Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hey Cong Tien Gunner--Marine Joe Elizondo is Looking For You!

Vietnam veteran continues search for man who saved his life
By Jane Caffrey
May 26, 2017
"All I want to tell him is thank you," the former marine said with tears in his eyes. "Eight people got killed in the air. His family needs to know, that he's an angel. Can you imagine how many they saved?"
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American soldiers, including 100 from Corpus Christi, and with Memorial Day approaching one local veteran feels thankful to have survived that conflict.
The former Marine was close to death in Vietnam. Decades later, his search continues for the man that saved his life. He believes he will find him in Corpus Christi.

Joe Elizondo has three purple hearts and has been honored by U.S. presidents nine times for heroic acts, but he has a hero of his own from his time in Vietnam.

Elizondo was a gun squad leader and a tunnel rat, taking on dangerous underground missions. He was stationed in Cong Tien, one of the most dangerous war zones near the demilitarized area. It was so dangerous it was dubbed "The Place of Angels."

"We had gotten in the morning 11 lieutenants. And they had just arrived from the States. And the next day, only one survived," Elizondo recalled.

One morning, the Americans were ambushed.

"I got hit by a sniper, and the bullet went right through my side of my head, and went out the other side," Elizondo said, showing where the the bullet went through his neck.
read more here

Grandmother Sent 7,000 Letters to Deployed Troops at 98!

Grandmother writes 7,000 letters to the troops 
WTOL 11 News 
Saturday, May 27th 2017
Cooper first wrote Staff Sgt. Chris Cantos years ago when he was in a remote area of Afghanistan with no wireless internet. The only contact that the Marines there had with home was letters.
An elderly woman started sending letters to America’s troops back during World War II. They've gone to soldiers in harm’s way and the wounded in hospitals. (Source: KCAL/KCBS/Snapshots Provided by Soldiers/Cooper Family Photos/CNN)
LAKEWOOD, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - A 98-year-old California woman has made it her mission to send letters to the heroes serving this country overseas.
It started years ago with her son, who served in the Vietnam war.
At a time when most conversations are instant, Alleen Cooper proves the art of letter-writing isn't lost.
She started sending letters to America’s troops back during World War II. They've gone to soldiers in harm’s way and the wounded in hospitals.
All of Cooper's letters are at least four pages long, and she keeps track, making sure no two are alike.
What Cooper's serving up at her kitchen table is comfort food for soldier's souls, and they can't seem to get enough.
They've sent her commendations and even flags from their bases.
Friday, she was connected with one of her Marines.
read more here

PBS Shows PTSD Forever War

What it’s like to be a veteran of a war that never ends
May 26, 2017
How do you say, I’m too tired, I can’t help anyone else? It’s a devil’s bargain, choosing between one’s tribe and one’s family. On the one hand, I needed to be in Iraq to keep my comrades alive. And, on the other, every moment I was gone, I wasn’t a good husband or dad. Brian Castner
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tonight: reflections from author Brian Castner, who offers his Humble Opinion on why he felt most at home overseas fighting what he calls the forever war.
BRIAN CASTNER, Author, “The Long Walk”: It’s a little odd to be a veteran of a war that doesn’t end.

I did three tours, got home from Iraq a decade ago. You think you have moved on, put the war in its place, and then you see Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on cable news, and you’re reminded that your war isn’t over. It’s just gone on without you.

Some of us call it the forever war, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing Libya and Yemen, raids all over Africa, and now Army Rangers and Marine Corps artillery in Syria. It’s already the longest war in American history, and I have given up thinking peace is coming any time soon.

Our nation has an all-volunteer military, and people join for lots of reasons: education, a sense of adventure, patriotism. But staying in the military, racking up five, six, seven tours, that’s a different kind of decision.

There are plenty of ways to pay for college that don’t involve getting shot at over and over again. So why did I do it? Why do soldiers choose to keep serving in the forever war?

I was an explosive ordnance disposal technician, EOD, we call it, the bomb squad. After my last Iraq tour, I was worn out mentally and physically. But my EOD brothers and sisters were dying, and I needed to stay to protect them.
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Angel Fire Capel Stood Up When No One Else Cared About Vietnam Veterans

Angel Fire chapel honors lives lost in Vietnam
KOB 4 News
Joseph Lynch
May 26, 2017
For some veterans, every day is Memorial Day. Some are haunted by all they've experienced, by who and what they lost. In some wars, they came home as heroes. That was not the case for Vietnam veterans. Many now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
ANGEL FIRE, N.M. -- U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Victor David Westphal III died in May 1968. After Westphal's death, his parents began the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel in Angel Fire.

The chapel was built to be an enduring symbol of the tragedy and futility of war, and it has become a place where people come from near and far to look for peace.

Earl Watters came from Rio Rancho. For him, this place is personal.

"Well, the first thing that comes to mind is all those who lost their lives," he said.

Nearly 60,000 servicemen and servicewomen lost their lives fighting in Vietnam. The memorial in Angel Fire was the first of its kind in the country to honor those Americans.

Allan Ford and his family came from Pensacola, Florida to Angel Fire. He remembers those who gave so much, and especially those who gave everything.

"A lot of my buds, Army buds, were all Vietnam veterans," he said. "They got nothing when they got home, so something like this it's very meaningful to them, very meaningful."

The Angel Fire chapel was created 11 years before the memorial in Washington. But surprisingly, it's only been in recent years folks have come to acknowledge that war. All those years ago, Watters remembers coming back with no welcome home at all.
read more here

Reporter Took Powerful PTSD Story on Female Veterans and Blew it!

When Reporters Care About PTSD Veterans, But Not Enough
Combat PTSD
Kathie Costos
May 27, 2017

Reporters didn't care over three decades ago, when I got into all of this. I never read about them unless it was a report on one of our veterans getting arrested. 
My research was about Vietnam veterans coming home and suffering. Soon I discovered that no wound of war was new. All generations came home and were infiltrated by what they thought they left behind them.

I tired to get several to let the country know what was happening to veterans and their families. None of them were interested. One reporter told me it sounded like "sour grapes" after I told him about PTSD and how claims were being turned down and veterans were being turned away from the VA. Back then there was a huge backlog of claims but the VA had started to work on PTSD.

Now there are reporters all over the country trying to get this right. They have been failing because they are outnumbered by other reporters doing a simple Google search to find the easiest answer on what our veterans face after surviving combat.

Margie Fishman found an amazing female veteran with a powerful story to tell. She wrote the article as if she cares, and it is a good story to read once you get past this part where she blew it.
Fishman wrote
"An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day, or one every 65 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs."
WRONG Here is the link to the VA Suicide report from 2012 she is still using and within it, the VA had a warning about using the "22 a day" but the headline was grabbed and even I believe it until I found the actual report and read it.
"The estimated number of Veterans who have died from suicide is based on data obtained from 21 states and has been calculated using service history as reported on death certificates. An assessment of Veteran status on Washington State death certificates identified a measurable amount of error among those with history of U.S. military service. Therefore, estimates of the number of Veterans who have died from suicide each day based on proxy report of history of U.S. military service should be interpreted with caution."
Limitations of Existing Data Currently available data include information on suicide mortality among the population of residents in 21 states. Veteran status in each of these areas is determined by a single question asking about history of U.S. military service. Information about history of military service is routinely obtained from family members and collected by funeral home staff and has not been validated using information from the DoD or VA. Further, Veteran status was not collected by each state during each year of the project period. Appendix B provides a listing of the availability of Veteran identifiers by state and year. Further, this report contains information from the first 21 states to contribute data for this project and does not include some states, such as California and Texas, with larger Veteran populations. Information from these states has been received and will be included in future reports. 
PLUS, forgotten in all the reporting is that it is older veterans who need the most help but are getting none of the attention from reporters.
Specifically, more than 69% of all Veteran suicides were among those aged 50 years and older, compared to approximately 37% among those who were not identified as Veterans. 

We are also in the peak seasons for veterans committing suicide. 
There also appears to be a seasonal trend with more suicide events in the spring and summer months noted in 2010 and 2011.
 Fishman wrote this part and got it right
"Female veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate as other women (they're 33 percent more likely to use a gun than overdose on pills). They are also two-to-four times more likely than civilian women to be homeless, according to federal statistics."
This is from the LA Times Suicide rate of female military veterans is called 'staggering' by Alan Zarembo.
The rates are highest among young veterans, the VA found in new research compiling 11 years of data. For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.In every other age group, including women who served as far back as the 1950s, the veteran rates are between four and eight times higher, indicating that the causes extend far beyond the psychological effects of the recent wars.
So if anyone asks, I'm glad reporters care now, but greatly saddened by the fact too many just don't seem to care enough.
For Delaware female vets, every day a struggle
The News Journal
Margie Fishman
May 26, 2017
This Memorial Day, Petters wants you to remember the soldiers who died on and off the battlefield.
"Our American Hero" wears military fatigues, an M16 and a perma-smile next to two emblems of freedom — a waving American flag and the Statue of Liberty's blazing torch.

Delaware Air Force veteran Kim Petters sneers at the framed photograph, which she retrieved from her garage at a reporter's request. Her photo album, capturing a decade of service, is missing in action.

Since retiring from the military in 2012, it's been a daily struggle for the Dover mother of four, who feels robbed of her freedom by a war she still doesn't fully understand.

"We went in looking for weapons of mass destruction, right?" the petite brunette grumbles. "Did we find any?"

Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Petters can't pass an American flag in a flower bed without her mind racing to flag-draped coffins. She thrashes so hard during intense nightmares that her husband must hold her legs down.

"All I can see is 20 bodies," says the former medical administrator, who was tasked with shepherding fallen soldiers home during the Iraq War. "I can almost smell it again."
read more here

This video is from 2006 and re-uploaded on PTSD and what it looks like.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Everyone Raising Awareness of Death by Default

A friend asked why I am always so pissed off when I hear the term "raising awareness" and here is the answer,

March to raise awareness of veteran suicide

Winchester Sun-7 hours ago
An average of 22 veterans die by suicide each day, according to a 2016 report from the Veterans Affairs Office of Suicide Prevention. 

Soldiers raising awareness about veteran suicide make it to the Soo hour ago
(WLUC) - The two soldiers walking across the Upper Peninsula to raise awareness about veteran suicide, Staff Sergeant Michael Beattie and...

VA looks for ways to curb veteran suicide crisis

FOX 13 News, Tampa Bay-May 23, 2017
TAMPA (FOX 13) - The Department of Veterans Affairs says the suicide rate for veterans has surged in recent years, and VA Secretary David 

WNY Veteran to ride 422 miles in wheelchair for veteran suicide ... 22, 2017
Geartz struggled with thoughts of suicide. According to the VA, an average of 20 veterans die from suicide each day. “I previously attempted .

Second Annual DSM March to Raise Awareness for Veteran Suicide 22, 2017
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Twenty veterans nationwide commit suicide every day, according to a 2016 Department of Veterans Affairs study.

Soldiers raise awareness of veteran suicide

Daily Mining Gazette-May 24, 2017
MARQUETTE — Two soldiers from the Michigan National Guard — who are marching across Michigan's Upper Peninsula to raise awareness ...

New Albany gym and charity join forces to fight veteran suicide

WDRB-May 24, 2017
Ten percent of the gym's membership fees go to fund suicide prevention programs for veterans such as Joshua Leary, who suffered a brain ...

Navy veteran walking across country for veteran suicide and PTSD

WBIR-TV-May 21, 2017
CHATTANOOGA - (WRCB) A Navy veteran is walking across the country with his service dog to raise awareness about veteran suicide and ...

Midland boy spreads awareness on veteran suicide, motorcycle ... 21, 2017
22 Kill push up videos have played a part in fighting against veteran suicide. By doing 22 push-ups and sharing it online, these videos spread .

Veterans leave on 92-mile hike to raise awareness for veteran suicide

Fox17-Apr 27, 2017
COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. - A handful of veterans stepped off on a 92-mile hike Thursday morning to raise awareness for veteran suicide.

Group of men running to save veterans' lives

KALB News (press release)-2 hours ago
(WDBJ) -- These men are running to raise awareness for veterans who ... We're trying to highlight 22 veteran suicides a day," Campbell said.

House resolution supports veterans organization 23, 2017
Mission 22 creates large-scale public memorials, in an effort to raise awareness about, and prevent, veteran suicide

MJ gym helps local vets 'lift for their lives' to prevent suicide

Wilson Post-May 24, 2017
The day his wife officially left him, Davis almost committed suicide. A Veteran's hospital was just two blocks away. "I asked for the ER there," ...

Veterans March to Bring Awareness to PTSD, Suicide

Spectrum News-May 21, 2017
At the state capitol, people marched to bring awareness to veterans' issues like homelessness, PTSD and suicide. According to the VA, around ...

Those are just from this week and only a couple of pages into a Google search. 

With all these folks raising awareness, how is it that none of them seem to know how to change the outcome? 

If you've been passing along "awareness" links, bet you feel foolish now. After all, you just contributed to part of the problem getting the attention along with the group but not giving veterans anything worth living for. These veterans haven't been able to count on those using numbers as if they actually mattered.


In 1999 the number from the VA was 20 a day and the last report had it at 20 a day. Its time to raise hell and get them the help they need starting with the giving them reasons to fight and take back control of their lives!

Sean Doolittle Pitches For PTSD Veterans With Bad Discharges

Stand Up: A's pitcher Sean Doolittle's quest to properly help veterans with "bad paper"

Sports Illustrated
May 25th, 2017
Most vets who’ve received less-than-honorable discharges, known as “bad paper”, are stripped of their legal status as a veteran and may be unable to access VA services like healthcare, disability benefits, education programs or housing assistance, regardless of their service record or deployment history.
Oakland A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and his fiancee, writer and broadcaster Eireann Dolan, have been involved with veteran’s issues for years. They’ve decided to share what they’ve learned about the challenges facing vets with “bad paper” in this op-ed.

In recent months there has been an ongoing conversation, especially in sports, about what it means to stand during “The Star Spangled Banner”. One argument is that it’s disrespectful to those who served not to stand—it’s about honoring our veterans who fought under that flag, who volunteered to defend our country and fight for our freedoms. If we’re going to have that conversation, then we also need to have a conversation about taking better care of our veterans. If we’re really going to honor them, the national anthem and “God Bless America” shouldn’t be the only times we stand up for them.

Earlier this year, new Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) David Shulkin announced the VA would begin providing mental healthcare to “bad paper” veterans—or veterans with “less-than-honorable” discharges—who urgently need it, in an attempt to prevent veteran suicides. Then, on May 3, Shulkin testified before the House Appropriations Committee and promised to expand mental healthcare programs and caregiver support programs, even if the VA isn’t given additional government funding.
read more here

Marine Veteran With PTSD Gets Justice and No Jail Time

Marine vet takes plea deal in PTSD pot bust
By Rhiannon Poolaw, Digital Producer
Friday, May 26th 2017

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Kristoffer Lewandowski, the Marine veteran charged with possession of multiple marijuana plants in Comanche County, has accepted a plea deal. The plea agreement with the Comanche County District Attorney's office resolves all pending charges filed against Lewandowski.
According to Thomas Hurley, the retired Marine's Oklahoma-based attorney, in the plea deal, Lewandowski, who served ten years in the U.S. Marine Corps deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and the waters off of Somalia, will serve no jail time and plead guilty to a deferred felony charge for marijuana cultivation. If he does not violate the law during a five-year period of probation, no felony will be placed on his record.

"Tens of thousands of people around the country who have remained steadfast in supporting Kris throughout this ordeal have shown we can make progress even in states like Oklahoma that have not yet recognized the many medical benefits of cannabis." Michael Minardi, a medical cannabis attorney based in Tampa, Florida who is serving as part of Lewandowski's trial team commented, "the decision by Oklahoma to go from seeking years of prison time to no jail time at all and just a deferred felony is a huge victory for all of us in this country who are fighting for medical cannabis patients' rights."

In 2012, he was diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following his service tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and, after a cocktail of 14 different pharmaceutical drugs proved ineffective for treating his PTSD, Lewandowski began using medical cannabis.
read more here

Veteran and Service Dog Not Welcomed to Shop

Veteran’s service dog turned away at Illinois store
WCMH NBC 4 Columbus
By NBC4 Staff
Published: May 26, 2017

ROCKFORD, IL (WCMH) — A military veteran was kicked out of an Illinois store all because of his service dog, and part of incident was caught on camera.
Wherever Cesar Ordonez goes, an angel is not far behind. Ordonez is an Iraq War veteran, and Angel is his service dog.

“He’s actually literally brought me back to life,” Ordonez told NBC affiliate WREX. “We don’t leave each other’s side much.”

So when Ordonez stopped for a snack and drink at a store in Rockford, Angel came with him. A store employee confronted him and told him not to bring the dog in the store any more.

Ordonez recorded part of the incident on his cell phone.

“Yeah don’t bring that dog in here no more,” the employee says in the video. “If you have to have the dog go somewhere else.”
read more here

Afghanistan Veteran Pleaded For His Life Before They Slashed His Throat

Police documents recount gruesome murder of an Afghanistan veteran at Fort Bliss
Published: May 26, 2017

SAN ANTONIO -- An Afghanistan veteran was stabbed to death in El Paso, according to court filings that recount a botched drug theft and the gruesome killing of a 23-year-old allegedly carried out by suspects connected to nearby Fort Bliss.
Tyler Kaden Croke pleaded for his life before his throat was slashed by two suspects during the robbery at Croke’s apartment in El Paso on May 7, according to a recently released complaint affidavit filed by El Paso Police and filed in El Paso County Court.

Five people were arrested in connection with the incident and charged with murder, according to El Paso Police. That includes Brandon Olsen, 27, who is assigned to Fort Bliss, said Mike Brantley, a 1st Armored Division spokesman at Fort Bliss.

In a handout mugshot provided by the El Paso police, Olsen is wearing an Army uniform with his name and “U.S Army” stripped off his chest.
read more here