Sunday, November 18, 2018

Judge grants hearing for Officer's PTSD benefits

Former Lake County Sheriff's Officer Guy Mikulich granted hearing for disability benefits for PTSD

NWI News
Anna Ortiz
November 16, 2018
He said he reported his issues with post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, sleeplessness, paranoia and memory loss to the department's psychologist before the incident.

The Lake Superior Court has agreed former Lake County Sheriff's Officer Guy Mikulich can have an evidentiary hearing regarding disability benefits he has applied for.

Following a more than two-year legal battle between Mikulich and the Lake County Sheriff's Department, Mikulich alleges the board wrongfully denied him disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder he said he developed during his 16-year career in the department.

Mikulich filed three separate disability benefit applications with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, a court order document states, and each application was denied.

Following the board's denials, Mikulich filed a complaint for administrative review asserting that he is entitled to a judicial review. Mikulich alleges that his due process rights were violated by the Sheriff's Merit Board and its attorney by not allowing him a hearing to present evidence before the board, the court document states.
read more here

Burn Pits get studied today, forgotten about from all other wars

Wonder if any of these reporters are aware this is how they got rid of the same stuff in all other wars?

Burn Pits Exposed: A Look at How Military Got Rid of 'Anything and Everything' on Overseas Bases

NBC 10 News
By NBC10 Investigators
Published Nov 16, 2018

They served. Now they're sick. Thousands of former soldiers claim they are suffering ill effects from the garbage disposal methods on overseas bases.
In the middle of the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, garbage disposal on American military bases was historically a simple thing.

"Anything and everything burned in a burn pit — from mail to dead animals to anything," Ryan Conklin, a former soldier, says.

Asbestos and other chemicals? Yes, retired Army Lt. Col. Dan Brewer, says.

Medical waste? Yes again, according to a doctor now researching the effects of burn pit dust. "It was always burning, always black smoke coming of there," another veteran, Michael Ray, says.

Several former soldiers and medical doctors spoke to NBC10 Investigators about their experiences with burn pits: large holes dug by crews who then filled the pits with trash and lit them on fire with jet fuel. For many soldiers deployed to the desert and living on bases adjacent to the debris disposal, the billowing black smoke was just part of their daily life.
read more here

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Another Suicide in lobby of Nashville VA Hospital

Man dies by suicide at Nashville VA Medical Center

Kara Apel
Posted on Nov 16, 2018

ASHVILLE (WSMV) - Police have confirmed that a man died by suicide at the Nashville VA Medical Center on Friday morning.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the lobby.

The incident happened around 9 a.m. Friday at the facility on 24th Avenue South, which is near the Vanderbilt University campus.
go here for video

Reminder this is not the first time, John Tooms hung himself two years ago.

Little girl sent letter to soldier in Vietnam, they finally met

Vietnam Veteran Meets Stranger Who Sent Letter When She Was a Sixth Grader
CBS News
November 17, 2018

DonnaCaye Ludemann Sica recently surprised John Metzler, a Vietnam Veteran who was serving when she sent a Christmas card. At the time, Sica was in the sixth grade. 

Court allows military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI lawsuit

Court allows class-action suit against Navy over ‘bad paper’ discharges

Military Times
Leo Shane III
November 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Veterans forced from the Navy and Marine Corps for what they say were undiagnosed mental health problems will be able move ahead with a class-action lawsuit against the military asking for denied benefits, a federal court ruled Thursday.

Marines assigned the 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit move uphill during training operations in Jordan on April 24, 2018. A new court ruling will allow "bad paper" veterans to bring a class-action lawsuit against the Navy for what they claim were unlawful dismissals from the ranks. (Cpl. Austin Livingston/Marine Corps)
The move could affect thousands of so-called “bad paper” veterans who allege Defense Department officials unjustly ended their careers rather than deal with their military-related injuries.

“This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI who are denied the support of VA resources because of an unfair discharge status,” Tyson Manker, an Iraq War veteran and plaintiff in the case, said in a statement Friday.

He called the court’s favorable ruling “further evidence of the Department of Defense’s disgraceful violation of the legal rights of the men and women who have served their country.”
read more here

UK: Missing battle buddies beer and remembrance

Soldier buys eight pints for comrades who died in Afghanistan and leaves each untouched and decorated with a poppy in poignant Remembrance Day tribute

The unnamed veteran accompanied every beer with a photo showing one of his dead friends, and left them neatly assembled on an empty table surrounded by empty chairs. Both where and when the photo was taken is unclear

Police saved the birthday of duo-veterans' son!

When classmates cop out on birthday party, boy’s mom calls the cops

By Julie Hays
Nov 16, 2018

GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) When classmates failed to show up for a pizza party celebrating the birthday of the son of two Gatesville Army veterans, the youngster’s mother called police, thinking that officers would appreciate the unneeded pizzas and the cops responded, bearing goodwill and an armload of gifts.

Kaleb Jansen and his parents, Brian and Tara, both former military police officers, moved to Gatesville from Colorado six months ago.

Tara spent five years as an MP and Brian served for 24 years, spending time at Fort Hood and deploying several times to Iraq.

Classmates didn't show up for Kaleb Jansen's 11th birthday party, but police did. (Courtesy photo)
Kaleb invited his new classmates to his 11th birthday party over the weekend at Studebakers Pizza in Gatesville, but his parents’ hearts sank when not one person walked through the door.

“It’s so hard as parents to see your little one sitting there just waiting for friends,” Tara said.

“I was afraid I put the wrong date on the invitation or something.”

“I think he did on a certain level understand what was going on, but he understood some people had other things to do and it was a weekend. We have moved quite a bit being in the military so he’s used to making new friends and going different places.”
read more here

FORTUNE got GI Bill report WRONG

Reporters need IT upgrade!

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 17, 2018

"10,000 Student Veterans Haven't Received Crucial GI Bill Payments, VA Admits" is how Fortune reported the GI Bill payments what were not delivered. WTF?

We just read how the number is 82,000!

They also got the wrong info on the IT system!
“Essentially, the law requires a 50-year-old IT platform that was designed to do the equivalent of basic math to instead perform something akin to calculus in short order,” a VA spokesperson told the Journal in an email.

The VA spent $4 million on 300,000 hours of overtime August through October to try and deal with the immediate ramifications. The agency further estimates that 450,000 veterans have some sort of error in their payments.

Last year, the VA estimated that the necessary computer changes to update their systems would cost $70 million.
Ya, they did, but what happened to all the other millions and all the lost years?
"We live in a world where we never want to see what goes on in the lives of the men and women we depend on for what we enjoy. No one wants to see the price they pay or how hard they have to fight in combat we send them into or the nightmare they have to go through trying to move on with their lives. It's easier to ignore them as if they weren't there." Kathie Costos Wounded Times
In 2008, the thought was to create a new GI Bill that would inspire more recruits into the military. This was reported by Stars and Stripes.
"It is a very attractive incentive package, there’s no question about that. So individuals will be very interested in enlisting for education benefits," predicted Curtis Gilroy, director of accession policy for the Department of Defense. "But we will see a spike in the quality of our enlisted cohort as well," Gilroy added, because that heavier flow of prospective recruits "primarily will have college in mind."
The House was very busy back then. They were also adding funds to what came after the recruits were turned into veterans.
By a vote of 409-4 the House today passed legislation funding the Department of Veterans Affairs for FY 2009. The bill (HR 6599) includes $3.8 billion for mental illness treatment and $584 million for substance abuse treatment in the VA, significant increases over current year funding. Overall, the Veterans Health Administration budget is set at $40.8 billion for FY 2009 -- $1.6 billion more than the President requested and $3.9 billion more than current levels. It is projected that the VA will serve 5.8 million veterans in 2009.

It is really a shame on all of us when there was a surplus of funds that were supposed to be for suicide prevention.

Oh, but the problems with the VA did not happen overnight  and when we look back at what was promised, what was spent, and what the results turned out to be, most heads explode!
In 2008, there were reports on how the system was not just broken, but plans to fix it were AWOL.
VBA's pending compensation and claims backlog stood at 816,211 as of January 2008, up 188,781 since 2004, said Kerry Baker, associate legislative director of the Disabled Veterans of America, during a Wednesday hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. 
Baker said VBA must have the funds necessary to upgrade its IT infrastructure to handle the backlog and a growing caseload. Anything short of an increase is "a recipe for failure," he added. 
Carl Blake, national legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said VBA needed $121 million in its fiscal 2009 budget for its information technology. According to VA budget documents, VBA requested an IT budget of $109.6 million for its compensation and benefits programs, down $23.8 million from $133.4 million in 2008. VA requested an overall 2009 IT budget of $2.53 billion in 2009, up from $2.15 billion in fiscal 2008, with the largest portion earmarked for the Veterans Health Administration.
But that only added to the 8,763 veterans dying while waiting for their claims to be honored. But since that was not enough, by June of 2009, the VA claim backlog hit 1 Million! The answer was to spend $70 million more to replace the  appointment system.

I could keep going on this, but you get the idea now that no matter how much money contractors got paid to deliver the care our veterans deserve, they did not have to repay one dime and Congress just kept funding more of the same. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mother Jones Reporting on Military Suicide? Seriously?

If Mother Jones is paying attention to military suicides, why haven't others?

I have to admit I am shocked at the depth in this report. Not the information, but the fact they covered so much in it. Back in 2012 when I wrote The Warrior Saw, Suicides After War, it took a long time to find everything, and I had the resources to do it within the thousands of reports on this site. 

While the average of military suicides has been around 500 a year since 2012, no one has really bothered to piece it all together. It looks like someone just made a tremendous effort to do just that.

There are many who were kicked out before they could kill themselves, and many more who did it afterwards. Many more attempted it, more than once and survivors were kicked out. 

Whenever there is an effort to put a number on what price is being paid, the cost of a human life, will never be measured in full, because of what is being paid by those left behind, and left out.

This is a long piece, but if you really want to know, go to the link and finish reading it.

The Pentagon Spent Millions to Prevent Suicides. But the Suicide Rate Went Up Instead.
Mother Jones
Dan Spinelli
November 13, 2018
“We started this office to prevent suicide,” said Jackie Garrick, DSPO’s founding director who now runs an organization for whistleblowers. “I’d still like to see us follow through and actually prevent suicide.”
The United States Department of Defense employs nearly three million people, but only nine of them are responsible for developing a suicide prevention strategy across the armed forces. They are the staff of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, the crown jewel of an Obama-era effort to respond to the burgeoning suicide rate among active duty personnel and overhaul the way the military had historically addressed the problem.

With $20 million in funding allocated by Congress shortly after its founding in 2011 and a mandate to modernize the way DoD prevents suicide among active-duty service members, DSPO has found itself increasingly generating more turmoil than solutions. A nasty internal squabble three years after its inception between the founding director and Pentagon higher-ups resulted in an uncomfortable leadership transition and months of employee complaints. A series of unexecuted or discontinued contracts have hurt staff morale and drawn the ire of lawmakers. Annual reports have been sporadic.

For more than a year, the office has gone without a permanent director, cycling through a series of temporary leaders—none of whom had a background in mental health treatment or suicide prevention. Oversight from either Congress or the Pentagon has been sparse. By 2014, DSPO had already bounced between four different chains of command within the Pentagon’s unwieldy bureaucracy. Having been founded initially as a policy office, DSPO at one point was reporting up to DoD’s human resources directorate.
As the founding director, Garrick with Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, then the top-ranking military officer in the Office of Personnel and Readiness, convened periodic meetings with relevant leaders from the different branches of the armed forces to review suicide statistics and compare prevention initiatives. Nearly 900 different prevention programs existed at that point, and despite some successful outliers, many contained “inconsistencies, redundancies, and gaps in [their] approach,” Garrick later told Congress in a March 2013 hearing.
Since Franklin left for the VA after less than two years at DSPO, the vacancy has been filled by a series of acting directors. The Trump administration’s pace in filling key government posts means that DSPO has had virtually no oversight.

The Office of Personnel and Readiness that supervises DSPO has been substantially depleted in recent months. Once Robert Wilkie, the last permanent undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, was nominated to head the VA, Stephanie Barna became the sixth different person to lead the office in three years. Two other top positions, including the one Barna vacated, have been filled in a temporary capacity. (Gleason, the Pentagon spokesperson, said DoD is “in the process of assessing and interviewing the best qualified candidates” to take over the office.)

“If the Department of Defense thought it was a priority, they would have done something by now—but they have wars to fight,” a former senior DoD official said.

Seven years after its creation as a standalone office, DSPO still seems to be retracing its steps. Among the first things Garrick set out to do as director was evaluate suicide prevention programs across the military to eliminate redundancies, yet an official Pentagon document summarizing DSPO’s efforts said the office evaluated “all Service suicide prevention programs in 2018” and then “established a DoD wide metric model to evaluate suicide prevention efforts across the total force.” Garrick outlined this same plan in a report issued by DSPO in 2012 listing its annual activity, but no such report has been issued for five years, an oversight Gleason attributed to the office leveraging “other published documents such as the Quarterly Suicide Report, the DD Suicide Event Report, and our website to pass on suicide-related information.” Those quarterly suicide reports are at least two years behind schedule while DSPO’s social media presence—including a Twitter account with fewer than 600 followers—is limited at best. And, even as Congress has continued funneling more money toward the office, it still has just nine staffers, the same amount from Garrick’s first year as director.

Most importantly, the suicide rate among active-duty troops continues to rise. According to the most recent public figures, it is now at 21.1 deaths per 100,000 troops, a rate that is two-and-a-half percentage points higher than it was in 2011, the year DSPO was founded.
read more here

It may be a typo but when it is reported that the report is two years behind, it is not. The DOD releases Suicide Quarterly reports about a quarter behind. They should be releasing the third quarter suicide report next month.

Why is it so easy to forget Vietnam veterans?

Too easy to just forget them

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 16, 2018

When Vietnam veterans came home, one out of three, had PTSD. 

By the time the Forgotten Warrior Project was released in 1978, there were 500,000 of them. Yes, and all of them with the same wounds we see today. What we do not see, are people stepping up to make sure they are not forgotten again!

I see so many charities starting up but few even mention Vietnam veterans. Other than some welcome home parades, and getting pins, saying "thank you" to them needs to be a lot more than just two words.

I keep hearing the commercial from the famous "warrior" group saying that it is a tragedy to be forgotten. That is, right after they list the different names PTSD used to have. The commercial says that "today it is called PTSD" but that group does not mention that it was called PTSD because of all the work the Vietnam veterans did to have the research started.

They say that for OEF and OIF veterans the rate is one out of five, but as you have seen, the rate for them was much higher.

We hear about burn pits in the wars of today, yet back then either they buried everything, or set it on fire, just like today. They had Napalm, Agent Orange, among other things to add to the danger to them. Yet, they did not settle for "just what it is" and go away quietly.

They fought for everything they went through, for the generations that came before them, and those who would come after them. No wound of war is new, and they remember what is so easy for the rest of us to forget.

When you think about veterans, remember, ever since the Revolutionary War, veterans have had to fight the same government who decided the battles had to be fought. The government never told them, they would be fighting for the rest of their lives for promises to be kept. 

The list of effects of Agent Orange, continues to grow, because they did not give up, as you will read below. The question is, why has it been so easy to give up on them and move on?

Vietnam veterans and agent orange exposure—new report
November 15, 2018, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The latest in a series of congressionally mandated biennial reviews of the evidence of health problems that may be linked to exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War found sufficient evidence of an association for hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018), focused on the scientific literature published between Sept. 30, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2017.

From 1962 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed herbicides over Vietnam to strip the thick jungle canopy that could conceal opposition forces, destroy crops that those forces might depend on, and clear tall grass and bushes from the perimeters of U.S. bases and outlying encampments. The most commonly used chemical mixture sprayed was Agent Orange, which was contaminated with the most toxic form of dioxin. These and the other herbicides sprayed during the war constituted the chemicals of interest for the committee. The exact number of U.S. military personnel who served in Vietnam is unknown because deployment to the theater was not specifically recorded in military records, but estimates range from 2.6 million to 4.3 million.

Hypertension was moved to the category of "sufficient" evidence of an association from its previous classification in the "limited or suggestive" category. The sufficient category indicates that there is enough epidemiologic evidence to conclude that there is a positive association. A finding of limited or suggestive evidence means that epidemiologic research results suggest an association between exposure to herbicides and a particular outcome, but a firm conclusion is limited because chance, bias, and confounding factors could not be ruled out with confidence. The committee came to this conclusion in part based on a recent study of U.S. Vietnam veterans by researchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which found that self-reported hypertension rates were highest among former military personnel who had the greatest opportunity for exposure to these chemicals.