Wounded Times


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why Isn't The Press On Suicide Watch?

Military Lives Lost, Congress Doesn't Care About Cost?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 26, 2016

What the hell is going on in Washington? Is anyone really paying attention to what the already elected have done while covering those wanting to be elected? 

There were 110 military suicides in the first three months of this year.  Top that off with the latest suicide report from the VA with "20 a day" as the number they report along with the simple fact there were about 7 million more veterans in 1999 and the same number reported as taking their own lives back then everyday. The press does not seem all that interested. They were not interested in 2007 either.  So why isn't the press on suicide watch if they care at all about any of this?

You can just picture what goes on in Washington when a grief stricken family goes to talk to their elected official begging them to do something about suicides so that no other family has to go through it.  Then the politician promises them they will take action.  They call up a buddy and promise a boat load of cash to come up with some funky program, then they write a bill to get their name on it.  Doesn't matter if it has been done before and failed as long as this new one has their name on it, that is really all they care about.

Sounds absurd to some but to others, it has been a nightmare.

The Associated Press reported on August 17, 2007 the 2006 Suicide Rate for Soldiers Sets a Record for the Army and it turned out that was the highest number in 26 years.
Nearly a third of the soldiers committed suicide while in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a report released Thursday, which said 27 deaths were in Iraq and 3 in Afghanistan.

The report said that the 99 confirmed suicides by active-duty soldiers compared with 87 in 2005 and that it was the highest raw number since 102 suicides were reported in 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War.

Investigations are pending on two other deaths.

Officials reported 948 suicide attempts, but there were no comparisons for previous years.

In the 500,000-member Army, the suicide toll translates to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000, the highest since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate hit a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.
Yes you read all that right so no need to check your glasses. One of the family members going to Washington was the family of Joshua Omvig. 

Well they wrote a bill with Omvig's name on it, voted on it and it was signed by President Bush in 2007. 

It was supported by Rep. Bob Filner who had this to say. "Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 327) to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans."

Sounds like they all cared.  Especially this part.
Mr. Speaker, before I introduce the author of the legislation, I just want to say in introduction, unfortunately, suicide prevention has become a major part of our responsibilities to both active duty and our veterans.
It is a terrible statistic, Mr. Speaker, but as many Vietnam veterans have now committed suicide as died in the original war. That is over 58,000. We have to do as a Nation a better job. The Army just announced recently that the suicide rate among active duty and recently discharged has now reached Vietnam proportions. So we have to do a far better job and we intend to do that.
The author of the original legislation, Mr. Boswell from Iowa, saw this very clearly and introduced this bill.

Looks like no one has been seeing much after that considering the number of enlisted went down and suicides went up. More families hoped that their story, their suffering would make enough of an impact on the politicians but they just repeated what they promised the Omvigs, over and over and over again.

So that press repeats what the DOD says and does not seem all too willing to ask many questions at all.  Why? Do you think any of this would matter to do some basic research?

The latest from the Department of Defense is for the first quarter of 2016 Suicide Report. 58 Active Military, 18 Reservists and 34 members of the National Guard.

You'd think that 110 lives lost to suicide in three months would be important enough to mention but then you'd also have to think that they would find it worthy of mentioning that all this comes after almost a decade of "prevention" being paid to produce higher rates of suicide. 

Oh, no, not just from current members but among the younger veterans committing suicide at triple their peer rate. Nice little secret they don't seem to want to talk about. If they are no longer in the military, they don't matter and the DOD does not have to mention a word about them, even though they trained them to "prevent" this and be "resilient" enough.

Ok, just to go a bit more into proving this, take a look at the chart on the link above. Notice how they also have in other years going back to 2012. If you read Wounded Times all the time, then forgive me but this is worth repeating, since no one else is talking about this. 

What we are going to do here is compare what the press told us about how many service members committed suicide against what the DOD has in the latest report.
Active 321
Reserve 204
National Guard 132
CNN reported on 1/15/13 

Pentagon reports record number of suicides - CNN Security Clearance 

Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 U.S. service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.
According to the Pentagon, 239 military deaths in 2012 have been confirmed as suicides and another 110 are being investigated as probable suicides. The number of suicides in 2011 reached 301; there were 298 the year before.
They missed a few. Then on 2/2/2013 they had "325 Army suicides in 2012 a record" so either the DOD is wrong or CNN is wrong but the bottom line is that all of this is all wrong! How can they go up after all the "efforts" to keep more alive than are killed in combat?
Active 255
Reserve 220
National Guard 134
Military Times reported 1/15/2016
According to the report, 259 troops on active-duty status died by suicide in 2013, down from a record 319 in 2012, including 115 soldiers, 42 sailors, 43 airmen and 45 Marines.
During the same time, 220 members of the Selected Reserve and Guard (87 and 133, respectively), died by suicide, up from 203 in 2012.

Reported by the DOD on 1/16/2015 

There were 229 deaths by suicide among active component service members and 220 deaths by suicide among selected reserve component service members (87in the reserve and 133 in the National Guard).
Active 273
Reserve 170
National Guard 91
Active 266
Reserve 212
National Guard 124
But taking a look at the reports from the Department of Defense Suicide Event Reports we find this.
2012 319 suicides among Active component Service members and 203 among Reserve component Services members (Reserve [n = 73]; National Guard [n = 130].
A total of 841 Service members had one or more attempted suicides reported in DoDSER for CY 2012 
2013 259 suicides among Active Component SMs and 220 among Reserve and National Guard SMs of the Selected Reserve
A total of 1,034 SMs had one or more attempted suicides reported in the DoDSER for CY 2013. 
2014 269 Active Component deaths and 169 Reserve Component deaths were attributable to suicide. 
A total of 1,126 suicide attempts were reported from the four Services

And now the worst thing of all in all of this. The other numbers reported on Army Times 2/15/2015

Personnel strength of the Regular Army has dropped below 500,000 for the first time in 10 years, with 498,642 soldiers being listed on active duty in the most recent official headcount of the force.
Statistics compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center show that as the Army entered 2015 its reserve components had a combined strength of 547,007 soldiers — 349,881 in the National Guard, and 197,126 in the Army Reserve.
The Army drawdown is on track to reduce the active component to 490,000 soldiers by Oct. 1, as required in the fiscal 2015 budget authorization from Congress.

So what the hell is really going on and who is benefiting from it? The troops are not. Veterans are not. Who is getting all the money Congress has been spending over the last decade and WHEN THE HELL WILL ANY OF THEM BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ANY OF THIS?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Veteran Marine Survived Deployments, Cancer And Still Thinks of Others

Former Marine Saves Up to Make Big Gift to Food Bank
Associated Press
by Ben Muir
Jul 25, 2016

Skorna left the Marines in 2011 after four years of active duty, but he said the time he spent in stricken areas fueled his desire to donate.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Thurston County Food Bank receives emails from people who want to help every day. Some offer an egg carton or loaf of bread. Others help wash cars or give cash donations, usually $10 to $50. Wealthier local residents sometimes make donations in the range of $1,000 or $2,000, reported The Olympian.

So when Fran Potasnik, a full-time volunteer at the food bank, checked her inbox and found an email from another prospective donor in April, she didn't think much of it.

Until she opened it and read, "Hi my name is John, and I plan on giving $10,000."

John Skorna, 27, vowed to donate the $10,000 to the food bank's summer lunch program. Potasnik told him a gift like that would provide 2,762 lunches — 20 percent of the 10,777 meals distributed to kids every summer.

"I thought, 'OK, what is this guy?'" Potasnik said. "I then forwarded it to the director and said, 'I don't know if this is for real or not.'"

"My first thought was a little bit of skepticism, but not in a negative way," Food Bank Director Robert Coit said. "John's email had a sense of sincerity and passion. Both Fran and I felt there was something about it that seemed real."

Skorna wrote to Coit that he had most of the $10,000, but would need more time to collect the rest. Coit said he understood and reminded him that no matter the amount, any donation is noble and they would be grateful.

"He's the epitome of what a service person looks like," Ravancho said. "He'll do selfless things with integrity, and he doesn't need someone to say thank you. He could have come in here, given the check and left without saying a word to anyone. That would have been enough for him."
read more here

How Coffee Became Salvation for Soldiers and Veterans

If you read Wounded Times then you know about Point Man International Ministries being started by a Vietnam veteran, Seattle Police Officer meeting other veterans for coffee to help them heal. Just thinking about that simple act of kindness and time saving so many lives makes me proud to be among them.
If War Is Hell, Then Coffee Has Offered U.S. Soldiers Some Salvation
July 25, 2016

"The UFO became a place where soldiers could gather and talk openly about their worries and frustrations, without the military brass around," Gardner recalls. And in Columbia, says Gardner, UFO was a rarity ­­-- a place that "not just black and white but students and soldiers" could share.
During the Vietnam War, GI coffeehouses located near military posts became a place for soldiers to gather and organize against the war. Since 2007, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

In April 1865, at the bloody, bitter end of the Civil War, Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin, a Union cavalryman, wrote in his diary, "Everything is chaos here. The suspense is almost unbearable."

"We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee," he continued. "And nobody can soldier without coffee."

If war is hell, then for many soldiers throughout American history, it is coffee that has offered some small salvation. Hidden Kitchens looks at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
read more here

Australian Veteran Legacy Supports Families After Suicide

How Legacy makes life easier for those left behind
Sun Shine Coast Daily
Janine Hill
25th Jul 2016

"Keeping a promise to a mate is a value ingrained in the Aussie consciousness but, for Legacy, it's not just a belief; it's a solemn duty the organisation has proudly upheld for more than 90 years," Terry Dillon.

LEGACY OF GIVING: Terry Dillon has been giving to Legacy for 37 years.
John McCutcheon
TERRY Dillon might look more like a grandfather than a hero but he is both.

As a volunteer with Legacy, Mr Dillon has made life a little better for the spouses and children of veterans who did not return intact from conflict zones as he did, or who have since passed away.

During 37 years as a Legatee, he has helped "fill the gap" for about 200 of widows and their children whose husbands have died or been incapacitated by post traumatic stress disorder.

He is one of 46 Legatees on the Coast who support 1300 widows,15 children, including five under 10, and 15 dependents with disabilities.

The Vietnam Veteran could have put his energy into the community in any one of ways but was drawn to looking after the dependents of less fortunate diggers.

"Being a returned servicemen, I wanted to look after the widows and children of returned servicemen," he said.
read more here

Marine Veteran-Firefighter Lost Home While Fighting Fire at Camp Pendleton

ABC 7 News
By ABC7.com staff
Sunday, July 24, 2016

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service learned his home was burned to the ground by the Sand Fire while he was battling a blaze at Camp Pendleton.

Sergio Toscano was sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County to battle the Roblar Fire, which broke out Thursday evening.

While Toscano was battling the Roblar Fire, he received word that the Sand Fire was nearing his home on Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Santa Clarita.

"We were assigned to a fire at Camp Pendleton, the Roblar Fire, I was getting text and phone calls from back home updating me on the fire that was going on back home," Toscano told ABC7.

After learning his home had been destroyed, Toscano was pulled from the Roblar Fire and assigned the Sand Fire.
read more here

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Female Pilot Flying Again After Losing Leg

Female Air Force pilot amputee returns to the skies
Air Force Times
Oriana Pawlyk
July 23, 2016

Capt. Christy Wise frantically waved her headlamp flashlight to alert a boat jetting toward her to turn away. But Wise, a HC-130J rescue squadron pilot, quickly realizing it was too late, dove as far down to save herself. When she surfaced, she knew the boat’s propeller had severed her right leg.

Capt. Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Almost a year later, Wise — who thought it would be the end of her pilot career — is back in the cockpit, and flew her first mission Friday at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where she is stationed. She is the first female Air Force amputee to return to flight, the service said.

“I have been blown away with the amount of support I’ve had to ... achieve my goals,” Wise told Air Force Times on July 21.

On April 11, 2015, she and her boyfriend were paddleboarding in a cove near Shalimar, Florida. “When I surfaced I immediately thought, ‘Dang it, I should have had a brighter flashlight’,” Wise said. But she later learned it was a hit-and-run accident as the boat did not stop or slow down.
read more here

Do Not Pay the Price of Service With Your Life

About a week ago I got into a conversation with a young veteran about suicide. There have been numerous reports of veterans calling the Suicide Hotline and not getting the help they needed when they needed it. I asked her why they do not just call 911 and ask for help.  She said they do not want to get stuck with the bill.

Stunning I know but it very well may play a part in veteran in crisis not wanting to add more burden on their shoulders.

While Enhanced Eligibility for VA Healthcare has extended free care for combat veterans up to 5 years, too many veteran do not use it.  

Who's Eligible?
Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

  • Eligible combat Veterans will have free medical care and medications for any condition that may be related to their service in theater.
  • Immediate benefits of health care coverage.
  • No enrollment fee, monthly premiums or deductibles.
  • Low or no out-of-pocket costs.  During the five-year post discharge timeframe, there may be small medical care or prescription drug copayments for medical care for any condition not related to combat theater.   See our Copayment page for more information. (Copayment page)
  • Once enrolled, the Veteran will remain enrolled.
  • Enrollment with VA satisfies the health care law’s requirement to have health care coverage. 
  • Medical care rated among the best in the United States.
  • More than 1,700 places available to get health care.
  • VA health care can be used along with Medicare and any other health insurance coverage.

And this part is something else to pay attention to.

Veterans who qualify under this special eligibility are not subject to copays for conditions potentially related to their combat service. However, unless otherwise exempted, combat Veterans must either disclose their prior year gross household income OR decline to provide their financial information and agree to make applicable copays for care or services VA determines are clearly unrelated to their military service.
If you know a veteran in crisis and they cannot get help from the Crisis line, have them call 911 and ask for fire rescue. I have talked to firefighters and police officers about this.  If you call for police, what happens is a veteran in crisis can find themselves under more stress when they see a police officer yet when a firefighter shows up, there is less stress.

Most of the time police officers will go with the department just in case but are there just in case things get out of control.

Keep in mind that a lot of police officers and firefighters are also veterans. They get it! As for the bill, let the VA sort that out afterwards.  

If you are among the veteran with less than honorable discharges CALL 911 and save your life so you can fight to have the discharge changed.  There are about 140,000 of you that happened to adding to the veterans from previous wars having their discharges changed. Do not pay the cost of service with your life!

Australian Army Captain Suicide Between Canada and New York

Behind a mask of despair
Townsville Bulletin
July 23, 2016

Since 2000, data suggests nearly three times as many active Australian soldiers and nearly five times as many veterans have committed suicide as have died in Afghanistan. But before Paul, almost none had been nationally recognised.
ON the second-last day of 2013, a stranger arrived in Saranac Lake, a 5400-person mountain town 112km shy of the Canadian border.

Set amid the patchwork of forest preserves and villages, Saranac Lake is the “Capital of the Adirondacks”, a one-time best small town of New York, and the place where I’m from.

He was a 31-year-old infantry captain in the Australian Army who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Afghanistan two years before. He arrived on the one bus that comes each day: an Adirondack Trailways coach that chugs slowly uphill from Albany.

To get to Albany, he’d travelled more than 17,000km. He was good looking – wholesome and tidy, with intelligent eyes. He’d been a battle captain in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province, near Kandahar, working as part of Mentoring Task Force 3 with about 700 other Townsville soldiers. But he had a medical review coming up and, his family would later tell the police, he feared he might be discharged.

On New Year’s Eve, he bought a shovel and a blanket at the shopping plaza and set off on foot towards Lake Placid.
read more here

Grim Outcome With DOD First Quarter Suicide Report

Department of Defense released the first quarter of 2016 suicide report. In the first three months of 2016 there have been 110 reported suicides.

In the first quarter of 2016, the military services reported the following:

 58 deaths by suicide in the Active Component
 18 deaths by suicide in the Reserves
 34 deaths by suicide in the National Guard
Active 321
Reserve 204
National Guard 132
Active 255
Reserve 220
National Guard 134
Active 273
Reserve 170
National Guard 91
Active 266
Reserve 212
National Guard 124

All adds up to what they are doing is not working and they keep dying because no one is held accountable for failure to help them heal! 

Murder-Suicide Investigation: Police Officer Survived Iraq, Battled Cancer

Waterbury Officer's Death Ruled Suicide; Second Victim Identified
Hartford Courant
Bill Leukhardt
July 22, 2016

Yocher served six years in the U.S. Army, including one tour in Iraq. He then transferred to the Air Force and served a second tour in Iraq. He received honorable discharges from both branches, according to a Dream Foundation release about the September 2015 event.
WATERBURY — A Waterbury police officer who was found dead Wednesday morning outside a slain man's home had committed suicide, state police said Friday.

Hallock Yocher, 37, killed himself in the backyard of 31-33 Marion Ave., state police said.

Authorities on Friday also identified the second victim, James T. Stuart, 39, and said he died from multiple gunshot wounds in his third-floor apartment at 31-33 Marion.

State police are investigating the relationship between Yocher and Stuart. Investigators have not mentioned any suspect in Stuart's murder. Earlier, police called it "an isolated incident" and said there was no threat to the community.

Yocher, a 10-year veteran of the department, had been battling Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of part of the immune system. He was on the job despite his illness but off duty at the time of the Marion Avenue incident, police said.

In January 2014, Yocher, his wife and three children went to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando in Florida, a trip paid for by the Dream Foundation, a California nonprofit that helps terminally ill adults fulfill end-of-life dreams.
read more here

The Gravity of PTSD

When Does Suicide Become An Unacceptable Outcome of War?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 24, 2016

They call PTSD an "invisible wound" assuming it cannot be seen.  After all, it is not a wound of the flesh. Well, you cannot see gravity either, but you can see what it does.

Gravity keeps everything grounded so nothing is up in their air.
the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.
In the same way, you cannot see this wound if you look at a veteran but you can see it if you know the veteran.

Cry for help goes unanswered, suicide follows, a report about Brandon Ketchum on Quad City Times, tells the story of a Marine with two deployments between 2004 and 2008 and then another one after he was diagnosed with PTSD.
He "posted to Facebook a 148-word account of his previous day's visit to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City. The 33-year-old Davenport man had hoped his "emergency appointment" would result in an admission to the psychiatric unit, where he'd found help before."
The thing is, no one saw it until it was too late. He sent the message at 2:11 am when most people were sleeping. Most of the country is still sleeping when it involves veterans in crisis.  When do we actually find suicide an unacceptable outcome of war?

Ketchum was in the Marines until 2013, long after all the "PTSD prevention" Power Point slides missed the power of the point that this is a wound not caused by any type of weakness but caused by the strength of their emotional core. Long after "suicide prevention" was supposed to keep more alive after combat and over four decades of efforts to help remove the stigma of this, yet he was still carrying it on his shoulders being crushed by the weight of his burden.
"Asking for help has only clouded my life with such a stigma that I have carried the 'crazy' or 'broken' labels, forcing me to have to fight for custody of my little girl that I love more than the world."
Some veterans have their families turning their backs on them and they end up alone, on the streets and still suffering. Ketchum had family and friends there for him.

There are some who never seek help, but Ketchum did. 
Brandon said he already had been diagnosed with PTSD by the time he left Iowa for his third deployment. He was taking antidepressants while serving in Afghanistan. By the end of that abbreviated tour, he was also prescribed narcotic pain pills.
He wanted to heal and wanted to start the next part of his life but was trapped because none of the help he received was enough to heal his soul.

The gravity of this wound is strengthened because the simple truth of it is not something they have been shown.  It attacks "serious or dignified behavior; dignity; solemnity" because they are left feeling ashamed of it instead of understanding it.

The same strength of their core that allowed them to carry that burden while others were in danger comes from the same place where it ravages them when the only ones in danger are themselves.

So when do we change the conversation? When do we stop using "invisible" as if that is an excuse for us leaving so many abandoned? If we do not see it, then it is easy to swallow the "raising awareness" crap when talking about the problem has nothing to do with the solution.

Are we finally ready to actually look at the "efforts" the DOD has been doing for over a decade and demand accountability considering evidence proves it does in fact to more harm than good? Are we ready to demand accountability from the thousands of folks running around the country getting plenty of press coverage for what they want to talk about without ever once having to answer for what they know nothing about?

How many more times do we actually have to read about veterans like Ketchum before we have reached the "one too many" suicides we find acceptable?

Hundreds Join Together for PTSD Service Dogs

Hundreds attend event to fund service dogs for veterans with PTSD
WHSV ABC 3 news
Jared Kline
July 23, 2016

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Hundreds came out to show their strength and endurance by tackling a multi-mile race for a good cause.

The Fine Earth Adventure Race Walk for Warriors kicked off around 8 a.m. Saturday, July 23. Teams were entered into groups, ranging from "walkers" all the way to SWAT. Participants had to overcome various obstacles, varying in difficulty.

Also in the lineup were members of WHSV, competing under the title "TV3 Weekend Warriors."

The race raised money to provide military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with K9 companions.

read more here

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vietnam Veteran Rides To Washington Honoring Lives Lost on USS Frank E Evans

Vietnam veteran cycles to Washington D.C. to get names added to wall
WDBJ 7 News
By Noell Saunders
Jul 22, 2016

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) A 74-year old Vietnam War veteran is riding his bicycle all the way from Texas to Washington D.C.

Del Francis is on a mission to get his 74 comrades' names added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Francis almost died on a warship 47 years ago after an Australian aircraft carrier cut it in half. The ship sank and all 74 sailors perished that day.

After writing numerous petitions and letters, Francis decided to do something different.
read more here

How can any nation claim the slogan "grateful"

Is It Too Late For Older Veterans?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 23, 2016

It seems as if we have gone backwards by 40 years on older veterans.  When Vietnam veterans came home, no one wanted them around.  After all they did to begin research on PTSD, no one wants to even talk about the simple fact they are the majority of the veterans committing suicide.  How do we accept that? How can any nation claim the slogan "grateful" and allow this to go on?

So many are talking about the latest suicide report from the Department of Veterans Affairs putting the number of veterans committing suicide at 20 but too few are talking about this part.

There is continued evidence of high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older adult Veterans. In 2014, approximately 65% of all Veterans who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older

The last troops came home from Vietnam in 1975.
On May 15, 1975 American Marines stormed the beaches of a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand called Koh Tang to perform a rescue mission. However, due to intelligence failures and other factors, 41 American servicemembers died that day or were missing in what would be regarded as the last battle of the Vietnam War. At least three Marines were left behind to be executed by communist Khmer Rouge forces.

Gulf War veterans came home in 1991 and they are not part of the conversation. Troops were sent to Afghanistan in 2001 and into Iraq in 2003 but they are the only ones most seem to care about.  Why?

A "grateful nation" remains grateful to all generations and does not forget them because there is not enough time to care about all of them.  It does not accept false reports insinuating the only veterans we need to worry about are the ones who just came home.  It does not dismiss the suffering of previous generations nor does it remain unconcerned for those who will face the same battle-borne price in the next generation.

A grateful nation honors all of them so that no war will begin without true necessity for the preservation of our freedom.  It demands the best we can offer those we send and the best we can do for them when they come home.

We have failed four generations by forgetting them.

WWII veteran are among those still suffering with PTSD. Korean War veterans still suffer.  Vietnam veterans still suffer.  Gulf War veterans still suffer.  All of them are among the highest rate of suicides but most OEF and OIF veterans do not know that.  They simply assume it is all about them. When they discover the truth, they grieve and they wonder.

They wonder what will happen to them when they are older and forgotten about.  They wonder why all these decades of veterans fighting for other veterans has produced the same deadly outcome. Then they wonder how we can drop almost 7 million veterans since 1999 and arrive at the same number reported by the VA on them taking their own lives.

The Forgotten Warrior Project looks like the same veterans were forgotten about all over again.  There should be no reason left to wonder why younger veterans worry about what will happen when they are older and America has forgotten them as well.

It is never too late for veterans to heal.  The question remains, "Are we up to the challenge of helping them or write them off as it is too late" to care about them?  

Officer Matthew Gerald Laid to Rest

Slain Baton Rouge Police Officer and Veteran Mourned at Funeral
ABC News
Jul 22, 2016

Matthew Gerald, one of the law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sunday, was mourned today at his funeral by family, friends and colleagues.

A Louisiana State Trooper makes his way to a funeral services for police office
Gerald, 41, a husband and father, was an Army and Marine veteran who completed three tours of duty in Iraq. He had been serving the Baton Rouge Police Department for less than a year when he was fatally shot.
read more here

Veteran Fighting Cancer Does Not Fight Alone Thanks to Other Veterans

Local Veteran Battling Cancer Surrounded by Love
Tiffany Pelt
July 22, 2016

"We just couldn't hear about someone like Bill and not get involved," said John Hoskin, Texas State President of U.S. Veterans MC. "We have that innate sense to support each other. It's engrained in us in the military to take care of your fellow soldier."
Valley Mills - "It's very expensive to die." Veteran Bill Cote says these words through a raspy voice. He is not crying or upset. As a man who was only given six months to a year to live, he is just being honest.
"They caught the cancer too late," he said. "When they took the tumor out they found a bunch more."

Bill, 62, was diagnosed with Thymoma back in December. It's a rare cancer that wrapped itself around his larynx, left lung and all around his chest. It is now stage four and traveling through his lymph nodes.

The cancer wages war on the veteran's body. He gets weak easily, and is no longer able to do much of anything. But on Thursdays, Bill doesn't seem to mind.

"It's something I look forward to every week. Thursdays are on my mind. Up until then it never mattered what day it was," he said with a smile.

On Thursdays, Bill hears the hum of motorcycles pull up to his home. His fellow Patriot Guard Rider, Barry Dahlquist, is always there. Sometimes other Patriot Guard riders join Barry for the visit. And sometimes veterans who are complete strangers show up at his door. They all arrive with warm smile ready to run errands, clean the house, mow the lawn or what ever needs to be done.

"It's a mindset that only veterans recognize," said Bill. "It's a strong community. They look out for each other. You don't have to know someone to care for them."
read more here

Marine "Flew in out of nowhere" to Save Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman

My brother’s keeper: ‘First Team’ Marine saves drowning sailor
Story by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

“He flew in out of nowhere and put his life at risk by going into this rip current to swim us both to safety,” Duron said of Yakin. “Throughout his rescue, he reassured me and pulled us both out of the situation.”
Photo By Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo | Lance Cpl. Troy Yakin, landing support specialist, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment,
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.—Standing well above 6 foot tall, with a clean haircut, fresh shave and an air of confidence, Lance Cpl. Troy Yakin is what many would consider a typical Marine. But even the most typical of Marines have a thread of heroism woven within. Whether at home or on the battlefield, answering the call of duty is less of a cognitive thought than it is an instinct.

“Do I think I’m a hero? No,” Yakin said. “I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t think he was dying, I just thought I was helping somebody out.”

On the morning of June 29, 2016, Yakin, a landing support specialist with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and two Marines from his unit were visiting Del Mar Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. In the days leading up to that morning, they had been conducting a joint inspection for 11th Marine Regiment. With their tasks completed earlier than expected, Yakin and his co-workers decided to go to the beach.

“When we were at the beach everybody was having a good time,” Yakin said. “People were surfing, body boarding, all that fun stuff. There was a swimmer who had wandered out too far so the life guard went to get him. It was around that time that someone started screaming for help.”

The person in need was Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Ralph Duron, senior enlisted leader, 21 Area Branch Clinic, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. Like his fellow beach-goers, Duron was enjoying his time in the ocean. The nearly 9-foot waves crashing above didn’t faze him until he was unexpectedly thrown from his board.

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Pentagon Does Not Know How Many Military Families Go Hungry?

Pentagon Doesn't Track How Many Military Families Go Hungry: Report
by Amy Bushatz
Jul 21, 2016

Whether a military family qualifies for food stamps depends strongly on where they are stationed, since individual states set some of their own income guidelines. For example, at both Camp Pendleton, California, and Fort Hood, Texas, troops need a minimum household size of six to qualify, even though income between those locations varies widely thanks to the Basic Allowance for Housing rates.
Authorized patrons at the Fort McCoy Commissary check out their grocery items. (Photo by Geneve N. Mankel)
Defense Department officials have incomplete information on how many military families are using food assistance programs because the department doesn't completely track the data or work with other departments to do so, a new report from the Government Accountability Office finds.

While some data exist on how many service members use programs such as food stamps, known as SNAP, or the Women and Infant Children (WIC) program, which are both controlled by the Department of Agriculture, the Pentagon only loosely tracks the programs it administers, the report says.

Additionally, no single office at the DoD is in charge of food assistance tracking, it says.

"The Department of Defense has some data on service members' use of food assistance programs it administers, but it does not know the extent that service members use such programs," the report summary says. "Also no office within DOD is monitoring food assistance needs, such as through survey data."

Little to no information was found by auditors on service members' use of the myriad of other food assistance programs such as local food banks and free and reduced lunches for children in non-DoD schools. That's a problem military officials must tackle before they are able to accurately understand how hunger impacts troops and their families, the report says.
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Purple Heart For PTSD Veterans Debate Surfaces Again

For the last 34 years, over half my life, this has been my life. It is a place of my choosing since I did not go into the military. I was born into it. My Dad was a Korean War veteran and when I fell in love with a Vietnam veteran, I married into it. Felt natural to me back then since it was all I knew growing up with my uncles, all WWII veterans. What was not so familiar was the term "shell shock" older veteran used to explain what war does to some. It was known to have changed lives forever in one way or another. In our case it was the worst way for a while but after all these years, we are still together.

When I hear some say that veterans with PTSD do not deserve a Purple Heart, I can only conclude they simply do not even understand what the term actually means.

Post=After, Trauma=Wound, Stress=State of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances and Disorder=Out of order. 

In other words, things happened while your life was on the line and you got wounded to the point where your mind and body were stressed out and then everything got jumbled up.

Here's the thing though they don't tell you. After it, wounds heal and stress eases up with help and then things can be put back into some kind of order. Just like with everything else, not the same order they were in before, but differently. Just like you are not the cause of what war did to you and was out of your control, what you do afterwards is in your control.

It is a wound caused by an outside force that penetrated your skin and you can still feel the heat while your body was pushed to the limits of humanity. You can still smell the same things you had to suffer with back then, like diesel fuel. You can still hear the same sounds like machine guns, cannons and helicopters along with screams and dying breathes.

You can still remember every decision you ever made and still argue between what you knew in that millisecond of time and what you know now.

The trick is understanding that it is a wound and left untreated it spreads out to every other part of your life like and infection destroying whatever it comes into contact with until you fight back with everything your body needs to defeat it.

“Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.” ― George Washington

There should be no stigma attached to this at all and there will not be as soon as all of you understand exactly what it is and finally accept the fact that you would not have it IF YOU DID NOT PUT YOUR LIFE ON THE LINE BEING WILLING TO DIE FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

Civilians get PTSD but it is a totally different type and the only reason they know what it is, is because veterans came back and fought for all the research. Keep fighting!
I’ve treated veterans with PTSD. It’s time to make them eligible for the Purple Heart.
Washington Post
By Nathaniel P. Morris
July 22, 2016
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD afflicts up to one in five veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in a given year, and as many as one in three veterans from earlier conflicts like Vietnam during their lifetime. As of 2013, roughly 400,000 veterans affiliated with the VA carried this diagnosis.
Over the last decade, a controversial question has surrounded the Purple Heart: do veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder deserve it?

The Pentagon currently does not award Purple Hearts to veterans suffering from PTSD. Supporters of this policy argue physical wounds have always determined eligibility for the Purple Heart. Some believe the science regarding PTSD is too primitive; indeed symptoms can be difficult to diagnose, and objective tests remain elusive. There are concerns that some veterans might attempt to fake the diagnosis.

But critics say that denying Purple Hearts to these veterans reinforces the stigmatization of mental illness—in other words, that conditions of the mind are less real than conditions of the body. As a physician who has worked with veterans suffering from PTSD, I can tell you the manifestations of this condition are very real. Symptoms can include flashbacks, paralyzing anxiety, hypervigilance, and self-harm.
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WWII Veteran Banged Up During Ride to VA

90-year-old Veteran injured in Medicaid funded wheelchair van ride
I-Team: Transport company has troubling past
ABC Action News
Adam Walser
July 21, 2016

“His arm was bloodied and he had a lump on his head from a blow to the head,” said Schaer. “My father's on blood thinners, so I know a blow to the head like that could kill him.”
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Blood, a bump on the head and dehydration were the result of a wheel chair van ride Vernon Johnson recently took home from his doctor's appointment.

Your tax dollars paid for that ride, but the company that gave it has had other trouble in the past.

In 90 years Jacobson has had plenty of close calls , starting with D-Day.

As a young Coast Guardsman, he drove troops to shore on a barge.

But it’s his latest close call that had the potential to do the most damage.

“The wheels must have left the ground,” he said, describing the wild ride.
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