Showing posts with label dishonorable discharge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dishonorable discharge. Show all posts

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Stolen Valor Marine Dishonored Disabled Marines

Man raised money to send Marine families to Disney. He pocketed most of it, feds say

Charlotte Observer
Charles Duncan
January 11, 2019

Simpson raised about $481,000 for the charity, but spent only about $90,000 of that actually helping Marines, the feds charge.
A charity raised funds to send Marines and their families to Disney theme parks, but its founder John Simpson pocketed most of the money for himself, according to a federal indictment filed this week in South Carolina.

Simpson raised about $481,000 for the charity, but spent only about $90,000 of that actually helping Marines, the feds charge. The other $391,000 went to enriching himself, paying off his mortgage and bills, and for his then-wife’s “adult novelty business, Red Room Toys,” according to court filings.

Sherri Lydon, the U.S. Attorney in Charleston, South Carolina, accuses Simpson of lying about his military career to raise money. The indictment states he “falsely represented himself as a retired career marine with as much as 20 years of service, a retired Master Sergeant, a former Drill Instructor, and a Recon Marine.”
In fact, according to the court filing, Simpson served less than five years in the Marine Corps and was given a bad conduct discharge after going absent without leave in 1998.
read more here

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Army Discharged at Least 22,000 Combat Soldiers for Misconduct

Senators to Army: Stop misconduct discharges until review is completed
Army Times
By Michelle Tan
February 3, 2016
Since then, however, the Army has reportedly moved to separate at least one highly decorated combat soldier who was diagnosed with PTSD, according to a new NPR report.
A group of lawmakers wants the Army to stop discharging soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental health problems because of their service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
A group of U.S. senators wants the Army to stop discharging soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental health issues because of their service in Iraq or Afghanistan, at least until the service completes an internal review.
(Photo: Army photo)
The move comes one month after the Army announced it would conduct a “thorough, multidisciplinary” review in response to a call from 12 senators to investigate reports that the service discharged for misconduct as many as 22,000 combat veterans who had been diagnosed with mental health problems.

“It doesn’t make sense to continue these discharges while the practice is in the midst of multiple reviews,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. 

“Soldiers prevented from serving due to post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury should be treated like we treat those with physical injuries, not be discharged, cast aside and ignored. They fought for their country and have earned the benefit of the doubt.”

Murphy was one of the 12 senators to initially call on the Army to investigate the reports regarding the 22,000 soldiers. The issue was first reported by National Public Radio.
NPR in October reported that the Army, since 2009, has separated 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they returned from Iraq or Afghanistan and had been diagnosed with mental health problems such as PTSD and TBI.
read more here

Thursday, December 24, 2015

DOD Still Behaving Badly with Bad Discharges

It is amazing what you will find in one article. This one on bad discharges has several key points, among them the fact that these discharges has contributed to homeless veteran living on the streets.

It also points out that 207,000 left the military last year. What? How does the Department explain the number of suicides when there are so many out?

How does the DOD explain 18,000 getting bad discharges after all those years of "resilience" training every single one of them had?
Some military discharges mean no benefits after service ends
Associated Press
Dec. 24, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) — No medical or mental health care. No subsidized college or work training.
In this photo taken Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Josh Redmyer, a former Marine who served three tours in Iraq, poses with Milo, who he calls his "therapy dog," in Oroville, Calif. Redmyer, who was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009, received a less-than-honorable discharge in 2012. He is among the thousands of veterans who cannot receive veterans health benefits because of a less-than-honorable discharge. Redmyer turns to Milo, who is a birthday present from his roommate, when he becomes despondent.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

For many who leave the U.S. military with less-than-honorable discharges, including thousands who suffered injuries and anguish in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, standard veterans benefits are off limits.

The discharge serves as a scarlet letter of dishonor, and the effects can be severe: Ex-military members with mental health problems or post-traumatic stress disorder can't turn to Veterans Affairs hospitals or clinics; those who want to go to college aren't eligible for the GI Bill; the jobless get no assistance for career training; the homeless are excluded from vouchers.

"It's an indelible mark of their service that follows them for the rest of their lives into the workforce, through background checks, social relationships, and it precludes them from getting the kind of support that most veterans enjoy," said Phil Carter, an Iraq War vet and senior fellow at the Center for A New American Security.

The Department of Defense said of nearly 207,000 people who left the military last year, just 9 percent received what's referred to as "bad paper." Still, that's more than 18,000 people last year and more than 352,000 since 2000, Defense Department data shows.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who's on the House Armed Services Committee, believes many of those men and women suffered battle-related problems that affected their behavior, especially PTSD and traumatic brain injury. A 2005 study showed Marines deployed to combat who were diagnosed with PTSD were 11 times more likely to receive less-than-honorable discharges, said Brad Adams, an attorney who works with the San Francisco-based organization Swords to Plowshares.
read more here

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How Much Time Should Army Brass Get in Confinement?

Army Got Away With it Long Enough Yet?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 3, 2015

The more reports come out about how the Army really treats soldiers it is a wonder why anyone would still want to serve. There is yet another report about how the Army is kicking out wounded instead of doing the honorable thing. How do they continue to get away with all of this? How do they keep getting away with spending billions on "prevention" as the number of suicides go up just as the number of enlisted go down? Is anyone paying attention to any of this?

Fort Knox, Sgt. Gerald Cassidy died alone from a prescription drug overdose at the Army's Warrior Transition Unit
Cassidy's family also provided to The Star key documents from the Army's investigation of his death that had not previously been released and shared some notes Cassidy wrote at Fort Knox about his anxiety over loud noises and lack of sleep and his concern for the impact of his illness on his family.

The family says it is speaking out in hopes that greater public awareness will help other soldiers get better treatment.

The family found an ally in Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is calling for numerous changes in the way the military handles mental health services for wounded soldiers.

"The pain is never going to go away," said Cassidy's mother, Kay McMullen, Carmel. "You've got to do something then to change the outcome for other people."

Sounded good at the time but when the news broke about how wounded in those same units were being mistreated it pretty much proved that claim back in 2008 by Senator Bayh didn't really mean very much. Dallas Morning News reported last year "Injured Heroes Broken Promises" along with NBC about how it was not just still the same as usual but even worse six years later. They followed up that report with this in February "Army to investigate mistreatment claims by injured, ill soldiers at Fort Hood" Far more wait than hurry up in Army mental care
Even as combat winds down, demand for mental health care remains high and number of staffers too few, forcing long waits.
But the problem with that is, it wasn't new either. Shortages had been reported all along. Congress knew but while they held hearing after hearing no one turned on a hearing aid loud enough so they actually did something to fix any of it. This is really stunning considering that soldiers were actually cheating to stay in the Army back in 2007. Yes, you read that right.

USA Today Gregg Zoroya reported that on November 7, 2007 "Troops in Iraq and elsewhere have tried to avoid being pulled out of combat units by cheating on problem-solving tests that are used to spot traumatic brain-injury problems, military doctors say." But don't remind anyone how long all of this has been going on or the fact they are now reviewing discharges of Vietnam veterans from over 40 years ago.

Let's not talk about how there was a 40% rise in crisis calls in 2008, also reported by Gregg Zoroya. And for sure don't talk about what VA Watchdog reported on "The Army alone has a backlog of 1,890 veterans seeking corrections on their discharge papers, and some have been waiting for three years, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Many other veterans probably have faulty discharge papers but don’t know it because they have not sought benefits."

We sure as hell can't talk about how over at Fort Carson there was this piece of news reported by The Denver Post.
A Court of Inquiry is composed of at least three high-ranking military officers and can subpoena civilians. Geren can refuse the request.

"It's very important for the Army and very important for my clients. This is an investigation that is long overdue," said Louis Font, a Boston attorney who represents Currie and Spec. Alex Lotero, 21, a Fort Carson soldier from Miami.

The request says the Court of Inquiry should "investigate the extent to which the (generals) have been derelict in failing to provide for the health and welfare of wounded soldiers."
So it all still goes on and on. While everyone is doing a whole lot of promising to fix everything that is wrong, the only ones doing their jobs are the soldiers that get wounded and then shafted.
Army To Review Pattern Of PTSD, Brain Injuries Discharges
Colorado Public Radio
DEC 3, 2015
The Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colo.
The U.S. Army says it will conduct a "thorough" review of how it discharges soldiers who were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.

In November, CPR News and NPR reported that the Army has kicked out 22,000 soldiers since 2009, who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, for "misconduct." The soldiers had also been diagnosed with mental health issues or traumatic brain injuries. Some served at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.

Soldiers who are discharged in this way are in danger of losing their benefits, including long-term health care for disabilities that may have been caused by combat.

In the wake of that report, a group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, demanded the Army investigate itself. Earlier this week, the Army sent Bennet a letter saying it was doing just that. Bennet gave the letter to CPR News on Thursday.
read more here

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bad Discharges Not Honorable To Far Too Many

Ex-troops with highest suicide risk often don't qualify for mental care 
LA Times
April 1, 2015
Many vets with 'bad' discharges are cast off to local mental health services, charities despite suicide risk

Of those suicides, 403 were among ex-service members whose discharges were "not honorable" — for a wide range of misconduct, from repeatedly disrespecting officers to felony convictions. An additional 380 occurred among veterans with "uncharacterized" discharges, the designation used for troops who leave in fewer than 180 days for a variety of nondisciplinary reasons.

The largest study to date of recent military and veteran suicides has identified two high-risk groups of former troops who are generally ineligible for the psychiatric care afforded to all others who served: those forced out of the military for misconduct and those who enlisted but were quickly discharged for other problems.

In each of those groups, an average of 46 of every 100,000 former service members committed suicide each year — more than double the rate for veterans with honorable discharges.

The findings are likely to spur debate over whether efforts to stem veteran suicides are targeting the right people and to strengthen calls to expand access to benefits and care — especially for those who blame post-traumatic stress disorder or other war-related problems for their misconduct and subsequent dismissals from the military.

"The problem is much bigger than the veterans we choose to help," said Phillip Carter, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for a New American Security who has followed the issue.
Since World War II, the VA has been responsible for determining who is eligible for healthcare and benefits. Ex-service members who were enlisted for less than two years qualify only if they have disabilities related to their service.

Those with dishonorable discharges are not eligible unless they can prove they were insane at the time of their crimes. Former troops with other types of less-than-honorable discharges must apply for veteran status, but fewer than 10% do.

Of those, fewer than a quarter succeed, according to a 2007 study by a congressional commission.

More than 140,000 troops have left the military since 2000 with less-than-honorable discharges, according to the Pentagon.
read more here

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If you have Dishonorable Discharge and PTSD this May Help You

Dishonorable Discharges Will Now be Reviewed by Mental Health Specialists
December 16, 2014

Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, many of whom have been unfairly kicked out of the service because of their condition, will now have their discharges reviewed by mental health experts.

The new defense authorization bill approved by Congress included a provision requiring the military to add one mental health professional to review boards that determine service members’ discharge status. The mandate applies both to current military personnel and those previously discharged who received less-than-honorable designation. The latter group will have the opportunity to have their discharges reviewed by a board that includes a mental health professional.
read more here

Monday, September 15, 2014

80,000 Vietnam Veterans Wrongly Discharged May Get Benefits for PTSD

Defense Department opens door for Vietnam vets seeking PTSD-related VA benefits
Times Union Staff
Posted: September 15, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made the path to PTSD treatment easier for some Vietnam-era veterans. In response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a group of Vietnam War veterans, the Department of Defense issued new guidelines governing the review of PTSD-related discharge upgrade requests.

Most of the 3.4 million Americans who deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict left the military before 1980, the year post-traumatic stress disorder became a recognized medical condition.

The new directive is aimed at helping military officials who consider petitions from veterans seeking to have their less-than-honorable discharges upgraded, which would allow them access to medical benefits from the VA not available at the time of their discharge.

The change was sparked by a March lawsuit brought by five Vietnam veterans and three organizations representing veterans. It alleged the military systematically avoided requests for discharge upgrades even when they included evidence of a PTSD diagnosis.

According to the suit, approximately 250,000 Vietnam-era veterans received less-than-honorable discharges, and as many as 80,000 of those service members could be eligible for PTSD-related benefits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said review boards have been advised to give “liberal consideration” to petitions that cite PTSD.
read more here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Vietnam Veterans with PTSD and bad discharges may finally get justice

DoD willing to reconsider discharges of Vietnam vets with PTSD
Air Force Times
By Andrew Tilghman
Staff writer
Sep. 3, 2014
“These are veterans who honorably served their country and have a psychological wound of war and they should be recognized for having served honorably, not stigmatized and discriminated against,”
U.S. soldiers carry a wounded comrade through a swampy area during action in Vietnam in 1969. The Defense Department has agreed to reconsider the bad-paper discharges for thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who may have suffered from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder but were kicked out of the military in the era before that became a diagnosable condition.
(National Archives / AFP)

The Defense Department has agreed to reconsider the bad-paper discharges for thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who may have suffered from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder but were kicked out of the military in the era before that became a diagnosable condition.

In a new rule announced Wednesday, the Pentagon said veterans from the Vietnam era and other past wars with other-than-honorable discharges will be given “liberal consideration” if they seek to correct their military records and provide some evidence of a PTSD diagnosis that existed at the time of their service.

Upgraded discharges could result in the restoration of some benefits, such as disability pay, separation pay or GI Bill benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department, which are typically denied to vets who receive other-than-honorable discharges. Health care in the VA system is typically provided to veterans regardless of their discharge.

In today’s military, PTSD is considered a mitigating factor for misconduct and behavioral problems. The military services are required to grant a medical evaluation to any service member who claims PTSD before finalizing a bad discharge.
read more here

Monday, September 1, 2014

What Good Did Suicide Prevention Month Do?

No more excuses, time for living awareness
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 1, 2014
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Vietnam Veterans of America
Yesterday a buddy of mine and long time reader of Wounded Times said he was sure I was ready to explode and the Bostonian Greek couldn't be held back much longer. I told him I felt like a bottle of Coke dropped on the floor, shaken, waiting to be opened. The twist top was released and I exploded higher than Mentos could have come close to achieving.

Suicide Prevention Month begins today for the troops and veterans but it seems the military leaders have been "SHAKE'n BAKE: an officer straight out of OCS (Officer Candidate School) without any combat experience" yet in charge of taking care of what they do not understand. Simply put, total FUBAR!
FUBAR: short for "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair" or "Recognition." To describe impossible situations, equipment, or persons as in, "It is (or they are) totally Fubar!"

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office for all branches of the military makes it seem as if raising awareness is enough but it isn't. All we have to do is read the suicide reports where year after year, more is done, while more suicides claim more lives.
BOHICA stands for bend over, here it comes again. It is an item of acronym slang which grew to regular use amongst the United States armed forces during the Vietnam War. It is used colloquially to indicate that an adverse situation is about to repeat itself, and that acquiescence is the wisest course of action.

Research by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health aims to reduce suicides among America's military and military veterans.

"The suicide rate among soldiers began to rise significantly in 2002, and reached record levels by 2007," says Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director. "The Army has been very proactive in addressing the crisis but, sadly, the suicide rate continues to rise."

In addition to the Army's attempts to reduce the suicide rate and address mental health issues, Dr. Insel notes that in 2008 the Army and the NIMH initiated the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience of Service Members (Army STARRS) to better understand the phenomenon. It is the largest study of its kind ever undertaken.

In addition to suicide, this study is targeting depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike typical research studies, which can take years, Dr. Insel says that data from Army STARRS will be reported at regular intervals throughout the five-year study period. The information will be used to tailor interventions so that the suicide rate drops and soldiers get the help they need as quickly as possible.

"No question. 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides," says Col. Christopher Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "We took wide-ranging measures to confront the problem, from servicewide prevention and teaching programs to the Army STARRS initiative with the National Institute of Mental Health."

In 2010, the Army plans to update its suicide prevention training and improve procedures to ensure that soldiers and their families receive the support they need when undergoing key transitions, such as moving to another duty station or separating from the Army.

"This will give us the data we need to better adjust and expand our programs so that we save more lives," adds Philbrick.

Yet more pain was delivered to families across the country when they blamed themselves. After all, how could they blame the military leaders when they were doing so much to prevent suicides?

Pretty much it failed leading up to 2012 with the highest number of suicides as well as attempted suicides. The DOD didn't learn the right lessons and their awareness of the issues facing the troops and veterans went over their heads. In 2012 Army Times had an article about what happened afterwards. New Suicide Prevention Strategy Make Debut
McHugh spoke alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, who released the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

The strategy has been updated for the first time since 2001. Its priorities include fostering positive public dialogue, countering shame, prejudice, and silence, and building public support for suicide prevention.

The strategy calls attention to the increasing numbers of suicides among troops and veterans, noting an increase in suicide rates in the military in 2006 was driven by the Army and Marine Corps.

In 2010, junior enlisted troops who were white and under 25 years old were at increased risk for suicide relative to those groups in the general population.

The report references efforts at the Defense Department and in the individual services, including the Army's Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, to prepare designated "gatekeepers" to recognize suicide risk and intervene.

The "gatekeepers" turned out to be bouncers. They bounced out troubled servicemembers with discharges instead of helping them heal.

Disposable Soldiers
Huffington Post
May 29, 2013

As PTSD cases in the military are skyrocketing, so too are discharges for misconduct, where a small infraction could lead to a lifetime loss of much needed benefits. We need to re-evaluate the military discharge system to match current challenges.

So much for promises. In 2013 the Army bounced out 11,000 along with other branches it was yet one more year of getting rid of them while using the word "intervene" covering for their own shameful conduct. By the end of 2013 NPR reported the number of bad conduct discharges in the last 10 years reached 100,000
BCD – Bad Conduct Discharge. Usually spoken as Big Chicken Dinner

Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good-conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle.

None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions."

Highfill, a 27-year-old Michigan native, says he got addicted to the painkillers he was taking for a knee injury. In the Navy's eyes, Highfill screwed up. He got a DUI, among other things, and so it kicked him out. And that means when he went to a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, it did the same.

"I went down to the Battle Creek [Mich.] VA and I spoke with the receptionist. She looked at my discharge and said, 'Well, you have a bad discharge. ... Congress does not recognize you as a veteran.' And they turned me away," Highfill says.

Highfill and more than 100,000 other troops left the armed services with "bad paper" over the past decade of war.

But they can't seem to figure out why what they've done hasn't worked?
SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fucked Up
Who are they trying to fool?

When they say that "most of the troops committing suicide" had not been deployed, that is intended to get us thinking they were already "damaged" and lately that is the message they have pushed harder.

The trouble with this is twofold. First, they evaluate recruits. Are they admitting their testing sucks so bad they couldn't identify recruits with "pre-existing" mental health issues before handing them weapons? Secondly there is the issue of their "resiliency training" not being able to keep "non-deployed" from committing suicide, thus totally inept when it came to preventing soldiers from taking their own lives after multiple deployments.
XIN LOI or XOINE LOI: pronounced by GIs as "Sin Loy," meaning 'too bad,' 'tough shit,' 'sorry bout that.' The literal translation is "excuse me."

By July we read the outcome.
Of the 162 confirmed or suspected suicides to date this year for both the active and reserve components, the service breakdown is Army, 71; Air Force, 34; Marine Corps, 21; and Navy, 36.

This time last year, the figures were Army, 85; Air Force, 25; Marine Corps, 26; and Navy, 24.

The Navy is well ahead of its pace at this time last year and in fact is already closing in on its total of 43 for all of 2013.

Now all that is suicide awareness since we are well aware of why they take their own lives.
ZULU: casualty report is never complete

Forget about what the military told you about PTSD since they have had decades of exposure to this simple fact of a soldier's life. Being willing to die for someone else does not come out of someone being mentally weak. It comes from being emotionally strong.

Think about it. Think about the kind of courage it takes to join the military but don't stop there. It also required an abundance of emotional ability to put everything on the line for the sake of someone else.

There was nothing weak about you or anyone you served with and there isn't anything weak about you now. Once you get that, understand where all that pain is coming from, then you begin to heal. Until then you are allowing PTSD to be on a Search and Destroy mission, not just hunting you but everyone in your life.

You can heal and path has already been laid for you. Vietnam veterans carried the tradition of walking point "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another" so if you can't find someone in your generation to explain stuff to you so you feel better instead of worse, find groups with Vietnam Veterans.

Being aware gives you the intel to defeat the last enemy so that you can cover the backs of other veterans searching for a way out of the pain. Heal and help them DEROS all the way home.

Enough bull has been passed down while wasting time filling heads and fueling the forsaken into hopelessness. Over 8,000 veterans succeed at killing themselves while over 12,000 attempt it. What if there were that many lost in Iraq or Afghanistan in a year? These are veterans from all wars, all trying to heal but not finding what they need to do it. On the flip side, thousands more found the way to not just heal for themselves or their families, but search for other veterans to help them.

You did not surrender to the pain you felt during your deployment. You pushed past it because you still had a duty to those you served side by side with. They are waiting for you to take the lead and show them how to survive surviving combat. Don't surrender now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The crisis for veterans is not new

The crisis for veterans is not new
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 27, 2014

The crisis for veterans is not new and apparently are not even worthy of the news reporting facts instead of claims made year after year.
There are so many reports on PTSD and suicides tied to the military that it is hard to keep up with all they get wrong.

First, what Senator Walsh got right was that the VA covers veterans for the first 5 years after leaving the military. The second thing he got right is most of the time symptoms of PTSD are often not acknowledged until many years later.

The rest of the claims in this article are pretty much wrong.
Calling suicide among veterans a crisis, Sen. Walsh proposes reforms
Billings Gazette
By Tom Lutey
March 26, 2014

Calling the high suicide rate among America’s combat veterans unacceptable, U.S. Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., on Wednesday laid out a plan to deal with the crisis.

“Our men and women have given a life commitment to serve our country and we need to make sure we’re taking care of them for the rest of their lives,” Walsh told The Gazette.

Roughly 22 veterans across the country commit suicide daily, according to the Veterans Administration. As a percentage, the rate is double that of the general population. Montana’s suicide rate among veterans was the highest per capita in the nation.

Walsh, a former Montana National Guard adjutant general, said undiagnosed combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries play major roles in the crisis. In some cases, it may take months for symptoms to emerge. By that time, veterans are often disconnected from their combat units and military personnel who might otherwise recognize symptoms.

In some cases, veterans struggling with PTSD or a combat-related brain injury end up receiving a wrongful discharge, meaning from the military’s point of view they suffer from a personality disorder. With that type of discharge, veterans lose their benefits, including care for combat-related mental health issues.

Walsh is proposing a seven-point plan for addressing the suicide crisis, beginning with a review of wrongful discharges, which may number more than 31,000 since the beginning of the Afghan War.
read more here

The crisis for veterans is not new. It has been going on for far too long. Chris Dana committed suicide at the age of 23 with a .22 caliber rifle.
As Gary Dana was collecting his dead son's belongings, he found a letter indicating that the National Guard was discharging his son under what are known as other-than-honorable conditions. The move was due to his skipping drills, which his family said was brought on by the mental strain of his service in Iraq.

The letter was in the trash, near a Wal-Mart receipt for .22-caliber rifle shells.

All across America, veterans such as Chris Dana are slipping through the cracks, left to languish by their military units and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA's ability to provide adequate care for veterans with mental ailments has come under increasing scrutiny, and the agency says it's scrambling to boost its resources to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, prevent suicides and help veterans cope. It's added more mental health counselors and started more suicide-prevention programs.

But the experience in Montana, which by some measures does more than any other state to support America's wars, shows how far the military and the VA have to go.

By September of 2007 TriWest and Montana Veterans Administration had a PTSD video conference.
"Family practitioners and community-based health care providers are integral in helping Montana's returning National Guard troops cope with the emotional and mental health issues resulting from serving in combat," explained David J. McIntyre, President and Chief Executive Officer of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. "This video conference is the first of its kind to combine the resources of the VA and TriWest to reach rural providers caring for these service members as they reintegrate into mainstream civilian life."
While the links to the original source of these reports are long gone, you can read what remains here.
When the battalion's tour of duty ended in late 2005 after 18 months away from home, Specialist Dana was rapidly processed through Department of Defense demobilization facilities to expedite his return home and reintegration into civilian environment. This expedited approach is standard operational procedure for Reserve Component (National Guard and Reserve) units whose tour of duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom has ended.

However. Chris Dana's suicide-as well as the many others that have occurred nationwide in the aftermath of National Guard and Reserve combat veterans' return to mainstream civilian life-has prompted Montana's critical assessment of the PDHRA program's effectiveness in reintegrating combat veterans into civilian society.

At the time, President Obama was still a US Senator and on the Veterans Affairs Committee. While running for office, he traveled to the Montana National Guards and met with Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, because of the efforts of the Montana National Guards leaders on military suicides.

While still the Democratic nominee, Obama promised to expand Montana National Guards program nation wide to address the mental health needs of the troops.
"He (Obama) told me he understood why we need to have additional screenings for PTSD," said Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, who was among a small group invited to meet with Obama on Wednesday in Billings. "And he told me when he is elected president, he will implement Montana's pilot program nationwide."

Kuntz, who recently gave up his job as a lawyer in Helena to advocate for the mentally ill and their families, said he was invited to brief Obama on how Montana had become a national model for assessing the mental health of its combat vets.

Besides the additional screenings, the Montana National Guard has developed crisis response teams that include a chaplain to investigate behavioral problems among its troops, and TriWest Healthcare pays to have four part-time counselors on hand to talk with soldiers and airmen during weekend drills.

After the briefing, Obama spent about 20 minutes telling several hundred veterans and their families that, if elected as president, he will be committed to meeting their needs.

Despite Obama becoming President and keeping his promise to expand what the Montana National Guard was doing, apparently the screenings were flawed to the point where far too many were still being discharged instead of being helped.

Every year there were more and more less than honorable discharges, as Senator Walsh pointed out however, he is far from the true numbers of abandoned troops.

In the House Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, a retired Minnesota Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major, wrote a bill to address 31,000 less than honorable discharges in March of 2013.

By May the Huffington Post had this Disposable Soldiers report
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bill that would have the Government Accountability Office look into these discharges in November of 2013.

Associated Press reported in February of 2013 that there were 11,000 of these discharges from the Army in 2013.

Wanting to do something, our elected officials do anything instead of figuring out what has been wrong all this time.

Saying military/veteran families are tired of excuses is not enough. As more "efforts" are done while more graves are filled, they are losing hope that other families will not have to endure the same heartbreak.

Tracking these reports for Wounded Times for almost 7 years, everyday, regretfully I surrendered the hope that all we had to do was help veterans become aware of what they needed and why they needed it. All of that, while a start to save their lives is wonderful, the deplorable fact is, the help they are getting has been abysmal and no one is doing anything about it.

Reporters just keep repeating what they are told and fail to discover the facts. The article by the Billings Gazette offers false hope as well as false information. How could they report "which may number more than 31,000" since the start of two wars when last year alone there were 11,000 from the Army itself?

The troops and veterans deserve facts if nothing else.

The American Statesman reported in December of 2012 that the VA would track how veterans died.
Using autopsy results, toxicology reports, inquests and accident reports from more than 50 agencies throughout the state, the Statesman determined the causes of death for 266 Texas veterans who served in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and were receiving Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits when they died. It was the first time a comprehensive view of how recent Texas veterans are dying has been produced.

The Billings Gazette did a report on Ret. Sergeant Ryan Ranalli's battle with PTSD and the fact that 7 of the men he served with committed suicide. They followed up the report with veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide than civilians.

That wasn't enough considering Navy SEAL Robert Guzzo returned from Iraq, he feared seeking treatment for PTSD would endanger his career and committed suicide. His death was reported by The Washington Post, The Fold and they were also the first to report that 22 veterans a day were committing suicide.
"Every day about 22 veterans in the United States kill themselves, a rate that is about 20 percent higher than the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2007 estimate, according to two-year study by a VA researcher."

But as you can see by this part of the article, what was done before had not worked.
” The number of suicides overall in the United States increased by nearly 11 percent between 2007 and 2010, the study says.

This outcome was after everything was reported to to prevent suicides tied to military service. Now you know the rest of the story.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Asking for help in the Army is asking for punishment

Asking for help in the Army is asking for punishment
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 25, 2014

The military wants us to believe that suicides have nothing to do with them. The latest study found that one out of five had mental illness before they enlisted. They want us to believe that soldiers were already psychologically damaged. If we take it at face value then we do not ask the most important questions of all. What is wrong with their mental health evaluations? If the testing has allowed in so many with suicidal thoughts, didn't they think they would be endangering the rest of the soldiers?

These soldiers the military claims were not deployed were also trained on the failure called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program that was supposed to make them mentally tough. How good of a program can it be when it couldn't even take care of soldiers that never faced combat?

Then there is the Pre-deployment Health Assessment.
The Pre-DHA must be completed within 60 days prior to deployment. Part 1 of the Pre-DHA consists of a self-assessment questionnaire and can be accessed online through the My Medical portion of AKO under the Self Service tab. Part 2 is completed through a one-on-one confidential interview with a qualified health care provider. The Pre-DHA is not complete until it is signed by a health care provider.

The truth is, they were tested and retested and retested. The truth is billions have been spent on "prevention" "mental health" and the list goes on but in the end, suicides increased and they can't explain any of this because they will hold no one accountable for any of this. Blaming the troops is just easier than investigating what the truth is.
Blaming the troops is easy way out
After three combat tours, Sgt. Dennis Tackett was kicked out of the Army for punching a man in the face while drunk. It didn’t matter that he had been diagnosed with PTSD (by the Army) and had tried to get help (from the Army) for the drinking it led to. It didn’t matter that he was in the late stages of a medical discharge that would get him out soon anyway — with benefits. What mattered to the commanding general at Fort Carson, Colo., who spoke to him that day in November 2012 was that he had tried to fight the discharge with the help of a pair of civilian watchdogs, Georg-Andreas Pogany and Robert Alvarez.

“If you had not gotten involved with those advocates, it would have gone differently,” Tackett remembers the commander, Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, telling him. Anderson is now commander of Fort Bragg, N.C.

A recording obtained by Al Jazeera America suggests Tackett and soldiers like him were retaliated against because of an increasingly rancorous relationship between commanders at Fort Carson and the civilian advocates.

In 2012 Fort Bliss Major General Dana Pittard wrote this, “I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act. I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.”

A year later it was Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno saying, "Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations."

After blaming the soldiers, he then blamed the families. "But it also has to do with where you come from. I came from a loving family, one who gave lots of positive reinforcement, who built up psychologically who I was, who I am, what I might want to do. It built confidence in myself, and I believe that enables you to better deal with stress. It enables you to cope more easily than maybe some other people."
When Kristofer Goldsmith tried to kill himself six years ago, the Army responded by kicking him out of the military for misconduct.

Goldsmith is on Capitol Hill this week trying to make sure other troops’ cries for help aren’t similarly ignored.

“People know the statistics about military and veterans suicide,” the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran said. “But if I can put a face and a name to what has been going on, maybe it’ll make a difference.”

The cries for help are ignored. The data is not just ignored, it is hidden. The Department of Defense stopped releasing the Suicide Event Report. The last one was released in 2012 for 2011 even though the highest number on record was 2012. The DOD has not released the suicide report for Army, Army National Guards and Army Reservists on a monthly basis the way they used to. The truth is, no one really knows.

We don't know for a fact how many enlisted personnel are committing suicide, attempting suicide in the military or how many veterans are going through the same crisis situations. The other fact that needs to be added into all of this is there has never been a time when so many "efforts" have been made to save their lives and prevent suicides.

But as the Department of Veterans Affairs study put the number of veterans committing suicide at 22 a day, we ignore the fact that this study is not complete. We ignore the fact that there are at least 1,000 a month within the VA system attempting suicide. We also ignore the fact that most of the bad conduct discharges leave these men and women with nothing including help from the VA. Think about what happened last year and know what they don't want you to think about.
The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.

"The number of Marines who left after court-martial has dropped from more than 1,300 in 2007 to about 250 last year."

"The number of officers separated from service since 2000 due to a court-martial ranged from a low of 20 in 2001 to a high of 68 in 2007. For enlisted airmen, the number ranged from a high of nearly 4,500 in 2002 to a low of almost 2,900 in 2013

The Navy went through a similar process. When the decision was made to cut the size of the 370,000-strong naval force in 2004, the number of sailors who left due to misconduct and other behavior issues grew. In 2006, more than 8,400 sailors left due to conduct issues.

Here is just one example of what all of this ends with.
This is from Huffington Post
The last 11 years have proven to be tough on the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. The cost of war is being reflected off the battlefield as well with veterans taking their own lives at an alarming rate. Alyona Minkovski explains. Originally aired on March 24, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Soldier refuses to salute flag then brags on Instagram


Fort Carson Investigating Viral Soldier Picture

Soldier flagrantly avoids flag salute, sets off online outrage
Army Times
By Tony Lombardo
Staff writer
February 25, 2014

A female soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag — and then flaunted it on Instagram — is the latest service member to come under attack via social media and be accused of dishonoring her service.

Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, whose Instagram handle is “sheffeynation,” posted a selfie with a caption that reads:

“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”

The image was distributed via Facebook and also sent to Army Times. Angry service members, Gold Star mothers and spouses have called for the soldier’s removal from service.

“Any soldier who refuses to salute the flag is in the military for the wrong reason, and should be removed by dishonorable discharge with loss of all benefits,” one Facebook commenter said. “If they won’t salute it, they damn sure won’t fight for it.”
read more here

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Was Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Designed to Fail?

UPDATE Keep in mind that I have no inside information but managed to report the same findings.  Not just yesterday but last year when I wrote my book and since 2009 when I warned about this program would in fact increase military suicides. I have only been proven right because I paid attention!
Report: Military efforts to prevent mental illness ineffective
Gregg Zoroya
February 20, 2014
There's little evidence that the military's efforts to prevent mental illness among troops are effective, a panel of scientists has concluded.

The military has produced dozens of programs aimed at preventing mental illness among troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's little evidence that most of them work, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists said in a report released Thursday.

The findings by a committee of 13 experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies come as about 1,000 Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans are being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder each week, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"There's no substantive indication of effectiveness (in the military prevention programs) and most importantly, there's no evidence of an enduring impact," said panelist David Rudd, provost at the University of Memphis and an authority on suicide in the military.
read more here

Was Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Designed to Fail?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 19, 2014

Veterans and their families have been paying attention and wondering if the military efforts to address wide ranging issues was designed to fail on purpose or not. No one can blame them considering what the result have been while every branch of the military has been pushing the same spiel for years no matter what happened afterwards. The thoughts turned from hope that the military finally understood what the men and women were going thru into thoughts of being pushed into suffering and suicide.

This was the "news" on Valentines Day
Pentagon data provided to Military Times show 296 suicides among active-duty troops and reserve or National Guard members on active duty in 2013, down 15.7 percent from the 2012 total of 351.
It followed the worst year for suicides on record. It also followed what amounted to thousands of servicemen and women dishonorably discharged. According to the AP report, Misconduct Forces More Soldiers Out put together with the report on the number of suicides, it is obvious what the military is doing is not working.
Army 2012 351 2013 296=55 less suicides. 11,000 discharged for "misconduct" in 2013
Navy 2012 59 2013 46=7 less suicides. 3,700 discharged for "misconduct" in 2013
Air Force 2012 59 2013 55=4 less suicides. 2,900 discharged for "misconduct" in 2013
Marines 48-45=3 less suicides. 3,000 discharged for "misconduct" in 2013

Yes, that is a Power Point slide show but it should be called, "powerless point" since no one learned much from it. They actually make fun of it. Take a look at this group among the empty chairs. They are bored.

The military can claim these were all behavioral problems but what they cannot do it prove it. Considering the military does do psychological testing and checks backgrounds, they have also claimed to be addressing problems from substance and sexual abuses, yet they still continue.

Since early 2006 the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP) has been integrated into the Behavioral Services Department. In the case of sexual abuse they have been "addressing" that for many years including this report from what happened in 2009

Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assaults in the Military
"In 2005, the Department enacted the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program to encourage increased reporting of the crime, facilitate improved access to victim care, better organize response resources, and promote prevention. The Department‘s vision is to enable military readiness by establishing a culture free of sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense is responsible for the policy that supports this program and oversight activities that ensure its effectiveness. The Department of Defense (DoD) policy requires each Military Service to maintain its own SAPR program, investigate Unrestricted Reports of sexual assaults, and hold subjects appropriately accountable."

Suicides, PTSD, misconduct and everything else going wrong can be summed up in one terrible approach that began in 2008.
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) is designed to build resilience and enhance performance of the Army Family — Soldiers, their Families, and Army Civilians. CSF2 does this by providing hands-on training and self-development tools so that members of the Army Family are better able to cope with adversity, perform better in stressful situations, and thrive in life.

CSF2 has Training Centers located across the United States. These Training Centers provide Resilience and Performance Enhancement Training where it is needed most – at Army installations (unit level). CSF2 is an integral part of the Army’s Ready and Resilient Campaign ; a campaign that promotes physical and psychological fitness and encourages personal and professional growth. Resilient Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians perform better, which results in improved unit readiness and better lives.

Nice slogan but not worth more than the lives lost while they continued to push it.

FIVE DIMENSIONS OF STRENGTH but the outcome has been proven to be a failure. It isn't as if no one warned about any of this.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University

“This report reads more like propaganda than a serious scientific study,” he said in an email after reviewing the Army study results. “The big question, though, has not yet been addressed: Does this intervention make combat soldiers more resilient and prevent PTSD and somatization [a condition in which a person has many physical symptoms but no physical cause that can be detected]?

Anything else we try to do will fail until we can undo the damage done by this.

When we see the outcome spread past the military life and into the lives of our veterans, the whole nation should have screamed instead of just yawning. How could the military push something that experts have been complaining about for years? How could they just ignore the results?

If you want to know how much we knew and how much was spent to produce these deplorable results, read THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR Everything in this book was complied from news reports along with military documents. Nothing in it was hidden but most of it was forgotten.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Army Someone Else's Problem Protocol

Army Someone Else's Problem Protocol
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 18, 2014

The Army, along with every other branch of the military, faced a problem when they had to report suicides among personnel. There was press release after release, congressional hearing followed by many more as the years ticked away and billions spent "addressing" prevention.

Nice little trick especially when the facts proved as they did more, there were more suicides.

Behind the backs of the soldiers there was another game being played. As bad as things were, the Army decided, along with the other branches, to hide the problem they had.

According to a recent report on dishonorable discharges by Associated Press, it happened thousands of times last year alone.
The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.

The report also pointed out that this was not just being done by the Army.
"The number of Marines who left after court-martial has dropped from more than 1,300 in 2007 to about 250 last year."

"The number of officers separated from service since 2000 due to a court-martial ranged from a low of 20 in 2001 to a high of 68 in 2007. For enlisted airmen, the number ranged from a high of nearly 4,500 in 2002 to a low of almost 2,900 in 2013

The Navy went through a similar process. When the decision was made to cut the size of the 370,000-strong naval force in 2004, the number of sailors who left due to misconduct and other behavior issues grew. In 2006, more than 8,400 sailors left due to conduct issues.

As the size of the Navy began to stabilize — it’s now at about 323,000 — the number of problem sailors leaving also began to decline steadily, dropping each successive year to a new low of about 3,700 in 2013. In nearly one-third of the cases each year over that period, the problems involved drug and alcohol use. More than 1,400 cases each year involved a “serious offense” or civil or criminal court case.

The Army created someone else's problem protocol making sure that "problem" soldiers were kicked out before they had to be counted. As with the rise in younger veterans committing suicide, the military no longer has to account for them or the veterans ending up in front of a judge facing criminal charges. All of their problems, problems created while in the military, we passed off to someone else to take care of.

This is a dishonorable way for the military to be off the hook leaving young men and women with absolutely nothing. No help for what happened to them while they were serving. Little hope of finding jobs to support themselves or their families and nothing in place to help them heal.

The military has claimed that most of the suicides occur without deployments but have not had to answer for the psychological testing done when they enlisted. For recruits to be trained, they would have to pass the test but the end result does not pass the smell test. Why isn't the press asking for accountability? Why aren't they asking for answers when so many have been discharged but the drop in suicides does not even come close to accounting for the lower numbers?

The Army reported there were 351 suicides in 2012, the record high but no one thought of all of the dishonorable discharges along with the reduction of the soldiers under honorable terms. In 2013 they claimed a reduction in suicides by 55 for a total of 296, yet had discharged 11,000 dishonorably.

Navy suicides were 59 in 2013 and 46 in 2013 but had dishonorably discharged 3,700. The Air Force had 59 suicides in 2012 followed by 55 in 2013 but discharged 2,900. It was the same story with the Marine Corps. They had 48 suicides in 2012 and 45 in 2013 but dishonorably discharged 250.

All of the branches were dishonorably discharging thousands every year as suicides went up but no one in the press thought to factor any of them in.

Left with nothing but a family distraught by changes in Jedadiah Zillmer, they had to bury him yesterday because he was one of the Army's Someone Else's Problem Protocol. Zillmer was the family's problem even though no one told them what to do. He was the VA's problem because he needed their help but he didn't get it and in the end he was a problem for police officers.
Afghanistan veteran shot and killed by police was Jedadiah Dean Zillmer.
"The Spokesman-Review said Zillmer left the Army in September 2012. A relative told the newspaper that family members suspected he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress but no diagnosis had been made.

Zillmer was shot in the foot during combat in Afghanistan in 2011 and lost part of a toe, the newspaper said.

He was among a group of soldiers who were denied disability benefits from the Army and sued, the newspaper said. A federal judge upheld the Army’s decision in September."

Jedadiah Dean "Jed" ZILLMER (04/22/1990 - 02/11/2014)
ZILLMER, Jedadiah Dean "Jed" (Age 23) Passed away February 11, 2014 in Spokane Valley. Jed was born April 22, 1990 in Spokane to Brian Ponder and Brandi Zillmer. He was a student at Spokane Falls Community College pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and computer science.

He was a Purple Heart recipient that served in Afghanistan. He was an infantry sniper in C Troop 1/32 Cavalry 1st Brigade, with the 101st Airborne Division. Jed and Katie were married July 5, 2011 in Clarksville, TN.

He worked as a Veteran Resource Officer at SFCC. He had a lifelong dream to fix and renovate his own home.

He loved working on computers, cars and house projects. He spent much of his time outdoors hiking, adventuring, biking, running and exploring. Jed helped and inspired every person he ever met. Jedadiah was a loving and dedicated husband, son, brother and friend. He won a Chase Youth Award for helping fix and build computers for low income families.

Jed is survived by his wife Katie Zillmer; his parents; sister Jazmine Zillmer; brothers Jeremiah Zillmer and Ty Ford; grandparents Lorraine Pewitt, Roger Zillmer and Elaine Ponder; other family Christina, Derrick, Joshua, Justin and Jamie Brooks. Memorial Service 11AM, Monday, February 17, 2014 at Heritage Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made to assist with Jed's dream project to finish his house project Heritage Funeral Home. Private inurnment will be held at the WA State Veterans Cemetery with full military honors.
Zillmer was buried with "full military honors" but didn't have to happen if the full military actually honored the men and women risking their lives for the sake of others.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bad leadership or bad recruits?

As Wounded Times pointed out many times over the years, the number of military suicides has gone up even when the number of enlisted went down. This article mentions the branches cutting numbers.

It seems as if the leadership in the military is constantly trying to blame the recruits for all of it. The suicides, the attempted suicides and now misconduct. All of us know they have also discharged thousands under personality disorders. Is this really all about bad recruits, all undergoing mental health exams and background checks, or is it more about leadership failing those who want to risk their lives to serve?
Misconduct forcing more soldiers out of Army
Newly obtained data show the number of officers and enlisted personnel who’ve left the Army due to misconduct has soared in recent years, a sign of big changes since the Iraq war and the peak of U.S. fighting in Afghanistan.
The Associated Press
February 14, 2014

WASHINGTON — The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years as the military emerges from more than 10 years of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than on character.

Data obtained by The Associated Press show that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct more than tripled in the past three years. The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.

The data reveal stark differences among the military services and underscore the strains that long, repeated deployments to the front lines have had on the Army’s soldiers and their leaders.

It’s also a reflection of the Army’s rapid growth in the middle the last decade, and the decisions to relax standards to bring in and retain tens of thousands of soldiers to fill the ranks as the Pentagon added troops in Iraq and continued the fight in Afghanistan.
read more here

Army suicides 2012 351
Army suicides 2013 296
Only 55 less but they discharged 11,000

Less Sailors
The Navy went through a similar process. When the decision was made to cut the size of the 370,000-strong naval force in 2004, the number of sailors who left due to misconduct and other behavior issues grew. In 2006, more than 8,400 sailors left due to conduct issues.

As the size of the Navy began to stabilize — it’s now at about 323,000 — the number of problem sailors leaving also began to decline steadily, dropping each successive year to a new low of about 3,700 in 2013. In nearly one-third of the cases each year over that period, the problems involved drug and alcohol use. More than 1,400 cases each year involved a “serious offense” or civil or criminal court case.

Navy 59-46=7 suicides

Less Airmen
The Air Force, which is smaller than the Navy and Army, reported far fewer cases of airmen leaving for misconduct, both for officers and enlisted service members. The number of officers separated from service since 2000 due to a court-martial ranged from a low of 20 in 2001 to a high of 68 in 2007. For enlisted airmen, the number ranged from a high of nearly 4,500 in 2002 to a low of almost 2,900 in 2013.

Air Force 59-55=4 Air Force suicides

Less Marines
Data for the Marine Corps, the military’s smallest service, were not broken out by officers and enlisted personnel. Overall, it showed that Marines leaving the service due to misconduct was about 4,400 in 2007, but has declined to a bit more than 3,000 last year. Those forced to leave for commission “of a serious offense” has nearly doubled from about 260 to more than 500 in the past seven years. The number of Marines who left after court-martial has dropped from more than 1,300 in 2007 to about 250 last year. The Marine Corps also grew in size during the peak war years, and is reducing its ranks.

Marines 48-45=3 suicides
read the rest of the report on military suicides here

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

John Stewart spotlights Vietnam Veterans!

Tuesday January 21, 2014
PTSD and Vietnam

Jason Jones reports on dishonorably discharged Vietnam veterans with PTSD who can't get treatment because they were dishonorably discharged because of PTSD. (05:25)

Think bad discharges are new? Think any of this is new? Watch this in case you haven't been paying attention!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fort Bragg Sgt. Major convicted of fraudulent enlistment after 28 years

Fort Bragg soldier convicted of using his brother's name
Fayetteville Observer
By Paul Woolverton Staff writer
Dec 18, 2013

A soldier accused of using his brother's identity to enlist in the Army 25 years ago was demoted two ranks today after being convicted in a court-martial at Fort Bragg.

Sgt. Maj. William Anthony Morrone Jr. was convicted of fraudulent enlistment and making false official statements. He has served his 25-year Army career under his brother Gerald's name and social security number.

A military judge, Col. Andrew Glass, sentenced him to a demotion of rank to sergeant first class and recommended that the Army assist him in retiring.

After Morrone's conviction, prosecutors argued for a dishonorable discharge, suspension of military benefits and long-term confinement.

Morrone's defense asked for no punishment, saying he gave 28 years to the Army, earned his rank and suffered injuries while deployed overseas.

In a sworn statement, Morrone apologized to his family and said he always wanted to be a part of the military. Morrone said he got his mother to sign paperwork for him to get into the Army at 17.

"Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a soldier," he said.

Morrone said after being kicked out of the Army less than three years later, he decided to try to get back in.

"It's the best thing in the world. It really is," Morrone said, choking up. "So I came back in. That's what I did."

Regardless of the conviction, Morrone said he did the work while serving "I put the boots on," he said. "I buried my soldiers."
read more here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gulf War Marine's wife saved him after betrayal

They still kick out servicemen and women for what combat does to them. Unlike earlier wars when they were shot for being cowards, they are betrayed to live with nothing.
Path To Reclaiming Identity Steep For Vets With 'Bad Paper'
December 11, 2013

Michael Hartnett was a Marine during the Gulf War and served in Somalia. He received a bad conduct discharge for abusing drugs and alcohol. His wife, Molly, helped him turn his life around.

When Michael Hartnett was getting kicked out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was too deep into post-traumatic stress disorder, drugs and alcohol to care as his battalion commander explained to the young man that his career was ending, and ending badly.

"Do you understand what I'm saying to you son? It's going to be six and a kick!" Hartnett recalls the commander telling him.

The "six" was an expected six months of hard labor in the brig. The kick happened at Hartnett's court martial, and finally woke him up out of the haze.

"He said, 'bad conduct discharge.' When he said that, my knees buckled," says Hartnett.

In 1993, after combat tours in the Gulf War and Somalia, Hartnett joined tens of thousands of veterans with "bad paper." They served, but then conducted themselves badly — anything from repeated breaches of military discipline, to drugs or more serious crimes. Under current law the Pentagon, and in most cases the Department of Veterans Affairs, wash their hands of these veterans.
read more here

"Bad Paper" discharges left 100,000 veterans on their own

Saturday, November 30, 2013

From serving the homeland to no home: why?

Why are reporters still asking "why" veterans go homeless?
From serving the homeland to no home: why?
Times Press Wisconsin
Julie Belschner Times-Press
November 30, 2013

They’ve served their country. They’ve risked their lives to keep home, family and country safe. They are the best of the best.

So why, as most people prepare for Thanksgiving, are more than 50,000 veterans homeless? There is a mixed bag of reasons, many the same as homeless people in general – alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment and divorce. But too many veterans also suffer from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Veterans who have seen extensive combat stress and death are much more likely to suffer from PTSD, the Veterans Administration says.
read more here
It is all so easy to ask why this is happening to our veterans now, especially when not many people asked why it was happening to Vietnam veterans.

In 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs published a report from the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans.

There is also a report from 2007 that shows how homeless veterans were regarded.

“We (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) are the agents of a grateful society grateful for people who put on the uniform,” Nicholson said. “But we have challenges to take care of the many living veterans who are no different from the rest of the citizens of our country. We have veterans who have problems.”

This attitude of "no different" was a huge part of the problem. Another part of the problem was the simple fact there were less working for the VA with two wars creating more in need of services.

Since the launch of the Iraq war more than four years ago, the number of people charged with reviewing and approving veterans' disability claims has actually dropped. According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 Veterans Service Representatives in June 2007 compared to 1,516 in January 2003.

In the same article was another part of the problems veterans faced, Dishonorable Discharges. It is one that a Fort Bragg solider knew all too well. Specialist James Eggemeyer was facing this.
Returning to Fort Bragg in April 2004, James was quickly discharged from the military. His experience in Iraq had changed his disposition. He started fighting with his captain, and was given "dishonourable discharge under honourable conditions", which allowed him to use services from Veterans Administration but denied him access to college tuition assistance or vocational training.

There were many, many more.
Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008).

Since nothing was really fixed when Vietnam veterans came home, as they died they were simply replaced by this generation of veterans being left behind.

So now there are less living on the streets and some people want to pretend it is a new problem our veterans face. It is far from new. It is just improved. The question is, what will it be like for them when another war comes and no one planned for more?