Monday, March 25, 2019

VA latest "effort" on suicide prevention forgot about older veterans

Caution: While this sounds like a great idea...the majority of known veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50 and they do not use cell phones for more than calls and taking pictures for the most part. Would be nice to have the VA explain why they are not joining forces with groups that are helping all generations.

VA partners with Objective Zero Foundation

Department of Veterans Affairs Press Replease
Mobile platform connects service members and Veterans to peer support and mental health services

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently partnered with the nonprofit Objective Zero Foundation to aid in connecting Veterans with suicide prevention support and resources.

The partnership, formalized on Dec. 3, 2018 provides a shared goal of preventing suicide among service members and Veterans, with a special focus on service members transitioning out of the military.

Objective Zero offers a free mobile app that instantly and anonymously connects Veterans, service members, their families and caregivers to suicide prevention resources and a nationwide community of peer supporters via text, voice, and video chat. The foundation, enhances social connectedness among Veterans and improves access to mental health and wellness resources.

“At VA, we are working to prevent Veteran suicide by using an approach that looks beyond our traditional health care settings,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Our partnership with Objective Zero is an integral part of reaching Veterans where they live, work and thrive, and we are looking forward to working more closely with them.”

Objective Zero Co-founder and Executive Director Betsey Mercado said her foundation was proud to partner with VA to improve the well-being and mental health of Veterans.

“Joining efforts with this community provides better access to resources and highly needed support for the men and women that have served and sacrificed so much for our country,” Mercado said.

VA has a suite of mobile mental health apps that offer information about mental health issues, tools to help develop and practice coping skills, and assessments that allow users to track progress over time. Learn more at The Objective Zero app can be downloaded at

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at

Reporters covering this issue are strongly encouraged to visit for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide.

The Objective Zero Foundation contributes to efforts that prevent suicide. We accomplish this by enhancing social connectedness and access to suicide prevention resources. A MISSION-DRIVEN TECH START-UP, OBJECTIVE ZERO SEEKS TO CONNECT SERVICE MEMBERS, VETERANS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND CAREGIVERS TO SUICIDE PREVENTION SUPPORT AND RESOURCES.

Camp Pendleton Marine found dead

Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Guard Post from Gunshot Wound to Head

Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
By John Spina
24 Mar 2019

In the early morning hours of March 15, Riley Schultz, a 19-year-old Marine from Longmont, was found at his guard post in Camp Pendleton, San Diego with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Less than 30 minutes later he was pronounced dead.

With an ongoing investigation into Schultz's death, the Marine Corps would not release any additional information regarding the incident. It did say, however, there will be a memorial for the fallen marine April 3 at Camp Pendleton.

Schultz, then 17, joined the Marine Corps in 2017, just before graduating from Roosevelt High School in Johnstown. With both of his grandfathers serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, Schultz had long dreamed of becoming a Marine. Even as a 3-year-old his grandmother, Kathleen Schultz, remembers him practicing his army crawl with his dad and playing with toy tanks and trucks.

"He just loved the whole idea of being a Marine," his mom, Misty Schultz-McCoy, said. "That was his only plan for after high school. I was worried, but that's what he wanted to do. He was so dedicated to it. It never occurred to me that he could die before he left for deployment."
read more here

Suicides at Fort Wainwright cause investigation

Army launches Fort Wainwright suicide inquiry

Daily News Miner
By Sam Friedman
Mar 22, 2019
"If these deaths are officially ruled as suicides, Congressman Young hopes the U.S. Army can help identify a path forward to improve the mental health and overall well-being of active duty military at Fort Wainwright," Brown said.
FAIRBANKS—A team of medical experts will be sent to Fort Wainwright to study suicide in response to a perception that there has been a recent spike in suicides at the Army post.
Cars drive in and out of Fort Wainwright's main gate off of Airport Way on Thursday, January 15, 2015. Daily News-Miner photo

The team is coming at the request Rep. Don Young and U.S. Army Alaska commander Maj. Gen. Mark O'Neil. Young wrote a letter on the subject last week to U.S. Army Medical Command.

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton said he believes this is the first time this type of investigation is being conducted in Alaska. He said the timing of the investigation has not yet been announced but that soldiers at Fort Wainwright have begun preparing for it.

The exact number of recent suicides at Fort Wainwright is fluid because several deaths remain under investigation.

Since May 2018 two deaths of Fort Wainwright soldiers have been determined to be suicides, Crighton said. There were four other deaths of Fort Wainwright soldiers in the same time period. The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is investigating those deaths.

Two confirmed suicides in this time period is not unusual among Alaskans and Army soldiers — both populations have high rates of suicide compared with national averages, Crighton said. Even this number of suicides is not acceptable, he said.
read more here

Come out of the dark and fight to #TakeBackYourLife #BreakTheSilence and ask for help. If someone is a jerk about it, then call them out for being an idiot. If they do not know what PTSD is by now...they never will. 

We figured it out in the 70's when Vietnam veterans came home and fought for all the research other generations came home with.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Orlando Rocks for Veterans Benefit number #7

Orlando Rocks for Veterans Benefit number #7

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 24, 2019

Yesterday at VFW Post 4287 in Orlando, a large crowd gathered to support a Marine veteran who is in need of some help. Hayward Merritt was injured as a veteran...but as a veteran, the community came together for him!

Clean gunk out of your engine

PTSD Patrol Clean gunk out of your engine

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 24, 2019

What is gunk in your engine? Well, if it is the engine is in the vehicle you drive, then it is usually oil. If it is in the engine that is in the "you" vehicle you live in, then it is anything negative that is clogging your way toward healing.

If you keep letting your past dictate all the reasons to not get up in the morning, then you are clogging up the imagination you need to fuel healing.
5 Symptoms of Oil Deposits
How Stuff Works
...We know that a sloppy diet and too little exercise cause sticky deposits called cholesterol to block our arteries. But what's the culprit behind oil gumming up our engine -- isn't oil one of the good guys when it comes to car engine health?

Well, yes, it is. But when oil is subjected to a high enough temperature, it can solidify and become baked onto the surface of whatever is close by, like for instance, a narrow engine oil passageway or critical engine parts themselves. It can also lose its viscosity and become a tar-like goop that makes life hard for your vehicle's engine.

When enough of these deposits collect, the possibility of a vehicle engine underperforming or even dying, go up dramatically. Thick or solid oil can have the reverse effect that clean, normal oil has. Instead of cleaning, lubricating and cooling your engine, it can pollute, hinder and contribute to overheating.
read more here 

VA’s failure to appoint an accountable official to lead implementation of GI BIll

Report blames lack of leadership at VA for Forever GI Bill implementation failures

The San Diego Union-Tribune (TNS)
By Andrew Dyer
Mar 23, 2019

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to modify its electronic systems and lacked an accountable official to oversee implementation of the Forever GI Bill, resulting in a bungled introduction last year that affected thousands of college students, a new report from the agency’s inspector general says.

The Forever GI Bill, the widely used name for the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, was approved unanimously in Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in the summer of 2017.

The law changed how education benefits are applied for veterans, revising the formula that determines students’ stipend amounts and removing a 15-year expiration date included in the previous version of the law.

However, beginning in August, the VA’s system could not handle the intricacies of those changes in more than 400,000 claims, the report said. The result was that some students were underpaid and, in some cases, not paid at all.

In November, the VA decided to delay full implementation until Dec. 1, 2019.

According to the inspector general’s report, the VA’s failure to appoint an accountable official to lead implementation of the program resulted in “unclear communication of implementation progress and inadequately defined expectations, roles and responsibilities of the various VA business lines and contractors involved.”

Additionally, investigators found that the VA’s Office of Information and Technology and the Veterans Benefits Administration Education Service did not agree on how to solve problems once they arose.

Investigators found a 10-month gap from the time the Forever GI Bill became law and when the VA received the computer software to implement it. During those months, the VA worked with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to develop the program.
read more here

PTSD on Trial: Third wife of Iraq veteran sought justice

Life was like a 'horror film': Wife's tale of abuse puts tormented war veteran behind bars

Buffalo News
By Thomas J. Prohaska
March 24, 2019
Defense attorney Randy S. Margulis said Cody Tomaselli, a Texas native, joined the Army a few months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He spent 3½ years in Iraq and Germany and received the Army's Expert Combat Infantryman Badge. Margulis said his client suffers from severe PTSD, apparently stemming from his Army service, including infantry combat in the Iraq War's vicious Battle of Fallujah in 2004.

Cody Tomaselli joined the Army at 17, spent nearly four years in Iraq and Germany and had “dozens of kills” that left him with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

But his claims that PTSD led him to three days of violence and threats against his wife last year did little to sway a judge to lessen his punishment. Tomaselli, 33, was sentenced last week to seven years in state prison for attempted kidnapping during a three-day ordeal that ended in the parking lot of a Niagara Falls elementary school.

Tomaselli is "dangerous and unstable," his wife, Nichole, said last week in Niagara County Integrated Domestic Violence Court.

"I'm asking for justice not only for myself but for the other women he was in relationships with," Nichole Tomaselli told State Supreme Court Justice John F. O'Donnell.

She is the third woman whose marriage to Iraq War veteran Cody Tomaselli allegedly ended in violence, but she's the first to see him convicted.

"It's my opinion that everyone who goes to war comes back with some form of PTSD," O'Donnell said. But he added that "millions of veterans" don't commit the crimes that Tomaselli did.
read more here

He is 100% disabled and was going to the VA. So how is it that he did not get enough help to keep three of his wives safe from his rage?

If you are not wondering how they go from putting their own lives on the line to save others...into abusing people they love, then you are missing the point. PTSD is on trial and so are we!

Soldiers killed in Afghanistan Identified

Pentagon identifies U.S. Soldiers killed in Afghanistan

By: CNN Newsource
Posted: Mar 24, 2019

TAMPA (WFLA/CNN) - The Pentagon has identified two U.S. soldiers killed Friday in Afghanistan. 

They are 33-year-old Sergeant First Class Will Lindsay of Colorado and 29-year-old Specialist Joseph Collette of Ohio.
Two defense officials tell CNN the service members died during a partnered U.S-Afghan Military operation.

The officials added that initial indications are that they were killed during a fight with the Taliban. Afghan troops were also killed in the incident.

This marks the third and fourth U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan this year.
read more here

Heroic Travis Air Base Airman saved lives in California

Reserve Citizen Airman’s quick action saves lives

Air Force Reserve Command
By Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps
349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Published March 05, 2019

Staff Sgt. Emily Johnson, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron admin assistant, poses for a photo at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., on March 4, 2019. In January, Johnson helped save lives in a multiple car crash on Interstate 80 near Fairfield, Calif. during rush hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)

It was just another day for Staff Sgt. Emily Johnson, 349th Aeromedical Staging Squadron administrative assistant. She had finished up work at Travis Air Force Base, California, assisting members of the 349th Air Mobility Wing with travel voucher issues. After a change of clothes, she was on her way to class in Vallejo, where she was taking classes to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor.

As she drove down I-80 during its treacherous rush hour, the truck in front of her changed lanes revealing a 65-mile-per-hour collision course with a stopped car.

“The vehicle just casually merged over,” she said. “So, I didn’t think anything of it. Then all of a sudden, there was a stalled car in front of me. I slammed on my breaks, going 65. I had maybe 30 feet to stop.”

Johnson sat there for a moment in the carpool lane to process as cars zoomed around her.

“I sat there in my car and looked behind me,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to get hit, I’m going to get hit.’ I couldn’t stay there. I needed to get over.”

She quickly cut around the car, parked about 20 feet in front of it, and turned on her hazard lights. Once settled, she called 911 and told dispatch there was going to be an accident on the highway. Johnson then rushed to the driver in the stalled car, an elderly woman.

“I told her, ‘Get out of your car, get out of your car. You’re going to get hit. You’re not going to live,” Johnson described.

The Reserve Citizen Airman escorted the driver to her car and placed her in the passenger seat. As Johnson was about to leave the highway to get to a safe location, a crash was heard as two cars plowed into the back of the stalled car.

“As soon as I heard the hit, I told the woman to stay in my car,” Johnson described. “I jumped out of my car and ran back to check on the other drivers.”

And then a truck came. The two drivers who had hit the stalled car had gotten out of their cars to inspect the damage. When the truck came, it didn’t merge into the other lane where traffic was, it went towards the divide.

“I don’t think he had time to stop,” Johnson said.

The truck hit the two cars and struck the drivers who were out inspecting the damage.

“Literally, this all happened in less than a minute,” Johnson said. “I heard the initial crash, and by the time I got out to check, the truck had hit. Immediately, I started looking for people.”

She rushed to the first car, the air bag had gone off, the door was open, and there was no one to be seen. She went to the next one and the door was bent back the opposite way, and still no one.

“I thought, ‘Where are these people?’” she said.

She looked on the other side of the concrete divider, where oncoming traffic was, and there was a man standing in the middle of the highway. His pants were tattered and he was bleeding from his legs and face. He said he flew over the barrier when the truck hit him.

“My first thought was, ‘How are you alive? How are you conscious? How have you not been hit by another car?” Johnson said.
read more here

Saturday, March 23, 2019


WHAT KILLS FIRST RESPONDERS: Efforts underway to combat deadly stress of emergency work

Idaho State Journal
John O'Connor
March 23, 2019

They convinced Hale, who is a U.S. Navy veteran, to seek treatment and Moldenhauer personally drove him to a Veterans Administration therapy and rehabilitation program in Salt Lake City. Hale later underwent additional mental health treatment at an International Association of Firefighters-affiliated rehabilitation center for emergency workers in Baltimore.
Pocatello Fire Department Capt. Andy Moldenhauer, pictured, recently received an award from the American Red Cross for helping paramedic Dustin Hale, who was suicidal, get help for his severe post-traumatic stress injury. Doug Lindley/Idaho State Journal
Dustin Hale sought to cope with the anguish he routinely encountered as a Pocatello Fire Department paramedic by mentally absorbing victims' pain and cramming it into his own psyche.

"Some of us, like myself, we take a lot of the pain and what the families and patients are feeling and try to take it away from them by taking it on ourselves," Hale explained.

After several years of treating trauma, Hale's inner turmoil boiled over, culminating last fall with him holding a gun to his own head. It's a story he's embarrassed to tell but shares publicly, hoping to convince first responders to be open about the extreme stress they experience and to seek help when needed.

It's a timely message. Four other members of the Pocatello Fire Department have sought help via a post-traumatic stress injury, or PTSI, rehabilitation program during the past year and a half, according to their local union leader. A cross section of department members also plan to take peer support training offered through their international union, during which they'll learn to identify colleagues with PTSI and take appropriate steps to help them.

Snake River Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 plans to bring in a renowned speaker on PTSI at 6 p.m. July 15 at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center, 870 S. Fisher Ave. in Blackfoot.

The state has also taken recent action to address the problem of emergency service workers experiencing PTSI, passing a law on March 13 extending workers' compensation to cover the mental health condition for law enforcement officers, 911 dispatchers, firefighters and paramedics.

"There's no one who does the job that (stress) doesn't affect," Hale said. "Without the proper outlet and the proper care as far as mental health goes, sometimes that can turn into an actual injury. That's where PTSI comes in."
read more here