Showing posts with label combat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label combat. Show all posts

Sunday, April 30, 2023

We need a survivor event where veterans can meet survivors of all other events

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 30, 2023

Email alerts on #PTSD fill up a good chunk of my day. Most of the time, I'll read the articles and get depressed. Not for the reason you may think. It isn't because there are so many, but more because there are far too many proving we have not come far enough on the healing side.

These are just a few of the headlines that came in this morning.
Art for Healing” Exhibition on display through May to benefit PTSD Foundation of America
It is not for everyone with PTSD. It is for veterans and families. Nothing wrong with that since we all know they not only need help, they earned whatever this country can do for them. As a reminder, that would include my husband, and me as his spouse. It would not include me as a survivor in my own life.
Omaha gym hosting yoga classes to ease PTSD for veterans, first responders
Also not for everyone with PTSD. Just veterans and first responders, and yet again, they not only need help, they earned it. The thing is, as the number of civilians joining the club no one wants to belong to grows every year, no one notices that while we paid the price of joining too, we are not welcomed in on any of these efforts.

The rest of them were along the same lines. The rest of us were not included and that was what depressed me most of all while reading about Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike Day. He was a hero, for sure. This is what Ken McDonald wrote about him.

Day spent the next six months recovering at Walter Reed, and when we all returned to the Naval Amphibious Base, in Little Creek, Va. in the fall, he received the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry in combat” at an award ceremony attended by just about every one of his Naval Special Warfare brothers and sisters in-port at the time. The ceremony was surreal. Many teammates were killed in action on that deployment and the memories were horribly fresh. But standing in front of them was a guy who had no business coming home. A walking miracle. A hero amongst heroes; reminding them that they survived.

He didn't stop trying to make a difference in this world.
He went on to retire from the Navy in 2008 and was unsurprisingly diagnosed with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. He wrote a book about the experience; Perfectly Wounded: A Memoir About What Happens After a Miracle and worked as an advocate for wounded service members and those suffering with PTSD. Mike Day hanged himself on March 27.
At the end of the article, he wrote this.
I don’t know what needs to be done to make real change, but I’m going to do whatever I can to help. You should, too. Start by doing a buddy check. Make sure they’re okay. Be intrusive. Be a haunt. Be the non-judgmental support network they need. We’ll figure out the rest along the way. The most important and difficult part of recovery is getting on the path. Get them on it. I’ll see you there.
The answer to what needs to be done is not what you expect. The answer is in what unites all survivors. Why? You may be thinking they deserve special treatment. I totally agree with you. You may think they deserved whatever we can do. I agree with that too. What I don't agree with is not telling the people facing multiple traumatic events as part of the jobs they are willing to do, there are millions of us with PTSD after just one event. This is from The National Center For PTSD
Here are the best estimates for how common PTSD is in the U.S. adult population:
Most people who go through a traumatic event will not develop PTSD.
About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Many people who have PTSD will recover and no longer meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD after treatment. So, this number counts people who have PTSD at any point in their life, even if their symptoms go away.
About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.
Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) and 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) will have PTSD at some point in their life. This is in part due to the types of traumatic events that women are more likely to experience—such as sexual assault—compared to men.
Veterans are more likely to have PTSD than civilians. Veterans who deployed to a war zone are also more likely to have PTSD than those who did not deploy.

When we leave that information out of the conversation, the result is a deadly one. Leaving us out of the conversation, and efforts leave us feeling as if we don't deserve help to heal. Even if we did, finding it is difficult. There are not enough mental health professionals as it is. Charities that could help won't because they have no idea we're out here or how many of us there are. The ones established to take care of veterans and first responders don't have room for us. 

While all this has been bad for us when the veterans and first responders have no clue we exist, they are robbed of the best form of healing they could ever have. These men and women were willing to die for the sake of others. They'd be willing to help us more than they are willing to help themselves. In the process, it would give them a better understanding as to why they suffer from multiple traumas when we are changed by all too often, just one of them.

Right now, they still don't think they deserve help. They still think they should be stronger and see it as a weakness. No matter how many suicide awareness events happen around the country, the event that needs to happen is a survivor event where veterans can meet survivors of all other events. Let them hear our stories of the trauma and what worked to help us heal. If we share the journey from victim to survivor with them, they will see themselves through different eyes!

Kathie Costos Author of Ministers Of The Mystery Series

Monday, March 23, 2020

Isolated veterans to have story time on PTSD Patrol

update and confession on the other delay.

update project delay due to camera issues.....

Story time coming to PTSD Patrol

PTSD Patrol
Cross Posted on Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 23, 2020

Four years ago, I wrote Residual War. It was the first fiction book I wrote as a way to tell some stories that were factual mixed with stuff my mind came up with.

Residual War: Something Worth Living For (Volume 1) Paperback – October 2, 2016
Heroes do not think. They react to someone in danger. The Army was Amanda Leverage's life and she was willing to die to save the two lives she ended up blaming for spreading misery and suffering. She never needed to think of why she was willing to die but needed help finding something worth living for. She found it within a group of outcast heroes with their own history of selfless acts being punished for what they did wrong but protected for what they did right. PTSD, survivors guilt, homeless veterans, dishonorable discharges, flashbacks, nightmares and yes, even suicides were part of their lives but so was redemption.
Since I was supposed to be starting an Out Post for female veterans, here in New Hampshire just before the COVID-19 virus hit, it has been very depressing for me. I was offered room at the local American Legion to meet, but it is too dangerous for everyone now.

Experts say that the worst thing a veteran with PTSD can do, is to isolate, but now it is more dangerous for you to be out, and even worse to be in crowds. I needed to think outside the box on this to give you some comfort and fill up some of your time. I'll be reading this book on video, with a bit of a twist to it. I am setting a timer of 3 minutes. Whenever it goes off, whatever word I am on, that will be the end of the video.

We will then play a game as to what that final word means to you. If the word is "and" reply back withy something like "me and" or "and then" or whatever you think about. Should get some interesting replies on that.

It will pick up on the next word in the next video. You can cheat since Amazon has it for free on Kindle and apparently, for whatever reason, you can also read it on their preview page for free.

I am also opening up my YouTube and Facebook pages so you can share your thoughts and to answer questions from 12:00 pm eastern to 1:00 when the first video goes up this week. You can always email me at too.

Check back tomorrow for the official announcement on PTSD Patrol when the first video will go up!

Please share this since word of mouth has been the only way this site was able to be viewed over 4 million times!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

High School Students Raise $23,000 for Afghanistan Veteran

Hersey students raise $23,000 to help injured veteran build home 
Chicago Tribune
By Karen Ann Cullotta
December 31, 2015 (their date)
Students at John Hersey High School in 
Arlington Heights presented a $23,000 check
this month to Marine Lance Corporal Cody Evans
who lost both his legs in 2011 while on patrol in
Afghanistan. Evans, pictured here with his dog,
Willie, tossed T-shirts to students at
a recent holiday assembly.
(Karen Ann Cullotta / Chicago Tribune)
U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Smith, 30, who also lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan, was awarded a $23,000 check last year at Hersey to help make his home in Tennessee handicapped accessible.
When 1,800 John Hersey High School students welcomed a visiting Marine with a rousing standing ovation this month, Vietnam veteran William Dussling was taken by the teens' respect and patriotism.

"When I came back from Vietnam in 1968, the whole country was confused, and it was a difficult time for returning veterans," said Dussling, a Township High School District 214 school board member.

"There's nothing more important to a returning vet than appreciation and support from the community," Dussling said.

Dussling joined forces with Hersey students and staff this month in presenting a $23,000 check to Lance Cpl. Cody Evans, 31, who lost both his legs while on patrol in Afghanistan, and who will use the funds toward the cost of building a handicapped-accessible house in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn.

"This is amazing…it just blew all my expectations," said Evans, who was honored at the Arlington Heights high school's holiday assembly earlier this month.
read more here

Friday, December 4, 2015

Female Iraq Veteran Says "It’s About Time" For Combat Jobs

‘It’s About Time,’ Says San Diego Female Combat Veteran On Pentagon Decision 
Historic decision opens approximately 220,000 military combat jobs to women
By Susan Murphy
December 4, 2015
“Most people didn’t know I was a female because you’re completely covered in flak jackets and Kevlar."

Women can now serve in all military combat roles, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday.
By Susan Murphy Natalie Slattery, a Navy veteran who served in ground combat in Iraq in 2008 as a convoy gunner, talks about her experience outside the San Diego Veterans Museum in Balboa Park, Dec. 3, 2015.
The historic decision will open approximately 220,000 jobs to women and clear the way for them to serve in battle-hardened roles, including the Navy SEALs, as long as they can meet the rigorous requirements.

Carter also acknowledged that women have been serving for years on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m very happy that they’ve made it public now for people to know. It’s about time," said San Diego Navy veteran Natalie Slattery, 28, who served in ground combat in Iraq in 2008.

Female pilots flew through combat zones, female medics treated the wounded on the front lines and all-female teams known as “lionesses” accompanied troops in house-to-house searches.

Slattery was a convoy gunner — a position that wasn’t typically open to women.

“I was that person you see on top of all the trucks and in all the gear,” Slattery said.
read more here

Monday, March 9, 2015

Radio Talker Fired After Muslim Exchange With Caller

WGMD Fires Jake Smith
March 9, 2015

RESORT BROADCASTING News-Talk WGMD/REHOBOTH BEACH, DE morning co-host JAKE SMITH has exited the station after a comment during a FEBRUARY 20th listener call in which he said "as far as I'm concerned, not every Muslim is guilty, but every Muslim is suspect."

The NEWS-JOURNAL of WILMINGTON reports that SMITH argued with a caller about Muslims serving AMERICA, claiming, "Muslims do not stand up for AMERICA – and they don't, they didn't stand up for America during 9/11, they didn't stand up for AMERICA during FORT HOOD, they've never stood out and said, 'This has to stop' – I haven't heard one Muslim in this country do that." When the caller challenged him with an example of a Muslim soldier who enlisted in the U.S. Army after 9/11 and died in combat in IRAQ, SMITH said, "That's great, but not enough Muslims have done that, sir." And when the caller termed SMITH a "bigot," SMITH responded, "I'm a bigot? You know what, you're a bigot. Oh, you're a jackass. You know what? You're done. That jackass."
read more here

Gee maybe he was fired for not knowing what he was even talking about on top of everything else?
Enough Joe the Plumber; here's to Kareem the Soldier
McClatchy Newspapers

Khan was a 20-year-old soldier from Manahawkin, N.J., who wanted to enlist in the Army from the time he was 10. He was an all-American boy who visited Disney World after he completed his training at Fort Benning, Ga., and made his comrades in Iraq watch "Saving Private Ryan" every week.
He was also a Muslim who joined the military, his father said, in part to show his countrymen that not all Muslims are terrorists.
About 3,700 of the U.S. military's 1.4 million troops are Muslims, according to Defense Department estimates.
read more here
Muslim life in Killeen, Texas one year after Fort Hood shooting
November 24, 2010

When Wagdi Mabrouk heard the news about the shootings on Ft. Hood he remembers thinking how close he was to the alleged shooter.

"Nidal Hassan, I knew him very well. I prayed right beside him."

Mabrouk, a retired command Sergeant Major was overseas for work on Nov. 5, 2009 when Major Nidal Hassan allegedly opened fire on this base of over 50,000 soldiers. Though so far away, the news hit very close to home.
read more here

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Some Say Iraq Veteran Senator is Not Combat Veteran?

Criticism of senator's war record rankles veterans 
Military Times
By Leo Shane III, Staff writer
February 19, 2015
Mark Seavey, new media manager at the American Legion and an an expert in stolen valor cases, said he worries that criticisms like those leveled at Ernst confuse actual cases in which troops or imposters claim military honors they never earned. Ernst has not claimed any medals or campaign awards beyond her record.
Sen. Joni Ernst, on Capitol Hill with other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been criticized by some veterans for saying she is a combat veteran.
(Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images)
No one disputes that Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, served with the National Guard in a combat zone.

So the recent round of questions about whether she counts as a "combat veteran" has made more than a few former service members uncomfortable and upset.

But they aren't necessarily surprised.

"This kind of stuff has been going on for generations," said Phil Carter, director of veterans programs at the Center for a New American Security. "We've seen conversations about peacetime service as opposed to wartime service. We've seen veterans from different wars trade stories about who had it tougher.

"But so few people have an appreciation for what military service is that these arguments start to take on a controversial quality about what 'counts' as service."

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post questioned Ernst's characterization of herself as a "combat veteran," noting she had not been involved in a firefight during her 14-month Middle East deployment.

The Iowa Guard lieutenant colonel commanded the 1168th Transportation Company during the 2003-04 deployment, overseeing transportation runs in Kuwait and southern Iraq and running a protection detail in Kuwait.
read more here

November 7, 2014 2:43 PM Iowa’s new senator-elect has other duties before she heads to Washington. Des Moines — A day after winning one of the most contested Senate seats in the country, Joni Ernst reported for duty at her National Guard base. Ernst, a lieutenant colonel, started two days of training with the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion on Thursday.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Congress Held Up Combat Action Badge Fairness for All Veterans

Pentagon Could Make Combat Action Badge Retroactive to World War II
by Bryant Jordan
Dec 18, 2014
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on March 21 ordered a review of all Defense Department awards and decorations programs to ensure the military provides "avenues to appropriately recognize the service, sacrifices and actions of our service members."

Congress has ordered the Defense Department to consider a proposal to retroactively award the Combat Action Badge to soldiers who engaged in actual combat dating back to Dec. 7, 1941.

Though legislation extending award eligibility back to World War II failed to make it into the final version of the 2015 Defense bill, lawmakers told the Pentagon that "the retroactive award of the Army Combat Action Badge" should be considered in its ongoing review of DoD awards programs.

The Combat Action Badge, authorized for soldiers in combat who are not eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge or Combat Medical Badge, was established in 2005 to recognize that many troops – regardless of their specialty – were coming under fire and engaging the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Florida, has filed legislation for retroactive CAB authorization for several years, even making it tax-neutral by requiring those who might be approved for the medal to purchase it directly from the supplier.

The House adopted his bills but the Senate has balked.

"I've never gotten a good explanation for why the Senate is so opposed to it. There is no cost to the taxpayer associated with the badge and these men and women have clearly earned the recognition," Nugent said Thursday.

"If there's a good reason not to do this, I certainly don't know what that reason is."

Lawmakers included the directive to the Pentagon in a joint explanatory statement it attached to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Combat Infantryman Badge dates to World War II and has been awarded to soldiers bearing the infantry MOS in all subsequent wars and campaigns.
read more here

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Army thinks ugly women are "competent" OMG

Army colonel quits gender study after 'average-looking women' email
The Associated Press
Published: November 22, 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. — Pentagon officials said Friday that an Army colonel who wrote an internal email suggesting photos of attractive women should be avoided in promotional materials has stepped down from her duties involving a gender study.

Army spokesman George Wright said Col. Lynnette Arnhart had agreed to step aside, and Gen. Robert Cone, commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis, Va., had accepted the gender integration study's leadership change "in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing work on gender integration in the Army."

The content of the email was first reported by Politico this week. In the email, Arnhart stated that "average-looking women" should be used in Army materials used to attract women for combat roles, Politico reported.

In addition, Wright said that Col. Christian Kubik, a public affairs officer also with the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, was suspended for his involvement in the email pending an investigation.
read more here
They just caused a lot bigger PR problem than what women to use.
Army PR push: 'Average-looking women'

The Army should use photos of “average-looking women” when it needs to illustrate stories about female soldiers, a specialist recommends — images of women who are too pretty undermine the communications strategy about introducing them into combat roles.

That’s the gist of an internal Army e-mail an Army source shared with POLITICO.

“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” wrote Col. Lynette Arnhart, who is leading a team of analysts studying how best to integrate women into combat roles that have previously been closed off to them. She sent her message to give guidance to Army spokesmen and spokeswomen about how they should tell the press and public about the Army’s integration of women.
read more here

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marine’s Secret Weapon: Coffee

The Marine’s Secret Weapon: Coffee
New York Times
August 16, 2013

Every American knows the story of the Boston Tea Party and its implications on the Revolutionary War. Lesser known, but perhaps of greater relevance to a nation recognized more for coffee breaks than tea time, is the fact that America’s taste for coffee is inextricably linked to the history of its military.
National Archives and Records Administration
Battle-weary Marines of the 22nd Regiment drank coffee after heavy fighting on Einwetok Atoll in the Pacific Theater in February 1944.
We weren’t aware of it until just recently. But in hindsight, it made perfect sense that we would become obsessed with coffee when we joined the Marines. As we later discovered, we were part of a long line of men whose enthusiasm for the drink was closely tied to their experiences in the service.

As Capt. Robert K. Beecham wrote in his book, “Gettysburg: The Pivotal Battle of the Civil War”: “The power of the soldiers to endure the fatigue of the march and keep their places in the ranks was greatly enhanced by an opportunity to brew a cup of coffee by the wayside.”

Coffee’s popularity grew in the years following Reconstruction. But it didn’t become a household staple until the confluence of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the advertising age and the cultural mixing that occurred during World War I. As William Ukers explained in The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, “the 2,000,000 soldiers who went overseas and there had their coffee three times a day…since returning to civilian life are using it more than ever before.”
read more here

Also there is a veterans group called Coffee Strong
Coffee Strong is a veteran-operated service member and veterans rights center located next to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. We help service members with military discharges, grievances and complaints, and other GI Rights. We assist veterans with getting their benefits, including disability, healthcare and education including discharge upgrades. At Coffee Strong, we also have free coffee and snacks, access to the internet, alternative information, and referrals for legal, medical, mental health and other forms of assistance.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Unhappy anniversary for Veterans Administration

Unhappy anniversary for Veterans Administration
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 21, 2013

Associated Press Today in History for July 21 had this reminder.
In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed an executive order establishing the Veterans Administration, which later became the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Every week the VA puts out a report on how many disabled veterans are waiting to have claims honored. Reporters and some members of congress have jumped all over the VA because of the backlog leaving most to believe they are claims filed from OEF and OIF disabled veterans. The truth is far from it.
Characteristics of the pending Compensation Inventory

VA tracks claims that make up the pending Compensation Inventory by a Veteran’s era of service. As of Dec 31, 2012, claims from Veterans of the following eras make up VA’s inventory (total number of claims) and backlog (claims pending for more than 125 days):

VBA Claims Inventory by Era

Total Pending Claims 797,804

Total Backlogged Claims 519,270

Source: Dept. Veterans Affairs, 7/13/13
Backlog: Claims pending longer than 125 days
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

Original vs. Supplemental Claims

VA’s current Inventory of compensation claims contains both "original" claims—those submitted by Veterans of all eras who are claiming disability compensation from VA for the first time, and “supplemental” claims—those submitted by Veterans of all eras who have previously filed for disability compensation with VA. Below is a breakout of the original and supplemental claims in the current VA inventory:

60% of pending claims are supplemental, 40% are original.

77% of Veterans filing supplemental claims are receiving some level of monetary benefit from VA.

11% of Veterans filing supplemental claims already have a 100% disability rating (receive $2800 or more per month) or qualify for Individual Unemployability (compensated at the 100% disabled rate).

40% of Veterans filing supplemental claims are already rated at 50% disability or higher.

43% of supplemental claims are from Vietnam-era Veterans; 19% are from Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

There are 3.9 million Veterans of all eras who are currently in receipt of disability benefits from VA. Of those, 10% have a supplemental claim in the pending compensation inventory. In fiscal year 2012, VA delivered $54 billion in compensation and pension benefits.

We don't play politics here. There are things the VA has done better at and we need to remember those times. We also remember when it was a lot worse but reporters dropped the ball on reminding the other people in the country with a very short memory.

However for this anniversary of the VA we need to look at what has been missing from the news reports. Vietnam veterans are the highest percentage of the original and backlog claims. They are also the highest number of veterans committing suicide.

As bad as the reports are now on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicides for the newer veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to acknowledge here and now that if we do not take action to take care of all our veterans, it will be worse for them 40 years from now as it has been for Vietnam veterans. It doesn't matter how long they served in the military when they were wounded by body or mind because they will forever be called veteran for the rest of their lives. No matter how long they live, this country needs to live up to what President George Washington said.
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”

Korean War veterans saw how WWII veterans were treated and expected to be treated the same way. They were not. Vietnam veterans expected to see the same way their Dads were treated. They were not only betrayed by the government but by older veterans. When it was their turn to fight for what was right, they made a promise that no generation would ever leave behind another. They kept that promise and they fight just as hard for those who came before them as those who came after them.

The newer veterans saw what happened to the Vietnam and Gulf War veterans. What will the next generation see when they look at how the Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have been treated?
In 1989, Bush nominated Mr. Derwinski to lead the new Department of Veterans Affairs. Bush said Mr. Derwinski possessed the “skill of a seasoned legislator, the patience of a practical administrator, the finesse of a diplomat and the heart of a man who knows what it means to start his government career as a private in the U.S. Army.”

Mr. Derwinski’s first task was daunting: revamping the beleaguered Veterans Administration into a Cabinet-level operation serving more than 27 million veterans and their dependents. He had 245,000 employees, a budget exceeding $25 billion and control over one of the largest health-care systems in the nation.

"One of Mr. Derwinski’s first decisions involved Vietnam veterans seeking disability benefits for exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange. For many years, the VA did not provide benefits to veterans who said the herbicide was toxic."

"Siding with the veterans, Mr. Derwinski reversed the government’s position and authorized payments to some veterans who had suffered from a rare form of cancer linked to Agent Orange."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

As many as 56,000 troops may see pay cut

UPDATE From Stars and Stripes
DOD eyes trimming danger-pay regions; for some it’s a ‘slap in the face’
Pentagon Eyes Cuts in Danger Pay
Associated Press
by Lolita C. Baldo
Jul 10, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is eyeing plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of troops' salaries, The Associated Press has learned.

Senior defense and military leaders are expected to meet later this week to review the matter and are poised to approve a new plan. Pentagon press secretary George Little declined to discuss details but said no final decisions have been made.

Senior military leaders came up with the proposed list of locations in their regions that no longer were perilous enough to warrant danger pay, including several countries in the heart of the tumultuous Middle East, such as Jordan, where hundreds of troops have recently deployed because of the bloody Syrian civil war on its border.

Defense officials said the proposal would strip the stipend -- which can be up to $225 per month -- from as many as 56,000 service members, including thousands stationed in Kuwait, which was a key hub during the Iraq war. It also would affect thousands of sailors who routinely travel through the Persian Gulf region on ships or airmen who fly over the Gulf.

The $225 monthly cut in pay would come regardless of the service member's base salary, which can range from a low of roughly $18,000 a year for a brand new recruit to a high of nearly $235,000 a year for a four-star general with more than 40 years in the military. Troops also can receive a variety of other allowances for housing, clothing or job specialties.
read more here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Defense Department Releases Women in Service Review Implementation Plans

Defense Department Releases Women in Service Review Implementation Plans

Today, the Defense Department released the U.S. military services’ and U.S. Special Operations Command’s plans for implementing women into previously closed positions.

These plans, which were reviewed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, outline how the services and U.S. Special Operations Command will manage the incremental opening of these previously closed positions.

The successful integration of women into currently closed positions requires the department to be thoughtful and deliberate in determining the next steps. The department will proceed in a measured and responsible way to open positions to women. In all cases, notification to Congress is required prior to opening these positions. Full implementation by the services should occur by Jan. 1, 2016.

The secretary’s memo

The U.S. Army’s plan

The U.S. Navy’s plan

The U.S. Air Force’s plan

The U.S. Marine Corps’ plan

The U.S. Special Operations Command’s plan

The decision to rescind the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule for women was originally announced Jan. 24, 2013, by former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Military suicides and the power of the point

Military suicides and the power of the point
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
January 28, 2013

There are too many people still asking why soldiers commit suicide. After all, the reasons have been known for over 40 years but when the military knows the answers, they ask a different question until they hear the answer they want to receive. Much like when facing the enemy, they want to know how many, where they are, what the weaknesses are and how well they are armed. That's how they defeat the enemy they can see but when it comes to the enemy they can't see, it is anyone's guess in the position of authority they listen to. Guess? Yes. Considering how long this has all been going on and the lack of progress in saving lives, they are still listening to the wrong people.

This came out in February of 2008 along with surveys and expert reviews of the Daddy of "Resiliency training" but the military pushed the program no matter how it failed those who serve.

The "Battlemind" program dealing with PTSD and TBI is simplistic almost to the point of being insulting - dealing with two very complex issues as a simple "cause and effect" scenario. The psych care afforded to active duty military personnel is at best "sketchy" and at worst, dangerous.

Again in 2008 there was this report but again, nothing substantial was done about it so we ended up with a record year of suicides in 2012.
'Battlemind' is the Soldier's inner strength to face fear and adversity with courage. Key components include: - Self confidence: taking calculated risks and handling challenges. - Mental toughness: overcoming obstacles or setbacks and maintaining positive thoughts during times of adversity and challenge.

Battlemind skills helped you survive in combat, but may cause you problems if not adapted when you get home.
• Multiple deployments and longer deployments are linked to more mental health and marital problems.
• Good NCO leadership is related to better Soldier/Marine mental health and adherence to good battlefield ethics.
• Good officer leadership results in Soldiers/Marines following ROE.
• Soldiers/Marines with mental health problems were more likely to mistreat non-combatants, highlighting the importance of getting them help early.
• Mental health services are most needed during the last six months of a year-long deployment since this is when Soldiers experience the most problems.

Now you have a bit more background on how we got where we are on addressing the enemy the DOD can't see.
'The storm' is coming
As the U.S. military suicide rate soared to record heights during 2012, the families of service members say they, too, are witnessing a silent wave of self-harm occurring within their civilian ranks: spouses, children, parents and siblings.

Some suicides and suicide attempts — like those that ravaged the Velez family — are spurred by combat losses.

Others may be triggered by exhaustion and despair: As some veterans return debilitated by anxiety, many spouses realize it's now up to them — and will be for decades — to hold the family together.
'Like an airborne disease:' Concern grows about military suicides spreading within families
By Bill Briggs
NBC News contributor
Before Army Spc. Andrew Velez left Texas for the final time, he asked his fragile sister to write him a promise – a vow he could carry with him to Afghanistan.

Monica Velez knew she owed him that much. In the horrid weeks after each had lost their beloved brother, Freddy Velez, to enemy fire in Iraq, Monica tried to end her life with pills and alcohol. Now, she put pen to paper: “I will not hurt myself. I will not do anything crazy. I know that Andrew loves me. I know that Freddy loved me.” Andrew folded her note and slipped it into his pocket.

“Don’t break your word to me,” he told her before heading back to war.

Seven months later, Andrew, 22, sat alone in an Army office at a base in Afghanistan. He put a gun to his head and committed suicide. Back in Texas, word reached Monica Velez who, once again, found herself in a dangerous place. Only now, she was alone. Days of alcohol and anti-depressants. Nights of dark thoughts: “It would just be better if I was gone.”
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The Powerpoints can be, “for lack of a better term, overkill,” said Knowles, not part of the Connecticut Guard’s new outreach. “They jam it down your throat, and I don’t find it to be effective because you’re getting it SO much.”

Connecticut National Guard Feels Pain of Military Suicides Directly
Litchfield County Times
By Joe Amarante
January 27, 2013

When he heard of his good friend’s death by suicide recently, National Guard Capt. Kyle Knowles said he was shocked at first but not very surprised.

“He was just a tense kind of guy. I never would have thought he would do something that drastic, but he fit the bill.”

Knowles, a central Connecticut resident, husband and father who previously deployed to Iraq with the Massachusetts National Guard, now works on active duty in the ROTC center at Western New England University in Springfield. He spoke last week, a day before attending Massachusetts funeral services for his friend, who had PTSD and served at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison during one of two deployments.

“I don’t think he’d ever say, ‘Hey, I want to kill myself,’ but ... certainly somebody should have grabbed him and said, ‘Dude, are you just a stressed-out guy or do you need to really talk to somebody?’” Knowles said of the man he served with about 18 months ago.

Military suicides hit a record high last year at about one a day nationally amid a chorus of concern and a growing list of prevention efforts. Connecticut officials are feeling the urgency but also some confidence in their approach.

Col. John Whitford of the Connecticut National Guard said his units have had two and three deployments to the war zones. For each, they are first sent to a behavioral health specialist. But you can only prepare so much for mental and physical trauma, and sometimes it’s just white noise for a soldier headed into action.
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Now for all the people trying to say that "oh well suicides in the general population have gone up too, there is this piece of information that once and for all should cut the claim down to the size it should be.
Suicide is a national issue as well as one for the Army,” he said.

During World War II, suicide rates went down compared with what they were during peacetime, and physicians believed they understood mental health problems in the military, Dr. Ursano said.

Some 300,000 service members developed PTSD or major depression after tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In more recent times, suicide rates have increased during war. Rates for civilian and military suicides are now about the same when matched along age and gender demographics, but before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started, the military suicide rate was about half of the rate for the general population.

War creates particular stress for servicemen and women. They are in high-tempo operation environments — where everything moves faster — at the same time that they are separated from family and significant others. Physicians who study military suicides often find depression or anxiety before such a death, but there are other variables.

The power of the point was reached a very long time ago. Showing soldiers a Power Point presentation not only bores them out of their minds, it is a waste of time, and as it turns out, deadly to their lives. If the military continues to push the programs that have not worked, the only thing they succeed at doing is insuring more soldiers take matters into their own hands. These folks are a lot different than the rest of the population.

Consider this. How can they be willing to survive during combat, doing whatever it takes to stay alive along with their buddies, yet back home, can't find any reason to stay alive another day?