Showing posts with label veterans advocates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterans advocates. Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2020

"What am I going to do now with my life?" Rory Hamill

Decorated combat vet who died highlights pandemic's effect on mental health

CBS News
May 28, 2020
"So when the lockdown did happen, it stripped him from everything he knew," Franciose told CBS News. "He couldn't do his public speaking. He couldn't go to school, to his outlet away from his own mind."
Washington — Rory Hamill was a father of three and a decorated combat veteran in the Marines. Hamill lost his life not at war — but in a growing mental health crisis that's being made worse by the deadliest public health crisis in a century. Hamill was one of many veterans who've been suffering.
"He was a hero to many people," Kristal Franciose said of her ex-husband, Marine Corporal Rory Hamill. A blast from an IED in Afghanistan in 2011 robbed him of his right leg. Hamill had a hard road home.
"A lot of the thoughts going through my head were, 'Why didn't I die?' What am I going to do now with my life?'" He told "60 Minutes" in 2015.
read it here

I wrote about Rory's suicide with a broken heart. Isolation sucks for people like him who have devoted their lives to help others. Knowing what pain is and what hope offers is not something easily walked away from.

I know because I have been doing it since 1982 and could not walk away no matter how many times I wanted to. Not doing what I believe I was put on this earth to do, rips me apart everyday. I keep wondering what else I can do to replace what I can no longer do, and at the end of the day, I do not go to sleep with the peace of knowing I did the best I could. Sure I know that these are unusual times and groups endanger the lives of others, but the human contact is vital, especially now.

If you are a veteran or family member, reach out to those willing and ready to help you. Find help that is out there! Use your phone or email. Find us, because if you are hurting, so are we because you are!

Email me at or call me 407-754-7526.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Do you know the worth of your vehicle?

Are you worthy?

Wounded Times and PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 21, 2019

(cross post today)

Today is Easter. The day of a life rising from the dead. A life given, so that others may live and be made worthy by faith in Jesus.

The night before, the people who heard the voice of Jesus must have been wondering why they thought He was telling the truth, when His life ended the way it did. They must have been crushed.

Yet the truth was known by a cave left empty and all He said was once again believed.

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
Albert Einstein

He died for others, but He also lived for others. He did not just come to die and rise, but to lift us up and know, that we were loved. God knew we were here and in need of help, as much as we were in need of hope.

Jesus did what He was sent to do. Did you? So many times we think maybe we were wrong about what we were sent here to do. We appear to be failures to others, yet, no matter what others think, we rise and do it all over again.

If you are struggling between what other say you should do, and what you know you need to do, I have something that may help encourage you to stay true to what you were created for.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
I made the choice to follow where I was being led. I knew it would not be easy, but I did not know it would be so damn hard.

When I was training to be a Chaplain with the IFOC, David Vorce said that Satan was busy when we run up into road blocks. I just never thought those road blocks would be laid by people who were supposed to be "friends" of mine.

While I left the IFOC, I have not left the mission that I was prepared to do. I focused on first responders and veterans. I still do. After 37 years, it is in my DNA, so there is no getting away from it.

A few years ago, someone I thought was a friend, stood up during a large gathering after one of the members had committed suicide. She made this announcement. "22 veterans a day are committing suicide and I'm gonna do something about it."

It was almost as if she just woke up one day and decided that she suddenly had the power to do what I had been doing for over 3 decades. You know, like I had done nothing. Sick to my stomach, I could not even listen to the rest of what she had to say.

What I did hear, was an impassioned plea from one of the other members. "Please stop talking about it. It hurts my heart." She was a friend of the member who took his own life.

Well that caused the woman to become enraged and she snapped back at the grieving friend.

I drove home in tears. I couldn't figure out why that "friend" had not just dismissed my work, but pretended I was not even worthy of her learning anything from me.

The next day, I called the President of Point Man, Dana Morgan, and told him what happened. My heart was being ripped out, my ego was so beaten down that I doubted all the work I had done, but the worst thing was, my soul was so crushed, I was not sure if I was supposed to keep doing it or not.

It was hard enough to fight this battle, mostly alone, but it had been one betrayal too many for me.

Dana said he would ask the other leaders of Point Man to pray that I find the answer.

The next morning I felt a little better but, still unsure, I asked my boss at work if she would have her prayer group help me find the answer.

As I was talking about my own pain, I cried. When she started to ask me questions about veterans, I stopped crying. When I explained to her how they can go from being willing to die for the sake of others, to not wanting to be here anymore, that soul crushing feeling started to lift.

By the time I got home, the weight was gone.

I called Dana and told him that I had my answer. Thinking about myself, caused me great emotional pain. Doubt caused by someone else left me believing I was wrong to even try. Doing what I had done for so many years, filled me with peace. I knew that whatever would come, would be OK, because as long as I knew what God wanted of me, I could deal with it.

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." Ephesians 4:1
Dana asked me if I told my boss yet. I told him I would in the morning.

When she came in, I started to explain what happened, but she started laughing. The look of puzzlement must have been clear because she responded. "You don't get it. As soon as you started talking yesterday, I started praying."

I got my answer. No matter what comes, I know I am doing what I am supposed to do. While it would be so much easier to receive more help than I am getting, it does not stop me from doing it.

Maybe the lack of help I receive is so that I can share this extra burden with those who are going through the same type of thing.

It is really hard to see so many others beating their own chest and getting attention for a bunch or words that mean absolutely nothing.  They are all about themselves and not the cause they claim to be invested in.

When the end result is a worse situation for those they claim to want to help, it is then others figure out that they came to this "ministry" unarmed and their foolish ways were discovered.

Well, a few days after that encounter with the woman who almost made me give up, a younger veteran was struggling. He needed my help. I gave it and he started to heal.

Another veteran needed help. A wife of a veteran needed help. A wife of a firefighter needed help. More and more needed help and I was able to be there because people were praying for me and the mission I was put into position to do.

I am doing what I can with what help I have been given. Sure, I get upset knowing I could be doing so much more if I did receive help but that is not the reality I live with. 

We understand that it is hard to go without help, so we understand those seeking it from us. I know the worth of my vehicle even though others think it is a worn out antique.

We know what it is like to find the courage to ask for help, as well as, what it is like to not often find it for ourselves. We know what hardships and struggles are, what doubt feels like and above all, we know what would comfort us, what words would help us find relief.

That is the lesson I have a hard time remembering during times such as this, but I've been on this road to long now, that I can also remember what it was like when someone did show up to help me out, offer comforting words, or let me know I was there when they needed someone the most.

Know that whatever you do, you are doing if for the right reasons and the price you pay, helps you do it far better than if you had it all handed to you on a silver platter.

Any crown I've ever worn
I lay it down
Any praise I've ever gained
I give it all to You
For there's nothing in this world
That can compare
For You alone are worthy
You alone are worthy
You are near to all who call
Upon Your name
Ever giving, ever loving
You remain the same
For You open up Your hands
And satisfy
I give You all the glory
Give You all the glory
You are worthy oh Lord
Of all honor
You are worthy to receive
All praise
In Your presence I live
And with all I have to give
I will worship You
Honor You
Glorify Your holy name
I will worship You
Honor You
Glorify Your holy name
Songwriters: Darlene Joyce Zschech You Are Worthy lyrics © Music Services, Inc

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Korean War Veteran Warns Others About "Advocate" Broken Promises

Veterans say advocate left trail of broken promises 
WDBJ 7 News 
May 13, 2016
"To just wake up one day, and find out it's all been a lie, I just want to get that out there," Castillo said. "I want people to know what she's done. And I want it to stop. Nobody else needs to go through this."
BUCHANAN, Va. Norman Dooley was a cook in the U.S. Army, a Korean War veteran who believes Agent Orange is responsible for the serious medical problems he is still dealing with today.
He hoped Charlotte Krantz would help him qualify for disability benefits.

"And she just seemed to be so promising, and gave us a lot of dreams that you know didn't come true."

Dooley says she agreed to take on his case, and told him his claim was moving forward, but in the last few weeks he learned that wasn't true.

"She told me twice that I had been approved at 100 percent," Dooley said in an interview. "And that I was going to get a lot of money. And of course that made me and my wife happy, you know because we'd be able to get us a home, and stuff like that, but it just didn't come true."

Krantz worked from a storefront on Main Street in downtown Buchanan.

Her name is still on the door, and a flyer in the window explains the services she was offering, but no one was there when we visited Thursday afternoon.

Krantz is currently a resident of the Botetourt County jail.

Investigators believe there might be more veterans who worked with Krantz and face similar circumstances. They're asked to call Detective Tolley at the Botetourt County Sheriff's Office.
read more here

Friday, June 26, 2015

Air Force Veteran Helped Fellow Vets Overcome Ended Own Fight

'I tried'… Final message of transgender Air Force veteran who helped fellow vets through suicidal struggles kills herself
PUBLISHED: 04:50 EST, 26 June 2015

Jess Shipps, of Hampton, Virginia, was found dead on Tuesday, friends say
Served in the military for 10 years before leaving to pursue life as a woman
Wrote 'I tried' on Facebook on the day she died, according to her friends
She saved 'countless' lives by helping LGBT veterans with their problems

A transgender Air Force veteran who helped fellow vets overcome their own suicidal struggles wrote 'I tried' on Facebook before killing herself, it has been revealed.

Jess Shipps, of Hampton, Virginia, was found dead on Tuesday, two years after leaving the military to pursue a life as a woman.

Her last note on Facebook - written the same day as her death - was revealed as friends remembered her work with other LGBT servicemen and women battling their own demons.
read more here

Sunday, January 11, 2015

VA Programs Don't Communicate

Veterans' advocates: '99 programs that aren't talking to each other'
MyFOX Alabama
By Charles Molineaux
Updated: Jan 08, 2015
Advocates say besides complex bureaucracy and some redundancy, the biggest issue for vets is tracking down the help they need and signing up.

Advocates say besides complex bureaucracy and some redundancy, the biggest issue for vets is tracking down the help they need and signing up. (Source: WAFF)
At this point, disabled Navy Veteran Nancy Eason declares herself an expert in the veterans' benefits paper chase.

Her career ran all the way from the Vietnam War to the first Persian Gulf War, but when she retired, she recalled a confounding bureaucratic maze of forms and records.

“Well, it took me 12 and a half years to get my claim settled,” she said. “In DC, even though I took (my paperwork) there in person twice, they lost it both times within six months. And then Baltimore, they sent me a letter and I took a copy of everything to Baltimore - and they lost it too.”

A new report from the Government Accountability Office found a vast number of programs to help veterans transition to civilian life offered through the Veterans Administration or the Defense Department, 99 of them ”to help address the effects of combat on… service members, their families, or both,” and 87 to help “servicemembers and veterans transition to civilian life.”
read more here - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

Saturday, September 13, 2014

South Carolina’s Day of Recognition for Veterans’ Spouses and Families

Veterans, families join in bill signing
September 12, 2014
“All military wives deserve this day,” said Gino Del Buono of Rolling Thunder and a Navy veteran of 30 years.

Gov. Nikki Haley signs the bill designating the day after Thanksgiving as a day of recognition for veterans’ families. S.C. Rep. Raye Felder (in black jacket, red blouse) stands behind Haley. York County veteran Harvey Mayhill (in suit with patriotic tie) standing to the right the governor.
PROVIDED BY S.C. REP. RAYE FELDER — Provided by S.C. Rep. Raye Felder

As state holidays go, it won’t be a day of parades or grand speeches.

But on South Carolina’s Day of Recognition for Veterans’ Spouses and Families – the day after Thanksgiving – there should be more than just a day of thanks, say those who advocated for the day. It should be a day of action and not words, they say.

Gov. Nikki Haley celebrated the new state day of recognition on Friday with a ceremonial signing of a bill that passed through the Legislature unanimously on its second try this year.

Surrounding Haley at the bill signing in Columbia were veterans and their families.

Spouses and their families, said Harvey Mayhill, an Air Force veteran and Rock Hill resident, “are pretty much alone without support,” when loved ones are deployed.

They go through “just as much hell as veterans deployed,” Mayhill said. “They are veterans in a different way that support this country.”
read more here

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vietnam Veteran Advocate for Proper Burials Passed Away

Pat Toro, 64, a decorated former marine and fierce advocate for veterans loses his final battle
Toro, a Vietnam veteran, started program to give indigent veterans dignified burials. Toro's illness likely stemmed from exposure to Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam.
Monday, July 7, 2014

Decorated Vietnam veteran Pat Toro has lost his final battle.

The former Marine and fierce veterans’ advocate died at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island on Thursday - less than a year after he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder that can lead to leukemia.

Toro, 64, and his family believed his illness was a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the war.

“Pat did so much for Vietnam veterans and veterans in general in New York City,” said friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Michael O’Kane of Glendale. “I consider him my mentor. It was a privilege to know him.”

Toro, a Forest Hills resident who moved upstate in recent years, was the former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 in Queens.

During his tenure, he started a program to provide dignified burials for indigent veterans.
read more here

Friday, June 13, 2014

Steve Robinson Remembered As Tireless Fighter

Veteran Advocates Remember Steve Robinson
PBS Newshour
June 13, 2014

Steve Robinson, then director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, appeared on the Feb. 21, 2007, PBS NewsHour about the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The death Thursday of Army veteran and advocate Steve Robinson, who made several appearances on the PBS NewsHour, prompted words of praise from veteran advocates and others who knew him. Robinson was 51 years old.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote of Robinson: “He was a lion of a man. And the most important vets advocate of our time. He led the Gulf War Resource Center, mentored countless young vets, predicted most of the current VA problems, and never stopped fighting for our community.”

From Steven Wessels, founder of the Warrior Family Foundation: “Steve was known as a leader and great(est) champion for the veteran and military cause. Steve was the ally I needed when I imagined this endeavor at WFF. He never shied from setting me straight, altering my course, dusting me off and sending me back in, perhaps a bit more focused.”

Wessels recalled a story about Robinson’s dedication to his wife Patti. “When Steve was deployed (a decorated Ranger) he realized that a wedding ring wasn’t ideal in combat theatre. So, on his wedding ring finger he tattooed ‘Patti’. When I asked about it he answered, ‘Oh Wes, we are forever anyway, so it is actually better than a band of gold.’”

Robinson lent his perspective as an Army veteran and advocate on the NewsHour. In one appearance on Feb. 21, 2007, (video above) he described efforts to get problems with the patient care and facilities addressed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“This issue isn’t about mold and mice. There’s a larger, systemic problem about capacity and case managers who are in the hospital addressing the individual needs of every service member and their family that come through that facility,” he said.
read more here

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Advocates Live in State of Denial

Advocates Live in State of Denial
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 20, 2014

Sometimes thoughts fly right out my head, down my arms and into my fingers on the keyboard. It happened a little while ago with an exchange on Facebook with a friend commenting she thought I lived in another state. I replied with "No, just two states for me other than the state of denial."

At first I thought it was just funny. Then I got a little sad. The more I thought about it, the more empowered I felt.

Advocates, for any cause, do in fact live in a state of denial. After all, who else would subject themselves to long hours, no money and being emotionally drained on a daily basis? Why do we do it? We are just like everyone else with our own lives to manage and problems to deal with. So why put ourselves in a position where we get overwhelmed?

Right now I am still coming off of dealing with compassion fatigue. If you read Wounded Times you would have noticed that the posts have not been very hopeful. I haven't posted on the Civvies Report for a long time now simply because I just haven't felt like it. That blog is to focus on veterans making a difference. It is hard to do that when I don't feel as if I am making enough of a difference.

It isn't as if this is the first time I have been slammed with compassion fatigue. I lost count on how many times I got totally burnt out in the last 30 years. This is about the tenth time I have had to deal with the fatigue. Happy to report that it is getting better and I've been doing a lot of talking to friends to help me work it out of me.

So why do advocates do it? Because someone has to. When we see things that should not be the way they are, we do not agree they have to be the way they are. We deny the fact of "what is" because we own the hope of changing it for the sake of others. We deny what others say. We deny defeat when others have given up. We deny apathy. We deny judgment because most of the time we know the root of the causes we fight for. We deny ignorance and do all within our power to educate.

We fight for others most of the time because we know what it is like to be them left alone with no one standing up for us as much as we remember how it felt when someone finally did something for us.

I deny hacks passing themselves off a experts when I have read what real experts have done on PTSD because history has proven them right and hacks have been obliterated by the same history with facts hacks have not even begun to learn from. There are over 21,000 posts on this site alone but my quest stated 32 years ago when my Dad, a Korean War veteran met my husband and said "He seems like a really nice guy but he's got shell shock."

Back then there was nothing for Vietnam veterans and families but advocates said they would find a way to help them. Then Vietnam veterans felt empowered to help others. (All of this was done without the help of the internet.) Then families were compelled to help other families. Everything being done, as imperfect as it is, came into existence simply because advocates refused to accept the way it was.

As far as most people were concerned, there was no hope until advocates denied that rumor and made healing happen. No matter what cause people fight for, they do it because no on proved to them it cannot be done. They just went out and did it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Iraq veteran killed by police lived trying to help other veterans

Another veteran dies in confrontation with police
Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2011
By Mike Francis, The Oregonian
Right on the heels of the burial of Thomas Higginbotham, the homeless veteran who was shot to death by Portland police, another veteran was shot to death after a showdown with police at his house in Gresham. Witnesses say he was suicidal and armed with a rifle.

McDowell's death shocked friends and associates, who say he was a jovial, outgoing man bursting with energy and eager to help vets.
read more here
Another veteran dies in confrontation with police

Man shot by Gresham police was an Iraq veteran who tried to help other vets
Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2011
By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
A 50-year-old Gresham man who was killed in a confrontation with police was a career serviceman who spent the last two years trying to raise money and respect for veterans.

Anthony L. McDowell, an active member of the U.S. Army Reserves and the founder of a nonprofit supporting veterans, was killed outside his home in the 24000 block of Southeast Oak Street in Gresham on Monday evening.

Officer John Rasmussen, spokesman for Gresham police, said McDowell's wife, Teresa, called police right before 7 p.m., saying her husband was suicidal.

"Prior to our arrival, a family member had already taken a weapon away from him," Rasmussen said. "He did rearm himself with a rifle."

Gratton said her son's 13-year-old daughter and his wife witnessed the shooting.

read more here
Man shot by Gresham police was an Iraq veteran

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Advocacy comes with a price tag

Advocacy comes with a price tag

Asking for donations is one of the least favorite things to do for advocates. It is not just that it is hard to ask people for money, but it is more the idea they have to do it at all. When you work as hard as an advocate does, it should be assumed by others they need financial support to keep going. But this does not happen.

I used to put in 70 hours a week on this blog alone, plus volunteer work with the emails and phone calls, training and meetings. Now I do about 40 hours and I can tell you it is getting harder and harder to justify doing that emotionally. I can't pay my own bills and no matter how many times I ask for donations that are tax deductible, no one pitches in to support the work I do. I have a free online book that hundreds of people have read and thanked me for but no one feels it is worth kicking in any money for. I used to travel a lot going wherever I was asked to go and paying the cost of it by myself. When I asked for the trip to be funded, the requests stopped coming in. I worked countless hours on making over 30 videos to provide a great understanding of what PTSD is and to support the troops, but few seem to find them of monetary value. Now while I am sure this is what God wants me to do, and I will keep doing it as long as I can, I wonder why I do more often than just knowing why I do it. The price to pay is just too high when I have to suffer emotionally and financially. When an advocate is not supported, they go away for this reason more than any other. It is not that the love or commitment ends, but they just can't carry the burden alone anymore.

I wanted to share that with you for a reason. I am one person and if I am going through this much hardship, I want you to think about the need for financial support a large organization has. They fight for others, reporting what is happening to them and coming up with solutions. They provide awareness to things few others know about but touch the lives of thousands of people. When it comes to advocates for veterans, often it is the only voice that can be heard for the sake of over 24 million veterans and their families. If their voice goes away because they cannot find financial support, who will fight for the veterans?

There are many fine groups out there fighting for veterans but they do not try to fight for all veterans. Veterans for Common Sense fights for the troops serving today and all of our veterans. The advocacy work of the entire group has managed to raise awareness on the suffering of millions, gaining media attention and thus, the attention of congress to create bills and come up with the funds to take care of veterans. They keep pushing and will keep pushing until this nation finally gets it right. The American public would have no clue what was happening if their voice was not heard.

Paul Sullivan has been a great champion in all of this. He has traveled across the country, been interviewed by news organizations and has been a voice for veterans. He is also a friend of mine. I don't know what I would do without his hard work on many of the issues you read about here all the time. What I often wonder is, what this nation would do if Veterans for Common Sense went away. We know that their work is important but what we don't think about is how they need support to do their work and yes, encouragement knowing their work is valued. While it is wonderful to say thank you to them, it does not pay their bills. Please read the following and then think of the work they do but don't stop there. Wonder what it would be like if they cannot find financial support to keep doing it.

Special Summer Message from VCS Executive Director

Dear VCS Supporter:

Thank you for working with us as we continue to win several important, new policy victories for our veterans. Together, we advocate for the needs of our veterans with Congress, VA, and reporters.

If you like what we're doing, then VCS asks you to please make a special one-time Summer 2010 donation of $50 today.

We need your help because next month Veterans for Common Sense, along with other advocates, will testify before Congress about how the military continues improperly discharging thousands of our service members -- in some cases our new Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are losing vital VA benefits.

In the past month, here are two solid victories for our veterans - -

Government Relations:

* VCS succeeded in advocating on behalf of veterans to have VA's disability claim form shortened from 26 pages to 6 pages, a very important improvement for our veterans who suffer from TBI and/or PTSD.

* VCS successfully advocated for streamlining how VA processes PTSD benefit claims, making it easier and faster for our veterans to receive needed care and compensation.

Public Relations:

* VCS was interviewed live on CNN after President Barack Obama's Saturday morning radio and video broadcast about veterans and PTSD claims. VCS supports the President's strong anti-stigma message encouraging veterans who need care to seek help.

* VCS was interviewed by McClatchy News about the military's tragic and escalating suicide epidemic, a story VCS helped publicize for the past three years on CBS Evening News and on PBS News Hour. We continue pressing for more doctors and post-deployment exams so our veterans get prompt and high-quality care.

VCS Asks for Your Help:

VCS keeps the heat on VA to continue overhauling the agency so our veterans don't wait to see doctors or get disability benefits.

That's why VCS asks you to please make a special, one-time Summer 2010 donation of $50.

VCS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit formed by war veterans in 2002, and we focus on improving VA policies so our veterans receive prompt and high-quality medical care and disability benefits.

You've seen our advocacy in action - before Congress, working with VA, and raising veterans' needs in the press so Americans know about and support our veterans.

Please take the time and ask your friends assist VCS with a donation at our secure web site.

We are able do this because of your generous support !


Paul SullivanExecutive Director
Veterans for Common Sense

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vietnam veteran and advocate laid to rest with full military honors

Soldier, veterans' advocate given full military burial
by the Cherokee Tribune staff
July 23, 2010

Jack Perry Harrison of Woodstock, known statewide for his volunteer work on behalf of veterans and their families, has died.

The 61-year-old Vietnam veteran was buried on Monday with full military honors at the Georgia National Cemetery in Sutallee. The Rev. Claude Smithmier officiated the service.

Harrison served in the Army and the Air Force. During his tour in Vietnam, he was a door gunner on a Huey helicopter and a combat medic.

Following his military service, Harrison owned and operated Jack Harrison Contracting Company.

After retiring, he devoted his life full-time to advocating for veterans and their families, ensuring veterans received medical care for their service-connected injuries and that their widows were cared for as well.

It is estimated he helped with more than 4,000 Veterans Administration claims in his seven years of advocacy work.

Read more: Cherokee Tribune -
Soldier veterans advocate given full military burial

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For Delilah Washburn, 'every day was Veterans Day'

For Washburn, 'every day was Veterans Day'
Retired sergeant helped to found local VA clinic
By Judith McGinnis
Posted April 27, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Delilah Washburn, who fought fearlessly for the rights of veterans, particularly women vets, lost her own battle with cancer Sunday.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Floral Heights United Methodist Church. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hampton-Vaughn Funeral Home. Washburn will be buried at the Dallas National Cemetery.

Born Aug. 5, 1952 in Blue Ridge, Ga., Washburn’s mother, Geraldine McGee, says Delilah, an only child, began talking to military recruiters by the time she was 15.

“They told her to come back and see them when she came of age,” McGee said. “Six days after she turned 18 she was in the Air Force, headed for Lackland (Air Force Base).”
go here for more
For Washburn, every day was Veterans Day

Friday, September 18, 2009

Marine unit honors three VA workers

Marine unit honors three VA workers
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Three Western Pennsylvania men who serve veterans have been honored by Col. Timothy Frank, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment liaison to the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Presented with certificates of appreciation Sept. 1 at the VA Butler Healthcare were Terrence Conner, William Smathers and Richard Bryan. The colonel described the employees' service as "inspiring."

Mr. Conner, 42, of Grove City, works for VA Butler Healthcare.

Mr. Smathers, 51, of Punxsutawney, and Mr. Bryan, 40, of North Huntingdon, work for VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and also help other VA facilities within their service area, including Butler.

Mr. Conner is the outreach coordinator for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
read more here

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Army vet killed in late night motorcycle crash

Army vet killed in late night motorcycle crash
Motorcyclist dies in crash 7-16-09

Danny Facto was killed Wednesday night in a motorcycle crash. This photo is from a 2006 story we did with Facto on PTSD. (NewsChannel 9, WSYR-TV) Cicero (WSYR-TV) - Sheriff's deputies are investigating a deadly motorcycle accident that happened late Wednesday night along East Taft Road in Cicero. 29-year-old Danny Facto, who lived on Areopagitica Avenue in Bridgeport, was killed. We're told Facto was traveling east on East Taft Road around 11:30 on Wednesday night when he lost control of his 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle. The motorcycle skidded for about an eighth of a mile before coming to a rest. Deputies say the man suffered a massive head injury when his helmet shattered.

Facto was an advocate for better treatment of veterans suffering from PTSD. NewsChannel 9's Dan Cummings did a story with Facto in 2006.

Danny's struggles with PTSD prompted his father to create a resource for veterans and families seeking help. To learn more about it, head here:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My new PTSD web site is almost done is just about finished. The videos are up and running. It still needs a bit more work and more features are being added.

There are only a couple more videos to put up.

Features will have PowerPoints on two often requested videos, Wounded Minds and Death Because They Served. Both of these videos are long and the tiles contain important information for people doing presentations. Soon Wounded Minds will have translated tiles into Spanish for Power Point. A doctor in Argentina requested the tiles so that he can translate them and he'll be sending the Spanish version.

My book will also be available on the site, as well as on this blog.

There is a forum ready to go, but bear with me on that one because I'm still not too sure how it works.

I've done this because of YouTube and Google videos. The main reason is that the troops cannot access either one of them and they are missing the information in these videos. Plus considering how many videos there are on both sites, mine, well, let's just say they get buried. People are shocked once they finally find them and wish they found them a couple of years ago when I first started to do them.

There are two videos for female soldiers and veterans. Women At War and The Voice, Women At War.

There are two videos on the other causes of trauma as well for civilians because they also end up wounded by abnormal events. Those are PTSD After Trauma and IFOC Chaplain Army of Love.

There is a video for the citizen soldiers, the National Guards and Reservist, who end up coming back and going back to work for the police and fire departments across this country as well as back to regular jobs.

There are several videos for the Vietnam Veterans because they have been tugging at my heart since 1982. Naturally there are videos for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two videos are for the family members who need to know what PTSD is and when the veteran needs more help than just love can give. Learn the signs and you'll be able to help them heal.

There is also a special video, PTSD Not God's Judgment. This video was created because of what veterans have found very hard to come to terms with. They want to know if God can forgive them. Yes, there is really no reason for them to feel that way, but when you consider what they go thru it's not that hard to understand. This video was also made after a very long argument I had with God. I get the ideas for the videos, find the music and the pictures to go with the message I feel is important. This one, kept nagging at me. I kept finding reasons to not do it. Reluctantly I put it together, put it up on YouTube and let the Good Lord take over from there. He did. When I was at the IFOC conference in Ohio, I found out that it has been used to help police officers and firefighters to heal by therapists. Amazing! I did not intend it to be used with them, but evidently God had other plans.

The work I do on this blog will still go on and trying to find out the best way to incorporate it with the new site, but Wounded Times is not going anywhere.

So, until the DOD blocks my site from being viewed by the troops, let them know the videos are there and more will be added. Tell the families and friends so they can understand what PTSD is as well. One more thing. Consider how many we're talking about. RAND Corp put the number at 300,000, but with all I know about PTSD after all these years, they are not even close. By 1978 there were already 500,000 Vietnam Veterans with PTSD. We have over 7 million people in the USA with PTSD from other causes. Too many suffer because they don't know what it is. Help me to help them. Spread the word about the videos if you can.

You won't be able to download them from the site but you can download them from Google and YouTube for now. If you need a DVD copy of one email me and I'll burn you one for a small donation.

Senior Chaplain Kathie "Costos" DiCesare
International Fellowship of Chaplains
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Miami Veterans Affairs Examiner

Miami Veterans Affairs Examiner
Hi I'm the Examiner for Veterans Affairs
POSTED September 16, 6:47 PM
Harmon Biehl - Miami Veterans Affairs Examiner

Hi, I’m Harmon David Biehl. Everyone calls me Harm. I’m a Viet Nam Veteran. I’ve been interacting with the V.A since 1968 and I feel like a defacto expert on it.

I know there are a lot of classifications as a vet: I myself am classified as a combat veteran. Sometimes I think that means I’m able to do combat with the V.A.

On a more serious note, I would like to be your servant in helping you along the way if you are a veteran and want to get started at the V.A. Maybe you are a seasoned regular such as myself and have run into roadblocks, or “bumps” in your journey with the V.A.. If so I would like to hear from you also.

In future articles I’d like to tell you about my battle with PTSD and other issues that I have stemming from my service in Viet Nam.

Let’s discuss diabetes, hearing loss, Tinitus, on-going disabling headaches, anger management and Agent Orange issues or whatever else you want to talk about that is V.A. related.

Fellow veterans, please allow me to be a voice for you for V.A. issues; calling in the desert, as it were. You will be surprised to find out who reads this stuff. It makes no difference what your status is with them, Let me know what’s going on, maybe what we do here will be helpful to you and me and possibly to others as well. Maybe I can help!

Simply address your correspondence to Harm a Voice of the Veteran, care of The Examiner in Miami. The URL is

Be Blessed. Harm

Monday, September 8, 2008

Does VA have Policy Of Retaliation Against Veterans Advocates?

Features: Does VA have Policy Of Retaliation Against Veterans Advocates?
Posted on September 08, 2008 by gm

The Official VA Criminal Policy Of Extreme Retaliation Against Veterans Advocates

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to keep a low profile, and to keep the public in the dark, about the massive corruption in that agency, and how inhuman America's Veterans are really treated. To reach that goal the Department of Veterans Affairs has had a lengthy "Official Policy" of severe criminal retaliation against Veterans Advocates, and those that speak out against the VA, or expose corruption, or unjust policies.

This Official Criminal Policy is directed by the very highest levels of the VA, including the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the VA Office of General Counsel, who are both political appointees.

The Criminal Policy works like this; the major Veterans Groups, the VFW, American Legion, and so on, have an unwritten deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs. They will fill out papers, and process claims for Veterans, but they will turn their heads, and tightly close their eyes, when they see criminal conduct by VA Officials.
go here for more
first time I heard of this

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Judge Robert Russell, hands out justice and help to veterans

Special court for vets addresses more than crime
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 6, 2008; 12:22 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The first clue that the Tuesday afternoon session in Part 4 of Buffalo City Court is not like other criminal proceedings comes just before it starts.

Judge Robert Russell steps down from his bench and from the aloofness of his black robe. He walks into the gallery where men and women accused of stealing, drug offenses and other non-violent felonies and misdemeanors fidget in plastic chairs.

"Good afternoon," he says, smiling, and talks for a minute about the session ahead.

With the welcoming tone set, Russell heads back behind the bench, where he will mete out justice with a disarming mix of small talk and life-altering advice.

While the defendants in this court have been arrested on charges that could mean potential prison time and damaging criminal records, they have another important trait in common: All have served their country in the military.

That combination has landed them here, in veterans treatment court, the first of its kind in the country.

Russell is the evenhanded quarterback of a courtroom team of veterans advocates and volunteers determined to make this brush with the criminal justice system these veterans' last.

"They look to the right or to the left, they're sitting there with another vet," Russell said, "and it's a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that `people don't really understand me,' or `they don't know what it's like' _ well, it's a room full of folks who do."

If the veterans adhere to a demanding 1- to 2-year regimen of weekly to monthly court appearances, drug testing and counseling for any combination of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, substance abuse or anger management, they could see their charges dismissed, or at least stay out of jail.
click post title for more

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Finler:Stop talking and start doing

This is what I've been screaming about!!!!!

“The VA can set up five commissions – yet the real problem goes unresolved. We all know that convening meetings to study an issue in order to formulate a report to offer recommendations IS NOT ACTION. I strongly encourage the VA to proactively reach out to all our returning veterans now. Veterans cannot wait – and should not have to wait – for a blue ribbon panel to come out yet again with another report.

“We KNOW what needs to be done. Each and every service member, Reservist and Guardsman must be given a thorough and mandatory medical evaluation by competent medical personnel when they separate from military service for PTSD and TBI. The VA Secretary was asked to do this weeks ago.

“The time for panels has past. I expect immediate action to address the immediate needs of our veterans.”
go here for more

Hearing after hearing, listening to one heartbreaking story after another has accomplished more heartbreaking stories following all of the ones already heard. That's it. What good does it do to already know we failed in taking care of our veterans to hear more of them we failed? Does it make the problem go away to listen to the stories of these shattered lives? How many hearings does it take before they actually do something about any of this?

There is nothing new about PTSD. Humans have not changed and war is still war. What good does it do to listen to the new kids on the block when they already have several generations of older ones who have been there and done that and lived to tell their own stories? What good did it do to call on people who just stepped into this landmine and expect solutions from any of them? It accomplished a gigantic waste of time and in the process, more lives that could have been saved if they acted on what was already known.

I apologize to some of the people who have been testifying to congress on this, but the truth is, they can only talk about the problems the new generation of veterans have but they can offer nothing in the form of answers. I've heard all the hearings. I've read the transcripts and it is just rehashing what was already known in the 80's. The names have changed but that's just about all of it. The numbers are coming in sooner than they did after Vietnam, but most of that has more to do with outreach work (thousands of us have been doing since Vietnam) and the fact the redeployments increase the risk of developing PTSD by 50%. We have the numbers in from Vietnam and they are devastating,but we need to understand that as bad as those numbers are, they will be repeated faster simply because so little has been done to deal with it. Talking about it is not dealing with it and fixing the problems, helping them heal and compensating them for their wounds. It's all just more of the same.