Monday, February 20, 2017

Investigations continue of death at Oklahoma veterans center

Investigations continue of death at Oklahoma veterans center 
Pilot Online 
Feb 19, 2017
"I took care of Leonard almost three years before I had to put him in there. In all of that time, he never swallowed or wanted to eat anything that was inedible," Harger said. "This has upset me so bad — and not just about Leonard. It's all of these other men down there that are not getting the care that they are needing."
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Federal and state investigations are underway into the choking death of a man with later-stage dementia at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs have launched separate investigations into the Jan. 31 death of 70-year-old Leonard Smith, formerly of Sapulpa. 

Smith died in the nursing home's locked-down, special-needs unit. read more here

MOH for Chesty Puller?

Is it time to give Chesty Puller the Medal of Honor?
Marine Times
By: Jeff Schogol
February 19, 2017

More than 300 Marines have earned the Medal of Honor since award’s inception in 1861. But missing from that list is perhaps the most legendary Marine, whose memory still looms large in the lore of the Corps: Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller.

The image of Puller’s iconic frown and his memorable quips about combat have come to define what it means to be a Marine for generations. Puller once told his troops, when surrounded by enemy fighters in Korea: “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us ... they can’t get away this time.”

Puller earned five Navy crosses, the nation’s second-highest honor for valor. At least two serious attempts have been made to get one of Puller’s awards upgraded to the Medal of Honor, but they failed. Even today, Marine veterans and devotees still grumbled that Puller deserves to be recognized with the nation’s highest honor and the book has not been closed on the matter.

“Marines still today in boot camp chant his name. They all still do know about him and they should keep his spirit alive,” said Kim Van Note, president of the Basilone Memorial Foundation, a charity named for one Marine Medal of Honor recipient who served under ­Puller’s command at Guadalcanal, ­Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Joins Phi Kapa Sigma Faternity

Fraternity initiates Vietnam veteran
Indiana Daily Student News
Larmie Sanyon
February 20, 2017

After returning from the Vietnam War, Army Col. Gregg Hammond said he struggled to integrate back into society because he felt alienated. Since serving in Vietnam and eventually Iraq, Hammond said he learned how to cope with society, both as a veteran and a citizen. When Phi Kappa Sigma initiated him Saturday, Hammond said he had an opportunity to share his experiences with a young group of people.
Retired Army Col. Gregg Hammond, right, was initiated into the fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma on Saturday. DOMINICK JEAN
Hammond, a native of Peru, Indiana, graduated from IU in 1979 and served about 33 years in the Marines and Army. Sophomore Jake Olson, the fraternity’s president, said the 167-year-old initiation kept with traditions at Bryan Room in the IMU.

The standards and traditions reminded Hammond of the Army after he retired in 2009.

“I started to research it after I retired and I found the values of Phi Kappa Sigma to be almost identical to the Army’s core values.” he said.

The fraternity’s local chapter, the Delta Pi chapter, recognized the colonel by initiating him along with 14 other young men in their winter class. Hammond said he never had an opportunity to join a fraternity while at IU or any other institutions, but he remembered one of his classmates being a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma and 
enjoying his experience.
read more here

Soldier Saved Seven Lives After Motorcycle Crash Claimed His

Soldier gives ultimate gift to seven strangers
Claremore Progress
Diana Dickinson
February 19, 2017
While family members were praying to God to save their loved one after a tragic motorcycle crash left him brain dead, other individuals elsewhere were praying to God for another day.

Twenty-one-year-old Oklahoma Army Reserve National Guardsman SPC Teddy L. Keys Jr., of Oologah, was a soldier who saved or improved the lives of seven people when doctors could not save him after a crash on April 27, 2015.

Because he became brain dead prior to his death and had maintained great physical health, his bones, tissues and other organs were all eligible for reuse and were harvested.
read more here

New Hampshire Army Ranger Shot by Other Soldier Receives Outpouring of Support

Over $20,000 raised in 1 day for NH soldier shot by fellow Army ranger
February 18, 2017

HUDSON - There has been an outpouring of support from the community after a soldier from New Hampshire was shot in the neck by another Army ranger earlier this week.
A GoFundMe page for Joshua Keller has already collected more than $20,000. He was accidentally shot in Washington, and the other solider is facing charges.

His father Matt Keller spoke with NH1 News earlier in the week. He said his family has been in Washington since Sunday to be with their son.
read more here

Solider from NH shot by fellow Army ranger, in critical condition
The Associated Press
February 14, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — An Army ranger from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state has been charged with shooting a fellow soldier, who remains in critical condition.

The Olympian reports that Spc. Thomas Patrick Popek was arraigned in court Monday on an assault charge. The 23-year-old victim from Hudson, N.H., is in critical condition and unable to breath on his own.
read more here

Topeka VA Delivers Care While Searching for Psychiatrist

Care continues at the Topeka VA during difficult search for a psychiatrist
Topeka Capital Journal
Justin Wingerter
February 19, 2017
Bob Portenier, a Vietnam combat veteran and former PCT patient who raised alarms when the PTSD psychiatrist transferred in December, said he was referred to a mental health clinic and has been impressed with the care he received.

Dr. Michael Leeson, chief of behavioral services at the Colmery-O’Neil
VA Medical Center, speaks during an interview at the hospital Wednesday.
(Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

Eight weeks after the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it would transfer its lone post-traumatic stress disorder psychiatrist at Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center to another department — worrying veterans who had come to rely on the doctor — PTSD patients and hospital administrators say treatment has largely continued unabated.

On the third floor of Building 2, three psychologists, a nurse and an administrative clerk care for minds wounded by war. Together, they make up the PTSD Clinical Team, or PCT in hospital parlance.

Before mid-December, they were joined by a psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist left to work in the hospital’s understaffed inpatient ward for severe mental health crises, veterans feared a loss of the doctor they had come to trust — the one who knew them, knew their stories and knew their conditions.

Patients with few symptoms were transferred to the primary care wing. Patients who did not require medications were transferred to the three PCT psychologists. Others chose to seek treatment outside the hospital through the VA’s choice program.
read more here

Police Kill Suspect After Woman Found Brutally Beaten

PTSD is no excuse for things like this and as a reminder, it is a rarity.
Friend of Claremore man killed by police in east Tulsa says he could have prevented shooting
KJRH 2 News
Feb 19, 2017

TULSA -- A friend of the kidnapping and rape suspect who was a shot and killed by police officers in east Tulsa on Friday is speaking out.
The man told 2 Works for You reporter Corley Peel that he could have prevented officers from shooting his friend, David English, 34, if police only gave him a chance.

Wayne Youngwolfe says although English was his lifelong friend, he immediately stepped in when he said he saw English had brutally beaten his girlfriend. He said if police would have let him get to English beforehand, he would have never been shot.

"They didn't give me a chance to go get him," Youngwolfe said. "This is what they wanted, so they got it."

Youngwolfe said English was battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"The war messed him up. He has never been the same person since he came back," Youngwolfe said.
read more here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Australia: Veteran Denied Service Dog Because His Wife Could Do It?

Veterans’ office ‘feudal, chaotic’
The Australian
February 20, 2017
Minister for Veterans Affairs Dan Tehan. Picture Kym Smith
One veteran was refused a mental health assistance dog because “his wife could do everything a dog could”.

Another was told her post traum­atic stress disorder claim was false because she was pregnant and was suffering from depres­sion related to that instead.

A third had to get his wife to secretl­y record his commander abusing him. The abuse related to his claim over being wrongly investi­gated and disciplined for alleged­ marijuana use in Afghanistan. He was also told he would end up as a “trolley pusher at Coles” if he didn’t follow directives from a Veterans’ Affairs staffer.

These accounts, from veterans’ advocate Rod Thomp­son, are contained in one of more than 500 submissions lodged with an inquiry­ by the Senate standing committee on defence into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel. They give a devastating insight into the mindset of, and difficulties facing, veterans trying to navigate assistance and compensation claims after they leave the Australian Defence Force.
read more here

Are Awareness Raisers Satisfied with More Suicides?

Repeating Something Means Being Satisfied with Results
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 19, 2017

What, no pushups? We've had more than enough evidence that this type of publicity stunt does no good at all. So why do it? Why continue to do something that doesn't work? Why continue to repeat a number that is not real? The really odd thing is, about 70 of them marched the 70 miles without knowing that number is a lot closer to the number of veterans taking their own lives everyday.

The only reason to repeat something is being satisfied with the results. Does that mean the awareness raisers are satisfied with the rise in suicides or are they satisfied with the publicity and funding they gain?
Grueling march from Fort Hood to State Capitol raises awareness of PTSD
KXAN Staff
Published: February 18, 2017

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Statistics show 20 veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder take their own lives each day.
It’s the reason about 70 people spent the last three days marching all the way from Fort Hood to the State Capitol in an event called Carry the Fallen, which is put on by the group Active Heroes.

That’s about 70 miles. And they did it with weights on their backs to symbolize and remember the vets who killed themselves.

Those who made the trek say walking that far with complete strangers brings you a lot closer together.
read more here
Here are the published results of a decade of raising awareness. 

Less serving but more suicides.

The Army’s reduction in force size, driven by budget cuts, was in fact accelerated by two years due to the severity of the sequester in FY 2013.2 From a height of 566,000 in FY 2011, the Army’s end strength in FY 2014 was on a downward slide to 490,000 Active Army soldiers by the end of the fiscal year. The ongoing debate between the White House and Congress (and within Congress) over funding levels as constrained by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will determine whether the Army is able to sustain a projected end strength of 450,000 or must reduce further to 420,000 soldiers.

The FY 2017 DoD budget request[4] plan calls for an active duty end strength of 1,281,900, a decrease of 19,400 from the 2016 baseline as a result of decrements in the Army (15,000 fewer personnel) and Navy (4,400 fewer personnel) strength. The budget request also calls for a reserve component end strength of 801,200, a decrease of 9,800 personnel.

Less veterans but suicide numbers remained the same.

Number of veterans in US Census Data from 2000
26.4 million.

Number of veterans in US Census Data from 2016

The last suicide report from the Department of Veterans Affairs stated there are 20 veterans committing suicide per day.

Compared to the data from the 2012 report, which estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide to be 22 per day, the current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide...

THE REPORT CONCLUDES: Approximately 65 percent of all Veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older. Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. This is a decrease from 22 percent in 2010. Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23 percent, while Veteran suicides increased 32 percent in the same time period. After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21 percent greater for Veterans. Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. Veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8 percent, while the rate of suicide among Veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6 percent. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male Veterans who use VA services increased 11 percent, while the rate of suicide increased 35 percent among male Veterans who do not use VA services. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female Veterans who use VA services increased 4.6 percent while the rate of suicide increased 98 percent among female Veterans who do not use VA services.
This means that Congress must be content with the results as well. They keep writing the same type of Bills and funding them that have not worked.

This means that military leaders must be content since they keep pushing the same "resilience training" that caused the increase in suicides.

This means that all the awareness raisers out there must be content with the results since they keep repeating the same stunts all across the country.

Missing Veteran Alert: Scotland Veteran Paul Ellis

An Iraq War veteran who was reported missing has been found.

Family's desperate plea over missing Iraq war veteran
STV News Scotland
Chris Foote
29 mins ago

The family of a missing Iraq war veteran and PTSD-sufferer say they are "desperate to get him home".
Paul Ellis is believed to have travelled from Glasgow to Edinburgh by train on Saturday afternoon.

He arrived at Waverley station at around 2.35pm and then boarded a second train headed to London, although it is unclear whether he arrived in the capital.

The family of the 53-year-old, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Royal Navy Reserve, are concerned for his welfare.

Speaking to STV News, they said: "Paul's family loves him so much and we're desperate to get him home. We just want to know that he's okay."
read more here

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Woman Convicted of VA and Freddie Mac Employee Idenity Theft

Jury Convicts Woman Of Freddie Mac And Veterans Affairs ID Theft
Alexandria News
February 17th 2017

Allise Jones, 29, of Lanham, Maryland, was convicted today by a federal jury on charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, two counts of access device fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Jones conspired with others to use personally identifiable information (PII) about current and former employees of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), Department of Veterans Affairs, and others. From October 2012 to April 2014,

Jones and her co-conspirators had access to PII from over 100 VA employees and more than 2,000 Freddie Mac employees and affiliates. Jones and her co-conspirators used that information to obtain fraudulent identification documents and credit accounts used to defraud financial institutions, retailers, and others. Jones used the information to obtain credit cards she used to purchase goods and services such as plastic surgery, expensive jewelry, and travel.
read more here

Suicide Awareness Nothing More Than a Gimmick

Veterans Search For Hope, Find Deadly Gimmick
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 18, 2017

The definition of Gimmick is
"1. an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.
2. a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal:
That is exactly what has been going on when folks talk about, and raise money for, talking about veterans committing suicide. They search for answers and hope about how to heal PTSD and find rumors.

Are veterans committing suicide? Yes. What good does it do to talk about a number when it is only partly true? No good at all.

The number "22" is nothing more than an alternative fact, but they don't mention the rest of the news they don't want you to hear.

There are simple facts they don't want you to pay attention to so that you open your wallet and feel as if you just did something to help change the outcome. You haven't done anyone any good by supporting something that does not exist.

How can repeating a number, that is only partially true, help anyone? It can't but that doesn't stop anyone from using it unless they have integrity enough to do so much more than talk about what they think is true.

That maybe the worst example of all. If they do not know what the real facts are, it pretty much shows they do not care enough to find the truth. If they have not invested the time in learning that, then it is obvious they haven't take any time to learn what to do to actually change the outcome.

So here are some basic, actual facts to counter their alternative "facts" they want you to be aware of.

The CDC suicide research has, 
All suicides
  • Number of deaths: 42,773
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.4
  • Cause of death rank: 10
In 2007 CBS News had this,

Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans

It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. 

And that has not changed. That means for the 42,773 suicides per year, veterans were taking their own lives 2 to 1 civilian rate. Do the math. Far from 22 a day isn't it?

Top that off with back in 2007 most of the folks talking about raising awareness were still sleeping on the subject. Not that is anything new considering that the other piece of fact they totally overlook is that the majority of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50 and that very well could be due to the other fact they are also the largest group of veterans in the country.

It is even worse for younger veterans when compared to their peer rate. Often the reports have them committing suicide triple their civilian peer rate. For female veterans it is higher and young female veterans, even higher than that.

The fact is, this whole business of raising awareness is exactly that, a business. If you are planning on contacting this site about what you're doing, take this as a warning because you will be blasted publicly. Too many veterans and families are searching for hope but you think you deserve their money for offering this deadly gimmick? WTF is wrong with you?

Operation Song Helps Veterans Change Conversation About PTSD

Pensacola veterans finding healing through song
Charlotte Observer
The Pensacola News-Journal
February 18, 2017

Nashville songwriter Bob Regan has written hit songs for well-known stars including Keith Urban, Trisha Yearwood and Tanya Tucker.

But those songs aren't the ones that have meant the most to the Grammy-nominated artist.

Regan is proudest of dozens of songs that will likely never become mainstream hits — songs of pain and loss written by combat veterans through Operation Song, a nonprofit organization he created to connect veterans with professional songwriters.

"The veterans bring the stories and we bring the songwriting experience. All of the songwriters we use are pros who have been at this for many years and decades. We sit in a room together, listen to their stories, pick out pieces and make it rhyme," he said.

"It can be very therapeutic. If your emotions and your experiences are scrambled from trauma, sometimes it is difficult to put things in their proper perspective and to sort them out. Through songwriting, the jumble of feelings gets a beginning, an end, a resolution."

The result is a song like Fight For Me, written by Tim Chandler, a Pensacola-area Marine veteran who survived an IED blast during combat in Iraq. Regan and award-winning songwriter Don Goodman helped Chandler come up with the emotional song that tells the story of his return from war, subsequent divorce and difficult child custody battle.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran's Wheelchairs Stolen, Faith Restored by Stranger's Kindness

Disabled Vietnam veteran gifted new wheelchair after his was stolen
The Indy Channel
Eric Cox, Melissa Mahadeo
7:59 AM, Feb 17, 2017
But thanks to the kindness of a stranger, the 63-year-old said his faith in humanity is restored.
"I'm glad that there are people that really do care," said Wood.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A disabled Vietnam veteran was gifted a new wheelchair on Friday after a thief stole his from his yard.

Clifford Wood was charging his brand-new wheelchair when someone took it. As if that weren't bad enough, the thief also took his old one, too.

Physical Therapist Alex Stoughton heard Wood's story and decided to step up and help him out.

"Being a disabled vet is tough, and there's just not a lot of support for him," said Stoughton. "This was one of those times I feel like I could actually help him."

Wood served in Vietnam and had to move around often when he got older.

"I ended up becoming homeless because I couldn't afford the rent," he said.
read more here

Man Charge for Stealing Prescription Pain Drugs From Veterans

Staunton Man Accused of Stealing Prescriptions from Veterans 
NBC 29 News 
Posted: Feb 17, 2017
Schuyler A. Lotts
STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - A 22-year-old Staunton man is facing dozens of drug charges after an investigation by federal, state, and local law enforcement. 

Schuyler A. Lotts is charged with 37 misdemeanor counts of petit larceny, 37 felony counts of possession of a schedule II narcotic and one count of possession with intent to distribute. 

Lotts is accused of stealing packages from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pharmacy while working at the UPS facility in Fishersville. 

Virginia State Police say he is responsible for the theft of approximately 3,500 oxycodone tablets, valued at $35,000. read more here

Vietnam Veteran Started FEDEX and Spread Encouragement

A Marine Gives Back
Don Esmond
February 17, 2017
Cori says they chose the fund to honor veterans. “The fund bridges the gap when service men and women return home and are awaiting certain VA pay and benefits but are in immediate need and would otherwise be unable, or severely financially harmed, to fulfill such needs on their own.
Beau and Cori O’Steen (Beau O'Steen)
When Frederick W. Smith was an undergrad at Yale, he wrote a paper outlining his plans to start a company to deliver urgent, time-sensitive shipments nationwide. He only got a “C” on the paper because his professor didn’t think the plan was “feasible.”

However, after serving as a Marine officer in Vietnam, he put what he had learned to good use. The result was FedEx. Indeed, he credits his military experience for part of his success. “Nothing has prepared business leaders better for their role in business and society than the lessons they learned in the Corps – lessons of discipline, organization, commitment and integrity.”

While not every veteran can build a booming global enterprise like FedEx, I know from personal experience that what veterans learn while serving our country has real application in the civilian world and can make a real difference in the civilian workplace.

That’s as true for post 9/11 veterans as it was for Vietnam vets, like Fred Smith and me. A case in point is Beau O’Steen, who joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 1999. As a Marine infantryman, he deployed three times during the next six years.
read more here

UK: Community Makes House a Home for Veteran with PTSD

A soldier with PTSD was discharged with nothing. We made his house a home
The Guardian
Julian Cash and Marianne Cash
February 17, 2017

Using donations from local residents, we furnish homes for people rebuilding their lives, to give them a fresh start and restore their dignity
Using donations from local residents,
Community Furniture Aid furnish homes for people who have nothing.
Photograph: Community Furniture Aid
Totally shut down, sitting motionless and staring at the floor, his only communication was “I don’t think I can cope with this”.

My wife and I had been approached by the support worker of an ex-soldier, who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He was being rehoused – but into a completely empty property, with bare walls and concrete floors. Having lived all his life at home and then in barracks, this young man did not know how to furnish the property. Until then, everything had always been provided for him.

Worse still, he was struggling to even communicate after his traumatic experiences in Afghanistan. We tried to take away the pressure by listing all the essential items that he would need: something to sleep on, sit on, eat off and cook with. Essentially, all the things we take for granted. We also added pictures for the wallsand rugs on the floor. The only charge was £70 to cover our basic costs.

When we delivered all the furniture, the young man was overwhelmed and his support worker was amazed at the amount that was provided. The empty house suddenly became a home. All the stress of having to source each individual item was taken away and the young man was able to concentrate on his rehabilitation.
read more here