Friday, March 31, 2017

Police Officers Remembered and Honored After Suicide in Australia

Tears and relief as NSW Police moves to remember officers who took their lives
ABC News Australia
Exclusive by the National Reporting Team's Lorna Knowles
Posted about an hour ago

In 2013, Deborah Bryant's husband Ashley made a harrowing call to triple-0.
Key points: Police who've suffered trauma on the job and took their lives will now be remembered on the wall
The shift in NSW Police policy is the result of campaigning from loved ones
Retiring police chief Andrew Scipione used his last months in office to change the criteria for inclusion on the wall
PHOTO: NSW is the first state to include officers who've taken their lives in their memorial. (ABC News: Benjamin Sveen)
The distraught former police officer told the operator: "I'm about to take my life. I suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, I can no longer live with the trauma of it.

"I want this to go to the coroner. There needs to be more things put in place for the partners of those that suffer, 'cause I suffer and so do the partners and there has to be more done with them.

"I have no more to say."

Those were his final words — the end of a long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following more than two decades as police officer in the Lismore area, in northern New South Wales.

This week, his widow gathered with others to see her husband officially recognised and honoured for his service and sacrifice.

Ms Bryant is among four women who have successfully campaigned to have the names of police officers who took their lives following trauma on the job included on the NSW Police Wall of Remembrance.
read more here

VA Employee Still Has Job After Watching Porn with Patient?

VA Supports Congress’s Effort to Change Legislation to Expedite Process
WASHINGTON – After a through internal review of an employee of the Michael DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston caught watching pornography while with a patient, the designated proposing official recommended removal from federal service.

VA immediately removed the employee in question from patient care and placed the employee on administrative duties. Due to current law, the deciding official cannot affect a final determination for 30 days from the date the proposal for removal was made.  VA is committed to ensuring every employee retains their right to due process while at the same time reducing the time it takes to remove employees who have engaged in misconduct.

“This is an example of why we need accountability legislation as soon as possible,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin. “It’s unacceptable that VA has to wait 30 days to act on a proposed removal.”

Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must continue to pay employees who are in the process of being removed. During this advance notice period, at least 30 days from the date that the employee’s removal has been proposed, assuming there is no evidence that the employee has committed a crime, an employee must be paid. If the employee has been assessed as a potential danger to Veterans, the employee should be placed on administrative leave with pay. If the employee does not pose an immediate threat to Veterans, they are typically placed on administrative duties, which limits their contact with Veterans and their families while ensuring that they aren’t sitting at home collecting a pay check without providing any services to the government.

VA is grateful that Congress has made employee accountability a priority. VA has been working with Congress to ensure legislation would provide VA the ability to expedite removals while still preserving an employee’s right to due process. Without these legislative changes, VA will continue to be forced to delay immediate actions to remove employees from federal service.

 “Current legislation in Congress reduces the amount of time we have to wait before taking action,” continued Secretary Shulkin. “I look forward to working with both the Senate and the House to ensure final legislation gives us the flexibility we need.”

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Central Florida Veterans Have Lots to Put On To-Do-List

Central Florida Veterans Events for April

From Cathy Haynes

Museum of Military History Anniversary – Fri. March 31 – This great, but often overlooked, treasure celebrates the end of their 5th year and the beginning of their 6th.   Soar through the air in our F-16A flight stimulator. Explore exhibits that recognize the sacrifice of our service members throughout military history eras – also Civil War, Buffalo Soldiers, K-9 exhibit, military coalition participants. Tour guides will be available to enhance your museum experience. Cake and coffee will be available all day to commemorate this anniversary! 5210 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy (192), Kissimmee.  407-507-3894. (If you no longer want your military treasures and artifacts, please consider donating them for safekeeping.  Keep them out of a future landfill.  Stories of the item(s) also appreciated!)  

Osceola County Veterans Council Awards Dinner – Sat. April 1 - 16th Annual recognition of veterans making a difference in Osceola County.  Kissimmee Elks Lodge on Kings Highway in Kissimmee. Happy hour commences at 6pm with dinner at 7pm.  Limited number of tickets available.  Contact Don at 407-507-3894.   

Car Wash – Sat. April 1 – The Military Ministry at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church is holding a Car Wash from 8am – 12 noon.  The Orlando Devil Dogs group of Young Marines will be assisting.  Funds go towards care packages for military troops overseas.  4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, 32819.  Office:  407.876.4991  For info about Young Marines contact SGM Gionet at 407-963-9388.  

Wounded Warfighter & Lone Sailor 5K/10K Run - Sat. April 1 – Hoping that you are participating in this great event!  Information was in the March List #2 and #3.  BUT – if you can’t actually attend, please consider the first time ever Virtual 5K/10K race sponsored by the Central Florida Navy League!!  For the first time ever, if you have a conflicting calendar or live too far away, you can participate in a virtual race!  The virtual race runs thru April 14.  All participants will receive a high quality tech-shirt and finisher's medal.  To register or to find out more information about this historic event, visit www. cfnl5k .org or the Facebook page at www. cfnl5K  

Orlando Navy Training Base - Were you aware that over 600,000 lives were changed on the site of the 5k/10k race – Blue Jacket Park - the former Orlando Navy Training Base?  From 1968 until October 1994, NTC Orlando was also the sole location for providing recruit training for female enlisted personnel.  The Central Florida Navy League is finishing the project of commemorating the enlisted persons with the bronze Lone Sailor Monument.  Efforts are starting to commemorate the women who attended Basic Training in a female bronze monument – Project Sparky.  Check out the website at  cfnavyleague .org   Also order a brick paver to commemorate your loved Navy sailor!  

Classic Car Show – Sun April 2 - The Sons of the Legion host this gathering from 11am – 4pm at the American Legion Post 19, 5320 Alloway Street, Orlando, 32810.  Come and see classic cars, listen to music, enjoy food, and baked goods. Info:  SAL Commander Gene Mills  mills.gene@ gmail .com  407-860-0301   

CFDC Veterans Business Initiative (VBI) session # 6 starts on Tues. April 4 at 8:30 am. The VBI will run for eight weeks through March and April. This is a no cost program for all Military Veterans and their spouses who are seeking employment, entrepreneurial training and continuing education paths. Partners/Employers attending this session will be Duke Energy Corporation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eagle 6 and Score. National Entrepreneur Center, 3201 E. Colonial Drive -Suite A-20 Orlando, 32803.  Veterans and spouses can register at: www. cfdisabilitychamber .org/vbi/  Info:  Rogue Gallart   407-420-4875    rogue@ nationalec .org  

UCF Army ROTC Military Ball – Wed. April 5 - RSVP Deadline for AUSA Members, UCF Alumni, and interested others are invited to attend the Ball on Friday, 21 April at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Downtown Orlando, 60 S. Ivanhoe Blvd.  Special guest speaker.  More info and Tickets at ucfarotc.redpodium .com/alumni   Info:  john.bartholomew@ ucf .edu   407-823-0403

VA Discussion – Thurs. April 6 – Updates of changes in the local VA at Lake Nona and at the Lake Baldwin facilities.  Also general discussion about the Choice program.  Q & A opportunity.  11am at the Westminster Winter Park living facility, 1111 South Lakemont Ave, Suite 101. Public invited.  Info and RSVP to Robbie at 407-647-7329, ext. 366.  

Veteran Infused Employment Workshops – Tues – Thurs, April 10 - 13 - Various free seminars offered to veterans that will assist in job searching.  Lake Nona VA Hospital site, 4th Flr conference rooms. 13800 Veterans Way, Orlando, 32827.  Apr 10 – Creating your Job Search Plan;  Apr 11 – Create a Marketable You;  Apr 12 – Define your Resources;  Apr 13 – Take Action and Mock Interviews.  Seminars are 10am – 2pm, Lunch is NOT provided.  Contact Annie Artis, ellamay.artis@ va .gov  407-646-5500 x27246  Contact her to get on future job fair lists, employer events and future employment workshops.  

Job Fair at UCF – Tues. April 11 – Job Fair from 5pm – 8 pm, UCF Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF campus at 4143 Andromeda Loop, Orlando, 32816.  407-882-6472 (407-882-MIRC)  

My bad – I made a mistake on the date of the following – it should have been April 11 instead of April 4.  Only those who show up at the meeting can vote on whether or not I should be punished… a “Code Red”?
Marine Corps League Orlando - Tues, April 11 - Cpl. Larry E. Smedley, Detachment 064 Monthly Meeting, 7pm – 8pm at the at American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810. Info:  mclcfl @gmail. com   or  Sr.Vice Cdr at 407-963-9388.
(Cpl. Larry Smedley was an Orange County resident and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  He was killed in Vietnam on December 21, 1967 after heroic actions were seen in battle.  He earned the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously; he was 18 yrs old.)  

Central Florida Navy League luncheon and meeting – Wed. April 12 – All persons who support the sea services, whether civilian or military, are welcomed to attend this gathering on the 2nd Wed. of each month.  11:30 – 1pm at the Holiday Inn – UCF, 1724 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32826.  Interesting speakers and networking potential includes the simulation technology businesses.  $20 with credit card payment on website (cfnavyleague .org) or $25 at the door.  3rd largest Navy League in FL with diverse membership including nearby technology industries.  Contact Bob K. (Membership Chair.) at navleaguecenfl@ juno .com   407-977-7575
(NEW!  The Navy League offers national E-Membership for only $25 per year! Prior military service is NOT required.  Support the sea services – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines – with membership.)  

Army Aviation Association of America, Networking Social – Fri April 14 – Join the Central Florida Chapter of 4A’s (aka Quad A) during Happy Hour for some fun and friendship at Froggers, Alafaya Square, 27 Alafaya Woods Blvd, Oviedo, 32765.  Info:   sean.c.osmond@ gmail .com  

Coast Guard Auxiliary meeting – Sat. April 15 – The Orlando-Winter Park Flotilla 17-11 meets on the 3rd Sat. of each month, 9am, at the Lake Baldwin VA Clinic, 5201 Raymond St., Orlando, 32803.  Auxiliary members are volunteers who support the Coast Guard in all its non-military, and non-law-enforcement missions. Members help to provide maritime safety, security and stewardship; to secure the homeland, save lives and property; and to protect the environment. There are several Flotillas (groups) in Central Florida and membership in the Auxiliary is open to persons 17 years of age and older – some are much older but young at heart! Info: Joseph Bonaccorse  407.222.9681.  

VFW Post 10139 Annual Easter Egg Hunt – Sat. April 15 – Enjoy Spring and Easter and bring the little ones to join in on our Easter Egg Hunt! Also face painting, a bounce house, cupcake decorating, Easter crafts, hot dogs and tons of FUN! Open to the public!  10am-12noon. VFW Post 10139, 300 Lake Mills Ave, Chuluota, 32766. (East Seminole County) This is a 100% Smoke-Free Post!   

Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses mtg (FAVOB) – Tues April 18 - Meeting at 10am, a “Chamber of Commerce” of sorts open to all veteran owned businesses, at American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.  19 states offer contract preferences to veteran owned businesses.  Florida is NOT one of them.  Our goal is to change that in big business, and with our state, our cities, and counties too.  See FAVOB Facebook site.  Info:  chairman@ favob .org or marketing@ favob .org  

Orange County Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Council –Wed. April 19 – 1:30pmmonthly meeting  of numerous organizations and individuals for the benefit of Central FL veterans and active duty personnel.  Planning of events and awareness is shared.  Designated representatives allow groups to coordinate efforts and unite for the common cause.  If your Orange County /Central FL vet/military associated group isn’t attending, it should plan to get involved.  Mayor Teresa Jacobs is very supportive of a veteran-friendly community.  Contact Chairman Col. Edwin Marrero for attendance and location information.  emarrero81 @cfl.rr .com   

April 20 - The Holocaust Center's annual Dinner of Tribute will be honoring Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  As a member of his Veteran’s Advisory Council, I (Cathy Haynes) would be interested in learning about our living veterans from WW2 who may have assisted with the liberation of the Nazi labor camps and death camps.  With the 75th anniversary of many WW2 events present or coming up, perhaps some students would be interested in learning, and such veterans willing to share their stories that could be collected by the Holocaust Center… Perhaps they can be honored as a defender of freedoms?  Maybe survivors or families of survivors would like to thank them for their service.  Let me know… chaynes11629@ yahoo .com  

CFMCF Social Networking – Fri. April 21 - Enjoy some time during Happy Hour with the Central Florida Marine Corps Foundation at the Buffalo Wild Wings, 11400 University Blvd, Orlando, 32817   4:30pm starts your weekend with some friends, networking, and learning how you can serve in the community to make Central Florida a better place! Look for the red shirts.  Happy Hour Info: sean.c.osmond@ gmail. com

Earth Day Beautification – Sat. April 22 – Come join the employees of Siemens when they add landscaping and other beautification to the Domicilary area of the Orlando VA Outpatient Medical Center at Lake Baldwin, 8 am – 5 pm, 5201 Raymond Street, Orlando, 32803.  

Greeters needed!  Honor Flights - Orlando Int’l Airport –After a day spent in Washington DC, veterans of WWII, Korean War and Vietnam return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport in the evening.  The nation-wide organization has three local hubs that take veterans on a single day trip to our nation’s capital where they visit the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports make a difference!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! – This months’ dates are: 
  • Sat. April 22 – info pending on the return of 25 veterans in the evening.
  • Sat. May 6 - info pending on the return of 24 veterans in the evening.
Information on these and for more Flights will be forthcoming.  Contact Cathy Haynes for those details  407-239-8468  chaynes11629 @yahoo .com    
(Did you watch the NCIS program on CBS on March 28?  You definitely need to see the final minutes to understand what these veterans feel at these Honor Flight Welcome Home events.)  

Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall  - April 27 - May 1 - City of Eustis is the site of this touching memorial.  Volunteers, sponsors, vendors for this event are welcomed.  Also yearly music Fest event April 28-30th.  Info:  Erin Bailey  352-483-5491    

U. S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Foundation Golf Tournament – Fri. April 28 – The Florida Chapter of this group (USMCCCA) use all the proceeds of this 13th Annual event to benefit America's wounded Marines in charitable, educational and patriotic programs.  Sherman Hills Golf Club - considered one of Central Florida’s better venues - at 31200 Eagle Falls Drive, Brooksville, 34602.  12:30pm sharp, shotgun start, usual tournament benefits, and meal, awards following tournament.  Corporate sponsorships still welcomed!  Donations VERY welcomed!  Info:  James “Red” Carpenter at jcar1@ tampabay.rr. com or (352) 688-6720.  

Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall – Sun. April 30, Mon. May 1 – This replica tribute arrives on Sunday April 30 for a week at the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion.  Large motorcycle and first responder vehicle escort leaving Eastern Florida State College, Clearlake Rd, Cocoa at 10am.  Proceeding down the highway to Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Dr, Melbourne, 32935.  It will remain at Wickham Park thru Sun. May 7.  The cortege is a sight to behold going down the highway!  12pm:  Covered dish picnic and wall set up.
Mon. May 1 – 6pm: Presentation of Wreaths from organizations.  7pm – Opening ceremonies.

This is from last year....
Mon. May 8 – 9am Wall take down and clean up.  

Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion – Thurs. May 4 – Sun. May 7 – This is the 30th Annual Reunion - the nation’s largest veterans reunion is very well attended; military displays, reenactments and ceremonies, music, old and new friends.  All eras, all branches.  Military vendors have almost every patch or pin that you could ever need.  Last year brought 87k+ persons.  Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Dr., Melbourne, 32935.   Additionally, the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall will be onsite from Sun. Apr. 30 to May 7.  Definitely check the website for the schedule of numerous and varied events at  floridaveteransreunion .com – VERY busy and interesting each day.  Free parking, free admission.  Info:  Info:  321-408-2698. Vendors call: 321-652-4185 or vet.reunion.vendor@ gmail .com      

Fantasy of Flight Museum is currently OPEN on weekends!!  It has a large collection of military aircraft.  Friday - Sunday 11am - 3pm.  Fantasy of Flight Museum, 1400 Broadway Blvd SE, Polk City, 33868 (Take exit 44 from I-4)  Ph: 863-984-3500  or check their website for more info.  

The Young Marines is a youth program open to all youth, boys and girls, between the ages of 8 to 18.  The Orlando Devil Dogs is the local group for Central Florida youth and has received many awards, do volunteer work and have lots of fun.  The national organization guides the youth by:
  • To promote the mental, moral, and physical development in its members, the principles of honesty, fairness, courage, respect, loyalty, dependability, attention to duty, and fidelity to the United States and its institutions
  • To stimulate an interest in, and respect for academic achievement and the history and traditions of the United States and the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Their three core values are leadership, discipline, and teamwork
This past December, 20 of the local Young Marines went to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to participate in the 75th Anniversary.  They took part in the commemorative parade, visiting the USS Arizona and USS Missouri, and placing a wreath at the Punchbowl burial site.  They also assisted the 75+ remaining Pearl Harbor survivors who were attending the various ceremonies. Past trips have been made to Iwo Jima, and Arizona to honor the Navajo Code Talkers.
Note:  You don't see these young men and women in headlines for crimes or being taken into juvenile detention.  And there's a reason........... For more info contact    sgtmajgna@ earthlink .net  

Gold Star daughter needs help – It has come to the attention of a valuable resource that the 15 year old daughter of a fallen Marine needs a MAC computer.  She is being homeschooled, hopes to go into engineering, and the various associated courses and lessons are only MAC compatible.  Laptop preferred but desktop would be welcomed.  If you or your business can help, contact Ms. Baines at S.O.S. – Survivor Outreach Services at  407-240-5939 x1612.  

Villagers for Veterans reports that they would like donated bicycles to be used by veterans for therapy Bike Rides in The Villages area.  Your donation is Tax Deductible.  Call Marie Bogdonoff at 516-220-5068.  

Bicycles and bicycle repair equipment would be greatly appreciated at the Domicilary’s located at the Orlando VA Hospital at Lake Nona and the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Baldwin.  Some of the veterans are undergoing various rehabilitation and appreciate access to bicycles. Tools and equipment to perform repairs to tires and chains needed too.  Contact:  Jenny Danieli at 407-631-7110   jenny.danieli @va. gov   or Mike Weaver at  (Lake Baldwin) 407-646-5500 x29003  michael.weaver2@   

Wanted: Leather Craft instructor and Yoga instructor(s) – The veterans at the Domicilary’s at Lake Nona and Lake Baldwin want to learn the basics!  They already have tools and yoga mats but they need the caring people to guide the idle hands and limbs!  Contact Volunteer Services at 407-631-0135 or the above contact resources.  

Mentors needed - Veteran Courts ARE succeeding!  Longer term success is possible and proven with community mentors.  There are mentoring programs in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties.  Be a “battle buddy” or “foxhole buddy” by assisting someone with life challenges.  No proselytizing – just non-judgmental caring.  Most of the offenders are DUI or possession, or “minor” PTS anger issues that are being rechanneled.  No dangerous felony-accused are in the Veterans Court program.  If you have experienced substance abuse – although not required - and came thru it, you may be very helpful to someone else.  Women mentors for women veterans are needed.  If you are interested in participating as a mentor, know someone who is interested, or are a part of an organization where Mentors can be recruited, contact your local Veterans Court resource.   

Ancestors who were veterans – Have you ever wondered if you had relatives who served in the military?  It is possible to find them!  Groups like local genealogical societies, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and others are very happy to teach you how to research those ancestors.  When you find those veteran ancestors, why not join an organization to honor their service as a regular member or associate/auxiliary?  Korean War Veterans, SAR, DAR, Sons/Daughters of the Confederacy or Union Veterans, and others.  As I like to suggest to veterans who have found ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, “You swore to uphold nearly the same Constitution that your ancestors fought to allow to get into place….”  Group membership is a nice way to honor them.  And the freedoms that were fought for and won is what immigrant ancestors wanted for themselves and their families.  It’s a neat honor to commemorate those ancestors, and a family member with military service puts a new facet on learning US History for kids and grandkids!  

Caring and sharing,  

Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL
chaynes11629@ yahoo .com

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Day Officially Declared Today

It’s Official: March 29th to be permanently recognized as National Vietnam War Veterans Day

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) permanently designating March 29th as National Vietnam War Veterans Day has been signed into law by President Trump.

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act represents the first federal statute recognizing the bravery and sacrifice of veterans who served during the Vietnam War.

“In many cases, Vietnam veterans did not receive the warm welcome they earned when they came home,” said Sen. Toomey. 

Utah Veteran Created A Flag Out of Metal...And the Flag Tool

Military veteran making steel US flags shows his mettle
Alicia Acuna
March 29, 2017
That was more than 18 months ago. Today, his company, Iron Mountain Designs, has an 8,000-square-foot production facility in Salt Lake City, where he has a team, and an expanded business, making custom ironwork and furniture for other businesses.
Military veterans can have a tough time re-entering the workforce after serving in war. The special skills honed on the battlefield don't always translate to the civilian world.

Such was the case for retired Air Force pararescueman Josh Vandenbrink. After 14 years of service and 21 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, his life back home came with some readjusting.

The Utah man tried multiple jobs in a variety of industries, when one day he, somewhat accidentally, launched his own business. A fellow veteran in the Salt Lake City area who owned a coffee company called Black Rifle Coffee let him set up a work room in the back of his warehouse.

The first thing he did was buy a flag.
On each flag, he puts a reminder from the past. A quote by President George Washington is engraved on a wood plaque, hidden on the back. It reads: "I hope I shall possess the firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles. The character of an honest man."
read more here

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Soldier Stands in Pouring Rain to Salute Veteran's Funeral Procession

Killeen: Soldier salutes fallen veteran in pouring rain 
KWTX 10 News 
By Kathleen Serie 
Mar 28, 2017 

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A Fort Hood soldier is receiving positive recognition for saluting a fallen veteran’s funeral procession in the pouring rain.
Kenneth Varnes said he was driving northbound on Highway 195 in Killeen on Friday when he noticed a funeral procession on the other side of the highway. 

When he pulled over, he recognized that the procession was for a fallen veteran, so he got out of his truck and saluted until the last patrol car passed.
read more here

DOD and VA Trying to Understand Active Duty and Veterans? Duh!

DoD-VA Research Partnership to Improve Understanding of Active Duty and Veteran Health
Courtesy Story
Naval Health Research Center
“The current study shows the course of PTSD is similar between separated and continuously serving active duty personnel, supporting the use of common treatment methods within the VA and DoD, which will facilitate the transition of patients from one system to the other,” said Faix.
A new partnership between DoD and VA medical researchers achieves a milestone with its first joint publication, which examines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veteran and active duty populations. The study will be published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, June 2017.

The new study, the first to compare PTSD symptom trajectories of current and former service members, was authored by researchers from the VA and the DoD’s Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a longitudinal study to evaluate the health of military personnel throughout their careers and after, launched in 2001 and led by the Naval Health Research Center.

“The Millennium Cohort Study is one of the largest sources of self-reported health information of current and former service members,” said Cmdr. Dennis Faix, director of the Millennium Cohort Study and preventive medicine physician. “Many DoD studies only examine current service members and many VA studies begin examining veterans after they have separated from the military. The Millennium Cohort Study is one of the few studies that straddle this line.”

In the joint study, DoD and VA researchers found similar PTSD symptom trajectories in active duty personnel and veterans, suggesting consistency in how both groups experience PTSD over time. Of the four trajectories found in both groups, the most common was the resilient trajectory with low PTSD symptom levels. Veterans, however, were less likely to be classified in the resilient category than those on active duty.
read more here

South Texas Sends Mental Health Teams to Veterans Homes

Some South Texas veterans suffering from mental illness get in-home treatment
FOX 29 San Antonio
March 28, 2017
The team works at the Audie Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital. Social workers, doctors and some veterans drive to a vet's home to help them cope with illnesses like Schizophrenia or Bi-polar disorder.
SAN ANTONIO - Mental illness is a topic many people are afraid to talk about and it may even discourage some military veterans from seeking help.

That's why the Veterans Affairs administration has been providing a special option for some vets suffering from severe mental illness.

According to the VA, a growing number of military vets in our area need help dealing with mental illness.

For more than 10 years, the Intensive Community Mental Health Recovery team has been providing home visits to vets as far away as Kerrville.
read more here

Budget POTUS Wants Can Hurt Homeless Veterans?

Trump's budget could hurt efforts to curb veteran homelessness
Associated Press
Jennifer McDermott
March 28, 2017
Navy veteran Stephen Matthews sits for a photograph in the bedroom of a relatives home, in Warwick, R.I., on Dec. 11, 2016. STEVEN SENNE/AP
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The push to end homelessness among veterans would suffer without the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is up for elimination under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, nonprofits and local officials say.

The council coordinates the efforts of 19 federal agencies that play a role in preventing and ending homelessness among all Americans. But the strides made with veterans — for whom homelessness has been effectively ended in three states and dozens of communities amid a concerted effort — make the proposed cuts particularly upsetting to advocates.

Homeless advocates in any given state consult the council, whose annual budget is about $3.5 million, on which strategies are working elsewhere as they seek to house veterans. They worry momentum will slow.

"We've learned how to end homelessness," said Nonie Brennan, chief executive of the nonprofit All Chicago. "It would be a tremendous shame if we were not able to continue to implement these strategies in our communities across the country."
read more here

Monday, March 27, 2017

2016 Employment Situation of Veterans

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases 2016 Employment Situation of Veterans 
Report – Finds Almost 36 Percent of Gulf War-Era II Veterans Had a Service-Connected Disability Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2017
In 2016, 5.2 million veterans had served on active duty during "other service periods," mainly between the Korean War and the Vietnam era and between the Vietnam era and Gulf War era I. All veterans from this period of service were 40 years or older at the time of the survey. Twenty-six percent of these veterans were age 45 to 54 in 2016, another 34 percent were age 55 to 64, and another 39 percent were age 65 and over. In 2016, 1 in 10 veterans of other service periods were women. Among veterans of other service periods, the unemployment rate for men was 4.1 percent, little different than the rate for women (4.9 percent).
March 26, 2017 - The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001--a group referred to as Gulf War-era II bureau of labor statistics edged down to 5.1 percent in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported. 

The jobless rate for all veterans also edged down over the year to 4.3 percent. About 36 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability in August 2016, compared with 22 percent of all veterans. This information was obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides data on employment and unemployment in the United States. Data about veterans are collected monthly in the CPS; these monthly data are the source of the 2016 annual averages presented in this news release. 

In August 2016, a supplement to the CPS collected additional information about veterans on topics such as service-connected disability and veterans' current or past Reserve or National Guard membership. Information from the supplement is also presented in this release. The supplement was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and by the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service. For more information, see the Technical Note, which provides definitions of terms used in this release. read more here

Suicide? Don't Give Up On LIfe--Fight Back

Mental Health: Suicide ... giving up on life
Valley Star
By Ralph E. Jones
 Mental Health
Posted: Sunday, March 26, 2017
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe, American Author, 1811-1896
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 45,000 individuals commit suicide each year in the United States; that is about 121 suicides per day.

It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. For every suicide there are 25 failed attempts, and the number of admissions to hospitals for suicidal attempts is close to 500,000 per year.

Contrary to popular belief, the rates of suicide are highest in age groups among adults ages 45-64; the majority, 7 out of 10, being males (although females have the highest numbers of suicide attempts).

Of primary concern, and the reason behind writing this article, is the growing numbers of suicides among our young people and military veterans, ages 15 to 24 in particular. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day. These are the highest rates since the VA began keeping record of such, and is a much higher number than in the general population.

In the general population of civilians, there is a growing number of youth committing suicide as well, primarily as a result of increase use of opioids, and the resultant overdose on opioids; which has blossomed into a national crisis.

In a report released this month by the Veterans Administration, a study of veterans use of drugs and alcohol as related to suicide, it was found that Veterans who have drug and/or alcohol problems are more than twice as likely to die by suicide as their comrades; and women Veterans with substance use disorders have an even higher rate of suicide — more than five times that of their peers.
read more here

Sunday, March 26, 2017

There Are Ways To Win Against PTSD

There Are Ways To Win Against PTSD
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 26, 2017

I don't get much downtime. Between working a full time job, doing this work full time, going to events, talking to veterans and writing part 2 of Residual War, it leaves very little time to just chill out. 

When it all gets to be too much, I take my tablet and go out on the pool deck to play some games. When I get tired of blowing up jewels in Jewel Quest, I tap onto Candy Crush. The monkilings drive me crazy! 

There are ways to defeat them and get them to do what you want them to do so you can move onto the next level. There are videos on how to defeat them. Learn how the monklings work, how these levels are laid out, and tips for beat monkling levels. 

When I've had enough of that, I move onto Solitaire. There are rules for that game too, and tricks you can use. If you play with the physical cards, you can cheat but if you play with the computer game, you can only use shortcuts to finish. If you can see what you can take, move around and manipulate, most of the time, you can win. Sometimes, now matter how much you know how the game works, the cards are just stacked against you, especially when an Ace is not showing. You have to give up and start a new game, or go get a margarita.

It is like that with everything. Sometimes we just can't seem to win. If you are trying to do anything alone, no one is able to teach you the rules of the game or how to win. The monkilings always win and the Aces remain hidden because you don't have someone to show you the way to win.

For young veterans, there is a desperate need to have someone show them the way out of the darkness that followed them home. They don't know what to do, how things work and face the world with everyone getting in their way instead of leading the way toward the next level. In this case, there are Aces hiding, waiting to be found but operating under the radar, doing the leading, as they have done since before most of the OEF and OIF veterans were even born.

We've been there all alone at some point in our lives trying to cope with our own lives. We've been there struggling to teach others the rules, even when it seemed as if everyone was just trying to get in the way with stunts and slogans. We've been walking beside veterans and families since 1984.

Point Man International Ministries started with veterans helping veterans and families being helped by other families. To tell the truth, as a spouse myself, I think we are the ones in need of being shown the way more. We're the ones they come home to.

Everything is easier when you know how stuff works and take the time to actually learn how to move from one level to the next one. 

My husband came home from Vietnam a decade before we met. Back then I felt alone and lost. I'd listen to friends complain about tiny little things, knowing they'd never believe what struggles were really like. I was trying to raise our daughter, work and take care of my husband. After all, back then, no civilians were talking about PTSD or raising awareness about what we were going through. No one had fundraisers of pulled publicity stunts to talk about our problems. We did it for ourselves and then we did if for the generations that we knew would come after us. 

In the process, we managed to even help the generation that was before us. None of this is new to the families they come home to. So why make it harder than it has to be? Why make life an endless battle you are fighting unarmed? Why make yourself miserable when you could be living a better life?

We've been married for over 3 decades now and I can tell you that the bad days don't have to stay that way. Feeling as if you are part of the problem is actually partly the truth. If you have not invested the time to learn what you are fighting against, then how do you expect to ever win? How do you move on from the level of misery to the level of healing and forgiving when you don't seek out those who have found the way to do it?

We have a job to do! They trained to be in the military. We need to train to be able to move them onto the next level of their lives as veterans. If you want to know how to do it, then check out the Home Fronts for you and Outposts for your veteran. Hotline: 1-800-877-VETS (8387)

What is behind you is never as strong as who is beside you!

Regina McIntyre Early, WWI Veteran, Montana Native American

Women veterans of WWI—so many stories yet to tell
KTVQ News Montana
By Ed Kemmick
Mar 25, 2017

An Army veteran from Laurel has been working for years to prepare for an event that will take place on April 6, the dedication of a memorial to women with ties to Yellowstone County who served in the military during World War I.

But Ed Saunders’ work is far from done.

He continues to search for the records of female veterans of the war from all over the state, and just this week he made one of his most exciting discoveries yet.

On Monday, Saunders confirmed that Regina McIntyre Early, an Army nurse who served in four hospitals in France during World War I, was an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in northwestern Montana.
Regina McIntyre Early’s discharge papers showed she served at multiple Army hospitals in France during and after World War 1. (Photo courtesy of Ed Saunders)
Saunders said McIntyre Early could quite possibly be the first female veteran of WWI who was an enrolled member of an American Indian tribe in Montana.

Thanks to Saunders’ research, the confederated tribes told Saunders on Thursday that they will be sending three female members of the Mission Valley Honor Guard, all of them tribal members, to the dedication of the World War I memorial on the lawn of the Yellowstone County Courthouse on April 6.

That day will mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.
read more here

Joe Galloway Makes Sure Vietnam Veterans Stories Are Told

Retired reporter still compiling tales of Vietnam vets
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Published: March 26, 2017
Those films will be sent to the Library of Congress. The work is part of an official initiative created and funded by Congress to honor and welcome home Vietnam veterans.
Joe Galloway did not volunteer to be a spokesman for all of the Vietnam veterans who have felt shunned, disrespected and neglected over the last 50 years, but he is proud and honored to have done it.

Galloway was a war correspondent for most of his career, but in the '60s and '70s, he was a reporter for United Press International. He covered battles during four tours in Vietnam and had a front-row seat for some of the action. In 1992, he and Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore co-wrote the book "We Were Soldiers Once and Young," which was made into a movie starring Mel Gibson in 2002.

The book focuses on the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of the la Drang Valley in November of 1965. It was the first large-scale battle of the war involving U.S. troops. The book and movie helped give voice to the brave soldiers who fought and died there, and it made Galloway a spokesman for them over the years.

"I never volunteered to the extent that I do function as a spokesman, but it's a great honor and mostly a pleasure to sort of be that," he says.
read more here

Driven by Love, Medal of Honor Day

On Medal of Honor Day, a nation's military heroes honor courageous civilians
Published: March 25, 2017
"And that's the bottom line behind all the actions on the battlefield – the mortal battlefield of combat and the other battlefields of life – [that] in my mind, in my heart, were driven by love."
Mike Fitzmaurice, left, and Will Swenson, center, both Medal of Honor recipients, lay a wreath with the help of a soldier with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard"at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Always a select group, the number of living recipients of the nation’s highest military award for valor continues to dwindle. Many of the 75 living Medal of Honor recipients are Vietnam War veterans in their 70s and 80s. Traveling for them isn't as easy as it used to be, so it's a special event, indeed, that can bring so many of them together.

More than 20 of those honorees gathered Saturday in the shadow of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, where they watched two of their number — Mike Fitzmaurice and Will Swenson — lay a wreath at the base of that famous monument to soldierly sacrifice. They did so in commemoration of National Medal of Honor Day, a day set aside to celebrate heroism.

But to hear them tell it, the men gathered not to be honored, but to instead to pay their respects to men long since passed.
"Service has never been about camouflage and guns, it's been about giving of yourself to others selflessly," said Salvatore Giunta
read more here

Navy SEAL Veteran Discovered Peace and Healing

Former SEAL talks about finding peace
Marshall Independent
Mike Lamb
March 25, 2017
Apparently, Williams has discovered that stability. He is now a sought after evangelist. His book, “SEAL of God,” is a best seller. He is also a frequent guest of CNN News Room, Anderson Cooper 360 and Fox News.
I stood toe to toe with Chad Williams after he spoke during the Promise Banquet at Southwest Minnesota State University Thursday night.

The former U.S. Navy SEAL stood no taller than me. He spoke softly. Just moments earlier, he spoke powerfully to dozens of people who listened to his inspirational speech on becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL and his life after the military.

Like others before him, he came back home to the U.S. with the same type of mental issues that haunt other military veterans. Veterans are returning with serious mental issues. Of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20 percent) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, according to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research.

Williams admitted during his presentation that he also did not come back home in a good frame of mind. He was drinking until he blacked out, often times with blood on his clothing. He spoke waking up realizing the knuckles on his hands needed stitches.

His mother and father told him not to come to back to their house. They feared him.
read more here

Tragic Outcome of Combat PTSD Veterans

Army vet battled post-deployment demons until childhood friend became casualty of his personal war
The Times Tribune
“To this day, I blame the military for my son’s death as much as I do Matt ... ” Jim Evans said. “I wish there was a way to indict the military. If they would have taken care of Matt when he came home, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position now.”
MICHAEL J. MULLEN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Kimberly and Jim Evans hold a photograph of their son, Mike, and grandson, Michael. Mike Evans tried to help his childhood friend, Matthew Gajdys, after his deployment.
Matthew Gajdys came out of the Army at war with himself.

After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to Dickson City in 2012 and struggled to return to civilian life.

He couldn’t find steady work. He was angry, impulsive and drinking more than a case of Coors Light every day. He started bar fights as a release for his frustration. His undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder made him a stranger to his wife. She kicked him out.

Homeless and hopeless, Gajdys was rescued by a childhood friend. Mike Evans opened the Moscow trailer park home he shared with his 8-year-old son to the troubled veteran.

When Gajdys moved in, his demons came with him.

Four months later, Gajdys was in jail and Evans was dead.
read more here

Family Not Giving Up on Finding Missing Veteran Chase Massner

Family prays for safe return of missing Iraq War vet
WSB 12 News Atlanta
by: Matt Johnson
Mar 25, 2017
COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Friends and loved ones of a missing Iraq War vet gathered Saturday night to pray for his safe return, some three years after he disappeared.

Chase Massner is a husband, a father and a veteran.

His mother Stephanie has worried about him every day for three years.

“That's her only son and you know, it’s really affected her,” stepsister Karen Cunningham told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson.

She was one of about 30 people turned out at Noonday Park Saturday night to pray for Massner's safe return.

His wife Amanda told Johnson doctors had treated Massner for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2014.

His family said he was last seen at a friend's house in Kennesaw three years ago this coming Monday.
read more here

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Memorial 35 Years of Healing

‘The Wall’ is turning 35, and the man behind it wants to honor this generation’s fallen
Military Times
By: Jan C. Scruggs
March 24, 2017
On a cold and windy March day, veterans from each of the 50 states broke ground with shovels to show wide support.
On Sunday, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will host a ceremony to commemorate the 35th anniversary of its historic groundbreaking. The idea for a memorial engraved with names of the fallen flowed from my academic research and from testimony before the Senate on what is now called post-traumatic stress, a common reaction to witnessing violence.
Jan Scruggs, left, and project engineer Gary Wright look over plans for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on March 23, 1982. Groundbreaking took place March 26.
Photo Credit: Bill Auth/AP
The memorial was planned as a societal acknowledgement of those who served, funded by the American people. I started the effort in 1979 while a GS-7 at the Labor Department, thanks to the permission of my wife. This was nonstop work, day after day.

In 1982, the money was in hand, as was a permit to begin construction. The effort barely succeeded. I hope the lessons learned can ease the path to success for a Global War on Terrorism Memorial that will honor a new generation of service members.
read more here