Wounded Times


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

PolitiFact Not So Factual on Veteran Suicides

When it comes to rating what a politician says, there is a pesky thing called actual research to see if what they claim is true or not. On this one, I rate Politifact mostly lazy.
Kamala Harris slightly off in claim about veterans suicides
By Chris Nichols
August 23rd, 2016

"It is unconscionable that 22 veterans take their own lives each day. We must ensure that they have support to adjust to civilian life," Harris, a Democrat, said on Twitter on August 18, 2016.
The VA examined about 55 million veterans records from 1979 through 2014. It found that in 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, 7,403 veterans took their own lives, or an average of about 20 a day.
You can read the rest here
Fact one missed is that within the reports cited is an all too often missed fascinating piece of information.

1999 the VA said there were 20 veterans a day committing suicide.  That was before Afghanistan and Iraq veterans entered into they military and while there were still WWI, WWII, Korean War veterans along with a lot more Vietnam veterans, plus Gulf War veterans. 5 million veterans less to count, the VA said in 2016 there are, yep, 20 a day committing suicide.

(Past articles had 7 million less veterans but the cut off date was before this latest report)

Look at the graph from the VA.

and this is by age

This is how we reached the abysmal finding that the percentage of veteran suicides has in fact gone up. This is after a decade of raising awareness, raising funds to talk about something few actually took the time to understand and a lot of politicians doing a lot of talking about how they will change the outcome when all they have done is repeat what already failed, it looks as if nothing will change.  It won't change until reporters actually tell the truth about what has been going on.  Yet again, a pesky little thing like using a number to make it easy to remember, when history is obliterated.  Hmm, just like the number of lives that could had been saved if we actually held people accountable.

Here is the report from the VA for the 2012 figure where they had the number at "22" and link to the 2016 report where they had the number at "20"

The stunning part on that report is they use the CDC number of suicides at 41,425 but stated rate of suicide from almost every state puts the number of veterans committing suicide at double the civilian population.  Figure that one out?

Here is the link to the 2000 Census 26.4 million veterans

Here is the link to the 2015 Census with 21,369,602 veterans and as you can see the majority of the veterans are over the age of 50 with the largest group, you guess it again, Vietnam veterans.

Disabled Iraq Veteran With PTSD Faces Eviction After Being Victim of Fraud

Disabled combat veteran, family forced from home
I-TEAM uncovers real estate scheme affecting at least 25 local properties

News 4 Jax
By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter
Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM
August 22, 2016

After paying $1,100 a month in rent, they could be evicted because the company renting the house, RHMG Inc. (Residential Home Management Group, Inc.), never technically owned it but still got their money.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A disabled military veteran and his family contacted the I-TEAM for help after learning they are just days away from being evicted from their Jacksonville home -- even though they have paid their rent and have a lease.

We've uncovered it is part of a statewide scheme that could impact more local families, costing them tens of thousands of dollars. We found it happening right now in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns Counties. It's so troubling and pervasive, we alerted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is now involved.

Each house that gets caught up this scheme can have multiple victims -- whether you lose your money, your credit or even your house practically overnight. That's what happened to James and Tiffany McCollum's family, who could soon be homeless.

"We just want a place to lay our head at night," said James. "I wonder how many other families are out there in the same situation, staying up at night, wondering how they will feed their families, the stress of it, the fears."
read more here

Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead in Barracks

ABC 7 News Chicago
Associated Press
August 22, 2016

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Officials are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Fort Hood soldier from Illinois.

Spc. Dion Shannon Servant, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division,
(Fort Hood Press Center)
Spc. Dion Shannon Servant was found unresponsive in his barracks room at the Texas military base on Aug. 19.

The 24-year-old entered active-duty service in June 2014 as a petroleum supply specialist. He was assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, since December 2014.
read more here

Suspected Drunk Driver Killed Female Iraq Homeless Veteran in Wheelchair

August 23, 2016

Elaine Heyl stopped by an outreach center in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood on Friday and gave photos and her family’s address in the South to one of the staffers there.

“She gave me two pictures … and she gave me her family’s address in South Carolina and said, ‘If I were to die at any point, this is where you send my information,'” Elvis Rosado, of Prevention Point Philadelphia recalled Monday.

Rosado never imagined he’d have to mail the package so soon.

Hours later, early Saturday morning, as Heyl sat in her wheelchair at Mascher Street and Lehigh Avenue — the corner where the woman, a homeless Iraq War veteran, was a permanent fixture for years — a man police say was driving drunk down Lehigh Avenue crashed into her.

Heyl, known as Lanie to most, died a short time later at the hospital. She was 37.

Rosado said he knew Heyl, an Air Force veteran who he said served in Iraq, from working at Prevention Point on Kensington Avenue, a center that provides a health clinic and other outreach services to people facing homelessness and addiction. He said she battled post-traumatic stress disorder and was never able to get the help she needed.

“She was trying really hard to get help, but unfortunately, the system is kind of slow, so she started to self-medicate,” Rosado said. “Unfortunately, self-medication turned to addiction.”
read more here

Monday, August 22, 2016

Veterans Home Flooded, Hearts Flooded With Loving Response

Veterans forced to relocate during the flood
By Kevin Frey, Reporter
Monday, August 22nd 2016

"My heart is just so full, I don't know what to say -- but thank you all so much," said Ethel Comeaux to the volunteers. "There is people who care, people do care. This is the evidence of what people do for you."
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A handful of veterans in Baton Rouge were forced to relocate after the storm left their home flooded.

The owners of the Magnolia Care Center on Florida Boulevard are now working to get their veteran's home back up and running after it took on approximately 5 feet of water. The flood left a destructive path at the center, causing floor tiles to crack, walls to become waterlogged, and mold to grow.

Byron and Ethel Comeaux have owned the center for the last 15 years. Never once has it flooded.

The facility serves as a home to around 10 veterans. All of them suffer from either bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result, they need constant and intensive care.

"It's very, very hard for changes to happen to them -- so when you have a change, they don't understand the change," said Byron Comeaux, who is himself an army veteran.

Last week, however, one of those changes came in the blink of an eye as the waters rose around the facility.

"It was coming fast. I told Mr. Comeaux, if we waited 20 minutes, we would not have been able to leave," said Donald Crochet, a resident of the facility.

The residents were relocated to a home in north Baton Rouge. Many of the residents are counting down the days until they can go back home to Florida Boulevard.
read more here

MOH: Marine Jumped on 2 Grenades But Only Received Navy Cross?

Medal of Honor being sought for Lebanon Marine
The Lebanon Reporter
By Rod Rose
Aug 20, 2016

“He jumped on a hand grenade: It turned out to be a dud,” Regan said. Soon a second grenade landed among the Marines. Bogan jumped on that grenade, which exploded beneath him.
Navy Cross Presentation: Marine Cpl. Richard E. Bogan (right) received the Navy Cross in a 1968 ceremony
Richard E. Bogan was a U.S. Marine Corps private first class, when he received the Navy Cross after jumping on a hand grenade in what was then the Republic of South Korea’s Thua Thien Province. The Navy Cross is the second-highest decoration for heroism awarded by the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. It is presented only for extraordinary valor in combat.

Bogan, a 1967 graduate of Lebanon High School, was 41 when he died in a single-car crash in December 1990.

Now, Gerry Regan, a Marine who was there when Bogan jumped on that grenade, is working to have the Navy Cross award replaced — with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor.

Regan is recently retired, but has been active in Marine Corps organizations since he was discharged from the Corps following his service in Vietnam. He is a former president of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines branch of the 1st Marine Division Association.

Nikki Baldwin, Bogan’s daughter, met Regan in 2008 at a Marine Corps reunion, she said recently. She is appreciative of Regan’s efforts to earn the Medal for her father.

She provided The Lebanon Reporter a copy of a letter that could be critical evidence in Regan’s efforts, as well as other documents about her father’s service.
read more here

Judge Asked Iraq Veteran If He Killed Anybody?

Albany judge to Iraq war veteran: 'Did you kill anybody, as far as you know?'
New York Upstate

Douglas Dowty
August 22, 2016
Albany, NY -- An Albany judge agreed to resign this month after being accused of making improper comments from the bench, among other behavior.

Specifically, City Court Judge Thomas Keefe, 64, admitted in his resignation letter to "exceedingly poor" judgment in the case of Iraq war veteran Joseph Hayner.

Hayner was before Keefe in 2013 on a marijuana case. The veteran disputed a positive drug test, but the judge questioned his honesty. Keefe asked about Hayner's military record and discovered he had fought in Iraq, the New York Law Journal reported.

"Did you kill anybody, as far as you know?" the judge asked.

"I don't want to talk about that, sir," Hayner replied.

"Have you killed anybody here in Albany in the past week?" the judge asked.

"No," Hayner responded.

The judge told Hayner he could not smoke marijuana under an alternative sentenciung program and that he must tell the truth about any drug use, the Law Journal reported.
read more here

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Soldier's Widow Defeated Army To Restore Husband's Honor

A wife takes on Army to restore husband’s honor and acquire his benefits
Stars and Stripes
By Dianna Cahn
Published: August 21, 2016

WASHINGTON — In the eight years that her husband deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan, she learned to be good at not having him around. So when the knock came to tell her that Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz wouldn’t make it back from Afghanistan that last time, she was prepared, even in her grief, to pick up the pieces.

Debbie Venetz wore white to his funeral — she didn’t care whether people thought she was crazy. The 29-year-old widow wanted to celebrate her husband and let their 7- and 3-year-olds know that while they will miss Daddy, life will go on.

But nothing could have readied her for the nearly six-year battle ahead to restore her husband’s honor and secure benefits for their family.

Debbie took on the Army.

She faced down a withering backlash as she pressed for a more thorough investigation into his death. She sought powerful allies — colonels and generals — to push the case forward. But mostly, she never stopped believing that her husband died the way he lived as a Green Beret — honorably and in service to his country.

The mission to conduct outreach with local villages had met with resistance. He’d been wounded twice on that deployment alone and had earned a Bronze Star with “V” device for valor for remaining in a firefight for two days after he was shot in the leg on Sept. 29, 2010. He showed “selflessness, dedication to duty and courage under fire,” according to his medal citation, and helped to repel the enemy and save lives “in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism.”

That medal was awarded to him Jan. 17, 2011 — 11 days before his death.

read more here
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz receives a Purple Heart in Afghanistan in October 2010, just months before his death. COURTESY OF DEBBIE VENETZ

Navy SEAL Order To Pay $6.6 Million Over Book?

Navy SEAL to pay $6.6 million to settle case over Osama bin Laden book
Associated Press
By Lolita C. Baldor
Published: August 19, 2016

WASHINGTON — The former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about his role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will pay the government more than $6.6 million for violating non-disclosure agreements and publishing without getting the document cleared by the Defense Department, according to federal court documents.

Matt Bissonnette, who wrote "No Easy Day" under the pseudonym Mark Owen, will give the U.S. government all profits and royalties from the book or movie rights. The proceeds already total more than $6.6 million. He will have four years to pay the bulk of that.

The payments were outlined in settlement documents filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia.

According to the settlement, Bissonnette also has 30 days to pay $100,000 from the proceeds of presentations he gave using slides that were not approved by the department.
read more here

Why Are Marine Veterans Forced To Fight Government After Camp Lejeune?

Marine’s toughest fight: getting compensated for exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water
August 20, 2106

Between 1952 and 1987, nearly 1 million Marines, sailors, civilian employees and military family members unknowingly drank, cooked with and bathed in contaminated water while living or working at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
There’s no doubt in Stanley Furrow’s mind that his health problems and those of his wife, children and grandson come from drinking contaminated water and bathing in it years ago when he served in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.


They all have classic symptoms, according to the EPA, of people who have consumed water tainted with a witch’s brew of benzene, solvents and compounds with long names such as perchloroethylene, trichlorethylene and vinyl chloride. That is what was leaking into the camp’s water supply when Furrow, a Vietnam War vet, and his wife, Linda, lived there in the early 1970s.

He blames his exposure for the migraine headaches and neurological maladies he’s suffered from for years.

They believe it also explains why Linda had miscarriages; their son was born with only three fingers on his left hand; their daughter has battled cysts and tumors on her head all her life; and their 13-year-old grandson, Joseph, was born with twisted legs.

Jolie Furrow: “I just think it’s crazy. Why would you treat someone who served their country this way?” read more here

PTSD Suicide Collateral Damage Spread With Whispers, Not Awareness

Collateral Damage Spread With Whispers
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 21, 2016

The 22 Push-up challenge sounds like a good thing to do and it has spread all the way to New Zealand. Major Kidd took up the challenge after someone he knew committed suicide. There is no evidence that any of this awareness has changed a damn thing. As a matter of fact, here in the US, it has gotten worse.
"When it comes to the awareness of what some of our young people, when they go offshore, see and do, I don't think there is that awareness." Major Rodger Kidd
The question is, what good has come out of any of this awareness?

Why push something that has changed nothing? Is it fun to do? Is it challenging to do? Does it feel good to try to do something? Wouldn't it feel better to actually achieve something meaningful instead?

The military uses push-ups for training and punishment. What good does it do to try and get the civilian population to understand something veterans do not even know? Veterans know they are killing themselves but they do not know how to find hope that tomorrow can be different from today.

The only way we can address healing in a meaningful way is to talk about facts not just easy numbers to remember.
The fact is simple. According to the VA tracking veteran suicides in 1999, the number they discovered was 20 a day. 17 years later the number is still 20 a day. Awareness now? Why when no one is talking about how it actually got worse?

It is still double the civilian rate of suicides and still most of the suicides happen to veterans over the age of 50.

Veterans are killing themselves at more than double the rate of the civilian population with about 49,000 taking their own lives between 2005 and 2011, according to data collected over eight months by News21. 
“It’s not enough that the veteran suicide problem isn’t getting worse,” he said, “it isn’t getting any better.” Rep. Jeff Miller
Rep. Jeff Miller showed that his committee does not understand that while they spend billions a year, hold hearing after hearing, they have actually achieved total ignorance.  It has gotten worse because in 1999 there were almost 7 million more veterans in the country than now. How does he claim the numbers have not gotten worse?

Suicide Mortality Among Individuals Receiving Treatment for Depression in the Veterans Affairs Health System: Associations with Patient and Treatment Setting Characteristics was published in 2007.
Conclusions. Unlike the general population, older and younger veterans are more prone to suicide than are middle-aged veterans. Future research should examine the relationship between depression, PTSD, health service use, and suicide risks among veterans.
It is not just the veterans we need to worry about. It is their whole families. This report is from 2014 Collateral damage: The mental health issues facing children of veterans
Ron Avi Astor, professor of social work at the University of Southern California, said, "The vast majority of the kids and families, even with a lot of deployments and a lot of moves, about 70 percent or more depending on the issue you're looking at, are doing fine."

But Astor says the other thirty percent -- up to a million and a half kids -- are not doing fine. He studied 30,000 high school students in eight California school districts. Particularly troubling: Astor found one out of four military kids is likely to consider suicide -- significantly more than non-military kids.

And what does the Veterans Administration do for the children and siblings of people who've come back from the war? Not much, said Astor.

The VA spent almost $500 million last year for PTSD treatments for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. But their family members (a VA spokeswoman informed us by email) may receive counseling "if determined to be essential to the effective treatment and readjustment of the veteran."
Christal Presley told Teichner, "My mom had asked me not to talk about the things that were happening with my father. In fact, if my mom mentioned the word Vietnam, it was with a whisper."

The collateral damage of war is still being spread with whispers.

SWAT Standoff Ended After 11 Hours

Scottsbluff man arrested after 11-hour standoff
Star Herald
Star-Herald Staff
August 20, 2016

UPDATE, 11:15 A.M.: Sheriff Mark Overman has confirmed reports that the man involved in the stand-off is a Vietnam veteran who has been suffering some recent emotional issues. Family members called in the report, but the man has mostly made threats to himself. 
Standoff nearing its sixth hour SHANA EMERICK/Courtesy Photo
Neighbor Shana Emrick provided photos of SWAT team and bomb robot teams readying at the site of a standoff Saturday.

After more than 11 hours, a standoff at a rural residence ended with officers taking the man into custody.

Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s deputies and the Scottsbluff SWAT Team took Daniel Converse, 65, of Scottsbluff, into custody at about 6:45 p.m. Sheriff Mark Overman reported authorities had obtained a warrant for the man, charging him with two felony counts of terroristic threats.

“I am just proud of all of the efforts of all of the officers that we were able to get this resolved. It took quite a while, but we got it resolved peacefully,” Overman said.

The standoff began at about 7:30 a.m. when Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence at County Road H and County Road 19, about six miles west of Scottsbluff. A woman reported to deputies that a man at the residence was armed with a hand grenade. He was outside of the residence when deputies initially arrived, but went back into the residence.

“They (deputies) challenged him and tried to get him to stop, but he retreated into his house,” Overman said. “He was holding something in his hands that deputies said was the size and shape of a grenade.”
read more here

Australia Police Officers: Do Not Have Courage To Ask For Help?

In Australia only 7 police officers out of 1,500 asked for help for PTSD. A survey showed that half of the officers have PTSD.

“There’s more than likely a significant number more that are suffering and don’t have the courage at this point in time to put their hand up and say I need help.” according to the findings. Imagine that! They risk their lives everyday for someone else needing help. That takes courage. So why would it require more courage to ask for help because of it?
Northern Territory police officers struggle to discuss post traumatic stress disorder
NT News Australia
August 21, 2016

“There’s more than likely a significant number more that are suffering and don’t have the courage at this point in time to put their hand up and say I need help.”

Northern Territory Police Association president Paul McCue
NEARLY every second police officer in the Northern Territory has been touched by post traumatic stress, according to a survey of frontline cops.

Despite the statistic gathered by the NT Police Association, only seven police officers out of the nearly 1500 in the Territory officially reported mental stress to their department in the past two years.

The survey found 41 per cent of police had experienced PTSD personally or with a colleague and 80 per cent said they had received no education or information about the illness.
read more here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chaplains "Begin" Treating Veterans for Moral Injury?

Chaplains begin treating veterans for newly designated ‘moral injury’
The Post and Courier
Natalie Caula Hauff
Aug 20 2016

Bernard Smith spent 22 days face-to-face with death. The stench surrounded him as bodies of men, both young and old, were carted into a mortuary for him to process in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Smith, 77, of Myrtle Beach, survived the war that took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans, but he is still haunted by hundreds of those souls.

“In the middle of the night, I would scream sometimes,” he said about the nightmares that he still has to this day. “One night, the Grim Reaper appeared in my dream and looked right at me and turned and said, ‘You’re next.’”

With no warning or the proper training to prepare for it, Smith was called on periodically to assist in processing the dead military members over a four-month stretch. He was 23 at the time and serving in the Air Force on the flight line.

The shock of that experience, even 50 years later, has embedded a deep inner turmoil within Smith that officials at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston have been working to treat.

“Military and VA chaplains have understood and worked with moral injury for many years. However, only recently did the broader medical and mental health communities designate a formal definition of the concept,” he said.
read more here

This works and that is why Point Man International Ministries started doing it with veterans and their families WAY BACK IN 1984.

Orlando Police Officer May Lose Everything After Talking About PTSD from Pulse

When you think about all that has been known about PTSD, especially among those putting their lives on the line, you'd think that Florida would actually be proud to be among the best in the nation addressing it.  But that would mean you were thinking when obviously, my state is not.

Tracking reports from all over the country as well as internationally, it is reprehensible that Florida, the number three state in the US for veterans has this record.  Why? Because law enforcement and firefighting are the top jobs veterans seek after risking their lives in the military. You'd think they would matter enough to be able to depend on us to stand up for them.


Florida Denies Pulse First Responder Workman's Comp for PTSD

Gerry Realin helped pull 49 bodies out of the club on June 12. That night has haunted him and made him unable to work.
BY NICO LANGAUGUST 23 2016 Officer Gerry Realin, one of the first responders on the scene following the Pulse nightclub shooting in June, is fighting the state of Florida to have his post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as workman’s compensation, as current policy doesn’t cover psychological trauma.
After a lone gunman opened fire on the Orlando gay bar on June 12, killing 49 people, Realin helped remove bodies from the club.
“When he got home, 2:30 the next morning, he came in very quiet… looked at both of our kids, then went in the shower and just lost it,” his wife, Jessica, told Orlando TV station, WFTV. “And he didn't stop crying. The next day, it was on and off. And it's just been really hard.”

Orlando Police Officer may lose everything after Pulse terror attack. He has PTSD from it. Is this how we treat those who risk their lives when the survivors are trying to heal from it too?

Does the Police Department understand how vital it is to have an officer talk publicly about having PTSD? It comes with the job! It comes with the job of anyone risking their lives. Firefighters and EMTs get hit by it from their jobs. National Guardsmen and Reservists get it from their jobs. Military members get it from their jobs. It seems everyone is more accepting of civilians getting it from surviving the day the event happened to them than those who serve risk their lives responding to them all the time.

'I still see all the red,' officer who removed bodies from Pulse says 
Orlando Sentinel 
David Harris 
August 13, 2016
Clark estimated there are 100,000 officers nationwide with PTSD, but the law-enforcement industry has been slow to react to officers' needs. They also have a higher rate of suicide.
Sometimes the smell comes back to Officer Gerry Realin. He can't describe it, but he knows it when it hits him.

It's the smell of death.

For four hours, Realin and the seven other members of the Orlando Police Department's hazmat team were tasked with removing all the bodies from Pulse nightclub. As a result, he said he has been diagnosed with PTSD.

"There was just that smell that saturated my whole body," he said while holding his wife Jessica's hand. "My hair, my skin, my whole respiratory system."

Two months after the massacre that killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others, Realin said he still sees "all the red."

Now, Realin's attorney Geoffrey Bichler wants to use the case to challenge the constitutionality of the state's workers' compensation law, which will pay for physical injuries but not psychological ones.

"It is a travesty that there's no legal protection for a guy like Gerry," Bichler said. "The law needs to protect them. As a society, we owe it to them."

Only five states pay workers' comp because of psychological issues suffered on the job, said Ron Clark, who runs the Connecticut-based group Badge of Life, which studies post-traumatic stress disorder in law enforcement. read more here

PTSD Vietnam Veteran Became "Brother's Keeper"

Reynolds helps PTSD veterans out of the dark, into the light
Steve Stout
August 20, 2016

"This a not a social gathering. This group is designed for problem solving. We talk about things that many of us haven't even shared with our families. There is no pity or shame given here. There is only compassionate understanding and genuine support. Here, at these meetings, we provide each other with the tools, the courage, we vets need to live our everyday lives." Roger Reynolds
As a young U.S. Marine in the late 1960s, Roger Reynolds, of Ottawa, fought for his country in the jungles of Vietnam.
"The time I spent in Vietnam turned me into a crazed, heartless killer," admitted Reynolds.

"I caused a lot of death and destruction while I was over there and, on Valentine's Day, 1969, I shot and killed my best friend during a night fight in the jungle. That mission — my buddy's death — has become my eternal nightmare. I know it will never leave me."

With little memory of his last days in Vietnam, Reynolds came home to La Salle County — like many returning combat servicemen and women — suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Part of his personal salvation came years later, as he helped form a peer-led, community-based group at the Veterans Administration Clinic in Peru for local veterans affected by PTSD.

These days, as a steel-minded leader of that group, Reynolds, 68, fights for the proper mental and physical care of fellow former servicemen with the men themselves and the VA.

At weekly meetings, he is the organizer of discussions that range from personal family problems to medical issues, from recurring nightmares of combat trauma to dark depressions.

In the private gatherings, the veterans share their fears, pain, heartaches and, perhaps most importantly, fellowship.

"I have become my brother's keeper and that is just fine with me."
read more here

Defeat PTSD and Live For Those You Love

Do not choose to leave an empty seat at the table
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 20, 2016

We can count the number of those missing in action but we will never know the number of those missing from tables all over the country because of it. 
There are obvious numbers and then there are numbers we will never know. When someone is dies serving this nation, their death is counted as a price of war. When someone dies because of combat, all too often, only those they left behind know about that other price of service.

When someone is bodily wounded, they receive a Purple Heart and their wound is counted as yet another price paid by those willing to risk their lives for this nation. When someone is wounded within their bodies, they are the only ones knowing war never left them unless they stop suffering in silence.

Some will seek healing. Some will seek an end to the suffering by ending their own lives.  If you are one of them please reconsider leaving behind an empty chair.

If you think you are making your family miserable, you are probably right. If you think leaving them behind because you do not want to burden them, you are definitely wrong. Leaving them will break their hearts and they will never find the answers as to what they could have done differently. The biggest question in their minds will be wondering why you decided to leave instead of healing.

If you think that leaving them will make their lives better then you better start to think of how you can make their lives better with you in it.

Think about it this way. In the military, there were those you counted on to make it from one day to another. They counted on you as well. Your family and friends are counting on you now for their tomorrows. Why don't you know how much they care about you and how hard they will fight for you if you let them?  

When you were in combat, you did whatever it took to stay alive and keep as many of those you were with to make it back home. Why should this be any different? We know that too many just like you gave up because they did not find the help they needed to heal. Maybe they did not even know they could. How many do you think you could help if you let them know that?

There are weapons you trained to use in combat and there are weapons you can train to use in this battle to save their lives but you have to learn how to save your own first.

Knowledge to live with it:

PTSD is a wound caused by what you survived. You are not a victim. You survived it. Do not settle for what comes afterwards as being harder to get through that "it" was. You fought with everything you had in combat, so fight to get whatever you need now. You would not need help healing PTSD if you did not serve.

If you survived multiple deployments then understand the risk of developing PTSD went up 50% each time you went into combat. The odds were stacked against you. This was known back in 2006 and a lot of you have figured that out but some have no clue.

"I left the war zone but the war zone never left me." Nicholas Johnson

More than 730,000 went as members of the reserves or National Guard, forcing them to place their civilian lives on hold for as long as a year, sometimes more than once. It was the largest use of both forces since World War II, greater even than during the Vietnam and Korean wars.

Troops “don’t need to be classified as wounded in action to have been wounded. A lot of us got hurt. Some more serious than others, but a lot of us sacrificed part of our bodies out there.”Adam Schiele

The place where PTSD lives is in the part of your brain holding your emotions. It is not fully developed until the age of 25, yet by then you probably experienced more than most will in a lifetime. Go once, and yes, PTSD can hit you. It happened to about one out of three Vietnam veterans after just one deployment. Go over and over again and it becomes engrained in your mind so living back home afterwards is not easy.  It is not impossible!

The best way to "fit back in" is to fit back in with the right groups. Try to fit in with civilians your age more interested in hunting down Pokemon than what you had to do hunting down the enemy and you get blank faces. Service is a part of you, so you fit in with other veterans. Don't stay lonely when you can feel like family again.

How do you expect people to understand you when you've had a hard time understanding yourself? They understand it all too well and they are still surviving because they found the support they needed to heal.

A POW is captured by the enemy. You have been captured by PTSD. It is an enemy, so fight it.  

A POW is tortured by the enemy. You are being tortured by PTSD. Do not just endure it until it stops and lets you get some rest. Defeat it so you can live a better life.

A POW is controlled by the enemy. You are being controlled by PTSD.  Take back control over your own life and heal.

Knowing what PTSD is and the simple fact that it can only strike after surviving something like you did, means you did not cause it.  Your service did.  

You are not mentally weak like the military made you think you were. When they told you that you could train to be mentally tough, that made you think PTSD meant you were weak.  The truth is, you have an emotionally strong core and that is why you felt it all more than others. It wasn't just about your own pain but the pain of others that you carry within you.

If you grieve, you do because you loved. Evil people do not grieve and they are not willing to die to save someone else.

You are not trapped the way you are today but can change again.  That is what PTSD is. It changed you and you can change what it is doing to you. You can change what you are doing to others and start doing for others again. 

After all, isn't that why you joined the military in the first place? That came from the love you have to give. Love them enough to live.

Combat Medic Vietnam Veteran Grateful for Veterans Court

Vet court grad: 'I'm ready to embrace life'
Livingston Daily
Lisa Roose-Church
August 19, 2016

Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel said the court is “building a new cycle” for the veterans, and it is unique to other specialty courts.
Judge Carol Sue Reader presents U.S. Army veteran John M. a certificate and coin celebrating his graduation from the 53rd District Court's Veterans Treatment Court. Graduate Aron B., a U.S. Army veteran, waits his turn.
(Photo: Lisa Roose-Church/Livingston Daily)
John M., who spent “many years” sober, found himself standing before a judge — charged with and eventually convicted of driving drunk.

“To this day, I haven’t had a drop to drink since I was caught on that November over a year ago,” he said to thunderous applause. “I’m ready to embrace a life without any type of drug or alcohol.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the three other men, who along with John, were the inaugural graduates of the 53rd District Court Veterans Treatment Court. They were recognized during a ceremony held at the historic Livingston County Courthouse on Grand River Avenue in downtown Howell.

John, a U.S. Army combat medic during the Vietnam War, said he was able to use the court’s services to identify his emotional problems and address those as well as his drinking.

“I love my country, and I’d do it again,” he said about his service. “We’re fortunate to have a court system that bent over backward to help us guys. Thank God it’s here.”
read more here

Flagler County Florida Wants Veterans Court Option For True Justice

Flagler County eyes court option for troubled veterans
Daytona Beach News Journal
Matt Bruce
August 19, 2016

Buffalo, New York introduced the concept to the U.S. when it implemented the first veterans court in the country in January 2008. That circuit billed its diversionary treatment model as a “hybrid drug and mental health court” designed specifically to help veterans struggling with addiction and/or mental illness
BUNNELL — Flagler County officials are seeking to establish a special court aimed at helping military veterans who run afoul of the law.

Flagler County commissioners overwhelmingly favored the idea of establishing a veterans court after listening to a presentation by Palm Coast resident Ed Fuller and congressional staffer Randy Stapleford during a Monday afternoon workshop inside the Government Services Building in Bunnell. Each of the four commissioners said they supported the idea.

“As a county, we need to set the example for our veterans that they are welcome in Flagler County and we will take care of them,” said Commissioner George Hanns, a Vietnam War veteran. “So many of them have problems. Post-traumatic stress is a terrible thing … It’s very important. I think it’s a great program.”

Despite unanimous support from county commissioners, the plan to implement a veterans court in Flagler has hurdles to clear. Stapleford, who identified himself as a military and veterans coordinator for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis' office, told the commission that 7th Circuit Chief Judge Terrence Perkins would likely determine the court’s fate in Flagler County.

Sal Rutigliano, the county's veterans services officer, also attended Monday’s workshop and indicated there are nearly 13,000 veterans in Flagler County. Stapleford said Volusia has about 56,000 and St. Johns has close to 20,000 vets.
read more here
Also if you want to know why this is such a great idea, 
Jacksonville veteran praises drug court program for changing his life

Friday, August 19, 2016

Army Deserter Charged With Fraud And Stolen Idenity

Man faces several charges linked to defrauding VA
Citizen Times
Abigail Margulis
August 19, 2016

He was then stationed in Hawaii and was ranked as a sergeant. Shortly later, he was determined to be absent without leave and was dropped from the military and classified as a deserter, according to court paperwork. He was discharged about a year later based on his AWOL/deserter status.
ASHEVILLE - An Army deserter is facing multiple federal charges for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of more than $150,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Roy Lee Ross Jr., 64, is accused of receiving more than $150,000 in veteran benefits based on fraudulent service-connected disabilities claims and defrauding other VA programs, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced Friday.

Ross was charged with one count of executing a scheme to defraud a health benefit organization (the VA), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also faces two counts of making false statements in connection with the delivery of health care benefits by the VA, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He is also charged with two counts of stealing from the VA, a charge that levies a potential maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, and one count of a making false claim for travel benefits from the VA, which carries a potential maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine.

He claimed he was Daniel Alfred Sullivan Jr. and had served in the U.S. military under that name in the special forces, had been wounded in combat, and had been honorably discharged from the Army, court paperwork says.
read more here