Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Over 1,000 discover “Beyond Band of Brothers Dishonest”

KOLD Investigates: Arizona veterans, families out thousands after tour company files for bankruptcy

KOLD 13 News
By Shaley Sanders
June 1, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It was supposed to be a bucket list adventure to celebrate our veterans until the trip of a lifetime turned into a trip to nowhere.

Now, hundreds of travelers are out thousands of dollars, and many may not even know.
“Part of the thing that stings the most is that these were trips that were tailored to veterans,” said Alana Stevens.

Stevens, who lives in Tucson, said she wanted to surprise her army veteran husband and WWII history buff with a big trip for his 50th birthday.

“He is a disabled vet. He was a paratrooper,”Steven said.

Stevens said she purchased a WWII tour through Germany through Beyond Band of Brothers Tours. She said she paid the company about $5,000.

With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Stevens said she tried to contact Beyond Band of Brothers Tours to make sure their September trip was still on schedule.

“I Googled Beyond Band of Brothers and the website was black,” Stevens said.

While searching for answers, Stevens said she stumbled upon a Facebook group called, “Beyond Band of Brothers Dishonest.”
read it here

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Marine on board the Yuma, Arizona, tested positive to COVID-19

Marine at Arizona base tested positive for COVID-19 as large-scale ‘mission-essential’ exercise continues

Marine Corps Times
Shawn Snow
March 20, 2020

At least one Marine on board the Yuma, Arizona, air station has tested positive for COVID-19 as thousands of Marines are in town conducting an air and ground integration exercise deemed mission-essential by the commandant, a Marine official confirmed.
A large gathering of Marines aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Friday morning, March 20. Health officials have recommended social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)

The large-scale air and ground coordination training officially kicked off March 8 and is slated to run through April 26. But the conclusion of training falls in the middle of a Defense Department domestic travel ban implemented March 16 to stem the tide of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Yuma city council held a town hall meeting Friday to discuss the latest developments regarding the rapidly spreading virus.

Diana Gomez, the Yuma health director, confirmed to worried residents the first “presumptive” COVID-19 case in the city — meaning an individual tested positive for the virus at a lab but is awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
read it here

Monday, March 16, 2020

Female Marine veteran faces charges for VA fraud as business owner

Marine veteran faces federal charges in alleged VA business fraud

Marine Corps Times
Todd South
March 16, 2020

Valerie Gonzalez, of Tucson, Arizona, faces seven counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement on a VA vendor verification form.
A 51-year-old Marine veteran was indicted recently on charges she committed fraud to obtain government contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a company providing flooring and furniture over a seven-year period.

Valerie Gonzalez, of Tucson, Arizona, faces seven counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement on a VA vendor verification form, according to a justice department statement.

If convicted, Gonzalez faces up to 20 years in federal prison and $250,000 fines for each of the eight counts. The indictment was issued on March 11. There has not yet been another hearing date set, according to court records.

From 2010 through at least May 2017 Gonzalez and The Primus Group allegedly claimed service-disabled veteran-owned small business status to obtain the contracts, according to court documents.

Gonzalez is a service-connected veteran with a zero percent disability rating who served in the Marine Corps from April 1988 to November 1990, according to court documents.
read it here

Monday, January 27, 2020

Missing veteran Jesse Conger's car found in Arizona

Vehicle belonging to missing Scottsdale Marine Jesse Conger found in eastern Arizona

Author: 12 News
January 25, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Toyota Camry that belongs to Jesse Conger, the Marine who went missing last year, has been found, Scottsdale police confirmed Saturday.

The Scottsdale Police Department said the car was located in San Carlos, about 105 miles from the city where Conger was last seen.

No other details were immediately released. The case remains under investigation.
read it here

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Phoenix VA inpatient mental healthcare unit opening today

An exclusive tour inside Phoenix VA inpatient mental healthcare unit

ABC 15 News
By: Sonu Wasu
Jan 13, 2020
"Patients might come here if God forbid, they don't want to live. They might want to try and take their life or if some of their conditions are acting up so they can't function in society," said Dr. McCarthy.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix VA is getting ready to unveil its newly renovated in-patient mental healthcare unit on Tuesday at noon.

A Veterans Affairs Department spokeswoman said the facility spent $1.27 million dollars to give the facility a facelift.

The changes highlight security features to keep veterans safe from harming themselves or others around them, but it's also meant to address the stigma surrounding mental healthcare.

Dr. Maureen McCarthy, the chief of staff at the Phoenix VA said the facility looked very "institutionalized" before. The new changes will make the facility feel more "homey" while addressing safety issues involving veterans who may be considered at risk for harming themselves.
The in-patient mental health care unit which houses 48 beds is in a highly secure section of the building, accessible through multiple locked doors.
read it here

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Missing veteran Jesse Conger...a billionaire wants to know where you are

update They have not given up searching for Jesse Conger!

Make that $30,000

Detroit billionaire offering $10,000 reward for missing Scottsdale marine #MissingVeteranAlert

FOX 10 Phoenix
By Justin Lum
August 25, 2019
Conger may be driving a 2015 Toyota Camry with Nevada license plate number 696G03 and is believed to possibly be in Mexico. Smith says there are many families of veterans with PTSD who just need to reach out before it's too late.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A billionaire and philanthropist from Detroit, Michigan is offering a $10,000 reward to the person who finds a missing combat veteran from Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Police say Jesse Conger was last seen August 14 at his Scottsdale apartment. He is described as a 37-year-old white man, 6'2", 200 pounds, with brown hair, a full beard, and blue eyes. He has tattoos on his left arm and the word "rise" tattooed on his chest.

Conger is a veteran who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to family. Police said he reportedly made suicidal statements in the days leading up to his disappearance.

Bill Pulte, the Chief Executive Officer of Pulte Capital and Blight Authority, offered to help in the search, vowing to give $10,000 in reward money to whoever helps find Conger.
read it here

Monday, August 26, 2019

Vietnam veteran bought tickets to see Rolling tickets and no refund

Vietnam vet hurt after $1,300 tickets for Rolling Stones concert in Phoenix vanish

AZ Family
LiAna Enriquez
August 26, 2019

Things quickly changed when Constable tried to retrieve those downloaded tickets, and they were gone. He said he called Vivid Seats, the company he purchased the tickets from. He said he was shocked when they told him his purchase had been disputed and reversed, so they re-sold his tickets.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Marine veteran who went to a Rolling Stones concert in the 1960s says he was thrilled to get the opportunity to go again more than 50 years later. But he says his tickets for Monday's concert vanished after purchasing them.

"This will probably be my last hoorah cause I’m in my 70s and they’re in their 70s," said Vietnam veteran Lenny Constable. "One of us may go before the other one, but this might very well be the last chance I have to see their concert."

Constable says he's been a life-long Rolling Stones fan.

“That was good machine-gun music. It got ya wired up a little bit," he said.

He says their music helped him through the hard times.

“You'd come back after being out in the bush for 30 days or so, and they'd blast them out," said Constable. "'Paint It Black’ and stuff like that."
read it here

Monday, July 8, 2019

Police Officers honored...and wrongly judged

Instead of arresting a woman accused of shoplifting, these NYPD cops paid for her groceries

CBS News
JULY 5, 2019
"You know, I've been doing this for 22 years. This is not the first time I've paid for food. This is not the first time they've paid for someone's food," he said referring to the two other cops."We don't go out and do it all the time, but, you know, when you look at someone's face and you notice that they need you, and they're actually hungry. It's pretty difficult as a human being to walk away from something like that. We weren't raised like that. So, it's the right thing to do."

Three New York City police officers were working on the Fourth of July when they decided to stop by a Manhattan Whole Foods supermarket. Security guards told the cops a woman was shoplifting groceries -- and officers are now getting massive praise for their generous response.

The cops -- now identified as Lt. Louis Sojo and Officers Esnaidy Cuevas and Michael Rivera -- were on the way to grab a snack and cold drink in the store when security guards told them a woman was stealing food, Sojo said at a press conference Friday. The cops approached her to assess the situation.

"I asked her, 'What's going on?' She told me she was hungry," said Sojo."So, I looked in her bag. I decided -- we decided -- to say 'We'll pay for her food.'"
read it here

But some people would rather take out their anger on officers...

Starbucks and Tempe Meet After Barista Asked Cops to Leave

Phoenix New Times
JULY 8, 2019

Starbucks representatives met with Tempe Police Department officials Sunday and are continuing meetings today to try to smooth relations after a barista asked cops to either move away from a customer who was nervous about their presence or leave the shop.

Rob Ferraro, Tempe police union president, said that on July 4, a barista asked six Tempe police officers to either move out of the line of sight of a customer who said he felt unsafe, or leave the establishment.

The encounter drew national attention and prompted calls from Arizona lawmakers and conservative commentators to boycott Starbucks.

"Unacceptable. Respect our brave police officers! #BackTheBlue #DumpStarbucks," the Arizona Republican Party tweeted.

"So I'm wondering what the person who complained will do if they get robbed or assaulted? Who are you going to call then? Safe spaces aren't going to save you!" said Bret Roberts, a Republican state representative who previously worked for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
read it here

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Soldiers Died by Suicide at Arizona-Mexico Border

Official: Soldiers Died by Suicide at Arizona-Mexico Border

The Associated Press
28 Jun 2019
Officials say 20-year-old Pfc. Steven Hodges of Menifee, California, died June 1 near Nogales, and 21-year-old Pfc. Kevin Christian of Haslet, Texas, died Sunday in Ajo, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Nogales.

TUCSON, Ariz. — A medical examiner says two soldiers helping secure the Mexico border in Arizona died by suicide.

Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Greg Hess said Thursday the soldiers died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
read more here

Saturday, June 22, 2019

'Please don't hurt him. He just needs help'

A frantic call, a final standoff: 'Please don't hurt him. He just needs help'

Arizona Republic
Bree Burkitt
June 19, 2019

Balladares’ mouth opened and he began to spew out a slurry of grievances — the VA couldn’t help him, all his friends were dead, no one cared about him, his country abandoned him.

Tida Garcia lives with a ghost.

Moises Balladares has been dead for almost two years. Avondale police shot him just feet outside the front door of his house — the house where Garcia still lives.

The blood is gone, and so is the small memorial of miniature American flags and patriotic-colored roses that marked the spot where he died on the night of July 25, 2017.

Tida Garcia talks about the shooting of her fiancé, Moises Balladares, a veteran, in her home in Avondale on April 4, 2019. PATRICK BREEN/THE REPUBLIC
But he's still there.

Balladares is present in nearly every part of the house, from the enlarged photos that guard the front door to his Purple Heart medal safely stored in a new shadowbox (after he destroyed the last one on that volatile night). It's in the paint colors and the furniture he chose during his last few good days.

In a sense, it's still his home — his home he tenderly prepared for Garcia and her children before he left them.

"He just always had these little signs he was going to leave us," Garcia said. "But he's always going to be here with me."
read more here

His country abandoned him...

Moises Balladares served this country and paid a price physically and mentally. His family paid too. In a way, so did the police officers who responded that deadly night. 

Ballandares went to the VA for his disabilities and asked for help that was not enough to actually help him heal.

What good did "suicide awareness" do for him? They claim that is the point of raising millions per year in every state but cannot claim to change the veteran's state of mind.

I got into arguments with these groups too many times. In the end, when they can no longer dismiss the facts, their response is "its just a number" and then add in "it is easy to remember" which proves they have no clue. 

What makes them deserve all the funds, publicity and support when the results are so appalling? That is one of the questions I ask when someone says they support one of these groups. It finally dawns on them that making veterans aware of the fact they are killing themselves, is insane. 

Making veterans aware of what PTSD is, what it really is, and then letting them know they can heal to live a happier life is preventing suicides. 

One requires no more work than planning a stunt and getting reporters to show up so they can share it on social media. The other requires an investment of research before standing by their side and giving them the help they need.

Please stop hurting them and start helping them!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Peterson Air Force Base Member's Death Under Investigation in Arizona

Military service member assigned to border mission found dead, foul play not suspected

Associated Press
June 2, 2019

NOGALES, Ariz. — Authorities say a military service member assigned to the Southwest Border Support Mission has died in southern Arizona.
Layers of concertina are added to existing barrier infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border near Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 4, 2019. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Officials at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said in a statement that the military service member was found dead Saturday near Nogales.
read more here

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Son buried Mom in backyard to keep VA and Social Security checks coming?

PCSO: San Tan Valley man buried mom's body in backyard, kept cashing her checks
News Staff
Posted May 22, 2019

SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A man was arrested on Wednesday after confessing to burying his mom's body in his backyard to continue receiving her benefits, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
The arrest of 66-year-old Daniel Shannon comes after a nearly two-month investigation of the disappearance of his 97-year-old mother, Leonie Shannon.

On April 5, deputies went to a home near the area of Jasper Butte and Saratoga Meadows drives, after someone reached out to them with concerns about the whereabouts of Leonie, who had not been seen by anyone since December of 2018.

Daniel was the caregiver for his mother. At the time, he claimed she walked away from the home on Dec. 21, 2018. In addition to saying this isn't his mom's first disappearance, Daniel said they just started getting her Veterans Affairs benefits, and he didn't want to report her missing if she returned.

Daniel's story kept changing during the course of the investigation, PCSO spokeswoman Navideh Forghani said.
read more here

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Missing In America Project buries 17 unclaimed or homeless veterans

Unclaimed, homeless veterans laid to rest

April 27, 2019

MARANA — Under bright blue skies, dozens gather at the Arizona Veterans Cemetery in Marana Saturday.

The Southern Arizona Missing In America Project buries 17 unclaimed or homeless veterans complete with a ceremony of appreciation.

“It’s closure for them and it’s the promise of closure for us,” Ross Scanio, an Iraq veteran and spokesman for the Missing In America Project said. “It’s difficult to quantify the impact of being in combat and losing your fellow service members or just the carnage that is war.”

Servicemen folded American flags and presented them to veterans in attendance including Carl Randall.
Randall served in both Korea and Vietnam.

Last fall he and his wife lived in Paradise, California.

They lost their home and dozens of neighbors to the ferocious Camp Fire.
read more here

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Arizona now has way to track veterans committing suicide...because they did not before

Governor Ducey Signs Bill To Better Track Veteran Suicides

News Release
April 17, 2019

New Data Will Help Inform Arizona’s Efforts To Prevent Veteran Suicide

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed HB 2488, legislation sponsored by Representative Jay Lawrence, directing the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) to submit an annual report improving the tracking of veteran suicides in Arizona.

Veterans face a risk of suicide four times greater than non-veterans in Arizona. Until now, Arizona did not have a formal way to track or report veteran suicides in the state. The new annual report will provide critical data to help Arizona understand and prevent veteran suicide. The report will begin in January 2020 and will track a variety of data points that will provide historical and regional trends and compare Arizona's resident veteran suicide rate to the national rate and other regions across the country.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom, and this country and Arizona are going to continue doing everything we can to support our veterans and prevent veteran suicide,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation will provide Arizona with a necessary tool to understand the issues that cause veteran suicide, and implement data-driven policy to address this devastating issue.”

“There are no easy answers when it comes to veteran suicides. With this new report, Arizona will now be able to define the scope of the devastating problem of veteran suicide and find a way to prevent them and bolster our veterans’ services,” said Representative Lawrence. “I thank my colleagues for the bipartisan support and Governor Ducey for signing this legislation to help Arizona’s veterans.”

The FY2020 budget includes increased funding for Arizona’s “Be Connected” suicide prevention program. The Be Connected program connects service members, veterans and their families to support and resources. In 2018, the program assisted over 2,000 individuals. This investment will also support community outreach efforts to find additional public, private and non-profit partnership opportunities and increase awareness of the critical resources available to Arizona’s military and veteran communities.

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife
Side by side the same way you fought every other battle!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pickup truck turned into path of firefighters responding to emergency did not end well

3 civilians dead, 3 Phoenix firefighters injured in fire truck crash, FD says

Author: 12 News
April 7, 2019
A 6-month-old baby is among those who have died in the crash at 29th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, police say.

All three injured firefighters were taken to the hospital, two of them initially in critical condition but the police department says all three firefighters are now stable. One was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon and the two others will remain in the hospital overnight for precautionary reasons.
PHOENIX — Officials say two adults and a baby are dead, and three firefighters are injured after a serious crash that caused a fire truck to roll over in west Phoenix Sunday morning. The fire engine was on its way to an emergency fire call when it collided with a pickup truck at 29th Avenue and Bethany Home Road shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday, Sgt. Vince Lewis with the Phoenix Police Department said. The fire truck had its lights and sirens on. read more here

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Peoria

'The Wall That Heals': Hundreds visit traveling replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Peoria

Arizona Republic
Nathan J. Fish
March 16, 2019
Ballman walked over to another section of the wall, getting down on his knees and pointing to another name near the bottom, Alton L Staples III. Ballman knew him as Tony.

Staples and Ballman were in the Boy Scouts together before Staples dropped out of high school to join the military at age 17.

George Ballman looks at the name of his fallen friend at a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Pleasant Harbor at Lake Pleasant in Peoria on March 16, 2019. Nathan J. Fish/The Republic

As hundreds of visitors walked along the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Peoria to search for the names of their family and loved ones, George Ballman, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, held back tears as he remembered his fallen friends.

"You stand back and you walk through and you look at all these names," Ballman said. "They had a life, they had a family, they were real people. They played baseball, they played golf, they were kids."

Ballman gestured to one name in a sea of thousands on the wall, Harvey M. Reynolds — Mike, he called him.

"He got killed in a chopper accident, he was a mechanic … he went up in the chopper to help the pilot troubleshoot the problem," Ballman said. "He didn't make it back."

Ballman, a snowbird from Missouri, decided to volunteer at the park to help set up, but after experiencing multiple emotional moments, he decided to keep volunteering throughout the weekend.
read more here

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Flagstaff officer found dead

Flagstaff officer found dead from suicide, police report

Arizona Daily Sun
SCOTT BUFFON Sun Staff Reporter
Mar 13, 2019

A Flagstaff Police Department officer has died of an alleged suicide Tuesday, Flagstaff police officials report.

Officer Daniel Beckwith had been on paid leave since June 2018 and living in Mesa with his wife, according to the Flagstaff Police Department on Facebook. Beckwith was a 5-year veteran of the Flagstaff Police Department.

The Mesa Police Department responded to a report of a suicidal subject on March 12. Upon their arrival, they discovered Beckwith dead at his home. There was no one else at the home when police arrived.
read more here

#BreakTheSilentService and #TakeBackYourLife

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Veteran in crisis began to heal on Arizona Trail

The Arizona Trail chrysalis for life

Payson Roundup
Micheal Nelson
February 19, 2019
Mike Buckley makes his way from the Roosevelt Marina where he met a very friendly and helpful bar owner.

Mike Buckley stared at the gun on his desk.

“It was the night I started to crack,” he said in front of more than 200 members of the Arizona Trail Association at its annual meeting recently.

The 30-year Army veteran commanded a bomb squad in Afghanistan, but after months of sending his boys home in pieces, he’d reached his breaking point.

Sitting with the gun and his despair, he had no way to know the Arizona Trail would save him.

Little did he know a bartender on a golf cart, an Australian woman with body odor and a Pine winemaker with a bathrobe encountered along the trail would restore his faith in humanity — and heal the wound in his soul.

He ultimately found himself again in a charred burn scar, near the end of the 800-mile-long trail.

“At Telephone Hill, passage 41 runs through a burn scar,” said Buckley. “It incinerated ponderosa pines. Even to go out through the devastation is profound because you see life. I became overwhelmed. It was like a chrysalis of new life and I realized it was who I was.”
read more here

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Community comes together to help amputee move on to healing

Veterans community comes together to help double amputee move to Arkansas

AZ Central
Nathan J. Fish, Arizona Republic
Feb. 16, 2019

With a wide smile on his face, Matt Zajac, a double-amputee Army veteran, wheeled himself outside, stopping to light up a cigarette. Boxes lined his driveway.

"Keep the beer, throw out everything else," Zajac told one of a volunteers with a laugh.

Almost a dozen volunteers from multiple veterans organizations joined forces Saturday to help Zajac move out of his home in San Tan Valley.

Volunteers wearing black Changed By Nature Outdoors shirts bustled around, carrying boxes and furniture in and out of Zajac's home. The volunteers loaded up the moving truck parked in front of the home near Bella Vista Road and Hunt Highway.

Zajac is moving to participate in an Arkansas-based wounded-veteran program with We Are The 22, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing veteran suicide. The Purple Heart awardee said he reached out to the organization for help with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Disabled veteran has chance to talk again...but VA won't pay for it


February 12, 2019

GARDEN VALLEY — When William “Bud” Paine descended to the lower levels of the Naval Destroyer Escort to stand by on fire watch as welders took to maintenance of the ship, he was handed a canteen and a bandanna.

“'Just keep the bandanna wet,' they said. 'This stuff won’t hurt you,'” Paine, now 63, recalled.

"This stuff" was the 96,000 pounds of asbestos sharing living quarters on board with the Navy sailors.

His exposure to insulation material during his service led to a throat cancer diagnosis in 2001, a year of failed radiation treatment and the final option of removing his voice box in 2002.

Paine has communicated for over 15 years by forcing air through a prosthesis that acts as his vocal chords and must be changed every three months. Relearning how to talk took him six months after the procedure.

Hope to regain his voice again came by an ad for a new clinical trial on his Facebook feed last spring. The Mayo Clinic campus in Arizona is attempting to give individuals who have had their larynx removed — about 60,000 Americans — the chance to get it back by organ transplant or rebuilding their own with stem cells.

Though Paine's disability resulted from his military service, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs' strict policy against funding clinical trials has left him in a desperate search for the funds.

Clash for funds

Paine loved being at sea. Now, he can’t even step foot in a boat.

“If something happened,” he said, “I’d drown immediately.”

He doesn’t know if any other members of his Navy crew from 1972 to 1974 suffered cancer or other radiation-related illnesses, but he can’t imagine they didn’t.
read more here