Thursday, July 20, 2017

Betrayal of Gulf War Veterans Continues

Waco Veterans Affairs office denies 92% of Gulf War claims
My Statesman
Jeremy Schwartz
American Statesman Staff
July 20, 2017
Waco VA office had the fourth-highest denial rate for Gulf War illness claims. Nationally, the VA denied 87 percent of Gulf War Illness related claims in 2015.
Persian Gulf War photo from the LBJ Library’s “American Soldier” exhibit.
Department of Veterans Affairs benefits officials in Waco have denied a whopping 92 percent of claims related to Gulf War illness, giving Central Texas veterans one of the highest denial rates in the nation, according to data in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

The report found serious and persistent problems with how the VA handles the complicated Gulf War benefits claims, ranging from poorly trained examiners to inconsistent methods of handling claims in different regions of the country. For example, in the continental United States denial rates ranged from 47 percent in Boston to 95 percent in Roanoke, Va., according to an analysis by the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense.

The VA estimates that 44 percent of the 700,000 service members who served in the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War have developed such symptoms as joint pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and neurological problems after returning home from war. The illnesses are believed to have been caused by exposure to toxic elements like smoke from burning oil wells, depleted uranium and chemical warfare agents such as mustard gas.
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Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins say 'it's hell' after home foreclosed
Travis Fedschu
July 20, 2017

Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who've survived living under Nazi occupation and fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, are now in "hell" and sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home in October.
Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers told FOX 40 Sacramento nothing they've lived through compares to their current predicament.

"It's a lot of stress," Clifford said, holding back tears. "I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”
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Command Sergeant Major's Body Found

Missing Army Veteran Found Dead From Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
CBS News Detroit 
July 20, 2017

WATERFORD TWP (WWJ) – Authorities say a body discovered in Waterford Township is that of a missing Army Veteran.

Police say David Folsom’s body was discovered Wednesday night by two citizens in a wooded area near Cooley Lake Road and Cooley Village Lane. He appeared to have suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. An autopsy is set for Thursday.

Folsom, a Command Sergeant Major with the Army National Guard, disappeared early in the morning of Wednesday, July 12, when he walked away from his home in the area of Elizabeth Lake and Cooley Lake roads.

The 54-year-old served in the National Guard for 20 years — with deployment to Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan — and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to his family.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wall That Heals Arrived In Wisconsin

'The Wall that Heals'

Vietnam veteran Bob Rich, of Superior, salutes as the Halvor Lines trucks carrying the "The Wall that Heals," a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as it rolls down East Second Street in Superior on Wednesday morning.
“I lost a lot of friends over there,” Rich said when talking about serving from 1963-68.
go here for more pictures

Mom Missed Wedding Because Church Banned PTSD Service Dog

Mother misses son's wedding when church bans service dog
July 19th 2017

QUINCY, MI (WWMT/CNN) – An upset mother blames a Michigan church for missing her son’s wedding because she says the church would not allow her service dog to attend with her.

Everywhere Mary Douglas goes, her service dog Stella follows. The woman is living with post-traumatic stress disorder and has had the service dog for almost two years.
But Stella wasn’t allowed to step into a church in Quincy, MI, which Douglas says ultimately caused her to miss her son’s wedding. She says she had a fear of relapse if she went to the area without her dog.

"I've cried a lot. It was a very sleepless night last night,” Douglas said.

The mother says missing the wedding is sparking emotions she needs Stella to calm.

"I've sacrificed as any single mom, any mom really, does for their children. For that not to be reciprocated, that honor not to be due to a mom on her son's wedding day, it's heartbreaking,” Douglas said.

Pastor Robert Montgomery says Douglas still could have been there for her son. He says the church gave three options for the dog a couple months before the wedding.
read more here

The Only Number You Need on Veteran Suicide is Yours

More Than "Just a Number" to Us

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 19, 2017

Headline "Unique movement aims to curb vet suicide?" 

Seriously? A "unique" movement?

On WLKY News, that was the headline, which it turned out, wasn't much of a story, nor factual.

This is the image,

As you can see that "22" was followed by,
"According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 20 vets commit suicide every day in this country."
We'll start with that part. Is it 22 or 20? Shouldn't that matter? Shouldn't it matter that when the VA had the number of veterans going from survivor or combat to committing suicide, it was limited data from just 21 states. Guess they didn't matter enough that folks doing the talking didn't bother reading the report itself. 

I've actually heard "awareness" raisers say the words, "Its just a number" when trying to defend their use of a slogan, as if they were not worthy of reading the report itself.

When the VA did the followup report, the number was reduced to 20 a day, but for those of us actually paying attention and regarding the report as important enough to read, we knew it was the same number as the VA used for 1999.

And in the 2016 report there was this,

Key findings from this year’s report include

 In 2014, an average of 20 Veterans died by suicide each day. Six of the 20 were users of VHA services.  
 In 2014, Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults and constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. adult population (ages 18+). In 2010, Veterans accounted for 20.2 percent of all deaths by suicide and represented 9.7 percent of the U.S. adult population.  
 The burden of suicide resulting from firearm injuries remains high. In 2014, about 67 percent of all Veteran deaths by suicide were the result of firearm injuries. 
 There is continued evidence of a high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older Veterans. In 2014, about 65 percent of all Veterans who died by suicide were age 50 or older. 
 After adjusting for differences in age and gender, risk for suicide was 21 percent higher among Veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adults. (2014) 
 After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 18 percent higher among male Veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adult males. (2014) 
 After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 2.4 times higher among female Veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adult females. (2014) 
 In 2014, rates of suicide were highest among younger Veterans (ages 18–29) and lowest among older Veterans (ages 60+). Furthermore, rates of suicide among Veterans age 70 and older were lower than rates of suicide among civilians in the same age group.
And the problem on that one is while there are over 5 million less veterans alive in this country now than in 1999, the number is the same. Follow that up with over a decade of people claiming they are doing something new, which, again, isn't factual either.

This is from the article,
A unique movement is underway to help those who deserve it the most.
“I was two months into being 17, and joined the Navy Reserve,” Vietnam veteran Frank Thompson said.
It isn't unique. Another Vietnam veteran started doing peer support from a spiritual standpoint, which experts knew was necessary. Point Man International Ministries started working with all generations of veterans and their families. The key number here is 1984 and is still going on. I'm a part of this effort to empower healers to do the work that anyone wanting to change the outcome can do. Sorry "awareness raisers" but takes a lot more work to change something than just talk about the problem.

This is all, too often, heartbreaking work, especially if you are actually paying attention to reports and investing the time to learn the truth. It is always frustrating when searching for solutions or even hope that we can change the outcome, only to discover a poorly written news article getting in the way.

Is this really mattered, Morgan Lentes would have been able to decide to at least invest the time in finding an image with the same number that followed it on the article she wrote.

It also looks like this article does not have anything to back it up.
"Many of the vets they’re helping did not want to take part in this story. Alexander said many of them are too ashamed to admit they are struggling."
Is it possible that the veterans do not want to talk to a reporter? Sure! Most won't. Most of the veterans and families we work with are private people looking for help. Then why do the story if it cannot be verified?

Ok, so, we know peer support works but what works best is for one generation to help the other, side by side as not just an example, but so the newer veterans learn easier from their experiences. After all, our generation took this on when the internet did not exist and we had better results.

One more thing on veterans talking about what works publicly, is this Marine. 

Keep in mind that just because we don't pull stunts, call in reporters or hold massive fundraisers, that isn't because we don't believe in what we're doing. It means we believe the work is a lot more vital than anything else!

The only number you need to know about veterans committing suicide is yours! There is absolutely no way to ever know exactly how many veterans commit suicide. How about changing the conversation to what we really do know?

We know that life matters so much, these veterans were willing to die to save someone else and ended up dying because their own life didn't matter to them anymore. They believed they didn't matter enough for someone to help them; they didn't want to be a "burden" or bother anyone; or believed they were beyond help.

We know that during combat, they did not simply surrender to the enemy or take their own lives instead of fighting with everything they had within them. Yet these same veterans did surrender to the enemy within them when they could not find the will to go on fighting for themselves.

We know the stigma is alive and well while they are not. They did not know what PTSD actually was or that they could take control of their lives back instead of taking their own lives.

We know they were part of a military family, able to depend on each other, knowing others were equally willing to die for them, but not knowing they would be able to listen to them.

We know that when it comes to veteran families left behind, the only number they care about is on the tombstone while wondering about what could have changed the expiration date.

Woman, husband in fatal Norfolk shooting were both in Navy

Not sure on this one since one part has "Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was in critical condition..." but beginning says "husband was treated and released."
Woman, husband in fatal Norfolk shooting were both in Navy
Associated Press
July 18, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Navy says a woman fatally shot by Virginia police after she shot and wounded her husband was an active duty sailor, as is her husband.
In this May 3, 2004 file photo, security personnel wait to inspect vehicles entering Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va. MORT FRYMAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT (TNS)
Navy spokesman Matthew Allen said Tuesday that the husband, who was treated and released by a hospital after Monday night's shooting, is assigned to a unit on Naval Station Norfolk. Police in Virginia have not identified him.

Virginia State Police said that 25-year-old India N. Nelson had been in a domestic dispute with her husband on Monday in Norfolk. At about 7 p.m. that evening, she and her husband were driving separate cars when they crashed into each other near a gate at Norfolk Naval Station.

After Norfolk police responded and began to investigate, state police said Nelson shot her husband. Authorities said a Norfolk police officer then "engaged the woman and returned fire."
read more here

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Marine Killed by Lightning

NC-based Marine killed by lightning strike while working on Osprey

July 17, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A Marine stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River died after being struck by lightning while working on an MV-22 Osprey aircraft on July 11, according to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Corp. James in a WNCT photo. 
Corp. Skyler James, a tilt-rotor mechanic assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, Marine Aircraft Group 26, and another Marine were struck by lightning while working on the aircraft.
Following the incident, they were transported to Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital where they were evaluated for serious injuries.
The other Marine was released, while James was subsequently transported to UNC Health Center for further treatment.
Following several days of treatment and evaluation, James was declared dead.

Is Congress Trying to End Finding Homes For Homeless Veterans?

From Journal Times

Federal cut forces scramble to help homeless veterans

DOVER — The Racine County area already struggles to provide housing for homeless veterans, advocates say.

Veterans from the Member Chimers perform the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" on Nov. 11, 2016, during the Veterans Day ceremony at the Wisconsin Veterans Home-Union Grove. The state Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it lost a $500,000 federal grant for a program providing housing for homeless veterans at the Union Grove facility. GREGORY SHAVER, Journal Times file photo
Things won’t get any easier with the end of a homeless program at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove, 21425 Spring St., at the Southern Wisconsin Center campus in Dover. The state Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it lost a grant of about $500,000 for its Veteran Housing and Recovery Program, which serves 28 people.

From Journal Times

Wirch blasts cuts to homeless veterans program

RACINE COUNTY — State Sen. Bob Wirch blasted federal cuts to a homeless veterans program in the county, calling it "shameful."

Wirch, D-Somers, issued a statement Tuesday after the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced it lost federal grants for its Veteran Housing and Recovery Program at its Union Grove and King veterans homes. The program serves 28 people at the Southern Wisconsin Center, 21425 Spring St.

"Homelessness, unemployment, addiction and suicide statistics among veterans are much higher than the general public. This is a population that needs and has earned our help," said Wirch, who served in the Army Reserve from 1965-71. "We should be doing all that we can to help them get back on their feet. This cut in federal funding is just unbelievable."
From Waupaca County Now

No funds for homeless vets

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs will fund the program only through December 2017. “WDVA solely funding King and Grove VHRPs beyond December 2017 is not feasible,” Zimmerman said. The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King houses 19 veterans in its homeless program. Union Grove has 28 homeless veterans. The VHRPs will no longer accept new admissions and will begin transitioning program participants into new housing, Zimmerman said. Jesse Cuff, the Waupaca County veterans service officer, said he was sad to see the VHRP end. He noted that Wisconsin’s program for homeless veterans is more than 20 years old and has been successful at reintegrating veterans back into the community.

Monday, July 17, 2017

PTSD Iraq Veteran Awarded $850k From Volvo

Volvo Must Pay Iraq War Vet With PTSD $850K for Job Bias
By Patrick Dorrian
July 14, 2017

A federal judge in Chicago ordered Volvo Group N.A. to pay an Iraq war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder $850,740 for disability discrimination and military status bias ( Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N.A., LLC , 2017 BL 242221, N.D. Ill., No. 12-cv-6859, 7/13/17 ).

The July 13 judgment in favor of LuzMaria Arroyo includes $550,740 in back pay, front pay, and other equitable relief awarded by the judge in a separate July 13 ruling. The court, however, cut to $300,000 a jury’s August 2016 award of $7.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Arroyo under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The reduction was required by the $300,000 statutory damages cap applicable to the ADA for employers with more than 500 employees, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said.
read more here