Showing posts with label Army Reservists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Army Reservists. Show all posts

Saturday, May 11, 2019

At 35, Army Reservist... finally a soldier

He couldn't enlist after 9/11 because he was undocumented. At 35, he just finished boot camp

CBS News
MAY 10, 2019
Vargas' enlistment in the Army Reserve marked the culmination of a remarkable, nearly two-decades-long journey from undocumented immigrant to trail-blazing attorney and activist. It also served as a stark reminder that the country Vargas has fought so hard to serve in uniform is still leaving many — including his family — in the shadows.
Specialist Cesar Vargas, 35, a former undocumented immigrant, graduated from basic training in late April after unsuccessfully trying to enlist for nearly two decades. CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. — One by one, the young soldiers stepped forward methodically, announcing their rank, last name and hometown.

By the time it was Cesar Vargas' turn, his brothers and sisters in arms in Charlie Company had mapped out locations across the U.S. and around the world — from Omaha, Nebraska and Brooklyn, to West Africa's Burkina Faso and Lima, Peru.

"Puebla, Mexico!" the 35-year-old Vargas shouted, stepping in front of his comrades, many of whom had recently graduated from high school.

The stark age difference between him and the other boot camp graduates was not lost on Vargas, now a specialist in the Army Reserve. Since he was a teenager, he's been trying to join the armed forces. "After 9/11 — as a New Yorker — I took it very personally," he told CBS News. "And while many of my friends were trying to enlist, I couldn't because of my immigration status."
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sergeant First Class Kevin Heins came home

Myrtle Beach police officer comes home after serving in Afghanistan for a year
WBTW 13 News
By Sina Gebre-Ab
Published: May 20, 2017

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Dozens of people filled Myrtle Beach International Airport to welcome a local hero home on Saturday.
Sergeant First Class Kevin Heins came home to Myrtle Beach, after serving in Afghanistan for a year with the Army Reserves. He’s served in the Reserves for a little over 27 years, and this was his last deployment overseas, much to the joy of his wife and two teenage children. 

Heins is also a Captain with the Myrtle Beach Police Department. He’s been a part of the force for 25 years, and many of his fellow officers were also at the airport to welcome him back.
read more here

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Remains of Combat Medic Will Naugle Found by Hikers

Family: Body of missing U.S. Army reservist found
KOIN 6 News Staff
Published: February 20, 2017
Will Naugle was last seen on January 26
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The body of a missing U.S. Army reservist has been found, according to family members.

Will Naugle was last seen on January 26. He was scheduled to report for annual training and vanished.

Naugle was a combat medic and connected to the U.S. Army Reserves at Camp Whithycombe in Clackamas.

The reservist’s family said he was found dead at Powell Butte in Crook County. The family also said they believe Naugle committed suicide.

Naugle’s body was found by hikers, and it is being turned over to a funeral home.
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fort Bragg Army Reservist Faces Charges After Mosque Incident


Retired Army chaplain of mosque encounter: 'I never expected that'

Langford, 36, and a major in the Army Reserve on Fort Bragg, is accused of making threats against worshippers at Masjid Al-Madina.

Soldier charged in Hoke mosque incident suffers from PTSD, woman says
Fay Observer
By Michael Futch, staff writer
Updated 9 hrs ago

During his active-duty service with the Army, Langford deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2008, according to Capt. Eric Connor, a spokesman for the Army Reserve Command on Fort Bragg.
A soldier accused of making threats against worshipers in a Hoke County mosque on Thursday suffers from PTSD, a woman who identified herself as his mother said.

The soldier, Thomas Russell Langford, 36, of the 1700 block of Sykes Pond Road, is a major in the Army Reserve assigned to the G-33 Mobilization Section of the U.S. Army Reserve Command on Fort Bragg, a spokesman said.

He faces charges of ethnic intimidation, assault with a deadly weapon, stalking and other counts in the incident at the Masjid Al-Madina mosque.
read more here

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Iraq Veteran Fired by Trump University for Being "Weekend Warrior"

Iraq war veteran claims Trump University fired her for serving in the Army Reserve 
Corrine Sommers dismissed in October 2007
June 02, 2016
"It's a derogatory term (weekend warrior) when it comes from someone else, especially when I'm an Iraqi veteran," she testified.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - An Iraq war veteran claims she was fired by Trump University because she needed two days a month off in order to serve in the Army Reserve.

Corrine Sommers, who worked for Trump University for five months, sued Trump University after she was dismissed in October 2007. She reached a confidential settlement in that case. But she later alleged that she was fired because of her military service in a November 2012 deposition she gave in a federal class action suit that accused the school of fraud. That deposition was unsealed this week.

Sommers alleged that a supervisor at the school "complained when I would have to take days off to do my military service." And she said that as part of a poor performance review she received, "they wrote it was an issue that I was in the military." She needed to serve two days a month while she worked at Trump University, she testified. She said she was fired when returning from a vacation that she had refused to cut short to respond to a call asking her to come into work.
read more here

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Maine Veteran Family Warns of "Silent Tidal Wave" of PTSD

War won’t let go: PTSD bedevils Maine family 
Bangor Daily News 
By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff Posted 
Feb. 16, 2016
The 94th Military Police Company in Ramadi, Iraq, Christmas 2003.
Darcie said she worries that Scott is one drop in “a silent tidal wave” of Mainers who served in Iraq, then came home to find that the services they need aren’t there. “I don’t think people recognize the full measure of the cost that veterans have paid and their families and us,” she said. 
BRUNSWICK, Maine — Scott Couture joined the Army Reserves in 1999 because it was the right thing to do for his country — and for his family. 

With one young son and another on the way, enlisting in a military police unit seemed like both “a good deal” and a relatively safe way to get serious about supporting a growing family. At the time, the 94th Military Police Company hadn’t been deployed since the first Gulf War. 

But after the fall of Baghdad three years later, everything changed. Scott, a Maine Marine Patrol officer, kissed his wife, Darcie, and their two boys, then headed for war. 

The 94th arrived in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in April 2003 for what would become the second-longest deployment of any unit since World War II, including 15 months in combat zones such as the notoriously violent “Sunni Triangle.” 

After returning from Iraq, Scott suffered from irritability, depression and insomnia and was eventually diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. It cost him his job as an officer for the Maine Marine Patrol, which enforces laws and leads search-and-rescue missions on the state’s waters. 

PTSD also has caused perhaps irreparable damage to Scott’s relationship with Darcie and their two teenage sons. It may still cost the family their beloved farmhouse on the outskirts of Brunswick — depending on whether the Maine Public Employees Retirement System overturns an initial decision to deny Scott disability retirement benefits
They battled dysentery from open latrines, dehydration because of rationed water, 132-degree heat and the maddening sandflies. Reservists drove unarmored Humvees and wore regular flak vests rather than full ballistic vests issued to special forces soldiers. read more here

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Operation Love Letters At Tampa Veterans Memorial Park

Families to honor fallen military in Tampa during Operation Love Letters
Tampa Tribune
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: February 12, 2016
“The event provides an atmosphere to create new relationships with other surviving families,” Giddens said. “It is a chance to gain spiritual insight and resilience, and to interact with the Army Reserve community.”
For Yolanda Mercado, the pain of losing her son while he was deployed in Afghanistan more than four years ago is still raw.

That’s why she is looking forward to Operation Love Letters, a commemoration of Americans who died while in service to the country that is being held for the first time in Tampa on Saturday.

“It is important to me because it is to honor our loved ones,” said Mercado, whose son, Army Pvt. Jalfred D. Vaquerano, was 20 when he died from his wounds in December 2011 after being shot in Logar province. “It’s a day to remember the good times we had with them and share it with others.”

Operation Love Letters was created to bring Gold Star families together to remember their loved ones, said Mercado. The families bring their loved ones’ favorite dessert to share with their memories,, she said. They also write letters to them, do crafts as mementos and release balloons “with the hope that it reaches their loved ones,” she said.

The event will be held at the Tampa Veterans Memorial Park and Museum as a collaboration between the Army Reserve Survivor Outreach Services (part of Army Reserve Family Programs), the Army Reserve Medical Command, as well as survivor family members, said Marshall F. Pesta, an Army Reserve spokeswoman.
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Army Reservist Thanks Allstate For Support

Veteran honors his employer as “patriotic”
KIDK 3 News
Luke Jones
Jul 01, 2015

A national insurance firm is being honored as a “patriotic employer” for its treatment of one of its Chubbuck employees.

On Wednesday, Allstate Insurance was presented with the Department of Defense's Patriot Award. 

The company was nominated by Maj. Dan Rainey, a two-year employee of Allstate's Chubbuck call center.

As an Army reservist, the Iraq War veteran often has to spend weeks away from his civilian job. But he says Allstate is more than understanding.

“They've made it very easy for me to do my duty and be there at the time I need to be there,” said Rainey.
read more here
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Oviedo Florida Rock and Brews Memorial to Fallen Soldier

Tribute to Local Fallen Soldier
Unveiling of a memorial to Oviedo fallen warrior Army Spc. Brenden N. Salazar, KIA 2012 Afghanistan at the age of 20. Rock and Brews Restaurant, Dave Matthews, Never Forgotten presented a tribute to Brenden and all who gave their lives for this country.
Patriot Guard Riders
Next time you go to Rock and Brews, you'll know how this memorial got there.

Spc. Brenden Salazar Dedication January 26, 2013

On Friday, January 25, 2013, Hagerty High School of Oviedo FL dedicated a plaque and held a service to honor the life of Spc. Brenden Neal Salazar, killed in action in Afghanistan on July 22, 2012. Members of Patriot Guard Riders surrounded the area with flags in tribute to this young man. Both of his parents are Army Reservists and Brenden was born on Fort Bragg March 24, 1992. Brenden's sister Hannah has cystic fibrosis.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Life At Home After Combat Hardest Part

‘You feel so isolated’: Maine veteran talks about life at home after 2 tours 
Bangor Daily News
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted May 15, 2015
“When you’re back, you feel so isolated. You’re suddenly tossed out of your element,” he said. “You have to come home and adjust. If you don’t have somebody there who understands all the time, it’s difficult to get by.”
Robin Aston
Army Reserve Spc. David Aston (center) returned home from Iraq
with the 94th Military Police Company, trained in Saco, in 2011.
In the photo with Aston are fellow reservists from southern Maine,
Branden Winkel (left) and Ben Johnson.

ORONO, Maine — When former Army Reserve Spc. David T. Aston II, a 2009 Bangor High School graduate, left on his second overseas tour, he thought coming home would be a breeze.

It wasn’t.

“I thought it would be easy,” he said Wednesday in the hallway of Wells Commons during the fifth annual conference of the Maine Military & Community Network. “It was much more difficult.”

He left Maine for the first time in 2010 with the 94th Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and was deployed to Iraq to protect Outpost Muthana, a small post at the old Baghdad municipal airport.

Then he deployed again in 2013 with the 344th Military Police Company for a year in Afghanistan’s Parwan province, where he spent time training the Afghan army.

Both were dangerous jobs.
Serving overseas two times was difficult, but “the transition back is the hardest part,” recalled Aston, who received his discharge papers Thursday, completing his time in the service.

Living in constant danger takes its toll, he said.
Department of Veterans Affairs psychologist Dr. Jonathan Shay, who specializes in combat trauma, talked to veterans and other attendees about community reintegration after combat. Dr. Richard Lumb gave a presentation about ways to remain resilient after facing trauma. Pentagon Cmdr. Brent Embry talked about forging alliances between the military and community, and Joan Hunter, assistant surgeon general, talked about programs that support behavioral health.

There also were others on hand to talk about equine therapy for veterans, science-based natural therapies and other veteran resources.
read more here

Monday, May 4, 2015

Roanoke Sheriff Fired Afghanistan Veteran Back From Combat

Afghanistan veteran sues after Roanoke County sheriff's office fires her
Roanoke Times
By Carmen Forman
May 3, 2015

Pamela Huff guarded the Roanoke County courthouse for years, and now her wrongful termination lawsuit against the county sheriff’s office may have her as a plaintiff in one of the same courtrooms she protected.

The former bailiff is suing the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office under its former head Mike Winston for her termination after she came back from serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Reserve.

Her lawyer, Tommy Strelka, filed motions for sanctions and partial summary judgment April 22 that argue he can prove his client’s case without a trial.

Her case argues that she was terminated during a time when she was protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which is similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, but for members of the armed services. Huff argues the sheriff’s office terminated her without a reasonable effort to accommodate her post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorders, according to court documents.

“She was just a changed person when she came back and she’ll admit to that,” Strelka said. “She was very bubbly and cheerful, and when she came back she had lost a lot of that.”

The case was originally heard in federal court, but U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad sent it back to Roanoke County Circuit Court, ruling that according to the 11th Amendment, a state entity like the sheriff’s office could not be sued in federal court.

Strelka said he thinks this is the first USERRA case to be heard in a Virginia state court. Cases regarding the federal law are normally heard in federal court, he said.

Huff was hired as a sheriff’s deputy in 2001 and was promoted to bailiff about five years later.
read more here

Monday, December 8, 2014

Florida: Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe Actions Worthy of Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor campaign continues for sergeant who saved troops in Iraq
Los Angeles Times
By David Zucchino
Published: December 7, 2014

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe
LOS ANGELES (Tribune News Service) — If he had known in 2005 what he knows today, Brig. Gen. Gary Brito would have nominated Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe for the Medal of Honor.

Brito knew in 2005 that Cashe, his uniform soaked with fuel, had plunged into a burning vehicle in Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, to rescue soldiers who were on fire. But only months later did Brito, Cashe's battalion commander, learn the full details of Cashe's courage that day outside the city of Samarra.

Cashe rescued six badly burned soldiers while under enemy small-arms fire. His own uniform caught fire, engulfing him in flames. Even with second- and-third degree burns over three-fourths of his body, Cashe continue to pull soldiers out of a vehicle set ablaze when a roadside bomb ruptured a fuel tank.

Before all of those details emerged, Cashe was awarded a Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for valor, after Brito nominated him. But soon after learning more about Cashe's actions, Brito mounted an unusual Medal of Honor campaign that has continued for more than seven years.

If the latest batch of sworn statements submitted to the Army by Brito is successful, Cashe will become the first African American among 16 service members awarded the nation's highest medal for valor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Cashe, 35, died of his burns three weeks after the bomb attack. Seven of the 16 medals have been awarded posthumously.

"You don't often find truly selfless sacrifice where someone put his soldiers' welfare before his own," Brito said. "Sgt. Cashe was horribly wounded and continued to fight to save his men."
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Article from Orlando Sentinel in July
Friends, family gather as Army names Reserve Center after fallen hero
By Susan Jacobson
Orlando Sentinel
Published: July 20, 2014

SANFORD, Fla. — Gary Mills owes his life to the late Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe.

Mills was one of half a dozen soldiers whom Cashe pulled from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle after a roadside bomb hit it in Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005.

Badly burned over most of his body, Cashe died Nov. 9, 2005.

But his name will live on in Sanford, where Mills joined dozens of Cashe's fellow soldiers, friends, family and dignitaries at a ceremony Saturday naming the new U.S. Army Reserve Center after the fallen hero.

"It's long overdue," Mills, 34, of Jacksonville said of the recognition.

On the lawn of the 31,030-square-foot training building near Orlando Sanford International Airport, speakers praised Cashe's bravery, selflessness and dedication and read proclamations from Gov. Rick Scott and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett recognizing Cashe's sacrifice.

Representatives of Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, also paid their respects.

Two of Cashe's brothers and a sister -- he comes from a blended family of 18 siblings -- spoke of his impeccable character and remembered his love of hunting and fishing.

Cashe joined the Army immediately after graduating from Oviedo High School in 1988. He had deployed to Iraq once before during Operation Iraqi Freedom and had previously served in Bosnia and the first Gulf War.

When he died at 35, Cashe left a wife and three children in addition to his mother, siblings and a large extended family.
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Donald "Donnie" Wendt First Responder's Life Remembered

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 30, 2014

Donald Wendt was a firefigher in Bradenton Florida. Yesterday his life was memorialized by an overflow of family, friends and firefighters.

Bradenton Herald Obituary
Donald "Donnie" Wendt
Has left this world to move on to a better world. He is survived by his father, Robert Wendt and his wife, Carol; mother, Mary Maloney and her husband, Dennis; daughter, Ashley Wendt Steele, her husband, Robbie, their daughter, Abbie and baby Steele tbd; sisters, Deborah Wendt, Carolyn Sherry and her husband, Ken. A; nephew, Eric Wendt and his wife, Allison. His second family, the Bradenton Fire Department and a multitude of friends. He will be remembered for his sense of humor, his passion for his job, his example to others, his love for his daughter, his bravery, his willingness to risk his life for others and his loyalty to others. He was a wonderful son, father, brother, "Happy" and friend. This world will never be the same but Heaven has gained a Valiant Angel. We love him. A Celebration of his Life will be 2:00PM, Saturday, November 29, 2014 at Brown and Sons Funeral Homes and Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209. Memorial donations to Paws for Vets.

This was the headline of his life coming to an end
Officer fatally shoots firefighter brandishing guns

It is how most people will remember when they hear his name.
MANATEE COUNTY - A Bradenton firefighter who had been honored for his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom was shot and killed by a city police officer Sunday night after the firefighter reportedly approached officers brandishing two handguns.

At 9:30 p.m. Sunday, neighbors called police to report that Donald Wendt, 50, was outside his home in the 3300 block of Oxford Drive waving a weapon and threatening to kill himself and his sister.

A SWAT team and hostage negotiators were summoned. Wendt was inside when police arrived, so officers set up a perimeter and evacuated people from nearby homes.

Team members were trying to contact Wendt by phone when he re-emerged from the home and pointed a gun at police.

Bradenton Police SWAT Officer Jason Nuttall — a 15-year veteran — fired one shot at Wendt, a firefighter/engineer for the Bradenton Fire Department. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski said Wendt served two tours of military duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom and may have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“It's a terribly tragic situation,” Radzilowski said. “Police officers are upset, firefighters are upset. It's just something you never want to see happen.”

But as with everything else, there was so much more to the story that was not reflected in the headline.
Wendt joined the Bradenton Fire Department in December 2003 after volunteering with Cedar Hammock-Southern Manatee while working at Ten-8 Fire Equipment.

A year later, he spent 13 months in Iraq with the United States Army Reserve. Wendt received a Bronze Star Medal for his efforts.

On May 13, 2005, as a recovery section sergeant with HHC Platoon, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor and Task Force Liberty, Wendt “went to the aid of a fellow soldier who was injured and trapped under a burning vehicle during a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosives Device attack,” according to the U.S. War Office. He used tow chains to move the burning vehicle away from the injured soldier.

Don's life meant so much more to those who knew him. I listened to family members and another firefighter along with a Chaplain talk about the man behind the headline.

They said he was always there when they needed him. He always wanted people to be happy and did whatever he could to make them laugh. He was also there to listen. The problem was he didn't want to talk much about himself. They saw him troubled but as he would start to open up, he would soon change the subject.

Don was rare. He risked his life as a firefighter as well as a soldier because that was what he was put on this earth do to. Yet it was that very quality within him that caused the pain and made him feel as if he didn't want to burden anyone with his own troubles.
Bradenton resident Jeremy Hillengas, who said he's known Wendt for about eight years, reconnected with him Sunday at a local bar, and last saw him around 7 p.m.

“He didn't talk crazy or seem to have any issues,” Hillengas said. “It was a total shock. I was with him literally hours before it happened, and I've been thinking 'Did I miss something,' but there were no signs.”

There were signs but no one knew what those signs meant. While PTSD has made national news long enough for people to know the term, few know what it means.

Wendt joined the Bradenton Fire Department in December 2003 after volunteering with Cedar Hammock-Southern Manatee while working at Ten-8 Fire Equipment.

A year later, he spent 13 months in Iraq with the United States Army Reserve. Wendt received a Bronze Star Medal for his efforts.

On May 13, 2005, as a recovery section sergeant with HHC Platoon, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor and Task Force Liberty, Wendt “went to the aid of a fellow soldier who was injured and trapped under a burning vehicle during a Vehicle Born Improvised Explosives Device attack,” according to the U.S. War Office. He used tow chains to move the burning vehicle away from the injured soldier.

Wendt volunteers with the Bradenton Fire Fighters Association at the annual Community Haven holiday event, received the BFFA Above and Beyond Award in 2005 and was awarded the BFD Distinguished Service Medal in 2008.

Bradenton city councilman Gene Gallo summed it up in the interview with the Herald Tribune.
Gallo said he knew Wendt, who volunteered for a second tour overseas. Gallo has not had a chance to talk to Wendt's family or his fellow firefighters.

“It seems like every day you read about this, but when it hits home, it's different,” Gallo said.

It is different because you know the person far beyond what the headline says about them.

Family members are devastated and so are firefighters. We can only imagine what the SWAT Team is going through. When I got the news from his Mom Mary in an email, my heart grieved. I knew Mary from Facebook but we hadn't met until yesterday. I only knew about Don through what she was willing to share, or should I say, what she was able to share.

It is hard to grasp the complexity of symptoms to distinguish the difference between what life does and what PTSD does. We may interact with someone wondering when they turned into a jerk because we don't know how to wonder what happened to them that turned them into one.

With PTSD, if they don't tell you they are in turmoil, there is no way for you to know why they act the way they do.

When they don't have the professional help they need, they usually find they have no outlet to open up, so they shut down. These folks are not like the rest of us. They are the people who get things done, show up ready to sacrifice their lives if need be and they are actually first responders in every part of their lives.

When you read about them, remember Don's story and then know we have to try harder to help them understand that asking for help is the right thing to do so they can stay here and help more of us afterwards.

The military makes it harder for them to seek help especially when a General came out and said,
Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations.

And then went on to say it had to do with not having a supportive family. I saw his supportive family yesterday and they included about 100 firefighters. I heard how much intestinal fortitude he had and he showed it in Bradenton as well as Iraq.

It is not the fault of the family, or his firefighter family or those who served with him unable to attend the memorial because of weather. It is the fault of military leaders not understanding those who serve under their command.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Army Reservist Stole Identities of Deployed Soliders

Former U.S. Army Reservist Jailed For Stealing Identities of Soldiers in Afghanistan
NBC Los Angeles
By Michael Larkin and Gadi Schwartz
Nov 5, 2014

A former U.S. Army reservist from Pomona is heading to prison for stealing the identities of fellow soldiers stationed in Afghanistan after he pleaded no contest Tuesday.

Gustavo Cervantes was sentenced at court in downtown Los Angeles to 3 years, 8 months in prison for stealing personal information from members of his platoon while in Kandahar.

Investigators said he sent the personal information to his cousin Rigoberto Cortez in Pomona, who would use the details to open up lines of credit. He racked up nearly $200,000 worth of luxury cars, TVs, computers, furniture, and appliances.
read more here

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vietnam Veteran Earned Medals 46 Years Before He Got Them

Milford Vietnam veteran gets 17 medals, ribbon 46 years later
New Haven Register
Pam McLoughlin
October 21, 2014
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, left, presents Frank Somohano of Milford with medals and a ribbon Tuesday marking his military service.
Arnold Gold — New Haven Register
It’s been some 46 years since Frank Somohano Sr. served in Vietnam, but as of Tuesday he’s going to need a bigger display case for his medals and ribbons.

Somohano, 67, who served in the U.S. military for 22 years, was officially presented with 17 medals and a ribbon Tuesday at City Hall by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Somohano served as a Marine for four years, going to Vietnam in 1964, then the Army for 16 years, and the Army Reserve.

“They mean everything. … I feel blessed,” he said of the new decorations. “I was pleasantly surprised when this happened.”
read more here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Florida Governor Scott Sued by Iraq Veteran Demoted While Deployed

Iraq war vet sues Gov. Scott, state of Florida over job demotion
Tampa Bay Times
Steve Bousquet
Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TALLAHASSEE — A decorated combat veteran of war in Iraq and Afghanistan sued Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday, claiming the state illegally eliminated his state job while he was serving his country overseas.

Walter Krietlow III is a master sergeant in the U.S. Army reserve who was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star during two tours of duty in Iraq. He's a Republican who said he voted for Scott in 2010 and denied that his filing of a lawsuit less than seven weeks before the election is politically motivated.

"This is not political," Kreitlow said. "This is for the citizen soldiers out there who are taken advantage of. They miss out on promotions. They are not given days off."

Krietlow, 45, works as a police officer in the state alcoholic beverage and tobacco division, part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). He has worked for the state since 2006, but he wants his old job back.

While Kreitlow was at an Army training camp in Kentucky in the fall of 2011 preparing for a third deployment overseas, he says, DBPR moved his job from his Tallahassee home to Miami as part of a law enforcement consolidation effort that Scott supported.
read more here

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fourth grade teacher learns of son being wounded in class

Scottsdale woman identifies son among soldiers injured in Afghanistan
AZ Central
Brittany Hargrave, The Republic
August 16, 2014

As the rest of the world was learning about an attack at an Afghanistan training base near Kabul this month, a Scottsdale elementary school teacher was dealing with the event in a personal way.

Allison Vredevoogd said her son, Army Reserve staff Sgt. Lon Giancola, called her the morning of Aug. 5 from a Kabul hospital, where he was recovering from multiple gunshot wounds to his right arm suffered in the attack.

"The first words out of his mouth were, 'I want you to know I can move my fingers and toes,' " Vredevoogd said. "Then I sat down real quick."

That first call lasted just two minutes. Giancola, 25, insisted he was all right. Vredevoogd wasn't reassured.

She received a second call the next day, a video call this time. But this time, she had an audience: 32 fourth-grade students.

For the children, unexpected witnesses to an emotional moment, the experience became a real-life classroom lesson about the world, the war and the reality of wounded soldiers.
read more here

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Army Reserve training to stop suicides with program that already failed

There is nothing the military is doing that has not been done and failed before. They can do all the meetings, training and Power Points they want but if they are still not even explaining to the troops why they have PTSD, they will keep failing. The programs have been pushed for years even though suicides within the military went up as well as among the veteran population.
News: Army Reserve Soldiers come together to learn how to save lives
200th Military Police Command
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Bell
July 16, 2014

FORT MEADE, Md. – Army Reserve Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Command and other major Reserve commands took time away from their military and civilian jobs to learn a skill that could save lives.

Twenty-five Soldiers, dressed in business casual, sat in a small room surrounded by large paper taped to the walls covered in words and phrases as a result of several group brainstorming activities during a week-long Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training course recently.

After completion of the course, Soldiers were qualified to teach the two-day ASIST course to Army Soldiers and civilians.

Brig. Gen. Phillip Churn, the commanding general of the 200th Military Police Command, took several minutes to talk with the course participants and expressed the importance of the program for active duty, Army National Guard and the Army Reserve Soldiers.

“This program is one of my top priorities,” he said. “We must give our Soldiers the proper education and resources to help our 200th MPCOM families. Some of us may only wear the uniform one weekend a month, but they are our family 365 days a year.”

Churn, who commands more than 14,000 Soldiers and the largest military police organization in the Army, said suicide prevention and saving lives is a critical mission for every Soldier.

“We must help our families who live in 44 states, and it starts right here in the classroom,” he said.

“The information you are receiving today is critical for laying the foundation of a healthy Army Reserve family.”

ASIST is required by the Army for all personnel whose duties are likely to bring them in contact with Soldiers, civilians and family members who are in crisis, said David Dummer, the command’s suicide prevention program manager.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More bad news as Military Suicides increase

Army Releases June 2013 Suicide Information

The Army released suicide data today for the month of June 2013. During June, among active-duty soldiers, there were 14 potential suicides: four have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.

 For May 2013, the Army reported 12 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers: two have been confirmed as suicides and 10 are under investigation.

For CY 2013, there have been 77 potential active-duty suicides: 42 have been confirmed as suicides and 35 remain under investigation.

Updated active-duty suicide numbers for CY 2012: 185 (166 have been confirmed as suicides and 19 remain under investigation).

During June 2013, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 8 potential suicides (4 Army National Guard and 4 Army Reserve): none have been confirmed as suicides and eight remain under investigation.

For May 2013, among that same group, the Army reported 10 potential suicides; however, subsequent to the report, 4 more cases were added bringing May’s total to 14 (11 Army National Guard and 3 Army Reserve): two have been confirmed as a suicide and 12 cases remain under investigation.

For CY 2013, there have been 81 potential not on active duty suicides (51 Army National Guard and 30 Army Reserve): 40 have been confirmed as suicides and 41 remain under investigation.

 Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for CY 2012: 140 (93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve): 138 have been confirmed as suicides and two remain under investigation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Army released suicide report totals April and May

Army Releases May 2013 Suicide Information
The Army released suicide data today for the month of May 2013. During May, among active-duty soldiers, there were 12 potential suicides. None have been confirmed as suicides and 12 remain under investigation.

For April 2013, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers: five have been confirmed as suicides and six are under investigation. 

For calendar year 2013, there have been 64 potential active-duty suicides: 31 have been confirmed as suicides and 33 remain under investigation. Updated active-duty suicide numbers for calendar year (CY) 2012: 183 (162 have been confirmed as suicides and 21 remain under investigation).

During May 2013, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 10 potential suicides (eight Army National Guard and two Army Reserve). None have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.

For April 2013, among that same group, the Army reported 16 potential suicides; however, subsequent to the report, one more case was added bringing April’s total to 17 (14 Army National Guard and three Army Reserve). None have been confirmed as suicides and 17 cases remain under investigation.

For CY 2013, there have been 70 potential not on active duty suicides (45 Army National Guard and 25 Army Reserve): 22 have been confirmed as suicides and 48 remain under investigation. Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for CY 2012: 140 (93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve). Of these, 138 have been confirmed as suicides and two remain under investigation.