Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day Lost Meaning to Those Who Simply Enjoy Day Off

Veteran: To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost meaning
FOX 9 News
May 28, 2017
Veterans groups say a growing military-civilian disconnect contributes to a feeling that Memorial Day has been overshadowed. More than 12 percent of the U.S. population served in the armed forces during World War II. That's down to less than one-half of a percent today, guaranteeing more Americans aren't personally acquainted with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.
ANNVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached -- a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

The former Army captain and Iraq War veteran had a ready reply, telling them, matter-of-factly, that she considered it a work weekend. Jaslow will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to take part in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She'll then visit Section 60, the final resting place of many service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You can see it in people's faces that they're a little horrified that they forget this is what the day's about," said Jaslow, 34, who wears a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen comrade. "Culturally, we've kind of lost sight of what the day's supposed to mean."

While millions of Americans celebrate the long Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer -- think beaches and backyard barbecues, mattress sales and sporting events -- some veterans and loved ones of fallen military members wish the holiday that honors more than 1 million people who died serving their country would command more respect.
"It hurts," Duffy said. For combat veterans and Gold Star families especially, "it hurts that, as a society, we don't truly understand and appreciate what the true meaning of Memorial Day is."
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Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Crosby No Longer MIA

Long-missing Vietnam veteran returns to San Diego
FOX 5 San Diego
MAY 26, 2017
It wasn’t until 2015, during the fourth recovery mission, that crews ran into the villager that witnessed Crosby's crash 50 years ago. He led them to the exact location of the wrecked F-8 Crusader plane.
SAN DIEGO – The saga of a San Diego Navy pilot missing in action for 50 years came to a close Friday morning as the remains of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Crosby returned home.

The Naval commander's flag-draped coffin arrived at Lindbergh Field from Hawaii just after noon.

As his children, all now in late middle age, watched, their emotions flowed.

“It’s nice to be able to let out the tears and to have some relief in our hearts,” said Deborah Crosby.

Crosby had four children. Deborah is his only daughter.
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Remembering 300, Students Feed Homeless Veterans

Students prepare 300 meals for veterans, homeless, those in need
ABC 27 News
By Dawn White
Published: May 28, 2017
Retired U.S. Army Specialist E4 Stanley Carn watched while student set up the food they prepared at Small Memorial A.M.E Zion Church. “It’s great the kids are doing it because it’s more community oriented that way,” Carn said.
YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – The nation will honor those who lost their lives while serving the country on Memorial Day. Students honored and served veterans before Monday.

The students could be out doing other things on their Saturday, but they volunteered their time to help out veterans, the homeless, and those in need in the community.

Hannah Penn K-8 was the place where York City School District students and staff worked hard cooking hot food, putting apples and sandwiches in bags, and boxing the food up.

8th grader De’Kzeon Wyche was one of the students lending a helping hand.

“It’s just a great opportunity and stuff,” Wyche said. “I could be sitting at home, but I choose to come here because there’s people who are in need. I feel it was good to come out and help support and give them food and stuff.”
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Homeless Navy Veteran Feels Love from Community and Return of Elvis

Community helps homeless veteran locate missing medical alert dog
FOX7 News
Jennifer Kendall
May 27, 2017

When people in a Northwest Austin community found out a homeless veteran's medical alert dog was missing, they jumped into action. Within an hour they had posted fliers and put together a reward.
Doug Ferguson and his 7-year-old Golden retriever Elvis have quite a following in the area of Loop 360 and 2222. Doug said a series of events led him into a life on the street.

Three years after he started living out of his car, he got attacked and was left epileptic.

Doug applied for a medical alert dog through a Navy program and has spent every day for the last six years with Elvis. Until he woke up from a nap on Wednesday and his pup was nowhere to be found.

Thanks to the community who cares so much about the duo, word quickly spread on social media and a young girl, whose brother thought he had brought home a stray, returned the dog.
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Memorial Day Madness Continues with Reporters

Memorial Day Madness of Bad Reporting Continues
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 28, 2017

Yet again, there is what could be a powerful reminder of what Memorial Day means to those who served in combat, turned into a "don't care enough" to get it right. 

"'I can't do barbecues:' Veterans say Memorial Day time to discuss suicides in ranks" on The Tennesseean by Jake Lowary seemed like a good point to raise, but by the end of the following, it was clear the story didn't mean enough to get the facts right.
"Memorial Days are tough for retired Staff Sgt. Jarrad Turner. He often politely declines invitations to Memorial Day barbecues. He can't celebrate that way. Those events conjure the horrors of war he experienced and still thinks about every day. The smell, the smoke, the flames all bring back harsh memories for Turner, and likely thousands of other veterans around the country. While Memorial Day may invoke tales of heroism in battle and the memories of those lost in combat, the holiday is increasingly a time some veterans remember those that took their own lives — often after struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder or other insurmountable internal strife."
It never stopped being a time for those who served this nation and their families to not honor the sacrifices they know all too well. My Dad was a Korean War veteran and my uncles were WWII veterans. I married a Vietnam veteran and his Dad along with three of his brothers fought in WWII. My husband's nephew also served in Vietnam. At no time in our lives has this day represented what is celebration or saving money during Memorial Day sales.

While most of the country is kicking off summer and planning parties, families like mine are going to Memorial Day remembrance serves. We go to cemeteries. We go through photo albums and see the young faces of far too many gone too soon. For us, we carry the price of what the rest of the country chooses to forget. "Freedom is not free" and the price paid by less than ten percent of the population pays the debt for the rest of their lives.

And then there was this,
"Suicides among current and former military members hit a peak of 22 veterans per day in 2012, attributed largely to the mental horrors of war and violence that have remained vivid for thousands of men and women returning from the nation’s longest conflicts ever. The Department of Veterans Affairs and other groups say the rate of suicide deaths is now closer to 20 per day, based largely on figures from the CDC. The most recent figures from the Defense Department indicate a consistent number of suicides among current military members — 478 were confirmed in 2016 among both active and reserve personnel — and no clear sign they're dwindling."
They were more than numbers and the numbers were more than were reported. The VA report stated clearly the numbers were from limited data from just 21 states. Most did not read the report and they did not even know the majority of the veterans making the final payment on the debt that came with serving, were over the age of 50.

The latest report from the VA put the number at 20 a day, and while part of the data came from the CDC, it was not the only source. Add into all of that the VA also stated the number counted was exactly the same in 1999, yet there were over 5 million more veterans alive at the time and no one was running around the country talking about something as if it mattered but didn't matter enough to actually read the report. Stunning!

VA Suicide Data  shows clearly that the majority of suicides involve veterans over the age of 50, but then again, they are also the majority of veterans in this country. They are also last on the list to talk about. Far too many people think the number they hear about is only OEF and OIF veterans.

Next on the fact list is the number of OEF and OIF veteran suicides increasing after over a decade of "prevention" efforts by the military. Clearly it does not work because as the number of enlistments went down, the rate of suicides did not. Yep, one more thing reporters to not make the general pubic aware of, event though, as taxpayers, they are paying billions for something that does not work. As a matter of fact, evidence points to it making it worse.

The military keeps claiming that the majority of servicemembers taking their own lives did not deploy. I'd like to see them explain how they think that is a good thing considering every member of the military has had that training. If it wasn't good enough for non-deployed, then how the hell did they think it would work for those with multiple deployments? 

Yet again, none of this matters to reporters. You't think they'd bother to put all the facts together and spend the time these veterans deserved from them, but alas, just not important enough to change the outcome. We're just going to have to visit more graves next year while yahoos pull stunts, running around the country, getting big donations, talking about something they don't care enough to learn about.

Until reporters actually prove these stories do matter, the rest of the country will move on to celebrating next year on Memorial Day while we grieve for those who did not have to die!

PTSD awareness, more funding help lower veteran suicide rates in Tennessee
Tennesseans who work with veterans said Friday the state's suicide rates among veterans are declining.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 22 veterans take their lives each day in the U.S.
A recent report shows the percentage of veteran suicides in the state has been on a downward trend for the last few years. In 2015, Tennessee veterans represented 16.8% of all suicides. That's a decline from 17.2% in 2014, and 21% in 2013.
But on May 26, this was reported about Tennessee veterans.
Suicide rising in the military ranks, but some programs offer hope Scott Ridgway, executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, said Fort Campbell has nine confirmed suicide deaths so far in 2017. Defense Department totals from the first quarter of 2017 have not been reported.

Ridgway's group released 2015 totals this week, which shows increases in both veteran suicide and overall suicide. The numbers suggest one person between 10 and 24 dies by suicide every four days, and 16.7 percent of all suicide deaths in Tennessee in 2015 were veterans.

The VA does not regularly report its totals, but the August 2016 report indicates suicide rates in veterans age 18 to 29 increased 150 percent between 2001 and 2014. The increase among males is greater compared with women.

Some Police Officers Served Nation First, Then Communities

Police officers say military backgrounds helped build foundation for law enforcement career
Idaho Press Tribune
May 27, 2017
Bridges’ background has also been useful in sensitive situations. There have been times when the police were called to a suicidal subject or someone threatening to harm themselves. In some of those situations, the subject was a veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Bridges said as a veteran himself, he’s been able to gain trust and credibility with those people and help them find resources.
Caldwell Police officer Joshua Bridges, above returned in February from a six-month deployment to Southeast Asia
NAMPA — For six months, Caldwell Police officer Joshua Bridges hung up his police uniform and traded it for a different uniform for a recent deployment to southwest Asia.In addition to serving as a police officer for the city of Caldwell, Bridges also serves in the the Idaho Air National Guard.
Chris Bronson/IPT
In addition to serving as a police officer, Bridges also serves in the Idaho Air National Guard in security forces, which he described as basically military police for the Air Force. He returned from his deployment in February and is back on patrol in Caldwell.

Bridges is one of a number of local officers who serve or have served in the military. Some of these officers told the Press-Tribune that their military background has built a strong foundation for their careers in law enforcement. They were also called to each profession for similar reasons — to serve their country and community and make a difference.

“It’s been my lifelong goal to serve my community and to serve in general,” Nampa Police Lt. Jason Kimball said. “It fit in well with that.”

Working as a police officer involves discipline, structure and the ability to adapt to difficult situations.

For local officers with backgrounds in the military, those skills have already been developed, and they say their experience in the service helped transition them into a career in law enforcement.

“There are a lot of similarities, and I think that’s why you see a lot of veterans go into law enforcement or a similar field,” Bridges said.

Bridges joined the Idaho Air National Guard in 2007 while going to school. He was hired to the Caldwell Police Department in 2011.
Nampa Police Capt. Curt Shankel said veterans bring a sense of discipline and pride in service to the force.

“When they come in from serving in the military, they continue that service, that pride and that sense of giving back and serving the community or country they live in,” he said.
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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hey Cong Tien Gunner--Marine Joe Elizondo is Looking For You!

Vietnam veteran continues search for man who saved his life
By Jane Caffrey
May 26, 2017
"All I want to tell him is thank you," the former marine said with tears in his eyes. "Eight people got killed in the air. His family needs to know, that he's an angel. Can you imagine how many they saved?"
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American soldiers, including 100 from Corpus Christi, and with Memorial Day approaching one local veteran feels thankful to have survived that conflict.
The former Marine was close to death in Vietnam. Decades later, his search continues for the man that saved his life. He believes he will find him in Corpus Christi.

Joe Elizondo has three purple hearts and has been honored by U.S. presidents nine times for heroic acts, but he has a hero of his own from his time in Vietnam.

Elizondo was a gun squad leader and a tunnel rat, taking on dangerous underground missions. He was stationed in Cong Tien, one of the most dangerous war zones near the demilitarized area. It was so dangerous it was dubbed "The Place of Angels."

"We had gotten in the morning 11 lieutenants. And they had just arrived from the States. And the next day, only one survived," Elizondo recalled.

One morning, the Americans were ambushed.

"I got hit by a sniper, and the bullet went right through my side of my head, and went out the other side," Elizondo said, showing where the the bullet went through his neck.
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Grandmother Sent 7,000 Letters to Deployed Troops at 98!

Grandmother writes 7,000 letters to the troops 
WTOL 11 News 
Saturday, May 27th 2017
Cooper first wrote Staff Sgt. Chris Cantos years ago when he was in a remote area of Afghanistan with no wireless internet. The only contact that the Marines there had with home was letters.
An elderly woman started sending letters to America’s troops back during World War II. They've gone to soldiers in harm’s way and the wounded in hospitals. (Source: KCAL/KCBS/Snapshots Provided by Soldiers/Cooper Family Photos/CNN)
LAKEWOOD, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) - A 98-year-old California woman has made it her mission to send letters to the heroes serving this country overseas.
It started years ago with her son, who served in the Vietnam war.
At a time when most conversations are instant, Alleen Cooper proves the art of letter-writing isn't lost.
She started sending letters to America’s troops back during World War II. They've gone to soldiers in harm’s way and the wounded in hospitals.
All of Cooper's letters are at least four pages long, and she keeps track, making sure no two are alike.
What Cooper's serving up at her kitchen table is comfort food for soldier's souls, and they can't seem to get enough.
They've sent her commendations and even flags from their bases.
Friday, she was connected with one of her Marines.
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PBS Shows PTSD Forever War

What it’s like to be a veteran of a war that never ends
May 26, 2017
How do you say, I’m too tired, I can’t help anyone else? It’s a devil’s bargain, choosing between one’s tribe and one’s family. On the one hand, I needed to be in Iraq to keep my comrades alive. And, on the other, every moment I was gone, I wasn’t a good husband or dad. Brian Castner
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tonight: reflections from author Brian Castner, who offers his Humble Opinion on why he felt most at home overseas fighting what he calls the forever war.
BRIAN CASTNER, Author, “The Long Walk”: It’s a little odd to be a veteran of a war that doesn’t end.

I did three tours, got home from Iraq a decade ago. You think you have moved on, put the war in its place, and then you see Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on cable news, and you’re reminded that your war isn’t over. It’s just gone on without you.

Some of us call it the forever war, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing Libya and Yemen, raids all over Africa, and now Army Rangers and Marine Corps artillery in Syria. It’s already the longest war in American history, and I have given up thinking peace is coming any time soon.

Our nation has an all-volunteer military, and people join for lots of reasons: education, a sense of adventure, patriotism. But staying in the military, racking up five, six, seven tours, that’s a different kind of decision.

There are plenty of ways to pay for college that don’t involve getting shot at over and over again. So why did I do it? Why do soldiers choose to keep serving in the forever war?

I was an explosive ordnance disposal technician, EOD, we call it, the bomb squad. After my last Iraq tour, I was worn out mentally and physically. But my EOD brothers and sisters were dying, and I needed to stay to protect them.
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Angel Fire Capel Stood Up When No One Else Cared About Vietnam Veterans

Angel Fire chapel honors lives lost in Vietnam
KOB 4 News
Joseph Lynch
May 26, 2017
For some veterans, every day is Memorial Day. Some are haunted by all they've experienced, by who and what they lost. In some wars, they came home as heroes. That was not the case for Vietnam veterans. Many now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
ANGEL FIRE, N.M. -- U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Victor David Westphal III died in May 1968. After Westphal's death, his parents began the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel in Angel Fire.

The chapel was built to be an enduring symbol of the tragedy and futility of war, and it has become a place where people come from near and far to look for peace.

Earl Watters came from Rio Rancho. For him, this place is personal.

"Well, the first thing that comes to mind is all those who lost their lives," he said.

Nearly 60,000 servicemen and servicewomen lost their lives fighting in Vietnam. The memorial in Angel Fire was the first of its kind in the country to honor those Americans.

Allan Ford and his family came from Pensacola, Florida to Angel Fire. He remembers those who gave so much, and especially those who gave everything.

"A lot of my buds, Army buds, were all Vietnam veterans," he said. "They got nothing when they got home, so something like this it's very meaningful to them, very meaningful."

The Angel Fire chapel was created 11 years before the memorial in Washington. But surprisingly, it's only been in recent years folks have come to acknowledge that war. All those years ago, Watters remembers coming back with no welcome home at all.
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