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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Scaled-Down Inauguration Events Honor Troops, Families

Scaled-Down Inauguration Events Honor Troops, Families
Dec 21, 2012
Stars and Stripes
by Leo Shane III

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will honor troops serving overseas and military families in his inauguration festivities next month, an extension of the White House’s ongoing campaign to highlight their sacrifice.

An inaugural source says plans call for a pop concert for military children the weekend of the inauguration and an expanded Commander in Chief’s ball, one of only two official inaugural balls to be sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Planners have promised that the celebration surrounding the inauguration Jan. 21 will be much smaller in scope and cost than the parties in 2009, with an eye toward the still sluggish national economy.

But a person familiar with the committee’s work said the events will also have a focus on the military, and include a number of opportunities for servicemembers and their families to interact with political leaders.

The Commander in Chief’s ball will feature Pentagon officials, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors and representatives from throughout the armed forces.

Tickets for the event will be distributed through the Department of Defense and the Joint Task Force for the National Capital Region, which is also assisting with security for all inaugural events.

Hosting just two official inaugural balls would be a dramatic change from recent history, when the first family has made frequent stops and wardrobe changes in an effort to thank thousands of celebrating supporters.
read more here

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

White Sox Donnie Veal says trip to Walter Reed won't be his last

White Sox visit Walter Reed Military Medical Center
 August 28, 2012

BALTIMORE -- Five players and several other members of the White Sox visited with Wounded Warriors in Bethesda, Md. before Tuesday’s game.

Pitchers Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Donnie Veal and Nate Jones all traveled to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to spend time with injured armed forces veterans.

The team makes the trip annually and Crain said he had gone several times previously. The reliever said he enjoys the chance to visit with patients to recognize their efforts to safeguard the country and for their sacrifice. He also knows the positive impact a visit can have.

“I just want to go and lift their spirits if they’re down, though most of them have a great attitude about it,” Crain said. “But just to show our appreciation, it’s fun to do that. It is important for us to show that we support them and that we think about them and what they’re doing for us. It brings light and doesn’t let us forget about what’s going on in the world and what’s allowing us as a player to play or for a fan to go watch a game.”

Veal said it was his first trip and it won’t be his last.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Still in the Fight

Mike Corrado - Still in the Fight (live at Camp Lejeune, NC USO w/Gary Sinise & Lt Dan Band)

Mike Corrado performing "Still in the Fight" a tribute to wounded warriors aboard Camp Lejeune, NC Saturday, September 17. The show was sponsored by the USO and MCCS where Mike opened for Gary Sinise and the Lt Dan Band. The studio version of Still in the Fight is available on iTunes and other major download retailers and proceeds benefit USO Wounded Warrior Family Centers. For more information please visit Mike and Facebook Corradomusic

Friday, July 29, 2011

Police officers get training on combat brain injuries

A Day of TBI Training for Albemarle Police
Reported by Julie Bercik

Some Albemarle County police officers spent Thursday afternoon in the classroom. They discussed the effects of post traumatic stress disorder and other traumatic brain injuries for soldiers.

Ben Shaw, a veteran peer specialist with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, led the training session. The former marine served time in Iraq.
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A Day of TBI Training for Albemarle Police

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 Medal of Honor recipients ride to unite nation for wounded warriors

Mike Thornton, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1972, hugs U.S. Navy Master at Arms 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt after DeWalt completed a leg of the Texas Challenge Ride 2 Recovery from Austin, Texas, to Killeen, Texas.

Photo Credit: Michael Heckman, III Corps Fort Hood Public Affairs.

3 Medal of Honor recipients join 350-mile bike ride to unite nation, wounded warriors
Apr 4, 2011

By Michael Heckman (III Corps Fort Hood Public Affairs)

FORT HOOD, Texas -- With the assistance of three Medal of Honor recipients, this year's Texas Challenge, one in the Ride 2 Recovery series, helped wounded warriors heal from the wounds of wars suffered in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The approximately 230 riders passed through Fort Hood, Texas, March 31, en route to Arlington, Texas for a Major League Baseball game. They began their six-day, 350-mile journey March 28, at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio.

After a crowd of several hundred people had gathered near the flagpole outside the III Corps Headquarters, Lt. Gen. Bob Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, praised the wounded warriors.

"To see this is awe-inspiring. Folks, the Ride Two Recovery is an amazing group," Cone said. "It represents what is best about our country, about the military and most important, the human spirit. Thanks for inspiring my Soldiers to do their best in every endeavor."

Three medal of honor recipients participated in the Texas Challenge, including Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, the first living recipient of the nation' highest military award since Vietnam. Cone also acknowledged "Fort Hood's local hero," Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler.

Zeigler, who was severely wounded in the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings on Fort Hood, sat near the front of the column of riders, ready to pedal his way on a recumbent-trike from the flagpole to the front gate.

It was Zeigler's first ride since undergoing brain surgery March 4, after falling while on vacation with his wife, Jessica, in Reno, Nev.

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3 Medal of Honor recipients join 350-mile bike ride

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Army Supports Wounded Warriors' Children


Army Supports Wounded Warriors' Children

(NAPSI)-Children face significant challenges when a soldier returns from war with severe injuries. After the stress of parents' deployment, the recovery process can last for years, deeply affecting children.

Sometimes they have to travel to the hospital where the parents recover, changing schools and leaving their friends behind. Sometimes they watch their parents learn to walk or talk all over again. Sometimes their parents are angry and anxious as they cope with the post-traumatic stress that often follows combat.

The U.S. Army recognizes the impact of these challenges and is taking proactive steps to help families.

Each year, the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) hosts a symposium where wounded soldiers, veterans and their families gather to prioritize the top challenges facing the wounded warrior community. During the weeklong event, the children ages 6 to 17 attend Operation Purple®, an urban adventure camp hosted by the National Military Family Association.

"For the first time, I didn't feel alone," said 12-year-old Savannah Cramblett, whose mother sustained significant injuries while on active duty in Iraq. "My friends at school don't understand what my family is going through, but the kids at Operation Purple® camp did. I enjoyed the horseback riding, trip to Sea World and even swimming. These are memories, I will never forget."
read more here

Monday, May 17, 2010

Corps helps wounded troops collect extra money

Corps helps wounded troops collect extra money

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday May 17, 2010 6:20:32 EDT

Thousands of active and former Marines may be eligible for extra money under a recent policy revision expanding benefits to troops wounded in combat, but making sure you collect what you’re owed will require some effort.

But help isn’t far away.

As soon as the Corps issued its revised policy in mid-April, the Wounded Warrior Regiment set out to identify eligible Marines and assist them through the process.

Known as PAC, short for Pay and Allowances Continuation, the benefit allows wounded Marines to collect the monthly special pays they would have lost once they were evacuated from the combat zone. Those can include hostile fire/imminent danger pay; hazardous duty incentive pay; hardship duty pay and several others.

For some, this will total several thousand dollars.

“We just recently credited a Marine $4,000,” said Terry Herron, the regiment’s pay entitlements supervisor.

As of late April, officials had identified 579 Marines eligible under the new rules, and they said they expect there are many others, including Marines who have left the service. However, they said some wounded warriors won’t take the necessary steps to collect the benefits because the process can be confusing.

“We are finding that when Marines get overwhelmed, they won’t apply,” Herron said.
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Corps helps wounded troops collect extra money

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wound of warrior, traumatic recoil

Chaplian Kathie

–verb (used without object)
to draw back; start or shrink back, as in alarm, horror, or disgust.
to spring or fly back, as in consequence of force of impact or the force of the discharge, as a firearm.
to spring or come back; react (usually fol. by on or upon): Plots frequently recoil upon the plotters.
Physics. (of an atom, a nucleus, or a particle) to undergo a change in momentum as a result either of a collision with an atom, a nucleus, or a particle or of the emission of a particle.
an act of recoiling.
the distance through which a weapon moves backward after discharging.

Traumatic Recoil? Why not replace Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with something like this? Would it sound tough enough? After all, we tend to forget the troops are humans and not machines. "The distance through which a weapon move backwards after discharging" seems to really fit this. They do move backwards when they have flashbacks and nightmares. Until they begin to heal, this is the condition of their lives.

It's stunning to me, even now, that people would rather be labeled a drug addict or alcoholic than be associated with any kind of mental illness. PTSD, while it actually means change after trauma, is hard for the wounded to accept. There is much to be done in removing the stigma associated with the mind but until we actually manage to get society passed the part in the Seven Deadly sins, we're not about to have any major breakthroughs any time soon.

I'm sure you're wondering why I just put in the Seven Deadly sins, because we don't want to understand the origins of them any more than we want to understand what Sloth actually was referring to.

Originally Sloth was listed as two "deadly sins" Acedia and Tristitia. When you read what these two terms mean, you see what we now know as clinical depression and mental illness. While science has shown there are reasons for the mental conditions all humans experienced, too many of modern day humans still associate the judgment of others with clueless assumptions. If you see someone sitting in a chair for hours on end, you assume they are lazy and tell them to get off their butt and do something. If you see someone appearing to be happy about nothing, depressed, crying, you tell them to "cheer up" and do something. After all, it's a lot easier responding this way than actually investigating what is behind the way they are acting, or not reacting to life.

We are still doing it when it comes to mental illness, still dredging up words like "nuts' " mental case" "crazy" along with a very long list of insults. The problem is that when it comes to PTSD, there is an epidemic of suicides that need to be addressed today, not tomorrow when the mentality of the citizenry finally catches up to scientific advancements.

Traumatic Recoil also fits because I've come to the conclusion there are different types of PTSD that really need to be set apart. While all humans are susceptible to traumatic events, there are two groups not only exposed to them, but are participants in them. Military and police officers.

Firefighters and emergency responders are exposed to traumatic events more often than any other group of civilians, therefor, more of an increase in their risk. They respond after the traumatic event has happened. They respond after the fire has begun, after the accident has happened, after the storm has already come and after the tornado has already left.

Police officers rush into it while it is happening with guns drawn, speeding chancing fleeing suspects, ready to react with split second-life threatening decisions. The members of the military are also facing the same kinds of events but in combat face them more often. Both groups use weapons.

Playing around with words to describe this wound needs to be done if we are ever going to wake up the walking wounded and get them to the point where it is better for them do heal than to be self-medicating and more readily to be called drug addict or alcoholic than to admit they need mental health care to heal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting Mental Health Care in a Combat Zone

Guest Post by
Meredith Walker

Getting Mental Health Care in a Combat Zone
With the suicide rate of active duty soldiers at an all-time high, the issues of mental health care for those in the military has never been more pertinent or more pressing. One of the major issues in mental health care in the field, however, is the stigma associated with needing psychiatric care, in a work culture that values strength, both physical and mental. Many feel that this stigma makes soldiers shy away from getting the health care they desperately need.

New figures from the conflict in Iraq suggest that as much as twenty percent of active duty soldiers and those who have recently returned home from Iraq may be suffering from some form of depression, anxiety, PTSD or emotional disturbance. This translates to nearly 340,000 individuals who could be wrestling with mental problems on their own, unable or embarrassed to ask for help.

This issue has been brought dramatically to the forefront by the May 2009 shooting of five soldiers at a counseling center by another solider, Sgt. John M. Russell, an individual whom officials had mandated get treatment from the counseling center. For this man, treatment was too late. Encouraging soldiers to get mental health help and to talk to someone about their feelings of stress or grief over lost comrades is essential to preventing future tragedies of this nature.

Even more pressing is the current realities of serving in the military. Today, many soldiers go out on three or four tours of duty, as opposed to the one or two served by most fighting in Vietnam, a conflict notorious for the war-induced trauma many soldiers who fought in it returned home with. Studies suggest that those going out for their third or fourth rotation are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems as those just coming into active duty.

Changes are being made to help soldiers get help, however. More soldiers are actively speaking to about their combat stress and the military is offering more combat stress clinics where soldiers can rest and recover. The biggest obstacle to overcome in helping soldiers get mental health care help, however, is the soldiers themselves who often feel weak or incapable of doing their duty if they seek out help. Many do not want to be regarded negatively by peers or commanders, and simply deal with the pain silently.

Today, many in the armed forces as well as veterans at home are advocating new awareness of stress-counseling programs and are encouraging commanding officers to set an example by seeking out treatments and showing all soldiers that it’s ok to need a shoulder to lean on, hopefully preventing future tragedies and ensuring better lives for all enlisted.

This post was contributed by Meredith Walker, who writes about the masters in public health. She welcomes your feedback at

Anyone that wants to write a guest post is welcome to do so at anytime as long as it is helpful. email me at with the post you want to ad in the body of the email. Due to constant crashes of my PC, I no longer open attachments.

Monday, June 15, 2009

At war with PTSD Mental affliction in soldiers tied to area homicide, robbery

I'm sure you've heard the expression "strength in numbers" and maybe just maybe that is the answer to all of this. What if every Iraq and Afghanistan veteran joined with every Gulf War veteran, Vietnam veteran, Korean veteran and remaining WWII veterans to file a claim with the VA? There is a backlog of over 900,000 right now and shows no sign of easing. What would this do? Would it mess up the entire system so much that they would be forced to really do something with some sense of urgency? Would it make it worse for the veterans already filing claims and needing help to be joined by other veterans trying to make a point temporarily?

We had Memorial Day when veterans from around the country mobilized to remember the fallen in tremendous numbers. Yesterday they did it again for Flag day to remember all the men and women serving under this one flag. Do you think they could repeat these efforts for the sake of all veterans? What if the well, economically able, joined the rest of the veterans not so blessed and really helped them out by marching in the streets, demanding the veterans of this nation actually received the promised care they already earned because they served? Could you imagine what over 24 million veterans would look like marching in brotherhood for each other?

It's not a far fetched idea. I've seen these men and women in action and I've seen what they can do when they want to unite with their military families at memorials, parades, reunions and events like Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and Flag Day. If anyone can do it, they can. They care deeply for each other, except for a rare few who deny the problem exists. That's ok because they never understood the concept of "never leave anyone behind" or what it's like to be a member of this kind of family. If they all acted together, let their voices be heard by the very people claiming to "honor their service" then don't you think the VA and the DOD would be forced to take immediate action that actually works? How many more veterans should we allow them to make excuses for? How many more veterans need to end up in the backlog and forced to wait for care? How many more will face financial hardships waiting? How many more will end up committing crimes instead of getting help? What is the limit to the sacrifices these men and women are supposed to make before they need sacrifice no more?

At war with PTSD Mental affliction in soldiers tied to area homicide, robberyThe Tribune-Democrat - Johnstown,PA,USA

The Department of Defense has taken major steps to help military personnel returning from deployment.

The Veterans Administration offers counseling and treatment for soldiers suffering from the effects of combat, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

So why are we publishing stories about military veterans who say they have PTSD and who are being charged with violent crimes?

The condition has recently been linked to a double homicide in the Altoona area and an armed robbery in Cambria County. In both cases, the alleged assailants said they were suffering from PTSD.

PTSD is a complicated problem that is growing in scope and intensity nationally and here in our region, where a disproportionately high number of residents has served in Iraq and Afghanistan due to our region’s strong commitment to military service.

“People come in when they have a crisis,” said John Grove, chief of social work with the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona. “Of course, we’re seeing more (PTSD) related to Iraq and Afghanistan because they’re coming back.”

Some level of PTSD is an inevitable reality during times of war. And the incidence is elevated now because of the high rate of re-deployment – multiple tours of duty.

Identifying military personnel who are in need of help, and getting them that help, is a two-sided coin:

The Department of Defense must continue to do more for these veterans, moving toward a system where soldiers are not penalized for undergoing psychological evaluations. In the past, officials could lose their rank and soldiers could lose their careers if questions existed about possible psychological concerns.

On the other side, military personnel and their families must be willing to seek evaluation and treatment – before a “crisis” has occurred. There are many places for veterans to get help, even anonymously. Soldiers must recognize in themselves the signs of PTSD and then act. click link for more

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Army closing some wounded soldier units

Army closing some wounded soldier units
Army closing some wounded soldier units

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Army is closing three special units for wounded and ill soldiers and downsizing others, including one at Fort Campbell, after tightening the selection process last year.

The warrior transition units were created in 2007 to address reports of substandard care for wounded soldiers. But the number of soldiers in these 36 units has dropped from a high of more than 12,000 last June to about 9,500 currently.

The Army announced last month three units at installations in Kansas and Alabama will close. Units that will be downsized are at posts in Kansas, Georgia, Washington and the Fort Campbell installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. Two units in Virginia will merge.

Commanders say the decrease is because the Army last year imposed stricter screening procedures for admitting wounded, ill and injured soldiers into the units.

Previously, the Army automatically sent any ill or injured soldier who needed more than six months of recovery to a warrior transition unit. The soldiers were assigned officers and enlisted leaders to manage their medical care and they were assisted by medical staff who helped them through recovery and rehabilitation.

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The lament of the warrior

Chaplain Kathie

If you listen carefully, you can still hear the sound of ancient drums beating in the night. The lament of the warrior pounded to the ears of Great Spirit seeking relief for all they witnessed that day. Ancient warriors in combat, face to face with the enemies of their people did not rest there as the dead were laying on the earth. As they walked looking for their brothers to reclaim them, laying by their side were the bodies of the enemy forces. Suddenly they were not some target to kill while they were seeking to kill them in return. They were just humans like them. They were fighting for what they believed in just as much as the ancients that fought against them. They had families, passions, laughed and cried and the human price paid was not forgotten. In battle the enemy were evil creatures that had to be slain but in death, they were once again just other humans unlucky that day to have fallen by the sword. They carried away the loss of their friends and the loss of the lives of the enemies that day. They needed to mourn for all and for themselves for what they had seen that day in battle.

Read any account of ancient warfare and see what we now call PTSD. The trauma after combat has not changed in the centuries man has fought against man and will not likely change until man goes to war no more. Different years, different explanations, different words used to describe this human wound after different wars by different means. Stone weapons replaced by swords, replaced by bow and arrow, replaced by rifle, replace by cannon and on and on it went. The end result by any means was the same. The wounded had to be found among the dead and among their dead were the dead of their enemies. Momentary lapses of why they fought allowed them to see the enemy looking the same as their friends. Aside from the clothing, they all looked the same. For seconds their minds acknowledged the loss of all life gone that day.

Today the drum beats of the ancients still pounds in the nights of those who experienced the other side of peace and we call it Post Traumatic Stress. This literally means After Wound. Trauma is Greek for the wound. The ancients acknowledged the loss of other humans and the need to recover from the horrors they lived thru. We however with our vast knowledge and technological achievements refuse to face the human aspect. We see ourselves as smarter, more able to adapt, push on, get over it. We think we are mentally more developed than they were. What we fail to see is that we are just as human as the ancients were. The wounded are just as wounded but we are able to save more than they could. The dead however are just as dead and they lay side by side, enemies in life but the same in death.

If the military were really serious about addressing this wounded spirit they would allow all the lives lost that day to be mourned and acknowledged. They would do as the ancients did and have cleansing ceremonies before they walked away for rest. They would pray for the lives of the enemies they had to take that day and for relief from the pain they felt inside. They would acknowledge the innocents lost because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would face the human inside of them instead of only the warrior they trained to be.

To this day I mourn the loss of my husband's nephew. His name was Steven. I called him Andy in the book I wrote because his death was too recent to the writing of it. Steven was the same age as my husband when they were both in Vietnam. He came home and fell apart, fell into what he used to cope with in Vietnam, heroin. Steven had seen some horrific things but the one thing standing out in his mind the most was tying his boot.

The VC had a habit of playing around with bombs the US forces had placed the day before. Steven and his men were supposed to go out and check to see if they were moved. Having done that for what he thought was successfully, his unit began to move. Two of his friends were ahead of him when he stooped down to retie his boot. They had gotten just far enough ahead with the trigger was snapped and the bomb blew up. Two of his friends died that day and he blamed himself but more, he regretted he was not right by the side of his friends when it happened and was still alive to live with it. No matter what happened before that day or after that day, no matter what heroics he was performing, that was the day that would claim the rest of his life.

He was not allowed to grieve, there was too much more to do. There were too many more days ahead when other lives were at risk and they were supposed to be tough enough to just get over it and move on from there. He was not allowed to face the fact a part of him remained there on that road right next to the friends he lost.

He came home still using heroin to kill off feeling because all the good feelings had died there on that road. He ended up in jail after a drug deal had gone bad. After he got out, he was able to clean himself up and began to find reason to seek help to heal. He got a job, then another and another. He found a girlfriend after and then another and another, until he found someone that was able to break thru to him and he began to heal. He went to the VA, finally had a claim approved for PTSD and the shrapnel still embedded in him. He was alive again but barely.

No matter what I said, tried to say or how much I listened, he looked at me as if I wasn't there. After all, many years younger than he was and not a "brother" he couldn't understand how I could possibly know anything. I could never manage to find the right way to reach him. Years of trying and I failed, just as I had failed for too many years with my own husband to get him to hear me. It had taken me from 1982 to 1990 to get him to go for help. It didn't matter that I was able to get others to go for help to heal to him. He didn't want to know anything I had to say but over all those years he was listening while pretending not to. In 93 I managed to get him to go to a Veterans center and then finally to the VA. Yet Steven had built such a tough wall around his spirit that I couldn't even crack it and neither could his doctors.

After Steven's claim was approved and he was feeling a bit better about being alive, he sent for his records. He was also feeling pain in his back. The VA was sending him for an MRI to see what was going on, but his girlfriend stopped it knowing the MRI could have moved the shrapnel littering his body and killed him. This he took as an attack against him by the VA. Then came the last straw. The Army responded to his records request by telling him his unit never existed. He wondered how that could be true when they approved his claim, he had the shrapnel in his body and his friends died. A little while later, he left his girlfriend because he had reached for his comforter of the past, heroin, and she couldn't take it anymore. He went to his dealer, bought enough to kill ten men, checked himself into a motel room, locked the door and finally in his mind, caught back up to his friends on the road that day and joined them.

His brother called us early the next morning. Another life claimed by Vietnam that would not appear on The Wall in Washington or be remembered as a price paid. To this very day, I wonder what I could have said that would have broken thru to him even though sometimes there are no words to be found. This all goes into what I do because I know they are all worth whatever I can put into this, whatever I can do or say, whatever information I can share and if there is one life I can save, it's all worth it.

The drums of the warriors lamenting the loss of humans they fought with and fought against are beating still in the night but they are now joined by this new generation of warriors, still all so human, still all so wounded and neglected as humans. They do not know the things they need to know to heal the wound they carry inside of them.

They cannot see the courage they showed when the mission and their friends were all that mattered and their own pain they carried that day was pushed back until it was all over. Steven finished the job he was given even with the pain he carried in his spirit after he tied his boot that day. He carried on no matter how much pain and guilt he felt. He was honorably discharged but the pain he felt was never offered to the Great Spirit to be cleansed from him just as the warriors of today are not allowed to offer their's in the same night as the same day they went into battle with other humans.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mentally tough and wounded heart

Chaplain Kathie
Mentally tough and wounded heart? Can the two exist together? Absolutely and they prove it everyday. Their buddies come before they do. The mission comes before they do. It all comes before the pain they have inside.

Stop and think about something. War is about killing the enemy they are sent to fight when they cannot get them to simply surrender and they are trying to kill the other side just as much. With death all a part of war, what would stop them from just walking past the wounded if it was all just a matter of fact in war? What would stop them from just leaving the dead where they fall and walking away? What stops them is their heart. These are their brothers and sisters. They've been adopted into a military family when they come into their unit and they know they can trust their buddies with their lives, trust the fact they will make sure they get home again, one way or another. They also know that they may have to do it for one of them.

They have courage enough to train to use the weapons used in war all the while knowing the other side is also preparing. They have the determination inside of them to withstand endless hours of pushing their bodies to the limits of endurance. They come to terms with the fact they will have to leave their parents, spouses, kids and friends for a year or more, existing on emails and care packages to stay connected to them. Physically trained and mentally prepared to do what their country asks them to do, they go. There is no weak mind in them. They have a committed mind and that requires strength to do it and the courage to face the chance of not making it home alive.

When their "family" is wounded, they risk their own lives to help them, rescue them or collect their bodies. No matter how much they grieve, they push on and keep going for the sake of the others. Mentally tough? You bet they are. I don't know about you, but honestly, I'd be the first to ask to go home. It took me years to understand what is in them that enables them to do what they do.

We know they are bright because they learn how to fight and brave at the same time because they are willing to risk their lives to fight. We know they have courage because they are able to risk their lives to save the lives of their friends and for the sake of whatever the leaders of this nation ask of them. So how can it be that anyone associated Post Traumatic Stress with being mentally weak? What is all this nonsense about? Where does it come from?

The vast majority of the men and women serving, just as those serving in past conflicts, finished what was asked of them, setting aside the pain that was already inside of them. Maybe I should stress the word "pain" because pain does not live in the part of the brain that runs intellect, courage or determination. It lives in the part of the brain that controls emotions and there emotional pain beats. Call it that heart or call it the soul, call it whatever you want, but each and everyone of us have different levels of emotions. Different levels of caring, sympathy and empathy just as each of us have limits on what we are able to do. For them, they have all the above but what they are able to do even with the pain inside, is remarkable.

They don't stop the battle so they can go talk to their boss and ask to go home sick. They finish what they are doing because lives depend on them. Is that weak minded?

No matter how drained they are, they push on. No matter how much nightmares rob them of rest, they get up and do what is asked of them. Is any of that from the weak minded?

They go without sleep, without regular meals, endure heat and other hard weather conditions, without any of the creature comforts the rest of us take for granted. There were no umbrellas in Vietnam with monsoon rains and no air conditioners in the jungle. There were no rubber pants to walk around rivers, streams and rice fields. No air mattresses to lay down on instead of the earth. Just as there are harsh living conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq today, they still go on. Is any of that possible with a weak mind?

I just did a post on military police called the Spartans. Spartans Living the Soldier Creed It's about what is posted right here and what is inside of these men and women. If you can't understand the difference between what comes from being strong of mind and wounded in "heart" then I think you have the problem you want to turn around on them. Apparently your mind is just not strong enough to learn and see this wound for what it is.

There was a time when they were the ones to feel ashamed but that was in a time and place when we just didn't know any better. Yet when you look at history, you see that even without knowing what caused this, there was compassion for the wounded. Yes there were some blaming the wounded but even with them pointing fingers, there were those who had the an understanding that it very well could have been them stuck by it. We ran out of excuses a long time ago just as information removed any thoughts of the world being flat, information has left behind the uninformed being as ignorant as the flat earthers thinking they're going to fall off the planet. Now we know that anyone attacking those wounded by the trauma they live thru are the weak minded ones and unable to learn or feel anything for the wounded. Must really suck to be them! I'd rather spend time with PTSD veterans than waste a second on people just too dumb or lazy to learn anything about them. They used to call PTSD Soldier's Heart. I guess you have to know a soldier's heart by using your own one first.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

KCTV5 NEWS INVESTIGATION: Weapon Of Choice Depleted Uranium

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- Since 1991 the U.S. military has admitted to using depleted uranium in armor and ammunition on a large scale. But since then, a debate has raged about its long-term health effects on soldiers and their families.

Could one of the most effective military tools in their arsenal actually be harming soldiers?

Jerry Wheat is one of the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who have enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces.

"I was in the army for 4 years and 10 months. I joined in 1989 as a 19 Delta, which is a cavalry scout," said Wheat. "My job was to go out and look for the enemy."

Wheat was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star after his 1991 deployment in Gulf War I.

Wheat said his unit was in Iraq, heading toward Basra, when it got caught up in a firefight.

"My Bradley was hit again with another tank round, and that tank round knocked me unconscious," said Wheat.

In an instant flash of fire, smoke and shrapnel, Wheat became a casualty of war. But without knowing it, his battle was just beginning.

"I took shrapnel in the back of my head. I had some second- and third-degree burns, and there was about 25 pieces of shrapnel from my head all the way down my back," said Wheat.

The military initially denied it, but Wheat ultimately learned that the pieces of shrapnel embedded in his head and back were shards from "friendly fire" and some of the fragments contained depleted uranium.

"As a soldier, you know, most of us didn't know what DU was or made aware of to stay away from it," said Wheat.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

PTSD:Mental health professionals need to listen

Chaplain Kathie
When a choir sits listening to the sermon each and every week, they are often surprised when they hear something new but often they hear something they had not thought of before. The saying "you're preaching to the choir" comes from this experience.

When it comes to mental health professionals it's time they began actually listening to the choir and stopped being offended by what they could learn if they got their egos out of the way. Advocates are not your enemy. We cannot diagnose conditions and we cannot treat psychological illnesses. We can however assist you in doing both. Most of us live with what you are trying to take care of.

When it comes to PTSD you can study all of it until you believe there is nothing more you need to know but unless you are living with it on a daily basis, there is much you will never learn in a book.

Often veterans are stunned by what I have to tell them and they will respond with "My psychologist never told me that." leaving me to respond with "They don't know because they don't live with it." but personally I want to add in "they will not listen either."

What you miss is that most of the veterans with PTSD were always sensitive people, caring about others more than themselves. They walk away from horrific events in combat taking away the pain of others along with their own. You need to treat them for the pain they feel inside but first you need to understand them and what made them different. This answers their most usual question of "Why me?"

What you fail to point out to them is that they showed great bravery when they kept on doing their duty, facing more and more traumatic events after they were wounded by PTSD and kept on doing it until they and their friends were out of danger or back home and then collapsed. They feel as if they are weak or cowards because the military tells them they can prepare their minds to be "tough" enough to take it.

What you fail to address is their soul. PTSD did not attack their mind first. It attacked their soul. It is an emotional wound setting off changes to the rest of the warrior. You need to find out if they believe God is judging them or they believe God abandoned them. This weighs heavily on their lives and cannot be dismissed. When they survive the horrors of war wondering where God was is often eating away at them and research has shown the faith of the "patient" does have a lot to do with the healing of that patient. Reconnecting them with their faith and God offers one more thing science cannot deliver on and that is hope. The loss of hope is one of the primary reasons many veterans commit suicide.

What also fail to understand is often they are not addicted to the chemicals alcohol and drugs offer but are seeking to kill off feelings, good and bad, they do not want to feel. There are times however you are dealing with both PTSD and addiction. If you misdiagnose either, the treatment will not work. If they have both then both need to be addressed. Ask if there is a history in the family of addiction and then take it from there. Do not assume it is an "either or" when it very well could be both.

What many of you are doing is talking to the family members to have a better understanding of what is going on. They know the history of your patient but they will not often know how things connect. Listen to key words like "suddenly changed" and then find out what happened before they "changed" to know what you are dealing with. Remember that family members are not mental health experts and will not think of things you need to know unless you ask them and listen carefully to what they do say. You also need to acknowledge that often the veteran will hide facts you need to know because they are either in denial or afraid to admit it. The spouse often can supply what they are not telling you.

In the process you also need to inform the spouse of things they can avoid to keep confrontation at a minimum. Often family troubles escalate because of their reactions to the veteran. If they do not understand what PTSD is and what it does, they will react as if they are dealing with the same person instead of a changed person. They react out of frustration and anger instead of reacting with knowledge. All the knowledge you give them will not only help them cope but will assist in treating the veteran as well.

Advocates can help you to help them. We are not in competition with you and we are not trying to take away your jobs. We're trying to make you better at doing your jobs so that you send back our warriors to us in the best possible condition so that we can live with them as well as possible.

And yes, you guessed right. I had another argument with another "expert" pointing out that they have a "Masters degree" but I pointed out I live with what they had to go to college to learn. Big difference.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Supreme Court just slammed wounded veterans

I'll give you one guess who voted what way against the veterans,,,,,,Congress has to do something about this or all the talk over the last few years about taking care of our wounded veterans will boil down to empty words about as good as the treaties the government gave the Indians.

Let me remind you of one of the veterans that didn't see her claim honored before she died. My friend Capt. Agnes Irish Bresnahan! Remember she suffered from Agent Orange and PTSD but was never granted the full compensation she should have had? Well she probably would have had she not decided she wanted to make sure she fought just as hard for other veterans as she fought for herself. No veteran should ever have to do thru that but they do and they will now that the Supreme Court decided that it's up to the veterans to prove it or lose it!

Should be easy to do right? After all isn't that what you're thinking right now? Easy to prove if they are telling the truth but what if the VA decides a sworn statement from Satan himself comes stating clearly what the flashbacks and nightmares are all about and they don't believe it? What if a sniper showed up and said he shot the buddy of the veteran with PTSD so many times his eye balls fell out? What if they didn't believe him either? Well that's what this comes down to. It's happened too many times and it's wrong. My husband's claim took 6 years to clear up but as bad as that was, his best friend fought for 19 years before his claim was finally approved. I've heard even worse stories.

Congress needs to set the ground rules to undo the harm the Supreme Court just did and they need to do it fast! Let's see the right wing talking heads bitch moan and complain about this the way they just did over the flap with the security warning including the possibility of some disgruntled veterans. Ever wonder why any of them would ever be disgruntled?

Court makes it harder to fight claim denials

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Apr 21, 2009 16:48:13 EDT

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has made it harder for veterans to challenge the denial of medical claims by the Veterans Affairs Department.

The high court, in a 6-3 decision on Tuesday, said veterans who contend the VA failed to tell them what information was needed to justify their claims must prove that the VA's mistakes made a difference in the outcome of their cases.

A federal appeals court in Washington earlier ruled that the burden was on the VA to prove the errors were not harmful to the veterans.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Maryland Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative

Maryland Launches Veterans Network Of Care Portal
Posted on April 04, 2009

Maryland is first state in the nation to launch online program to connect veterans with behavioral health services

ANNAPOLIS (April 3, 2009) – Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown on Tuesday, March 31, joined representatives of the public mental health industry and veterans affairs as Maryland became the first state in the nation to launch a “Network of Care” Website devoted to the state’s veterans. The Maryland Veterans Network of Care portal is an on-line resource that provides simple and fast access to information on local, state and national behavioral health services available to veterans. The portal is part of Network of Care online community.

“We ask a great deal of our military families and our veterans and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. When we saw men and women falling through the cracks of a large and out dated federal VA system, we didn’t point fingers. We chose to act,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans initiative is a national model for what states can do to improve veteran services, especially behavioral health services. We are proud to be the first state in America to launch the Veterans Network of Care portal. We hope that other states follow our example and make veterans health a leading priority.”

Last year, the O’Malley-Brown administration introduced to the General Assembly one of the most comprehensive veterans packages in the nation. The cornerstone of the package was the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative that set aside $2.3 million for behavioral health services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The initiative provides funding for four regional resource coordinators who help direct behavioral health services to veterans in need. The administration introduced a bill this year that will expand the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative to include all veterans. Brown is working closely with leaders in the General Assembly to protect funding for this program.

“Many veterans do not sign up for services through the VA, and their families don’t know where to turn for help,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers. “The Veterans Network of Care portal is a comprehensive Website that includes information to help veterans find and sign up for these services.”
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Maryland Launches Veterans Network Of Care Portal

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Has PTSD evolved or have we?

by Chaplain Kathie

The following is a good article but it implies that PTSD has evolved instead of the fact we have evolved regarding knowledge, no longer dismissing what traumatic events can do to humans. If you go back in the historical records of battles throughout time, you will discover exactly how horrific warfare was and what it did to the warriors. Many accounts are within the Bible itself. Reading the words in most books of the Bible along with the discarded books eliminated from what we read today, you can find the trauma of war deeply changed the participants. David's accounts are one of many. Judges and Kings addresses warfare. When Joshua took Jericho, everyone was slaughtered by hand to hand combat. As for noise, screams would have filled every ear as the sound of the swords slashed thru skin and bones. Body parts and heads went flying thru the air. Ancient weaponry flung fire and burning oils onto the enemy forces on both sides. In many cases helpless captives were slaughtered after the battles were over.

In ancient times, the suffering of the warriors was treated as a judgment of God and hidden from others so they would not be ostracized. Even the ancients had ways of "healing" the warrior with cleansing rituals, spending time away from home to "purify" the warrior. Ancient Native Americans had sweat lodges and cleansing ceremonies as well.

When you read the accounts of the Spartans, the females, also trained in warfare to protect the homeland as the males were doing battles away, sent their sons with the warning "come back with your shield as a hero or carried on it" in other words, come back with your honor or dead. No one wanted to hear complaining of what combat did to them even though they were just as deeply wounded as the modern soldiers are today. The wounded were regarded as cowards.

This attitude was carried over into our own Revolutionary and Civil War where affected soldiers were shot for being cowards instead of treated as a casualty of war. It is not that the wound we call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder did not exist in history. It's more the fact we did not know what it was.

With science and technology, there is long distance warfare coupled with close range. The carnage remains. The death and destruction remains. Civilians are still killed in the process including children, women and old men. Comrades still lay dead on the battlefield and they have to be recovered. The wounded still have to be transported. The trauma wounded still return home to family and friends with a questionable futures as PTSD infects every part of their lives, yet science has also provided us with a better understanding of what makes humans work.

People tend to forget that up until Vietnam, PTSD wounded, were virtually ignored. After WWII, the "shell shocked" were sent to live on farms to be taken care of or sent to mental intuitions. The functionally shell shocked were left to fend for themselves. Vietnam veterans came home, much like all other generations but they fought to make sure this wound of war was treated and they were compensated for their wound. With all we know about Vietnam veterans, there is much that is not reported on. The families destroyed by it are not counted. The suicides we discuss today with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were hidden from the public because shame forced the families into silence along with lack of knowledge. The incarcerated Vietnam veterans convicted of crimes that should have been related to PTSD were ignored and justice denied. Homeless veterans walked the streets of cities and towns depending on alcohol and drugs to kill off feelings and cope with the jumping nerves, nightmares and flashbacks.

Because of the Vietnam veterans, we are as far as we are with PTSD. It is not that warfare has evolved. It is that we have evolved because of them. Think of them when Vietnam Veterans day comes again on March 29th and thank them for what they did for all veterans and their families.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has evolved with war
By Chris Roberts / El Paso Times
Posted: 03/24/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- During the Civil War, infantrymen who had a difficult time coping with the carnage they witnessed were said to have "soldier's heart."

In World War I, it was "shell shock," and in World War II, it was "battle fatigue."

Although post-traumatic stress disorder finally was diagnosed in Vietnam War veterans, little treatment was provided to them when they first returned.

"They didn't do anything when we came back," said Jeri Elena Mark, who suffers from the disorder.

She served on a Hawk missile crew in a Vietnam War combat zone.

"In 1985, they (Veterans Affairs) started giving me something to control the anxiety," she said of her wartime service.

Mark says she still has night panics, which she calms by checking the backyard and making sure the house alarms are set.

In 1989, Congress directed the VA to create the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder to research the problem.
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Military puts focus on epidemic of suicides
By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
BAGHDAD — In Maj. Thomas Jarrett's stress management class surrounded by concrete blast walls, American troops are urged not to accept post-traumatic stress disorder as an inevitable consequence of war.

Instead, Jarrett tells them to strive for "post-traumatic growth."

During a 90-minute presentation entitled "Warrior Resilience and Thriving," Jarrett, a former corporate coach, offers this and other unconventional tips on how troops can stay mentally healthy once they return home. He quotes Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Paradise Lost author John Milton and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, among others.

Walking through the crowd of young GIs in the makeshift classroom, Jarrett urges them to fight their "internal insurgents."

The overriding theme of the course: Troops have the power to determine how they react to the horrors they may experience in Iraq. They can either accept them as traumatizing events, or transform them into learning — even empowering — experiences.
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The problem is too many thinking they are helping are causing more damage. When you tell warriors they can "train" themselves to overcome the wound of PTSD, you are telling them they are to blame when they cannot. This is not a wound of the mind,although it's easier to explain that way, but a wound to the soul, the heart of the warrior. The vast majority of veterans I've been in contact with during 27 years, along with my own husband, are sensitive humans. Courage often comes with sensitivity in their core. It is was causes them to act on behalf of others, putting themselves aside for the sake of someone else.

The warriors have within them the same foundation, or core, as people going into law enforcement. They have within them the ability to take a life in order to save a life. This they are prepared to do, trained to do, but too often when there have been one too many traumatic events, they are also wounded.

The National Guards have within their core the same foundation as the people entering into fire departments and emergency responders. That is the ability to risk their lives for the sake of saving someone else. This is one of the biggest factors in the National Guards and Reservists rates of PTSD coming in higher than the military forces. It is also one of the reasons the military forces are now presenting in at higher rates every year. Each redeployment increases the risk of PTSD striking by 50%. Again, one too many traumatic events will produce more and more PTSD wounded.

The military will not understand that there are different types of people any more than they will understand this is not a mental wound that they can train themselves to avoid, but a wound to the foundation of the individual. This is why civilians are also wounded by traumatic events they survive. To ignore the human condition is to keep ignoring what needs to be done for the warriors. If they keep misunderstanding what is at the root of PTSD, they will keep making the same mistakes they have been making for 30 years and we will keep losing them, burying more after war than we do during it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fort Bragg wounded feel worthless and abandoned

Injured prefer combat to recovery at Bragg

By Kevin Maurer - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Mar 24, 2009 14:37:55 EDT

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Soldiers in a recovery unit for wounded troops at Fort Bragg told the Secretary of the Army that they feel forgotten by the military and that combat duty would be better than the treatment they get now, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

The memo summarized the comments of soldiers who attended a closed-door meeting last week with Army Secretary Pete Geren. It was held after the service said it would look into complaints of overzealous discipline reported by The Associated Press.

Some of the soldiers told Geren they have “feelings of worthlessness and abandonment,” the memo states. They told Geren that low morale and suicides in the base’s Warrior Transition battalion are “pushed by (a) negative command climate” that is enforced by the unit’s squad leaders.

“If I had been in the (unit) after I was wounded the first time, I would not have fought so hard to stay in,” one soldier told Geren, according to the memo. “It is very demoralizing and a very different experience from my previous recuperation.”
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Something We Can All Agree On: Voluntary Assistance to Veterans

Something We Can All Agree On: Voluntary Assistance to Veterans
Huffington Post - New York,NY,USA

Robert S. McElvaine
Posted March 19, 2009 | 08:49 PM (EST)

Today we mark the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Recent reports indicate that the situation there has improved considerably. The focus is shifting back to Afghanistan. President Obama has made good on his campaign promise to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. The question remains, though, with a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and uncertainty in the surrounding region, whether our troops will actually come home or whether they will be redeployed to Afghanistan or elsewhere.

We have lost nearly 5000 American men and women who, we can all agree, regardless of our personal feelings about the wars, bravely served our country. More than 33,000 Americans have been severely wounded. Beyond these horrifying numbers are the psychological toll these wars are taking on our service members and their families with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, as well as the everyday, but very serious, stress and strain that deployments and separations can have on marriages and families. Sadly, these problems are not going to disappear when the wars ever end. Studies show that post-traumatic stress never truly goes away but it can be managed. These studies also show that in order for the normal reactions-stress that one would expect anyone to have after experiencing combat and other terrifying situations-not to become a full-blown disorder, professional mental health services should be accessed quickly.

The DoD and VA are making an effort to address the issue, but they also seem to be moving at the normal speed of government, rather than the sort of accelerated government speed the financial crisis has produced. We must look to the private sector to step in to ensure that help is available when and where it is needed.

This anniversary of the war is an appropriate time to take note of the work of Give an Hour (, a nonprofit organization that has created a national network of mental health professionals who are providing free counseling to military personnel, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. The Give an Hour network has nearly 4,000 professional volunteers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
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