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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Florida Wants to be Veterans Retirement Haven

Florida Among Top States Competing For Military Retirees

Bobbie O'Brien
November 17, 2017

"I was one of the first into Afghanistan, then to Iraq and then Africa. So I’ve been around the world," Neil said. "And luckily for me, the headquarters of Special Operations is in Tampa when I decided where I should retire to, I chose my last assignment as Tampa, Florida MacDill Air Force Base so it naturally fit."

Former Green Beret Scott Neil points to the framework for the glass wall that will separate the American Freedom Distillery from the restaurant under construction.BOBBIE O'BRIEN / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA 
States are competitive whether they’re vying to keep their military bases or to attract new corporate headquarters. And now, there’s a new tug of war over military retirees who come with pensions, health care and are a proven workforce.

Florida, already a retirement haven, is adding veteran specific programs to entice even more military retirees to the Sunshine State.

"It means that if you are processing out of the military and you want to build your business here in Florida – we’re going to waive the application fees on almost every occupational license that’s out there," said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at a business conference last year. "It means if you’re applying for a concealed weapons license, you’re going to go to the front of the line and it’s going to be expedited in less than two weeks."

Florida officials like to brag that they’re the most veteran friendly state in the nation. So, there’s no ambivalence – if you’re retiring military – Florida Wants You!
read more here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

1,200 attend Camp Lejuene job fair and education expo

1,200 attend Lejuene job fair and education expo
9 On Your Side
Published: September 19, 2012

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - For service members leaving the military, transitioning back in to civilian life can be a difficult and confusing process. Wednesday, Camp Lejeune hosted a job fair and education expo for Marines and their families to show them some of the options avalible after the military.

Camp Lejeune's Marston Pavilion was filled with more representatives from more than 50 colleges and 80 companies. The idea is to give service members who may be leaving the Corps a little insight on the job market.
read more here

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wounded Warriors Discuss Transitions to New Lives

Wounded Warriors Discuss Transitions to New Lives
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2012 – Caregivers, National Guard, reserve support and sports for the wounded are the top Defense Department priorities for wounded warriors and their families, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for warrior care said today, as wounded warriors discussed their experiences with recovery.

John R. Campbell made the comments after listening to panelists at the annual Warrior-Family Symposium, sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America. The panel included four wounded warriors who spoke about their transitions to a new life after being wounded in battle.

Retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson moderated the panel, along with Retired Marine Corps Col. Derek Donovan, vice president of the Fisher House Foundation. Gibson was a 35-year-old gunnery sergeant in Iraq in 2006 when he was shot through the knee. His left leg was amputated above the knee, but he started competing in triathlons while recuperating at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and has competed in more than a dozen races. In 2008, he went back to Iraq as the first above-the-knee amputee to return to a ground combat area of operations.

Gibson’s determination showed up early in his recovery, when he proved he could get himself to the second floor of a Fisher House room – the only one available – rather than stay in the hospital. “I went up and down those stairs for two hours, sweating profusely, just to prove I could do it,” he said.

Another panelist, retired Navy Petty Officer Benjamin Host, was with the Seabees in Iraq in 2004 when he suffered severe traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after being in a Humvee convoy accident. Host said he received “exquisite” military medical care that included three brain surgeries and repairing his fractured skull. But, he said, “it’s the in-between area where we get a drop-off” meaning a lack of oversight in the recovery process.

Although it took a legal battle, Host said, he was medically retired from the Navy earlier this year.
read more here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Transitioning From War to Home

Transitioning From War to Home
By Brandi Devine

December 27, 2011
Updated Dec 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM EST
Binghamton,NY (WBNG Binghamton) Returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan is a time of celebration for families and their soldiers, but it's after the celebrations are over that the real struggle begins.

It can be difficult for a soldier to pick up where they left off when they come home from war.

They have to switch gears from living in a high stress environment to living an ordinary life at home.

There is help out there for soldiers and their families.

The Binghamton Vet Center in Binghamton offers counseling and other programs like Yoga and musical therapy for soldiers.
read more here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A hero in Iraq faces eviction in Tustin

Part 1: A hero in Iraq faces eviction in Tustin
10 Years of War: A decade of war has created unique challenges for our newest veterans. And other Americans can't support themselves, much less the troops.

It's been a humiliating morning for James Hassell.
Sorry, he was told at the first place he visited. Now he's at Veterans First, in Santa Ana.

If he were a homeless vet, they could find him a bed. If he were a hungry vet, they could find him a meal.

But Hassell, 28, is just an average veteran, with a wife and a 2-year-old daughter, running low on cash.

Facing eviction.

"All I want to do is live the American dream that I fought so hard to protect," says the veteran of two Iraq deployments.

A loan – that's all he needs.

Not long ago, Hassell saved another Marine's life. Newsweek Magazine ran a photo of his daring rescue during the Battle of Najaf. Hassell earned a medal for valor.

After the ceremony, 1st Sgt. Justin LeHew told Hassell:
Don't let this be the greatest thing you've ever done.

Those words echo in Hassell's head as he repeats his story to Deanne Tate, director of Veterans First.

In another month, he tells her, he'll begin college. His GI Bill will kick in. All he needs is two months' rent.

Tate listens politely.

Then she starts to cry.
read more here



Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson joined a rural veterans' roundtable with Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki in Omaha, toured the Omaha VA hospital slated for major overhaul and announced he has cosponsored two bills to improve training, education and job counseling for veterans, particularly veterans from rural areas such as Nebraska.

Nelson discussed his legislation during the roundtable led by Shinseki that drew Nebraska area veterans, regional Veterans Administration and Agriculture Department officials, and others. The meeting fostered a discussion about veterans' health care, the need for specialty care, training, tele-medicine, education and job opportunities for rural veterans.

"Nebraskans believe, as I do, that we need to be as good at taking care of our veterans as we are at creating them," said Senator Nelson. "This is especially true considering the many veterans who have served, or will have served, in Iraq or Afghanistan. These men and women, including those who come from rural areas of our states, are the backbone of our national security. They have sacrificed much to preserve our freedoms."

"We owe them more than a debt of gratitude. We shouldn't just shake their hand for a job well done on the battlefield and send them out the door alone to look for a job back home."
read more here

Monday, July 25, 2011

From health care to finances, protect those who protected us

A soldier’s money
From health care to finances, we should protect those who protected us

Sergeant Jared Doohen, left, and Staff Sergeant Thomas Stanley return home to Vermont last year after nine months in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

By Juliette Kayyem
July 25, 2011

LAST WEEK, 650 troops quietly left Afghanistan, beginning the long slog home as part of President Obama’s drawdown. At the same time, General David Petraeus, the architect of the surges in both Iraq and Afghanistan, formally resigned from the military to take over as director of the CIA. The timing was coincidental, but not without meaning: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now simultaneously moving to a close.

Petraeus handed his Afghanistan command to Marine Lieutenant General John Allen, who will oversee further troop departures. He also symbolically handed over some measure of responsibility for those troops’ future well-being to his wife, Holly Petraeus, who represents a rare growth industry in government: protecting and providing to our returning service members and veterans.

As a nation, we are simply unprepared for the numbers of returning troops we now face. The wars of the last ten years have created over 1.1 million veterans; another 2.4 million men and women are on active, National Guard, or reserve duty. This class includes soldiers who have served in combat longer than any in US history. Of the nearly 400,000 who have seen combat duty, more than 13,000 have spent at least 45 months - nearly four cumulative years - in combat.

We know so little about the magnitude and the depth of the issues they will be facing in health care, employment, and education. All they want is to go back to normal lives. And that too is a challenge.
read more here
From health care to finances

Sunday, May 29, 2011

After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home

After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home
Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.

Pvt. Johnnie Stevenson cleaned his truck one last time, scraping off the barnacle-like mud and pulling crushed water bottles from under seats. But deployment to Afghanistan was almost over, and his thoughts drifted elsewhere. Was his pregnant fiancée ready to be a mother? Facebook provided so few clues. Nor could it answer him this: Was he ready to be a father?

Capt. Adrian Bonenberger made plans for his final patrol to Imam Sahib. But inside, he was sweating the details of a different mission: going home. Which soldiers would drive drunk, get into fights or struggle with emotional demons, he wondered. What would it take to keep them safe in America?

Sgt. Brian Keith boarded the plane home feeling a strange dread. His wife wanted a divorce and had moved away, taking their son and most of their bank account with her. At the end of his flight lay an empty apartment and the blank slate of a new life.

“A lot of people were excited about coming home,” Sergeant Keith said. “Me, I just sat there and I wondered: What am I coming back to?”

For a year, they had navigated minefields and ducked bullets, endured tedium inside barbed-wired outposts and stitched together the frayed seams of long-distance relationships. One would think that going home would be the easiest thing troops could do.

But it is not so simple. The final weeks in a war zone are often the most dangerous, as weary troops get sloppy or unfocused. Once they arrive home, alcohol abuse, traffic accidents and other measures of mayhem typically rise as they blow off steam.

Weeks later, as the joy of return subsides, deep-seated emotional or psychological problems can begin to show. The sleeplessness, anxiety and irritability of post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance, often take months to emerge as combat veterans confront the tensions of home and the recurring memories of war.
read more here
After Combat, the Unexpected Perils of Coming Home
I urge you to read the whole article.

How can anyone in their right mind expect them to just come home and go back to the way they were before?

(from the above article)

Three weeks later, Specialist Jeremiah Pulaski, who had returned from Afghanistan in February, was shot and killed by a police officer after he shot and wounded a man outside a bar in Arizona. He was 24.

Specialist Pulaski was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for dashing across an open field during an ambush in December, drawing enemy fire away from his platoon. Later that same day, he killed several insurgents as they were trying to ambush his unit near a village called Haruti.

Captain Bonenberger, Specialist Pulaski’s company commander, said the soldier saved his life twice that day — and it gnawed at him that he had been unable to return the favor.

“When he was in trouble, he was alone,” Captain Bonenberger said. “When we were in trouble, he was there for us. I know it’s not rational or reasonable. There’s nothing logical about it. But I feel responsible.”

We read the end of his story, but we didn't know all of his story.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another PTSD Veteran killed by police after shootout

Friends: Man Killed by Police Officer Struggled With PTSD
Suspect shot man outside of bar

Published : Sunday, 27 Mar 2011

A man killed in a shootout with a Glendale police officer in the west valley early Saturday morning was apparently struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.

Jeremiah Wilson Pulaski, 24, of Glendale was shot to death after several rounds were exchanged between him and the officer.

FOX 10 has learned that Pulaski was a military veteran who returned to the U.S. in January, and he was having a difficult time dealing with the stress from his deployment and return.

Police said Pulaski had been involved in another shooting outside a Glendale restaurant just moments before he was stopped by the officer.(click link for more of this)

How many people read about the end of his life and thought he must have deserved it? Honestly? Had I not been so involved in tracking all of these reports for this long, I may have thought the same thing because it is so much easier to just figure this guy was a criminal and the world is better off without him walking around terrorizing civilians. But I know too many of their stories to ever think that way again.

PD: Suspect opens fire on Glendale officer, shot and killed

A criminal hardly ever enters the military unless there is a lack of troops and a judge cuts them a deal. They are just too selfish to think of it on their own. A bad kid won't go unless he is forced to by his parents. Pulaski, well, as we can see by what happened while he was deployed, he was no coward and he sure as hell was not selfish. He wouldn't have been able to do all he did to receive the Bronze Star for Valor and a lot of his buddies made it back home because of him. When his life ended, especially the way it did, how many in his community treated him like the hero he was when he was laid to rest?

His family and friends, all the people he served with, are left to mourn the loss but beyond that loss, the way his life ended.

The officer, Sgt. April Arredondo, was not the only one left to cope after this.
Mother-in-law on ride-along during Glendale police shooting

by Lisa Halverstadt - Mar. 29, 2011 04:02 PM
The Arizona Republic
A Glendale police sergeant who fatally shot and killed an Afghanistan War veteran early Saturday was accompanied by her mother-in-law.

Patty Bird, 52, rode with Sgt. April Arredondo over the weekend because she wanted to better understand her daughter-in-law's job, Glendale police said.

Just after 1:30 a.m., Arredondo stopped Jeremiah Pulaski, a 24-year-old Army veteran who police said shot another man outside a Glendale bar near 59th Avenue and Greenway Road.

Read more: Mother-in-law on ride-along during Glendale police shooting

So what if we finally made sure none of them came home without everything they needed to heal from where they've been and what they've done? Do we spend a lot of money to train them to go? Training them to use their weapons and strengthen their bodies? So why don't we feel the same need to spend whatever it takes to help them come back home all the way?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Iraq Veteran with PTSD finds understanding from police officers

We can talk all we want about readjustment but until the general public takes an interest in helping them, it won't happen. In this case, this veteran found police officers and a stranger treating him with care after he had a bad reaction to the rest of the crowd at the bar.

Thanks to cops for understanding
Bryan Blevins
Posted: 02/11/2011 01:23:57 AM MST

I am a 22-year Army veteran of both National Guard and active duty who has served in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. I am now disabled. I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and I tore my knee while on a mission in Iraq. I often feel regret over the loss of my comrades in arms.

On the night of Friday, Sept. 17, 2010, I went out to a local club to try and fit back in with society. I felt as if my military experience was being scoffed at so I just wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, I was trying to be alone in a crowd and no one else realized what was going on. I was trying to control my emotions, but that didn't happen. I ended up becoming irrational and started hitting the wall outside. At this point Sgt. Monfils, Farmington Police Department, was making his rounds when he saw me being ignorant. I would like to recognize (and) thank him and his fellow officers for their professionalism, coolness, patience and understanding in dealing with me.

Another person I would like to acknowledge and thank is Joe, a patron of the club. He learned that I was a veteran and wanted to thank me for my service. He then unfortunately became the unintended victim of my aggressive words. Joe went out of his way to console me. He stayed by my side, worked with the police and watched out for me making sure I would not hurt myself or others. I appreciate Joe for being there. After all he didn't know me, except as a community member...another patron at the bar. Yet, he took it upon himself to get involved and see it to the end.
read more here
Thanks to cops for understanding

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coalition's mental health strategy inadequate

Coalition's mental health strategy inadequate, warns thinktank
Government accused of failing to consider impact of dysfunctional families on mental health of children and adults

Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent, Monday 7 February 2011

A thinktank founded by Iain Duncan Smith today criticises the government for failing to take account of the impact of family breakdown on mental health.

Days after Nick Clegg launched the government's mental health strategy, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) says ministers should have assessed the impact of dysfunctional families on the mental health of children and adults.

The report by the CSJ, which defines family breakdown as "divorce or separation, dysfunction or dad-lessness", says: "The government's mental health strategy launched recently makes no mention of the effect on children's mental health of conflict between parents and living in fractured families. Working with the whole family not only prevents many children from being labelled as mentally ill but can also tackle the causes of their problems – often rooted in or sustained by the dynamics of family relationships."

Clegg and Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat care services minister, placed children and teenagers at the heart of the government's mental health strategy, which they launched last week. Talking therapies are to be offered to children and teenagers who show signs of anxiety and depression.
read more here
Coalition's mental health strategy inadequate

Monday, September 20, 2010

13 Veterans in one day for Veterans Court in Spokane Washington

This is the way to show support of the troops in a real way!

Special courts in Wash. designed for veterans

By Kevin Graman - The Spokesman-Review
Posted : Monday Sep 20, 2010 8:29:30 EDT

SPOKANE, Wash. — After surviving 15 months in one of the most dangerous places on Earth, Iraq war veteran Carl Jacobson thought he could cope with just about anything civilian life had to throw at him.

Jacobson realized he was wrong the day he learned that his beloved former platoon leader had been gravely wounded by an enemy sniper.

"It broke me down," Jacobson said. "No matter what comes your way, it's crucial to any soldier to avoid losing control. You can't lash out."

Jacobson was arrested in July on a domestic violence charge after breaking the door of the north Spokane apartment he shares with his girlfriend and her two young children.

The former Army sergeant could have been convicted of third-degree malicious mischief last week, but instead he received a "stipulated order of continuance" from Spokane County District Judge Vance Peterson on the first day of Veterans Court.

If Jacobson completes a two-year counseling program under the terms of his continuance, the charge will be dismissed.

He was one of 13 veterans and active-duty soldiers answering misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charges in Peterson's courtroom on Thursday.

read more here

Special courts in Wash. designed for veterans

Helping vets stop cycle of crime

Helping vets stop cycle of crime
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Record

Police in North Jersey now have a new question for those who end up handcuffed in the back of a patrol car: "Are you a war veteran?"

The answer may determine if the offender will be sent to the Veterans Assistance Project, a new program that offers counseling, addiction services and other help to veterans charged with crimes.

More than 350 veterans in 11 counties — including 34 in Bergen and 12 in Passaic — have participated in the program since it was launched in phases starting in December 2008. The state is gradually expanding the program to all counties, following a similar trend nationwide.

Officials point to studies finding that more than 20 percent of war veterans show signs of mental illness, and many of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning home with some form of mental disorder.

The new thinking taking hold in courts nationwide is that veterans should be offered treatment rather than being pushed through a system that was designed primarily to penalize.
read more here
Helping vets stop cycle of crime

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Veterans, tiny fish in big pond back home

Veterans, tiny fish in big pond back home
Chaplain Kathie

They walk by us everyday. A shaved head, a unit tattoo, a determined walk and once in a while you catch a flash of light as the sun hits a metal leg, but most of the time they show no signs of having been in the places we occasionally read about in newspapers. You know the stories well. As you flip through the pages of your local newspaper, they are the stories you stay away from while searching for movie listings and the latest gossip on your favorite celebrity. You may spend more time on a report if it is in the obituary section but honestly, you may have only read it to see when the funeral will be so you know when to stay away from the area. You may be a very busy, important person with places to go and things to do so your time is precious to you. You may want to disregard what is happening so far away from here because in your mind, if it really mattered, it would be all over the news and there would be no escaping it. With so little reported on Iraq and Afghanistan, you may rationalize it as being something involving less than one percent of the population eliminating the possibility it involves anyone you know. The problem is, you may know them already but have no clue where they’ve been.

They are in your local movie theater. They go to your favorite bar and restaurant. They shop at the same grocery store you do. They go to your church but unless your pastor mentions they are home from a tour of duty, you’d never know it especially with some of the mega size churches around the country. They are on your college campus but they blend right in. They are the few, the proud, the veteran. Tiny fish in a big pond the rest of us live in pursuing our own happiness, worrying about our own lives and what we perceive as problems in them.

We have bills to pay, so do they. We have problems at work, home, in our studies, so do they. We have to put up with jerks driving cars talking on cell phones, so do they. They are just like us. For the most part, they look just like us. We assume they are no more special than we are but we miss the fact that while the rest of us guppies are swimming in the pond they are the ones ready to swim into the mouth of the big fish trying to eat us.

They are the people who join the military and the National Guards because while they want to live with the rest of us they know we need someone to be unselfish for our sake. We want someone else to step up when a storm comes, floods wash away roads, downs power lines, or when a fire threatens to wipe out everything. We want to have them show up but that never seems to translate into us showing up for them.

So here’s our chance. For the homeless veterans there is a Stand Down next weekend in Orlando. Sign up, show up and stand up for them. The information is on the sidebar of this blog. I can’t go. I’ll be in Buffalo with Point Man Ministries. What you’ll see there is not about sadness but about what is possible. You’ll see all kinds of people helping these homeless veterans simply because they care. Other tiny fish stepping up to take care of them for a change will warm your heart and you may even decide to do what you can for them after that. Go and meet these people, find out what happened to them and what you can do to help them.

If you are in one of the colleges here in Central Florida and you think you may see a veteran in one of your classes, ask them. If they are not a veteran then you just put the idea to ask into the head of another tiny fish classmate to wonder if someone he knows is. If they are a veteran then get to know them. Don’t be afraid. You won’t hear any gory stories. As a matter of fact you will hear very little about what they went through because none of them really talk that much to people they know well about any of it. Just know one thing. They were willing to die for you since you live in this country and they wanted to serve for the sake of this country doing what they were told was needed to be done. The politics didn’t matter. All they needed to know was it was what other men and women were being sent to do and they wanted to go too. They risked their lives for the sake of the people they served with but would a friend of yours do the same for you? These people are just like the rest of the tiny fish on the outside but on the inside they are committed, driven and a hell of a lot more compassionate than the rest of us.

If you work for a living, then do the same. Find out if someone is a veteran or not and spend some time getting to know them. If they go to your church, find out if they need any kind of spiritual help and then get the pastor involved. Put a section in your bulletin so that veterans can contact someone for help if they need it or if a National Guards/Reservist family needs some help while their spouse is deployed.

Think of it this way. While you are a tiny fish in this really big pond, wouldn't you want someone else in the pond to care about you? Now top that off with the fact they cared so much they set their lives aside to serve and now they are trying to play catch up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Divorce veteran

Divorce veteran
Chaplain Kathie

A conversation I had last night with a young wife ended with thoughts of how many Vietnam veterans ended up with multiple marriages. Just as with today's young veterans, being married into the world of combat, has not been easy, it was especially hard on the Vietnam generation of veterans. While PTSD has not changed, the ability to communicate and find support has. Now we are able to reach out to other people going through the same difficulties and hardships all over the country. We are able to connect to people around the world if we can't find someone else right here. We can find information and inspiration but perhaps the most important gift is the knowledge we are not alone.

The Vietnam War brought about 2 million combat veterans home. Perhaps the most shocking piece of news is that we've reached almost as many serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as we did with all those years in Vietnam. This means that there were just as many families adopted by combat and living with the results of it. We've already seen the increased rates of suicides and attempted suicides just as we've seen the increase rates of divorces. Many families are facing year of regrets because they do not know what to do to help their veteran heal or even know the right questions to want to have answered.

Information is available all over the web for them to learn if they want to. What about the veteran's spouse from the Vietnam generation with marriages that ended long ago? Divorce under any circumstances is hard. It's heartbreaking to see a marriage end and being left with an unknown future when you thought you had it all planned. They fell in love with one person only to discover all too often they were really married to a stranger.

For the spouse of a combat veteran with a marriage that ended long ago, the fact remains that you were married into the results of combat, but you just didn't know it. You simple assumed that you were married to someone who changed, or wasn't what you thought they were and you're still living with the pain of a shocking situation. Don't blame yourself. You didn't know what the newer generation of spouses know today. No one told you that it all came back with them. The support wasn't there. Knowledge was not available to you or to your well meaning friends giving you advice to end the marriage. Your kids didn't know why their parent acted the way they did and most blamed themselves just as you blame yourself. The veteran blames himself/herself just as much because they didn't know any better.

There are jobs for all of you to do and that is to first understand what happened by know why it happened. Learn what PTSD is and what it does to survivors of combat and what makes them so unique. You didn't have a common marriage with just the usual problems everyone else faces, but you had a combat marriage with all the other problems that came with it. Once you have a great understanding, first forgive yourself for not knowing and for making mistakes because you didn't know. You did the best you could with what you knew at the time, so forgive yourself. Explain it to the kids because they have to forgive their parent too. It was not the fault of the veteran because while they knew there was something wrong, they didn't know what it was or what they could do to stop feeling pain so deeply. It was not that they didn't love you enough, it was more that they couldn't stop feeling pain enough to feel the blessings that come with love.

Many veterans ended up homeless because you had no support to be able to live together.  Some committed suicide because they had no hope of being happy again.  Remember, you did the best you could for them at the time.  You just didn't know what else to do.  You cannot change your past but you can learn why it all happened and this will give you some peace.

If you are a veteran, make peace with that part of your life. There was a lot of damage done to people you loved even though you didn't mean it. Learn what was behind the way you acted and then explain it to your ex-spouse and your kids. Even if nothing comes out of it, at least give them the chance to forgive because in the process you will give them the chance to stop thinking it was their fault. No one was to blame for what no one knew. Many veterans have had three, four or even five marriages. Each one the result of hoping to find happiness thru someone else but doomed to end because the pain lived stronger than hope. Making peace with your past has to involve them as well. This way, there is hope for a fresh start in your life and healing the life you had after combat just as much as it's about healing the life you lived during combat.

Find the knowledge you need on the web and in support groups. It's not too late for you so stop wishing you knew all of it long ago and begin to use what you learn today. To heal your future you must first heal your past and then even you can find happiness in a loving relationship. It is not uncommon for an aware veteran to restore relationships with their kids once they understand why things were the way they were. Give them a chance to heal the pain they carry. It was no one's fault but the pain was no less real to everyone involved. Life is hard enough just as a human but when you're a human with combat in your life, it makes it all the more harder to find peace in your life but it is not impossible. Learn and act on what you finally understand for the sake of people you loved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CODE and Activision Make an Educational Investment in Veterans

CODE and Activision Make an Educational Investment in Veterans…
Written by Call of Duty Endowment on May 11, 2010 – 11:16 am -
Today the Call of Duty Endowment and Activision are announcing the creation of a new scholarship program to assist those veterans pursuing a career in videogame development at Austin Community College (ACC) and Madison Area Technical College (MATC). The program will assist veterans at these schools with the costs of software, transportation, and other educational needs, while the GI bill covers tuition costs for U.S. veterans at most schools. ACC and MATC were chosen by CODE and Activision because of their gaming and illustration programs, as well as the high number of veterans’ enrolled at each school and the participation of military veterans in the relevant course work.

The scholarships will help to fulfill CODE’s mission of ensuring that veterans are provided a clear path to new careers after their military service is complete. Recognizing that our nation’s veterans are some of the brightest and hardest working individuals our nation has to offer, the Call of Duty Endowment and Activision wanted to encourage and help create a path for more of these men and women to enter the field of video game production.

Applications are now being accepted at both schools for students looking to pursue the scholarship, with the initial scholarship recipients to be announced in August. The Call of Duty Endowment and Activision will track the development of the scholarship winners through the CODE website and other mediums as they progress throughout the program. In total, CODE will donate $100,000 to fund the scholarship programs, which will exist for at least five years at each school.

To apply or learn more about the scholarships at MATC, click here.
To apply or learn more about the scholarships at ACC, click here.

Those individuals that have put their lives on the line to protect our country deserve to be rewarded with 21st century careers. These scholarships will help them get there!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

National Guard combat-cops find it hard to adjust back home

If anyone has not already guessed the police officers have a harder time coming back than regular military, they need to read this. They don't get to go back home and live a peaceful life until they redeploy again. They get to go back out on the streets and deal with traumatic situations on a daily basis. Just as firefighters still have to risk their lives as part of their jobs when they come home, rest never seems to come.

"If the person doesn't develop that courage to say, 'hey, I need help,' it's very difficult to help them before they reach a breaking point," Clarke said.

Study: Law officers struggle to readjust after war
By TODD RICHMOND (AP) – 2 hours ago

MADISON, Wis. — Many law enforcement officers called up to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are finding it difficult to readjust to their jobs once home, bringing back heightened survival instincts that may make them quicker to use force and showing less patience toward the people they serve.

In interviews with The Associated Press and in dozens of anecdotes compiled in a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, officers described feeling compelled to use tactics they employed in war zones after they returned to work in the U.S.

One officer said he felt compelled to fire his gun in the air to disperse an unruly crowd in California. Others said they felt wary about being flanked when working crowd control. And others said after seeing the hardships ordinary Afghans and Iraqis lived with, it's hard to care about complaints over pet droppings.

The report, which was issued late last year, warns that the blurring of the line between combat and confrontations with criminal suspects at home may result in "inappropriate decisions and actions — particularly in the use of ... force. This similarity ... could result in injury or death to an innocent civilian."

In two high-profile cases, officers blamed their overzealous use of force on complications from their military service.
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Law officers struggle to readjust after war

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tens of thousands of veterans are falling through Voc Rehab's cracks

Video Wounded Soldiers' Homefront Battle
More than 41,000 U.S. servicemen and women have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wyatt Andrews reports that for some of these soldiers job training is tough to come by.

Notebook: Reporting on Disabled Vets
Wyatt Andrews and Jill Rosenbaum Describe How They Found Problems Within in a Key VA Program for Wounded Veterans
(CBS) By Wyatt Andrews, correspondent and Jill Rosenbaum, producer

After eight years of war, you might think the system for delivering benefits to America's most disabled war veterans would be well organized, efficient and as caring as possible. It's not.

A two-month CBS News investigation of the Department of Veteran's Affairs' (VA) most important benefit program helping disabled vets return to work, a benefit most vets call "Voc Rehab," revealed a program which is beset with contracting and staffing problems -- which often throws needless roadblocks in front of eligible veterans, and which either tolerates or can't prevent wrongful benefit denials for some of the nation's most deserving former warriors.

And because Voc Rehab benefits are only available to disabled veterans, many of whom have already waited years, but finally received a VA disability rating, a wrongful denial coming from Voc Rehab causes an added level of bitterness and sense of betrayal.

The VA does provide Voc Rehab services and training to tens of thousands of veterans every year, but has also consistently been criticized by federal watchdogs and Congress for not tracking the program's true failure rate. The last GAO report on this point, from January of 2009, said Voc Rehab was only successful in its mission 68 percent of the time. And while generally, rehabilitation and training services are difficult to provide to veterans with medical problems or increasingly PTSD -- and are not expected to approach a 100 percent success rate-- the 68 percent figure, given the war-caused spike in applications, means that tens of thousands of veterans are falling through Voc Rehab's cracks. (Source: GAO Report: VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, pages 2, 25)

• Two time Army veteran Jeremy Smith (he joined, left and rejoined after 9/11) is a former Army medic whose spinal cord was injured by a grenade in Afghanistan, as Jeremy raced to treat his fellow soldiers under fire. Jeremy, who is wheelchair bound, says he was turned away by a VA benefits counselor, who falsely claimed Jeremy wasn't disabled enough to qualify.

• Former Marine Sergeant Kenny Lyon's rescue from a battlefield in Iraq and subsequent recovery from the loss of much of his left leg was the subject of a profile on "60 Minutes." Kenny says on his first day of classes at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania last year, a VA counselor called to deny the Voc Rehab tuition benefits Kenny long thought had been approved. On his first day of class, in other words, he was being asked to turn around and find another college.

• Former Army Lt. Greg Modica was wrongly told by his Voc Rehab counselor the VA would not allow disabled vets to attend flight school. After Greg presented notes of this conversation to the office of Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross (D), the congressman demanded an accounting. Within days, the VA's Little Rock office quickly changed gears, approved Greg for flight school and transferred his case file to a higher level counselor. But during that first conversation, the Little Rock counselor, who is white, told Greg, who is African American, that while flight school was out of the question, Greg could always take his plea for help to Oprah.

• Former Marine Cpl. Brandon Frazier is a veteran of the sustained 2004 Marine assault in Fallujah. Brandon has enough hearing loss and PTSD to meet Voc Rehab's disability requirements, but was falsely told by a VA counselor that Voc Rehab benefits do not cover college level pre law. They do. And since the time of Brandon's improper denial, he's borrowed $40,000 to pay for college himself.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

They don't hate you, they hate what is happening to you

They don't hate you, they hate what is happening to you
Chaplain Kathie

If you have PTSD and are under the impression you are hiding it, you're not. You cannot hide what PTSD is doing to you. They notice how you are no longer laughing like you used to. They notice every part of you has changed including how they felt loved by you. They hear you in the middle of the night when the nightmares come. They see you when a flashback takes you back into combat. As you self-medicate to kill off feeling pain, you may say "I'm not hurting anyone." in order to justify yourself, but the truth is, you are hurting yourself and everyone in your life.

Your spouse, the one you promised to stay with in sickness and health, cannot understand that you do not suddenly hate her/him but are wounded inside.

Your kids don't understand and they feel as if you don't even like them anymore.

Your parents don't understand why their child, the man/woman they watched grow from infancy, has suddenly turned into a cold stranger in the body of their child.

Is it so easy to accept the idea they think you are a drug addict or alcoholic over having PTSD? Do you really think they admire you for coming home drunk? High? Talking tough? Getting into trouble? Do you want them to hate you so that no longer allowing yourself to feel anything for them is justified? Why is it so hard for you to remember that these people loved you no matter what happened before in your life?

They prayed for you before you left, while you were gone and thanked God because they assumed you came home fine. They loved you every time you achieved something just as much as they loved you every time you failed. They rejoiced for you just as much as they grieved for you but now you think they will not be there for you because you have PTSD. They knew "you" but they don't understand what has happened to change you unless you explain it to them.

The general public has very little understanding when it comes to PTSD. Your family is no different. Most of them say that while you were deployed, they had enough to worry about, so most did not even pay attention to the news and you didn't tell them much while you were gone either. They were not detached from you but detached from what you were going through just as much as they are detached from what is happening to you now that you're back. They cannot understand how to help you if you keep pushing them away instead of getting them involved back in your life.

If you are a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, now is the time to ask them to help you. Show them this video and let them know anger coming out of you is born out of the pain you are carrying. Let them understand that you are carrying what you went thru even if you do not go into detail with them. Help they understand what PTSD is and stop thinking there is more shame in being wounded than there is in being what they think you're becoming.

While this video was developed for National Guardsmen, it applies to all combat veterans. Use it to help them understand why you act the way you do, say the things you do and have not said what you should have said a long time ago.

If you think for a second it's too late for you to heal, it's not. Today Vietnam veterans are finally beginning to heal, feel again, hope again, love again. It is not too late for them so it is not too late for you. When you start to seek help to heal, PTSD stops being able to increase the pain you feel. It stops getting worse.

When you begin to heal the first thing most experience is a flood of emotions, usually tears coming out feeling as if they will never stop falling. All of your emotions have been trapped behind a wall of pain built to protect yourself from more pain. The only emotion you felt safe to let out was anger but everything else was trapped behind the wall. Getting help cracks the wall and the release of emotions trapped behind it start to come out. That's why you cry. Pain is the emotion you felt first and is the strongest one. It has to be released first.

Once the pain is released then you can begin to find hope of being alive again. This will be your own alive day just as when a soldier has experienced a horrific wound awakening in the hospital calls the day they survived as their alive day. This is the day you begin to live again.

Stop trying to get the people in your life to get away from you and start to get them back in your life again.

Do you want to be homeless? What will that prove? That you don't need anyone in your life? Try surviving on the street with no one giving you a buck or two, or without anyone giving you food at a shelter or a blanket to keep you warmer. No matter what you want to believe, you do need people in your life and no one really lives without someone else helping them. It can either be your family or it can be total strangers but you do need someone.

Do you want to go to jail because you wanted to do drugs more than you wanted to be on medication? Do you want your family to really believe you hate them? Is it so much easier to put the burden of your wound onto their shoulders and make them suffer for what you will not tell them? Whatever you think will be easier to do instead of asking them to help you heal, you're wrong. They loved you before and they still love you now. Ask them for help and shove that stupid pride back where it belongs because as much as you want to think you're hiding the fact you're human, you're not fooling anyone.

The fact is that PTSD only comes after trauma, which is caused by something out of your control, from the outside attacking you. It "picked" on you because you have the ability to care more than others, have more compassion than others, feel deeper than others. It does not mean you are not courageous. It means you had the courage to act because you cared and now you can use the same courage to heal. Do you want to feel good things again? Do you think you can without getting drunk or high? You may have not noticed but when you are drunk or high, you surly don't look very happy. You are also unable to "feel" the good stuff humans are supposed to feel, like love, hope, passion and you stop feeling what it's like to be bonded to anyone.

Do you want to feel love for your family again? For your parents? For your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend? Do you want to feel love for your kids again? Remember what it was like when you could feel the words "I love you" coming from them? When was the last time you "felt" those words reach your heart? When was the last time you felt anything other than anger?

The trauma of what you survived was out of your control. The rest of your life is within your control. God created a perfect chain of elements within all of us and it all comes from your soul. All you need to heal is within you but you need help finding out how it all works. Psychiatrists can help you fix the chemistry in your brain with medication and therapy. You can help your body work better when you eat better and exercise with calming activities. Yoga, meditation, martial arts and something as simple as taking a walk will get your body stronger and cleanse the negative energy from you. Just as important as taking care of your mind and body, is taking care of your spiritual life. Knowing God did not do this to you opens the door to asking Him to come back into your life.

There is an expression that infuriates. "God never gives us more than we can handle." This expression means that some people believe God is doing all of the bad stuff to them or causing it to happen. It is not that God is doing it to us, but that God is ready to give us what we need to get thru all of it. He can restore hope if you stop running from Him. He can restore all the faith you had before and even make it stronger if you allow Him. He can have you feeling all the good emotions you had before and make the sadness weaker.

You can heal but you can't heal if you keep trying to run away from it. You can't run from it because it will follow you no matter where you go. If you leave the people you love, what have you gained? You lost them and stand alone with no one by your side. You have also hurt people you once loved.

How do I know healing is possible? Because I have seen it in my own husband and many other veterans. There is no cure for PTSD yet and you cannot return to the way you were before. What can happen is that you come out of the darkness of PTSD better than you were before, more caring, more loving and yes, even happier. What you cannot heal, you can make weaker. You can come to a point where when nightmares come, they are not as powerful. When flashbacks come, they do not drain you as much or last as long. You can also come to a point where your family will react differently because they understand what is going on inside of you instead of blaming you for what comes out of you. The choice is your's to make but understand you did not end up with PTSD for any other reason than you survived traumatic events in combat so you can't really expect someone never exposed to any of it to automatically understand anything. Give then a chance to help you and give yourself a chance to feel love again for them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Veterans hope to rebuild their lives through Conservation Corps

Veterans hope to rebuild their lives through Conservation Corps
The Veterans Conservation Corps, a state-financed program, is helping veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan tackle two big challenges of civilian life — finding new employment and coping with psychic battle scars. The focus is on outdoor jobs in forestry, wildlife management and other natural-resource fields.

By Hal Bernton

Seattle Times staff reporter

COVINGTON — At a subdivision in Southeast King County, nine people wield shovels, picks and machetes to hack down blackberry thickets that have overgrown a tiny wetland.

Hour by hour, they clear more of the brambles, revealing cedar and other native plants that had been enveloped by the thorny bushes.

Every person on this crew is a military veteran, most of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan. All are hoping to forge new careers through the Veterans Conservation Corps, a state-financed program that helps them tackle two big challenges of civilian life — finding new employment and coping with the psychic battle scars of war.

The focus is on outdoor jobs in forestry, wildlife management and other natural-resource fields that can put the veterans outside, where it's hoped they can tap some of the healing powers of nature. The veterans combine classroom work at community colleges with weekly forays to restore waterways, monitor pollution and tackle other tasks.

On this day, they are laboring at one of many small wetlands created by developers to compensate for marshland filled in for housing. Most of these spots are overgrown with blackberries and other invasive species, and the restoration work is tough labor that often leaves scratched-up arms.

"It's been like a breath of fresh air," said Jeremy Grisham, the leader of the crew. "When I first got back, I couldn't find work and gained so much weight. When I started getting outside, it was the first time I felt good about things."

Grisham was a Navy medic who took part in the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq. One of his most harrowing tasks was helping civilians suffering from burns and wounds. As Grisham was medically retired in 2005, he was diagnosed with a disabling case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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Veterans hope to rebuild their lives through Conservation Corps