Tuesday, October 25, 2016

National Guard: Used and Abused, Served Then Charged Money

Veteran could lose Central Texas home
FOX 7 News
Ashley Paredez
October 24, 2016

Thousands of soldiers are being forced to pay back a large bonus they were promised to re-enlist in the California National Guard.

It has been a decade since they were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon says they were overpaid. FOX 7 spoke with a retired army master sergeant who could now lose her home in Central Texas.

"I gave my time, that I will never get back, and now they want their money back. They can't give me back the missed birthdays and things of that nature," says Susan Haley, retired master sergeant, U.S. Army.

It's taken a toll on Susan Haley who spent 26 years in the Army along with her husband and son.

She's devastated that this is how nearly 10,000 soldiers are being treated after serving their country.
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WWII Veteran Gets Birthday Bash on USS Iowa

Pearl Harbor veteran gets a 99th birthday party thrown for him on-board the Battleship Iowa
25 October 2016
Ernest Thompson lives in Gardena, California, just a few miles from the Battleship Iowa Museum
The WWII veteran can no longer visit though due to health reasons
On October 26 he will turn 99, so on Sunday there was a birthday party
USS Iowa honored him by throwing a large gathering and barbecue
Special moment: World War II veteran Ernest Thompson celebrated his 99th birthday on Sunday with a party thrown for him the Battleship Iowa Museum
A Second World War veteran who was aboard the USS Missouri during Pearl Harbor has received a very special birthday party on-board a battleship.

Ernest Thompson lives just a few miles from the Battleship Iowa Museum in Gardena, California.

The veteran can no longer visit however due to health reasons and some problems with walking.

But he made a special journey to the ship on Sunday so that staff could a throw him a large party with his closest family, friends and chief selects for his 99th birthday.
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Brad Snyder Lost Sight in Afghanistan but Not Inspiration

Brad Snyder, who lost his sight while serving his country, conquers treacherous Alcatraz swim
Dan Arritt
Jill Dahle and Brad Snyder get ready for their 2.1-mile open-water swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. The Factory Agency
One, two, three, four ...

Brad Snyder managed to block out every next thought, every painful memory, every unwritten plan, and remain focused on the revolving numbers in his head.

24, 25, 26, 27 ...

With every long, powerful stroke -- the thrusts he learned as a child growing up in Florida, polished as captain of the Naval Academy's swim team, and brought back to life while winning five gold medals at the last two Paralympics -- Snyder kept his mind concentrated on pulling his body to a shoreline he'd never see.

56, 57, 58, 59 ...

Even before losing his eyesight in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan six years ago, swimming in chilly ocean temperatures didn't come naturally to the Gulf Coast native. So Snyder stayed locked in on his numbers Sunday morning, counting each stroke as he churned through the treacherous 2.1 miles from Alcatraz Island to a sandy beach just east of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
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Congress Knew Two Years Ago About National Guardsmen Bonus, Did Nothing For Them

Congress knew for at least two years about Pentagon efforts to take back bonuses from veterans
LA Times
David S. Cloud and Sarah D. Wire
October 24, 2016

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.
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Monday, October 24, 2016

Police Searching for Thief of Fallen Soldier TIm Brown Memorial

Reward offered for suspects who stole items from veteran memorial
WWMT News Michigan
Andrew Minegar
October 24, 2016

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Kent County Sheriff Department is searching for suspects in a series of thefts, including items from an Iraq veteran’s memorial.

Deputies are investigating after a replica rifle, a helmet and dog-tags were taken from the Tim Brown Monument, which honors the memory of a soldier killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, at Memorial Park.
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan Died Saving Lives

Navy EOD tech died directing SEALs, Iraqis away from roadside bomb
Published: October 23, 2016

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, was identified Friday as the servicemember killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in an advisory role with Iraqi coalition troops.
U.S. Navy photo
IRBIL, Iraq — Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, the Navy explosives ordinance disposal technician who was the first American killed in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, died while warning the forces he was supporting about a roadside bomb, the top commander for U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria said Sunday.

Finan, 34, died on Oct. 20 from injuries sustained when his own vehicle hit a roadside bomb. He was remembered for his sacrifice by both Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander for Operation Inherent Resolve, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Irbil on Sunday. The two leaders were in Irbil to discuss the Mosul offensive with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
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Texas Rangers Offer No Answers in Shooting Death of Lyle Blanchard

Navy veteran's shooting death still under investigation
Killeen Daily Herald
Jacob Brooks
October 22, 2016

Lyle P. Blanchard Courtesy photo Lyle P. Blanchard, 59, of Harker Heights, is seen in recent years. Blanchard was shot and killed on Aug. 30 by Bell County Sheriff's deputy Cpl. Shane Geers after a failed traffic stop and pursuit.
The Texas Rangers are still investigating a shooting death involving a Bell County deputy that claimed the life of a Navy veteran on the outskirts of Harker Heights nearly two months ago, the county district attorney said late Friday.

The case stems from an Aug. 30 shooting, in which Cpl. Shane Geers, with the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, shot and killed Lyle P. Blanchard on the private drive leading to Blanchard’s home after a failed traffic stop and short pursuit.
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Family Wants Answers After Sailor Died on Ship

VIDEO: Pittsburg United States Navy sailor dies on ship bound for Tokyo, parents speak
KRON 4 News
By Jeff Pierce
Published: October 22, 2016

“I loaned my daughter to the Navy. My baby left here. She was healthy. My baby came back in a casket.” Derrick Luckey
PITTSBURG (KRON) — Derrick Luckey’s lawn in Pittsburg is ringed with flags put there by a neighbor to honor his daughter, a member of the United States Navy, who died suddenly on a ship bound for Tokyo.

“On Sept. 7, we took Danyelle to the airport to leave for Japan and that was the last time we saw her, and she was fine and healthy,” mother Annette Luckey said.

“Three military personnel standing on my porch, and you know when they come to your house, there’s nothing good about that,” father Derrick Luckey said.

Danyelle Luckey was just beginning her naval career, and she and her family were filled with hope.
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Battalion Chief David Dangerfield Cleared to Go Home by Community He Served

Family, friends say final goodbye to David Dangerfield
TC Palm
Colleen Wixon
October 22, 2016

"Indian River to Battalion Chief David Dangerfield"

"Indian River to All Units"

"Battalion Chief David Dangerfield, your assignment is complete. You are cleared to go home. Indian River's clear at 12:45."

So ended the final farewell to Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield at Saturday's celebration of life at Community Church in Vero Beach, where more than 1,000 people gathered to share stories and remember him.
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Community mourns David Dangerfield in Vero Beach | Photos, video

The body of David Dangerfield arrives at Community Church in Vero Beach on Saturday.
Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Posted About PTSD Reality Before Taking His Own Life

Stupidity Feeds Stigma of PTSD

Replace Stupidity with Spectacular 
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 23, 2016

For over three decades I have heard all kinds of things, had my heart broken more times than I can calculate, but then there are moments, when I am in awe of how spectacular these veterans truly are. 

Parade Magazine published an article written by Paula Spencer Scott this month, "Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness." Stacy Bare, an Iraq veteran said he was suffering from PTSD and wondered "What does it mean to be at home, a veteran anyway?" He went to the Druid Arch in Utah and was struck by "awe" beginning a change within him.

“Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things,” says psychologist Dacher Keltner, who heads the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab.
That keeps getting missed in this messed up, convoluted dialog on PTSD and suicides connected to military service. It isn't that they were not able to "handle it" but handled it the whole time when the men and women in their unit are deployed with them. Why? Because their lives matter and they are willing to die for one another.

That comes from a strong emotional core. The very worthy part of them that caused such devotion is also the part of them that grieves from losing so many they cared for.

The "awe" moment for them is when they realize they are not stuck suffering, do not have anything to be ashamed of and they can heal. We just allow other conversations to permeate the news they hear.

When Donald Trump said “When you talk about the mental health problems - when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it." he showed he doesn't get it. The problem is, far too many are just like him.

There are Medal of Honor Recipients openly talking about their own battles with PTSD so that others may overcome the rumor of weakness or claims of lacking intestinal fortitude. There are Special Forces veterans talking about what they also experience coming home along with Generals speaking openly, hoping to lead by example.

Folks can do all the talking they want about the "problem" of suicides to make others aware, and get noticed by the press, but they never seem to mention their talk is doing no good at all. It is feeding the stigma.

If they want to do pushups or other publicity stunts, who does that actually serve? Is it the suffering veterans forced to remain in the shadows? Is it the families left behind wondering what they did wrong and blaming themselves? Or is it the people wanting attention for themselves?

Stupidity feeds the stigma of PTSD and leaves them trapped in an endless cycle of suffering and search for what will bring them out of the darkness within their souls. What may be an easy number to remember, they were more than an abstract number to their families.

Isn't it time to actually focus on what is possible and good instead of simply focusing on all this talk of anguish? It is obvious that none of the popular "efforts" managed to change anything other than spread the heartache. How about we talk more about the "awe" moments that begin the healing and replace despair with encouragement?

Chopper Saved Lives, Then Navy SEAL Fought For Him

Navy SEAL wins battle to keep warrior dog as therapy companion
OC Register
Keith Sharron
Oct. 21, 2016
After almost a decade in the Navy, he said he needed help. His body was breaking down, and so was his mind. He was having nightmares, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
You can’t keep your gun.

Grenades, knives, bombs, other tools of war – you can’t keep those either. When you leave the military, no matter who you are or what you sacrificed, your boots are yours but your tools belong to the government.

And it is that seemingly reasonable rule that caused Trevor Maroshek so much pain.

What if your weapon, the one you trained with for years, the one that never left your side, the one that saved your life, what if your weapon curled up next to you at the end of a long day?

What if your weapon was your dog?
And one of those Taliban fighters had a detonator, which they later found was connected to a 600-pound cache of explosives that was buried under the building at the east end of town. The same one the Americans had used to house the villagers.

Chopper had saved them all.

“He got a steak that night,” Maroshek said.
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Decorated Fort Carson Soldier's Death Suspected Suicide

Wesley Hills soldier's death investigated as suicide
Westchester 12 News
October 22, 2016

WESLEY HILLS - The death of a decorated soldier from Rockland County is being investigated as a suicide.

Army Sergeant James Morrison, 28, died Wednesday while on active duty at Fort Carson in Colorado.

The Wesley Hills native had been deployed to Afghanistan three times.
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Fort Wainwright Soldier's Death Suspected Suicide

Army: Soldier died from self-inflicted gunshot wound
Army Times
By: Staff report
October 21, 2016

A soldier assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said Friday.

Spc. Tyler Christian White, 21, died Wednesday at a friend's house in Fairbanks, Alaska.

White, 21, was from Richmond, Indiana. He was found in his friend's driveway with a single gunshot wound about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. He died while he was being taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
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