Showing posts with label Marines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marines. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan lost Marine veteran brother to COVID-19

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan says coronavirus killed her Marine brother

Fox News
By Robert Gearty
March 24, 2020
“THIS is why we must #StayHome,” Flanagan wrote. “If you feel fine, that’s great. But please consider the possibility that you’re carrying the virus and don’t know it, and then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public. COVID-19 now has a personal connection to me. Please do all you can to prevent one for you.”

A man who died of the coronavirus in Tennessee over the weekend had served in the Marines and was the older brother of Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan.

She shared the sad news in an Instagram post Sunday night, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported.

“To many, he’ll be a statistic: Tennessee’s second COVID-related death,” she wrote. “But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father and husband.”
read it here

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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

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

Marine Corps Times
Shawn Snow
March 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

Female Marine veteran faces charges for VA fraud as business owner

Marine veteran faces federal charges in alleged VA business fraud

Marine Corps Times
Todd South
March 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Female Marines make history with howitzers

Two female Marine cannoneers are now howitzer section chiefs

Military Times
Phillip Athey
March 3, 2020
The two trailblazing cannon cockers join a long line of female Marines who continue to break barriers in jobs they were once barred from
Two female Marines have passed the Corps’ howitzer section chief course ― accomplishing another milestone for female integration in the Marine Corps nearly four years after combat jobs were first opened to women.
Cannoneer Marine Cpl. Shannon Lilly is bitten by military working dog, Robby, during a bite demonstration on the flight deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Kearsarge (LHD 3) in May 2019. (Sgt. Aaron Henson/Marine Corps)
A howitzer section chief is the artillery equivalent of a squad leader, responsible for maintaining, aiming and firing the Corps’ M777 155 mm howitzer along with leading a crew of eight to 10 Marines required to fire the gun.

The first female Marine to pass the demanding course was Cpl. Shannon Lilly with with Gulf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, a Marine Corps spokeswoman told Marine Corps Times on Monday.

Lilly passed the course in December 2019, according to 2nd Marine Division spokeswoman Sgt. Gloria Lepko.
read it here

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Marine Corps League Delaware County chapter officers face charges for stealing funds

Delaware County DA: Officers From Marine Corps League Arrested, Charged For Stealing Over $53,000 From Group

By CBS3 Staff
February 7, 2020

DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Two people are accused of stealing money from the Marine Corps League of Delaware County. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer says Alan Staniskis stole more than $53,000 from the group.

He was the commandant of the Upland Chapter of the organization.
The group’s paymaster, Kera Kiss, is also accused of altering the books to hide the improper withdrawals.
read it here

Saturday, February 8, 2020

After 3 tours together, Marine veteran had to lay paw-brother to rest

Marine Dog With Cancer Gets Emotional Farewell

by Molly Weinfurter
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena. When I was 19 overseas learning how to be responsible, I had Cena. And now I’m 27 and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life.” Jeff DeYoung

Losing a dog is one of the hardest things a person can go through. After all, dogs are there for us through every step of the way, so they deserve to be honored. This is exactly how Marine Corporal Jeff DeYoung felt when he learned that his beloved dog, Cena, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. Not only had Cena been his loyal companion, but they had also served 3 tours overseas together.
Cena and DeYoung’s Bond
Cena and DeYoung had been together for a long time. In 2009, DeYoung was first paired with Cena, who was a talented bomb-sniffing dog. The pair grew very close during that time, and they protected each other through the most difficult parts of their service.

In 2014, Cena retired from his duties, and DeYoung decided to adopt him. From there, Cena became his service dog to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cena always knew how to cheer DeYoung up, so he was the perfect companion. The two were inseparable from that moment on. Cena even helped DeYoung through some of the hardest moments in his life, including the 3 weeks where 7 of his friends passed away.
“We may not have been the same species, but we were most definitely brothers.” Jeff DeYoung
read it here

Friday, February 7, 2020

Marine Corps suicides down for 2019...up for Navy

Marine Corps Suicide Rate Declines, Navy Rate Rises in 2019

By: Ben Werner
February 6, 2020

In 2019, 47 active-duty Marines committed suicide – 11 fewer than in 2018 – while the Navy reported 72 suicides, four more than a year earlier, according to preliminary totals from both services.
The Marine Corps suicide rate for the calendar year 2019 was 25.3 per 100,000 active-duty Marines, a decrease from the rate of 30.7 per 100,000 active-duty Marines in 2018.

“The Marine Corps is committed to reducing the number of suicides and continues to encourage unit leaders to have open dialogue with their Marines about stress, resiliency, mental wellness and suicide,” Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, wrote in an email to USNI News.

“When leaders and mental health programs and resources acknowledge that ‘everybody struggles with life, trauma, shame, guilt and uncertainty,’ it helps make asking for assistance more acceptable,” Thomas said.

In 2019, the Navy’s active-duty suicide rate increased to 22.3 per 100,000 active-duty personnel, from the 2018 suicide rate of 20.1 per 100,000 active duty service members.
read it here

Air Force Suicides increased

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Inspirational Amputee: "It's so life-altering, but it's not life-ending."

San Diego amputee war veteran on a path to inspire

ABC 10 News
By: Amanda Brandeis
Feb 06, 2020
Doc ultimately made US Naval and Marine Corps history after becoming the first amputee Corpsman assigned to an infantry unit.

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - After losing his leg in Iraq, a San Diego veteran is accomplishing more at age 34 than most do in a lifetime.

"I love being active because of that inspiration it gives other people. I know a lot of people, especially new amputees, that I come across, they think that their time is up," said Doc Jacobs, a medically retired Navy Corpsman.

Doc was only 18 months into his service when his platoon endured an IED explosion.

He underwent 78 surgeries, losing his left leg (below the knee), three toes from his right foot, and three partial fingers from his left hand.

But he wasn't done serving his country.

"It's so life-altering, but it's not life-ending."

Doc ultimately made US Naval and Marine Corps history after becoming the first amputee Corpsman assigned to an infantry unit.

"I did another six-and-a-half years overall, from detonation to discharge."
read it here

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tyler Reeb: "his courage and strength should inspire us to do better"

How many veterans do we have to lose before we actually do better?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 4, 2020

Why do I still believe we will do the right thing to stop men and women, who risked their lives to save others, will finally risk their pride to save themselves? Because I have seen it happen too often to dismiss what is possible.

Air Force Suicides went up last year. "The U.S. Air Force says 137 airmen across the active duty, Guard and Reserve died by suicide in 2019, a 33% increase over the previous year." The annual report released last year for 2018, showed that suicides have gone up to the highest on record.
Col. Michael A. Miller, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, reportedly commented that "killing yourself is a chickenshit way to go" during a 1.2 mile "resiliency day" run with personnel...
The problem is, leaders like him are part of the problem itself! "Marine colonel calls suicide ‘shameful,' cites ‘godless age’ and calls on Marines to ‘read some scripture’"
Since the start of Gen. Robert Neller’s tenure as commandant in 2015, nearly 224 Marines have ended their own lives. That’s more Marines than an entire rifle company, he noted in a recent two-page letter on mental wellness.

In 2018, 354 active and reserve Marines attempted suicide, and 77 Marines died, numbers that are greater, Neller wrote “than any previous year recorded."

In his letter to the entire Corps, posted via Twitter in May, Neller called on Marines to address “collective mental wellness," spiritual fitness and to seek help to combat the suicide epidemic across the Corps.
Those messages have been delivered at the same time the Department of Defense has been publicly saying the troops need to seek help without fear.... and kicking out far too many who needed help, the wrong message has gotten through.

But they are not alone with that type of thinking. It has been happening for decades because "leaders" refuse to learn about what PTSD is and what it does. They cannot accept that the men and women they command valued the lives of others so much so, they were willing to die for their sake, but could not risk their pride to admit they needed help to stay alive. These "leaders" cannot even recognized they have supported silence instead of encouraging service members to #BreakTheSilence so they can heal the wound of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We should know the end of this month how many were discharged without honoring their service.
Now, according to court documents, the timeline for the documents to again be visible is clear: at least 90 percent of the pre-April 2019 Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard decisions will be reposted on the website by Jan. 31, as will all Army decisions from 2009 to April 2019. By Feb. 14, the remaining Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard decisions will be reposted, and by Feb. 28, all Army decisions prior to 2009 will be reposted.

And by March 31, the services, including the Coast Guard, will repost all decisions through Dec. 31, 2019.

But I do still believe that one day, we will arrive at a time and place where no one will ever be ashamed of PTSD, especially when it was caused by their heroism. I believe because of these leaders.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller
"Marines are in a fight to save their fellow comrades, and they must approach that fight with the same intensity they apply to other battles," he added. In the nearly four years Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has led the Marine Corps, the service has lost a rifle company-worth of Marines to suicide, and he says it's time to have a frank conversation about what's causing that.
"Let me be clear up front, there is zero shame in admitting one's struggles in life -- trauma, shame, guilt or uncertainty about the future -- and asking for help," he said in a two-page letter about mental illness addressed to Marines, sailors and their families.

Blumenthal to bring uncle of Marine who committed suicide to State of the Union

The Day
By Julia Bergman Day staff writer
February 03. 2020
"Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds — mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively. The loss of Tyler Reeb as well as his courage and strength should inspire us to do better." U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
The uncle of a Marine Staff Sergeant Tyler Reeb, who died by suicide last fall October following multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be the guest of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Tyler Reeb, a decorated Marine Corps sniper who grew up in New Canaan, died in October. He led more than 100 combat missions against the Taliban, according to a news release from Blumenthal's office. His uncle, Christopher Reeb of Weston, will represent the family at the State of the Union.

"Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds — mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively," Blumenthal said in a statement. "The loss of Tyler Reeb as well as his courage and strength should inspire us to do better."

Last week, the U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved legislation, authored by Blumenthal, that would establish targets to evaluate the efficacy of the VA's mental health and suicide prevention outreach campaigns and would create a process to oversee these campaigns.

The proposal adopts several recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report publicly released in December 2018, which found the VA's suicide prevention outreach activities had "dropped off in 2017 and 2018, and the office responsible for these activities lacked consistent leadership."
read it here

When you read about Tyler Reeb in days to come, think about what you just learned and then ask yourself what you can do to deliver the message to others, that Tyler Reeb should have heard.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Traffic stop suicide claimed life of young Marine after 3 tours

Marine who fatally shot himself during Chesterfield traffic stop had struggled with alcohol use

Richmond Times Dispatch
Mark Bowes
Jan 14, 2020
Childress, who joined the Marines after graduating from high school in 2013, had served three deployments overseas, according to his obituary notice. It couldn’t immediately be discerned where overseas he served.
Sgt. Shawn Childress, 24, graduated in 2013 from Manchester High School.
Family photo through Bliley Funeral Home
A young Marine sergeant from Chesterfield County who fatally shot himself early New Year’s Day during a traffic stop in Midlothian had been struggling with alcohol and was detained previously for a mental health commitment order, according to his wife and the authorities.

Sgt. Shawn Childress, 24, a Manchester High School graduate who was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., pulled a handgun and shot himself about 1:15 a.m. Jan. 1 after a Chesterfield officer stopped him for suspicion of drunken driving on Midlothian Turnpike near Courthouse Road, police said.
read it here

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Florida Veteran fired after being prescribed medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder?

UPDATE School Board to pay suspended combat veteran

The School Board on Tuesday conducted a financial rescue mission of Mike Hickman, a Belleview High School dean and combat veteran who was suspended without pay two weeks ago after testing positive for medically prescribed marijuana.
Most board members said during Tuesday’s meeting that they made a mistake when suspending Hickman without pay. They thought he would be suspended with pay, pending a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Thanks to Tuesday’s decision, Hickman now is on paid leave status while the administrative law process plays out. He will be paid retroactively to Jan. 14

Superintendent Heidi Maier has recommended that Hickman be fired for violating School Board policy. Hickman hurt his shoulder while breaking up a fight at Belleview High. He went to the district’s worker compensation doctor, who reported to the district that he tested positive for cannabinoids. That is considered a violation of the school system’s zero tolerance alcohol and drug-free workplace policy, which was established by the board.
read it here

Military veteran fired from school for medical marijuana use
By Joe Callahan
January 15, 2020
Mike Hickman, a former Belleview High School dean who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1990s, was prescribed medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before Mike Hickman was named Belleview High School’s student services manager, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

Little did the aspiring assistant principal know that he would have to wage another battle, nearly 30 years later, to protect his name and livelihood.

On Tuesday, the School Board upheld the firing of Hickman, 50, after he tested positive for marijuana that he was legally prescribed to help with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The story began on Nov. 5, when Hickman injured his shoulder at Belleview High while breaking up a student fight. He went to the district’s worker compensation doctor, who is required to administer a urinalysis as part of the treatment.

The doctor reported to the School District that Hickman tested positive for cannabinoids, which is a violation of the school system’s zero tolerance alcohol and drug-free workplace policy, as established by the School Board.

Hickman was devastated when he learned Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier recommended his firing, he said Wednesday morning. After all, he just spent $10,000 to obtain a master’s degree to enter the assistant principal’s hiring pool with aspirations of one day becoming a principal.
read it here

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Amputee Iraq Veteran Rides Again With Restored Faith

Canton veteran who lost leg rides again thanks to customized motorcycle

By Kelly Byer
January 5, 2020

Charles Zollicoffer on the trike he received from CAMVETS
Challenge America: Makers For Veterans helped Charles Zollicoffer ride a motorcycle for the first time in eight years.

More importantly, he said, the fall program renewed his faith in humanity.

“I was left for dead on the side of the road,” he said. “So, during my time in this last seven or eight years, I have lost a lot of faith in people. A lot.”

In 2011, a drunken driver pulled in front of Zollicoffer’s 1995 Kawasaki motorcycle on state Route 800. The now retired U.S. Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran had completed three tours in Iraq and was scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan.

Another person came across the early morning wreck and stopped to help. Zollicoffer, a 53-year-old Canton resident, spent months in a coma and had his left leg amputated at the hip.

This past Veteran’s Day, he received a modified trike at the Makers For Veterans closing ceremony. His family’s safety concerns had kept Zollicoffer from pursuing a costly trike, but they talked and accepted what it meant to him beforehand.

He’s taken a few rides.

“I can’t even describe the feeling, when you get that wind blowing through your hair,” joked Zollicoffer, who has a shaved head. read it here

Marine veteran shot by police had been treated for PTSD

Gunman's family apologizes to victims

Rapid City Journal
Arielle Zionts
2 hrs ago
Camille said part of Patrick's job involved cleaning out military vehicles used in the Middle East and he told her that the blood and flesh sometimes found inside the vehicles made him get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

The family of the gunman in the Rapid City apartment shooting last Sunday apologized to the victims and said while their loved one was a Marine Corps veteran struggling with a myriad of mental health issues, it doesn't excuse his actions.

"We're very sorry" for what he did, Camille Alden said Friday while sitting next to a stack of her son's military and health records.

"Help is out there. He didn't take it," Wayne Alden said of his son, Patrick.

Camille, Wayne and one of Patrick's neighbors told the Journal that Patrick fired multiple rounds Friday afternoon in his second-floor apartment 851 East Minnesota St. in Rapid City.

The 29-year-old then went into the hallway where he fatally shot David Iron Horse, 64, according to a news release from the Rapid City Police Department. Patrick, who also shot toward officers and hit a police vehicle, was then fatally shot by an officer who came across him in a stairway, the release says.
Camille and Wayne said Patrick wasn't allowed to own guns due to an involuntary mental health commitment, but he would go to the shooting range with Wayne and he built a 9 mm handgun out of two different guns. They said that's the gun he used last Sunday, not a rifle like police said.
She went through papers from Patrick's July 2019 visit to the Albuquerque VA which found depression gave him a 70% disability, the migraines from his concussions gave him a 50% disability, a shoulder injury gave him a 20% disability, and an Achilles tendon injury gave him a 10% disability. The VA found that Patrick qualified for 100% disability pay and also took him off his anti-psychotic medication around this time, leaving him with anti-depressants.
read it here

Monday, December 30, 2019

Did PTSD cause your discharge without honor?

'A scarlet letter': Veterans help their fellows overturn bad military discharges

Washington Examiner
by Russ Read
December 30, 2019
“The other than honorable discharge and less than honorable discharge is more punishment, it’s more punitive, than just the name or just getting kicked out of the military," said Marine Corps veteran Thomas Burke. "It’s not just a scarlet letter that you have to put down on an application. It prevents you from reintegrating into society.”

Activist veterans are helping their comrades seek upgrades to so-called "bad paper" military discharges that disqualify them from key benefits that help them re-enter civilian life.

“I think there is a growing sense that something needs to be done," said Kristofer Goldsmith, 34, who advocates on behalf of fellow veterans. Approximately 500,000 living veterans from various wars have been discharged from the military under other than honorable conditions, says Goldsmith, who himself once had "bad paper" from his time in the Army.

Depending on the type of discharge, an "other than honorable" designation can bar former service members from Veterans Affairs healthcare, home loans, and disability payments, and from GI Bill college money. Additionally, the "OTH" discharges confer a stigma that can limit employment opportunities and other aspects of day-to-day life.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017 changed its policy so that former "OTH" service members could get mental health crisis treatment. In 2018, The Honor Our Commitment Act required the VA to provide mental health care to veterans with OTH discharges. Still, advocates say, much remains to be done.
Marine Corps veteran Thomas Burke on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008, followed by local children. Several would be killed while attempting to bring him and his unit an RPG warhead. Courtesy of Thomas Burke.
Thomas Burke

It's something both men know first hand. Burke, now 30, was given an "OTH" discharge following a PTSD-related suicide attempt in 2010. Goldsmith, too, received "bad paper" following his own PTSD-connected attempt to kill himself.
read it here

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Want to prevent veterans from killing themselves? Bobby Grey is an example of how to do it!

PTSD Nearly Killed Him - Now it's Helping Him Help Other Veterans

The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
By Jimmy Tomlin
15 Dec 2019
The scar on Bobby's neck lasted for weeks.

The scars on his heart have lasted much longer.

You can't see Bobby Grey's scars.

On the surface, he's just an ordinary 35-year-old husband. FedEx driver. Racing fan. Philadelphia Eagles diehard. Dog owner.

He's also a former Marine, 2003 to 2007 -- a mission that has given him great pride and great anguish. Twelve years later -- anguish or not -- he still loves the Corps to the core. Semper Fi -- always faithful.

Grey acknowledges, though, that that's where the scars originated.
North Carolina Marine veteran, Bobby Grey, discusses his suicide attempt seven years after an explosive Iraqi attack on his unit during Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day at the Charlotte National Guard Armory on July 26, 2014. Grey said he had no memory of the suicide attempt when he awakened from a coma a week and half later. He tells his story to bring attention to the severity of the disorder so fellow comrades can seek help. (Ruth McClary/National Guard)

As a young devil dog, a PFC scarcely six months out of boot camp, Grey deployed to Iraq and got his first taste of combat when he was only 20 years old. One day, Marines in his convoy -- guys he knew -- died when a roadside bomb blew up beneath them. On another day, during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, bullets whizzed over Grey's head, close enough that he could hear them. Seconds later, when the bullets shattered the windows behind him, a shower of glass rained down on his head.

But those days were nothing compared to Dec. 3, 2004, the day a suicide bomber rocked his unit's base with an explosion so violent that it literally blew him out of the chow hall where he'd been dining. He suffered a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury -- as if anything traumatic could be mild -- but several comrades fared worse, suffering broken bones and dislocated hips. Two of his buddies died in the blast, and Grey had to put them in body bags himself.

"It's like losing a brother," he says softly. "No, it is losing a brother."

These are the memories Grey brought home from Iraq, carrying them around like a rucksack on his back. Also in that invisible rucksack, Grey lugged PTSD -- post-traumatic stress disorder -- a mental and emotional condition which, though common among active military personnel and veterans alike, he knew little about and even denied having.

Six and a half years ago, that denial nearly killed him. When the PTSD that had been simmering inside him for years suddenly exploded, Grey snapped. After an argument with his wife, Kia, he stormed out of the couple's house in Thomasville, climbed a magnolia tree in the backyard, texted his wife an apology, and hanged himself with an extension cord. He only survived because of Kia's screams when she found him, a neighbor with a ladder who helped cut him down, and Kia's frantic CPR efforts as she waited for paramedics to arrive.
read it here

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Seth Moulton 'Fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire' and Washington

'Fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire': The only 2020 Democrat to experience combat finds it counts for little in political arena

The Washington Examiner
by Emily Larsen
September 07, 2019
But despite having what one Republican strategist described as “the most perfect resume of all time,” Moulton made barely a ripple in the crowded field of presidential hopefuls during his four-month bid. When his campaign ended last month, so too did the possibility that Democrats would nominate an experienced battle leader to be the next commander in chief.

It has been more than three decades since the United States elected as commander in chief a veteran who fought in combat. In 2020, that period will be extended after the only candidate who fought in battle dropped out without making a debate stage or registering above 1% in polls.

Two other Democratic candidates served in uniform in a war zone — Pete Buttigieg in Afghanistan and Tulsi Gabbard in Iraq — but neither fired a weapon or themselves came under fire. President Trump avoided Vietnam service because of bone spurs, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden because of asthma.

By contrast, Seth Moulton, 40, a Massachusetts congressman, served four tours in Iraq during his seven years as a Marine Corps officer from 2001 to 2008, retiring as a captain. He fought in one of the first American units to reach Baghdad in 2003 and led troops in intense battles in which some of his Marines were killed or wounded. He was awarded two medals for valor.

“I felt when I came back from Iraq that I'd seen the consequences of failed leadership in Washington, decisions made by people in Congress and the White House who had no idea what it was like to be a Marine in the infantry on the ground,” Moulton said. “I don't think you can ever fully understand it [combat] unless you've been through it yourself."
read it here

'You remain a frickin' coward': Trump taunting a 2020 Democratic candidate and retired Marine isn't a laughing matter for some veterans
Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts during the singing of the national anthem. Stephan Savoia/AP

After 2 tours of duty, veteran Marine faces death as detainee

'I refuse to die in here': the marine who survived two tours and is now fighting deportation

The Guardian
by Sam Levin in Adelanto, California
September 7, 2019

However bureaucratic challenges mean some immigrant service members don’t complete it, and under the Trump administration, a series of changes have made the process even harder. Some also mistakenly believe citizenship is automatic, advocates say. When immigrant veterans who haven’t been naturalized are convicted of certain felonies, they can then be deported.
Jose Segovia Benitez, a US Marine Corps veteran, is being detained in an Ice facility. Photograph: Damon Casarez/The Guardian

In his 21 months of detention, Jose Segovia Benitez says he’s been denied critical treatment for his PTSD and heart condition

Jose Segovia Benitez survived two tours of duty with the US Marine Corps, a bomb blast, and a traumatic brain injury.

But the US is not helping him recover. On the contrary, the government may be leading him to his death.

Segovia is currently imprisoned at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention center in Adelanto, California where he says he is being denied critical medical and mental health care. The 38-year-old veteran is facing deportation to El Salvador, a country he left when he was three years old and where his loved ones fear he could be killed.

“I’m not going to die here. I refuse to die here,” Segovia said on a recent morning, wearing a red jail uniform and seated in a cramped room with no windows to the outside.

During his 21 months of detention in the southern California facility, Ice has failed to provide adequate care for Segovia’s serious heart condition, denied him proper treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and repeatedly placed him in isolation, according to the former marine and his lawyers. The consequences, they fear, could be fatal.

Segovia is one of fifteen current detainees who filed a federal lawsuit against Ice last month alleging medical neglect and horrific conditions that rise to the level of “torture”. He is also one of the estimated thousands of veterans who have faced deportation over the years despite their service to the country.
read it here

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Marine homeless veteran refused shelter from Hurricane Dorian

Some beachside homeless vets refuse to shelter from Hurricane Dorian

Florida Today
Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
Sept. 3, 2019

Afflicted with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, homeless Marine Corps veteran Larry Wells on Tuesday said it's only when the winds are predicted to exceed 120 miles per hour that he'll think about leaving the BP gas station car wash on the corner of 518 and North Riverside Drive in Indiatlantic.

While he recognizes the dangers of Hurricane Dorian which hit the Bahamas as a category 5 storm with gusts exceeding 220 miles per hour, 69-year-old Wells is confident in his ability to ride it out. Dorian's churning, stalling and unpredictable path are a source of amusement, even.

"There's people who've bought gas three different times, I've seen these stores sell out of gas and water twice already in the past five days," he says with a chuckle.

He knows there are shelters with hot meals and a place to sleep, that an evacuation order is in place, and that there are free rides to and from shelters. But, he's insistent he'll be fine, as the family that runs the station where he hangs out much of the time, have given him the key to the bathroom where he can take shelter "if things get really nasty".
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Marines evacuate Beaufort and Parris Island ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Parris Island Evacuates, Canceling Graduations as Dorian Threatens East Coast
By Gina Harkins
3 Sep 2019

Beaufort and Parris Island are near Hilton Head Island, on South Carolina's southeast coast. Parris Island is a marshy base just a few feet above sea level.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island started the evacuation of recruits to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., Sept. 3, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Thousands of Marines and recruits will evacuate two South Carolina military installations as the deadly hurricane that devastated the Bahamas makes its way toward the East Coast.

Leaders ordered evacuations at Marine Corps Base Parris Island and the nearby Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Monday as Hurricane Dorian moves across the Caribbean and toward Florida and the Carolinas. Personnel and any dependents must head to safe locations at least 100 miles -- but no more than 400 -- away from the base, according to evacuation orders, which went into effect Monday.

All graduation events at Parris Island, where about 20,000 recruits train to become Marines each year, have also been canceled this week. That includes ceremonies for Golf and Papa companies, which were held at the base Sunday, ahead of schedule.
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