Monday, October 31, 2016

Civilian Doctors Untrained To Take Care of Veterans, Duh!

Very timely consideirng today is Halloween and for the most part veterans have been finding either great care or walking away as if someone just played a trick on them in exchange for their service. Congress has been playing more of an April Fool's joke on them when they say they will fix the VA but sought to kill it and privatize it instead.
Expert: Most physicians outside VA are untrained to handle vets' issues
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. (Tribune News Service)
By Jon O'Connell
Published: October 31, 2016

SCRANTON, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Most veterans get some health care from private doctors.

But most doctors outside the Veterans Affairs system aren’t trained to identify service-related illness, according to a physician working to educate clinicians on the issues.

“While everybody seems to be mostly focused on the health care that veterans are getting at the VA, it sort of went unnoticed that 80 percent of veterans get most of their health care from civilian providers,” said Jeffrey L. Brown, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College who also teaches at Weill Cornell Medicine.

While about 40 percent of veterans get some health care from the VA, only about 20 percent of all veterans rely totally on the VA, according to a 2015 government survey of health and health care use.

Dr. Brown, a pediatrician and retired U.S. Army medic, carried a .45 pistol and treated wounded and sick soldiers and, at times, local children in Vietnam. Late in his post-military private practice career, a New York Times article alerted him that anyone who served in Vietnam should consider themselves exposed to Agent Orange, a carcinogenic defoliant used to kill thick plant growth and expose hiding Vietnamese fighters. Those veterans risked serious illness like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
read more here

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Humane Society Hero Dogs Of Year

Hooch, an abused French mastiff, is Hero Dog of the Year
Associated Press
October 29, 2016

NEW YORK — The human nearly lost his life to drug and alcohol addiction. The dog, well, he nearly lost his life to humans.

A French mastiff named Hooch, rescued by Zach Skow in Tehachapi, California, is the 2016 American Humane organization's Hero Dog of the Year, bestowed in a Beverly Hills ceremony taped in September and broadcast Friday on the Hallmark Channel.

Hooch, among eight canine finalists, wore his best tuxedo collar, though he was reluctant to join Skow on stage.

Hosted by James Denton and Beth Stern, and featuring Dave Foley, Kym Johnson, Robert Herjavec, Marilu Henner and Greg Louganis, among other celebrities, this is the sixth year for the awards.
The other seven finalists for Hero Dog, all honored for their service, are:
• Law enforcement: Edo, a K-9 superstar with the Los Angeles Police Department, and handler Nhut Huynh. Edo, a Belgian malinois, was the first sent into a house where a shootout was underway. He pulled the armed man away from his weapon.

• Search and rescue: Kobuk, a German shepherd, and handler Elizabeth Fossett in York, Maine. He sniffed out an elderly woman with diabetes and dementia after she wandered off from a cabin in the wilderness.

• Service: Gander, a labradoodle rescue, and handler Lon Hodge. Hodge is an Army veteran in Great Lakes, Illinois, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and was once homebound for months at a time. The two are inseparable and travel the country helping others with disabilities. "Thank you for saving my life," Hodge told his beloved Gander on the show.

• Military: Layka, another Belgian malinois, and trainer/veteran Julian McDonald in Galena, Kansas. The dog lost a leg when she took fire while McDonald's Ranger unit was assaulting an enemy compound in Afghanistan. McDonald and his family adopted Layka.

• Arson: Judge and handler Lee Laubach Jr., fire chief in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Judge is a yellow Labrador who has worked more than 275 fire scenes and has found evidence leading to multiple arrests and civil penalties for insurance fraud.

• Hearing: Hook, a 12-pound, 10-year-old Chihuahua mix, and handler Joyce Herman. Herman, from Sacramento, California, is a hearing-impaired marriage and family therapist. He pulled Herman off some light train tracks as a train approached and once chased away a prowler in her office waiting room.

• Therapy: Mango, a paralyzed Cairn terrier rescue, and handler Judy Walter, a veteran in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Both dog and human had broken their backs. Mango uses a canine wheelchair to get around. "I healed her and she healed me," said Walter, who now routinely visits disabled vets with Mango.
read more here

Black Hawk Down Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Bray Passed Away

Air Force veteran whose story was told in 'Black Hawk Down' dies
The Courier-Tribune (Tribune News Service)
By Judi Brinegar
Published: October 29, 2016
S/Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Bray's actions in Somalia in 1993 earned him a Silver Star and were later portrayed in the movie, “Black Hawk Down.” He died Oct. 24 at the age of 49. COURTESY BRAY FAMILY
ASHEBORO — A recognized hero, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Bray, 49, a Randolph County, N.C. native, died Oct. 24 at Columbus Regional Healthcare.

You might not know his name, but his actions in Somalia in 1993 earned him a Silver Star —and those actions were later portrayed in the movie, “Black Hawk Down.”

Bray was born in Randolph County in 1966, the son of Martha Woodell Lindsey of Asheboro and the late John Franklin Bray.

Bray was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a Senior Airman who served with a Combat Control Team.
read more here

Marine Based in Okinawa Drowning Death Second This Month

Marine in Okinawa dies, second apparent drowning this month
Marine Corps Times
By: Jeff Schogol
October 29, 2016

A Marine in Okinawa has died in an apparent drowning incident, marking the second such death this month at Okinawa.

The Marine was assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing with III Marine Expeditionary Force and pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. Saturday at Medea Point, said 1st Lt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for III MEF.

An investigation into the cause and circumstances of the Marine’s death is ongoing, Butterfield said Saturday in a statement. The Marine’s name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.
read more here

PTSD Veterans Need A Reputation Defender

Who Defends PTSD Veterans With Truth?
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 30, 2016

In the 80's and 90's researching suicides tied to military service used to make me very sad. After all, the online world had not connected the entire planet to information like that. We whispered about them as if they were something to be ashamed of. That is until we got angry, finally figuring out, that these are the same men and women, were willing to die for the sake someone else, yet could not find that same will to live after it. Yes, coming home was more dangerous to them back then too.

They were homeless and reports said there were 300,000 veterans walking the streets, but Congress simply ignored them. They were getting arrested and ended up in jail for crimes that were tied to their service, but Veterans Courts did not exist. They stood in line at the VA and fought for years to have their claims approved. They needed caregivers who gave up jobs to provide the loving care these veterans needed but would not receive otherwise.

They were not just suffering, they started to fight back and everything available for the generations following them, as imperfect as it all is, began because they take a stand for the sake of their brothers and sisters. The worst part is, they are still the majority of the suicides tied to military service. They led the way then were left behind.

I am no longer simply sad about what they face on a daily basis. I am pissed off! If you aren't then you haven't been paying attention to any of this.

With the online world what it is, anyone can post anything they want, a company called Reputation Defender popped up in 2006, offering to fix how the world sees customers. There is a case that goes back to 2006, but it is doubtful the reputation needing defending will ever seek them. 

PTSD veterans are the subject of at least 16,700,000 results on a Google search. Everyone seems to be talking about them. What really sucks is that as life back home gets worse for them, it has been very profitable for the publicists of their suffering.

Want proof? Easy to deliver. Reuters published an article Friday "Veterans may face higher risk of suicide during first year back home." The research also showed that "six years after leaving the military, veterans had a 63 percent higher risk of suicide than those still in the service." Pretty shocking to some, but not new at all to the rest of us.

As for those still in the military, the ones that never seem to get mentioned in the arbitrary number of "22" a day, while the DOD claims deployment has little to do with suicides, we have this piece of news. "However, in the first quarter following deployment, service members had a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than their peers who didn't experience deployment."

Yet again, we find this ties into another blast from the past within another article about redeployments from the Army's research on PTSD. The research was published on the Washington Post December 20, 2006, appropriately titled warning of "Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds
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.
But what did they do? They kept redeploying them and then wondered why they were committing suicide. All they had to do was actually understand their own research to discover the answer.
The report also found a doubling of suicides among soldiers serving in the Iraq war from 2004 to 2005, the latest period for which data are available. Twenty-two soldiers took their own lives in Iraq and Kuwait in 2005, compared with 11 in 2004 and 25 in 2003, Army officials said.
They were sent to Iraq in 2003, so when you think of those numbers, consider that the number of deployments was nowhere near the number these men and women have been facing with 15 years of war.

The Department of Defense finally released the 2nd Quarter Suicide report for 2016. With less serving now than in 2006, the reported total for the first six months is 120 Active and 101 Reserve/National Guards. 

Billions are spent every year as members of Congress get their names put on Bills they write claiming to be about preventing suicides, yet as this shows, nothing they have done worked.

We have about 5 million less veterans than we had back in 1999, but as you can see, the numbers have not changed. The latest research has the number back at 20 veterans committing suicide a day again. 

So when do we defend their reputations against falsehoods? When do we take a stand for them and say we reached the "one too many" of them dying by their own hands because they did not get what they needed to fight back home?

You want to raise awareness? Then start with the truth. Start with the fact that none of this is new and that is the most deplorable thing of all. We ran out of excuses as soon as the world was connected and what was happening in one part of the country was not known nationally. Do you really want to change anything or do you want to remain sad and do nothing with substance?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

"We couldn’t have drawn up a more catastrophic way to fail" Veterans

Review: ‘Thank You for Your Service,’ Stories of Soldiers and Suicide
New York Times
OCT. 27, 2016
“While you have watched this documentary, a veteran has committed suicide.”
Kenny Toone, an Iraq War veteran, hugs a Vietnam War Veteran in the documentary “Thank You for Your Service.” Credit CreativeChaos
“Thank You for Your Service” starts with a frantic, tear-filled 911 call reporting a suicide. It’s a gut-wrenching moment in a documentary that’s filled with them, and with scenes that make you want to scream in frustration at the bureaucracy faced by combat veterans seeking mental health services.

“We couldn’t have drawn up a more catastrophic way to fail to meet mental health needs than the blueprints that were followed in this war,” a retired Navy psychologist says about Iraq. The facts bear him out: Over the past decade, the number of suicides among veterans has soared.
read more here

Gary Sinise Honors WWII Veterans "They saved the world from tyranny"

Actor Gary Sinise flies veterans to New Orleans' WWII Museum
KSLA 12 News
October 28th 2016
Two dozen World War II veterans from Texas and Louisiana joined Gary Sinise this week for the flight of their lives.
(Source: KSLA News 12)
Two dozen World War II veterans from Texas and Louisiana joined Gary Sinise this week for the flight of their lives.

The actor best known for his roles on "Criminal Minds:Beyond Borders" and as Lieutenant Dan in "Forrest Gump" sent 8 veterans from Tyler, Texas, and 16 veterans from Shreveport, La., to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans on Wednesday.

"They deserve everything. They saved the world from tyranny," Sinise said Wednesday before their flight out of Shreveport Regional Airport. "That was the most horrible conflict in human history. and the amount of devastation that happened during that time in the world is unthinkable."
read more here

Sgt. James Morrison, Soldier-Firefighter Laid to Rest

Soldier, firefighter who died of apparent suicide given hero’s escort
Westchester 12 News
October 27, 2016
Morrison’s parents say that their son’s death is proof that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is very real among the military.
GARNERVILLE - A Rockland soldier and longtime Hillcrest firefighter who recently died of an apparent suicide in Colorado got a hero's escort to Garnerville on Thursday.

Sgt. James Morrison, of Wesley Hills, was on active duty at Fort Carson when he died Wednesday. The 28-year-old also used to be a firefighter in Hillcrest, joining the department when he was a teenager.

Morrison had been deployed to Afghanistan three times and later re-enlisted back in the United States.
read more here

Military Suicide Risk Higher Back Home

Veterans may face higher risk of suicide during first year home
October 28, 2016
When they left the military, the risk of suicide remained higher than for current service members for several years. Six years after leaving the military, veterans had a 63 percent higher risk of suicide than those still in the service, the study found.
Veterans may be more likely to commit suicide during the first year after they leave the military than after more time passes, a U.S. study suggests.

Compared with people still on active duty in the military, veterans out of the service for up to three months were 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide, the study found. Veterans who had left the service from three to 12 months earlier had almost triple the suicide odds of current members of the military.

"Family members and community can be proactive to reach out to veterans if they recently experienced stressful events - not just limited to the stressful events we can capture in the data such as divorce or separation from the military," said lead study author Yu-Chu Shen, a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

"In addition, clinicians should be aware that deployments may increase suicide risk independently of underlying mental disorders, and so asking patients about deployment history is advisable," Shen said by email.
However, in the first quarter following deployment, service members had a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than their peers who didn't experience deployment.

read more here

Family of Maj. Gen. John Rossi Wants Others To Seek Help To Heal

Army Says 2-Star General Committed Suicide
OCT. 28, 2016
"To the Army, he was Maj. Gen. Rossi. To us, he was John -- husband, dad."
WASHINGTON — The Army said Friday it has determined that suicide was the cause of death of a two-star general who was found dead in his home on a military base in Alabama.

Maj. Gen. John Rossi was found dead July 31 at Redstone Arsenal, two days before he was to assume command of Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

He is the first Army general to commit suicide on active duty since record-keeping began in 2000, according to the Army. Military suicides soared earlier this decade and remain a major source of concern; they typically have affected lower-ranking military members.

Rossi, a West Point academy graduate and an air defense artillery officer by training, had just moved onto Redstone Arsenal and was scheduled to be promoted to lieutenant general when he took command of Space and Missile Defense Command.
"To all the other families out there, to the man or woman who may be facing challenging times, please seek assistance immediately. Compassionate and confidential assistance is available."
read more here

Police Officer Struggle With PTSD Iraq Veteran On Video

Video: Man with apparent PTSD struggles with Gladstone officer, asks girlfriend to ‘shoot him’

OCTOBER 28, 2016

GLADSTONE, Mo. -- A Gladstone police officer struggled with a suspect for about 4 minutes, trying to keep Aaron Barker, 32, from getting a hold of his gun.

Barker's girlfriend Megan took video during the fight and wanted to explain that the man she loves suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving as a mortar man during a 10-month deployment in Iraq, where he saw combat every day and was blown up by a hidden bomb.

In the video above, FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien talked to Megan, who didn't want to show her face, but did want to explain Barker's actions.
read more here

Green Beret Soldier's Death in Kenya Under Investigation

Fort Bragg-based Green Beret dies while serving in Kenya
Army Times
By: Meghann Myers
October 28, 2016
A memorial service for a 3rd Special Forces Group soldier is set for Saturday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, 11 days after his mysterious death while deployed to Kenya, according to his obituary.

Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Bannister, 33, was found dead of non-combat related injuries on Oct. 17, Maj. Christopher Foreman, a spokesman for 3rd Special Forces Group, told Army Times on Friday.

Bannister's remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, on Thursday. The cause of his death is under investigation, Foreman said.

The Reynoldsburg, Ohio, native spent four years as a Marine from 2003 to 2007, then re-enlisted into Special Forces in 2010, according to a 3rd Special Forces Group release.

He did two deployment to Afghanistan, the release said, earning three Bronze Star Medals -- one with the combat "V" device -- and various other awards.
read more here

Friday, October 28, 2016

Florida Marine's Widow Forced to Fight VA After Camp Lejeune

8 INVESTIGATES: Camp Lejeune widow keeps fighting V.A. for her husband and benefits
WFLA 8 News
By Steve Andrews
Published: October 27, 2016

“I’ve lost my husband, I’ve lost my home, I will not lose my dignity.” Tara Craver

AVON PARK, Fla. (WFLA) — Tara Craver of Avon Park is becoming a familiar site at busy intersections outside V.A. facilities. She protests what she believes is unfair V.A. treatment of marines and their families.

“They killed my husband,” said Tara.

Her husband Karle was a marine, stationed at Camp Lejeune in the 70’s. His is one of the many faces of Camp Lejeune, the site of one of the largest mass contaminations in American history. From 1953 to 1987, an estimated 750,000 marines, their families as well as base employees were exposed to cancer causing chemicals in their drinking water.

“They didn’t contaminate themselves, the government did and they kept it hid for two or three decades. They kept it hid,” added Tara.

Doctors diagnosed Karle with esophageal cancer in January 2014. He died 10 weeks later.

Karle passed well before Tara heard that the V.A. rejected his claim that his cancer was connected to Camp Lejeune.
read more here

Man Wants To Be Commander-in-Chief Without Military Women?

Trump faces new round of military controversies just days before the election
Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
October 27, 2016

With less than two weeks left before the election, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finds himself in the middle of a new round of military-themed controversies that opponents say shows he’s unqualified to be commander in chief.

The problems began Monday, during an interview with a Florida television station where Trump stated that his campaign has impressive support among veterans and “I’ve been endorsed largely, at least conceptually, by the military.”

Campaign officials offered no further explanation of the remark, which drew criticism and confusion given the military’s strict rules against politicking in the ranks. The most recent Military Times/Institute for Veterans and Military Families Poll showed about 40 percent of active-duty troops plan to vote for Trump next month.

“Well, I went to a military academy, which was from a different planet. ... We didn’t have women in the academy at that time. Today you have women, which is a whole other story, women in the Army and you see what’s going on. It’s like, it’s like bedlam. It is bedlam."
“... It’s something that people aren’t talking about, but what’s going on is bedlam, bringing women in the Army.”
read more here
He's not alone
Mike Pence said in 1999 that women shouldn’t be in the military.

Six Months Equals 221 Military Suicides?

For the first half of this year there have been 120 Active Duty Service Members and another 101 Reserve/National Guard members committed suicide. 

The total for 2015 was 266 Active Duty and 212 Reserve/National Guard members. 

DOD 2nd Quarter Suicide Report 2016
In the second quarter of 2016, the military services reported the following:
 57 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
 23 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
 23 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
Just look at this chart from the Department of Defense.
Just a reminder, the reported count of veterans committing suicide is from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They do not track active and the DOD does not track veterans.

Do you think it is time to change what they are doing? So why is it obvious to us and not them?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Red Tape After Pulse Massacre Leaves First Responder Struggling

Orlando Officers Grapple With Trauma and Red Tape After Massacre
New York Times
OCT. 27, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — The sound of a ringing iPhone makes Omar Delgado sweat and freeze in place. His heart pounds. He closes his eyes to fight back the ghastly images that no one should ever have to see.

He hears the marimba-like tone and he is back at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 as a police officer pinned down in an hourslong standoff surrounded by dead bodies, their phones ringing again and again with calls that will never be answered.

“I literally felt like I was standing there at the club, my feet hurting, my arm hurting from holding my weapon,” Officer Delgado recalled, thinking of the times just after the slaughter when the phone rang and the panic came back.

It has been more than four months since a security guard named Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at the gay club in Orlando. Officer Delgado, 44, who works in nearby Eatonville, was on the job briefly over the July 4 weekend but suffered a flashback on duty and has not been on patrol since. He has spent the last few months getting treated for nightmares and depression while managing red tape and cuts in his take-home pay because he no longer earns overtime.
read more here

Veteran Sang National Anthem in Front of Whining Protestor

Do they actually teach what respect is there? The young woman seems to think that the veteran, who risked his life for this country, did not deserve any respect at all. Freedom of speech does not trump the rights of others to do the same. It is about time folks understood the full impact of the 1st Amendment.
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
My Dad and my Uncles served and so did my Husband and his Dad and his Uncles. What they are doing is showing disrespect to every generation that thought this country, as imperfect as it is, was worth dying for. She couldn't even stop whining long enough to think about that.
Video captures national anthem standoff between #BamaSits protesters and veteran
by Andrew Donley
October 27th 2016

A peaceful protest during the national anthem before Alabama's last home game was disrupted by a proud veteran, and the incident was captured on video.

Protesters saying that the way the veteran interrupted them was uncalled for, but the veteran says he was well within his rights.

"#BamaSits is a peaceful protest. We are protesting social injustice. We support underrepresented LGBTQ community and people of color against discrimination and we're also protesting against police brutality," Emerald Vaughn said.
read more here

Many Different Wounds You Cannot See Still Just As Real

I often get offended when some folks want to say PTSD is an "invisible wound" almost as if that allows them to walk away without ever really thinking about it. 

Take all the other "invisible wounds" and then try to dismiss them. A broken bone does not always break through the skin, yet a broken bone still causes pain and needs help to heal. 

What about a headache or toothache? Can anyone see that pain? What about torn tendons or pulled muscles? Can anyone see them with just their eyes?

About six months ago I started to have problems with my left leg. I thought it would just get better, but it didn't. It got worse. After the last time I fell, I decided to go see my doctor.

He could tell I was in pain even though there was nothing for him to see as far as my leg was concerned. He sent me for an MRI. 

What if he didn't know me or the fact that I have a high tolerance to pain? What if he didn't believe the pain I was reporting was real?

It tuns out the MRI showed a reason for the pain. I have nerve damage and it has been causing the pain running down my leg. No one can see it with just their eyes. They can only tell by the way I walk that I am in pain.

With PTSD, no one can see it unless they either know the person or use a medical scan to see it. The fact is, the pain is so real inside, if you know them, you can see the pain they carry. You cannot see a lot of things unless you actually take the time and look.

We know that it is real, just as real, as traumatic brain injury, and that is what technology has proven. The pain is real but only machines can see what you feel. That is, unless you happen to be with others, who not only see your pain, but help you carry the load until they help you heal.

The longer you wait to heal, the more you torture yourself. You could be healing right now instead of suffering.

This video is about TBI.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Camp Lejeune Marine Reservist Murder-Suicide Investigation

Brother: Man who killed girlfriend, self 'a good person'
Gaston Gazette
By Adam Lawson
October 26, 2016
As a reservist, Walker was promoted to sergeant with Company F, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division at Camp Lejeune on Oct. 1. Marine Corps Maj. Andrew Aranda, spokesman for the Marine Corps Reserve, listed his job as tank crewman.
The brother of a Gastonia man who detectives say strangled his estranged girlfriend to death and then killed himself Monday wants to know why things spiraled out of control.

Tyrone Walker knew his baby brother, Justin Hakeem Walker, and Rebecca Jones had "been going through a little something." But he didn't foresee it ending in two deaths. Justin Walker had just proposed to her on Christmas, and the two once planned on getting married at a church in April, according to an online wedding registry.

According to the registry, the two met in September 2011 and had been "together ever since."

Tyrone Walker wants to know what was going through his brother's head at the time, what he was thinking, what could make him end two lives. Police can't answer those questions, Tyrone Walker said.

"I really don't got nothing to ask the police," he said. "There's nothing they can solve. Nobody can know what was going on with both of them. Not nobody knows the motive that really happened."
read more here

American Airlines Sued for Treatment of American PTSD Veteran With Service Dog

Lawsuit: Airline tells veteran with PTSD, ‘You’re not flying with THAT!’
Sun Herald
Anita Lee
October 26, 2016

An Army veteran who suffers from PTSD says in a federal lawsuit that American Airlines agents subjected her to two days of humiliation and stress when she tried to fly home from Kansas with her service dog, a Labrador retriever named Jake.
Service dog Jake was wearing his vest and had the credentials needed to fly with Army veteran Lisa McCombs, according to a lawsuit she filed against American Airlines and regional carrier Envoy for refusing to let her board a plane with Jake to Gulfport from Manhattan, Kansas. Courtesy of Lisa McCombs
Lisa McCombs says she flew without incident to Manhattan, Kansas, on Oct. 25, 2015, but was stuck there for two days because American regional carrier Envoy refused to let her board a return flight with Jake, even though he was wearing his service vest and met criteria to board the plane.

“Ms. McCombs was emotionally crushed and humiliated by the conduct of (Americans’) agents, who discriminated against her because of her disability and publicly shamed her,” says the lawsuit filed by Biloxi attorney Christopher Van Cleave of Corban Gunn Van Cleave in Biloxi.
read more here

Who Gives National Guard Families Back What Their Service Cost Them?

Military family: Enlistment bonus fiasco 'depleted our savings'
By Holly Yan and Curt Devine
October 25, 2016
In 2006, at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon enticed soldiers to reenlist by offering hefty bonuses. Haley and Van Meter both accepted $15,000 bonuses to extend their service.
(CNN)Master Sgt. Susan Haley's family is the epitome of military sacrifice. She's a 24-year veteran. Her husband served for 26 years. Their son lost his leg serving in Afghanistan.

But now, the California National Guard is demanding more sacrifices from her -- to the tune of $650 a month.

"$650 is a quarter of our monthly income. And you just can't all of a sudden come up with that money," Haley told CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday. "We have depleted our savings."

Haley is one of thousands of veterans being forced to repay millions of dollars in reenlistment bonuses after the California National Guard awarded the bonuses in error. Years later, officials realized many of the veterans were not actually eligible for the bonuses and said they wanted that money back -- with interest.
read more here

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

National Guard: Used and Abused, Served Then Charged Money

Veteran could lose Central Texas home
FOX 7 News
Ashley Paredez
October 24, 2016

Thousands of soldiers are being forced to pay back a large bonus they were promised to re-enlist in the California National Guard.

It has been a decade since they were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon says they were overpaid. FOX 7 spoke with a retired army master sergeant who could now lose her home in Central Texas.

"I gave my time, that I will never get back, and now they want their money back. They can't give me back the missed birthdays and things of that nature," says Susan Haley, retired master sergeant, U.S. Army.

It's taken a toll on Susan Haley who spent 26 years in the Army along with her husband and son.

She's devastated that this is how nearly 10,000 soldiers are being treated after serving their country.
read more here

WWII Veteran Gets Birthday Bash on USS Iowa

Pearl Harbor veteran gets a 99th birthday party thrown for him on-board the Battleship Iowa
25 October 2016
Ernest Thompson lives in Gardena, California, just a few miles from the Battleship Iowa Museum
The WWII veteran can no longer visit though due to health reasons
On October 26 he will turn 99, so on Sunday there was a birthday party
USS Iowa honored him by throwing a large gathering and barbecue
Special moment: World War II veteran Ernest Thompson celebrated his 99th birthday on Sunday with a party thrown for him the Battleship Iowa Museum
A Second World War veteran who was aboard the USS Missouri during Pearl Harbor has received a very special birthday party on-board a battleship.

Ernest Thompson lives just a few miles from the Battleship Iowa Museum in Gardena, California.

The veteran can no longer visit however due to health reasons and some problems with walking.

But he made a special journey to the ship on Sunday so that staff could a throw him a large party with his closest family, friends and chief selects for his 99th birthday.
read more here

Brad Snyder Lost Sight in Afghanistan but Not Inspiration

Brad Snyder, who lost his sight while serving his country, conquers treacherous Alcatraz swim
Dan Arritt
Jill Dahle and Brad Snyder get ready for their 2.1-mile open-water swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. The Factory Agency
One, two, three, four ...

Brad Snyder managed to block out every next thought, every painful memory, every unwritten plan, and remain focused on the revolving numbers in his head.

24, 25, 26, 27 ...

With every long, powerful stroke -- the thrusts he learned as a child growing up in Florida, polished as captain of the Naval Academy's swim team, and brought back to life while winning five gold medals at the last two Paralympics -- Snyder kept his mind concentrated on pulling his body to a shoreline he'd never see.

56, 57, 58, 59 ...

Even before losing his eyesight in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan six years ago, swimming in chilly ocean temperatures didn't come naturally to the Gulf Coast native. So Snyder stayed locked in on his numbers Sunday morning, counting each stroke as he churned through the treacherous 2.1 miles from Alcatraz Island to a sandy beach just east of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
read more here

Congress Knew Two Years Ago About National Guardsmen Bonus, Did Nothing For Them

Congress knew for at least two years about Pentagon efforts to take back bonuses from veterans
LA Times
David S. Cloud and Sarah D. Wire
October 24, 2016

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.
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Monday, October 24, 2016

Police Searching for Thief of Fallen Soldier TIm Brown Memorial

Reward offered for suspects who stole items from veteran memorial
WWMT News Michigan
Andrew Minegar
October 24, 2016

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Kent County Sheriff Department is searching for suspects in a series of thefts, including items from an Iraq veteran’s memorial.

Deputies are investigating after a replica rifle, a helmet and dog-tags were taken from the Tim Brown Monument, which honors the memory of a soldier killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, at Memorial Park.
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan Died Saving Lives

Navy EOD tech died directing SEALs, Iraqis away from roadside bomb
Published: October 23, 2016

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, was identified Friday as the servicemember killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in an advisory role with Iraqi coalition troops.
U.S. Navy photo
IRBIL, Iraq — Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, the Navy explosives ordinance disposal technician who was the first American killed in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, died while warning the forces he was supporting about a roadside bomb, the top commander for U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria said Sunday.

Finan, 34, died on Oct. 20 from injuries sustained when his own vehicle hit a roadside bomb. He was remembered for his sacrifice by both Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander for Operation Inherent Resolve, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Irbil on Sunday. The two leaders were in Irbil to discuss the Mosul offensive with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
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Texas Rangers Offer No Answers in Shooting Death of Lyle Blanchard

Navy veteran's shooting death still under investigation
Killeen Daily Herald
Jacob Brooks
October 22, 2016

Lyle P. Blanchard Courtesy photo Lyle P. Blanchard, 59, of Harker Heights, is seen in recent years. Blanchard was shot and killed on Aug. 30 by Bell County Sheriff's deputy Cpl. Shane Geers after a failed traffic stop and pursuit.
The Texas Rangers are still investigating a shooting death involving a Bell County deputy that claimed the life of a Navy veteran on the outskirts of Harker Heights nearly two months ago, the county district attorney said late Friday.

The case stems from an Aug. 30 shooting, in which Cpl. Shane Geers, with the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, shot and killed Lyle P. Blanchard on the private drive leading to Blanchard’s home after a failed traffic stop and short pursuit.
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Family Wants Answers After Sailor Died on Ship

VIDEO: Pittsburg United States Navy sailor dies on ship bound for Tokyo, parents speak
KRON 4 News
By Jeff Pierce
Published: October 22, 2016

“I loaned my daughter to the Navy. My baby left here. She was healthy. My baby came back in a casket.” Derrick Luckey
PITTSBURG (KRON) — Derrick Luckey’s lawn in Pittsburg is ringed with flags put there by a neighbor to honor his daughter, a member of the United States Navy, who died suddenly on a ship bound for Tokyo.

“On Sept. 7, we took Danyelle to the airport to leave for Japan and that was the last time we saw her, and she was fine and healthy,” mother Annette Luckey said.

“Three military personnel standing on my porch, and you know when they come to your house, there’s nothing good about that,” father Derrick Luckey said.

Danyelle Luckey was just beginning her naval career, and she and her family were filled with hope.
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Battalion Chief David Dangerfield Cleared to Go Home by Community He Served

Family, friends say final goodbye to David Dangerfield
TC Palm
Colleen Wixon
October 22, 2016

"Indian River to Battalion Chief David Dangerfield"

"Indian River to All Units"

"Battalion Chief David Dangerfield, your assignment is complete. You are cleared to go home. Indian River's clear at 12:45."

So ended the final farewell to Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield at Saturday's celebration of life at Community Church in Vero Beach, where more than 1,000 people gathered to share stories and remember him.
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Community mourns David Dangerfield in Vero Beach | Photos, video

The body of David Dangerfield arrives at Community Church in Vero Beach on Saturday.
Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Posted About PTSD Reality Before Taking His Own Life

Stupidity Feeds Stigma of PTSD

Replace Stupidity with Spectacular 
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 23, 2016

For over three decades I have heard all kinds of things, had my heart broken more times than I can calculate, but then there are moments, when I am in awe of how spectacular these veterans truly are. 

Parade Magazine published an article written by Paula Spencer Scott this month, "Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness." Stacy Bare, an Iraq veteran said he was suffering from PTSD and wondered "What does it mean to be at home, a veteran anyway?" He went to the Druid Arch in Utah and was struck by "awe" beginning a change within him.

“Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things,” says psychologist Dacher Keltner, who heads the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab.
That keeps getting missed in this messed up, convoluted dialog on PTSD and suicides connected to military service. It isn't that they were not able to "handle it" but handled it the whole time when the men and women in their unit are deployed with them. Why? Because their lives matter and they are willing to die for one another.

That comes from a strong emotional core. The very worthy part of them that caused such devotion is also the part of them that grieves from losing so many they cared for.

The "awe" moment for them is when they realize they are not stuck suffering, do not have anything to be ashamed of and they can heal. We just allow other conversations to permeate the news they hear.

When Donald Trump said “When you talk about the mental health problems - when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it." he showed he doesn't get it. The problem is, far too many are just like him.

There are Medal of Honor Recipients openly talking about their own battles with PTSD so that others may overcome the rumor of weakness or claims of lacking intestinal fortitude. There are Special Forces veterans talking about what they also experience coming home along with Generals speaking openly, hoping to lead by example.

Folks can do all the talking they want about the "problem" of suicides to make others aware, and get noticed by the press, but they never seem to mention their talk is doing no good at all. It is feeding the stigma.

If they want to do pushups or other publicity stunts, who does that actually serve? Is it the suffering veterans forced to remain in the shadows? Is it the families left behind wondering what they did wrong and blaming themselves? Or is it the people wanting attention for themselves?

Stupidity feeds the stigma of PTSD and leaves them trapped in an endless cycle of suffering and search for what will bring them out of the darkness within their souls. What may be an easy number to remember, they were more than an abstract number to their families.

Isn't it time to actually focus on what is possible and good instead of simply focusing on all this talk of anguish? It is obvious that none of the popular "efforts" managed to change anything other than spread the heartache. How about we talk more about the "awe" moments that begin the healing and replace despair with encouragement?

Chopper Saved Lives, Then Navy SEAL Fought For Him

Navy SEAL wins battle to keep warrior dog as therapy companion
OC Register
Keith Sharron
Oct. 21, 2016
After almost a decade in the Navy, he said he needed help. His body was breaking down, and so was his mind. He was having nightmares, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
You can’t keep your gun.

Grenades, knives, bombs, other tools of war – you can’t keep those either. When you leave the military, no matter who you are or what you sacrificed, your boots are yours but your tools belong to the government.

And it is that seemingly reasonable rule that caused Trevor Maroshek so much pain.

What if your weapon, the one you trained with for years, the one that never left your side, the one that saved your life, what if your weapon curled up next to you at the end of a long day?

What if your weapon was your dog?
And one of those Taliban fighters had a detonator, which they later found was connected to a 600-pound cache of explosives that was buried under the building at the east end of town. The same one the Americans had used to house the villagers.

Chopper had saved them all.

“He got a steak that night,” Maroshek said.
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Decorated Fort Carson Soldier's Death Suspected Suicide

Wesley Hills soldier's death investigated as suicide
Westchester 12 News
October 22, 2016

WESLEY HILLS - The death of a decorated soldier from Rockland County is being investigated as a suicide.

Army Sergeant James Morrison, 28, died Wednesday while on active duty at Fort Carson in Colorado.

The Wesley Hills native had been deployed to Afghanistan three times.
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Fort Wainwright Soldier's Death Suspected Suicide

Army: Soldier died from self-inflicted gunshot wound
Army Times
By: Staff report
October 21, 2016

A soldier assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said Friday.

Spc. Tyler Christian White, 21, died Wednesday at a friend's house in Fairbanks, Alaska.

White, 21, was from Richmond, Indiana. He was found in his friend's driveway with a single gunshot wound about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. He died while he was being taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
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