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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Socialized' or Not, We Can Learn from the VA

So why then did Republicans vote for Paul Ryan's budget when it cut the VA by $11 billion dollars when wounded veterans need it to be increased?

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed to address that frustration indirectly on Thursday as he praised Ryan for putting forward a budget that represents a "real vision of what we were to do if we get more control here in this town."

This group along with Democrats voted against Paul Ryan's budget that cuts the VA

Republicans voting against the Ryan budget were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Joe Barton (Texas), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Todd Platts (Pa.), Denny Rehberg (Mont.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.).

'Socialized' or Not, We Can Learn from the VA
by Arthur L. Kellermann
The Rand Blog
August 8, 2012

In a recent post on the New York Times' Economix blog, Princeton economics professor Uwe E. Reinhardt addresses the common characterization of the British health care system as "socialized medicine." The label is most often used pejoratively in the United States to suggest that if anything resembling Great Britain's National Health System (NHS) were adopted in the U.S., it would invariably deliver low-quality health care and produce poor health outcomes.

Ironically, Reinhardt notes, the U.S. already has a close cousin to the NHS within our borders. It's the national network of VA Hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities operated by our Veterans Healthcare Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. By almost every measure, the VA is recognized as delivering consistently high-quality care to its patients.

Among the evidence Reinhardt cites is an "eye-opening" (his words) 2004 RAND study from in the Annals of Internal Medicine that examined the quality of VA care, comparing the medical records of VA patients with a national sample and evaluating how effectively health care is delivered to each group (see a summary of that study).

RAND's study, led by Dr. Steven Asch, found that the VA system delivered higher-quality care than the national sample of private hospitals on all measures except acute care (on which the two samples performed comparably). In nearly every other respect, VA patients received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and access to follow-up.
read more here

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Severely injured Idaho soldier feels blessed

When something life changing happens to any of us, we can focus on what we lost. Or we can focus on what is important. I've met several amputees from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the beginning it is horrible for them to think about what is left of their lives. Then, the rest of their lives becomes all that matters.

Severely injured Idaho soldier feels blessed
A military rehabilitation center in Texas has lent Idaho National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Rzepa some perspective.

By Daniel Person
The Spokesman-Review

A military rehabilitation center in Texas has lent Staff Sgt. Jason Rzepa some perspective.

As he continues to recover from injuries he sustained in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq last July, Rzepa, of Coeur d'Alene, said he sees fellow soldiers missing entire legs and arms. Soldiers scarred by severe burns. Soldiers who go home to an empty apartment and spend evenings alone watching television.

"I'm blessed, really," Rzepa said Friday afternoon. "I have both knees and a wife and son with me down there. ... That in itself makes all the difference."
red more here

Spc. Luis Puertas lost both legs in an explosion in Iraq in 2006. Homes For Our Troops is finishing off his house. In May the Nam Knights held a fundraiser for him. He is interviewed in this video. Notice the smiles and the love he has for his future wife Amber.

At about 3 minutes into this video, Joshua Cope, also an amputee, talks about his life. Two other survivors of IED's speak about their lives and what they are doing.

Meeting men like them leaves me feeling like a complete whiner when my life isn't going so good. When problems make day to day tough. They have the same problems the rest of us do in our "normal" lives. What is amazing about them is how they rise above all of it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

VCS Releases Updated War Statistics

VCS Releases Updated War Statistics
Written by VCS
Thursday, 29 September 2011 16:43

VCS Releases "Iraq and Afghanistan War Impact Report," VA Confirms Nearly 712,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran Patients
October 1, 2011 (VCS Exclusive) - In an effort to document the severe and escalating human and financial consequences of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) summarizes several government reports about U.S. military service members and veterans who deployed to the Iraq - Afghanistan war zone since September 11, 2011.

When sharing our VCS quarterly report, please cite how VCS uses reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) obtained by VCS under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The report serves as a reminder our nation remains at war.
read it here

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wounded veteran with PTSD kept out of theater because of service dog

One of the hardest things to do when you have PTSD is to go into a dark room with a bunch of strangers. My husband stopped going to movies as soon as we got married. His reason? He said he couldn't feel comfortable there so since we were married, he didn't have to go anymore. Well, that made sense to him anyway. Our first official date was going to see a movie, The Dark Crystal in 1982.

Knowing how difficult it is for a PTSD to even try to go into a theater, I can tell you first hand how much Becker really wanted to be there and how much he needed his dog with him. This theater owes him a lot more than an apology since they just insulted some of the bravest people in this country.

Wounded war vet seeks apology from movie theater owner
August 19, 2011

Alexandra Field
COBLESKILL -- A wounded war veteran who depends on aide from a certified service dog, Annie, says he was denied entrance to a Cobleskill movie theater.

Major James Becker tells CBS 6 the owner of Park Theater insisted a dog would not be allowed in to the theater, despite the fact that Annie was wearing a service vest. Becker says he was also carrying identification for the dog.

Major James Becker, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was struck twice by improvised explosive devices. He was hospitalized for more than two years, battling brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Becker was given his service dog a year ago and says Annie helps him cope with the symptoms of his PTSD.
read more here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Florida Patriot Guard has bass waiting for wounded veteran

The Florida Patriot Guard has a great opportunity for a Wounded Veteran who loves to bass fish. They have been asked to find a Veteran who would like to take advantage of this and who is has suffered and sacrificed greatly for their country and us.

This Veteran must:
- lives in central Florida
- loves to fish
- knows all about Bass Pro Tournaments
- is familiar with the top names of professional fishermen
- would like to be in a TV recorded Bass Pro Tournament

AND wants to have a great day of fishing. Sounds like a very good time to me and plus all expenses paid and good benefits to boot.

This event takes place in August 2011 so we must hurry. So, if any of you know of anyone who qualifies please contact Shannon Locke at 813-447-3535.

Let’s try to give a deserving Veteran the time of their life.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Army veteran pleads in Westboro stalking case

He is a double amputee, deciding to "stand up" to Westboro hate group but he ends up with two years probation. They get to do what they want and when they want, stalking any family they want, but get away with it? How is this justice?

Army veteran pleads in Westboro stalking case
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jun 23, 2011 14:23:20 EDT
WICHITA, Kan. — An Army veteran charged with stalking and conspiring to harm members of a controversial Topeka church pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

An attorney for Ryan Newell says his client pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of false impersonation of an officer, which are misdemeanors.
read more here
Army veteran pleads in Westboro stalking case

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Veteran trapped in 800,000 paperwork backlog

Screaming doesn't help anymore. I wish I could say this horrible situation is new, but it isn't.

VA claims backlog ready to hit 1 million
The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jun 18, 2009 10:56:07 EDT
WASHINGTON — This isn’t the same as getting a free duffel bag for being the millionth person to go through the turnstiles: The Department of Veterans Affairs appears poised to have hit the 1 million milestone on claims it still hasn’t processed.

This unwelcome marker approaches as the agency scrambles to hire and train new claims processors, which can take two years. VA officials are working with the Pentagon under orders from President Barack Obama to create by 2012 a system that will allow the two agencies to electronically exchange records, a process now done manually on paper.

Meanwhile, veterans, some of whom were severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, continue to endure financial hardship while their claims are processed. They wait more than four months on average for a claim to be processed, and appealing a claim takes a year and a half on average.

Adding to the backlog are factors ranging from the complexity of processing mental health-related claims of Iraq veterans, to a change that made it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide to qualify for disability payments. The VA says it’s receiving about 13 percent more claims today than it did a year ago.

Obama: New PTSD rules long overdue step
July 09, 2010
By the CNN Wire Staff

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making it easier for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to get benefits, a development President Barack Obama calls a "long overdue step."

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said Veterans Affairs will launch new rules for easing PTSD documentation requirements starting next week.

Current department rules require veterans to document events like firefights or bomb explosions that could have caused the disorder. Such documentation was often time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes was impossible.
When Agent Orange and PTSD claims were made easier to file, the staff already processing claims was overloaded. New hires were made but it takes two years of training for them to be ready to know what they are doing, so processing was slowed down.

On Friday at a DAV conference in Lake Mary Florida, I sat listening to VA employees talking about the flood of claims they have been facing. I wanted to scream when I heard that as older VA workers retire, they cannot hire new ones to replace them.

Why at a time when the government is trying to honor and return dignity to our disabled veterans?

GOP wants to impose hiring freeze on non-security federal workforce

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2010
House Republicans want to stop hiring federal employees not working on defense, homeland security or veterans concerns, a proposal long anticipated by federal worker unions and supportive Democrats.

GOP lawmakers pledged Thursday to "impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector." The proposal is part of the 21-page "Pledge to America," a set of proposals to cut government spending, reform Congress and repeal President Obama's health-care reform legislation.

Although Republican lawmakers have targeted the federal workforce this year in separate proposals, the "Pledge" nationalizes the idea of curtailing the federal workforce and makes it likely that some Republican congressional candidates will talk up the idea as Election Day nears.

While cutting payrolls may have sounded good at the time coupled with talking about taking care of our veterans, this doomed every effort made to get there. No one can honestly say that denying a suffering Vietnam Veteran compensation from Agent Orange exposure is a good way to save money any more than they can say denying claims for PTSD is the right thing to do. Honoring the veterans in this country should never be a budget matter open to debate blowing with the party in control. When Tea Party Republicans shout about government spending, do they think about the troops or veterans?

Most of the bills meant to do the right thing for veterans were done between 2008 and 2010 with Republicans voting along with Democrats to pass them but then they turned around and decided that while they voted for them, they would not fund them or increase staff to take care of claims flooding in to an already overloaded system.

When my husband came home from Vietnam in 1971, PTSD was hitching a ride. He finally went to the VA in 1993 and filed a claim. It took six years of hell waiting for the government to do the right thing over a paperwork error. I can tell you that those years were nearly impossible to get through with bills to pay and trying to keep a roof over our heads. My Mom helped as much as she could but there are many families out there unable or unwilling to help. Does anyone care what happens to the veteran and his/her family while they are waiting for their claim to be approved?

The fact remains they were there when they were called on. They didn't say to the nation we had to wait for them so why does the nation say to them they have to wait for us to do the right thing after they were injured for our sake?
Veteran trapped, like many, in paperwork backlog
By Tony Leys, The Des Moines Register

GREENFIELD, Iowa — Joel Klobnak still looks like a proud Marine — from his buzz-cut hair down to the red-white-and-blue prosthetic that replaced the leg he lost in Iraq in 2006.

But he feels forgotten.

The Department of Veterans Affairs slashed his disability pay two years ago over what he says was a misunderstanding. The former Marine is trying to support a family of four on $1,557 a month while he waits to hear whether the government will reinstate full disability pay for his gruesome injury and the mental anguish that accompanied it.

His appeal is trapped in a paperwork backlog that is delaying payments to injured veterans across the country.

Government doctors determined that he couldn't work because of the pain in his leg and the post-traumatic stress disorder that troubled his mind. The determination entitled him to full disability payments, which amounted to $3,103 a month. But in April 2009, he received a letter telling him his payments were being halved because he missed an appointment with a VA doctor.

A national expert said Klobnak's frustrations are the norm. Richard Cohen, executive director of the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, said the VA has a backlog of 800,000 initial disability claims and 200,000 appeals.
read more here
Veteran trapped in paperwork backlog

Unless congress manages to actually take care of our veterans today, this is about to get a whole lot worse with more and more coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan wounded for our sake and suffering for the sake of politicians flexing their misdirected values.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Collier Marine wounded in Iraq moves into donated Fort Myers home

Collier Marine wounded in Iraq moves into donated Fort Myers home
Posted March 13, 2011

FORT MYERS — Deep in the belly of the moving truck, Bobby Joseph lifts a military duffel onto his shoulder.

He carries it to the edge and drops it with a thump next to piles of pillows and storage boxes. The duffel is covered in place names written in black Sharpie. First on the list: “Recruiting station — Naples,” and on the bottom it says “Joseph — 3109,” his platoon in the United States Marine Corps.

On this afternoon in early March, Joseph is moving his family into a new house, thanks to a charity called the Military Warriors Support Foundation, created by JP Morgan Chase. After three years in a mentoring program, the home in Fort Myers will be put in Joseph’s name, mortgage-free.

Joseph, 29, signed up for military service six days after Sept. 11, 2001, and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A roadside bomb exploded into his legs in 2006 and today, about four and a half years later, he has a hitch in his step, a sometimes faulty memory and a Purple Heart.
read more here
Collier Marine wounded in Iraq moves into donated Fort Myers home

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

There are jerks everywhere. Nothing new. A veteran can end up being killed by someone just because he's homeless. Coworkers can pull stupid stunts to get a PTSD veteran to go off on them. Some protestors against the war linked in with others, including parents of soldiers, will say stupid things against the men and women they claim they care about. So let's just be honest here. In any group, there will always be a few jerks.

Yet this story about a few jerks from Columbia ended up showing how much veterans are cared about. The response to this story has the blog world on fire, from Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Veterans have a lot to teach the rest of us. They stand together no matter what political party they come from, where they live or how much they make. It doesn't make a difference if they are going to school or running a business.

Columbia had a veteran, a wounded veteran on top of everything else, speak at a hearing for ROTC. While everyone else there wanted to hear the speaker, a few gathered and decided what they wanted to say at the moment they wanted to say it mattered more than anything else. If you've ever tried to have a conversation with egotistical-self-absorbed jerks, you know what I mean. They make it their mission to constantly interrupt what someone else is saying. They are like children jumping up and down, screaming to get attention when grownups are talking. This ended up making the veteran and Columbia look like grownups and the hecklers look like spoiled brats.

ROTC at Columbia University: Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

Marco Reininger
Veteran of the war in Afghanistan, political science major at Columbia University's School of General Studies
Posted: February 22, 2011 01:12 PM

Heckling a speaker -- veteran or not -- during a public hearing intended to further dialogue and constructive debate is, simply put, childish. It is particularly disappointing when the hecklers are members of the Columbia University community, an institution that prides itself with its spirit of free speech, toleration and respect for one's fellow man and woman.

However, at the university's February 15th hearing regarding ROTC at Columbia, the catcalls were directed at Anthony Maschek, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who was severely wounded in combat. A group of ROTC opponents booed and laughed at Maschek's comments in support of the military and called him a racist. A former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant can most likely handle petty booing by a small group of vocal anti-military activists in an otherwise supportive audience. However, the disturbance seemed hostile enough for the moderator to insist that the environment remain one where people "are not threatened."

Thus, I want to caution against labeling Columbia University "hostile" based on the immature actions of a few. It is indeed a place of open debate and discourse of opinion where emotions can run hot and etiquette neglected. Yet, the fact that a discussion regarding the reinstatement of ROTC is even taking place shows the institution's overarching spirit. Yes, it was a veteran who was heckled during the hearing and that deserves special attention. However, the university as a whole has demonstrated its dedication to veterans in recent years and having a few vocal ROTC opponents on campus should not be used to imply the contrary.

The individuals who booed Anthony Maschek revealed their lack of respect for human beings with differing opinions to theirs, which, independent of his veteran status, is tragic. More significantly, while advocating non-violence, they denied dignified, non-hostile treatment to an individual that has shown great integrity, loyalty and a dedication to our country. Yet, the group merely achieved to spotlight their immaturity and undermine their credibility. By not allowing Anthony Mascheck undisturbed sharing of his point of view as a former military man, the group demonstrated their disinterest in engaging in a mannerly debate and exposed their true desire to provoke and instigate.

read more here

Regarding the Heckling of a Veteran

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wounded soldier left stranded finds people do still care

January 16, 2011
Wounded Army soldier finds help in McAlester
By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — It’s a need McAlester couldn’t let go by unanswered — a man identified as a wounded veteran of the war in Iraq, stranded in the city, broke and hundreds of miles from home.

On Thursday, Kristophier Barta wound up on foot in McAlester. He said his bus ticket between Veterans Administration hospitals had been extended several times and would no longer get him home to Lexington, Ken.

Barta, who said he had been wounded as a member of the U.S. Army in Iraq, still had a port tube in his chest to help drain the wound.

In McAlester, Barta didn’t know what to do. A helpful employee at the service station where he had been stranded noticed his plight.

She offered him some coffee —and something that proved to be much more.

Barta, who said he’s of Cherokee Indian ancestry, said he’d been hoping to visit a foster sister who lived in Tahlequah.

He said he asked how far it was to the Cherokee reservation, actually meaning the Cherokee Capitol grounds in Tahlequah.
read more of this great story here
Wounded Army soldier finds help in McAlester

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Injured warriors face a different fight today

Injured warriors face a different fight today

Mike Fradera, a member of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, takes off one of his prosthetic legs as he prepares to get onto his hand-crank wheelchair to practice for the Disney Half Marathon at Disney's Shades of Green Hotel on Jan. 6, 2011. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel / January 4, 2011)

Darryl E. Owens
11:10 p.m. EST, January 7, 2011
Three years ago, after losing his legs to a roadside blast in Iraq, Mike Fradera lay in a Texas Army hospital bed, going stir-crazy.

He craved the freedom that a new set of government-issued limbs promised.

Three years later, padding around on his metallic limbs is second nature. Still, it's only when Fradera ditches his legs and climbs into his hand-crank wheelchair that his soul runs free.

"I feel liberated" in a way that his prosthetic legs wouldn't allow, says Fradera, 33, of Lakeland. "There're a lot of limitations to what you can do with missing legs."

Limitations that seem miles away when he cranks his three-wheeler, as he showed last year in winning the wheelchair crank division of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

"You're doing 20 mph and you're pushing yourself and you've got the wind in your face and you're flying down that road, you feel a sense of freedom and a sense of accomplishment of crossing that finish line," Fradera says.

This morning, he defends his title at Disney. But he won't be alone. A platoon of 11 wounded warriors — all staying at Disney's Shades of Green military resort — will join the retired Army staff sergeant. Their mission: prove to themselves — and everyone else — that combat may have stolen their limbs, but not their ability to accomplish great things.
read more here
Injured warriors face a different fight today

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wounded vets enjoy chance to bond

Wounded vets enjoy chance to bond
By Ellen Ciurczak - Hattiesburg (Miss.) American
Posted : Sunday Dec 19, 2010 18:22:57 EST
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The smell of bacon and a draft of warm air greets all who walk in the door of Troy and Beverly Davis’ cabin, located a few miles outside of Hot Coffee.

Inside on an early Sunday morning, nine former military service members sit in the living room and at the breakfast table, relaxed and talking. All have been wounded in the line of duty, and all have spent the past weekend on a hunting trip sponsored by the Smith County Wounded Warrior Project.

The Davises have donated their cabin to the project, which provides programs for severely injured service members from around the South.

But hunting for big game hasn’t been the highlight of this weekend.

“They get together and they talk. They open up to each other,” said John Ellis of Ellis Outdoor Events, which helped coordinate this trip and others, all of which are free of charge. “They know what they’ve been through and they don’t judge each other.”

The service members are all veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“They worry about what people will ask them,” said John’s wife, Kim Ellis, who also helps to coordinate the trips. She cautions against probing too deeply about their injuries.

“The No. 1 question they get asked is ‘Have you killed someone?’ ” she said.

Damian Orslene, 46, a former airman, has a ready smile. He sits in a chair, with a cane beside him. He says he was blown up in Kirkuk, Iraq.

“I’ve been in and out of hospitals for three years,” he said. “What I miss most is being around like-minded people. When you walk in that door, you are surrounded by people that care.”
read more here
Wounded vets enjoy chance to bond

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Veterans Day, wounded Afghanistan vet has unbroken spirit

On Veterans Day, honoring a Marine who lost his limbs, but not his spirit, in Afghanistan

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 12:43 AM
The morning that Marine Cpl. Todd A. Nicely received his medal for valor, he and his wife, Crystal, paused in a restroom at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to pull the trousers of his uniform over his artificial legs.

Crystal maneuvered his pants past the carbon fiber feet. Then they fitted the prostheses onto the stumps of Todd's legs.

He put on his tan utility shirt, which she buttoned, attached his artificial left arm and slipped his metal pole crutch onto the stump of his right arm. When he donned his camouflage Marine Corps hat "low on the brow," he was ready.

It was the first time in six months that he had been back in his "cammies" - since the day in March when he had stepped on the explosive device in Afghanistan that tore off his hands and lower legs.

The blast broke his jaw, punctured his ear drums and left him, according to the latest statistics, one of only three men - a soldier and two Marines - from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive an attack as a quadruple amputee.
read more here
On Veterans Day

Monday, November 8, 2010

What would Rockwell paint today?

What would Rockwell paint about the country right now?

Norman Rockwell

Chaplain Kathie

Normal Rockwell wanted to find a way to help other people see the country thru his eyes. Where there was something wrong, he wanted them to see what was possible. Where there was someone in distress, he wanted others to see them so they could do something to help. He thought about the "better angels" living in all of us.

I wonder what he would paint about us now?

A couple of his paintings were about soldiers coming home from war. What would he paint today when they come home from Iraq and Afghanistan while some Americans think the troops have all come home from Iraq on top of forgetting they are in Afghanistan?

What would he paint when they come home with metal replacements of legs and arms? Waiting in line at the VA? Sleeping in the woods, in line at soup kitchens, standing in the streets or begging for spare change? Finding it so hard to be a veteran, they don't want to live one more day of being one and take their own lives?

Would he remind people that after they return from war, the danger to them is far from over?

Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear, but would he make it five if he were alive today? It seems that our veterans do not enjoy any of these freedoms today.

We say they have a right to say what they want but when they say they need help to recover, we don't really hear them. When they say they are for or against the wars being fought today, they get shouted down by other veterans and other citizens.

Religion? No they come home after having one branch of Christianity being forced on them according to recent reports.

From want? Well considering there are so many suffering from not being able to work but find their claims denied or tied up, there is no income for them between wound and check, or the fact that while they are deployed, some of their families are on food stamps especially when they are citizen soldiers depending on their civilian jobs to live off of.

Freedom from fear? Well, sorry but not that one either. They have to fear getting wounded because there are so many problems with getting what this nation promised them when they left these cities and towns to fight our battles.

The country needs another Rockwell so we can see it thru his eyes and then maybe, just maybe we'd do something to make sure no veteran comes home neglected or having to fear being home as much as they did in combat.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't forget the wounded, they are veterans too!

While parades are nice for Veterans Day, we need to remember all the veterans in hospitals trying to recover from the wounds they received. This is about a program to get themn out of the hospital, even if it is just for a little while and let them just be men/women again. They are veterans everday, but for them they are also wounded veterans.

Program lets wounded vets experience W.Va. hunts

By John McCoy - The Charleston Gazette via AP
Posted : Sunday Nov 7, 2010 12:00:18 EST

FRANKLIN, W.Va. — With a quick squeeze of a crossbow's trigger, James Raffetto proved that it would take more than an insurgent's bomb to keep him from enjoying life.

"I never thought I'd be able to do something like this," Raffetto said, as he sat forward in his wheelchair and gestured to the deer lying dead nearby. "When you get hit, you think your life is over. This is proof that it isn't."

For Raffetto and a growing roster of servicemen wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Potomac Highlands Wounded Warrior Outreach has been an avenue back toward an active lifestyle. Founded last January by a retired West Virginia conservation officer and a handful of friends, the outreach brings wounded soldiers, Marines and sailors to West Virginia to hunt, to fish and to enjoy a few days of life outside a hospital's walls.

"We work with the people at Walter Reed (Army Hospital) and Bethesda (Naval Hospital) to bring these fellows here," said group founder Bill Armstrong. "The idea is to get them into the outdoors for a day or two so they can relax. Some of these guys have literally been in the hospital for years, and they need some time away from the hospital routine."

read more here
Program lets wounded vets experience W.Va. hunts

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Building free homes for wounded vets

Building free homes for wounded vets
By Kathleen Toner, CNN
March 11, 2010 4:08 p.m. EST

Dan Wallrath's organization built four houses for wounded vets in Texas
Retired homebuilder started program after meeting father of wounded Marine
Wallrath's team remodeled house for free to make it handicapped-accessible
Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2010 CNN Heroes
Houston, Texas (CNN) -- Alexander Reyes' boyhood dream of a military career ended when he was hit by an improvised explosive device during a patrol two years ago in Baghdad.
"Laying in that hospital bed ... sometimes I felt I'd rather [have] died," Reyes said. "My life came to a complete halt."
Reyes sustained severe blast injuries that led to his medical discharge; he's on 100 percent medical disability. Like many soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, Reyes, now 24, found the transition to civilian life difficult.
But he and a handful of other injured veterans are getting help from what may seem an unlikely source: a custom home builder in Houston, Texas.
Dan Wallrath recently presented Reyes and his wife with an unexpected gift: a home built especially for them, mortgage-free.
Building free homes for wounded vets

Thursday, October 7, 2010

VA already treated 565,000 first-time Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran patients

Do you want to know why you are needed to help our veterans? Do you want to know why you should pay attention to what is happening to them? If you already know these answers, then read what Veterans for Common Sense has been up to. If you don't know the answer, then you haven't been paying attention all along and wouldn't know that had it not been for the President and what this congress has been doing, it would have been a lot worse. Too many people just want to slam President Obama and they attack Democrats in congress, especially down here in Florida but the truth is there for anyone who wants to know the facts. Start with their voting records and know who has voted against veterans especially when most of them want your votes again. If they can't support veterans or the troops then what chance do you as an average citizen have?

VCS Advocacy in Action -

VCS Government Relations Advocacy
On September 30, after nine years of endless war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress held a hearing on "The True Cost of War."  VCS thanks Chairman Bob Filner for holding this vital oversight of VA's long-term needs and obligations.
VCS testified with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Professor Linda Bilmes.
Because of our VCS research, for the first time, the Associated Press reported the facts.

What is the tragic human cost?  VA already treated 565,000 first-time Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran patients, and VCS estimates the total will hit one million by the end of 2014.
What is the enormous financial cost?  Pushing toward one trillion dollars for healthcare and benefits for our disabled veterans for the next 40 years.  The total financial cost of the wars to Americans?  Up to $6 trillion, and escalating. 
Please read our testimony and watch the official Congressional video clip (click on "Multimedia Link') where VCS speaks at 1 hour, 45 minutes.
VCS Public Relations Advocacy
VCS was quoted in three major news stories this week:
Boston Globe - The Prudential Scandal Grows
Austin American-Statesman - Improper Military Discharges Often Block VA Benefits
Houston Chronicle - Escalating Military Suicide Epidemic

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Iraq War veteran to get treatment after Oklahoma bomb charge

Iraq War veteran to get treatment after Oklahoma bomb charge
Iowa man pleads guilty to bomb charge.

Published: September 19, 2010

A brain-damaged veteran of the Iraq War pleaded guilty Friday to an Oklahoma County bomb charge.

Steven Andrew Jordal, 26, was ordered to get treatment at a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Jordal spent almost two years in the Oklahoma County jail. A judge Friday agreed to a plea deal that puts him on probation and requires him to get mental health treatment at the VA medical center in St. Cloud, Minn.

"I hope you're able to get some help for that," District Judge Don Deason said.

Jordal was released about 3 p.m. Friday to his mother, who promised to take him to Minnesota.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed he needed treatment. A psychologist reported Jordal suffered from poly-concussion syndrome. He was an infantry tank specialist in the U.S. Army from 2002-07. He is from Iowa.

Read more: Iraq War veteran to get treatment

Friday, September 3, 2010

GOP want to cut budget by hitting veterans

I have no clue what the hell happened to Republicans in Congress but this is what they have been doing behind the backs of veterans for a long time. This is not new and frankly didn't make it into the 24/7 cable news shows. When Congress was debating the VA budget during the ticking time bomb of wounded veterans entering into the VA system, GOP in congress said they couldn't afford to increase the VA budget to take care of them because "There are two wars to pay for." Yes, that's right and if you watched CSPAN you would have heard these words come right out of their mouth with absolutely no shame. After all, when it came to defense contractors, they demanded money to just flow in if other congressmen "supported the troops" they had to support the missions without hesitation. They didn't seem to make the same connection in their own heads when it came to really taking care of the troops and our wounded.

They want to keep going on the tax breaks for the wealthy claiming it's all about jobs but after all these years, the average American is still asking when these breaks for the rich will make any jobs. We're still working with the budget giving the rich money off our backs, but again, the media has not thought this was an important point to make when they talk about how much the average American in hurting. Well if that wasn't enough to get our blood boiling these same folks now say support the rich by letting the wounded veterans suck it up and give up their own lives and futures as if they have not already done that.

When members of the GOP called the VA a welfare program, the mass media ignored it. They were too busy letting the talking heads spout off about how the tax cuts for the rich were needed and covering every single word Sarah Palin tweeted about what she just ate for breakfast. They never once confronted her on the fact for every dollar the people of Alaska paid out in taxes, the state got $5 back,,,,,,in other words, tax breaks worked for them but she complains about paying taxes? What? Yet this makes sense? Rich? Hell ya they should get all they wanted after all they already paid to put the bodies in congress to watch their backs so screw the rest of the American people and the veterans.

If you heard a tenth of the things I've heard coming out of their mouths you'd want to send each and everyone of them to Iraq and Afghanistan with combat boots on and a pack on their backs to see what it was really like for the wounded coming home. A few of them went with a military escort protecting them so they never really understood what it was really like and they were in safe zones just to show up and get a picture taken with some real heroes.

The truth is members of the GOP in congress stopped being real Republicans a long time ago. I used to find many of them deeply committed to the military and veterans but then things changed. They started to vote against them while they pretended to care. Now they don't even bother to pretend they give a damn at all. They'll show up at meetings and talk about how the nation has to support the troops and honor veterans but they are not including themselves in on that. They just expect the American people to take over what they want the government to stop doing. When it came time to really show they had the backs of the men and women risking their lives, the GOP had out a dagger in perfect position to drive the knife straight in without ever once having to look into the eyes of the men and women they just betrayed!

September 3, 2010 posted by Gordon Duff

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

A week ago, we marched out of Iraq, leaving 50,000 “administrative” troops and tens of thousands of contractors behind. They perform no useful purpose of any kind, no more than the original attack which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates now openly refers to as unnecessary and wrong. The war that never should have started cost America 3 trillion dollars, much of it unaccounted for. Along with the thousands of American dead and the untold devastation in Iraq, the war also cost America health and welfare of up to 400,000 of her veterans, America’s children. A generation of young adults, another generation of our best and bravest stand betrayed.

We have money for fraud of every kind, projects paid for but never finished, weapons stolen, defective or never delivered, buying poisoned water for our troops at 5 times the cost of French Wine, I could go on for hours, the list is endless.
read more here

So why not tell corporations to pull up their own bootstraps and pitch in? Why not ask them to be patriotic in this time of crisis? Why not? Because while the veterans were so deeply patriotic they were willing to die for this country, the corporations have proven their are selfish and only care about themselves, what they can get out of this nation and what they can retire on. Think I'm wrong? Then ask them why it is when NAFTA was passed and they were able to set up businesses outside the US hiring foreign workers, they not only jumped at the chance but demanded the right to do it more? Ask them why when two wars were going on and contractors were sent in more than the troops were, why they thought they could get away with the way they were treating the troops, getting pay outs for cost plus contracts and then decided it was in their best interests to just pay fines for what they did? Because that would make sense to the American people but would make a lot of really rich people upset enough they stopped backing these BS superstars we were suckered into sending to congress.

The same folks who said no to reform of the health insurance industry did it off our backs siding with the corporations. Did the American people notice this? Nope and for the most part, they are ticked off the things the congress has managed to do were just not big enough or fast enough even though with the Democrats in the majority of the House, they have passed more bills waiting for some in the Senate to stop blocking debate. We're all suffering while they hold our futures for ransom thinking if things are bad enough no one will remember how we ended up like this in the first place.

I've been angry for a long time but even this one is just about the lowest blow the GOP could ever pull off. Telling wounded veterans they are not patriotic enough because they want what we promised them is the lowest level of depravity. This is not a handout! They paid for it with their lives for 4 years and even more in too many cases while the elected in congress ended up doing a couple of years of living off what the men and women serving risking their lives provided them with. This democracy of ours was provided by the men and women who served this nation since it was begun and now people like Simpson are saying they just haven't done enough? Now do you get the idea why people like me are furious?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Healing and family are next missions for Afghanistan vet

Healing and family are next missions for Afghanistan vet from Lake Worth

By John Lantigua

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — U.S. Army paratrooper Travis Brown of Lake Worth is bursting with frustration.

He is 21, with a 6-foot-4-inch body full of broken bones - including a pelvis fractured in eight places and shattered legs. A foot-long scar that looks like the stitching on a football descends from his chest to his belly, where his spleen was removed.

Ten of his teeth are broken and he wears a pirate patch over his left eye because powerful medications have given him double vision. His nose looks normal, but only because military surgeons did a good job sewing it back on.

He is in bed, restless but immobile, and desperate to convince the people around him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that today, the meds aren't working well. Simply by touching him they are causing him excruciating pain.

"It's your fingertips," he utters through his clenched remaining teeth to veteran physical therapist Arnette Smith, who is gently moving his left leg.

"Don't you understand? Your fingertips are hurting me."

Brown is a tough, brave, idealistic young man who pictured himself fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. But he never did engage the enemy.

Frustration and pain are about all he has known since he was deployed there on April 30. In that respect, he is much like the nation as a whole when it comes to the war.
read more here
Healing and family are next missions