Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Veteran Committed Suicide During Appointment at VA Clinic

Apparent suicide by veteran inside Warren VA clinic ‘tragic situation,’ VA says
Vindy News
By Ed Runyan
July 25, 2017

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center says the apparent self-inflicted shooting death of a Vienna man inside the Warren Outpatient Clinic on Friday is a “tragic situation.”

“There was a sad, isolated incident Friday afternoon at our Warren VA Outpatient Clinic,” a spokeswoman said Monday after being contacted by The Vindicator.

“Due to privacy regulations, we cannot provide additional information on the incident or individuals involved, but our condolences and thoughts are with the family of our nation’s hero,” said Kristen Parker, chief of external affairs at the Cleveland center.

The Warren Police Department confirmed Monday that a Vienna man shot himself to death in the chest while attending an appointment inside the VA offices on Tod Avenue at 3:54 p.m. Friday.
read more here

And this one,

Veteran found dead of suspected suicide at Ann Arbor VA hospital

ANN ARBOR, MI - A veteran was found dead of suspected suicide at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System campus, an official says.
At about 6:45 a.m. Friday, July 14, a VA employee found the body of a veteran near the East Parking Structure, said Brian Hayes, public affairs officer.
The VA is investigating the incident and is waiting on the coroner's report to confirm the means of the death, he said.

Largest Population of Veterans Live In California, and Suicides Uncounted

While, to some of us, it was just more data to prove the numbers of veterans committing suicide have been false, too many just pushed and pushed for publicity. 

Strange thing is, the one question that never seems to get asked is; What's the point of using a number to tell veterans they are committing suicide? It makes sense for researchers seeking funding to actually change the outcome, but makes no sense for individuals to raise money for simply talking about something they do not understand or have plans to fix anything.

When news came out in March that California does not track veterans committing suicide, none of the folks raising awareness mentioned that when they pushed the false number of "22" a day.

California Legislators Push For Better Tracking of Veterans Who Commit Suicide
Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula authored the bill, and said accurate data will help officials better understand the full scope of the veteran suicide problem in California.
JULY 25, 2017
California does not require a certificate of death filed with the local registrar to include service in the armed forces.
(TNS) -- It’s an attempt to address a stark reality former military service members and their families face: Finding reliable data on veterans who have died from suicide.

A proposal for new state legislation seeks to help confront the issue by requiring certificates of death to show if a deceased person was ever a member of the United States Armed Forces. In addition, it requires the state Department of Health to access death records and compile a report on veteran suicides beginning in 2019.

Richard Sawyer of Marysville, a service officer with Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the proposed legislation would be useful.
read more here

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Military Suicide Conversation Between Dick and Frank

Military Suicide Conversation Between Dick and Frank

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 25, 2017

Oath of Exit has to be one of the stupidest things I've heard in a long time, and trust me, I've heard a lot of them. The thing that keeps getting missed is that it isn't as if any of this is new. After all, warnings came out back in 2009, but some just wouldn't think of the reasons behind it.

JUL 14 2017 Mast’s Bill to Combat Veteran Suicide Passes House
Oath of Exit Included in National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast’s (FL-18) “Oath of Exit” passed the U.S. House of Representatives today as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill creates a voluntary separation oath for members of the Armed Forces aimed at reducing veteran suicide. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans commit suicide every day and a veteran’s risk of suicide is 21% higher compared to an adult who has not served in the Armed Forces.
“The idea for this bill came from friends of mine who have struggled with suicidal thoughts since leaving the military and great organizations like Spartan Pledge that are working to fight the veteran suicide epidemic. Throughout our lives, the most important commitments we make are spoken—whether its an oath upon joining the military, vows at a wedding or saying the pledge of allegiance,” Rep. Mast said. “Integrity is more than just a word to service members, so I know if we say we’ll look out for each other and ourselves, we’ll do it. This Oath of Exit is a strong step forward in doing anything and everything we can to prevent even one more veteran from harming themselves.”
The text of the Oath is below:
“I, ________, recognizing that my oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, has involved me and my fellow members in experiences that few persons, other than our peers, can understand, do solemnly swear (or affirm) to continue to be the keeper of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms and protector of the United States and the Constitution; to preserve the values I have learned; to maintain my body and my mind; and to not bring harm to myself without speaking to my fellow veterans first. I take this oath freely and without purpose of evasion, so help me God.”

How about Officers and Politicians take a new oath of obligation? You know, the one they take when they become officers and politicians and promise to care for all they are put in charge of. Oh wait, that's right, they really don't have one. 

Maybe they think they have that covered by the assumption they would live up to the other stuff that comes with their jobs?

Here is the type of conversation that is being played out all across the country. It is between leaders having enough thought for their troops to actually want to do something that will save lives, and those willing to do the same thing or pull stunts like doing pushups. 

Well, pushups are attention getters and the videos are shared all over the internet.
But we use pushups for exercise and punishment. How is that supposed to help keep them alive?

It lets them know they are committing suicide. 

They already know that. They already know how to die but they don't know how to find hope to stay alive long enough to heal.

Well if they don't know that now after over a decade of training them to stop killing themselves, it isn't our fault they still do it. Plus most of the troops killing themselves never deployed.

Over a decade of training but not good enough to prevent non-deployed from killing themselves but we push it and then expect it to work on troops deployed 4, 5, 6, 7 or more times?

Well the numbers have been holding steady, so I'm good with that.
But did we spend billions to hold the numbers steady, especially when the number of enlisted went down? Why bother if this is acceptable?
It isn't our fault if they don't get the message. Besides, more of them are committing suicide after they leave the military too. Is that supposed to be our fault too?
So you really expect that 10 days of training for something that was never even proven to work was worthy of you putting the lives of your troops in their hands?
Well it was good enough all this time. 
What is CSF? WHAT IS COMPREHENSIVE SOLDIER FITNESS? The program, based on 30-plus years of scientific study and results, uses individual assessments, tailored virtual training, classroom training and embedded resilience experts to provide the critical skills our Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians need. 
Good enough for who? It sure wasn't the ones we let down. But, what about this from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine?
"Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has implemented several population-based initiatives to enhance psychological resilience and prevent psychological morbidity in troops. The largest of these initiatives is the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program, which has been disseminated to more than 1 million soldiers. However, to date, CSF has not been independently and objectively reviewed, and the degree to which it successfully promotes adaptive outcomes and prevents the development of deployment-related mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is uncertain. This paper critically evaluates the theoretic foundation for and evidence supporting the use of CSF."
Hey, that's above my pay grade. If they don't train right, it isn't my fault.

Then who will stand up and take responsibility for the lives we lost with all we said we did for them instead of what we actually did to them?

So isn't it time you stopped being a Dick and started to be more like, well, Frank? 

Veteran Chandler Davis Stood for Slain Officers--Gunned Down At Home

Veteran who saluted slain Dallas officers fatally shot, police say

The Star Telegram 
JULY 24, 2017 3:52 PM
The former Army combat medic told the Star-Telegram that he wanted to show that the Dallas gunman — Micah Johnson, a former soldier — did not represent people in the armed forces.
THE COLONY An Army veteran who saluted the five slain Dallas police officers for hours last summer was fatally shot by his brother in The Colony on Sunday, police said.
Retired Army combat medic Chandler Davis showed his support for the slain Dallas Police officers outside the headquarters of the Dallas Police Department last year. Davis was killed in The Colony on Sunday, police said. (Joyce Marshall
Officers found Chandler Davis, 34, with a gunshot wound to his chest inside a home in the 5200 block of Ragan Road about 5:20 p.m., according to a news release. He was taken to Medical City Plano hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

His brother, John Davis, 38, was at the home and was taken into custody for questioning, the news release said. read more here

Monday, July 24, 2017

PTSD, Hear It To See It

PTSD is Not Invisible If You End the Silence
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 24, 2017

National Center for PTSD sent out the newsletter with a link to this research.

Potential New Path For PTSD Treatment Neuroscience News NEUROSCIENCE NEWS JULY 18, 2017

In the article, there is a reminder that PTSD is not really an invisible wound.
Clearly, you can see the difference but since we don't walk around with all the medical equipment, we have to search for other ways to see it. Frankly, saying PTSD is an invisible wound, seems to more of a copout. After all, if you can't see it then you won't have to fix it.

Kind of like when my house is really dusty, but I won't see it without my glasses on. I'm not a very good at domestic stuff, so I don't usually think about how long it has been since I dusted furniture. I know it is really bad if I can see it without my glasses on.

It is also like what I am dealing with right now. Back problems, no one could see without an MRI and X-rays, so the doctor had to trust what I was saying before he could figure out what could be causing the problem and then take it from there. They are shooting pain killers into my spine using an X-ray to find the nerves. Otherwise, I bet my doctor would have just told me that margaritas would do the trick because he wouldn't be able to see the cause of the pain. (Ok, confession, I asked and he said "no" to that treatment.)

I am also dealing with Bronchial Pneumonia, (I had to look it up online) but yet again, my doctor had to hear what I was saying about how I was feeling before he listened to what my inside was telling him. Heavy duty antibiotics for 10 days and no margaritas.

We can say that all pain is invisible but only to the naked eye and not if someone is paying attention to what we're saying and has the background to do more than just give lousy advice.

So here is some sound advice. (Reminder here, in case you're new here, but I am not a veteran, never served in combat and probably would have been kicked out had I joined when I was young.) After surviving something that could have killed you, or as in the times I heard "should have killed" the first thing you need to remember is, you are not a victim. Victims did not survive. So whatever it was, you are still here and "it" lost.

I do not have PTSD only because of the way my family dealt with everything. It was talked to death right after it happened and they stopped listening when I finished talking. Don't get me wrong here. They gave shitty advice all the time but I was able to take those death defying moments into a time when I was safe and loved. PTSD never had a chance to take hold. It did change me and how I look at life though. Some leftovers I have to deal with from time to time, but since I know those ghosts sucked at taking control, I chill out and remember I survived "it" and this was a lot easier than that.

Ok, that out of the way.

Talk about it and kick the crap out of it since you already beat it before, do it again. Your buddies were willing to do anything for you in combat, including dying for you, just like you would for them. So it won't bother them to have to listen to you talk. Imagine how pissed off they'd be if you took the stuff they did for you to bring you back home and end up in the grave because you were too proud to ask for help. What's your problem with that anyway?

If you don't think they care now that you're back home, then you need to wonder why and then do something crazy about it like, oh, maybe ask them if they still care.  For Heaven's sake, you spent everyday with them for how long? And you think they would be burdened now? 

If you think about it then get them to help you, listen to you, then maybe they'll be able to take a look at what you've been dealing with? How can they see it if you won't let them hear you?  How can you feel better and recover if you don't let them show you what you still mean to them or show them how much you still trust them now?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Disabled Veterans Fight Back Against Unacceptable Privatization of VA

Veterans Groups Urge House to Reject VA Budget Plan

Associated Press
by Hope Yen
23 Jul 2017

Eight major veterans' organizations on Saturday urged Congress to provide emergency money to the Department of Veterans Affairs -- without cutting other VA programs -- as the House moved quickly to address a budget shortfall that threatened medical care for thousands of patients.
An Air Force senior master sergeant greets a Marine Corps veteran at the North Dakota Veteran's Nursing Home in Lisbon, N.D. Under the new VA budget plan, pensions would be reduced for some veterans in nursing homes. (US Air Force photo/David Lipp)

Their joint statement was issued after the House Veterans Affairs Committee unveiled a plan Friday that would shift $2 billion from other VA programs to continue funding the department's Choice program. Put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital, Choice provides veterans with federally paid medical care outside the VA.

To offset spending, the VA would trim pensions for some veterans and collect fees for housing loans.

The veterans' groups criticized the plan as unacceptable privatization. They urged the House to embrace a bill that "ensures veterans' health care is not interrupted in the short term, nor threatened in the long term."

A House vote is scheduled for Monday. VA Secretary David Shulkin has warned that without congressional action, the Choice program would run out of money by mid-August.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran's Dying Wish Granted, High School Diploma in His Hands

With dying wish, Vietnam veteran receives diploma from North Central High School

The Spokesman Review
Eli Francovich
July 20, 2017

In a back room of North Central High School on Wednesday, Steve Fisk gently draped a graduation gown over the hunched shoulders of 68-year-old Vietnam veteran Stephen Rieckers.
Frank Fuchs, North Central High School ASB president from last year, helps Stephen Rieckers fit his graduation cap before Rieckers received his honorary diploma, July 19, 2017. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Then Rieckers rolled his electric wheelchair onto the stage of North Central’s auditorium to receive the diploma he never got.

“To me it’s a valuable thing, because it’s something I’ve been after for a long time,” he said.

Rieckers should have graduated in 1969. Instead, he dropped out of high school at the end of his junior year to escape an abusive step-father. He then enlisted in the military and served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter mechanic.
read more here

POTUS Against Veterans Fighting for Pot Instead of Pills

As administration wages war on legal marijuana, military veterans side with pot
Tribune Washington Bureau
Evan Halper and Lauren Rosenblatt
July 23, 2017
"We were hearing these compelling stories from veterans about how cannabis has made their lives better," said Joseph Plenzler, a spokesman for the American Legion. "That they were able to use it to get off a whole cocktail of drugs prescribed by VA doctors, that it is helping with night terrors, or giving them relief from chronic pain."
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) -- The Trump administration's attack on legal marijuana, already stymied by large states determined not to roll back the clock, is increasingly confronting an even more politically potent adversary: military veterans.

Frustrated by federal laws restricting their access to a drug many already rely on to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and opioid addiction, veterans have become an influential lobbying force in the marijuana debate after sitting on the sidelines for years.

The 2 million-member American Legion this spring got involved in a big way by launching a campaign to reduce marijuana restrictions, which it says hurt veterans and may aggravate a suicide epidemic.

The move reflects the changing politics of marijuana, and of a conservative, century-old veterans service organization facing new challenges as its membership grows with those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
read more here

Remind Congress to Treat Veterans None The Less

DAV Magazine Unsung Heroes covers the battle to treat all disabled veterans-caregivers equally. Imagine that! 

You'd think that when the Congress does something for one generation, it would benefit all generations. Then again, you'd also have to think that Congress would have planned on taking care of them in the first place.

Social Security Judges Don't Have to Explain Cutting Disabled Veterans Benefits?

Veteran survives crash, stroke, heart attack, but denied benefits
Andy Pierrotti
July 22, 2017
In the past, when a veteran was deemed unemployable by the VA, Social Security judges were required to explain why they disagreed with the VA’s disability ruling.

Starting this past march, judges are no longer required to do that.
Sleep is rare commodity for Daniel Norfleat. The Covington resident typically gets about three to four hours asleep a week.
“And without the sleep, I’m constantly going around in circles, a circle of pain,” said Norfleat, a U.S. Navy veteran.

The 53-year-old takes two dozen pills a day for pain, depression and a severe case of insomnia. The rare moments he does get shut-eye, he’s often woken by the screams of a deadly day serving onboard the U.S.S. Lexington, an air craft carrier.

In 1989, a pilot crashed his plane while trying to land. Five sailors died that day and Norfleat hasn’t been able to shake the image from his mind.

“We had fires. We had hurt bodies, hurt people,” said Norfleat. “I have a VA psychologist I see and we talk about it.”

In addition to post traumatic stress disorder, Norfleat has suffered a heart attack, a stroke, and knee surgeries.
read more here