Showing posts with label Operation Enduring Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Operation Enduring Freedom. Show all posts

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed OIF and OEF

Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed in Afghanistan, Iraq
By Rosalio Ahumada, McClatchy Newspapers
Stars and Stripes online edition, Sunday, April 25, 2010
RIVERBANK, Calif. — National Guard Staff Sgt. Mike Gamino didn't think twice when he was asked to help paint more than 5,000 crosses to honor those who have died while serving in the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along with 17 other war veterans, Gamino, 41, grabbed a paint brush and got to work building a ceremonial display for next month's Memorial Day activities.

"It's a form of remembrance," said Gamino, a Salida, Calif., man who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. "It's also a way for us to come together and bond; like a brotherhood."

About 10 other volunteers joined the veterans Saturday at Bruce Gordo's Riverbank, Calif., home to paint the crosses. Each one is meant to represent a soldier, Marine or sailor who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the crosses offer a tribute to sacrifice, the display will also provide a stark reminder of the number of lives lost, said Gordo, who served in the Marines in Vietnam.
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Veterans prepare memorial for 5,434 servicemembers killed

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Army preserves items of remembrance at Section 60

Charles Dharapak, AP / April 13, 2010

Paula Davis, 55, of Gaithersburg, Md., a single mother who lost her only child, Army Pfc. Justin Davis, 29, in Afghanistan in 2006, sits at his grave at Section 60, at Arlington National Cemetery where more than 600 service members who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried, Sunday, April 11, 2010 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Army preserves items of remembrance at Section 60, Arlington's place for Iraq, Afghan war dead

Associated Press Writer

April 15, 2010 12:02 a.m.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Army curator James Speraw stood by Spc. Christopher Coffland's grave, tucked among the rows of white headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, and read the inscription on dog tags that he cupped gently in his palms.

"I thank God every time I remember you," said the tags. "We love you Chris, our brother."

Speraw had little time to ponder the 43-year-old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. "8955," he called out to a fellow curator, who jotted that grave site number down. They took photos of the dog tags and placed them in an archival bag, part of a new trial effort to preserve graveside mementoes at Section 60 — Arlington's primary resting place for the dead from the Iraq and Afghan wars.

The two then moved on to another grave to collect a teddy bear and blue stuffed bunny left for another fallen soldier. A few rows away, a backhoe pushed dirt over the grave of a servicemember buried minutes earlier, its loud, steady rumble punctuating the air in a sad refrain.

"It's an honor to do it, but you just really hate to see the graves," Speraw said, choking back tears.
read more here
Army preserves items of remembrance at Section 60

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thousands swindled using soldier-in-need ruse

Thousands swindled using soldier-in-need ruse

By Joe Gould - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Mar 28, 2010 12:41:28 EDT

Whoever said all’s fair in love and war never met these Internet hucksters.

Con men impersonating deployed U.S. servicemen are hooking civilian women on dating Web sites and swindling them into spending money on fictitious laptops, international telephones, “leave papers” and plane tickets, said Chris Grey, a spokesman for Army Criminal Investigation Command.

The scheme appears to be a sophisticated twist on the ubiquitous lottery letter scam, but it uniquely exploits the victims’ patriotism and emotions while misrepresenting the Army and soldier-support programs, Grey said.

“These are not soldiers, they are thieves,” he said.

Officials say the phony American soldiers are often in reality African con men who seduce women online by creating profiles on dating and social media sites that appropriate the names, ranks and photos of actual soldiers, typically those serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
read more here

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Press called "despicable" for lack of war coverage

Press called despicable for lack of war coverage

Chaplain Kathie

Say what you will about Congressman Kennedy, but when he had a meltdown over the lack of press coverage while congress was debating Afghanistan, just as they had with Iraq, he was right. Two reporters were there. Kennedy pointed out that while everyone is fixated on Massa's sexual escapades, no one seems to be interested in our men and women in the military.

It seems there is always some other story they want to cover instead. Celebrities and other public figures, usually doing very selfish things, end up being the story of the day on every "news" program. Sex seems to get the most attention, then drugs and then other crimes. The more terrifying or horrific, the better. Then it was years of coverage for the campaigns of seekers of the White House address. Most of the time the media reports on what's going on, the stories getting the most attention are more like cat fights than debates and that's great for the media, but not too great for the American people trying to find out what is going on.

Everyone seems to want to just get the most attention including reporters. Two wars claiming lives yet they can't seem to find time to at least put up a moment of time when they actually mention any of these deaths. The people, the few interested in finding out what's going on, have to search the net to find out and as for the rest of the people, not interested, they are never pulled in to care.

The unselfish acts the troops deliver on everyday are never newsworthy. If you turned on any station once Iraq was invaded, it was almost as if troops were pulled out of Afghanistan and no one was dying there. Politicians never mentioned Afghanistan and the media didn't ask. The cat fight was all about Iraq. Yet the coverage was not about what was happening in Iraq, it was usually over politicians trying to defend their point of view and funding it instead of talking about the troops, how many were wounded, how many died, how the lives of the widows and orphans were changed, or even how the families of the wounded at Walter Reed and Bethesda were having to make a choice between being with their loved one or keeping their jobs.

There is so much going on when troops deploy that is never mentioned but these are not stories about selfish people doing what they can to make their own lives better. These are stories of the men and women in the military, the National Guards and the Reservists doing what they can to make their country better and safer for the rest of us when we don't seem to give a damn about any of it.

Debate why they are sent and how long they should stay all you want, but at least you are interested in it and find it worthy of your time. While you are debating the worthiness of war, do not overlook the men and women at the center of the debate.

Debate all you want about if you think their sacrifice was worthy or not but never, ever debate if what they sacrifice, what they were willing to give up was worth talking about. Once they deploy into combat, they will live with every memory of it for the rest of their lives. They understand this. They are willing to do it. That alone should be worthy of mentioning in between stories of selfish people only caring about themselves!

Congressman Kennedy did what should have been done a long time ago and the media should feel very ashamed they find the men and women putting their lives on the line so uninteresting to report on.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda - Union-Tribune

Marine Staff Sgt. Jesse Cottle strengthened his upper leg muscles at the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care facility at San Diego Naval Medical Center.

“They’re not blood family, but they might as well be,” he says. “They are my brothers.” Marine Sgt. Christopher Lawrence, 23, was wounded on foot patrol in 2007 in Anbar province, Iraq

Wars' wounded get help to cope
Rehab clinic offers prosthetics, therapy

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 8:06 p.m.

Army Sgt. Daniel Biskey directs his wife to place the mirror just so, signaling with one hand like the combat-team leader he was. Then he steps forward, weaving uncertainly amid the cones stretching across the floor of the rehabilitation clinic, his lips rolled tight in concentration.

Surgeons had amputated Biskey’s left leg below the knee after his foot was shredded in November by a land mine in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

Biskey, 26, feels awkward testing his new prosthetic leg. His physical therapist, an Army veteran, assures him and says to give it time.

“They have me do a lot of stuff that hurts. It’s kind of cool,” he says later, smiling.

Biskey’s path will likely remain difficult. Yet it already has gone further than previous generations of war wounded could have imagined, thanks to treatment from the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care center at San Diego Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park.

go here for more

Wars' wounded get help to cope

Many years ago I was the Circulation Manager for a newspaper. There was a saying "If it bleeds, it leads" meaning that the worst the story is, the more attention it gets. The saying turned out to be true. The worst the story, the more papers were sold. Well, these men and women are bleeding and dying. You'd think that covering their stories would be interesting enough. You'd also think that when congress debates on funding what they have been asked to do would be newsworthy. Human interests stories are important to most of us, but you'd never know that watching the cable or national news. Local newspapers and news reporters do a better job of covering some of what goes on in their area but when you think of how little has been reported on regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, it should be a clear indication that sex trumps servicemen and women, crimes trumps courage, selfishness trumps the selfless and as for bleeding, it all depends on who is bleeding and suffering.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Are the troops just too young to go?

N.J. Veterans Helpline: Preventing suicide after war
By Star-Ledger Editorial Board/The Star-Led...
March 06, 2010, 5:01AM

Army Sgt. Coleman Bean died at a time when most people are just beginning to live. He was 25 in 2008 when he shot himself in the head in his South River apartment. He had served eight years fighting the war in Iraq.

Suicide is an ugly consequence for far too many veterans returning from the trauma of combat. Like Coleman, the tragedies of war follow them home. They come back suffering from deep depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Often they don’t know where to turn to for help.

More than 2,100 members of the armed forces have taken their own lives since 2001. And a study by the RAND corporation found that nearly one in five returning veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan were suffering from P.T.S.D. or major depression. That shows that long after combat ends, war can still take a toll on soldiers.

read more here

Preventing suicide after war

Seminole Community Behavioral Health held a two day training session on Mental Health First Aid. Great training and I've taken almost everything available. I try to take anything on mental health so that I can get a better idea of what is being done for civilians that may not be happening for the troops and our veterans or visa versa.

During the training the frontal lobe area of the brain was brought up and while we were discussing the fact it is not fully "functional" until the age of 25, I coupled this with the fact most of the troops sent into combat are under 25. Odd how that happens but when you think about it, while this may benefit the military having young bodies thinking they are invincible put their lives on the line, it is not such a good idea when they have not understood the ramifications of this when they are paying the price with their minds.

Older people can be affected/wounded by PTSD as well depending on what else went on in their lives before, during and after the trauma but when we see older veterans seeking help for what happened in Vietnam, we need to acknowledge one very important fact. The fact is, they did not suddenly get slammed by what happened 30 or 40 years ago. They have been walking wounded waiting to "get over it" as PTSD gained more and more control over their lives.

Now it seems that when it comes to PTSD, age has a lot more to do with the development of PTSD as much as the trauma itself.

Frontal Lobe

The executive functions of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. Therefore, it is involved in higher mental functions.
The frontal lobes also play an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain's limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms.
Psychological tests that measure frontal lobe function include finger tapping, Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, and measures of verbal and figural fluency.[2]

Frontal Lobes
What are the Frontal Lobes?

"The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. There is no other part of the brain where lesions can cause such a wide variety of symptoms (Kolb & Wishaw, 1990). The frontal lobes are involved in:

· motor function,

· problem solving,

· spontaneity,

· memory,

· language,

· initiation,

· judgment,

· impulse control…

· social and sexual behavior.

The frontal lobes are extremely vulnerable to injury due to their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. MRI studies have shown that the frontal area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (Levin et al., 1987).

Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Guide: Frontal Lobes

One of the most common characteristics of frontal lobe damage is difficulty in interpreting feedback from the environment. Perseverating on a response (Milner, 1964), risk taking, and non-compliance with rules (Miller, 1985), and impaired associated learning (using external cues to help guide behavior) (Drewe, 1975) are a few examples of this type of deficit.

The frontal lobes are also thought to play a part in our spatial orientation, including our body's orientation in space (Semmes et al., 1963).

One of the most common effects of frontal damage can be a dramatic change in social behavior. A person's personality can undergo significant changes after an injury to the frontal lobes, especially when both lobes are involved. There are some differences in the left versus right frontal lobes in this area. Left frontal damage usually manifests as pseudodepression and right frontal damage as pseudopsychopathic (Blumer and Benson, 1975).

Sexual behavior can also be effected by frontal lesions. Orbital frontal damage can introduce abnormal sexual behavior, while dorolateral lesions may reduce sexual interest (Walker and Blummer, 1975).

read more here

The more I talk to veterans and their families, the more the links between the PTSD veterans becomes clear. The age they were deployed, which is usually under 25. The fact that families say they used to be very compassionate, caring, loved to do things but ended up with a total personality change. They were drained by what they went through but somehow most of what they used to be remains frozen taking a subordinate position as PTSD gained more and more control.

Maybe instead of saying "wounded mind" we should be saying "hurt brain" since PTSD is caused by an outside force? After all, PTSD only comes after experiencing an event when their lives were in danger or they witnessed something horrifying. There have been cases of veterans in perceived safe jobs but ended up with PTSD because they worked collecting bodies or recovering vehicles after a bomb blew up the occupants. Maybe TBI hits harder the younger they are as well, but the more we understand about how humans develop, the better we can understand the damage done to them affecting the rest of their lives.

Are older survivors of trauma more able to recover from them because of how they developed and what their life experiences were like? Are they less able to recover if they were already exposed to traumatic events at a young age? Does peer impressions play into the recovery or lack of it?

Suppose you were under 20, serving in Iraq when an IED blew up some of your friends. Then think about how your other buddies seemed to get over it to the point where they were able to go back to their "normal" lives back on US soil. They appear to be able to recover while you are still grieving, can't get it out of your mind, can't stop thinking about it and dreaming about it and there is no way in hell you want them to think you are weaker than they are. What do you do? You do whatever you can to make sure they don't see any sign of "weakness" coming from you. You talk yourself into doing whatever it takes to appear as tough as you think your buddies are. What you don't seem to be able to understand is that you are not hiding anything from them. They see right through you but may not understand what they are seeing.

Now top all that off with the fact some of your buddies get fed up with the way you are acting and then push you away. You want to tell them what's going on but you know if you do, they will see you as weak, so you decide you'd rather have them think the worst of you than know you need help. This happens all the time. The good thing the military and the VA are doing right now is relying on the Buddy System so this doesn't happen as often.

For Vietnam veterans the same things happened and these are "tough" guys now because they developed that way. Their lives made them tough just as much as the way they were treated when they came home. They were hardened by all of it on the surface but beneath it all there was a "hurt brain" they tried to cover up. They knew something was wrong but for most, up until the last few years, they had no clue what it was.

Many of them still have the wrong idea of what PTSD is even if they acknowledge the term as a part of them. Too many of them still think this means they are "crazy" or a "nut case" and if they opened up about their emotions, they would no longer be "tough enough" to take it. Some still think that one day they will wake up and it will all be gone, waiting for the day when they finally do "get over it" comes and they will be cured.

They search for what they think will make them happy. They drink too much because for a time it makes them feel better. They fall in love over and over as the "love high" makes them feel better until they discover that all the symptoms of PTSD have ruined another relationship, so they search for another one where they will feel good about themselves again without ever addressing the fact they still have the pain inside of them. They want to live isolated from others physically because emotionally that is the way they have survived all these years.

They want to be able to trust "buddies" at the same time letting anyone get that close is the last thing they feel comfortable doing fearing being judged, ending up being pushed away.

They want what the rest of us want but can't figure out how to get there from here without help. For most, they don't know where to find the help. When they came home, there wasn't any help to find but now there is. The problem they face now is how they can get the message when too little is being talked about.

It would be a wonderful day in this country if PTSD had commercials. We know more about erectile problems than we do about problems with the organ that controls the entire life, the brain. We know more about problems with the menstrual cycle of women than we do about the cycle of life after trauma.

Looking at Vietnam veterans and the commonality they have with the newer generation of veterans, there can be no more clear evidence of the fact if we do not address PTSD in them while they are still young, they will end up facing life with a "hurt brain" for the rest of their lives. Had Vietnam veterans received the help they needed when they came home, mild PTSD would have stayed mild and most would have recovered enough to heal instead of PTSD being allowed to claim more of their lives. Do we really want this repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans?
Welcome to Veteran's Services!

Seminole Behavioral Healthcare is proud to announce that a wide variety of services are now available free of charge to the following:

Those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan
Family members of those who have served, including children
Family Readiness Coordinators
Military personnel, including chaplains and VA employees
The following services are made possible through a generous grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice and the Florida Braive Fund:

Individual counseling
Family counseling
Support groups
Information & referral consultation
Certification in Mental Health First Aid
Professional Events for service providers

To find out more about our exciting new services for veterans and their families, simply click the "help/contact" tab on the side of this screen, or call :

Laurie Reid, LMFT, CAP
Director of Veterans Services
(407) 831-2411 X1266

Saturday, February 27, 2010

CREW lawsuit:VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases

Why should this be addressed? Because behind the news, advocates know we are already at the point of no return. We talk about the numbers of OIF and OEF veterans in the hundreds of thousands, fast approaching the million mark but that is nothing new. We've been warning about this since the first set of boots hit Afghanistan sand and then began to scream even louder when they were being sent to Iraq. Troops were enlisted. The contractors were drying the ink on their contracts. Congress was approving war funds. Everyone was gearing up except the support system to take care of the warriors themselves. Less doctors and nurses were working for the VA than after the Gulf War. Was this anyway for a "grateful nation" that "supports the troops" to run a war?

CREW Files Lawsuit, Alleges the VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases
Friday 26 February 2010

by: Mary Susan Littlepage, t r u t h o u t Report

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the VA admitted to destroying documents responding to CREW's May 2008 Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. CREW's FOIA request called for documents related to the VA's policy of underdiagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
CREW learned of the underdiagnosing of PTSD after learning of an email in which VA employee Norma Perez discussed the policy. According to CREW, the VA has resisted providing any documents; it stated that the VA claimed it had produced everything it had, even though it hasn't turned over the Perez email or any other records referring to the email.

Therefore, CREW has argued that the VA's search for documents has been inadequate, and the VA has argued that it destroyed in 2008 many emails and backup tapes, which included the Perez email. The VA has contended that it cannot produce any emails before December 9, 2008.

Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel, said, "There appears to be - and I don't know this for certain - a growing recognition on the part of the VA that there has been an under-diagnosis [of PTSD] and there seems to be a growing a recognition that they have a problem with high suicide rates. Obviously recognizing there is a problem is the first step toward curing it, but that's why the actions of the VA here in destroying emails is so disturbing."

The military has agreed to expedite these reviews in response to a class action lawsuit filed by seven combat veterans, who allege that the military illegally denied benefits to those discharged because of PTSD over a six-year period that ended October 14, 2008. "It is clear from these news reports that during the period 2002 to 2008 - a period covered by CREW's FOIA request - there was a widespread under-diagnosis of PTSD among U.S. military service personnel affecting thousands of discharged veterans," the brief stated.

read more here
VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases

Monday, February 15, 2010

Soldiers work to keep Afghan boy alive

Soldiers work to keep Afghan boy alive

By Christopher Torchia - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Feb 15, 2010 12:22:39 EST

BADULA QULP, Afghanistan — Two Afghan men on a motorcycle approached a makeshift camp of NATO and Afghan troops and unloaded a bundle of blankets. American soldiers went into combat mode, throwing on flak vests and helmets and grabbing their rifles. They feared it was a ruse — perhaps a suicide bomber moving in for the kill.

The Afghans raised their robes to show they had no weapons, and unwrapped the bundle. Inside was 7-year-old Sayd Rahman, shot in the chest near Marjah, where U.S. Marines are trying to clear out a bastion of insurgency in one of the biggest operations since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.
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Soldiers work to keep Afghan boy alive

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American military-aged population that is being asked to do virtually nothing in these two conflicts

They used to draft soldiers. This meant everyone had to do their part. We saw this especially with WWII when wives were showing up to work in factories as their husbands were deployed. We saw this during Vietnam, but the result of this draft was protests, burning draft cards and general ambivalence when they came home.

The worst thing about all of this is not just that the burden is carried by a tiny percentage of the US population, it's that so few seem to care at all.
US forces killed in Iraq 4,373
US forces killed in Afghanistan 958

"It's quite unusual, the inequality," says Christopher Hamner, a military historian at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "You've got the vast majority of the American military-aged population that is being asked to do virtually nothing in these two conflicts. And then a very small percentage is being asked to shoulder enormous burdens."

Repeated deployments weigh heavily on U.S. troops
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Army Staff Sgt. Bobby Martin Jr. has been fighting insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan longer than the entire three years the Korean War lasted.

At age 34 and finishing a fourth combat tour, he has seen five of his men killed since 2003. Four died this year, including two on Martin's birthday in May. Thirty-eight cumulative months in combat have left him with bad knees, aching shins and recurring headaches from a roadside blast, ailments he hides from his soldiers.

Out of earshot of his troops, Martin concedes, "This is a lot of wear and tear."

American soldiers of the 21st century are quietly making history, serving in combat longer than almost any U.S. soldiers in the nation's past, military historians say.

For many, the fighting seems without end, a fatalism increasingly shared by most Americans. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll conducted late last week found that 67% believe the U.S. will constantly have combat troops fighting somewhere in the world for at least the next 20 years.

read more here

Repeated deployments weigh heavily on U.S. troops

Friday, December 18, 2009

2 million men and women have shouldered deployments

A million soldiers deployed since 9/11

By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Dec 18, 2009 14:35:33 EST

Eight years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, American troops have deployed almost 3.3 million times to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department data.

The numbers, as of October 2009, show that more than 2 million men and women have shouldered those deployments, with 793,000 of them deploying more than once.

Here’s a look at how the numbers break down, by service.
go here for the numbers

Friday, November 6, 2009

Military’s stance on burn pits assailed

Military’s stance on burn pits assailed

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Nov 6, 2009 13:01:40 EST

The Air Force bioenvironmental officer who was among the first to warn about the potential effects of open-air burn pits on U.S. troops deployed in the war zones said Friday that he does not believe the findings of a 2008 Army report that discounted the possibility of long-range health risks from exposure to the smoke, fumes and ash.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Darrin Curtis, a biomedical sciences officer who was deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in 2006 and 2007, told a Senate panel looking into military contracting issues that he believes the Army lacked the necessary data to conclude, as it did in a report from its Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, that long-term health effects from breaking smoke from burn pits is unlikely.

A new joint study by the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Department is underway that focuses on comparing the health of 30,000 combat veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and 30,000 veterans who never deployed to see whether there are signs of ill effects from exposure to burn pits. This is similar to post-Vietnam and post-Gulf War studies that took years to complete.

“Although I have no hard data, I believe that the burn pits may be responsible for long-term health problems in many individuals,” Curtis said. “I think we are going to look at a lot of sick people.”
read more here

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Golden Gate High students say ‘thank you’ to vet paralyzed in Afghanistan

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Golden Gate High students say ‘thank you’ to vet paralyzed in Afghanistan
Posted November 2, 2009 at 7:42 p.m. , updated November 2, 2009 at 7:57 p.m.

NAPLES — Romulo “Romy” Camargo never had a nickname until he joined the Special Forces.

“The guys had trouble pronouncing my name, so they started calling me Romy,” he said. “Eventually, I started introducing myself as Romy and ordering business cards with Romy on them.”

Those at Golden Gate High School Monday morning left with another name for Camargo: Hero.

Veterans Day came early to Golden Gate High School this year so that the school could accommodate a special visit by Camargo, a Special Forces chief warrant officer. It was Camargo’s first public speaking engagement since he was shot through the neck and paralyzed from the neck down while on a mission in Afghanistan a little more than one year ago.
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Golden Gate High students say thank you
linked from

Afghanistan choice won't make everyone happy

No matter what President Obama does about Afghanistan, he will not be able to make everyone happy since no one agrees now.

Navy wife wants US military out of Afghanistan now

By David Edwards
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 -- 9:47 am
The wife of a Navy fighter pilot is calling for President Barack Obama to pull troops out of Afghanistan now. "I think we should pull out of Afghanistan entirely. I think that after eight years of war it has become quite clear that especially to those of us who are the very few americans who are really suffering in this war that the price is not worth it," Lisa Leitz told CNN's Kiran Chetry Tuesday.

"A number of Americans have lost their lives, many military families have been completely crushed by the burden of these wars and we have very little to show for it," Leitz continued. "We have a corrupt Afghanistan government and we have a number of people who are still trying to attack us, particularly not because they belong to the Taliban or terrorist organizations, but rather because we are occupying them.".

Leitz is a board member of Military Families Speak Out. The group is urging President Obama to bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not all family members are calling for the war to be ended now. Karen Irwin's son is serving in Afghanistan and she wants the president to send more troops to the war zone. "I would tell the president that our soldiers, our brave young men and women, including my son, have invested a lot of their time in support of that country and our country, putting their lives on the line," she told CNN's Chetry. "Some of them have given the ultimate sacrifice and I think they deserve support of our government and support of our people to give them everything they need to complete this mission and to win, leaving a free afghanistan, leaving the people the opportunities, the personal opportunities that we have here in our country."
read more here

If President Obama increases the number of troops he has no way of really knowing if it will be enough or not. He's being advised by other humans, with differing opinions and just as much experience as well as concern for the lives on the line.

The military families can't agree on what the right move will be either.

It would be wonderful if the Afghan people would finally take full responsibility for their own country since they have proven time after time throughout their history they are perfectly capable of fighting their own battles. The problem is, since most are very poor, they have to decide to fight the Taliban or support them, grow poppies or food. No one really knows what will happen in Afghanistan no matter what he decides to do.

Can we do anything about it and know for sure if we are right or wrong? Not really. Ask a group of Vietnam veterans if it was right to pull out of Vietnam and you will find different answers. Just like what is happening now, no one really knows what the answer is.

The only thing we really can be sure of is for however long this goes on, there will be more casualties. Some will come home to an honor guard at Dover. Others will come home looking as if they were not paying the price of combat, but paying none the less with it embedded deeply inside of them. Some will have to live the rest of their lives missing limbs. The list of wounds is endless and so is our obligation to them.

This we know for sure. The wounded will need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives and the fact they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of what the nation asked of them should never, ever be diminished by time or budgets.

Let the experts debate what President Obama should do or not do because the next day after he decides, they will come out against him no matter how many experts he has giving him advice. Let the hot heads on TV say how wrong he is but it will not change the lives of a veteran already paying the price for their service when they are waiting for a claim to be approved, praying they don't end up homeless, or save a family falling apart.

We can!

Monday, October 26, 2009

14 Die in Afghanistan Chopper Crashes

14 Die in Afghanistan Chopper Crashes
The U.S. military says 14 Americans have been killed in a series of helicopter crashes in Afghanistan. The dead in a crash in western Afghanistan include seven GIs and three U.S. civilians working for the government. Four Soldiers died in southern Afghanistan when two helicopters collided.Full Story

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mother's final duty to soldier son

Mother's final duty to soldier son
Story Highlights
Spc. Stephan Mace was one of eight who died in October 3 battle in Afghanistan

Vanessa Adelson: "It was my responsibility as a mother to bring him home"

Residents of Purcellville, Virginia, join Adelson in mourning loss of Mace

Mace gave his St. Christopher medal to fellow soldiers before he died
By Rachel Streitfeld
When the Army flew home the body of Spc. Stephan Mace from Afghanistan, his mother climbed aboard a small jet with the flag-draped coffin for the last leg of his trip. "I brought him into this world, and he was my baby," she said. "I thought it was my responsibility as a mother to bring him home," Vanessa Adelson said. full story
Mother prepares to bury son
Fallen soldiers remembered

QuiltMakers of Boyertown sending "home" over to the troops

Plan sewn up to ship 100 quilts to troops

By Brandie Kessler - The (Pottstown) Mercury via Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Oct 18, 2009 8:25:58 EDT

BOYERTOWN, Pa. — Hundreds of hours of tedious work, huge heaps of colorful fabric and an endless amount of love and gratitude were sewn into 100 quilts crafted by members of the QuiltMakers of Boyertown, which will be on their way to troops serving in Iraq in the near future.

"I just thought it would be something from home," said Bobbie Dewey, a member of the group based less than 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia, whose own home is in nearby Pottstown.

A small "something from home," Dewey explained, can mean a great deal to a soldier when he or she is in a war zone hundreds of miles away from their friends and family members. She knows firsthand just how far that distance spans, as her sons, Geoffrey Ostrowski, 21, and Matthew Ostrowski, 24, served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

Having previously made Christmas stockings to send to one of her son's units when he was serving in Afghanistan around the holidays, Dewey said she had the idea for a QuiltMakers project: make 100 quilts to send to service members to give them a touch of the comfort of home.

"When my son came home from Afghanistan, I saw this red and white thing in his bag," Dewey said. "It was his stocking. He said 'I'll never get rid of it.'"

Dewey realized that a stocking that meant so much to her son, who had family at home waiting and praying for him, might mean as much or perhaps more to a soldier who did not have a strong support system at home.

"There are some boys over there who don't get the letter every day from mom or sister," she said.
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Plan sewn up to ship 100 quilts to troops

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan due back in U.S.

Bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan due back in U.S.
Story Highlights
NEW: Afghan security forces hunting down attackers kill insurgents in raids

Coffins of at least four U.S. soldiers due to return home

At least eight U.S. soldiers, two Afghan soldiers killed in attack in Nuristan province

Largest number of U.S. soldiers killed in single attack in more than a year

(CNN) -- The flag-draped coffins of at least four U.S. soldiers killed during a weekend onslaught against a U.S. military outpost in Afghanistan were scheduled to arrive Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the military said.

The bodies will include

Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk of South Portland, Maine;

Spc. Michael P. Scusa of Villas, New Jersey;

Spc. Christopher T. Griffin of Kincheloe, Michigan; and

Pfc. Kevin C. Thomson of Reno, Nevada

according to the Air Force mortuary affairs office. The dignified transfer ceremony also might include other fallen service members.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Living MoH recipient possible, Gates says

Living MoH recipient possible, Gates says

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Sep 17, 2009 20:04:12 EDT

No living service member has been awarded the Medal of Honor during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That could finally be changing.

On the same day that President Barack Obama presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti at the White House, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said reviews are underway that may result in the nation’s top military honor being presented to a living recipient of the current wars.

During a Thursday news conference at the Pentagno, Gates was asked: “Has no one [in the two wars] performed an act of courage worthy of the Medal of Honor and lived through it?”

“This has been a source of real concern to me,” Gates said. “We are looking at this. Without getting into any detail … there are some [award recommendations] in process.

“It is, as everybody knows, a very time-intensive, thorough process. But I would say that I’ve been told there are some living potential recipients that have been put forward.”

Only six of nation’s highest award for valor have been issued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have lasted 6½ and 8 years, respectively. Four were awarded for acts of heroism in Iraq; Monti’s award brought the Afghanistan total to two.

The 16-year conflict in Vietnam, by contrast, produced 246 awards of the Medal of Honor.
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Living MoH recipient possible, Gates says

Sgt. Jared Monti, died a hero in Afghanistan, lived like a hero back home

Medal of Honor recipient remembered as a selfless friend
Story Highlights
Sgt. Jared Monti was posthumously awarded Medal of Honor on Thursday

Monti died in 2006 in Afghanistan trying to save young private who was wounded

In his last moments, Monti asked his comrades to tell his family he loved them

The private that Monti tried to save died after cable to rescue helicopter snapped

By Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

RAYNHAM, Massachusetts (CNN) -- It's a crisp New England day and Paul Monti is sitting in the backyard garden he built to honor the memory of his son, sipping coffee from his favorite Boston Red Sox mug, and nursing what he calls a "morning cigar."

These are daily rituals that help him deal with his son's death three years ago, while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

"I come out here and sit on the bench and sit in the flowers," says Monti, a retired schoolteacher. "This is where I get my solitude."

And that's when the stories start pouring out of this proud dad, stories about how Sgt. Jared Monti -- who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama on Thursday -- always had the instinct to help other people.

There was the time that Jared was in high school and came home, to this house with the American flags flying on the porch, and asked his dad if he could cut down one of the spruce trees in the front yard. A single mom down the street in this tiny town outside Boston couldn't afford a Christmas tree, and Jared wanted to take care of her family for the holidays.

Or the time that Jared was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and chipped in with a roommate on a $500 dining set for their apartment off base. One day the roommate came home and was infuriated to find the furniture missing.

"He said, 'Jared, where's the kitchen set?' " recalls the dad. "Jared said, ' Well, I was at one of my soldiers' houses today and his kids were eating on the floor and they needed the kitchen set more than we did. So we're going to have to find another place to play quarters.' So that's the kind of thing he did."
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For a soldier home from Afghanistan day of sweet reunions

Brooke Spaulding, 10, sobs as she hugs her father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Spaulding, in her classroom at Pine Grove Elementary School on Wednesday morning. She and her two siblings didn't know he would be home on leave.

For a soldier home from Afghanistan, the day brings three sweet reunions
By Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, September 17, 2009

The blond girl in the back of the class was the last to look up when the soldier walked into Room 710 at Pine Grove Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

The 10-year-old fifth-grader sat hunched over her workbook, focused on a reading lesson.

The soldier, dressed in combat fatigues and desert boots, walked halfway across the room before the girl saw him coming.

"Daddy!" she shouted, jumping from her desk and into her father's arms. The tears flowed immediately. Her breathing came in little hiccups.
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For a soldier home from Afghanistan

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The New Walter Reed: Less Than 'World Class'?

The New Walter Reed: Less Than 'World Class'?
By Stephen Schimpff

We Americans owe our servicemen and women, especially our wounded warriors, the very best in medical care. With the construction of a “new Walter Reed” in Bethesda, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that they get such world-class care. But for that to happen, much more needs to be done.

Care for military personnel in the Washington area has long been provided by Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. But in 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) mandated consolidation into a new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the grounds of the naval hospital. This facility will provide primary and more complex care to all military personnel who live in the northern half of the capital area, as well as tertiary care — high-level specialty care — to those from the entire region, including complete care for wounded service members.

About a year ago, following reports that the new facility was not on track to meet a stated requirement of “world class,” Congress passed legislation calling for a review by a subcommittee of the Defense Health Board. I was nominated to join this 15-member group by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.).

There is much to commend in the work that has been done so far. For example, the view of the facility from Wisconsin Avenue will be very pleasing, with the iconic 1930s tower flanked by a new outpatient building and a revamped, extended inpatient building — and these will provide not only good but excellent care. But a master facility plan has never been done for the campus, which currently serves multiple functions and includes many older buildings that, over time, should be replaced in an orderly manner. During our review, we were told that such a plan was not within the scope of the BRAC budget.

Similarly, no analysis has been performed to determine future needs based on local demographic changes (the number of retired military personnel in the area is increasing), changing types of wounds (such as from improvised explosive devices) or advances in the delivery of medical care. Instead, the consolidation was planned using a static approach, whereby the functions performed at Walter Reed were simply shifted to the future facilities. Again, the rationale we were given for this was that the BRAC law did not allow for any other approach.
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The New Walter Reed