Saturday, December 3, 2016

Skydiving Veterans Shatter 4 World Records

Military veterans smash skydiving world records in the Himalayas
FOX News
By Allison Barrie
Published December 02, 2016

The team smashed not just one world record – but four world records.

A team of brave U.S. military veterans headed into the Himalayas armed with skill, one helicopter and a whole lot of state-of-the-art gear last month – and left the mountains with four skydiving world records.
Military Free Fall, or MFF, is a way for forces to insert military personnel, gear and even canines. Military parachutists jump from a fixed wing aircraft or a helicopter at high altitudes, then then use a parachute to travel through the air to land at a pre-determined location.

This expedition aimed to push the limits for military free fall and make the seemingly impossible possible. The team headed deep into the Everest region of the Himalayas to attempt landings on some of the highest mountains in the world.

Putting that in context, the highest airport in the United States is at Leadville, Colorado, at 9,334 feet elevation. The first series of expedition jumps were at Syangboche, Nepal, at about 12,400 feet.

Former Navy SEAL Fred Williams handpicked his team for the extreme, unique environment. His goal was to assemble the most experienced team possible - from parachutists and Sherpa guides through to oxygen experts, emergency medicine and a helicopter pilot.
read more here

Forgotten History of Veteran Suicides

History Professor Forgot Most Important Lesson of All
Combat PTSD Wounded Time
Kathie Costos
December 3, 2016

I was just reading an article on veteran suicides on The Blade, Veteran-suicide epidemic has many causes. This was at the bottom of the article.
The suicide rate in the United States, and particularly among veterans, must remain a national priority. Addressing it requires recognizing and capitalizing on the successes of an organization that is often only criticized. More than this, it requires that we all take a clear-eyed view of the challenges that exist throughout U.S. culture that have contributed to the problem. Recognizing these problems, and acting on them, will likely save more lives than a bunch of push-ups.
David Kieran is assistant professor of history at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.
He is right on that, and other parts of the article, however, it is far more worse than this History professor has managed to research. 

For starters, veterans have been committing suicide all along, for generations, not just a decade or so. What we are seeing now has been allowed to happen so that the rest of us can delude ourselves into thinking we just did something to let veterans know we give a crap. Truth is, we made the problems they, along with families just like mine, fight on a daily basis worse. Easy stuff to do has made our lives end more tragically.

Here are some facts no one wants to face.

Start with these numbers from the VA on the numbers they came up with for veterans committing suicide going back to 1999.

Now add in two other numbers. In 1999 the US Census had the number of veterans as this, 
Census 2000 counted 208.1 million civilians 18 and older in the United States.1 Within this population, approximately 26.4 million or 12.7 percent were veterans.
For 2016, there were 21,369,602. Meaning there are 5 million less veterans, yet we are still at the same number of reported suicides as there was back in 1999. After all is said and done, we managed to make it worse.

The largest percentage of veterans, are in fact, over the age of 50. They also represent the highest percentage of veterans committing suicide in the nation. You may be ok with that, ok with them not even mattering enough to mention, but I'm not. I'm not ok with any of this bullshit going on all over the country. It is reprehensible.

Without talking about military suicides taking place at consistent levels of over one a day, at the same time the number of enlisted has dropped by the thousands, the new generation of veterans received the same training, yet their suicide numbers have also skyrocketed past the civilian peer rate. That is something else we have no excuse to ignore, but we do.

With all this in mind, consider the folks you know running around the country just slamming the VA, when every report has stated veterans are less likely to commit suicide while they are going to the VA for help. Instead of #fightingforveterans to have the VA working properly, the members of Congress have let it be destroyed from within and now they are talking about privatizing it. Why? Why should they be allowed to consistently fail our veterans? Why have we allowed this to go on without demanding they be held accountable for all the bills they write to get their names in the public spotlight while pretending they have actually done some basic research to know what they are doing? Any clue as to why we let it happen?

Ok, bad enough? Not even close. For the simple facts we have less veterans living yet the same number committing suicide, those numbers are only part of the truth. The plain, simple, ugly truth of what we allowed to happen. These are the number of veteran in crisis calling the suicide prevention hotline and the numbers that could have been added to what we got wrong.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 2.5 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis nearly 66,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in nearly 308,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to more than 60,000 texts.
So, are you angry enough to #fightforveterans yet or are you going to drop and do some push-ups so you can sleep at night thinking you just did something that will matter to anyone else but yourself?
cross posted on Combat PTSD Wounded Times

Vietnam Veterans of America Take Stand for OEF and OIF Veterans

National Veterans Group appeals for pardons for those with bad discharges
WSAV News 3
By JoAnn Merrigan
Published: December 2, 2016
"Ignorance is no excuse for leaving behind these vets. Americans have a responsibility to learn about the sacrifices that veterans have made through their service and they have a responsibility to ensure that those who are the Guardians of freedom are protected from being forgotten. It’s time we all stand together, forget the partisan arguments and support our veterans.”
Kristofer Goldsmith
The effort to get tens of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans with less than honorable discharges medical and mental health services from the VA is going national. This week, Vietnam Veterans of America sent letters to President Obama and President Elect Trump calling for all of the vets to be pardoned.

“The founding principles of Vietnam Veterans of America is that never again will one generation of veterans leave behind another,” says Kristofer Goldsmith who is an Iraq veteran who now works for Vietnam Veterans of America. “These Vietnam vets came together and formed this organization not just for themselves but for my generation.”

The letter makes a powerful appeal to President Obama to help those who those who served in war despite how they may have separated from the military. It says that “over the last 15 years of continuous warfare, our country has failed to respond to reports of veterans being inappropriately discharged.” Vietnam Veterans of America is asking people to watch the online documentary Charlie Foxtrot which documents the problems of some who have the less than honorable discharges.
read more here

Veteran Died With Maggot Infested Wound at Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

Four resign from Talihina veterans center after resident found with maggots in wound
Tulsa World
Barbara Hoberock
December 2, 2016
A veteran who later died had been found with maggots in a wound

OKLAHOMA CITY — Four staff members at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Talihina facility have resigned after a resident who later died was found with maggots in a wound, the agency said.

Executive Director Myles Deering said the maggots were discovered while the patient was alive but were not the cause of his death. He said the man came into the center with an infection.

“He did not succumb as a result of the parasites,” Deering said Tuesday. “He succumbed as a result of the sepsis.” Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.

A physician’s assistant and three nurses, including the director of nursing, resigned in the wake of the investigation, said Shane Faulkner, a spokesman for the agency.

“All four chose to resign before the termination process began,” Faulkner said.
read more here

Did General Mattis Leave Green Berets to Die in Afghanistan?

Trump's Defense Pick Accused of Delaying Aid to Wounded Soldiers
NBC News
DEC 2 2016

A former Army Special Forces officer is accusing retired Marine General James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be defense secretary, of "leaving my men to die" after they were hit by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2001.

Mattis has not commented publicly on the incident, which was chronicled in a 2011 New York Times bestselling book, "The Only Thing Worth Dying For," by Eric Blehm. The book portrays Mattis as stubbornly unwilling to help the Green Berets.

His actions, which were not formally investigated at the time, are now likely to get far more scrutiny during the retired general's Senate confirmation process.

Trump's transition team did not respond to request for comment from NBC News. Nor did Mattis, whose 2013 retirement from the military means he would need a waiver from Congress to serve as the civilian Pentagon chief.

Mattis is a highly decorated former wartime commander who became famous for leading the 1st Marine Division's lightning fast movement into Baghdad during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
read more here

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Florida Veteran's Home Set on Fire

Veteran's home set on fire, vandalized, investigators find anti-Trump graffiti racial slurs on walls
Home ransacked, children's beds set on fire
ABC News
Michael Paluska
Nov 29, 2016

PLANT CITY, Fla. - The State Fire Marshall is investigating a suspicious fire at a Plant City home that started early Tuesday morning.
Naval veteran Matthew Smith said he got the call just after 3 a.m. from his neighbor that fire trucks were across the street.

“Your heart kind of just sinks in your chest,” Smith said. “Definitely blessed to have not been here. It was pretty bad.”

Smith said the family was staying with their grandparents when he got the call. His 8-year-old daughter’s bed was set on fire along with his 18-month-old son’s crib. Every single room in the remainder of the home also suffered fire damage.
“The place was ransacked. Clothes from my room, all the way to the back, just made it everywhere.

Papers, important documents thrown everywhere, just torn up. The Christmas tree set up yesterday was knocked down and had been lit on fire. Every piece of furniture was pretty much burned through.”

read more here

Female Iraq Veteran With PTSD Takes On TSA "Piggish Behavior"

Decorated Army veteran now marching in high heels, alleges retaliation at TSA
The Washington Post
Published: December 1, 2016
Bermudez's troubles have been exacerbated by health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which she says is related to her military service in Iraq. Although her protest has quite literally made her case highly visible, she is far from the only woman who alleges that her life has been upended by working at TSA.
Alyssa Bermudez protests in front of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post
For Alyssa Bermudez, high heels, a dress and makeup are her new uniform as much as the one she wore in the sands of Iraq. They represent her evolution from Bronze Star soldier to professional woman.

She wears her new uniform — and carries a protest sign instead of a rifle — in her new role as whistleblower, marching on the streets outside the Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Arlington, Va.

Bermudez says she was driven to protest by the allegedly piggish behavior of men with whom she worked at the Transportation Security Administration headquarters across the street. These men ogled her, she claims, snickered about her being in a "harem" because she's pretty, and retaliated against her when she complained, ultimately stripping her of employment five days before her probationary period ended.

"TSA has a saying: If you see something, say something," Bermudez, 33, says one afternoon. "Little did I know that when I said something, I would be fighting the agency. It's a very daunting task."
read more here

Army Thinks They Did Nothing Wrong on Discharges?

Senators, Military Specialists Say Army Report On Dismissed Soldiers Is Troubling
Heard on Morning Edition
Daniel Zwerdling
December 1, 2016
The Army's report states that only 3,327 of the more than 22,000 soldiers who had been kicked out met that legal test. As a result, investigators ignored the rest of the soldiers — roughly 19,000 of them — who had mental health problems or brain injuries.
U.S. Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning ordered a review after an NPR
investigation found thousands of soldiers diagnosed with mental health
problems or brain injuries were dismissed for misconduct. But the new
Army report concluded that it treated the soldiers fairly.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
An Army review concludes that commanders did nothing wrong when they kicked out more than 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq or Afghanistan – even though all of those troops had been diagnosed with mental health problems or brain injuries.

The Army's report, ordered by Secretary Eric Fanning, seeks to reassure members of Congress that it's treating wounded soldiers fairly. But senators and military specialists say the report troubles them.

"I don't think the Army understands the scope of this problem," says Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. "And I don't think they've conveyed the seriousness to get it right."

The Army's report is "unbelievable," says psychiatrist Judith Broder. "It's just bizarre." Broder was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Obama for organizing the Soldiers Project, a network of hundreds of psychotherapists and others who help troops and their families.
read more here

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Vietnam veteran in search of stolen wheelchair

Vietnam veteran in search of stolen wheelchair
By Alex Cabrero
Posted Nov 29th, 2016

WASHINGTON TERRACE — A lot of veterans don't like to talk about what they've experienced at war, especially those who served in Vietnam. But for some, even 45-plus years later, it seems bad things keep happening.

Life hasn't been easy for Jason Cody.

"I'm pushing myself, living alone like this," the Washington Terrace resident said, gesturing around the basement apartment he's called home for the past four years.

A Vietnam veteran, Cody suffers from several health issues: heart disease, bad lungs and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few.

"Bad dreams, that's the worst part," Cody said.

But through it all, he's kept on going — until he just couldn't go anymore.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Cody's new black-and-yellow wheelchair was stolen from outside his home.

"I kind of suspect somebody just decided they needed that wheelchair more than I did, or maybe (thought) they could sell it and make some money," Cody said.
read more here

Two Fort Campbell Soldiers Charged with Murder of Female Soldier

Two Soldiers Charged with Murder in Connection with Disappearance of Fellow Soldier Shadow McClaine
NBC News
November 29, 2016

Shadow Branice McClaine U.S. Army
Criminal Investigation Command
Two soldiers have been charged with murder in connection with the September disappearance of Fort Campbell soldier Shadow McClaine.
Sgt. Jamal Williams-McCray and Specialist Charles Robinson, both part of the 101st Airborne Division, face charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to NBC affiliate WSMV.
Williams-McCray is Shadow's ex-husband. It's unclear if Robinson knew Shadow.

The two soldiers are being held in pre-trial confinement pending a preliminary hearing, the station reported. Authorities have not commented on whether Shadow's body has been found.
read more here

Veteran's Body Left in Shower Room After He Died?

10Investigates: Veteran's body forgotten about
Noah Pransky
November 29, 2016

PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida – 10Investigates discovered a scandal – and attempted cover-up – at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center has cast a shadow over the facility’s otherwise reputable hospice unit.

A whistleblower tipped 10Investigates off to a Feb. 16, 2016 incident where an elderly veteran passed away, then forgotten about for nearly 10 hours in a shower room after his body was prepared for the morgue. According to an agency review, employees then lied and falsely documented the process to cover-up the mistakes.

The report, which was heavily-redacted by the VA, concluded “negligence” and a “lack of respect” for the deceased veteran.

“We honor America’s veterans,” said Bay Pines spokesperson Jason Dangle. Dangle is also a retired veteran. “We view this finding unacceptable and have taken appropriate actions to mitigate and correct the issue."

Dangle confirmed discipline for the employees involved, but the VA redacted all names and specifics as well for “privacy” reasons. So the public will never know where those employees might resurface.
read more here