Showing posts with label Gulf War Veterans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gulf War Veterans. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2019

UK Study, Gulf War Syndrome being passed onto children

Veterans with debilitating Gulf War Syndrome may have passed it on to children

Mirror UK
By Grace Macaskill
JAN 2019
The American study, funded by the US Veterans Affairs department, will step up the pressure. Dr Michael Falvo, lead researcher at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, said the findings were the “first direct biological evidence”

EXCLUSIVE: Stricken families say they want the Ministry of Defence to recognise the condition as the British Legion says it believes 30,000 may be suffering
Medical research has revealed troops who served in Iraq are more likely to have damage to DNA (Image: PA)
British forces veterans suffering Gulf War Syndrome may have given it to their children.

New medical research has revealed troops who served in Iraq are more likely to have damage to DNA that could be passed on during reproduction.

Experts in the US – where the illness is recognised – claim to have found the first proof of a biological link to debilitating symptoms suffered by servicemen involved in the 1990-1991 conflict.

Almost 75 per cent of the 53,000 UK soldiers there were given an anthrax vaccine. Many were also exposed to depleted uranium in some weapons.

Thousands reported a raft of disorders on their return home, including extreme fatigue, dizziness, strange rashes, nerve pain and memory loss – and the British Legion believes 30,000 may be suffering from the syndrome.

And more and more affected families are reporting that their children have developed terrifying symptoms of conditions that can be passed on genetically.

Now they are demanding the Ministry of Defence acts on the latest research and recognises Gulf War Syndrome.
read more here

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rolling Stone Forgets How Long Other Generations Waited For Memorials

Iraq War Veteran Reflects on the Ground Zero Mall
On the failed efforts to build a Global War on Terror memorial, while a shopping mall is built at the 9/11 site
Roling Stone

By Scott Beauchamp
September 9, 2016

The primary reason no GWOT monument yet exists is that, per the Commemorative Works Act of 1997, combat must have ended a decade before work on a memorial can begin. The Global War on Terror continues unabated. How are we supposed to "remember" wars that might never end?
A grand opening event at the Westfield World Trade Center mall in August. Cindy Ord/Getty
Last month, nearly 15 years after September 11th, a mall opened at Ground Zero. The Westfield World Trade Center is aggressively ordinary, despite resting on the site of the nation's most memorable and deadly terrorist attack. As The New York Times notes, "there is little to suggest that [the mall] occupies consecrated ground ... this mall could be just about anywhere." Walking the pristine marble floors of the concourse, past stores like Apple, Sephora and Kate Spade, there's no indication that the soil underfoot might contain debris from the first foreign attack on American territory in two generations.

A nearby museum and memorial officially commemorate those who died in the World Trade Center attacks, underscoring the absurdity of the mall's presence there. The juxtaposition of the memorial and the shopping mall gestures at America's complex attitude toward commemorating wars and tragedies.

As a veteran of the Global War on Terror who deployed twice to Iraq as an infantryman, there's no permanent federal monument where I can publicly mourn and remember. As important as the country's various 9/11 memorials are, they're memorials to civilian victims of terrorism, not members of the military. There is no official government monument recognizing the casualties of what some have taken to calling the Long War.
read more here

If you really want to honor anyone, it would be a good time to refresh history of what already happened. Reminder, it is not the longest war. Vietnam still is at just under 20 years. First name on The Wall is "The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956." and the last killed ""The ‘Mayaguez Incident’ The battle on Koh Tang occurred on May 15, 1975."

Gulf War "While Feb. 28, 2016, marked the official anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the war 25 years ago, no special celebrations were held on the day, a disappointment several war veterans fumed over." 

And this is how long it took for the Vietnam Memorial Wall to be built. "The Memorial (wall) was completed in late October and dedicated on November 13, 1982."

Korean War ended in 1953. It was dedicated on July 27, 1995 

 WWII ended in 1945. The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

PTSD Fight Back Home

I keep wondering why it is so easy for servicemembers to ask for all the help you can get in combat but find it almost impossible to ask for help at home because of it. Why? It wasn't a "sign of weakness" to call for reinforcements in Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else for that matter.

Then why can't you ask for help because of what you went through there?

Is it because in combat you were worried more about your buddies more than you are worried about yourself? Seriously?

Then maybe it is time to think about all of this in a different way especially if you don't want to "bother anyone" because now you think it is about you and your survival. It is always about the people you care about and those who care about you.

Asking for help takes a hell of a lot of courage and that is something you had when you fought side by side with your buddies. Healing takes a lot of dedication and that is also something you had when you were there and doing whatever you had to do no matter how hard it was.

Why in the hell would you think it was supposed to be easier afterwards? Did you think about your family and friends or what your suffering was doing to them? Ok, then think about what your healing can do for them!

When you were in combat, they assumed you were in danger and when you can home, they assumed the danger was over for you.

Don't assume they can figure out what is going on if you just push them away, sulk, hide, get drunk or high. If you think they won't blame themselves for the way you're acting, think again because as the wife of a Vietnam veteran for over 30 years I'd need a supercomputer to calculate how much blame I put on my own shoulders and I knew what PTSD was before we got married. (Shit, I'm still only human after all)

Plus on the flip side, you're really not fighting for yourself back home either.

Think of the number of veterans lost everyday because they either didn't ask for help or didn't find it. Once you get better then you can pass on what you learned to them.

You're really fighting for them all over again. So how about it? Ready to fight for survival again? Ready to take the next step of healing toward a better quality of life?

This is PTSD Awareness Month and it is time to call in reinforcements.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Older Veterans Worried They're Taking UP Space?

Gee wonder where they got that idea? After all, since most charities claiming to be helping veterans seem to have forgotten about them. They are not interested in the fact that older veterans came home with the same exact wounds but waiting longer for help or that all the trouble with the VA today has been going on for decades yet Congress just forgets it was their responsibility to make it work,,,,oh don't get me started!
Expert warns about combat trauma and older veterans at Wyckoff event
MAY 5, 2015
Keane said many older veterans, especially of the World War II and Korean War generation, brush off treatment, worried they’re “taking up space” for veterans who need it more.
WYCKOFF – When Joseph Mariniello returned from a year of infantry combat in Vietnam a tight-knit group of neighborhood friends and family surrounded him and encouraged him to talk about the experience over and again.

Looking back, nearly 50 years later, the 74-year-old who lives now in Mahwah, credits that amateur talk therapy as a “cathartic” experience that helped him re-enter the civilian world and avoid the isolation and post-traumatic stress disorder that many fellow combat veterans faced.

What the people close to him could not have known at the time was that their welcoming, engaged care for their friend was a prescription researchers would spend decades studying to help treat PTSD. 

That kind of close attention is exactly what’s needed now, said Terence M. Keane, head of post-traumatic stress disorder behavior research for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

He spoke before a crowd of nearly 400 local veterans at Tuesday’s annual veteran’s breakfast at the Wyckoff YMCA.

Despite increased funding and programs to treat combat trauma among veterans over the past 30 years, connecting a veteran with help often comes down to the people they know. 

“It’s people, the men and women of the community who need to take up the cause of reintegrating veterans into the community,” Keane said. “Everybody is affected by exposure to war.”
read more here

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ret. Command Sergeant Major Thomas Colvin Wants to Honor All Veterans

Looks like I'm not the only one thinking all veterans should matter and not just the one making the news today.
"Only when proper recognition is given to veterans who have gone before us, will I be proud of a highway named in our honor." Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Thomas Colvin

Honor all veterans
Gadsdey Times
Published: Sunday, December 14, 2014

During its regular session in 2014, the state Senate passed SJR3. As the resolution read, “Naming a portion of United States Highway 411 from Etowah-St. Clair County line north to the intersection of United States Highway 411 and I-759 in Gadsden as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Highway.”

As a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm (1990-1991), Iraqi Freedom (2003) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2005-2008), I declare it unnecessary to do so. Why, you may ask, would you not want a highway named in our honor? As the resolution further states; “WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that we show them that we shall not forget their service, sacrifice and dedication in protecting our nation.”
read more here

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gulf War Veterans, The Silenced After Service

Gulf War vets: VA trying to silence claims of illness
The Arizona Republic
Paul Giblin
September 20, 2014
Approximately 37 percent of the 700,000 U.S. troops who deployed to the war suffer chronic multisymptom illness, according to "Gulf War Update," a VA newsletter issued in March of this year.

The head of a national committee that studies the health of Gulf War veterans says senior Department of Veterans Affairs officials are obscuring scientific evidence that points to war-related illnesses among an estimated 250,000 veterans who served in the 1990-91 conflict often called the First Gulf War.

VA officials are trying to suppress the number of veterans who would be eligible for treatment and compensation to keep down costs and waiting lists for care, said committee Chairman James H. Binns, a Vietnam veteran and Phoenix business executive involved in the medical equipment industry.

Binns made his claims in a four-page letter to former interim VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors and congressional leaders on June 3 and during a private meeting with new VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Sept. 10.

"The duplicity reaches the highest levels of the department and obstructs hopes for better health of an entire generation of veterans," Binns wrote in the letter.

In response to the group's call for more attention to Gulf War vets, VA officials instead are working to eliminate the congressionally mandated committee's independence by replacing its members with hand-selected new members, Binns told The Arizona Republic.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans, who now primarily are in their 40s, suffer health problems associated with the Gulf War, Binns said.

The conflict, led by the United States, countered Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Coalition planes bombed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's military relentlessly for more than a month, then ground forces raced through Kuwait into Iraq in four days.

The skies above the battlefield were blackened for days with smoke from burning oil wells.

The Gulf War committee and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies have concluded that Gulf War illness exists and that it likely was caused by exposure to neurotoxins from oil-well fires, anti-nerve-gas pills, pesticides and chemicals released from low-level chemical weapons damaged in the destruction of Iraqi facilities.

About a third of those involved in the ground war suffer from a variety of ailments including respiratory conditions, unremitting pain, memory loss, intestinal disorders and skin rashes, which have combined to ruin careers, Binns said.

"These sick veterans have no effective treatments, but remedies can likely be discovered with the right research, according to the Institute of Medicine," Binns stated in his letter to Gibson, Nabors, Miller, the Senate VA Committee chairman, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and others.
read more here

Friday, August 22, 2014

We would never accept defeat on this major battle after war

What do you think when you hear there are 22 veterans everyday committing suicide? Almost one every hour and 8,030 each year.

Those numbers are men and women, far more than numbers, but we don't seem to care enough. If we had,  we would never accept defeat on this major battle after war. Take a look at the numbers from combat and compare them to what you just read.

Vietnam War
Year of Death
Number of Records
1956 - 1959

















Service Number of Records
Air Force


Coast Guard

Marine Corps


Total Records

Gulf War 1990-1991 Persian Gulf, Op Desert Shield/Storm 363 but we lose at least 660 each month to suicide.

In one year, we lost more veterans to suicide than we lost during the entire war in Iraq 4,476 from 2003-2012

In one year, we lost more veterans to suicide than during the entire war in Afghanistan 2,342 so far from 2001.

Major combat operations are far from over when they have a harder time staying alive back home than they did fighting the other part of war.  If we do not change what we are doing, we have accepted defeat and given up on saving their lives.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Veterans Advocates Want Accounability

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 26, 2014

Memorial Day is a great day to remember the price paid to obtain and retain our freedoms. It is even a better day to remember the truth, the whole truth no matter how painful it is.

In an interview Advocates Want Someone To Be Accountable For Veterans' Care Aaron Glantz said "Well, I think that the issue that people have with Secretary Shinseki is not that these scandals are necessarily his fault. It's more that he's been in this chair as Secretary of Veterans Affairs for six years now and has not done anything about these problems, which are of long-standing. So 2007, 2009, 2012 we had Inspector General's reports saying that the VA was cooking the books on how long veterans actually were waiting. So these problems are not new."

He's right. These problems are not new and they have not improved enough. Why? Because no one has been held accountable including members of Congress. Advocates tried to hold other heads of the VA responsible but we failed. People tend to forget that there have been many battles fought for the sake of our veterans during every war. The most troublesome came when the troops were sent to fight two wars yet no one thought about making sure the VA was ready for any of the wounded coming home.

The numbers from the Vietnam War were well documented so advocates knew what was coming. We looked back at the history of the real longest war this nation fought while reporters decided the official start of Afghanistan was more important than the first to die in Vietnam.

According to the Vietnam Memorial Wall "First battlefield fatality was Specialist 4 James T. Davis who was killed on December 22, 1961" while it also listed "The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. " As for the last, "The last pilot casualty in the country of Vietnam occured during the Embassy evacuation in Saigon, William C. Nystal and Michael J. Shea both died on the helicopter on April 30, 1975 approaching the USS Hancock in the China Sea (both are located at 1W, 124). The last pilot killed in the Vietnam war was Air Force helicopter pilot Second Lieutenant Richard Vandegeer who was killed on Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. This occured during the Mayaguez incident when his helicopter crashed on May 15, 1975. It is concidered the last combat action of the Vietnam War."

There you can see that calling the war in Afghanistan "the longest war" causes many of us to tear up.
The youngest Vietnam KIA is believed to be Dan Bullock at 15 years old.
The oldest person on the Wall is Dwaine McGriff at 63 years old.
At least 5 men killed in Vietnam were 16 years old.
At least 12 men killed in Vietnam were 17 years old.
There are 120 persons who listed foreign countries as their home of record.
At least 25,000 of those killed were 20 years old or younger.
More than 17,000 of those killed were married.
Veterans killed on their first day in Vietnam 997 (unconfirmed)
Veterans killed on their last day in Vietnam 1,448 (unconfirmed)
Number of Chaplains on the Wall -- 16 (2 Medal Of Honor)
Number of Women on the Wall -- 8 (7 Army, 1 USAF - 7,484 served)
There are 226 Native Americans on the Memorial.
There are 22 countries represented on the Memorial.
Most common name on the Memorial "Smith" with 667 veterans.
The most casualties for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 casualties.
The most casualties for a single month was May 1968, 2,415 casualties were incurred.

We knew those numbers. We knew the numbers for Afghanistan because of how long Russia was there. We knew what was predicted about sending troops into Iraq because of the interviews done after the Gulf War when Dick Cheney used the term "quagmire" to explain why the decision was made to not invade Iraq and when General Norman Schwarzkopf said it would be like "a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit."
Reluctant to pursue unwinnable battles, he backed President George HW Bush's decision not to move on Baghdad and remove Saddam from power. Schwarzkopf's agreement to allow the Iraqis to use what had been no-fly zones proved fatal to the growing domestic resistance movements against Saddam. He later said: "Had we taken all of Iraq we would have been like the dinosaur in the tar pit." Although he supported President George W Bush's subsequent 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was severely critical of Bush's defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld's extensive use of reservists and private contractors, and, when the casus belli of weapons of mass destruction proved false, he warned against ignoring the responsibilities of an occupying power.

But the VA was not made ready to care for the wounded by body or mind. According to American Federation of Government Employees, there were 1,516 Veterans Service Representatives working for veterans in January of 2003 but only 1,392 working in 2007. Ironically that was reported by Aaron Glantz for IPS in 2007.

We started screaming! No one heard us. We screamed about the lack of mental healthcare when 148,000 Vietnam veterans made the trip to the VA for help with PTSD for the first time knowing two wars would cause a rise in their need. Chris Roberts reported this on El Paso Times in 2007. "In the past 18 months, 148,000 Vietnam veterans have gone to VA centers reporting symptoms of PTSD "30 years after the war," said Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, deputy commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He recently visited El Paso." But when they came for help, there was less help to care for them.

We want accountability because we've seen the problems. We also want it because we have seen what works and the flip side of the story too many times. We're greedy! We want the same help available for all of our veterans and their families. We know we can do better because it has already been done.

Hold people accountable but don't stop with the people in the chair today. We have to look back all the way with truthful eyes or we will repeat more mistakes and neglect more successes. They deserve the best we have to offer them since they did their best for us.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Florida Veterans' Reunion Not Rained Out

The 27th Annual Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion was not rained out yesterday. Sure there were a lot less people and vendors but I was surprised by so many others coming out in the rain to visit the Vietnam Wall. The ground was saturated but no one seemed to be willing to let that stop them. There was an elderly woman in a wheelchair being pushed thru the mud and puddles and kids jumping in others.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gulf War Veterans May Get "presumptive" VA compensation

House asks VA for presumptive conditions for Gulf War vets
Kelly Kennedy
March 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — Gulf War veterans should have presumptive conditions associated with their service, including brain and lung cancer and chronic migraines, members of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs wrote in a letter Tuesday.

"As a veteran of the Persian Gulf war, I am keenly aware of issues adversely impacting the health of veterans who served in that theater beginning in 1990," wrote Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., in a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

If a veteran is diagnosed with a presumptive condition, Veterans Affairs is required to assume that it is military-connected, and that the veteran is then entitled to medical or disability benefits associated with the diagnosis.
read more here

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More veterans suffering from ALS

More veterans suffer from ALS, but VA moves to help
The News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
By Martha Quillin
Published: March 12, 2014

REIDSVILLE, N.C. — Thomas Corbett may never know what — if anything — from his five years as a heavy-equipment mechanic in the Marine Corps brought on the disease that likely will steal from him the use of nearly every one of his muscles and, sometime in the next several years, his very breath.

Since he was diagnosed in 2012 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Corbett, 50, said he has wondered: “Was it some of those shots I took when I was going in and out of the country? Was it something in the water at Camp Lejeune? Was there something on some of those old ships I was on?”

In fact, no one knows why U.S. military veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population, or why those who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990-91 may be twice as likely to get the disease as other troops. Although it’s still a rare illness, affecting about 30,000 people across the country, it is so devastating to its victims and their families that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made a mission out of trying to reduce their suffering.
The military began to notice an increase in the number of ALS cases among troops who had deployed to the Persian Gulf and suffered from what became known as Gulf War syndrome. By the early 2000s, neurologists and epidemiologists were finding an increased incidence of ALS throughout the military, across all branches, over all periods of service, regardless of where or whether the troops had deployed.
read more here

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

697,000 Gulf War Veterans ignored by the government

VA doctor says Gulf War vets not getting effective treatments
Kelly Kennedy
January 7, 2014

Miami clinic has treated Gulf War illness successfully, but methods have not been disseminated for use in other clinics in the VA system

WASHINGTON — As Department of Veterans Affairs physician Nancy Klimas told an agency panel Tuesday about the many successful ways her clinic has been treating Gulf War illness, veterans have responded with a combination of hope and anger.

The hope came because her clinic appears to be making headway in using research-based methods to treat veterans with the disease, which consists of symptoms ranging from headaches to memory loss to chronic fatigue, and plagues one in four of the 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq.

The anger came because, although Klimas had been using at least some of her methods for a decade, none of them have been disseminated throughout the VA system for use in other clinics. Her testimony was part of the ongoing fight between Gulf War veterans, who believe the government is ignoring physical causes for their ailments, and the VA, which has been reluctant to support the veterans' claims.
read more here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Veterans are far more likely to die of suicide and in accidents

Veterans are far more likely to die of suicide and in accidents — a trend largely unstudied until recently.
LA Times
By Alan Zarembo
Photography by Rick Loomis
December 17, 2013

Mark Tyree Sr. visits his son's grave. "I grieve every day now," he said. "I don't want it to go away."

Mark Tyree was chasing death.

The 25-year-old Marine veteran drank heavily and drove fast — often at the same time. Tyree had walked away from two serious accidents that demolished his cars. advertisement

On a foggy November morning in 2011, he slammed his pickup truck into a power pole, became tangled in a power line and was electrocuted.

"He was so reckless at times," said his father, Mark Sr. "He had no fear whatsoever."

Tyree belonged to a generation of young veterans whose return to civilian life has been marked by an unusually high death rate, primarily boosted by accidents and suicides.

The death rate for California veterans under 35 surpasses that of both active-duty service members and other civilians of the same ages, according to a Times analysis of state mortality records.

Scattered across the state, the veterans' deaths — 1,253 men and 110 women between 2006 and 2011 — are barely noticed in the mayhem of modern life.

A 27-year-old in San Diego crashes his motorcycle at 100 mph while drunk. A 32-year-old hooked on heroin overdoses in a restaurant bathroom in Tarzana. A 28-year-old in Humboldt County shoots himself in the head in front of his best friend.

When viewed together, however, patterns emerge.

Veterans were more than twice as likely as other civilians to commit suicide. They were twice as likely to be a victim of a fatal motor vehicle crash and a quarter more likely to suffer other deadly accidents.
In 1987, a government study found that veterans who had served in Vietnam were 62% more likely to die during their first five years as civilians than other veterans of the same era who did not serve there. Motor vehicle accidents, suicides and drug overdoses were the major reasons for the disparity.
read more here

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Deadlines approach for Veterans' Money

Michigan Veterans

Deadline nears for property tax exemption for Mich. veterans
ABC News 57
By Alexandra Koehn
Nov 26, 2013

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- If you are a disabled veteran who received an honorable discharge and live in the state of Michigan, you may be eligible for a refund on your property taxes. You only have until December 6th to fill out the paperwork.

"$900 on our taxes! That's phenomenal because that will help us live a little better and help our children because we also have a disabled daughter," said Claudia Kelley.
Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski says to be eligible for a property tax exemption, a veteran must meet one of the following requirements:

1) Be rated by the VA as 100-percent disabled
2) Individual unemployability rating
3) Specially adapted housing grant rating
find out more here

Ohio Gulf War Veterans
Ohio Veterans Bonus deadline near for Gulf War Era veterans
Lima Ohio
November 26. 2013

COLUMBUS – Ohio veterans who served during the time of the Persian Gulf War have until December 31, 2013 to apply for the Ohio Veterans Bonus and receive the thank you for their service awarded them by Ohio’s citizens.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus continues for veterans of the Iraq War, who have until December 31, 2014 to apply. No deadline has been announced for veterans of the Afghanistan War and all veterans who served after October 7, 2001.

“I personally urge any eligible veteran, particularly those who served during the Persian Gulf War, to apply for the Bonus immediately. It’s a very personal thanks to every one of our veterans who served during our recent wars from all the people of our great state,” Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell said. “To everyone in our veterans’ community, please reach out to these veterans and make sure they’re aware. And if anyone has a friend or a family member who served, let them know.”

The specific criteria are below:
· Military service of more than 90 days active duty, not for training, anywhere in the world during the following periods:

- August 2, 1990 through March 3, 1991 – Persian Gulf; deadline to apply is December 31, 2013

- October 7, 2001 through a date to be determined by the President – Afghanistan

- March 19, 2003 through December 31, 2011 – Iraq; deadline to apply is December 31, 2014

· Eligible veterans and military service members must have been Ohio residents at the time of their entry into the military, and must be Ohio residents at the time they apply.

The bonus pays $100 a month to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf theater, or in the countries of Afghanistan or Iraq, up to a maximum of $1,000. For veterans who served elsewhere, the payment is $50 a month up to a $500 maximum. Veterans medically discharged due to injuries sustained in combat can receive $1,000, plus up to $500 for months of service elsewhere. Family members of those killed in action or who died from disease as a result of their in-theater service can receive a bonus of $5,000 plus whatever the service member was eligible for, up to a total of $6,500. find out more here

Sunday, October 13, 2013

War is temporary but veterans are lifelong commitment

War is temporary but veterans are lifelong commitment
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 13, 2013

With the government shutdown it is a good time to think of what is supposed to happen in less than a month from today. November 11th is Veterans Day. A day we as a nation are supposed to honor our veterans and remember their sacrifices.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs there were 22,328,000 veterans as of September 2012. There were 3.61 million veterans receiving disability compensation plus another 725,165 claims filed waiting approval. Of those, 418,711 are considered "backlog" because they have taken too long to decide at over 125 days.

While reporters seem to focus on the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans waiting for the VA to honor their commitment to them, the truth is, there are veterans waiting even longer.
Post-9/11 (Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts) claims make up 21% of the total inventory and 22% of the backlog
Gulf War (definition) claims make up 23% of the total inventory and 21% of the backlog
Peacetime (period between end of Vietnam and Gulf War) claims make up 11% of the total inventory and 11% of the backlog
Vietnam claims make up 37% of the total inventory and 38% of the backlog
Korean War claims make 4% of the total inventory and 4% of the backlog
World War II claims make up 3% of the total inventory and 3% of the backlog
Other era claims make up 1% of the total inventory and 1% of the backlog

Troop Levels in Afghanistan Since 2001 from the New York Times
In November of 2001 there were 1,300 troops sent to Afghanistan
By November of 2002 there were 9,500
2003 12,000
2004 15,800
2005 17,400
2006 20,400
2007 24,700
2008 30,853
2009 68,000

These are the numbers from the Congressional Research Office

Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars, FY2001-FY2012: Cost and Other Potential Issues
Troops sent to Afghanistan
2002 5,200
2003 10,400
2004 15,200
2005 19,100
2006 20,400
2007 23,700
2008 30,100
2009 50,700
2010 63,500
2011 63,500
2012 63,500

Troops sent to Iraq
2003 67,000
2004 130,600
2005 143,800
2006 141,100
2007 148,300
2008 187,900
2009 135,600
2010 88,300
2011 42,800
2012 4,100

As you can see, the numbers do not match. The report from the Congress was published in 2009 so the rest were the guess numbers.
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who gave us the freedom to demonstrate
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag.
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

Some reporters want to tell us that Afghanistan is the longest war, while officially that may be true, the real truth is, it isn't.
When: The Vietnam War began on November 1, 1955 and ended April 30, 1975. It lasted for 19 and 1/2 years.
The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. His name was added to the Wall on Memorial Day 1999.

US Troop Deployments into Vietnam from the Heritage Foundation
1950 9
1951 74
1952 74
1953 138
1954 4,628
1955 427
1956 752
1957 751
1958 846
1959 819
1960 794
1961 959
1962 8,498
1963 15,620
1964 17,280
1965 129,611
1966 317,007
1967 451,752
1968 537,377
1969 510,054
1970 390,278
1971 212,925
1972 35,292
1973 265
1974 130

The last to die because of the Vietnam war were in 1975, 1974 1 and in 1975 62.
1975 was the year that the last 18 casualties (Daniel A. Benedett, Lynn Blessing, Walter Boyd, Gregory S. Copenhaver, Andres Garcia, Bernard Gause, Jr., Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove, James J. Jacques, Ashton N. Loney, Ronald J. Manning, Danny G. Marshall, James R. Maxwell, Richard W. Rivenburgh, Elwood E. Rumbaugh, Antonio Ramos Sandovall, Kelton R. Turner, Richard Vande Geer) occurred on May 15th during the recapture of the freighter MAYAGUEZ and its crew.

Their war Memorials were closed and now their disability checks may not come. The reports of the VA making progress in reducing their "inventory" of claims are now jeopardized along with payments for caregivers. Caregivers to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are covered but families of Gulf War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans and WWII are not.

Caregivers, that is such a strange word when we are talking about veterans. Families, well that is a given that they care and many have given up careers to care for their wounded war fighters. Congress was supposed to care enough that they would honor their commitment to the wounded, orphans and widows of the fallen. They manage to get headlines when they write bills to prove how much they "care" but with each congress, veterans have seen history repeated while members of congress retreated from their obligation to those they sent into combat.

It isn't a matter of Republican or Democrat betraying this fundamental obligation. It has been going on no matter which party controls all of it.
"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
General Norman Schwarzkopf

The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are shocked by what has happened to this country because people can't work together for the sake of this nation they were willing to die in service to.

Isn't it time they were actually honored everyday? Isn't it time to end this national disgrace in Washington?
"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 the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
President George Washington
American Veterans Memorial

Friday, September 6, 2013

When will the military take responsibility for suicides?

When will the military take responsibility for suicides?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 6, 2013

My husband spent 17 years as a civilian, 4 years as a soldier with one of them deployed into combat.  The rest of his life has been living in a civilian world with the same hopes, dreams and problems as the rest of the population but unlike the rest, he is a veteran and among only 7% of the population.

He came home with mild PTSD but as time went by, it got stronger and our relationship was pushed to the breaking point more times than I can remember.  I didn’t have a clue what to do in the beginning but I learned from experts writing in clinical books and I learned from mistakes I made.

Families like mine were Americas’ secret.  No one cared. My husband got better but will be on medication and in therapy for the rest of his life.  We lost his nephew to suicide in 2000.  They were not veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan or the Gulf War.  They fought in Vietnam.

Forty years ago when Vietnam veterans came home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there were plenty of excuses to not pay attention.  After all, these were Vietnam veterans and just not worthy of our attention.  The only time there were news reports about them was when one of them was arrested.

The truth is, what we are seeing today among the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was all happening back then.  The fact there is so much available for the new generation and their families is in fact do to the efforts of Vietnam veterans.  They pushed for all the research being done way back before the Internet, Tweets, Facebook and support groups.

Between 150,000 and 200,000 Vietnam veterans took their own lives.  As a matter of fact, they are still losing hope and are the greatest majority of the suicides tied to the military.  They are the majority of the VA claims as well as the backlog.

The ugly, overlooked fact in all of this is things are just as bad now even though the OEF and OIF veterans are getting so much attention.  Veterans’ charities have turned into a billion dollar a year industry.  The Pentagon spent $4 billion from 2007 to 2012 but that is just a portion of the spending done on “prevention” by other departments.  So why did we end up with the deadliest suicide rate on record in the military and higher veterans suicides? Why are there so many attempted suicides if any of what was being done was working and who is paying the price for this miserable outcome?

A study done by Curtin University in Australia took a look at “resilience” building and found “Implications of the review show PTSD prevention techniques are plausible; however, the researchers admit an immediate path to PTSD prevention is a long while away.”  The truth is, RAND Corp found the same thing when they took at look at the over 900 prevention programs, finding two key factors.  The first is, no one can be taught “resilience” and the second was that this training does not fit with military culture. 

So if you really want to know how all of this got so bad and still is, start reading what has been done and then know that no one has been held accountable for any of this so families, well, we blame ourselves. We've been together since 1982 and in those years I have seen far too many suffering while hearing far too many claims and promises the military is addressing it.  So far, no one in the military has managed to explain what the last 6 years have been all about when it is as bad as it was after Vietnam.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No easy answers for Syria

No easy answers for Syria
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 28, 2013

The reports coming out of Syria are heartbreaking, but so have reports coming out of other nations regarding the way they treat their own people. The easy thing to say is "do something" but no one seems too interested in what comes after we do "something" and history should have taught us that lesson.

Afghanistan taught a lesson after Congressman Charlie Wilson convinced Congress to fund Afghans trying to get Russian forces out of there. The Afghans were being slaughtered and had very little to fight back with. No one was asking what would happen afterwards.

The answer came with Osama Bin Laden. "The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan begins late in the year. It profoundly influences bin Laden's course. Muslims around the world rally to the Afghan cause." But while he was furious over this, it was not until the Gulf War when he vowed to take revenge on the US.

When the Gulf War ended, President George H. W. Bush decided that sending troops into Iraq from Kuwait would cost too many lives. General Norman Schwarzkopf said "Had we taken all of Iraq, we would have been like a dinosaur in the tar pit - we would still be there, and we, not the United Nations, would be bearing the costs of that occupation."

We knew how long and what it took to get Russia out of Afghanistan before the troops were sent in back in 2001 but did not prepare for the wounded that they should have known would come. The VA was not ready but no one was. They also knew what would happen when troops were sent into Iraq. History told us much but it seems as if reporters were sticking their fingers in their ears so they would not have to hear what was being created.

The result of over a decade of war has been catastrophic for Iraq, Afghanistan and the US. No one wanted to pay the bill any more than they wanted to claim responsibility for what they had already done.

The fact that we have so many veterans suffering with wounds to their bodies and minds, military families falling apart and apathy from the other 93% of the population, leaves many with a bitter taste in our mouths. No one thought beyond wanting to "do something" so the troops pay the price, not just while deployed, but for the rest of their lives.

Now we see what can follow an attack by the US on Syria will bring. "An imminent U.S. strike on Syrian government targets in response to the alleged gassing of civilians last week has the potential to draw the United States into the country’s civil war, former U.S. officials said Tuesday, warning that history doesn’t bode well for such limited retaliatory interventions. The best historical parallels — the 1998 cruise missile strikes on targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan — are rife with unintended consequences and feature little success."

We've heard it all before. Some scream that "we can't let those innocent people die" but no one seems to asking what will follow doing this. Some scream "we have to respond" but never seem too interested in what we can cause. No one seems too interested in the fact this very well could cause our troops to be sent yet again into a nation to risk their lives for something politicians decided to do without thinking about the next day.

So who will pay for this war?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ohio veterans passing up $1,500 bonus for serving?

Deadline looms for Ohio veterans to claim bonuses from state
The Associated Press
By Lisa Cornwell
June 16,2013

CINCINNATI — Time is running out for eligible military veterans to claim Ohio bonuses of up to $1,500, and officials are worried that thousands of veterans may miss out by not applying.

Navy veteran Robert Erb III describes his bonus for service in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan war eras as a “real blessing” for him and his family.

“You don’t join for the benefits, but they can really help when you come back home,” said Erb, 41, of northeast Ohio’s Fairport Harbor.

Ohio voters in 2009 approved a $200 million bond issue to fund bonuses for veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq war eras, and the Persian Gulf-era application deadline is Dec. 31.
read more here

Friday, June 14, 2013

Advocates say VA gutting Gulf War Illness panel

Advocates say VA gutting Gulf War Illness panel
USA Today
Kelly Kennedy
June 14, 2013

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has altered the charter of an independent board to research Gulf War Illness, cut its budget and limited the board's independence, according to a directive Shinseki signed last month.

"I have discussed these issues with the secretary and have directed the staff to implement a few actions regarding the committee," said Jose Riojas, Shinseki's interim chief of staff, in a May 16 letter to James Binns, the group's director. "In summary, I have directed that one-half of the members remain and one-half be replaced in accordance with VA policy," Riojas wrote.

Binns, Riojas wrote, is invited to remain as chairman of the board for one more year to "assist the transition process."

Rather than having an independent staff, the board's staff may now be provided by regular VA personnel. Before, the board oversaw those people.
read more here

Gulf War Veterans Found To Develop Specific Mental Disorder, 'Gulf War Illness,' After Trauma
New research indicates Gulf War illness alters heart and brain function in veterans after facing trauma in the Gulf War.
JUN 14, 2013

About one in 8 war veterans develop some sort of mental disorder related to having been in combat.

A newly identified disorder called Gulf War illness (GWI) has affected close to 30 percent of the military personnel who served in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War. The ailment is similar to post traumatic stress disorder, though people with GWI have symptoms unrelated to other mental ailments after times of high stress.

One might expect most Gulf War veterans to face posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition characterized by anxiety and flashbacks caused by a traumatic event like facing death, rape, or killing others. Its symptoms appear three months after exposure to a traumatic event and include flashbacks, avoidance of once enjoyed activities, depression, memory issues, and hopelessness. Gulf War veterans, however, show slightly different symptoms, feeling great deals of muscular pain unrelated to injuries or even depression. Similarly, their memories are significantly altered, leading researchers to believe that they have an entirely different ailment.

In a new study, researchers at Georgetown University have identified two distinct forms of GWI where the veterans' brains have actually atrophied, or died from over use. Symptoms of these veterans include cognitive impairment, widespread aches and pains, and tremors.
read more here

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

PTSD is not God's judgment against you

When veterans have seen the worst man can do to man, they ask where God is? Is God real? Why did He abandon me?
They cannot see He was right there with them, because they were there and still filled with compassion to feel. The soul needs to heal as much as the mind does.
Honor Them
Tribute to first responders, the men and women we count on everyday, police, firefighters, National Guards, emergency responders, the troops, our veterans and everyone else putting others first.