Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Caregivers Military Normal World For Us

Hidden Heroes of Forgotten Veterans 
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 28, 2016

"There are more than 5.5 million caregivers for the nation’s military wounded or ill, and they often go unrecognized." said Tom Hanks and then he called us hidden heroes.

I was reading about this early this morning waiting to clock in at work. Imagine having to do my job all day after having this in my mind.

When I hear folks talk about "caregivers" I get upset for several reasons. One is that all of this is still going on where those among us caring for a veteran are being called "hidden heroes" and then, from the flip side, older ones like me have been forgotten about.

Over three decades spent taking care of not just my husband, but other veterans everyday, and all of this following my youth with my Dad, another disabled veteran from the Korean War. My Mom was a caregiver too. She was first generation American and so was my Dad. My uncles served in WWII and so did my husband's Dad and his uncles.

With that in mind, it makes me want to cry that there seems to be this impression that only the new caregivers matter and only they have the unique issues brought on by their veterans service. It makes me angry they have to "deal" with any of this at all considering we fought for all of it for decades. Yes, that long and it has not been easy but it was necessary. 

We did all of it without the internet, or any of the social media sites because they didn't exist. We did it with social gatherings in the veterans community and we did it face to face, making phone calls and writing letters we actually had to put in a mailbox.

We learned the hard way. My Dad used the term "shell shock" after he said my then boyfriend seemed like a "nice guy" and only after he spoke about five words during a family get-together. I had to go to the library to understand what I was getting into.  Even though I learned what PTSD was and why he had it, what it was doing to him, I had nothing to help me with what I had to decide to face or not, other than a deep love for my best friend. I haven't regretted any of it because he was always worth the fight.

Wives like me had to fight the VA and fight our husbands to give them the chance to heal but first we had to make them believe there was something worth living for. It was a lot harder than most think it would be. But this was our military normal, far from what civilians have to deal with in ordinary marriages.  Sure, we had the usual arguments about taking out the trash and not spending enough time with the kids or us, but then we had to learn the rest that comes with this.

We learned how to walk away and let things calm down. How to stand and fight when it was necessary and take on even our own families when their advice was get a divorce. We had to learn how to navigate the VA system and how to fight for claims to be honored at the same time we had to fight to make sure our veteran did not give up.

We learned how to wake them up after yet one more nightmare from the foot of the bed so that we would not be in striking distance. How to calming bring them back after a flashback. How to hold them when they couldn't stop shaking and how to deal with someone passing judgement when their facial ticks, body twitches and involuntary mouth movements were out of control.

We learned how to do a lot of things but one thing came naturally. Loving them was the easy part. It was easy for us to walk away from co-workers complaining about their husbands being selfish or acting like it was the end of the world because they wanted to do something without them. We were doing things without our husbands because they were having a bad day or just not in the mood to be around people.

We learned how to look for a booth instead of a table when we finally got to go out to eat and how to get our friends to go to the movie with us because a dark theater with a bunch of strangers is the last place a veteran wants to be. They were worth all of it because whatever they could give, they gave it all to us. Just as they gave all they had to give for the country when they were putting their lives on the line, as they did for the men/women they were with, there was nothing they held back except their pain.

Sharing those emotions took a great sense of trust and that, that they learned from us. I can walk into a dark room as my husband sleeps without him jumping up or waking up because I made a noise. Think that is a small thing? Then you must not have spent much time with one of them or you'd know how hard something like that hits them.

If you really want to honor us "hidden heroes" then make a difference in a real way and not just by sharing our stories. Do something about stopping the worst from happening by making sure our elected officials do their jobs and folks running all these charities do theirs because from where I sit after 3 decades, not enough has changed for the better and far too much has changed for worst.

Tom Hanks joins call to help military caregivers
Published: September 28, 2016

There are more than 5.5 million caregivers for the nation’s military wounded or ill, and they often go unrecognized, Hanks said.
WASHINGTON — The public service announcement begins with Tom Hanks introducing himself on a black screen.

He walks over to a man in a wheelchair, who is missing both legs and is flanked by his wife and two daughters. His name is Chaz Allen – Airborne, wounded in combat. Hanks calls him a hero and thanks him for his service.

Then Hanks introduces himself to Allen’s wife, Jessica. She’s a hero too, Hanks says. Because Chaz Allen needs a lot of help, and his wife is also raising their two girls.

“Which makes me want to thank you for your service, Jessica,” Hanks says. “You are a hidden hero.” read more here

Tom Hanks talks Hidden Heroes
Stars and Stripes

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moron Left Female Disabled Veteran Nasty Note On Car

Nasty note left for disabled veteran
By NBC4 Staff
Published: September 27, 201

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (WCMH) — A trip to a Colorado Springs Lowe’s culminated with a nasty note left on the windshield of a disabled veteran. Catherine Rodriquez suffers from debilitating seizures after an incident four years ago while she was serving in the military.

“I ended up with anaphylactic shock, and the lack of oxygen caused me to have epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medication,” Rodriguez told KKTV. After several brain surgeries, Rodriguez now has a service dog and a parking placard so she can use parking spots for people with disabilities.

“I can be very difficult to get to the vehicle and I sometimes do not remember where we are parked,” she said. “I get lost in stores and stuff sometimes.”

After Rodriguez and her husband finished their shopping trip in Lowe’s, they returned to his truck and found a note stuck to the accessible parking sign.

“Sure don’t look or ‘act’ handicap! Don’t care what you think!” the note read.
read more here

35 to 40 Percent of Crisis Calls Rolled Over?

Veterans Affairs suicide hotline leaves many calls unanswered, legislators told
Tales of idle staff and cries for help buried in voicemail spur the House to pass a corrective bill.
Associated Press
Matthew Daily
September 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline’s former director.

Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity.” Coverage at the crisis line suffers “because we have staff who routinely request to leave early,” he said.

An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers where workers have less training to deal with veterans’ problems, said Hughes, who left his post in June, weeks after sending the emails.

The House on Monday unanimously approved a bill requiring the VA to ensure that all telephone calls, text messages and other communications received by the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by an appropriately qualified person. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, the bill’s sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but “this hotline let him down,” Young said. “A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable.”
read more here

Hmmm, ok how about back in 2015 there was a report about this too.but they outsourced care.
In 2013 there was a veteran told to call back on Monday and he wondered if that meant he can kill himself then.

And then in 2011 they took in a record number of calls.
But within all this are a couple of overlooked factors. First, Congress has been holding hearings on all this all along going back to 2007 with the bill they wrote starting all this prevention, oh, and then writing more of them, spending more money on repeats when they couldn't that the first one right. The other factor is just as simple. We're still talking about "raising awareness" as if nothing has been done before, when in fact, it has all been done to death. Their deaths.

Troy Vietnam Memorial Destroyed by Unlicensed Driver

Police: Unlicensed driver destroyed Vietnam memorial in Troy
Oneida Daily Dispatch
By Nicholas Buonanno
September 27, 2016 

A Troy woman was ticketed after crashing Sunday morning into a memorial just dedicated just last year to a city native who died in the Vietnam war.
Troy firefighters look over a memorial dedicated in 2015 to a Troy man killed during the Vietnam war that was destroyed Sunday morning when it was struck by a vehicle. SIDEWINDER PHOTOGRAPHY
The incident occurred on Sunday morning near the bridge at Spring Avenue and Hill Street in Troy.

City police spokesman Capt. Daniel DeWolf said Neressa Harden, 36, failed to stop at the intersection of Spring Avenue and Ida and Hill streets, proceeding through the intersection and crashing into a memorial to Robert Felter, a U.S. Marine who was killed in action Dec. 11, 1965.
read more here

Monday, September 26, 2016

FUBAR Researchers Want to Link PTSD and TBI Together Still?

Well there was some common sense on TBI and PTSD back in 2008 and it came out of Canada.
"There's potential to say the brain damage caused by a concussion alters brain chemistry and increases your risk of developing PTSD, but just seeing a blast like that is enough to make someone depressed, and those feelings can cause further anxiety disorders." Dr. Greg Passey, a Vancouver-based PTSD expert and military veteran, said brain trauma coupled with exposure to battle events could easily lead to PTSD.
And in 2013 there was $760 million spent to research it.
As part of its collaborative effort, the Army is participating in a $60 million research study for TBI, sponsored by the National Football League, General Electric and athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour, he said. Also, $700 million has been allocated toward both PTSD and TBI as the result of a White House executive order for a renewed effort in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs Department and other organizations.

So why all this BS as if any of this is new?

War Studies Suggest A Concussion Leaves The Brain Vulnerable To PTSD

Studies of troops who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have found that service members who have suffered a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury are far more likely to develop PTSD, a condition that can cause flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety for years after a traumatic event.
This part really gets me. Do they really think that the troops and veterans are like animals?
And research on both people and animals suggests the reason is that a brain injury can disrupt circuits that normally dampen the response to a frightening event. The result is like "driving a car and the brake's not fully functioning," says Mingxiong Huang, a biomedical physicist at the University of California, San Diego.

Patriot Guard Riders Brought Vietnam Veteran from Hospice to Harley

Patriot Guard Riders escort disabled Vietnam War vet for his birthday
FOX 2 St. Louis
SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

TROY, MO (KTVI) - A veteran got quite the escort service to his birthday party. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted hospice patient and Vietnam War veteran Benny Thompson to a flag ceremony in his honor. It's part of the "Gift of a Day" program sponsored by Crossroads Hospice.
read more here

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Suicide Awareness: Something Worth Living For

Something Worth Living For
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 25, 2016

Did you have something to risk your life for? Obviously you did or you wouldn't have joined the military. Were you willing to die to save someone else? Easy to guess that was a fact and you proved that one everyday you were deployed. So after all that, with the life of others mattering that much, why are thinking about taking your own life? Isn't there something worth living for?

That is the part no one has been able to explain to me. The thing is you can come up with all reasonable answers but none of them really equal to anything being any harder than combat. You survived all that. While coming back home shouldn't be this hard for you or any veteran, none of it is as hopeless as you think it is.

When I told the truth about what was going on in the Veterans' Community, folks wanted what was easy to understand. Like some saying they are raising awareness and getting away with taking a couple of headlines, quoting numbers as if they even begin to understand the report they came from.  

Anyway, after thirty four years I figured since those folks are winning attention for themselves while veterans have been losing their lives for decades, it was time to do some fabricating of my own. Most of the characters came from listening to veterans over all these years and blended with imaginary situations. They got into trouble for something worth the risk.

Everyone is talking about veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. No one is talking about the fact that the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of fifty. Yet our older veterans have more wisdom about what needs to be done than the younger generation has begun to understand.

So I created a story to tell what it is like for the newer veterans wrapped in a mystery, blended with a fictitious conspiracy using homeless veterans as lab rats in order to create the perfect soldier. 

These veterans were among the eleven thousand kicked out of the Army in 2013. This came after years of prevention training, the military telling us they were taking all this seriously at the same time they betrayed the very men and women willing to die for the sake of someone else. They got away with it because the American public wasn't paying enough attention.

A group of proven heroic soldiers are transferred to a old fort taken over by a high ranking member of the Army to protect them from being kicked out as well. Each of them had multiple deployments and even though they were suffering for their service they did not leave their military family.

The story is about passing judgment, raw emotions, survivor guilt, nightmares, flashbacks and losing hope that anything will ever get better. It is also about being betrayed by some while being supported by the family they entered into when they became the smallest minority in the nation. 

Those willing to die to save the lives of others yet having to search for a reason worth living for are all over the news but what is being talked about is far from the real world they live in.

You are not like the other 90+% of the population who never put their lives on the line. They suffer PTSD too and they commit suicide, but you risked your own life because other lives mattered more. Seems there should be a "veterans lives matter" movement because obviously most of you missed that. Still you don't fit in with them now that you live everyday as a veteran. You do fit in perfectly with other veterans and they are ready to help you heal so you can pass the healing along to others. That's something worth living for!

Ask yourself a question they don't want you to think about. "How does raising awareness save a single life?" What good does it do anyone to talk about a fabricated number of veterans killing themselves when they still don't know how to heal?

It is time to change the conversation from suicides to surviving. Evidence has shown no sign of suicides being reduced, no matter how much money they spend or how many times sad outcomes get into the news. You don't need someone to tell you that you don't want to live anymore. You need someone to give you back hope so you know there is something worth living for.  

RESIDUAL WAR will be on Amazon soon so get ready to see a world they only heard about from slogans.

Iowa Veterans Get New Veterans Affairs Office

World War II vet overwhelmed by new VA facility
Joe Cadotte
Sep 23, 2016

The new Pottawattamie County Veteran Affairs Office has nearly four times more space than the old office, which operated out of an old church for more than 50 years.
After more than 10 years of hard work and half a million dollars in donations, Pottawattamie County has a new veteran affairs office.

It’s an emotional day for Iowa combat veterans.

"It's a special day,” said World War II Army Combat Veteran David Appel. “It's good to know we aren't forgotten."

Seventy-one years and three months since Appel came back from fighting three years in the Pacific Theater of World War II, he stood in a building built for veterans like him, made possible by donations from his community.

"I appreciate you doing all this for us regardless of which war you were in,” Appel said. “One war is not any more important than another. It's something that had to be done."
read more here

Home Sellers Turning Down VA Mortgages For Veterans?

Few Homes Available to Armed Forces Veterans
NBC News Miami
By Tony Pipitone
September 23, 2016

“The bad news is that a lot real estate professionals don’t know what is a great program.” David Kurz

Chris and Martyka Myers thought they’d found the perfect home.

“I was wowed by it. I walked to the backyard and a big wonderful pool in the back and the house was just beautiful,” Chris Myers said.

The couple says the price was high, but the sellers were willing to drop down the price to $379,000. “But as soon as I told them about the VA loan -- that portion of the talk -- they basically shut down the conversation at that point,” Myers said.

Members of the Armed Forces, veterans – like Chris Myers – and their families make many sacrifices while serving here and abroad. That’s why in 1944, the U.S. government created a military loan guaranty program to help returning service members purchase homes. The program gives big breaks on fees and down payments to veterans.

But the NBC 6 Investigators found out that four of every five home sellers in Miami-Dade area say they will not consider Veterans Administration financing – closing the door to veterans, if they want to use the benefits the government says they deserve.
read more here

House of Warriors Healing US Female Veterans in Israel

U.S. Veterans With PTSD Find 'Common Bond' and Healing in Israel
NBC News
By Dave Copeland and Peter Jeary
September 25, 2015

Miguel, 27, recently returned from one such trips, which included visiting the Beit Halochem — 'House of Warriors' — rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv, which supports wounded veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces.
U.S. veterans Katherine Ragazzino and Jackie Ann Kirkwood hug after being baptized in the Jordan River in northern Israel. Dave Copeland / NBC News
Female U.S. war vets are finding help for their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) far from home.

Thanks to a pioneering program, they've gone to Israel — and speak of a "common bond" shared with their Israeli counterparts.

"I came with the goal that I needed to meet people that I could talk to," said Kamilla Miguel, who was only 17 when she enlisted in 2007 on the advice of her grandmother.

She returned from Afghanistan aged only 22 but drifted, avoided her family, turned to alcohol and hung out with the wrong crowd.

Heroes to Heroes, which is nondenominational, was established by Judy Schaeffer, the daughter of a World War II veteran. Schaeffer said she felt she "had to do something to help" after visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2009.
read more here
Remember when Sebastian Junger said that "incidence of PTSD is low" in Israel? Well, this pretty much blows that theory. PTSD happens after traumatic events. That is the only way to get it and the best way to heal it is with peer support. Had the female veterans in Israel not had a problem, there wouldn't be anything like this for them.