Showing posts with label Connecticut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Connecticut. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

What happened to Marine Matthew Kraft, still missing after going on hike?

A year after Marine disappears on High Sierra hike, family still unsure what happened

Orange County Register
Erika I. Ritchie
PUBLISHED: February 24, 2020
...But a special kind of Marine needs no words, symbols or proclamations to describe their love for the Corps. Their love is found in late nights at the office, their stoicism in harsh conditions, genuine concern for subordinates and an obstinate adherence to what is right, regardless of the situation. These Marines live on through their influence and deeds, setting the example for the rest to come. Matt was one of these Marines.”
Marine Matthew Kraft is seen here hiking with his mother, Roxanne Kraft, in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Courtesy of the Kraft family)

Every night, Greg Kraft turns on an electric candle that sits in the window of his family’s Connecticut home.

“I turn it on and I say, ‘God Bless Matt,’ ” Kraft said Friday, Feb. 21, his voice choked with emotion. “In the morning I turn it off and say ‘God Bless Matt.’ “

The candle, in the upstairs middle dormer of his Williamsburg Cape Cod-style home, is lighted so his son, Capt. Matthew Kraft, can find his way back.

Matthew Kraft, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion/7th Marines at Twentynine Palms, part of the 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton, disappeared after taking leave from the Marine Corps for a two-week backcountry ski trip along the High Sierra Route starting Feb. 24, 2019.

He had planned the rugged trek for his pre-deployment leave, before his unit was to depart for Afghanistan.
That’s when I came to grips with it,” said Greg Kraft. “It’s also the day (March 15) the Marine Corps calls the date of death.”

An official statement, released by the Marine Corps on April 11, said Matthew Kraft died after being “overcome by severe winter storms.”

Kraft was posthumously promoted from 1st Lt. to the rank of Captain.
read it here

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Attorney ripped off Fisher House?

CT attorney misused money meant for veteran families, group says

New Haven Register
By Pam McLoughlin
March 12, 2019

A spokesperson at Fisher House Foundation released a statement Tuesday: “Fisher House Foundation is extremely disappointed that anyone would betray donors’ trust and misuse funds earmarked for veterans and their families and has never encountered an issue like this in its 29-year history.
WEST HAVEN — Lawyers for the national charitable arm and local fundraising group of Fisher House — a place where veterans’ families stay while loved ones are being treated at a VA Hospital — are trying going to recoup a large sum of money they allege went missing through the hands of Attorney Kevin Creed of Litchfield, founder and former CEO of Fisher House in West Haven.

Attorneys for Fisher House Foundation Inc. and Friends of Fisher House Connecticut Inc., are due to appear in court April 8 to ask a judge to appoint a “receiver” to take over the finances of Creed’s law firm in order to repay the money that a judge ruled Creed owes the organizations.
read more here

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bridgeport Police Officer Found Dead

Police release name of Bridgeport cop who died in suspected suicide

CT Post
By Julia Perkins
March 3, 2019
If it’s determined to be a suicide, it would be Bridgeport police’s second in a little more than a year. Officer Thomas Lattanzio died by suicide on Dec. 4, 2017, putting a spotlight on the too-common suicides of law enforcement officials.
BRIDGEPORT — The city is mourning the loss of Sgt. Mark Belinkie, a 19-year-veteran of the Bridgeport police, whose death police are investigating as a suicide.
Belinkie, whose name Bridgeport police released Sunday, was found dead in his Milford home on Saturday.
read more here

#BreakTheSilentService and #TakeBackYourLife
You took a job to save others...
and that should include you too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Connecticut taking care of veterans the DOD failed

Connecticut VA Opens Its Doors To 'Bad Paper' Veterans

NPR All Things Considered
November 26, 2018

For an estimated 500,000 veterans, being put out of the military with an other than honorable discharge is a source of shame and an obstacle to employment. "Bad paper," in most cases, means no benefits or health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs — even when the problems that got them kicked out were linked to PTSD, traumatic brain injury or military sexual assault.
Thomas Burke, a pastor at the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, Conn., recently became Norfield's associate minister of children, youth and families. Monica Jorge for NPR
But last month, Connecticut opened state VA resources to vets who can show that one of those conditions is linked to their discharge. For veterans like Thomas Burke, now a youth minister at Norfield Congregational Church, it's part of a long path to recovery.
"When I first started looking for jobs, I did not want to be a youth minister to kids, because my PTSD stems from a traumatic event where I failed children," says Burke.
Glad they used "estimated 500,000" because we know it is a lot more...and happened to every generation of veterans. It is at least 2 million 300,000 with a majority of them dealing with PTSD.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Selfish Owners Use Fraud Service Dogs

Service Dog Frauds: Rising Problem Could Jeopardize Safety Of Truly Dependent People

Hartford Courant
Leonard Felson
October 23, 2018
Dogs trained to perform specific tasks go through rigorous training. It takes two years before service dogs, like the German Shepherd guide dogs trained by Fidelco at its two centers — one in Bloomfield, the other in Wilton — are placed with clients. That’s 15,000 hours of training, “more instruction than our kids get in kindergarten through college,” says Russman, and $45,000 in direct costs. Therapy dogs such as the ones Quinn trains go through 2,000 hours of task training in addition to obedience training.

Eliot D. Russman, president and CEO of the national Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, sits with several German Shepherds at the training center in Bloomfield. (Brad Horrigan)
On a recent Hartford-bound flight from Florida, a couple boarded with two vest-clad rare-breed small dogs. As they settled in their seats, they took the dogs’ vests off, unleashed them, and over the duration of the flight, as the human passengers dozed off, the dogs wandered up and down the aisle, even after flight attendants warned the couple to hold on to their pet companions.

It isn’t the first time Eliot D. Russman, a passenger on the flight and head of Bloomfield-based Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, has witnessed a spreading trend: dog owners taking their pets wherever they want, often under the ruse that the canines are emotional support animals, with online-purchased harnesses, vests and identification cards meant to prove it.

“There’s a growing sense of entitlement that people want what they want and they don’t care about anyone else,” says Russman, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization that breeds, trains and raises German Shepherds as guide dogs for the blind across North America. “It’s plain and simple selfishness.”

Service dogs have been assisting their owners for generations, not only guiding the blind, but also retrieving and helping stabilize their owners’ gait.
read more here

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Connecticut trying to get it right for veterans

Reminder: Veterans with anything other than an "honorable" discharge, would not have been counted in any of the suicide reports. Good thing to think about reading this article from Connecticut. 

If signed by Malloy, Connecticut would be first state to open up benefits to bad paper vets
The Day
Julia Bergman
May 11, 2018
About 800 people would be impacted by the legislation, according to the fiscal note attached to the bill. But it's not known how many of them would actually take advantage of the benefits. The legislation would result in "costs to multiple agencies and revenue loss to the General Fund, Special Transportation Fund, and municipalities," the fiscal note says.
Connecticut would be the first state to open up access to veterans' benefits to former service members discharged under less than honorable conditions, if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs a bill that's headed to his desk.

Both the state House and Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 284, which would expand access to state veteran benefits to former service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or who experienced sexual trauma during their service, as long as they received a discharge other than bad conduct or dishonorable. The 2018 legislative session ended Wednesday at midnight.

Asked whether the governor intends to sign the bill, spokesman David Bednarz said by email "the Governor and his staff will review the final language that was included in the adopted bill when it is transmitted to his office."

There are five types of military discharges. An "other than honorable discharge" is the most severe form of administrative discharge, usually given after a pattern of misconduct. This kind of discharge, commonly referred to as a bad paper discharge, usually makes a veteran ineligible for state and federal veterans' benefits. In Connecticut, that means being denied local property tax exemptions and tuition waivers for universities and community and technical colleges in the state, for example.
read more here

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Con-Man claimed to be Firefighter on 9-11

Con Man Outed after Claiming to be Ground Zero FF
Palm Beach Post
MAY 4, 2018

Fairfield Fire Department Deputy Chief Kyran Dunn told The Palm Beach Post this week the agency has no record of Shapiro working there. A photo provided to The Post shows Shapiro wearing a yellow helmet that says "Fairfield Fire Department" with a 4-digit number, his name and "lieutenant." Shapiro's Facebook page has a close-up of the helmet.
May 04--WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- When Don Prince saw a news story about Steven Shapiro being arrested on charges of credit-card theft, he recognized him right away. Prince co-founded a substance-abuse treatment center for first responders. Shapiro, he said, worked there for a while. And told people he was a fire lieutenant in Connecticut and had been at ground zero on Sept. 11. 2001.

By all accounts, he wasn't. And he hadn't.

Such hoaxes are rare, but Prince says he and his colleagues have no patience for them.

"There were 343 firefighters who died that day," he said. "And it hits every one of us directly in the heart."

Shapiro, 56, had been booked April 16 on charges he used credit cards he found in the Delray Beach home of a woman from whom he rented a room to buy $1,823 worth of items, including a television.
read more here

Friday, March 23, 2018

The system failed Marine Michael Veillette

Suicidal Veteran Shot By Waterbury Police The Waterbury Observer
Story By John Murray
Thu, 03/22/2018

Released From Protective Custody Day Before Shooting

On three consecutive days a former United States Marine, Michael Veillette, went up to Holy Land USA to commit suicide, and each time his plan was foiled. 

The first attempt was thwarted by the compassion and love of a Marine Corps buddy, the second time he was arrested for carrying a pistol with an expired permit, and the third time he was shot in the hip by a Waterbury police officer and arrested again on a slew of charges. Inbetween the arrests Veillette was committed and evaluated at St. Mary’s Hospital, and released.

Tormented by PTSD from two tours of duty in Iraq, and depression, Veillette wanted out. He had intended to climb atop the hill at Holy Land USA and shoot himself at the base of the massive cross that overlooks Waterbury. This morning Veillette is in stable condition and will be arraigned at St. Mary's Hospital when the legal system delivers a judge, prosecutor, court reporter and public defender to conduct legal proceedings in his hospital room.

It didn't have to come to this. Veillette was in police and hospital custody on Tuesday night charged only with an expired pistol permit. Releasing a depressed suicidal veteran after three hours raises serious questions.

"The system failed Michael Veillette," said Brian Warren, a former U.S. Marine who served with Veillette in Iraq, and the man who talked his friend out of committing suicide Monday night. "Michael served his country with honor and needed help. He had tried to kill himself two days in a row. Why did the hospital release him with a serious mental health issue? He could have killed a cop. This was an epic mistake."read more here

This is pretty much how the rest of the press reported it.

State police: Waterbury police shoot armed man
FOX 61 News
MARCH 21, 2018

WATERBURY — Connecticut State Police said they were called to the scene of an officer-involved shooting this afternoon.

State Police Troop A said they were alerted after Waterbury police shot an armed man around 4 p.m.

Waterbury Deputy Chief of Police Fred Spagnolo, said police came across a distraught individual carrying a shotgun at 60 Slocum Street near Holy Land in Waterbury. Spagnolo added that the man, Michael Veillette, 32, of Waterbury, was actively attempting to commit “suicide by cop.”
read more here

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Neighbor gave Vietnam veteran heat for home and warmth for heart

Neighbor helps Vietnam vet, wife who went 6 years with no heat 
Connecticut News 12 
March 16, 2018 

STRATFORD - A Vietnam veteran and his wife who have been without heat for years are finally getting the help they need.
Stratford's Tom Pendagast says his furnace stopped working six years ago, and the lines were plugged to his underground oil tank. He says he had some heat, but his electric bills were very high. 

His neighbor, Barbara Esposito, heard about the situation and wanted to help. She called the VFW, which then contacted Honorbound in Darien - a national organization that has helped over 20,000 veterans over the last 40 years. read more here

Friday, March 9, 2018

Connecticut Police lose weapons if they seek help for PTSD? Seriously?

Police Seek Exemption From Gun Law For Mental Health Treatment
CT News Junkie
by Christine Stuart
Mar 8, 2018

The bill the officers are supporting would carve out an exemption for law enforcement and allow them to get their service weapon back even if they sought mental health treatment. At the moment, no matter who you are in Connecticut, if you voluntarily check yourself into an in-patient mental health facility you get your firearms taken away for six months.
HARTFORD, CT — Four. That’s the number of police officers in Connecticut who have taken their own lives over the past seven months.

And that’s only the number a group of law enforcement officers at the state Capitol Tuesday to testify knew about. There’s no data on police suicide collected by the state. The Federal Bureau of Investigations collections information about deaths in the line of duty, but not suicide.

James Rascati, a clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Yale University, said he’s personally dealt with the suicides of seven officers over the past 15 years.

“It’s one of the most devastating events any law enforcement agency can experience,” Rascati said.

Ron Mercado, an officer from Bridgeport, said his department still struggles daily with the recent suicide of one of its officers on Dec. 4.

“It’s difficult to focus when you’re still thinking to yourself whether you could have gotten him some more help,” Mercado said. “It doesn’t get any easier.”

One of the barriers to treatment the officers are looking to the General Assembly this year to resolve was adopted as part of the landmark 2013 legislation banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines post-Sandy Hook.
read more here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Attributable To 'Invisible Wounds'...Yep!

Advocates Seek Benefits For Vets With Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Attributable To 'Invisible Wounds'
Hartford Courant
Sandra Gomez-Aceves
February 14, 2018

At 20 years old, Thomas Burke sat on an Afghan riverbank with the barrel of his rifle in his mouth. By then, he had experienced the tragedies of war — he had seen children blow up in an attempt to help American forces and had been left to pick up their remains and place them in the back of trailer — but his deployment wouldn’t end for another three months.
File photo. Veterans who receive other-than-honorable discharge are barred from accessing state benefits and programs accessible to other veterans. (Richard Messina, Hartford Courant)

Burke, now 28, a native of Bethel and a soon-to-be Yale University graduate, was saved by a fellow marine “who followed me out to nowhere” and embraced him in a hug.

After experiencing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Burke returned home with substance-abuse disorders and combat-induced post-traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to get help, Burke took an other-than-honorable discharge in exchange for rehabilitation, he said.

In Connecticut, though, his other-than-honorable discharge barred him from accessing vital state benefits available to more than 200,000 other veterans.
read more here

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Missing Veteran Alert: James Kozik

Military Veteran From New London Missing Nearly Three Weeks, Friends Concerned

Police are currently searching for information regarding a New London man who has been missing for nearly three weeks. 
By RJ Scofield (Patch Staff) 
Sep 29, 2017 

NEW LONDON, CT - Police said James Kozik, 31, of New London has been missing for approximately three weeks. His friend said he went for a walk one evening and never returned home, and anyone with information on his location is asked to contact police immediately.  

According to his longtime friend, 30-year-old Cas McDonald, Kozik went for his nightly walk on September 8 but never returned home. She also said he left with only his phone on him, which he typically used to text his significant other, Kay Richards, when he would be home. read more here

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ADL Service Dog Missing in Shelton Connecticut

Reward offered for missing service dog in Shelton 
Published: September 24, 2017
SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A $500 reward is being offered for a missing service dog in Shelton. ADL Service Dogs says a poodle named Raven disappeared last night from Wellington Restaurant in Shelton. 

The company thinks the dog was stolen, so they do not know if he will be wearing a collar. Raven is described as a brown male standard poodle with a few white hairs on his back. He has been training to help and live with a disabled Southern Connecticut State University student. 
go here for more information

Believe 208 For First Responders Fighting PTSD

Believe 208 5K helps first responders fight depression, PTSD

WFSB 3 News
By Sujata Jain
By Joseph Wenzel IV, News Editor
September 24, 2017


"We do peer-support training and anything that our officers need to support them and let them know they're appreciated," Trish Buchanan said. "This is also about suicide awareness, officer wellness."

More than 500 people will lace up their running shoes for the annual Believe 208 5K run on Sunday morning.

The fourth annual run supports Believe 208, which is an organization that connects first responders with resources to fight depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Taking the tragedy and turning it into something positive for all our first responders," Trish Buchanan, who is the founder of Believe 208, said. 

The event was established in memory of East Hartford Police Officer Paul Buchanan, who took his own life in 2013. Paul's wife Trish Buchanan said he suffered depression and post-traumatic stress disorder from 24 years on the job.
"He asked us to do this in his memory to help others like him," Trish Buchanan said. 
read more here

Two New Haven Police Officers Shot During Standoff

2 police officers shot: Suspect still barricaded in Connecticut home

FOX 5 News
Erin Vogel
September 23, 2017

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group)- Two police officers were shot Saturday and the suspect is still barricaded within the home in New Haven, Connecticut.
The New Haven Police told Sinclair, the incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The New Haven Police were alerted to the gunshots by a report from their "Shot Spotter" system.
The incident occurred on the 600 block of Elm Street. When officers arrived on the scene they learned a 51-year-old woman was shot and ran from the home to a neighbor’s house. She was then transported to a nearby hospital and is in critical condition. Police are not releasing her name at this time.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Community Dedicates Vietnam Memorial

New Milford dedicates Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Danbury News Times
By Anna Quinn
July 15, 2017
“It finally gives us some closure. It seems that our community and other communities are finally recognizing that we were soldiers and we did the job that we were required to do.” Bob Coppola
Martin Titus, of New Milford, wipes away a tear during the New Milford Veterans Committee dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, set on the Village Green, on Saturday morning, July 15, 2017, in New Milford, Conn. Titus served in the Army from 1969 to 1972
NEW MILFORD—When Bob Coppola returned from his two years serving in the Vietnam War, he tried not to talk about his time in the army.

“I was very careful not to mention my experience, because it would have invoked debates that I didn’t feel I was part of,” he said.

Coppola, a sergeant, said he left his teaching position in Massachusetts after being drafted because it was his duty as an American citizen. But when he and his fellow soldiers came home from the war, they felt far from honored.

For him, and for the other nearly 100 veterans on the Village Green Saturday afternoon, the unveiling of New Milford’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial symbolized a long-awaited recognition for their service.
read more here

Monday, April 17, 2017

PTSD Army Veterans in Connecticut Sue Over Bad Discharges...And Treatment

Lawsuit: Army should factor PTSD in discharge decisions
Associated Press
April 17, 2017

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleges the U.S. Army has issued less-than-honorable discharges for potentially thousands of service members without adequately considering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

Two Army veterans from Connecticut who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say in the lawsuit filed Monday in New Haven that they were wrongly denied honorable discharges.

They say a review board set up to give veterans a second chance often doesn't do an adequate job in considering PTSD and related conditions. Acting Army Secretary Robert Speer is named as the defendant.
read more here

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Connecticut PTSD Bill to Study What They Already Know?

Committee changes bill that would expand benefits to vets with PTSD, brain injuries
The Day
By Julia Bergman Day staff writer
March 03. 2017
"We have enough knowledge to know that there is a problem here and generally I don't think a study is going to be helpful. A study is going to simply flesh out what we already know." Rep. Stephen Harding
Hartford — Supporters of a proposal, which would enable certain veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury to receive state benefits, are discouraged by changes made to the proposed bill that, they say, effectively kill the bill's chances of being passed this session.

House Bill 5580, introduced by state Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, in its originally proposed form, would've allowed vets, who received an "other than honorable discharge" as a result of being diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, to qualify for state veterans' benefits.

The Veterans Affairs' Committee, to which the bill was assigned, changed the language so that it now calls for a study of how many of these vets exist, how much it would cost to provide benefits to them and how that process would be executed. Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, co-chair of the veterans committee, said members were concerned that the original proposal would've put the state in a position of making a connection between a vets' diagnosis of PTSD or TBI and his or her so-called "bad paper" discharge.
read more here

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Suicide Suspected in Death of Missouri Sailor

Submarine sailor dies on watch in port in suspected suicide
Navy Times
By: David B. Larter
February 28, 2017

A junior sailor on board the attack submarine Missouri died during an overnight watch in a suspected suicide early Monday morning.

The third-class petty officer, whose name is being withheld for privacy concerns, is believed to have died from a gunshot wound from his issued 9mm pistol while standing a quarterdeck watch on Missouri, which is stationed at Naval Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, according to an internal memo on the incident obtained by Navy Times.

The incident occurred at about 1:30 in the morning.

A statement from Naval Submarine Support Center New London acknowledged the death, but declined to cite a cause of death citing an ongoing investigation.
read more here

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fallen Air Force Sgt. John Chapman Possible Medal of Honor

Air Force Seeks Medal Of Honor For CT Native Who Died In Afghanistan, NY Times Reports
Hartford Courant
Kristin Stoller
August 27, 2016
Valerie Chapman holds a photograph of her husband, Air Force
Tech Sgt. John Chapman. Chapman was killed on March 4, 2002
during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. (Tracy Wilcox / Hartford Courant)
The secretary of the Air Force is pushing to award a Medal of Honor to the first Connecticut native to die in the war in Afghanistan, based on new evidence 14 years after his death, the New York Times reported.

Sgt. John Chapman, 36, a standout athlete and 1983 graduate of Windsor Locks High School, was killed in combat after military action began in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He died on March 4, 2002, while attempting to retrieve the body of a Navy SEAL who had fallen from a helicopter during an attack by al Qaida and Taliban fighters, according to previous Courant reports.

But new evidence unearthed by the Air Force about Chapman's final hours suggests that a senior chief petty officer may have been incorrect when he declared Chapman dead during the attack, the New York Times reported.

Instead, the Air Force said, Chapman lived for an hour after his teammates had retreated, fighting enemy troops alone, according to the newspaper report. New technology used in an examination of videos from aircraft flying overhead indicate that Chapman killed two Al Qaida fighters before "dying in an attempt to protect arriving reinforcements," the newspaper reported.
read more here