Showing posts with label DOD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOD. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Some Republican Senators Standing Up For Troops Against Trump's Wall...finally

Senate to vote on ending border emergency that diverted DoD funds

Military Times
By: Joe Gould
1 hour ago

“Now we have a whole number of Republicans who voted with the president who see their military bases being ransacked, pillaged,” Schumer said Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone, no matter what state they are from, will want to see money being taken away from their military installations, [which is] very much needed.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, Calif., on April 5, 2019. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
WASHINGTON ― Republicans will be “forced” to vote as soon as Wednesday whether to end the president’s emergency diversion of military funding to his border wall, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer and other Democrats turned up the pressure on their GOP colleagues months after 12 Senate Republicans voted to end the emergency declaration and the House failed to override President Donald Trump’s veto.

The decision to force a second vote comes after the Pentagon released the list of 127 projects in 23 states and 19 allied countries that were deferred by the administration to devote $3.6 billion to the border wall.
read it here

Monday, May 30, 2016

Veterans With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home

There is a quote in the following article on New York Times that deserves attention. "The military is very good at identifying and amplifying the psychological factors that make a high-performing fighter." While they do a fantastic job of training these men and women to fight in combat, they do a lousy job of training them to fight for their own lives.

That is evident when you read more about the high rate of suicides in those with multiple deployments. When you think about the simple fact they survived all the hardships and risk to their lives, but cannot survive being home, that screams a message of how the DOD still does not understand them.

Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home
The New York Times
MAY 29, 2016

Ryan Lundeby, 32, an Army Ranger with
five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times
An analysis of Army data shows that, unlike most of the military, these soldiers’ risk of committing suicide actually drops when they are deployed and soars after they return home. For the 85 percent of soldiers who make up the rest of the service and were deployed, the reverse is true.

FORT WORTH, Tex. — The dinner crowd was sparse for a downtown steakhouse, a handful of families and couples lost in conversations. Ryan Lundeby, 32, an Army Ranger with five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, took in the scene from his table, seemingly meditative beneath his shaved head and long beard.

He was not.

“He watches, he’s always watching; he notices everything,” said his wife, Mary. “Superman noticing skills, that’s what I call it. Look, he’s doing it now — Ryan?”

“He watches, he’s always watching; he notices everything,” said his wife, Mary. “Superman noticing skills, that’s what I call it. Look, he’s doing it now — Ryan?”

“That table over there,” Mr. Lundeby said, his voice soft, his eyes holding a line. 

“The guy threw his straw wrapper on the ground. I’m waiting to see if he picks it up.”

He did not. Mr. Lundeby’s breathing slowed.

After 14 years of war, the number of veterans with multiple tours of combat duty is the largest in modern American history — more than 90,000 soldiers and Marines, many of them elite fighters who deployed four or more times. New evidence suggests that these veterans are not like most others when it comes to adjusting to civilian life.
read more here

Friday, May 8, 2015

Threat Level Increased Security at Military Bases

ISIS activity prompts threat level increase at bases
By Barbara Starr, Pentagon Correspondent
Updated 12:35 PM ET, Fri May 8, 2015

Washington (CNN)

Security conditions at U.S. military bases were raised Thursday night because of growing concern of a jihadist threat in the U.S.

The move comes hours after FBI Director James Comey told reporters that there are thousands of ISIS, also known as ISIL, followers online in the U.S.

"We have a general concern, obviously, that ISIL is focusing on the uniformed military and law enforcement," Comey told reporters Thursday. 

The order was signed by Admiral William Gortney, head of the U.S. Northern Command, which oversees all U.S. military installations in the continental U.S. "We have the same concern about the potential threat posed by violent homegrown extremists," said Captain Jeff Davis, spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM. read more here

Friday, January 17, 2014

Difference between NFL and DOD TBI

There has been a fascinating study on TBI being done but apparently few noticed. The study is on how two very different organizations view traumatic brain injury connected to professions.

First we have the NFL and football players.

The NFL proposed a settlement in a lawsuit filed for 4,500 football players connected to traumatic brain injury.
$765 million would cover the potential costs for 18,000 retirees over the 65-year life of the agreement.

The judge rejected it.

One of the critical questions Golkin must consider is if there is enough money set aside not just for retired players with injuries, but also for players whose conditions worsen in years to come. The provisional settlement includes at least $675 million to pay monetary awards, $75 million for medical testing and monitoring, and $10 million for research.

But the science related to traumatic brain injuries and illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease is still evolving, so it is far from clear how many players might have significant issues in the coming years, and how many of those can be eligible for payouts of up to $5 million, as is stipulated in the proposed agreement with the N.F.L.

Then we have the DOD and TBI
Moderate to severe TBI linked to increased risk of early death
Stars and Stripes
By Matt Millham
Published: January 15, 2014

People who survive six months or longer after suffering traumatic brain injuries continue to remain at risk for premature death long after their injury, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Medical Association.

The study, led by Dr. Seena Fazel at the University of Oxford in England, used data from Sweden going back to 1954. With data from such a long time period, the research team was able to draw conclusions about the long-term consequences of moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, Fazel said.

“One of the bottom lines is thinking about this as a chronic illness, a chronic disease,” he said.

His team found that while traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, tend to be one-off events, they have chronic, long-term consequences, he said. “And one of the consequences is premature mortality.”

The risk of premature death after a TBI is small — just 3.6 percent, according to the study. But among those who survived six months or longer after a TBI, there was a threefold increase in the odds of dying early when compared to the general population, according to the study. The odds of early death jump even higher for TBI patients also suffering from psychiatric illnesses, depression or substance abuse.
read more here

Seems that both groups are fighting the same war, compensation for the same injury however, the two causes of the injury are far, far different from the other.

One is about fame, fortune and sports. The other is about being willing to die for someone else and making a lot less than the other group.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Military Suicides leave DOD and NRA at odds

Why would this happen? The number one choice of suicides connected to military service is a firearm. Does the NRA care about any of this? No one is talking about taking away their guns. As I've pointed out a thousand times I'd rather see a veteran with a gun and getting help than not getting help. Besides, if you take away their guns they use the next in line for ways to commit suicide. Still what is wrong with talking to them about all this? If the DOD wanted to prevent suicides then they would drop the BS program called "resiliency" and finally open up their ears to hear what they can do. This is about to get a lot worse the long troops are in Afghanistan and still not getting the right kind of help. The NRA should be more involved in saving their lives than stopping the commanders from even talking to them!

Amid suicide 'epidemic,' military at odds with NRA over law
Published: July 28, 2012

To help combat suicide in the military, leaders would like greater leeway in talking to a servicemember about it and whether they personally own a firearm. Standing in their way, is a new law backed by the National Rifle Association that is frustrating things.

Some U.S. military commanders are at odds with the National Rifle Association over a relatively new law that bars them from talking to a servicemember about their personal firearms if the individual lives off base, according to a Christian Science Monitor article.

The NRA-backed law, which went into effect in early 2011, includes language that prohibits them from talking to their charges about weapons and safety, particularly when they live off base. The article relied heavily on Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's former vice chief of staff.
read more here

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Army admits mistake in Special Forces MOS OEF OIF veteran

Army Pulls Candidate's Mistakenly-Awarded SF MOS
by Bryant Jordan
Jul 04, 2012

The Army has revoked the Special Forces military occupational specialty of an Arkansas political candidate who claimed he served as a Green Beret in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kenneth Aden, a Democrat running against incumbent Rep. Steve Womack for Arkansas' 3rd District, has said in interviews he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Green Beret, though a DD-214 and other documents he released to substantiate the claim only raised questions.

In a statement Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Special Warfare Training Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., said Aden was dropped from Special Forces training in April 2008 "after failing twice to pass the Light Weapons Exam and Hands-on Mortar Exam."

Nevertheless the center in June 2008 erroneously issued an order awarding him the 18 B MOS – Special Forces Weapons Sergeant – and then failed to catch the mistake. When told last week that the Army called Aden's MOS order a mistake and had revoked it, campaign spokesman Vincent Leibowitz said Aden never received orders pulling the MOS.

That turns out to be true, since the Army only noticed and corrected its mistake after media attention focused on Aden's military background, according to training center spokeswoman Janice Burton.

Retired Special Forces Master Sgt. Jeff "JD" Hinton, who has exposed many phony veterans or troops who embellished their records, says Aden had to know all along that he never was Special Forces.
read more here

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Will Army review of PTSD and TBI claims include falsely discharged?

Will Army review of PTSD and TBI claims include falsely discharged?
Chaplain Kathie

Of the more than 22,000 discharged because of "Personality Disorders" this may seem like good news. Is it? Are they to be included in this review? When will what happened to them be reviewed and when will they have their dignity restored?

We know it was the practice of the military to falsely discharge this way. It left them with nothing. They can't even go to the VA with an other than honorable discharge topped off with "pre-existing" illnesses are not covered by the DOD.

Imagine for a second here that you served your country with the same passion as everyone else. After too much combat, you ended up paying the price with PTSD, sought help and ended up being kicked out with the military telling you that you must have had it when you took their psychological tests. Then you have no more job in the military and zero chance of getting one in the civilian world plus a head filled with PTSD and probably TBI. After you lost your family, your home, your car and woke up in a box, you pick up the old newspaper you used for a pillow and read about how many veterans are getting help because things changed.

Wouldn't it be more fair for them to read that they will have their cases reviewed so they can finally get justice from this nation they served? How about having their records restored, paid back for the money they lost after being falsely accused? How about a public apology so that employers know they served with honor even if the government was not so honorable to them at the time?
“We owe it to every soldier to ensure that he or she receives the care they need and deserve,” said Army Secretary John McHugh, adding that the Army “must ensure that our processes and procedures are thorough, fair and conducted in accordance with appropriate, consistent medical standards.”

Army policy calls for every service member involved in a blast, vehicle crash or a blow to the head to be medically evaluated.

Army launches review of PTSD diagnoses after complaints some were overturned
By Associated Press
Published: May 16

WASHINGTON — Army leaders are launching a sweeping, independent review of how the service evaluates soldiers with possible post-traumatic stress disorder following recent complaints that some PTSD diagnoses were improperly overturned.

The Army said Wednesday it will review the diagnoses at all of its medical facilities going back to October 2001. And top Army leaders said they will develop a plan to correct any decisions or policies necessary to make sure that soldiers are receiving the care and treatment they deserve.

The latest reviews were triggered by revelations that the forensic psychiatry unit at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state may have reversed diagnoses based on the expense of providing care and benefits to members of the military.
read more here

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lawmakers want faster progress on TBI, PTSD

Well Comgressman Murtha is getting it right,,,I didn't need to post the rant after all.

Lawmakers want faster progress on TBI, PTSD - Springfield,VA,USA
Lawmakers want faster progress on TBI, PTSD

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 3, 2009 16:03:36 EST

A hearing meant to give Defense Department officials a chance to explain their plans for spending $900 million allocated for mental health care quickly turned into a debate on how that money should be spent.

As yet, military experts on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries are still working out which studies should be funded, which treatment methods should be adopted and which pilot programs should be put in place.

“We keep getting studies,” Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House defense appropriations panel, said at a hearing Tuesday. “That’s the problem with the Defense Department — they study it to death.”

“I would say that you’ve helped us significantly,” Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health readiness and protection, told Murtha and other lawmakers. “I would like to report in future hearings what we’re doing with that money.”

Lawmakers had plenty of ideas of their own: Buy more helicopters to get wounded troops out of Afghanistan faster; begin treating traumatic brain injuries immediately using hyperbaric oxygen chambers; and, most importantly, quit spending so much time studying options that never become reality.
click link for more

Friday, November 14, 2008

Online town hall to discuss wounded care

Online town hall to discuss wounded care
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Nov 14, 2008 13:40:50 EST

Defense health care officials began accepting advance questions on Friday for an online town hall meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19, to talk about medical programs and services for wounded troops.

The online meeting, a “webhall,” will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 19, and can be accessed at

Questions can be submitted in advance to, but questions also will be taken during the meeting, defense officials said in an announcement.

The forum is designed to talk about overall issues and not specific problems, officials said.
click link for more

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sears resolves rule violation in gift program in Heroes at Home Wish Registry

Sears resolves rule violation in gift program

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Oct 24, 2008 10:11:21 EDT

The more than 10,000 military families who registered for the Sears “Heroes at Home Wish Registry” will be able to get their gift cards without violating Defense Department ethics violations, under an agreement reached late Thursday between Sears and defense officials.

Sears has also extended the registration period to Oct. 31, and will allow up to 20,000 service members to register, said Sears spokesman Tom Aiello.

The company has made adjustments in the program, such as expanding it to all active-duty members, including activated Guard and Reserve members. All ranks are now eligible, expanding it from the previous limitation to E-6 and below. Sears will validate the status of the service members with the Defense Department’s help.

Before the changes, the Defense Department warned Sears that the program violated ethics laws and asked it to stop registering service members.
go here for more

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sears gift registry for troops violates rules

Well now this really stinks! Sears is trying to do a good thing for the men and women serving in the military and the military wants to stop them. Makes no sense at all. I really doubt Sears needs to advertise using the troops and only wanted to use some in uniform for this program alone. Don't they understand that the people of this country want to help the troops and the veterans as much as possible?

Sears gift registry for troops violates rules

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Oct 23, 2008 19:27:17 EDT

Defense officials have notified Sears that troops will not be able to participate in their “Heroes at Home Wish Registry” because they would be violating ethics regulations.

On Oct. 23, Sears Holding Corporation officials said they are working with defense officials to resolve the issue. “Sears is committed to supporting these military families and will not waver in that support,” said spokesman Tom Aiello.

Sears’ gift registry matches donations from the public with military members who registered for gifts at through Sept. 28.

“After reviewing the available details of the Wish Registry, we determined that, as structured, participation in the Wish Registry results in an improper solicitation,” Leigh Bradley, director of the Standards of Conduct Office for the Defense Department General Counsel, said in an Oct. 14 letter to Sears.
go here for more

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Military accused of pushing Christian faith again

I have two videos that talk about God. One is I Grieve and the other is PTSD Not God's Judgment. I did not talk about being a Christian in any of the videos I've done. In PTSD Not God's Judgment, I did include a picture of Christ because He addressed that there is no great love than being willing to lay down your life for your friends. Other than that, I try very hard to keep my branch of Christianity, as well as Christianity itself out of the videos I do. While I am a Christian, a Greek Orthodox Christian, I fully understand that there are many branches of Christianity itself along with other faiths. While they Bible is used by the major religions of the world, each group has their own ideas of what to believe.

For those who still find no problem with what the military is doing pushing one particular branch of Christianity, you need to be wondering what happens to your own views and your own choices? There are Christian sects who do not believe in the Holy Trinity or the Divinity of Christ. Some do not believe in the Saints. What do you think happens if a commander is allowed to enforce his theology upon his command? Still find this kind of pushing faith harmless? What is you have a commander who believes that you have to speak in tongues to be true but no one under his command can even pretend to? What if the commander does not believe in any of this but his men do? Do you see how damaging this all can be?

While the Purpose Driven Life is a good book for those who are exploring their faith, I cannot recommend it for people who are dealing with PTSD because it is not helpful for that. I've read it but you also have to consider that I've been reading religious based books all my life and was the head of Christian Education for a church. There are many books I've read that would be more appropriate in helping Christian soldiers and veterans heal but I would not recommend any of them be suggested by the military and certainly not enforced reading.

If I can draw the line when I am invested in the spiritual health of people as a Chaplain, why can't the military do the same?
Soldier alleges religious bias at Lakenheath

By Sam LaGrone - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 1, 2008 13:08:22 EDT

An atheist serviceman has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Defense Department of several counts of religious discrimination, including at least one instance on an Air Force base.

Army Spc. Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are accusing DoD of a laundry list of violations of separation of church and state.

Chalker and the MRFF cite more than a dozen violations, from military installations around the world, that promote the “practice of constitutionally impermissible promotions of religious beliefs within the Department of Defense and the United States Army,” according to the suit.

Among the violations, the suit complains about a mandatory suicide-prevention briefing from an Air Force chaplain that borrowed heavily from a wildly popular Christian self-help book.

Chalker alleges that at a commander’s call at RAF Lakenheath, England, last March, an Air Force chaplain gave a talk on suicide prevention that heavily referenced concepts from “The Purpose-Driven Life,” a self-help book based on evangelical Christian theology.
go here for more

Friday, September 26, 2008

Congress orders review of barracks problems

Congress orders review of barracks problems

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Sep 26, 2008 15:29:54 EDT

Lawmakers are ordering a defense-wide survey of all barracks and dormitories to determine how many do not meet health and safety standards.

The survey, to be completed by Feb. 27 under an order from the powerful House and Senate appropriations committees, is intended to provide details on the extent of problems, the estimated cost of fixing them and when this might be done.
go here for more

Friday, September 5, 2008

Department of Defense cannot ensure troops get mental health checkups

Report: DoD cannot ensure troops get checkups

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Sep 5, 2008 8:06:58 EDT

Law requires that service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan go through a post-deployment health re-assessment three to six months after deployment to make sure symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, as well as other health concerns that weren’t caught immediately upon return, can be treated.

But the Governmental Accountability Office released a report on Thursday stating that the Defense Department does not have a way to guarantee all war veterans actually complete that process.

The reports they use do not allow the Defense Department “to calculate a completion rate” because they don’t provide the number of service members who should have deployed and, hence, been assessed, GAO said in its report. The office also concluded that the department conducts too few site visits to have a big enough sample to validate the number of service members being assessed.

The Defense Department also had not, as of June 2008, implemented recommendations from GAO’s June 2007 report intended to fix the same problems. Defense Department officials agreed at that time that they needed to require the services to give complete reports, but did not follow through.

“As a result, DoD’s quality-assurance program cannot provide decision makers with reasonable assurance that service members complete” the assessment, the report states.

And, “as of June 2008, DoD’s quality assurance program was staffed with one full-time equivalent position,” which meant that person could not make enough site visits to check for compliance.
go here for more

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Who decided veterans don't deserve best minds?

Someone please tell me who decided veterans don't deserve the best minds? Not just the best minds coming up with plans and taking action to take care of all the wounded veterans, but their own minds as well.

July 31, VCS in the News: VA Struggling to Get Ready for New Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans

Sydelle Moore

Medill Reports

Aug 01, 2008

As the VA struggles to revamp itself, groups like Veterans for Common Sense say wounded veterans are being turned away or asked to wait too long for care — especially mental health care. "If your child was in a car accident you would expect that they would be taken care of immediately," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense," We know that divorce rates are up among veterans, spousal and child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and homelessness. .. All of the indicators that say that these people need help are flashing red… We've got to do something now."

July 31, 2008, Washington, DC - Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan face longer waits to get health care because of backlogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has been rolling out new programs to deal with the influx -- but a government report says their efforts may be too little, too late.

The average veteran who files a claim for VA care has to wait more than four months—not including appeals, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress. In 2003, the wait was about three months.

The number of veterans asking for VA services has shot up 50 percent since 2003, when the first round of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began to return home.

But the HealtheVet program-- designed to modernize recordkeeping at the VA to speed the claims process -- won't be ready until 2018, according to the GAO report released this week. The original due date for HealtheVet was 2012 and even that timetable was criticized by veterans groups, citing a backlog of health claims by Vietnam-era veterans.
go here for more

This should not be tolerated by anyone. The best minds are put to work to train them to go into combat. The best minds are put to work to develop weapons and sometimes even the best products to protect them. Let's not forget about the helmets it took a grassroots group to come up with the inserts for them, or the vests that not doing their job or the pants that split at the crotch. When it comes to sending them, the best minds are supposedly fully engaged but when it comes to them coming home wounded, we have the blind leading the lame right off a cliff. We know that the sooner treatments begins the better the healing rates are. Yet time is being wasted while they have to fight for their claims to be approved. The best mind possible for them is a treated mind.

Plans to invade Afghanistan were in the works right after 9-11. Didn't they plan on any of the troops getting wounded considering how many Russian forces were wounded and how long they were there trying to get Afghanistan under control? Didn't they take any of the warfare history of Afghanistan into consideration on any of their plans? Common sense would tell them they were about to enter into a very long campaign that would produce a lot of wounded, but no one brought the DOD medical staffs up to speed on any of this. No one got the VA geared up for any of this when they were already dealing with a backlog of claims from older veterans who came home needing their wounds taken care of. Seven years later, they are still coming home wounded and waiting to excuses.

When the report of the suspect in the anthrax attacker committing suicide, people began to ask questions as to how was trying to link the attacks to Iraq. The shocking part is that John McCain was captured on tape discussing the "connection" in October of 2001. This clearly showed things were being geared up for the invasion of Iraq as far back as then. Did they ever contemplate the prospect of dealing with any of the wounded who would need to be taken care of if any of the claims about WMD were really believable? Think about the fact the claims were made that Saddam had tons and tons of weapons of mass destruction all waiting for the troops. If the DOD and the VA have been unable to keep up with the wounded with no WMD causing more wounded, then that is a very telling fact. No one even planed on them getting wounded by the WMD they claimed were there. What if they were right but did nothing to plan for the wounded?

Why is it that as bad as things are for the wounded no one is seeing that everything should have been ready to take care of them as well as the older veterans already being subjected to delays and endless cycles of claims and appeals?

Whenever this nation commits to war, there are several things that have to planned for and one of them is just as important as the tactical plans. That is taking care of the wounded. While one group is planning to invade another group must be planning for the medics in the field, military hospitals and veterans hospitals. Even if they believed Rumsfeld's claims of quick a war, "It may take six days, six weeks,,,,,I doubt six months" the notion of WMD hitting the troops would have caused a lot of deaths and wounds. Didn't they think of any of that? Apparently no.

As both occupations claimed more and more lives, limbs and minds, the DOD and the VA were doing what? As the wounded were filling up beds what were they doing? As the reports came out that we were losing more lives because of suicides and untreated PTSD wounds, what were they doing? Trying to cover it up instead of doing whatever it took to take care of them? Going to Capitol Hill to demand increased funding? What was Bush doing? Was he asking congress for more money to take care of the wounded? What was Nicholson doing?

The fact is, Bush managed to cut back funding so there were less doctors and nurses working with two occupations than there were after the Gulf War. The fact is Nicholson was not only asking for less money than the VA really needed but he also managed to return money in 2005 unused.

Listening to all the hearings taking place since the Democrats took the majority of the House and one up in the Senate, you'd think that all these problems just happened. You'd think that it was all some kind of a shock and no one suspected anything was wrong. You'd think that if you never paid any attention to any of the news reports coming out until Dana Priest and Ann Hull did their reporting on the conditions at Walter Reed for the Washington Post. The problem is there were already hundreds of reports from all over the country trying to raise awareness of what was not being done. Then there is the simple fact we should have known that no one was planning for any of this. One more deplorable statement of the nation oblivious to what wars really cost. They do not end when deployments end. They are not calculated simply in terms of fatalities in theater. The price tag goes up and up until all the wounded have lived out their lives.

As bad as the facts are with the wounded coming home and not being taken care of what we need to fully understand is that this is just the beginning. Seven years into warfare and we will not see the need begin to level off until at least 5 years after both occupations end. Maybe even longer if history is a good gauge. We had many seeking help for PTSD in recent years from WWII and Korea along with Vietnam and the Gulf war. Most of them came home knowing there was something wrong with them but didn't know what it was or that the VA was responsible for not only treating the wound but providing compensation for the incomes they lost and lives being destroyed. At least we have a lot more advocacy going on informing the wounded that what is wrong with them is classified as a wound and maybe, just maybe, we will see them seeking help a lot sooner.

In all of this, the time for excuses ran out a long time ago. The time for action has been delayed far too long and it's really time to start asking so very serious questions or we are doomed to repeat all of these mistakes again. The media should be asking what was planned for and when it was planned for and then open their eyes to what should have been planned for if any of the original claims were really taken seriously. The evidence so far proves otherwise.

Senior Chaplain Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Sunday, July 20, 2008

DOD Problems "tip of ugly iceberg" with PTSD and TBI

Joint VA-DoD Pilot Program May Overhaul Treatment of Veterans
Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

Government Executive

Jul 19, 2008

July 18, 2008 - The influx of wounded troops from Afghanistan and Iraq has burst the seams of the military health care system. The much-publicized scandal in 2007 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which kick-started reforms, has proved to be only the tip of a large and ugly iceberg.

The problem is not just about organizations and processes, but about mind-sets.

Although most people in the Defense Department go above and beyond to take care of their wounded, others can still lapse into an attitude of "shut up, shape up, and soldier on"--especially toward those troops who suffer subtle but deeply disabling mental problems rather than obvious physical wounds. Yet it is precisely the hard-to-diagnosis cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and "mild" traumatic brain injury that have become the distinctive injuries of this war.

This fall, however, the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs will decide whether to expand a pilot program that has the potential to dramatically change the treatment of those disabled in the line of duty. Started in November and currently limited to the Washington metropolitan area, the program takes aim at a bureaucratic redundancy that has long bedeviled injured troops leaving the armed forces. This is the double take in which--before discharge--the Army, Navy, or Air Force first conducts an exit exam of a departing service member to assess any conditions that might trigger military disability benefits, and then--after discharge--the VA conducts its own entry exam of the same individual for the same conditions to determine eligibility for VA benefits.
go here for more

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

DOD to review comp cases 20% or less

Pentagon board to review disability ratings

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 1, 2008 8:26:52 EDT

Service members given a disability rating of 20 percent or lower during their medical evaluation boards since Sept. 11, 2001, may have their cases reviewed by a new Defense Department board.

The Physical Disability Board of Review was mandated by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act after several investigations — including an analysis of five years’ worth of Defense Department budget records by Military Times — showed discrepancies across the services in average amounts of disability benefits awarded. For example, Military Times found enlisted airmen averaged much higher monthly disability payments — $926 — than did enlisted Marines at $770 a month. And all the services tended to award more officers than enlisted personnel ratings of 50 percent or higher.

“The purpose of the [board] shall be to reassess the accuracy and fairness of the combined disability ratings assigned service members who were discharged as unfit for continued military service,” wrote David S.C. Chu, undersecretary for personnel and readiness, in a memo dated June 27. “The [board] shall operate in a spirit of transparency and accountability, and shall impartially readjudicate cases upon which review is requested or undertaken on its own motion.”
go here for more

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pentagon sorry for cremating soldiers at pet facility

Pentagon sorry for cremating soldiers at pet facility
By David Edwards
An e-mail from an offended Army official, attending the cremation of a military comrade killed overseas, has led to a Pentagon ban of the cremation of soldiers alongside pets.

Since there is no crematory at Dover Air Force Base, the Air Force contracted operations out to Torbert Funeral Chapels and Crematories, which operates two nearby facilities, in 2001.

Human and animal remains were ever mixed in the process, says the Pentagon, but nonetheless, remains of American servicemembers will no longer be cremated in facilities other than funeral homes, the Washington Post reports.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found the environment of the Delaware facility in question “insensitive and entirely inappropriate for the dignified treatment of our fallen,” according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

“The families of the fallen have the secretary’s deepest apology,” Morrell added.

Members of the military and animals had been cremated in the same room, according to Capitol Crematory/Friends Forever Pet Cremation Service manager David A. Bose, but the crematory used for the pets is too small for most human bodies to fit inside.

A typical “processing” of a servicemember’s body, says Bose, was a simple drop-off and signing of paperwork, with a next-day pickup of the cremains.

The accompanying video report was broadcast on Fox’s Fox & Friends on May 10, 2008.
go here for video

How many more stories like this are going to come out? When do we reach the bottom of this pit the military has sunk to?

Monday, April 14, 2008

DOD 75,000 casualties, VA 300,000 new patients confirmed


Contact: Paul Sullivan, Executive Director, Veterans for Common Sense,

Iraq and Afghanistan War Casualties Escalate

DoD Confirms 75,000 Battlefield Casualties; VA Confirms 300,000 New Patients

April 15, 2005, Washington, DC – Veterans for Common Sense thanks CBS News for reporting two important – yet relatively unknown – facts about the impact of Iraq and Afghanistan wars on our military and on our veterans:

The Department of Defense confirms there are 75,000 U.S. service members battlefield casualties.

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirms there are 300,000 new unexpected veteran patients at VA hospitals and clinics.

Read the CBS article here:

VCS believes Americans should know the full extent of the impact caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – the 75,000 service member battlefield casualties, plus the 300,000 veteran patients here at home. VCS wants our service members to receive the best physical and mental healthcare available while in the military. And we want our VA hospitals to quickly increase staffing and cut red tape so VA is ready, willing, and able to take care of all of their current patients, plus the tidal wave of new war veteran patients flooding into the system.

Never again should a suicidal veteran be turned away from VA. Read about the suicide of Iraq War veteran Jonathan Schulze here:

Veterans for Common Sense provided prior versions of the same documents to Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University Professor Linda Bilmes as an essential component for their new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” where they estimated the consequences of the two wars may cause as many as 700,000 disabled veterans requiring VA healthcare and disability benefits costing U.S. taxpayers up to $700 billion over 40 years. VCS obtained the casualty reports from Department of Defense and the healthcare use reports from Department of Veterans Affairs using the Freedom of Information Act.

Paul Sullivan
Executive Director
Veterans for Common Sense
Post Office Box 15514
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 558-4553

Friday, February 15, 2008

DOD webhall opens to a lot of attention

2/15/2008 - FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFPN) -- The Pentagon's top doctor, S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, hosted a Web-based live "Webhall" Feb 14, a first for the military health system. Leaders from the MHS joined Doctor Casscells in answering some pointed and challenging questions live on the new MHS Web site.

DOD participants included Steve Jones, principle deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs; Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness; and Jack Smith, acting assistant secretary of defense and chief medical officer. They were joined by several subject matter experts from the MHS.

Before and during the live program, servicemembers and their families submitted questions and comments about DOD programs, priorities and efforts covering many broad issues with the main focus on wounded warriors. Participants could either write or text their questions.

Pain management programs, funding of new programs, standardized physical examination processes, care for service members with traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder, and concerns about the medical evaluation process were among many of the questions or concerns posted. Check out the MHS Wounded Warrior Webhall for official DOD responses.

"This was a great start for opening a dialogue with our MHS beneficiaries and I look forward to continuing this type of discussion in the future," said Doctor Casscells. "In addition to my regular blog which is available 24/7 for questions and concerns, I plan to host a regular Webhall with my senior staff."

Questions not answered during the hour-long live Webhall will be answered within 24 hours of the event at the Web site. Participants and viewers should check back to the website for additional information. See the Military Health System Blog for more information about the Webhall.

Many of us who were injured and were evacuated from Afghanistan or Iraq have difficulties not only adjusting to the injuries but also the return to life outside a combat zone. As soldiers we are always held to the values of each respected branch of service we come from, I believe there should be a time to get the combat zone out of our heads, a time of decompression if you will. Also getting all medical treatment should come first. Some troops that return and are in the process of healing begin to realize that they might not be the same person they were when they left both mentally and physically. This is one of the greatest amounts of stress on a soldier injured downrange, the uncertain future they face. Reserve and Guard troops it is even worse because they left civilian jobs and if injuries keep themn from returning to that job they have known possibly for many years suddenly they have to give them up and change according to there new physical and mental limitations. Some troops cannot handle this and feel helpless and confused leading to more emotional issues stacked on the mental combat issues. Some injured troops bring more problems down on top of themselves by getting into trouble and getting Article 15's, disciplinary actions and find that they are suddenly discharged without their honorable discharge. Everyone knows what a discharge that reads anything but honorable will get you in life. The roads ahead of each soldier who gave themselves both physically and mentally to this war deserves Honorable Discharges. Mistakes happen and each soldier is responsible for his or her actions in the end.
The military should look at each soldier individually and if necessary morally and ethically. The suicide rate for soldiers returning from the war is off the charts and the military needs to look at that closer and understand that sometimes mentally they don't always make the best descisions. Mental health needs to outway anything else including disciplinary actions for these soldiers. What good does it do to Art 15, confine, or discharge a wounded soldier and in the end he takes his life because he knows his future is bleak.
Without coming out of the military with a good discharge, the physical and mental ability to adjust and transition to civilian life many soldiers would rather give up. It is hard to fight the demons from combat that are in your head let alone look at your family knowing that getting a job with the physical and mental limitations you have and possible discharge without it being honorable because of a mistake. If anyone volunteers to give it all to the country and survives they deserve the honor that goes along with that sacrifice. The funeral of a soldier who fought in this war who took his life for any reason is one too many period.

Dr. Casscells, ASD Health Affairs at 2008-02-14 13:26:05 wrote:

Thanks for these challening questions. Let me try some short answers and then all of you please feel free to chime in. To Sheila Smith: you are correct: for example we were given by Congress an unprecedented extra $900 million to improve our approach to combat stress and prevent - and treat- PTSD, and prevent suicide. We have allocated that money to the Army, Navy and AF to support their hiring of psychologists and psychiatrists and nurse-clinicians, to improve our pre-deployment screening, to implement educational programs to reduce the stigma of asking for help(emphasizing it takes strength to ask for help, that facing fear is real courage, that overcoming depression marks you as a proven leader).
These programs are underway, but have yet to receive much attention in the press as their success is not yet proven. We are also fielding new tests to identify - in the field - service members who have concussions ( mild traumatic brain injury). We are also developing new programs with NIH to develop ways to coax nerve cells to regrow; an exciting development is that we may soon be able to instruct cells fromm skin or saliva to become stem cells. This is a longer -term research effort . Many other initiatives, esp to reduce a rising incidence of suicide in the Army. Other important initiatives are teh Army's WTU's (warrior transition units) which now surround our wounded warriors with medical, nursing, and bureaucracy help; we are also working closely with VA in improving the disability eval process, and updgrading our electroninc health records to make them more useful, private, portable, and patient-controlled. This is a small part of what we are doing. What do YOU think we can do better? Respectfully, Ward Casscells, MD

From Moderator
Even though this event is scheduled from 1-2pm you will still be able to submit after the event has ended. You may continue to submit your question and come back later to get your answers. MHS Moderator

go here for more questions and some answers