Thursday, November 30, 2017

Put Knowledge Where Your Heart Is

Good Intentions Meaningless Awareness
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 30, 2017

Let us assume the folks raising awareness have good intentions. They probably do not know they are doing more harm than good. Now, let us assume they have no idea they are not even close to the truth. Considering they probably didn't read the reports they keep quoting, it is doubtful they have studied the results of their time.
None of the new groups are interested in older veterans, even though veterans over the age of 50 are 65% of the suicides. Set that fact aside for the moment. 

They seem to think that the suicides they do acknowledge are only among the War on Terror generation. After all, that is all they managed to learn.

So, we'll take a look at what those results have produced.

This is from the report on suicides from the VA that was released last year.

That is the outcome of all the "awareness" folks getting the attention while they truth was silenced. These are the veterans they pay attention to, talk about, post about, take walks for, do pushups for and all the while, this proves it got worse for those veterans.

Just with the numbers from 2012 and 2014, it shows a rise even just from veterans in the VA system. 

18-24 2012 66.3 2014 110.3
25-29 2012 55.9 2014 56.3
30-39 2012 50.8 2014 51.2
40-49 2012 23.5 2014 28.0
50-59 2012 21.8 2014 22.9

If everyone is saying the same thing, then when you tell them the truth, they think you're lying. No matter how hard you try to prove what the truth really is, they won't admit they had no clue or even apologize for the agony it caused.

Awareness "efforts" started about a decade ago. By 2009, more and were doing research. It was not until the VA released the first study putting the number of veteran suicides at 22 a day that it seemed as if everyone wanted to be the one to change the outcome. As this chart shows, it actually got worse, because while the number does not seem changed by much, we lost millions of older veterans.

The next time you are asked to donate to any of these groups or join in on the "effort" think about all that.

If you want to change the outcome on anything, then you need to have some knowledge first or you'll just add to the problem. 

You may want to start to ask some questions.

What are they doing with the money?

Are they focused on all veterans or just some?

Do they know what the real numbers are?

Do they know why some veterans are not included in the studies?

Do they know the percentage of veterans not going to the VA?

Do they know the difference between discharges or how they effect death certificates?

Do they know which states were not part of any of the studies?

The last question to ask is perhaps the most important one of all. If they did not know any of this, then how important were any of these veterans to them? 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Several Deaths Under Investigation?

What is going on with non-combat deaths and does any reporter care to put them together?

Fort Bragg 

Fort Bragg soldier died Tuesday after collapsing during physical training. Sgt. Robert Thornton Jr., 29, of Cairo, Georgia, was assigned to the 528th Sustainment Brigade.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — Army officials say two soldiers were found dead in their barracks at Fort Bragg in the last few days.One soldier was found dead Thanksgiving while the second soldier died over the weekend.

A paratrooper from Florida died in his barracks on an Army base in North Carolina. The Miami Herald reports 22-year-old Spc. Carlton Butler of North Miami Beach died Saturday evening at the base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Fort Bliss
The Defense Department on Monday identified Cpl. Todd McGurn as the latest American service member to die in Iraq this month. Cpl. McGurn, a California native, died while conducting support operations for the U.S. coalition, according to a Pentagon statement. His death was tied to a “non-combat related incident” that took place in Baghdad. 
Fort Campbell
Sgt. Justin LaJoie-Grosvenor watched after her kids like he watched after his country. Two weeks after returning from Baghdad, Kaitlin said Justin took his life on November 18.

Marine Corps
Corporal Edwin Estrada, a Marine helicopter mechanic, died early Monday morning following what the Marine Corps called "an incident" in Wilmington. 
Sailor found dead on USS John C. Stennis in Washington state Kitsap Sun Julianne Stanford Nov. 28, 2017
A 22-year-old sailor was found dead on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis on Saturday afternoon with "no obvious and apparent cause of death," according to Stennis spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Martin.
The Navy has identified the sailor as Akiree Pointer, an engineman fireman recruit from Arlington, Texas.
The command is investigating his cause of death, Martin more here linked from Stars and Stripes

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A 31-year-old sailor was found dead in an Oceanfront hotel room a day before she was scheduled to report aboard the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, authorities said Friday.Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Simmons’ body was discovered in a room at the Ocean Beach Club Resort at about 3:20 p.m Wednesday, according to Virginia Beach police. 

Less Than Honorable Way to Treat Veterans

If you are in the "awareness" business talking about how many veterans you think are committing suicide, this is something you really should read. Especially if you are still using a number and only mentioning it as if it is just veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

If a veteran does not receive an "honorable discharge" they cannot even call themselves a veteran. It does not go on their death certificate, no matter how many times they were deployed, how many countries they risked their lives in because this country sent them or how heroic they were.

That includes those who have been in combat, risked their lives for this country, suffered because of it, and then, instead of being helped, they were kicked out.

The numbers are into the hundreds of thousands when you consider it has happened to all generations, including the ones that "awareness" folks never seem to mention. 

Steve Kennedy, Army veteran and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America- Connecticut Team Leader (left) speaks about U.S. Senator Chris Murphy's proposed legislation, Honor Our Commitment Act, to ensure combat veterans discharged with an other-than-honorable discharge are given access to mental and behavioral health care during a press conference at New Haven City Hall on 4/3/2017. Left to right are Kennedy, Murphy and Tom Burke, Marine Corp veteran and President of the Yale Student Veterans Council. (Arnold Gold - New Haven Register.)

Chris Murphy: How our country is leaving veterans with mental health injuries behind

Jasper Farmer, a Norwalk resident and Vietnam veteran, recently shared his story with me. 
Jasper served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. He returned to Camp Lejeune over a year later, clearly struggling with PTSD. 
Because of conduct resulting from his diagnosis, he was given a bad paper discharge.  
For the next forty years, he was denied care at the VA, preventing him from adequately addressing his war injury.
Luckily, Jasper found the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC). Their staff fights tirelessly on behalf of veterans, and finally this past April, with the help of CVLC, Jasper gained access to VA health care. 
But it shouldn’t have taken smart lawyers and almost four decades to right this wrong.

White House VA Hotline Now Staffed?

White House VA Hotline Now Fully Staffed and Operational Around the Clock to Serve Nation’s Veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the White House VA Hotline, first launched in June as part of President Donald J. Trump’s commitment to reforming VA, is now fully staffed with live agents working to serve Veterans 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

The hotline, which became 24-hour operational in mid-October, is now staffed by a team consisting of 90 percent Veterans or employees who have a Veteran family member, and is in response to Veterans’ requests to talk to agents who could relate to their experiences.

“The White House VA Hotline provides our nation’s Veterans with a direct, dedicated contact line that allows them to interact with highly trained, live agents to answer their needs and concerns,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin.

“Since the initial launch of the hotline in June, we listened to our Veterans, who indicated that they prefer speaking with other Veterans and Veteran family members, and we adjusted our hiring based on that feedback,” added Shulkin.

“We’re proud that the hotline is now staffed 24/7 by a team of mostly Veterans or Veteran family members who have direct knowledge of their particular concerns and can use their experience to address them in the best way possible with the resources of the VA. This represents a true win-win for Veterans and their loved ones.”

Since 24/7 coverage began in October, the hotline has served more than 10,000 callers.

Hotline agents answer inquiries, provide directory assistance, document concerns about VA care, benefits and services, and expedite the referral and resolution of those concerns. Agents undergo regular updates and training on VA services based on hotline trends and are assisted by newly implemented tracking software to help VA capture and improve its response, referral and resolution processes to best support Veterans.

The hotline can be accessed at 855-948-2311 and is VA’s first non-clinical, non-emergency around-the-clock call center. It provides Veterans a supplemental option to report issues if they are not being addressed through VA’s normal customer service channels.

The hotline’s agents are located at a VA facility in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Agents have access to a multitude of resources and contact information to help Veterans. The hotline also generates real-time reports to VA experts who can help address the specific issues of Veterans as well as make better-informed decisions on where program improvements are needed.

Orlando Firefighter Fights For Job and Help Because of It

Fired Orlando firefighter fights to get job back
by: Shannon Butler
Nov 29, 2017

Granada told his supervisors and the union president in an email that he recorded audio for his protection because he saw “a scene deteriorating and a patient becoming belligerent toward the crew."  

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando firefighter fired after he recorded audio of Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill during a medical call is fighting to get his job back.

Josh Granada was fired last week for violating the department’s policy of recording a patient.

Granada said during a news conference Wednesday that he has post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to the Pulse mass shooting. Granada said he has been asking the fire department for help in coping after the June 12, 2016 shooting, and that his firing is in retaliation.

Granada said his recording of Hill was because of his mental state involving PTSD. He admitted what he did was wrong but said it didn’t make him deserve to be fired.
read more here

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fort Campbell Soldier's Widow Faces Life After Suicide

Soldier's Widow Speaks Out About Depression After Her Husband's Suicide

News Channel 5
Alexandra Koehn
November 27, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's a tragedy that has become sadly commonplace, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines surviving combat, only to take their own lives. A local widow hoped to raise awareness about depression after her husband, a soldier, became the latest unfortunate statistic.

Conner said, "It's so hard because he just wanted to do everything he could for this country, and it's just like he felt like he couldn't do it anymore. He felt like he would fail his family."
Two weeks after returning from Baghdad, Kaitlin said Justin took his life on November 18...

A grieving widow, now left to fend alone for her 3 small children. 
Conner said, "I honestly believe if my husband thought he could get help and not lose his job, he'd probably still be here right now." 
Now she wants other military wives to not be afraid to speak up, and possibly save their loved one's life. 
Conner said, "Screw the money, screw taking care of your family cause you won't have a family if your husband or wife... if they don't get help..."

Vietnam Veterans Left Out of Awareness

Vietnam Veterans the Forgotten Warriors
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 28, 2017

Vietnam Veterans were so dedicated to making sure no other generation went through what they did, they ended up forgetting about their own. They are the majority of veterans committing suicide and the most ignored!

That's how twisted this has turned out for them.

They do all kinds of things to make it better for the newer generation. They hold events for them, raise money to build them houses, all while after they were the ones to start all the research into PTSD and what was killing them.

The worst outcome is, they left themselves behind, alone, isolated and forgotten. Instead of them taking care of each other, they paid attention to the newer generation.

The VA Suicide Report of 2012 set inquiring minds spinning when it was finally released. While you may think that folks were eager to "do something" about such a tragic situation our veterans were faced with, it was more about running to the press, starting foundations and pretending that no one was doing anything about any of this.

The worst part was, even worse than not reading the report itself, was the fact all these new groups dismissed the majority of the veterans committing suicide.

In 2016, they followed that report with a larger one up to 2014 suicide data.

Group after group started running around the country screaming about "22 a day" and then these same groups turned around and said they were only interested in veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

More and more charities popped up going to extremes to make these veterans' lives better, while older veterans, with the same wounds, watched as they waited for someone to notice that no one was talking about them. No one was helping them.

If you're gathering I am pissed off right now, you are correct. For all the BS they have been spouting off about how much they care, the truth is, our veterans didn't mean enough to them to even bother to pretend to be doing anything more than yelling about "raising awareness" and stupid shits pulled out their cell phones, donated and then had the balls to beg their friends to donate too. 

After all, it made them feel good enough about "doing something" so they could go back to their self-absorbed selfies and posts about their perfect little lives until they ended up "offended" by something someone said.

Did any of these new groups even get asked why they do not do anything for the majority of our veterans committing suicide? Did any of them ever have to explain what the fuck they were doing with the money people gave them or from the stuff they sold to "support" the "effort" they never even had to talk about?

Enough of the twits tweeting, walking, pushing up, and all the other stunts they have gotten away with. 

If you donated to them, maybe you have an excuse because you didn't have time to actually think about what they were doing. Just maybe, but then again, if you were helping them instead of exposing them, may God have mercy on you!

Take a look at a report going back to 2013 and then maybe you can get some of these frickenbarkers to account for what they didn't want you to know.

This is a frickenbarker. Murray pays more attention to commercials than the programs we're watching. You know, the annoying interruption we have to put up with so that someone gets paid.

I-Team Reports: Suicides From a Long Ago WarNBC WashingtonBy Tisha Thompson and Rick YarboroughJune 28, 2013

In a city dedicated to honoring those who served, there's a long black wall. It displays the names of fallen men and women who fought with Tom Mahany in the Vietnam War.

As Mahany traced the names craved into the stone, he said, "It's like a shadow that follows you around." For this former soldier, there are thousands of names missing: Those of men who committed suicide long after their military careers ended. Men like his brother-in-law.
"He put the rifle in his mouth,” Mahany explained. “That's how my sister found him. That’s twenty years after he got back."
Mahany said even though they were both veterans from the same war, they never talked about Vietnam. Never spoke about suicide or "shellshock," what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

"There was no diagnosis then,” Mahany said. “There wasn't any such thing as PTSD in Vietnam. There was no treatment from the V.A."
Janet Kemp is the Director of Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The group we are very concerned about are our Vietnam-era veterans," she told the News 4 I-Team. 
She said even though more attention is being focused on the mental health of the men and women returning from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam vets are actually at a higher risk for taking their own lives. "They're approaching that part of their life where losses are more prevalent, they are maybe retiring or losing their jobs and may be losing their spouses and friends. It's a tough time.” 
Kemp said when you look at suicide numbers overall, men over 59 are already the most at risk.
read more here

Where were all these groups back then? Where was all this concern for them in 1976 when the Forgotten Warrior Project came out, and oh, by the way, was calling it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

So, no, not much has changed because none of the newer veterans are fighting for the ones that need it the most and waited longer! But then again, members of Congress don't seem to care very much either. After all, they get away with giving them pins for their service to the country in Vietnam!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Operation Tohidu® Focuses on Female Veterans With PTSD

Healing Invisible Wounds: Nonprofit Melwood offers free program to help female veterans cope with service-related trauma


Federal programs are failing to meet the needs of the more than two million women veterans in the U. S., many of whom are suffering from the invisible wounds of service-related trauma and stress.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a study on traumatic stress in female veterans released this past March reported that one out of five who served in Iraq and Afghanistan has been diagnosed with post traumatic dress disorder (PTSD). 
Additionally, one out of four female veterans who use the VA health care system report they’ve experienced military sexual trauma. Yet, as a 10 percent minority of the overall veteran population, female-specific health issues are consistently underserved. A 2016 study of the challenges women face when they leave the military documents the gaps in federal programs and services for female veterans.

Operation Tohidu® for Women is a weeklong experiential rehabilitation program focusing on healing the invisible wounds of female military service members. The program offers confidence building, outdoor activities, and group discussion to help women warriors overcome obstacles to their recovery.  

Operation Tohidu® helps female veterans and active-duty military cope with sexual trauma, (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury. All participants’ expenses to attend the retreat, including travel, meals and housing, are completely covered by donations to Melwood Veterans Services.
read more here

Fort Bliss Soldier's Death in Iraq Under Investigation

Defense Dept. identifies American casualty in Iraq
The Washington Times
By Carlo Muñoz
November 27, 2017

The Defense Department on Monday identified Cpl. Todd McGurn as the latest American service member to die in Iraq this month.

Cpl. McGurn, a California native, died while conducting support operations for the U.S. coalition, according to a Pentagon statement. His death was tied to a “non-combat related incident” that took place in Baghdad.

Assigned to assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment in the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team,1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas, Cpl. McGurn’s death is currently under investigation by command officials, the statement says.
read more here

101st Airborne Veteran Killed in House Fire

Kettering veteran killed in house fire remembered by family

MyDaytona Daily News
November 26, 2017

Family members are sharing stories and memories of a Kettering man killed in a house fire Sunday morning with WHIO’s Sean Cudahy.

James Towe (Contributed photo)
James Towe is remembered as a joking father and good friend who reportedly served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Towe’s son, James Towe told Cudahy his dad was a comedian who playfully cracked jokes.
"I'm trying to hold my own, I'll catch myself grieving [...] trying to keep myself composed to figure everything out," Towe said.
Towe said he and his brother are the last remaining family members living in the area.
“We’re going to try and talk to the VA [...] I guess he didn’t have any insurance policy so it’s going to be rough trying to come up with the funeral costs,” Towe said.
read more here

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Brook Hollow Winery Contest for Disabled Veteran Dream Wedding

Winery's contest will provide disabled veteran with all-expenses paid wedding
New Jersey Herald
By Katie Moen
Posted: Nov. 26, 2017

"We just opened our reception hall about two months ago," Ritter said. "It's a beautiful building with a farmhouse feel, and it's surrounded by acres and acres of vineyards. It doesn't get much better."

KNOWLTON -- Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the season of good will has returned to the Garden State. In order to give back to those who have given so much, the Brook Hollow Winery in Knowlton has announced plans to orchestrate an all-expenses paid wedding ceremony and reception for one lucky military veteran.
Submitted photo - Brook Hollow Winery in Knowlton will host an all-expenses paid wedding ceremony and reception for one disabled military veteran.

"My daughter, who is our event planner, and I were talking awhile back about doing something special for our wounded vets," said Paul Ritter, owner of the Brook Hollow Winery. "As much as we would like to, we can't do this for everyone. We decided that the most fair way to decide who should be the wedding package recipient would be to open up a drawing for all veterans with a disabled status."

Veterans are invited to fill out a short survey on the Brook Hollow website to be entered into the drawing. The winner will be chosen at random on Valentine's Day, Ritter said.

Since the winery announced its plans to honor a veteran with a wedding, the community has rallied behind the idea.

"We've gotten some great support from vendors and volunteers who want to do whatever they can to help out," Ritter said. "Things are crazy right now, and it's easy to get caught up in all of the politics. Every once in a while, you need to have something positive and genuine to focus on, and that's what we're trying to create here."

The winery is prepared to host a celebration for up to 100 people, Ritter said.
read more here

Here's the link to Warrior Wedding

Vietnam MIA Family Received Dog Tags and Closure

Sons receive missing dad’s Vietnam War dog tags
Florida Today
Rick Neale
November 25, 2017

Shortly after rescuing a downed American pilot behind enemy lines, Air Force Capt. Richard “Dick” Kibbey’s first daring mission of the Vietnam War proved to be his last — haunting his grieving family for the next half-century.

North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire raked the fuselage of Kibbey’s HH-3E helicopter, which burst into flames on Feb. 6, 1967. The doomed “Jolly Green Giant” slammed into a sheer limestone cliff near the mountainous Mu Ghia Pass on the Laos-North Vietnam border.

Kibbey was listed as missing in action after the crash. His wife, Mary Ann, moved that summer from Vero Beach to North Wherry Housing on Patrick Air Force Base for emotional support, and their four children went on to graduate from Satellite High.

The children say their mother died in 1979 of a broken heart, wondering whether her husband was alive.
read more here

Innocent Vietnam Veteran Released from Prison...After 38 Years!

Man Who Spent Nearly 40 Years Behind Bars for Crime He Did Not Commit Speaks Out
NBC San Diego
Wendy Fry
Craig Coley, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, hopes authorities can still find the man who killed his then-girlfriend and her 4-year-old son in 1978

Craig Richard Coley has spent more than 38 years behind bars for a double homicide he did not commit. On Thanksgiving Day, he tasted freedom.

On Thursday morning, Coley woke up in Carlsbad, California, just blocks from the beach, a free man for the first time since Nov. 11, 1978.

During an hour-long exclusive interview with NBC 7, the 70-year-old Vietnam veteran broke down and cried while reading details of the horrific crime that put him away.

“In the early morning hours, of November 11, 1978, Rhonda Wicht was beaten and strangled to death in her apartment. Her 4-year-old son...”
Coley has maintained his innocence from behind bars for more than 38 years.
He was arrested on Veteran’s Day 1978 after serving his country in the U.S. Navy. His service included several deployments to Vietnam aboard USS Enterprise and USS Bainbridge.
read more here

Threat of Suicide Not Taken Seriously by VA?

Marine veteran sues VA Medical Center, Congressman Phil Roe over opioid tapering policy

Johnson City Press
Becky Campbell
November 24, 2017 
"According to Rose, one of the specific VA guidelines he finds to be disturbing was that “doctors should not take the threat of suicide seriously when a veteran is placed on a forced taper or denied pain medications.”

Robert Rose, a disabled veteran, turned his back on Congressman Phill Roe July 3, 2017 in an act of protest against the "opioid safety initiative."
A Washington County man who said he endures constant pain from training injuries he suffered while serving as a Marine filed a lawsuit earlier this month over a forced opioid tapering policy that eliminates or severely reduces veterans’ access to the pain medication.

Robert D. Rose Jr., of Gray, was a Marine sergeant when he left the service because of documented injuries he suffered during jump training. Rose made a public protest statement in July when he turned his back on U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, at a plaque presentation commemorating historic buildings at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home. Rose has taken his protest a step further with a federal lawsuit against Roe and 17 VA Medical Center employees, including the director, doctors, nurses and police officers.
After Roe’s speech in July, Rose told his story to Press reporter Brandon Paykamian.
read more here 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Three Sailors Killed in Crash in Philippine Sea

2 sailors from Florida, 1 from Louisiana die after aircraft crashes in Philippine Sea

Associated Press
November 25, 2017

The U.S. Navy says two sailors from Florida and another from Louisiana died in an aircraft crash in the Philippine Sea.
In a news release, the Navy's 7th Fleet said the families of Lt. Steven Combs and Airman apprentice Bryan Grosso of Florida and airman Matthew Chialastri of Louisiana were notified of their deaths following the Wednesday crash.

Mandalay Bay Survivor Killed By Hit-and-Run Driver

Man who survived Las Vegas shooting killed in hit-and-run
Associated Press
November 25, 2017

A man who survived the Oct. 1 mass shooting that killed 58 concert-goers and injured hundreds in Las Vegas has been killed in a hit-and-run in southern Nevada.

Roy McClellan of Las Vegas was killed Nov. 17 while hitchhiking on State Route 160 in Pahrump, about 50 miles west of Las Vegas.

His widow, Denise McClellan, told KSNV-TV she can't understand why her 52-year-old husband survived the shooting, only to die in a hit-and-run. She says the mass shooting "was messing with his head" and that he was undergoing therapy.
read more here

Veterans "48 Hours" for Homeless Veterans

Veterans Hold 48-Hour Fundraiser For Veterans

News Channel 5
Brandon Marshall
November 24, 2017

LEBANON, Tenn. - Members of the U.S. Military Motorcycle Club in Lebanon and Murfreesboro have been holding a 48-hour-long fundraiser to raise awareness about homeless veterans.

The group has been collecting non-perishable food items, clothes, and monetary donations to help local veterans and people in need this holiday.

The annual fundraiser called "Black Friday Deployment" started four years ago in Murfreesboro to shed light on the challenges that may arise when a military member returns home.

"Veterans still need help, in and out of the service," chapter Vice President Richard Griffin said.

The groups started collecting items at noon on Thanksgiving and will end at noon on Saturday in the two cities. They have slept in tents at night.

Griffin who separated from the military in 1999 after serving five years said no donation is too small.

In Lebanon, money will go towards Fallen Soldiers March which collects funds to provide service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Clothes collected in Murfreesboro go towards Operation Stand Down.
read more here

Fort Hood Soldier Took Plunge to Feed Hungry

Fort Hood soldier swims more than 6 miles, raises money for charity

Killeen Daily Herald
Julie A. Ferraro 
November 24, 2017
McQueen’s nickname is “Swim Gypsy.” She has traveled across the country — from San Francisco to Vermont — participating in open-water swim events ranging from one mile to over 45 miles in length.

Tiffany McQueen begins swimming a 10K in Belton Lake, near Dead Fish Grill, to raise money for Killeen's Food Care Center in Belton on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2017.
Eric J. Shelton | Herald 
Tiffany McQueen was sore on Friday, but it was a good kind of sore.

After swimming more than six miles in Belton Lake on Thanksgiving Day, McQueen, a Fort Hood soldier, raised over $1,200 for Killeen’s Food Care Center.
“We couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions,” McQueen said of her swim. The water was calm, and the air temperature not too chilly.
McQueen started and ended her swim at the Dead Fish Grill. The restaurant was open for Thanksgiving, and had information about the swim for diners to see. 
read more here

Remembrance Day of Life Gone Too Soon

Military mom proud of her ‘hero’ son
Oliver Chronicle
By Dan Walton
November 24, 2017
"I wish I had been more knowledgeable. If that had been the case we would have sought out a qualified veterans PTSD program instead of shuffling around with psychiatrists here in the Okanagan.”
Jill McCullum
Jill McCullum holds up photos of her son after telling the heartbreaking story about him fighting PTSD and drug addiction. (Dan Walton photo)
Remembrance Day 2017 was the first year that local military mom Jill McCullum attended the ceremony since losing her son Nick Stevens.

After returning from the war in Afghanistan around four years ago, Stevens had developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and then an opioid addiction. He tried taking several paths towards recovery and had the full support of his family, but an overdose took his life in March.

“I don’t care if people know Nick had a drug issue that he finally succumbed to,” McCullum said. “Kids don’t just wake up one morning and decide to become an addict.”

While Stevens was facing the demons that come with PTSD, he was prescribed opioids as a solution only to the side effects – depression, anxiety and a sleep disorder. So at a time when he was coping with deeply painful memories, he was given access to an extremely powerful drug.

By 2015, “He fully grasped that he was masking his issues with drugs.”
“They were all handsome young men who are missed by loved ones,” she said. “I had no idea until one day I saw these names on his leg and I asked who’s that? And he told me. If I knew then what I know now I would have asked him to talk about it; I would have been a concerned individual. But I was naive, I didn’t know the depth he’d plummeted.”
read more here

PTSD and TBI, Not Broken, Just Dented

I didn't break my head, it was just dented
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 25, 2017

Reminder: Combat PTSD is about fighting to take your life back!

Yesterday I was at the Oviedo Hospital Emergency room. I have to tell you, great people work there!!! 

Orlando Business Journal
(They had no clue who I was, so no special treatment. In other words, I was just like everyone else they help every single day.) I have a history of head injuries.(Yes, I know, heard it all before. Now you know what's wrong with me.)

Tuesday I had the shots into my spine and didn't sleep well. Went to work, stopped at the supermarket and when I went to take the bags out of the car, I dropped the apple pie as I was shutting the hatch and hit myself in the head. Came close to passing out, but I was more upset about breaking the pie instead of my head.

By the time I got into the house, I already had a bump. Anyway, I felt ok Thursday, just a bad headache. Yesterday morning I was having an "aura stage" migraine. Not worrying, I popped a couple of Tylenol, chugged down some coffee and waited for it to stop. It faded, like it always does but then hit came back a lot stronger than ever.

I got frightened about something really being damaged in my head this time, so I called my doctor and was told to go to get it checked out. At the Ovideo ER, they kept asking me what was going on and I kept saying, "I broke my head." Considering I actually did break my head when I was 5 and had TBI before they were calling it that, head injuries are something I worry about.

A CT scan was taken and the nurse came in to tell me that I didn't break my head, it was just dented. (Yes, we were kidding around! She also told my husband no housework for me until Christmas because I needed the rest. He didn't get the joke.)

When I hear someone say that "veterans are either considered heroes or broken" I get angry. To me, they are all heroic simply because when someone actually puts their life at risk for someone else, that is the definition of hero. As for broken, I never met one of them who was broken. The third of Vietnam veterans with PTSD are dented and there is nothing "broken" about them.

With a diagnosis of PTSD, they can start to recover with the right kind of help. The trouble is, getting them to figure out when they need to worry about not simply getting over "IT" and then go an get it.

For all the "awareness" BS, why aren't they getting the message that PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of? Why don't they know that it is a wound and the term TRAUMA IS GREEK FOR WOUND? I am a klutz. I always have been. I never felt ashamed of getting wounded. I know what it is like to face death, far too many times, just from regular living and I know what it is like to suffer from what the wound did physically, as well as mentally.

PTSD didn't hit me for one simple reason. The way my family dealt with everything traumatic was to talk it to death as soon as it happened. Bingo! That is what Crisis Intervention does. It gets the survivor to bring the trauma into the "safety time" and they begin to take control back over what just happened.

I was not in control over what happened to me but I was in total control the second I went from "victim" to "survivor" and there was no way in hell I was going to let "IT" rob one more second of my life. Several times Doctors said I was lucky to be alive, but twice they said I should have been dead according to their understanding of humans. There was no logical way to explain why I was still here. The thing is, I didn't need one. I just ended up coming to the conclusion that for whatever extra time I had, it was going to be spent doing stuff for other people and it changed the way I look at a lot of things.

Like the aura migraine, all the bad stuff faded away and "I" was still left as "me" as klutzy as before. If you have TBI, know this. It isn't something WRONG with you. It is what happened after you survived something. Get help to heal what can be healed and what can't, you can manage it. I had spelling and memory problems. (I still do. If you read Combat PTSD Wounded Times, that is something you are well aware of.) I just don't let it stop me from doing anything, including speech problems, which stopped me from talking when I was young. Now, I embrace it, especially living in Florida with a think Bostonian accent. It is all part of me and I am happy to have some fun with it. Joy is surviving but bliss is thriving.

If you have PTSD, again, I get it because I know what trauma can do to a person. I know how it can eat away at you and make you question everything, including your faith in everything. Do not think of yourself as a "victim" but know yourself as a survivor. You defeated the sucker when you stood up after it happened. Don't let it win now. 

Just because you didn't get help to start recovering right after it happened, doesn't mean you can't get it now. It is never too late to take back control of your next moment.

I have the memories of all the stuff I survived in this dented head of mine. It is all a part of me, but so is everything else about me. 

The same for you! Your ability to care about others to the point where you were willing to die for them is beyond what "normal" people are willing to do. Embrace that!

Your history as a survivor is something few others know, stand tall with it!

Your endurance level is beyond human understanding considering all you had to do, to do your job! Flex your muscles!

If you are still ashamed of having PTSD, then one last thing to consider. If you have PTSD because of your job, there is nothing weak within you. It was the strength of your emotional core that made you care enough to risk your life in the first place. It is that same strength that makes you grieve now.

So take some advice from an older lady with a dented head. Stop living with a dented head and open your eyes to what you are having trouble seeing!