Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Combat PTSD Veteran Tells How VA Saved His LIfe

Veteran says VA saved his life
Leavenworth Times
January 18, 2017
"We are all kind of our own special society. You don't have to give your whole story to explain it (to other veterans)." James Trumble
James Trumble sits on a bench outside of the domicillary at the Eisenhower VA Medical Center, reflecting on his military experiences and how the V has helped him deal with post traumatic stress disorder
Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, James Trumble said he always wanted to join the Army. He remembers playing Army as a youngster.

"What little kid didn't play Army?" he said.

Trumble enlisted in the Army at the age of 24. In 2007, he was deployed near Baghdad, Iraq. It didn't take long before he was in the fight.

On his first mission, Trumble earned his combat infantryman badge as a result of a firefight.

"That kind of started PTSD for me," he said.

He said that in his first five months in Iraq, he was engaged in more than 20 firefights. He said those experiences and more led to his developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Combat is so unexpected," he said. "I don't know what is normal or what isn't. It was enough to affect me."

Trumble served for a little more than three years in the Army. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007-08 as part of the 101st Airborne, 1st 502nd infantry.
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Will President Obama Pardon Incarcerated PTSD Veterans Too?

Vietnam group asks Obama to pardon veterans
The Hill
"We hope that President Obama, in the final hours of his Presidency, will do right by his troops by helping bad-paper vets with PTSD," Rowan said. "We cannot wait another four or eight years for an outgoing President to take action to help the most vulnerable veterans in the country."

A veterans service organization is asking President Obama to pardon veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who received a less-than-honorable discharge after the president commuted the prison sentence for former Army soldier Chelsea Manning.

"As pardons are being issued to people who have been convicted of serious felonies, veterans who served their country in combat wait to be offered the same clemency," said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America.

With four days left in office, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it was commuting Manning's sentence, in addition to 208 others, and pardoning 64 individuals.
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Vietnam Veteran MOH Sammy Davis Attending Inaugurations Since 1969

Meet the Army Veteran Who’s Never Missed an Inauguration Day Since Nixon
NBC News
January 18, 2017
It doesn't matter whether he voted for that person or not, Davis said, he goes to each ceremony out of a "sense of duty — an obligation I feel in my soul."
"I didn't die for my country," he said, "but I'm living for it."

On each Inauguration Day, decorated Vietnam veteran Sammy Lee Davis is furnished with a front-row seat to history.

Davis, a Medal of Honor recipient, has been an eyewitness to every American president taking the oath of office since Richard Nixon's first swearing-in on a cold January afternoon in 1969. Davis is returning to Washington this week and says he is eager to watch Donald Trump become the next president of the United States — marking his 14th ceremony he will get to experience first-hand.

"How unique it is to have that privilege," said Davis, 70, who calls everyone "sir" or "ma'am" and lives outside a tiny Indiana community called Freedom, where he keeps framed programs from each inauguration he's attended.

While a particular president might inspire a trek to the nation's capital for such a revered event — President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009 beckoned an estimated 1.8 million spectators — the desire to go is different for Davis.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Florida Lawmakers Push Alternative PTSD Treatment for Veterans

Florida lawmakers working to get veterans access to alternative treatments such as acupuncture
Action News Jax
by: Michael Yoshida
Jan 17, 2017

There’s a push to make it easier for Florida veterans to get access to “alternative treatments” for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and other injuries.
The treatments include things like acupuncture, equine therapy, music therapy and meditation.

They're included in two bills introduced by Florida lawmakers.There’s a push to make it easier for Florida veterans to get access to “alternative treatments” for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and other injuries.

The treatments include things like acupuncture, equine therapy, music therapy and meditation.

Action News Jax spoke with veterans who are already benefiting from this form of treatment.

“You know it took me years to even talk about my problems,” said Army veteran Chad Childers.

Childers, an Army Ranger, was medically discharged after deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I tried to cope with my issues by drinking and ended up out on the streets,” Childers said.

Childers eventually found his way to the Five Star Veterans Center.

“When they first brought up doing art therapy, I’m like 'uh, what’s this cheeseball stuff? I’m not, you know, in elementary school anymore,' but I went to it and I actually had a great time,” Childers said.
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Fascinating Numbers on Department of Veterans Affairs

VA by the numbers: Has the department made progress?
Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
January 16, 2017

If Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin is confirmed as the next VA Secretary, he’ll take on a broader profile than just the medical aspects of the department.

Here’s a look at some key facts and figures on where the department stands today, based on current officials’ own statistics and assessments of operations since current VA Secretary Bob McDonald took office in August 2014.

** The VA budget totals $176.9 billion for fiscal 2017, almost twice the budget total when Obama took office in fiscal 2009 ($93.7 billion) and almost four times the total when the war in Afghanistan began in fiscal 2001 ($48.7 billion).

Of the 2017 total, roughly $77.4 billion is set aside for discretionary programs, and the rest for disability, medical and education benefits, along with other mandatory spending.
On the list,
2009 7.8 million veterans in VA system.
2016 9 million veterans in the VA system.

2009 277,000 VA employees.
2016 365,000 VA employees.

2009 265,000 100% Disabled veterans.
2016 542,000 100% Disabled veterans.
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Tech. Sgt. Steven Bellino PTSD and "Other Factors"

Air Force: PTSD, Other Factors Led Airman to Kill Commander
Jan 16, 2017

U.S. Air Force investigators have determined that post-traumatic stress disorder and the unraveling of a distinguished military career led an airman to fatally shoot his commander last year at a San Antonio base before killing himself, according to Air Force documents.

The April shooting at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland prompted a lockdown and officials to abruptly end a nearby military training parade with thousands of spectators.

Investigators determined Tech. Sgt. Steven Bellino confronted Lt. Col. William Schroeder before the two struggled and Schroeder was shot multiple times. Both men were veterans of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Air Force documents given to the San Antonio Express-News ( ) by Bellino's family show he participated in an elite pararescue program with Schroeder but did not complete it.
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A Long Career in Military’s Elite Spirals Into a Killing and a Suicide
The New York Times
APRIL 15, 2016
Military and law enforcement personnel after a shooting last week at Joint Base San Antonio in which, the authorities say, a sergeant fatally shot his commander, then killed himself. Credit Darren Abate/Reuters

Investigators believe Bellino, 41, resented the outcome following a remarkable military career that included repeated tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and time as an Army Ranger and Green Beret. He also had served as an FBI agent and was a CIA contractor before enlisting in the Air Force and attempting to join the elite unit.

After two decades in the Army Special Forces, several deployments overseas and a stint in the F.B.I., Steven Bellino switched to the Air Force to become an elite pararescue lifesaver trained to jump from planes and save aircrews behind enemy lines. The motto of the rescuers is, “That others may live.”

But last week, just a few months into training, Sergeant Bellino, facing court-martial for being absent without leave, walked into his squadron’s headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio, in Texas, with two pistols and gunned down his commander, Lt. Col. William Schroeder, according to a Department of Defense spokeswoman, who said the sergeant then killed himself.
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Parris Island Marine Families Question Cause of Cancer in Their Children

Marine family wonders if child's cancer could be linked to Lowcountry military housing
Meghan Schiller
Jan 15, 2017
A Marine wife created a video last week in effort to warn and educate other military families living on or nearby Beaufort's Laurel Bay Housing. The mother, Amanda Whatley, believes there is the potential for those living in the area to develop cancer and other health problems.
A Marine wife created a video last week in effort to warn and educate other military families living on or nearby Beaufort's Laurel Bay Housing. The mother, Amanda Whatley, believes there is the potential for those living in the area to develop cancer and other health problems.

The Lowcountry military housing neighborhood, filled with Marine families stationed at Parris Island or MCAS Beaufort, is now under the national microscope.

The Whatley family lived in Beaufort from July 2007 to November 2010, according to her Youtube video. In the video, Watley talks about her daughter Katie's fight with cancer. She says that Katie is one of 8 children that she knows of that have been diagnosed since living at Laurel Bay.

Whatley recently posted an update to her Youtube post, saying that the number of children with cancer has grown from 8 to 13.
read more here
Laurel Bay Military Housing and Kids with Cancer
Amanda Whatley
Published on Jan 7, 2017

***Edited to add.....The number of children with cancer has grown from 8 to 13 since the video went live. I have also received emails from at least 20 adults who were stationed in Beaufort and then diagnosed with cancer. I expect that number is actually exponentially higher. The only thing I wish I could add to the video is that we are not certain that the oil tanks are the issue. We have asked the Marine Corps to check a list of contaminated areas on Laurel Bay, Parris Island, and MCAS Beaufort. ***

This video is meant to serve as a public service announcement to all families that have been stationed at MCRD Parris Island or MCAS Beaufort and lived in the Laurel Bay military housing community. In the last several years, 8 children (that we know of so far) that lived at Laurel Bay have been diagnosed with cancer. Please share this video with the Marine Corps and Navy families you know that have lived there.

If your child has been diagnosed with cancer and you were stationed in Beaufort, please contact me at

Twentynine Palms Marin Killed in Training, Another Wounded

The next time you hear anyone say that most of the suicides occur without being deployed, remember this,
One Marine killed, second wounded in training accident
Marine Corps Times
By: Jeff Schogol
January 15, 2017

One Marine was killed and a second Marine wounded while conducting small arms live-fire training Friday at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California.

Both Marines’ names are being withheld pending next of kin notification, according to a news release from the combat training base. An investigation into the accident has been launched.

The incident happened at 5:05 p.m. Friday as the Marines were preparing for the start of Integrated Training Exercise 2-17, the news release says.

read more here

Training itself is dangerous, as you have just read, and it should be a factor in any report on the rise in suicides among servicemembers.

Then add in the fact that every member of the military, regardless of branch, has received training in what they have been told will prevent PTSD and stop suicides. 

Now add in the simple question we have never heard and explanation for. If that training was not good enough to prevent suicides in non-deployed, then how the hell did they think it would work for those deployed into combat multiple times?

Camp Bravo Arizona Refuge for Homeless Veterans

Homeless veterans take refuge at Arizona encampment
PBS Newshour
January 14, 2017
TAZE BEN-ATON: "We have something here that I’ve never found anywhere else. We have a VA navigator. Somebody who knows the system, knows who to talk to, knows who to call if you don’t get what you need. And he does it for us and he’s just the best there is."

MITCHELL RILEY: It’s a cool morning late October, people in these tents begin to rise. A passing train their wake up call. This is Camp Bravo. Next to Santa Rita Park on Tucson’s south side. A place where homeless vets and others can find comfort, food, and shelter. The camp is run by Veterans on Patrol, a program of Walking For the Forgotten Ministries. Leaders of this effort seek out homeless vets and offer safe haven, camaraderie, and a path to support services. Bravo is patrolled around the clock in shifts. Manny was on night watch.

This is Calamity. She came in during the night in need of help.

MARTIN MARSZALEK: I was 101st Airborne. I actually went in as a voice radio operator, but when they found out that I had some pretty extensive medical background, they made me an expert field medic. I jumped out of perfectly good aircraft with a medical bag and tried to attend to folks who needed help.

This is for your immune system. It has magnesium and seed coming out.

My name is Martin Marszalek. Everybody here calls me “Doc.” I am the Base Commander and Chief Medical Officer. I kind of keep things rolling along here.

This is vitamin C, keep you from catching cold.

Our mission is to go out and find as many homeless veterans that we can possibly locate and bring them in. Try to transition them from homelessness to housing, get them medical care, things that they’ve been doing without for so many years.
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UK Kicking Out Servicemembers Too!

The Sun UK
“The toll on our troops does not end as they leave the battlefield.”
IMAGE: PA:PRESS ASSOCIATION Mental discharges have made up 14 per cent of troops who have left the services in the last five years 

Theresa May urged to tackle the spiralling PTSD timebomb as shock figures show soaring mental discharges A staggering 473 soldiers were discharged from the Army, Navy or RAF for “mental or behavioural” reasons in 2015-2016 – more than double the number in 2011-2012 

THERESA MAY was last night accused of “betraying” Our Boys after a staggering 150 per cent rise in troops quitting the Armed Forces over mental health issues.

The PM was urged to tackle the spiralling PTSD timebomb as shock figures revealed 473 soldiers were discharged from the Army, Navy or RAF for “mental or behavioural” reasons in 2015-2016. 

The total is more than double the number in 2011-2012.

And the Ministry of Defence stats show that of the 473, 189 were for cases of post-traumatic stress disorder – more than three times the 50 recorded in 2011-2012.

Lib Dem peer Paddy Ashdown said the figures laid bare the Government’s failings on mental health – and urged them to set up funding to tackle post-traumatic stress and depression in the Forces.
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Death of Fort Bliss Soldier in Kuwait Under Investigation

SoCal Soldier Killed in Non-Combat Incident
NBC 4 News
By City News Service
January 14, 2017
A 23-year old Army soldier from Hemet was killed in a non-combat related incident in Kuwait, the Pentagon announced Saturday. Spc. John P. Rodriguez died while "supporting U.S. Army Central (Command)" as a combat engineer in Kuwait as part of Operation Inherent Resolve at the time of his death, according to Gil Telles, an Army spokesperson. The operation comprises of a U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The circumstances surrounding his death were not disclosed due to an ongoing investigation. Rodriguez had been assigned to the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, of the 1st Armored Division headquartered in Ft. Bliss, Texas.
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