2100 block of 31st Street, according to Capt. Peter Whittingham of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Marine left the military base near San Diego on Friday. He had just visited his girlfriend that night and was preparing to drive to the home of Claudia Perez, a family friend, when he was struck by gunfire.
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