Thursday, February 28, 2019

Vietnam Veteran "At the end of it all, I'm a survivor"

Vietnam Veteran Had PTSD For Years Without Knowing

Huffington Post
By Chai Dingari
February 27, 2019
Today, Smallwood is an accomplished actor and writer. His book Return To Eden discusses his Vietnam experiences extensively to share with others who might have gone through the same thing. He still lives with depression and takes each day as it comes. At the end of it all, he acknowledges, “I’m a survivor.”

As Tucker Smallwood explains, when Vietnam veterans returned home, oftentimes they were met with the words “baby killer” and “cry baby.” Those unwelcoming sentiments only added to the severe psychological trauma that many of them were coming back with.

Smallwood’s story shares elements of many American soldiers’ experiences in Vietnam. Drafted into the army in 1967, he was wounded in action on Sept. 14, 1969. He was left for dead on the operating table before a second doctor saved his life. He came home and threw himself into a new life as an actor, quickly finding acclaim.

For years, Smallwood had a high-functioning and successful life. Then, an incident in 1978, eight years after his wartime injury, triggered a decade-long cycle of severe depression that he suffered through until he was persuaded to seek help.

As Smallwod explains, “There’s lots of kinds of PTSD. Anyone can be traumatized [...] You might break down right then. I might not break down for 10 years. It’s post-traumatic.”

The trigger for his PTSD came in the form of two young kids who pointed a gun at him one day in New York City and attempted to shoot him. Thankfully, the gun misfired and Smallwood was left standing there in confusion. Shortly afterward, while he was onstage performing in a musical, he broke down in tears in front of 600 people and had to be led offstage. At that point, Smallwood realized he had some issues he needed to resolve.

For more than 20 years, Smallwood experienced what is known as “anniversary syndrome.” Every year on Sept. 14, the day he was wounded in action, he would experience visceral flashbacks to the jungles of Vietnam. 

Smallwood lived with this annual trauma for two decades until he began talking about Vietnam in his regular therapy. It wasn’t until 1988 that he was formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Vietnam Veteran, Firefighter died fighting fire

Town of Marion mourns death of veteran firefighter

February 27th 2019

MARION, Mass. (WJAR) — A 45-year-veteran of the Marion Fire Department passed away Wednesday in the line of duty.

Marion town officials said Firefighter Thomas Nye, 72, helped extinguish a fire on Point Road Tuesday and then collapsed early Wednesday morning after suffering from an apparent cardiac arrest incident.

Thomas Nye passed away in the line of duty Wednesday. (Marion Fire Department)
Nye was taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham where he was pronounced dead.

"Firefighter Nye was a proud firefighter who served our community with distinction. We are a call fire department, and Firefighter Nye anchored our Station 2 during the day. While many of our younger firefighters are working their private jobs, he was always available when people needed help." Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony said. "We are all feeling the loss of our friend and brother firefighter today."

Nye was a Vietnam veteran and also worked as an auto mechanic. Officials said Nye was known for his handy work and was always helping service the station's equipment.
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UCF police officer honored for responding to 100 crisis calls

UCF police officer honored for responding to 100 crisis calls: 'He's part counselor, part detective'

Orlando Sentinel
Michael Williams
February 28, 2019

In 2010, the University of Central Florida Police Department detained 30 people under the Baker Act, a state law that allows law enforcement to temporarily hold those who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Detective Luis Rivera (left) shakes hands with Chief Carl Metzger during the University of Central Florida Police Department Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Rivera won CIT Officer of the Year, and Officer of the Year. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel)

By 2017, that number was 118.

Whether that increase is due to the proliferation of social media or typical student stresses, campus police officers are routinely expected to juggle being a cop as well as a therapist. The stakes are high: in December, a 24-year-old student took his life on campus. During two other incidents in the past year, students faced charges after illegally possessing or modifying high-powered weapons.

In response to that demand, the department recently assigned Detective Luis Rivera to be UCFPD’s first “Persons of Concern” detective.

Rivera — who has handled more than 100 cases over the past year for students who have been suicidal, mentally ill or even homicidal — was honored as UCFPD’s Officer of the Year during an awards ceremony Wednesday. He was also named the Crisis Intervention Team Officer of the Year for the entire Central Florida region.

“He’s part counselor, part detective — in some cases he has prevented individuals from hurting themselves, and in some cases he’s prevented individuals from hurting other people right here at UCF,” Chief Carl Metzger said. “ … We’re going to take a sample of his blood and clone him, because we need about three Luises.”
Others honored at the ceremony include a group who went to the Florida Panhandle to assist with Hurricane Michael recovery efforts; an officer who developed a bond with a student who posted a picture holding a gun to his head on social media; and Officer Victoria Scott and Sgt. Anthony Chronister, who saved the life of a student who threatened to jump off a parking garage last year.
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52 U.S. veterans from Wisconsin came back to Vietnam

"It helps me a lot of times just to talk about Vietnam": Vets return to country for first time since war ended

CBS News
February 27, 2019

Hanoi, Vietnam — Most who served in the Vietnam War have never been back since the war ended. Some have no interest but for others, returning is a crucial part of the healing process.

CBS News was there as 52 U.S. veterans from Wisconsin came back to Vietnam for the first time. Their tour around Saigon is far different from the last. It began where the war finished, at the presidential palace in Ho Chi Minh City, or as many still call it, Saigon.

Marine Sgt. Wayne Pierret served three tours.

"I was born and raised on a farm. I never had anybody shoot at me until I got here, when I got to Vietnam," Pierret said. "A 19-year-old kid shouldn't have been here, back then fighting a war. What do I know about war back then at 19."

The tour organizer warned the veterans that their journey would be stressful, especially as they got close to where they served. But there are demons that endure.

"We got into a fight, it was up in the DMZ and and there was a young man, he was dead and I went through his pockets and he had a picture of his wife and his children," Pierret said. "That hit home. Boy did it ever. He was no different than I was. He had a family."

Pierret said he suffered from nightmares.

"It helps me a lot of times just to talk about Vietnam. Like I said it'll tear me up but it gets here, on my chest gets it out," he said.

For Pierret and thousands of others, time goes by. It doesn't go away.

"My nightmares aren't as pronounced as they were when I first got out, but I still get them," he said.

He's hopeful this trip will take some away.

The trip was possible thanks to the Old Glory Honor Flight. As part of their two week tour, they will also make their way to Hanoi.
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Medal of Honor medal of Civil War Soldier found

Nonprofit claims to have found Medal of Honor recipient's family

Civil War soldier's relatives thankful for return of medal
Click Orlando
By Troy Campbell - Reporter
February 27, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. - A military nonprofit organization said Wednesday that it found the living relatives of a Civil War soldier News 6 first told you about Monday.

A couple of house flippers in Orlando reached out to News 6 after finding a Medal of Honor inside a home they purchased and planned to renovate.

Within minutes of the story airing, people from across the county began to call and email information about soldier Mark Wood.

Col. Zachariah Fike with Purple Hearts Reunited said that he located Wood's third-generation nephew and fourth-generation niece.

Kathy Tafel said that she received a call from Fike, telling her that her distant relative's medal had been found.

"This (is a) Medal of Honor that has been found in some house that apparently I'm connected to, and he's looking for my dad," Tafel said.

Fike said that it's believed Wood's Medal of Honor was one of the first two-dozen ever awarded by then-President Abraham Lincoln. He said the award was given for his role in what's now known as the Great Locomotive Chase, where Union soldiers attempted to cause damage along a Southern railway, to halt Confederate soldiers.
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Man on trial after road rage death of Iraq veteran

Nebraska man stands trial in killing of Iraq War veteran

The Associated Press
Feb 27, 2019
Womack was in the Army and served three tours in Iraq before he moved to Omaha with his wife to raise their three children.
OMAHA — An Omaha trial has begun for a man accused in the road-rage killing of an Iraq War veteran.

Michael Benson, 26, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of James Womack, 32. The shooting occurred at a busy Omaha intersection in 2017.

Dashcam video from another vehicle shows that the altercation began after Womack got out of his semitrailer and yelled at Benson, pounded on the passenger-side window of Benson's truck and started to walk back to his semitrailer.

Witnesses testified in a Douglas County courtroom Tuesday that they heard gunshots and then saw Womack fall to the ground. Womack was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
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7 month old military baby died at unlicensed daycare

Death of 7-month-old military child fuels questions about unlicensed daycare on base

Military Times
By: Karen Jowers
February 28, 2019

The Honolulu Police Department is investigating the Feb. 24 death of a 7-month-old military child found dead in the home of a daycare provider at a military installation in Hawaii, officials said.
This 7-month-old girl died Sunday, Feb. 24, at a reportedly unlicensed daycare home at Aliamanu Military Reservation, Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of the family)
A neighbor who lives near the home where the child died said the death came four days after she filed a complaint alleging the provider, a Navy wife, was operating an unlicensed daycare after being shut down at least three times by base officials who allegedly found violations. The daycare is in privatized housing at Aliamanu Military Reservation, part of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

The neighbor, Katie Camario, told Military Times that she had reported her concerns for more than a year about numerous young children crying and left unattended outside the home, citing various incidents such as the children playing with a lighter, and one child’s head being stuck in playground equipment. Other neighbors also said they reported similar concerns.
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Is your VA closing too?

Large-scale closures of VA facilities could be coming sooner than expected. Here’s why.

Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
February 27, 2019

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs’ version of a base closing round could start years ahead of schedule, department officials told Congress on Wednesday.
Veterans wait for their rides following treatment at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Medical Center in Seattle in March 2015. VA officials on Wednesday said an asset review set for 2022 could be moved up, to better gauge where medical facilities are needed. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Under the VA Mission Act signed into law last year, the president is authorized to appoint an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission for the department in 2022. To inform the group’s work, VA officials were given three years to perform regional market assessments across the country to determine areas where there were medical facility shortages, gluts and other challenges.

On Wednesday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said those assessments were delayed slightly late last year but could still be finished in the next 12 months. If so, that could create a problematic gap between collecting that information and starting evaluations in 2022.

“We’ll come back to you this summer and give you an assessment of where things are,” he said. “If we can, to meet the expectations of this committee and the changing need of veterans, we’re going to come to Congress and ask to move that timeline up.”

The idea of a base-closing-style round for VA has been controversial for many advocates, including lawmakers who could see major hospitals in their districts closed due to dwindling patient numbers.
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West Palm Beach VA Doctor Shot by Double Amputee


'Heroic' doctor subdues gunman at veterans hospital, authorities say

The gunman was identified as 59-year-old Larry Ray Bon.
By Morgan Winsor
February 28, 2019

A doctor is being hailed a hero for stopping a patient who opened fire in the emergency room of a veterans hospital in South Florida on Wednesday night.

The patient, a double-amputee, came to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach for treatment but became combative with staff members and was taken to the emergency room. He pulled out a small handgun from his electric wheelchair and started firing as he was about to undergo a mental health evaluation around 6:20 p.m. local time.

The doctor was shot in the neck, and another hospital employee was grazed by a bullet, according to Justin Fleck, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI's Miami field office.

The wounded doctor, whom Fleck called "very brave," was able to jump on the patient in between fired rounds and disarm him before more shots were fired.

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Doctor shot at VA hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida

Published: February 27, 2019

WASHINGTON – An employee was shot Wednesday evening at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla., the VA confirmed.
An emergency room doctor was shot in the neck by a double amputee in a wheelchair, according to local news station CBS12. A hospital tech was in the restroom with the shooter and saw him loading a weapon, the report said. When the tech went to seek help, the shooter came out of the restroom firing.

The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network confirmed in a statement that one VA employee was shot at about 6:20 p.m. The employee was taken to another hospital and was in stable condition Wednesday night.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Transgender troops testify for the first time before Congress.

Decorated Transgender Troops to Testify Before Congress

Associated Press
Feb. 27, 2019

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Lindsey Muller served in the Army as a man for nearly a decade before telling her commanders in 2014 that she identified as a woman and would resign because military policy barred transgender personnel. Her superiors, citing her outstanding performance, urged the decorated attack helicopter pilot to stay so she did.

After then-President Barack Obama changed the policy, she started dressing in uniform as a woman. Muller went on to be recommended for a promotion as the surgery to complete her gender transition was scheduled, but the operation was postponed in 2017 when President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he was reinstituting the ban.

With the ban now blocked by lawsuits, transgender troops Wednesday will testify for the first time before Congress.

This undated photo provided by her wife Jessica Kibodeaux shows Lindsey Muller and her dog Emma hiking in the Cheyenne Mountains west of Fort Carson, Colo. Muller, a 19-year combat veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, diligently followed the Pentagon guidelines to transition. In the nearly three years since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people into the armed forces in 2016, they have served without incident. Some, like Muller, have earned prestigious medals or received other forms of recognition. (Jessica Kibodeaux via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In the nearly three years since the U.S. military welcomed transgender people into the armed forces, they have served without incident. Some, like Muller, have earned prestigious medals or received other forms of recognition.

They say they stand as proof against President Donald Trump's argument that their presence is a burden.

"Once you meet transgender people who have served in the different branches ... it's really hard to dismiss the fact that you will find Purple Heart recipients, Bronze Star winners, attack aviators, Navy SEALs," said Muller, who will not be testifying but is a plaintiff in one of four lawsuits challenging the ban. "We've been here, and we will continue to be here regardless. In what capacity is up to the administration."

The hearing will be held by the subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee chaired by Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier. Speier introduced bipartisan legislation in February that would prohibit the Department of Defense from denying the enlistment or continued service of transgender people if Trump's ban takes effect.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate. It's unclear whether the legislation would be voted on as a stand-alone bill or be folded into the defense bill, which could be harder for Trump to veto.
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1st female-only veteran village

Habitat for Humanity building its 1st female-only veteran village

FOX 10 News
POSTED FEB 26 2019
The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs reports that there are about 144,229 female veterans in the state of Florida. The Sunshine State has the third largest veteran population, just behind Texas and California.
COCOA, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Habitat for Humanity is giving women a place to call home by building the first female-only veteran village in Brevard County.

The organization broke ground Monday on the new community in Cocoa.

According to Habitat for Humanity's Facebook page, there are six, single-family homes under construction on Whaley Street "providing affordable housing in a typically underserved community."

The hope is that these houses will help reduce the homeless female veteran population.
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Kansas Police Officer's Widow working to break silence after husband's suicide

KCK sergeant's widow says police departments can't sweep suicide under the rug anymore

KSHB 41 News
By: Sarah Plake
Feb 26, 2019

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — "On April 22, 2015 my late husband, Sgt. Brett Doolittle of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, ended his life," Lindsey Doolittle said matter-of-factly.
Facing the reality is what helps her survive.

Doolittle came home that Wednesday evening like a regular day. She parked her car in the back garage.

"That's when I saw my husband. He had ended his life. He had died by depression, but the tool that he used was helium," Doolittle said.

She found Brett in the garage below the house, where he would spend time creating art.

It'll be almost four years since that devastating day.

"I forced myself to come down here. I mean, I live here. I force myself to do the uncomfortable so I can live," said Doolittle.
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WWI veteran finally received Purple Heart

Troubled hero gets his heart: After 100-year wait, WWI veteran awarded posthumous Purple Heart

Livingston County News
FEBRUARY 24, 2019

Martin Jacobson survived the suffocating clouds of mustard gas that blistered soldiers’ skin and lungs alike; he survived the German bullet that tore through his leg as he sought refuge in a corpse-filled foxhole; and he survived the exploding artillery shell that sent 16 pieces of burning hot shrapnel to lodge in his 24-year-old body.

Jacobson survived the horrors of World War I; made it back home; got married; started a family. But the trauma of his service stayed with him and, more than a decade after his medical discharge, it caught up with him in an upstairs bedroom of his Painted Post home.

The afternoon of Jan. 22, 1929, Jacobson put a shotgun to his chest and pulled the trigger. He was 34s year old and left behind a wife, Leona, and a 15-month-old daughter, Barbara Louise.

Jacobson left no note, but his poor physical and mental condition almost certainly led to his suicide.
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Toledo Police Officer Found Dead at Home

Toledo officer found dead inside home in possible suicide

February 26, 2019

A Toledo police officer was found dead inside of his home in western Lucas County on Tuesday during a welfare check by sheriff’s deputies.

Officer Jeffrey Payne, 53, did not report to work as scheduled on Tuesday, which prompted the welfare check, said Lt. Kevan Toney, spokesman for the Toledo Police Department. While the investigation by the sheriff’s office is ongoing, indications are that the death was a suicide.

An autopsy by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office is scheduled for Wednesday. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Officer Payne was hired by the Toledo Police Department on Jan. 24, 1997, and served in field operations most of his career, Lieutenant Toney said. Officer Payne was trained as a traffic accident reconstructionist and negotiator.
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380 patients at Walter Reed who are on the national kidney transplant list

‘I don’t want to die’: 380 Walter Reed patients are looking for kidney donors

Military Times
By: Natalie Gross
February 26, 2019
Touched by stories like Dadzie’s, Desgoutte-Brown is trying to spread the word about her beloved patients, in hopes that others in the military community would consider coming forward as potential donors.
BETHESDA, Md. — “I don’t want to die.”
Navy wife Phyllis Obeng Dadzie, 25, went into kidney failure after giving birth to her son, Prince Charles, last August. (Charles Agyeilarbi)
Phyllis Obeng Dadzie said the words quietly, but with a slight chuckle, as though it was obvious. She was sitting with her husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer Charles Agyeilarbi, in a small room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, shivering under a pink winter coat that covered her small frame.

Seven months ago, Dadzie, a native of Ghana, was a healthy 25-year-old, pregnant with the couple’s second child. But in August, complications during the third trimester and the birth of their son, Prince Charles, sent Dadzie into stage 5 kidney disease and, ultimately, to Walter Reed, where she now gets dialysis three times a week.

She’s fully aware of what could happen if she doesn’t get a new kidney soon, but she’s not ready to give up — not with a 2-year-old and a baby at home who need their mom.

“I just want to get a new kidney and live (for) my kids again,” she said. “That’s all that I pray for every day.”

Dadzie is one of about 380 patients at Walter Reed who are on the national kidney transplant list — from troops and military dependents in their young twenties to military retirees who’ve dedicated their lives to service.
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"I just tried to be there,” Chaplain Ron Link explains life as responding to responders

Always on call: Meet the chaplains who assist sheriff's office during crises

Dawson County News
Jessica Taylor
Feb. 26, 2019
Each year they receive 40 hours of training from the Georgia Sheriffs' Association to maintain their certification, which they said reinvigorates and motivates them to keep answering the calls from dispatch.

Dawson County Sheriff's Office Chaplains Ron Link and Dr. Charles Blackstock. - photo by Jessica Taylor 
"I just tried to be there,” Ron Link said as he recounted his first call from dispatch. “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do but it turns out I was doing what I was supposed to,"

Link became a chaplain for the Dawson County Sheriff's Office three years ago, and vividly remembers his first call to a scene: a devastating house fire.

Dr. Charles Blackstock, the lead chaplain who has served in the role for 10 years, was in Atlanta, leaving Link with the responsibility of responding to the call alone.

"I had no formal sheriff’s office training. I just went out there to try to be a help," Link said. "It was kind of overwhelming. It was a really bad scene."

It was a house fire, and someone’s significant other was inside. All Link could do was stand outside with the husband, comforting him as authorities conducted their investigation.

"I didn’t know what the procedures and processes were. I didn’t know who to talk to. All I knew was there was somebody there that was in real, emotional crisis and so I went over and stayed with him until his family arrived," Link said.

It was his first taste of what his new role as a chaplain entailed.

For Blackstock, a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church, stepping into the role was a little bit easier. With his ministerial background, he was rather comfortable with providing faith-based support to the sheriff's office staff and the community.
As chaplains, Blackstock and Link voluntarily assist the sheriff's office by delivering death notices, consoling emotional victims at crime scenes and emergencies and supporting the sheriff's office staff through counseling and helping officers cope with traumatic events.

How they go about providing assistance from scene to scene varies with every call.

"You never know what you’re going to get called on to do," Blackstock said.
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Why is this important?

In 2008, I became a Chaplain with the IFOC and received Certification in Crisis Intervention, among other things, plus an award for my work focusing on PTSD prevention for first responders. For the next two years, I trained in many more programs to help avoid the worst results of their service from taking hold. While I no longer wear the badge, I carry the valuable lessons I learned with me everyday.

Why would I do that?
I am a ten time survivor of facing death during traumatic events, including when my ex-husband decided he wanted to kill me, and almost did.

Throughout my life, my family was doing the intervention without knowing it. Sure, I had nightmares, flashbacks, and all the other symptoms of PTSD, but it did not have a chance to take hold because it was addressed right away.

Through the research I had done for a couple of decades, I learned that there is a 30 golden window to battle trauma and take back control of my life. The symptoms had started to go away within the first month, and I was on the road to recovery.

Every now and then, things pop into my mind, but the memories no longer control my life. 

The worst one was when my ex stalked me, ignored the restraining order and every time I heard a muscle car engine rev, it sent a electrical charge through my body and I wanted to run. That went on, even after moving to Florida, far from where he lived, and long after I married my current husband.

When my cousin sent me a copy of his obituary, I stopped freaking out from the sound and began to enjoy the noise again. That comes in handy considering what I do on PTSD Patrol with car shows...although I still do not like my first reaction when I come across a Cutlass. I take a deep breath and move on to interesting pictures to take.

Knowing what all those times did to me, it was easy to understand what it was like for all the veterans and responders were dealing with, and being a family member of a Vietnam veteran, I also understood what it was like on this side of the trauma.

All of this goes into what I have done with my life since 1982, and what I do everyday. So if you find some comfort on this page, gain some knowledge, or decide that you can just copy it, now you know what is behind all of it.

Healing requires what Chaplains do because they are trusted with being able to listen without judging, comfort when needed and let you know that minute you start to address what happened, that is the minute you begin to heal as a survivor of it. 

First I listen. Most of the time, it is over a cup of coffee or at an event when someone sees what I am wearing. A shirt with PTSD Patrol or my Point Man vest, lets them know I am someone willing to listen.

Then I guide them to understanding what PTSD is and let them know how to kick it out of their new normal as a survivor. And is time to work on the spiritual side of healing so they can come out on the other side even better than they were before. You know, like me! 

None of what I do would have worked had I not had the life I had...or learned to become a leader to healing those who risk their lives to save people like me all the time. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How our soldiers are dying at home

Invisible wounds: How our soldiers are dying at home

According to the VA, 20 veterans who served take their own life every day.
ABC 7 News 
Jeff Butera
February 25th 2019
FORT MYERS, Fla. - This month, Air Force senior leaders issued a memo, calling for a culture change in that military branch. They were concerned after 11 airmen and Air Force civilians committed suicide in just the first four weeks of 2019.
The numbers of suicides among active-duty members of the Army, Navy and Marines have also gone up recently or remained steady.

read more here

Veterans return to Vietnam on Honor Flight

Vietnam vets depart on two-week Honor Flight

WBAY Action 2 News
Feb 25, 2019

Veterans are returning to Vietnam for a one-of-a-kind Old Glory Honor Flight trip, their journey started Sunday morning in Menasha.

“For the Vietnam Veterans, this is their welcome home, this is our thank you to them,” said Dawn Putzke, whose dad is on the trip.

She was one of the many family, friends, and fellow veterans giving a proper farewell to the veterans as they got on the bus to head to the airport.

“It means the world to us, I can't even summarize how much it means to our family to have our father get selected to go on this trip,” said Putzke.

She says her family's ties to the military is why she also decided to serve her country.

“With our father being a veteran, my grandfathers being veterans, my uncle being a veteran, it was a positive choice to go in and serve our country and follow in their footsteps,” said Putzke.

Terry Therrien served in the First Calvary division in Vietnam. While on this trip, he hopes to honor other veterans who never made it home.

“One of the things that I really want to do is get up in the central highlands where I was stationed there, and say a prayer for the all mighty people who made the ultimate sacrifice and thank them for that,” said Therrien.
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Rep. Mark Takano discovered veteran suicides from WPO instead of VA?

Wonder what Rep. Mark Takano would think of the WPO suicide article of veterans killing themselves in VA parking lots...if someone told him how many others they missed? 

The other thing is, why did he have to find out from the Washington Post instead of knowing what was going on from the VA?

Bringing Congress to the fireside

The American Legion
FEB 26, 2019


Privatization of the VA
Sen. Isakson: “We’re not privatizing the VA. Period. We’re going to make sure that the VA doctors and the Choice doctors understand that a veteran deserves the first chance (at) good care. We’re going to make sure that the standards are equal and the access is equal. We ain’t privatizing nothing. However, if we find a private-sector doctor … who doesn’t do a good job, we’re going to … not use him anymore. And if a (VA) doctor doesn’t do a good job, we now have the Accountability Act to get rid of him.”

Sen. Tester: “None of the four of us on this stage want to privatize the VA. When we talk about access standards, we need to go back and ask, ‘Why are we even here?’ We’re here because veterans couldn’t get their health care in a timely manner. These access standards, it is so imperative that we get them right.”

Rep. Roe: “What I’m most interested in is you getting timely quality care. I don’t care where it is. If the VA can provide that care, that’s great. The quality of care you get is what I am most interested in. You getting the care you need in a timely way. That’s not privatization. That’s quality care.”
Reducing suicides in the veteran population
Rep. Isakson: "On the suicide issue … it is not exactly what a lot of us think it is. In many cases it is somebody reacting to the hand dealt to them in life. Which in some cases could not be the fault of access to a counselor, but the fault of somebody who treated them for a disease and didn’t do a very good job of it. They’re suffering from that disease. We had a lot of guys that came home from Vietnam that would not have come home from any other war … because our medicine improved. But because of that a lot more of them have needs that are much greater than the average veteran who survived. We’ve got to make sure that all of our medical services to those vets are good so they don’t get into a case where they’re frustrated.”

Sen. Tester: “We’ve got to continue to work to try to find what we can do to stop this horrible thing from happening. There is still a stigma around mental health and suicide we have to figure out how to break. I think the (veterans service organizations) can help with that area a lot. This is the 21st century. We know a lot more about the mind than we did in the ‘50s, the ‘60s and ‘70s. I can tell you unequivocally that people that get help can have mental health conditions fixed just like you fix a broken arm or a dislocated knee. We have to work as a group, as a society, to try to reduce the stigma as we try to take money and put it into areas that do the most good.”

Rep. Takano: “Next week we’re intending to have a roundtable on veteran suicide. I want my committee members on a bipartisan basis to deepen their understanding of the complexities of addressing veteran suicides. We know the majority of veterans committing suicide are not connected to the VA. We definitely need organizations like The American Legion to help us come up with strategies to reach those veterans who are not connected to the VA.”

Rep. Roe: “We were spending $8 billion a year and haven’t moved the needle a bit on the suicide rate in this country. We need to be doing something different.”
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More from this event

Bill Would Allow Last WWII Medal of Honor Recipient to Lie in State at Capitol
By Richard Sisk
26 Feb 2019

A bill that would have the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda gained bipartisan backing Monday from the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees.

"I can't think of anybody who would vote against that," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said of the bill introduced in January by Rep. Carol Miller, R-West Virginia, which would direct a state funeral for a member of the "Greatest Generation" who earned the nation's highest award for valor.

State funerals, and lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda, are reserved for current and former U.S. presidents and those deemed to have rendered "distinguished service." The late Sen. John McCain was granted the honor last August.

Army Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas A. MacArthur had state funerals, but there has never been one for an identified enlisted service member. (There have been state funerals for the "Unknown Soldiers" of World War I and World War II.)

All four living recipients of the Medal of Honor from World War II were enlisted. They include former Marine Warrant Officer Hershel "Woody" Williams of West Virginia and three former soldiers: Tech. Sgt. Charles H. Coolidge of Tennessee, Tech. Sgt. Francis S. Currey of New York and Technician 5th Grade Robert D. Maxwell of Colorado.
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Soviets plotted to target and discredit the men, then considered “high-value targets,”


Stars and Stripes
By Matthew M. Burke and Marcus Kloeckner

Disgraced U.S. Air Force officers were set up, newly uncovered Stasi documents reveal uncovered Stasi documents reveal
According to 250 pages of Stasi files obtained by Stars and Stripes from the German government, the Soviets plotted to target and discredit the men, then considered “high-value targets,” culminating on the night of the crash.

For nearly 40 years, Bill Burhans has steadfastly maintained he wasn’t drunk when, as an Air Force lieutenant colonel driving fellow U.S. military liaisons home from a holiday party with their Soviet counterparts in East Germany, he lost control of the car, careened up an embankment and slammed into a bus.

When the car came to a stop on Dec. 29, 1979, Air Force Lt. Col. James Tonge, his passenger, called to him to move the car to the shoulder. But Burhans sat frozen, except for his trembling hands.

It was as if he’d been “hit in the head with an ax at the slaughterhouse,” Tonge would later tell U.S. investigators in a sworn statement.
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Disabled veteran's German Shepherd service dog brutalized by groomer

Florida groomer picks up tail of disabled veteran's service dog, spins it until it breaks: sheriff

The 8-year-old German Shepherd was so hurt that its tail had to be amputated.
Author: Andrew Krietz
February 25, 2019
"The video is so graphic that I will not post it on Facebook, but trust me when I tell you that it is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to watch in my 39 years of Law Enforcement because of the horrific and cruel way the pet was treated," Ivey wrote.

TT underwent emergency surgery to amputate its tail and is recovering. Its owner is devastated, the sheriff said.

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — A Florida sheriff says he has no problem taking your butt to jail if you hurt an animal in his county.

It's the least of what Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey wrote on Facebook while describing a horrific act of animal cruelty -- so much so that he said it's probably one of the worst cases in his 39 years of law enforcement.

A disabled veteran had his service dog, a German Shepherd named "TT," set for a grooming appointment. James Cordell Doughty Suthann was tasked to take care of the 8-year-old dog. Video tells the rest of the story, Ivey said: The contract employee got upset when the dog would not stand still. The sheriff wrote Suthann grabbed TT's head down "so tight that the dog could no longer move and was obviously in pain."

At one point, Ivey said he saw Suthann lift the dog up by its tail -- and off the ground, causing her to spin a complete 360 degrees. The tail became broken to the extent it could not be reattached.

Suthann wasn't done there, the sheriff said, as he took the nozzle used to bathe the dog and struck it in the back of the head.
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