Friday, November 30, 2012

Military needs to rethink what "military family" means

Married gays, lesbian still viewed as 'single' by military
By TOM PHILPOTT
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: November 29, 2012

With the repeal last year of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law, many military people, including senior leaders, assumed that married gay and lesbian couples had gained not only job security but also equality in allowances, benefits and access to family support programs. That assumption is wrong.

Since the law took effect 14 months ago, the Defense Department has kept in place policies that bar spouses of same-gender couples from having military identification cards, shopping on base, living in base housing or participating in certain family support programs.

Repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell," says Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, 39, “simply just prevented me from losing my job. It didn’t do anything else.”

Mack’s spouse, Ashley Broadway, also 39, can shop in stores on nearby Fort Bragg, N.C., only in the status of “caregiver” for their son, Carson. Lacking a military dependent ID card, Ashley has been challenged by checkout clerks when her shopping cart includes items such as deodorant that clearly aren’t needed by their 2-year old.
read more here

VA Claims-Processing Delays Hit 20-Year High

VA Claims-Processing Delays Hit 20-Year High
Nov 30, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
by Chris Adams

WASHINGTON -- The time needed to process veterans' disability claims shot up by nearly 40 percent last year despite years of effort by federal officials to streamline and shorten the process, records show.

The times necessary to process education benefits and burial benefits, as well as the time needed to wind through the Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process, also increased in fiscal 2012.

The disability-processing time is closely watched by Congress and veterans' advocates as a measure of VA efficiency. In fiscal 2012, the average days to complete a VA disability compensation or pension claim rose to 262 days, up from 188 days in fiscal 2011, according to a recently completely VA performance report.

The 262-day average is the highest that measure has been in at least the past 20 years for which numbers were available.

The VA's long-term goal is to get the processing time to an average of 90 days.

"The entire system is a mess," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a support and advocacy group. "They've been saying now for 10 years that it'll get better, and it still doesn't get better, and we've seen tremendous frustration from our members in the last few months. It's reached a breaking point."
The department has seen a massive increase in claims from veterans in recent years, both younger ones from Iraq and Afghanistan and older ones who have recently been able to file claims on new conditions. Claims the past four years have topped 1 million a year.

While some decisions might be straightforward -- a soldier loses a limb in battle -- others are more complicated, requiring extensive medical reviews and research to tie a disability to the veteran's time in the military.
read more here

The truth is while the Obama Administration has made it easier for older veterans to file claims for what they had been unable to do before, the number of VA employees was not increased enough to or fast enough to meet the number of veterans filing claims.
VA has experienced unprecedented growth in the medical system workload over the past few years. The number of patients treated increased by 29 percent from 4.2 million in 2001 to nearly 5.5 million in 2008.

As of September 30, 2008, VA had 278,565 employees on the rolls. Among all departments and agencies of the federal government, only the Department of Defense has a larger work force. Of the total number of VA employees, 247,113 were in the Veterans Health Administration, 16,135 in the Veterans Benefits Administration, 1,549 in the National Cemetery System, 3,412 in the Veterans Canteen Service and 437 in the Revolving Supply Fund. The rest, 9,919 employees, are in various staff and facilities offices.
As of September 30, 2010 VA’s workforce (excluding Manila residents and non-US residents) totaled 305,847 permanent and temporary employees,


The White House’s budget plan released in February showed federal employment levels growing in 2013 by 2,400 employees, about 0.1 percent. It projected increases at the Veterans Affairs department to meet increased demand for veterans’ services; the Department of Homeland Security for airport and border security; the Justice Department for staffing new prisons; and the Treasury Department for increased tax enforcement. That plan further projected a decrease of about 7,500 Defense Department civilian employee jobs, largely offsetting those increases. Employment at most other agencies would be essentially flat.


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Strategic Plan Refresh

Australian veterans talk about benefits of Ecstasy

NOT since Edina Monsoon's personal health crises on Absolutely Fabulous have we been so concerned with our wellbeing.
Matt Young
news.com.au
November 30, 2012
Herald Sun

Health, health, health, darling. Right, Eddie?

But thanks to the smart cookies at research departments across the globe, we’ve learnt a thing or two about the science behind the medicine.

Like the fact that mixing grapefruit with medication can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, acute kidney failure, or sudden death. For example.

Or that there is evidence to suggest that ecstacy is a feasible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So much so that retired Australian war vet major Steve McDonald is urging the Government to legalise the drug for treatment purposes in affected veterans.

"I think it's really important because the psychedelic medicines are showing really strong potential, and it's a new area of medicine that's unlocking different ways to heal people," said Maj McDonald.

News.com.au heard from a host of sufferers of PTSD, most who concurred with the findings.

"Having also been diagnosed with PTSD due to military deployments I have and am using all kinds of different prescriptions but am still living with depression, night terrors and nightmares and can’t be alone at night due to psychosis as well," wrote Albert in Sydney.

"I'd be quite happy to try something new to free me from my own prison."

Some went so far to say that it was the illicit drug that kept them alive.

"I totally agree with this, as I suffered from PTSD and I can state with 10000% accuracy that if it wasn't for ecstasy, I probably wouldn't be here today," one reader posted anonymously.
read more here

Iraq Veteran teaches amputees how to drive again

Triple amputee takes to Beltway relearning to drive (VIDEO)
Darci Marchese
WTOP.com

WASHINGTON - Tens of thousands of military service men and women have suffered catastrophic injuries in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coming home from the war often means months, if not years, of rehabilitation and being forced to learn how to do just about everything differently.

Eventually, that includes relearning how to drive.

That's where Army Reserve Capt. Tammy Phipps comes in. Phipps is an occupational therapist and a certified driving rehab specialist. She has two deployments to Iraq under her belt.

Phipps was asked to start up the driving rehabilitation program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in fall 2008. She continues the program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

It's a unique program - the only comprehensive driving rehab program run by the Department of Defense. Phipps is very proud of what she is able to accomplish.
read more here

Firefighter answers call of duty for fallen son

Marine answers the call of duty for his slain son
by ERIC WILKINSON
KING 5 News
Posted on November 29, 2012

Mike Washington is one of three generations in his family who've dedicated their lives to serving others. The retired marine and 25 year Seattle firefighter taught his children the importance of being part of something bigger than themselves.

“I told them when people need help, why not help?” he said.

So, when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, Washington rallied the troops in the Northwest, bringing desperately needed relief to New York and New Jersey. For two weeks the Northwest members of "Team Rubicon," a nationwide band of military brothers and sisters, helped storm victims dig out of the ruins of their former lives. It was a proud moment for this humble marine.

“I look at these young people and they've stepped up before and now they're stepping up again and thriving,” said Washington. “This is what they were meant to do.”

But this story isn't about Mike Washington or Team Rubicon, or even the victims of Hurricane Sandy. It's about someone who never set foot in the disaster zone, but is helping to inspire much of the good work being done there.

That inspiration comes in the form of a black and white photo taped to Washington's firehouse locker, and a tribute typed below it. It’s a picture of hope and promise.

It’s a picture of Mike Washington’s 20 year old son, Michael, killed in action in Afghanistan.
read more here

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Congress finally takes on fixing 30,000 discharged for "personality disorders"

If you have been reading this blog all along you know this is a very important issue for me considering as of today we still don't know what happened to the men and women kicked out of the military because they didn't get the help they needed. What happened to them? How did they survive when they received nothing from the government except a discharge few employers would honor? How many committed suicide because they were betrayed? So many questions and so few answers but at least Congress is finally looking into doing the right thing. I just wonder how many it is too little to late for.
Changes sought for vets' psych disorder discharges
Kelly Kennedy
USA TODAY

Lawmaker says failing to provide these veterans with the help they need to function in society will cost more money in the long run.

1:05PM EST November 28. 2012 - WASHINGTON -- After nearly 30,000 servicemembers were forced out of the military for "personality disorders," often after combat service, a bipartisan House coalition hopes to require the Pentagon to review those cases in the hopes that some veterans could receive benefits.

Those processed out with a "personality disorder," which is considered a pre-existing condition, received an administrative discharge and no possibility of health benefits or disability retirement pay from the military. Many of those servicemembers had served in combat and showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Vietnam Veterans of America, which filed a lawsuit in 2010 demanding the records of those veterans. They were also not eligible for benefits from Veterans Affairs.

"It's pretty clear to us that it is our responsibility to make this right," said Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. "They need to get back and get their cases adjudicated correctly."
read more here

Marines from Camp Pendleton receive Medals of Valor

4 IN PENDLETON MARINE SQUAD TO BE AWARDED VALOR MEDALS
UT San Diego
Written by
Gretel C. Kovach
Nov. 29, 2012

The secretary of the Navy is expected Monday to present four members of a Marine special operations team from Camp Pendleton with top awards for valor in combat for their actions in Afghanistan two years ago.

Sgt. William Soutra, a canine handler, will be awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest combat medal. Maj. James Rose, Staff Sgt. Frankie Shinost Jr., and Navy Hospitalman 1st Class Patrick Quill will each get the Silver Star, the third highest medal, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command announced.

The service members from Company B, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion had embarked with Afghan special operations commandos on a two-day operation in Helmand province on July 10, 2010, when they were surrounded by enemy forces, according to the Marine Corps and their award citations signed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
read more here

Lt. General Donald M. Campbell Jr. leaving Fort Hood

Fort Hood’s top general relinquishes command
ABC News
Posted: Nov 28, 2012
By: Chris Cheng

FORT HOOD – Fort Hood and III Corps bid farewell to their commanding general, Wednesday, during a relinquishing of command ceremony on post.

Lt. General Donald M. Campbell Jr. handed over the position to Brigadier General James Richardson.

In his 19 months as leader of III Corps and Fort Hood, Campbell has championed suicide prevention and guided Fort Hood to the 2011 Army Community of Excellence Bronze Award and the 2012 Silver Award.

Richardson is currently serving as III Corps deputy commander and will assume responsibility of III Corps and Fort Hood until Campbell's replacement arrives.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama nominated Fort Drum Commanding General, Major General Mark Milley, to lead Fort Hood.
read more here

Anthony Edwards Spearheads Film About Veterans’ PTSD

Emmy-Winner Anthony Edwards Spearheads Film About Veterans’ PTSD
KHTS AM-1220
Wed, 11/28/2012
By Stephen K. Peeples

The producers of “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” a feature documentary about the trials of military veterans’ assimilation back into society from World War II to Afghanistan, have enlisted Emmy-winning executive producer Anthony Edwards and launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help complete and release the film.

"It's an unflinching, emotionally involving, extremely personal look at veterans returning from war and their search for the ‘home’ they left behind, physically, mentally and spiritually,” said Eric Christiansen of Santa Clarita, the film's director and editor.

His EC Productions' credits include producing and directing the Emmy award-winning film “Faces in the Fire,” about people who had to deal with the trauma of losing their homes in a major firestorm, and directing the documentary film “Homecoming: A Vietnam Vet’s Journey.”

Once funded, Christiansen said, “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War” will be finished as a feature film with a possible theatrical and festival run, then will be distributed to public television for a three-year run. So far, he’s been able to raise enough to produce a trailer and a long-form preview, and figures he’s about ¼ of the way home. He’s shooting for completion by summer 2013.

“It is truly my calling,” Christiansen said.

As it was for some veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the transition back to civilian life has been rough for more recent veterans of Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for those who saw combat and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
read more here

American Legion says use "Compassion instead of courts"

Marine Major says criminalizing attempted suicides "helps retain discipline" Yes you read that right and now groups are trying to do something about it. Maybe instead of holding them accountable for trying to kill themselves it would be a better idea to hold the military and congress responsible for what they failed to do.

PRESS RELEASE
Nov. 28, 2012
American Legion Calls on DoD to Re-Examine Policies on Suicide Attempts by Troops

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov 28, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- "Compassion instead of courts" is the approach needed to stem the alarming rate of suicide among U.S. troops, according to the leader of the nation's largest veterans organization.

"If you succeed at committing suicide, you are often treated as a hero by grieving friends and family. But if you fail at suicide, you could be treated to a court-martial. This must change," said American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz, a Vietnam war veteran.

Koutz praised the progress the military has made in recent years to de-stigmatize those who seek treatment for suicidal thoughts but added that the Uniform Code of Military Justice still allows for the prosecution of those who make unsuccessful attempts. "This sends a mixed message," Koutz said. "On the one hand we are grateful for their service. We want to compensate you for your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. But if you engage in a behavior that is often seen as a symptom of those injuries, we will punish you."
read more here


Top military court grapples with potential criminality of suicide attempts in military
By Edmund DeMarche
Published November 28, 2012
FoxNews.com

As the military grapples with chronic suicides, officials are trying to strike a balance between helping survivors and punishing them under the longstanding penalties for "self-injury."

The nation’s top military appeals court has been grappling with the law's guidelines given the fact that last year suicides accounted for 20 percent of military deaths.

"If suicide is indeed the worst enemy the Armed Forces has in 2012 — in terms of killing soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines — then why should we criminalize it when a guy fails? Seems to me like you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole," Judge Walter T. Cox III said, according to The Army Times.

Cox, along with four other members of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, listened Tuesday to a case involving Marine Corps Pvt. Lazzaric Caldwell. In 2010, Caldwell used a razor blade to slit his wrists while in Okinawa.
read more here

NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo proves compassion lives in Manhattan

UPDATE Shoeless man in viral photo was homeless veteran
Larry DePrimo, NYPD Cop, Buys Homeless Man Boots (PHOTO)
Newsday
By Anthony M DeStefano
Posted: 11/29/2012
You have to like what NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo did for a barefoot man in Manhattan one frigid night this month. In fact, more than 260,000 Facebook users have "liked" DePrimo's actions, a number that's growing every day.

After a tourist from Arizona snapped a photo of DePrimo, of Holbrook, giving the man socks and boots to ward off the cold, the image became an instant hit on the NYPD's Facebook page.
read more here

UPDATE
Photo of NYPD officer giving boots to barefoot man warms hearts online
Cop keeps receipt in his vest 'to remind me that sometimes people have it worse'
NBC News
By J. DAVID GOODMAN
On a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The officer disappeared for a moment, then returned with a new pair of boots, and knelt to help the man put them on.

The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for a tourist from Arizona.

Her snapshot — taken with her cellphone on Nov. 14 and posted to the New York Police Department’s official Facebook page late Tuesday — has made Officer DePrimo an overnight Internet hero.

By Wednesday evening, the post had been viewed 1.6 million times, and had attracted nearly 275,000 “likes” and more than 16,000 comments — a runaway hit for a Police Department that waded warily onto the social media platform this summer with mostly canned photos of gun seizures, award ceremonies and the police commissioner.

Among all of those posts, the blurry image of Officer DePrimo kneeling to help the shoeless man as he sat on 42nd Street stood out. “This is definitely the most viral,” said Barbara Chen, a spokeswoman for the department who helps manage its Facebook page.

Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of the all-weather boots to a little more than $75.


read more here


Photo of NYPD officer giving boots to barefoot man warms hearts online Cop keeps receipt in his vest 'to remind me that sometimes people have it worse'
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Friends of Crystal Nevarez Lugo raise money to bring her body home

Friends of murder-suicide victim raise money to help bring her body back home
KFOX
By Veronica Macias
Nov. 28, 2012

EL PASO, Texas — Friends of a Socorro woman found dead near a Juarez landfill after her husband allegedly killed her started the grieving process by raising money to bring her home.

Crystal Nevarez Lugo's body was found 300 meters from a Juarez landfill wrapped in a pink blanket, said Mexican authorities. Officials also said a note helped them find the body of 20-year-old Lugo on Tuesday afternoon.

Mexican officials were given information from El Paso authorities about an alleged confession from Johnny Ray Nevarez, the husband of Crystal Lugo.

El Paso County Sheriff Deputies found Nevarez's body after he shot himself in the desert of the Hueco Tanks area on Monday.
read more here
Dad says PTSD is behind the tragic death of his son and daughter in-law

Vietnam Veterans digging their own graves, for real

I am beginning to think my forehead has so many wrinkles because of Vietnam Veterans. They amaze me all the time. For a generation of veterans so mistreated when they came home, they managed to do more for other veterans than any other group. Now, after all they've done, New Jersey Vietnam Veterans are taking on starting their own cemetery.
New Jersey veterans band together to bury their own
By Jana Winter
Published November 28, 2012
FoxNews.com

A group of veterans from New Jersey are building the state’s first nonprofit cemetery -- a graveyard exclusively for men and women who have served their country.

The veterans have secured a 66-acre parcel in the state's northwestern Sussex County, and hope to break ground by Memorial Day. But they’re in dire need of funding and corporate sponsorship to complete the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

“There’s a real need for a veterans cemetery in this part of New Jersey," said Vietnam veteran John Harrigan, 65, who has made the cemetery his crusade since 2008. “There’s close to 100,000 vets up here."

The closest veterans cemetery to Sussex County is the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Cemetery in Gloucester County, a more than two-hour drive that widows tell Harrigan they are unable to make.

Harrigan, president of the Sussex County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the group has been working for more than four years to secure funds and overcome legal hurdles to make their dream happen. Their website www.VVA1002.org has detailed plans, architectural renderings and information on how to donate to the project.
read more here

Give An Hour expands to help Hurricane Sandy First Responders and survivors

She secures treatment for vets' invisible wounds
November 28, 2012
By Catherine Laughlin
For The Inquirer

The unkempt man was wearing fatigues, standing in the street and holding a sign that read, "Vietnam vet. Please help. God bless."

The year was 2005 and Barbara Van Dahlen, a licensed clinical psychologist, was driving with her then-9-year-old daughter, who asked why the man was begging in the world's richest country.

It was a moment that helped propel Van Dahlen into her official mission, the founding that year of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit providing free mental health services to military personnel and their families affected by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other post-9/11 conflicts. (Give an Hour recently expanded to include victims and first responders dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.) Since 2007, Van Dahlen has mobilized 6,500 licensed professionals, who have given away 70,000 hours of therapy set up through giveanhour.org.

The organization runs on a $1.5 million budget - grants, sponsorships, and private donations - with 17 employees who help train providers. In addition, hundreds of volunteers counsel at schools, and take part in suicide-prevention conferences and other outreach organizations.
read more here

Dad says PTSD is behind the tragic death of his son and daughter in-law

Only on ABC-7: Johnnyray Nevarez's father speaks out about his son's murder-suicide.
Jimmy Nevarez says Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD is behind the tragic death of his son and daughter in-law, Crystal Nevarez-Lugo.
ABC
Ashlie Rodriguez
Reporter
Nov 28, 2012

EL PASO, Texas
The father of 27-year-old Johnnyray Nevarez speaks out about his son's murder-suicide.

Jimmy Nevarez says Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD is behind the tragic death of his son and daughter in-law, Crystal Nevarez-Lugo. It's an interview you'll only see on ABC-7.

"There's a lot of kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan that are coming back with PTSD," said the father of Johnnyray Nevarez, Jimmy Nevarez.

And 27-year-old Johnnyray Nevarez was one of them.

Johnnyray served in the Marines from 2003 to 2007, fighting in the bloody battle of Fallujah. He saw his friends killed by an IED blast only he survived. His broken ribs healed, but he could never forget that moment. After his first tour, his family tells me they could see the toll it took on their ambitious son. His father, Jimmy Nevarez, said one night he found his son hiding underneath the bed in fetal position, reliving his wartime terror. But, Jimmy says, Johnnyray only showed love and kindness toward his family.
read more here
Friends of Crystal Nevarez Lugo raise money to bring her body home

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ft. Leavenworth Iraq Veteran ordered into PTSD treatment

Soldier in double fatality to undergo PTSD program
November 28, 2012

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) — An Iraq war veteran will undergo treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder before being sentenced in a double fatality accident in September 2011.

A Phelps County judge on Tuesday ordered 25-year-old John D. Mazurek of Crocker to complete a PTSD program at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

Mazurek pleaded guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault in the accident that killed 57-year-old Wilberta C. Randolph of Meta and 85-year-old Helen K. Wieberg of Jefferson City.
read more here

Groundbreaking ceremony for the Education Center at the Wall

Ground breaking at the Education Center
11/28/2012 02:28 PM CST

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Education Center at the Wall in Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2012.

The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War

RELEASE DATE FOR THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR
Well it is the end of March and it is still not finished. To bring justice to the families of these veterans it has taken longer than I thought it would. There is too much information that has to be in this book.
With the fact congress and the DOD have wasted about a billion dollars on "suicide prevention" I decided that the release date will be, appropriately enough April 15, 2013, tax filing date.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Letter to Jean Baptiste Le Roy, 13 Nov. 1789

I doubt Franklin thought of how the two of them would end up being connected for so many military families.

UPDATE
The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War, release date has been changed. There are too many reports coming out too fast to keep this work up to date. The expected date of release has been moved to late March so check back to get your first copy of it as soon as it is done.

There are things in this book that need to be talked about from real research to real healing and help for families to be able to help them. None of this is hopeless.
The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
November 28, 2013

On January 31, 2008 I posted When will they notice us falling into darkness? 31 minutes after it was posted.
Army suicides up as much as 20 percent
By PAULINE JELINEK
Associated Press Writer 31 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of some 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

The rise comes despite numerous efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army's psychiatry consultant early this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation.

More than a quarter of those — about 34 — happened during deployments in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also shows an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

In January of 2013 there will be a new book on military suicides.

There are now 782 posts on Wounded Times with Military Suicides and 101 Attempted Suicides. To read the numbers going up is heartbreaking because of how much we've known on how to prevent them and for how long we've known it.

In 1995 Jonathan Shay's Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character was released in paperback. Had his work been put into practice, we wouldn't have seen all of this agony.

Up until I found his book, I had to go to the library and read clinical books that helped me understand what PTSD was. The problem was that there was nothing I could find to help me with what I was going through. I was so blown away by Shay's work that I emailed him.

I didn't think someone as important as he was would ever respond to me, but I wanted him to know how much his book meant to me.

I didn't get an email back but about a week later there was a letter in my mail box from Dr. Shay. I had my email account set up wrong and he was not able to respond to me. This man took the time to find me by searching the Web. We ended up emailing back and forth until 2001 when he tried to get his publisher to take on my book, FOR THE LOVE OF JACK, HIS WAR/MY BATTLE. After September 11th, we talked about how Vietnam veterans would experience "secondary stressors" after the attack and they would discover what they thought they "got over" was only sleeping. It would send most of them into extreme PTSD. It did and reports came out later in October of 2007 148,000 Vietnam Veterans sought help in just 18 months. This was proof our fears were correct.

Had the VA and the DOD listened to Dr. Shay, or anyone else working on PTSD before it became the topic of OEF and OIF veterans, their lives would have been spared the horrors, stigma and denials. Less parents would have had to bury their children because they could not survive surviving war.

This interview is from 2010.


When I've read what "experts" had to say on PTSD and military suicides, few come close to what Shay tried to do. There are now over 17,000 posts on this blog about our veterans and our troops.

So now after all these years, after all the hogwash I've read and failures by the military to prevent suicides and erode the stigma, we've reached the point where there are now over 1 active duty member committing suicide a day, more attempting it and 18 veterans a day taking their own lives.

This cause me to try to bring the numbers into human terms. Coming soon is my second book on military suicides compiled from news reports.

The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War will be released in January of 2013

Combat stress: As old as war itself
Monday, 15 August 2005
By Richard Allen Greene
BBC News
Emotional turmoil

Dr Jonathan Shay, a US psychiatrist who has worked with Vietnam veterans for many years, says combat stress is an age-old problem - certainly one known to the ancient Greeks.

In his book Odysseus in America, he argues that the Homeric hero was a severe combat stress case - a loner and deceiver who had murderous rages.

Society has a duty to its soldiers, advocates say "Combat stress is as old as the human species," he says - and, in a way, a very normal phenomenon.

"It is an absolutely valid adaptation to survive in a horrific situation. In war, people really are trying to kill you. You are surrounded by enemies and have to be prepared to kill instantly to survive."

Soldiers - and civilians caught up in war - become hyper-vigilant, unnaturally alert and focused.

And combat can have a devastating effect on a person's emotional health.

"We shut down all emotions that do not serve survival - grief, sweetness, fear," Dr Shay says.

But one emotion may remain switched on, he adds: anger.

"So a veteran comes home with all emotions shut down except for anger. Guess what this does in the family, in the workplace. It's a problem," he says.
read more here

Mental Health Crisis Leaves 13 Year Old Dead

Mental health advocates say I-10 traffic death shines light on state crisis
Tania Dall
Eyewitness News

METAIRIE, La. -- Mental health advocates are sounding the alarm after the tragic death of a 13-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon on I-10 in Metairie.

State police say the teen was being transported to a mental health facility 50 miles from home.

The deadly accident slowed traffic to a crawl along I-10 eastbound between Cleary Avenue and Causeway Boulevard. Emergency crews were on-scene responding to a frantic 911 call and attempted to save the young teen's life.

"A juvenile, a 13-year-old, was inside a van. He was being transported to southeast Louisiana for medical purposes. There was an altercation inside the van and they had to pull over to the shoulder," said Louisiana State Police Trooper Melissa Matey.

State police say 13-year-old Jeremiah Williams jumped out a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals van that had stopped along the shoulder. Investigators say Williams crossed five busy lanes of I-10 and then attempted to cross back when he was hit by on-coming traffic.

"He then decided to come back towards the right shoulder so he again started to cross over those lanes of travel. He was struck by a tow truck in the center right lane. He was transported to the LSU center where he later died from his injuries," Matey said.
read more here

Why would a good reporter get lazy on military suicides?

For Tacoma military base, a grim milestone in soldier suicides
Joint Base Lewis-McChord passed an unwelcome milestone in 2011, recording more soldier suicides than in any previous year. Twelve soldiers took their own lives in 2011, up from nine in 2010 and nine in 2009, Army I Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said. The total could grow as the Army completes investigations ahead of its annual suicide report next month.
Notice the reporter? ADAM ASHTON; TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE
Notice the date? Published: Nov. 27, 2012


So why at the end of this year, after all these reports, was it necessary to release a report that was already known last year?

JBLM suicides hit grim milestone in 2011 ADAM ASHTON; STAFF WRITER Published: Dec. 30, 2011


One service member commits suicide every two days, attempts every two hours September, 2011.

While this report was bad, the fact that almost half of the military suicides happened after they went for help to heal.

By November the news came out about Every 80 minutes another veteran commits suicide and attempted Marine Corps suicides. "11 Marines attempted suicide in October, raising that year-to-date figure to 163 for 2011."

By December "Army has identified 260 potential soldier suicides for 2011"

It turned out that Army Suicides Up 80 Percent Since Iraq War Start

Where are the questions that need to be asked? Where are the stories on families trying to keep their veterans alive or the parents trying to stop blaming themselves after they couldn't? Where are the questions asking about who the hell is being held accountable for any of this? Where are the reports on the failures of the "resiliency training" and suicide prevention the military has been doing for the last 10 years?

There are so many things that could have actually been helpful but this was re-released? What's going on here?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New rules in works for handling troops’ remains

New rules in works for handling troops’ remains
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

Transportation of remains of service members who die outside the U.S. would become the responsibility of those troops’ military commands under legislation pending in Congress that seems almost certain to become law.

The initiative was proposed in reaction to the mishandling of remains by the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Its aim is to have a uniformed service member be accountable for remains from the initial death or recovery of the remains through burial or interment, unless a family requests otherwise. The designated member would be subject to disciplinary action if something goes wrong.

Under the proposal, already approved by the House of Representatives as part of the 2013 defense authorization bill and introduced Monday as an amendment to the Senate version of the bill, the Defense Department would be responsible for ensuring someone is responsible for each step of the care, handling and transportation of remains of any member of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps who dies outside the U.S.
read more here

Obama signs 1.7 percent veterans’ COLA hike

Obama signs 1.7 percent veterans’ COLA hike
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

President Obama has signed into law a bill guaranteeing 4 million veterans and survivors will receive the same 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment in their benefits that is going to Social Security recipients and military retirees.

The increase takes effect on Dec. 1, and should first appear in January payments.

While the dollar amount of the increase varies by disability rating, the average increase for the year will be $500, said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the chief sponsors of the veterans’ COLA bill.
read more here

NCIS takes on PTSD in "Shell Shock"

NCIS Round Table: "Shell Shock"
TV Fanatic
November 26th, 2012
by Steve Marsi

Our NCIS review broke down the conclusion "Shell Shock," last week's episode of TV's #1 show, in detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Mary Powers and Eric Hochberger have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q and A discussion of various events from this week's solid installment.

Join in as we analyze the outstanding PTSD-centric two-part story arc and all things therein!

1. Describe this episode in one word (or two, or three, or four).

Steve: Personal and powerful.

Mary: Mucho-fabulous! Both parts, but especially Part II due to the character development for Gibbs.

Eric: More intense than I expected.
read more here

Female Iraq veteran helps others understand PTSD and holidays

Michelle Matthews helps others with PTSD
Nov 26, 2012

Sven Erickson, veteran killed in house fire lived alone and died alone

Veteran killed in house fire to receive proper burial
Gaston Gazette
By Diane Turbyfill
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012

Sven Erickson lived alone and died alone. But he won’t be alone when he’s laid to rest.

The 78-year-old Gaston County man perished in a house fire Nov. 12. The Navy veteran kept to himself and had few visitors aside from an occasional neighbor in Pine Grove Trailer Park.

Neighbors attempted to save Erickson when fire alarms rang out in his house. But he was overcome by smoke after a trashcan in his home caught fire.

A proud sailor, Erickson died the day after Veterans Day.

No one has since claimed his body.

The N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office is responsible for finding relatives in such a case.

But Sgt. Steven Dover with Gaston County Police felt an obligation to honor a local veteran.
read more here

Study provides more clues to Gulf War illness - and hope

Study provides more clues to Gulf War illness - and hope
Kelly Kennedy
USA TODAY

A study finds that Gulf War Illness, or the series of symptoms that plagues 1 out of 4 veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system.
November 26. 2012

WASHINGTON — Gulf War illness, the series of symptoms ranging from headaches to memory loss to chronic fatigue that plagues one of four veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system, a study released Monday shows.

"This is the linchpin," said the study's lead author, Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"The disease itself is so difficult to express and to understand," Haley said, explaining that veterans described simply that they "don't feel well" or "can't function," without being able to further explain a disease that affects the automatic functions of their bodies, such as heat regulation, sleep or even their heartbeats. read more here

Florida Phony Navy SEAL Allegedly At It Again

Once-alleged Phony SEAL Allegedly At It Again
Nov 27, 2012
The Virginian-Pilot
by Bill Sizemore

In a Norfolk, Va., courtroom in 2002, Robert Anthony Nolan was sentenced to two years in federal prison for lying to the FBI after being accused of posing as a Navy SEAL.

A website dedicated to exposing fake SEALs had given him a five-star rating on its "Wall of Shame," its most ignoble designation, meaning the "claimant is 'incorrigible' and continues to make claims despite proof that his claims are not supported by government records."

At sentencing, Nolan promised to turn his life around once he was released.

A decade later, the Virginia Beach man says he has been as good as his word.

Curt Ruggles begs to differ.

Ruggles, a semi-retired mechanic in Florida, says Nolan has been at it again, spinning a richly detailed and believable yarn about his SEAL past.

He was so taken in, Ruggles says, that he spent months working on an experimental aircraft that Nolan hoped to sell to the Navy for use by its SEAL commando teams.

The two ultimately had a falling-out over the pace and cost of the work, and the test aircraft now sits grounded in a hangar at a Florida airport, its key components disabled by Ruggles -- a precautionary measure, he says, because the craft isn't safe to fly yet.

Nolan calls it an act of sabotage fueled by vengeance. He reported it to the local sheriff's department, which later sent an investigator to question Ruggles.

Only then did Ruggles resort to an Internet search to learn more about his erstwhile business associate. He was shocked, amazed and angered to discover Nolan's history as an alleged SEAL poseur.

The details differ from case to case, but the overall story line is familiar. As the home to half of the Navy's elite sea-air-land commandos, Hampton Roads is replete with SEAL wannabes. Dozens have been outed over the years -- and if anything they are popping up more frequently since a Virginia Beach-based SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden last year, according to Don Shipley, a retired SEAL in Chesapeake who helps expose fakes.

"They're coming out of the woodwork," Shipley said. "It seems to be getting worse. And they're going to greater lengths than harmless barroom boasting."
read more here

U.S. Special Operations Command is recalling thousands of body armor plates

SOCOM Faces Scrutiny after Body Armor Recall
Nov 27, 2012
Military.com
by Matthew Cox

U.S. Special Operations Command is recalling thousands of body armor plates after discovering a manufacture’s defect that could put operators at risk. At the same time defense industry experts, are questioning whether SOCOM may have added to the risk by searching for the lightest plates possible.

Throughout the war, elite troops have worn body armor known as the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements, or SPEAR, made by Ceradyne Defense. The lightweight, ceramic plates have proven to be effective at stopping enemy rifle bullets and weigh significantly less than the conventional Army’s Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

A little less than a year ago, government inspectors discovered a defect in Ceradyne’s new SPEAR Gen III plates. The special, metal “crack arrestor” in the back of the plate began separating or “delaminating” from the plate’s ceramic material. The arrestor was designed to reduce the spreading of cracks in the ceramic when dropped – a common characteristic of all ceramic body armor plates.
read more here

Battleland Contributor says PTSD claims incentive to keep it?

Ok, I admit it. I lost my temper this morning and left a comment on Time about some nonsense a "expert" posted. I can't help it. Usually I will just bypass what Elspeth Cameron Ritchie writes. She's a paid "expert" after all and I am just a lowly volunteer. Who am I to argue with someone like her?

Yesterday I posted how there was a report from NBC about PTSD deniers and now this!

The Unintended Consequences of the Current PTSD Diagnosis
Battleland
By Elspeth Cameron Ritchie
Nov. 27, 2012

This is the last in my series of posts on the ethics of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (the first simply outlined ethical issues for military mental-health personnel; then I wrote about when is the right time to send a Soldier back into combat, how can you maintain confidentiality between a Soldier and the mental-health professional, and why the military’s best mental-health programs are not available to everyone in uniform).

Now I want to discuss the good and bad consequences of automatically giving a 50% disability rating for PTSD.

I hesitate to post on this, as I know that there will be folks out there who say I am “trying to save the Army money by screwing the vets out of what is rightfully belongs to them.”

Know this is not my intention: I am all for vets receiving the disability that is due them.

But to give automatically 50% disability for one particular diagnosis creates a major incentive to get that diagnosis — and keep it.
read more here


This is the comment I left.
Are you talking to Sally Satel? After all that is the same kind of nonsense she has been talking about since she gave the same advice to the Bush Administration leading to the lack of planning to have programs and claims processors in place.


The first fact is that less than half of the veterans needing help for PTSD actually go for it. When the troops come home, this generation is no different than all others before them. They don't want to wait another second before they can return to their families. There are two differences between this generation and older veterans. One is that the media is finally reporting on what war does to those we send and the other is the redeployments increasing the risk of PTSD which the Army knew would happen in 2006.

If what you claim came close to being true, you'd see lines around every VA facility and processing centers implode. If they have PTSD, by the time they get help it is usually a lifetime change for them that does not go away. They can heal but that depends on the right help and above all the right information which you just stuck block to.

Post Office delivers help for Marines Toys for Tots

Postal Toys for Tots plan puts Brevard Marines at ease
Postal carriers will help Toys for Tots in collecting for countywide drive
Nov 27, 2012
Written by
R. Norman Moody
FLORIDA TODAY

MELBOURNE — A new partnership involving the U.S. Postal Service will help more children than ever. At least, that’s the hope of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which for the first time in Brevard County will involve mail carriers picking up toys from postal customers this Saturday.

The partnership was officially announced to letter carriers Monday morning. And already a least one stepped up with four toys she bought.

“It’s for a great cause,” said Melinda Smith. “I wanted to be able to do it. I love doing it.”

Smith, who works out of the main post office in Melbourne, said the partnership will allow a lot more children from needy families to get a toy at Christmas.
read more here

Foundation set up for Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan

Local Navy SEAL dies in Afghanistan
Luke Ramseth
The Times-Standard
Created:11/27/2012

The mother of a local Navy SEAL killed over the weekend in Afghanistan said a “Kevin Ebbert Memorial Fund” has been set up through the Humboldt Area Foundation for people who would like to donate in his name.

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Ebbert, 32, of Arcata, died Saturday while “supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan,” according to a Department of Defense press release. The region is a mountainous area in the center of the country. Ebbert was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit in Virginia Beach, Va.

In an email to the Arcata Eye, Ebbert's mother Charlie Jordan said her son was a U.S. Navy SEAL, serving his second deployment in Afghanistan. She said he was “poised to return home early next year and start medical school completing his training started as a Corpsman to become an MD. We last spoke about he and his wife Ursula joining Rotary, where he could work in clinics internationally.”
read more here

Monday, November 26, 2012

Combat medic wounded in Afghanistan last year passed away

Army medic dies of Afghanistan injuries
The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Nov 26, 2012

ROCKFORD, Mich. — A 24-year-old Army medic from western Michigan who enlisted in the military because of the poor job market in 2009 died from injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan, it was announced Monday.

Spc. Zachary Shanafelt of Grand Rapids was hurt in an accident last year and died Wednesday at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, said Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford. He was serving as a field medic with a unit based in Fariyab province.

Shanafelt underwent treatment at hospitals in Germany and the U.S., according to Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Arnold, a military liaison official.

Why do some people reject the existence of PTSD?

First is it not over-diagnosed. If that was an issue then you'd see the VA hospitals with lines going around the buildings and yes, you would see VA claims offices collapse under the weight of the claims. The fact is less than half seek help for PTSD.

Then this piece is right where it points out how so many are "uneducated" deniers of the reality of PTSD. If they were right, I wouldn't have done this for the last 30 years for FREE and had my heart broken on a daily basis.

Why on earth what some person wrote in July ended up being a part of this report is really stomach turning. Did Briggs really have search that hard to find deniers of PTSD? They are all over the military!
PTSD may be overdiagnosed, but PTSD deniers are 'wrong,' psychologists say
By Bill Briggs
NBC News contributor

Why do some people reject the existence of PTSD?

The topic is touchy. Even asking the question is slammed as irresponsible.

“Why on Earth would you try to put out something that states combat PTSD isn't a true affliction? Or even try to debunk it? Or to put questions into the minds of society? In the first 155 days of 2012, we lost 154 men,” Amy Cotta, an author and the mother of a Marine wrote in an email to NBC News. Her message arrived minutes after she learned NBC News was seeking to interview a PTSD denier.

Despite exhaustive scientific studies that have explored the symptoms, causes, diagnoses, and prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, hardcore skeptics remain. They exist within the military, where some leaders openly call PTSD a mental weakness, according to mental health advocates. David Weidman, who did two tours in Afghanistan and was diagnosed with PTSD, said all of his senior non-commissioned officers advised him not to seek treatment, instead suggesting he “just put your head down and keep going” in order to maintain any chance at a promotion.

They exist within the veteran community. Kevin R.C. “Hognose” O’Brien, who operates a blog called “WeaponsMan” and identifies himself as “a former Special Forces weapons man,” wrote in July that PTSD was a “quack” diagnosis, “invented” to clump “any odd and many normal behaviors.” He added: “If a vet is wound up tight? PTSD! If he or she is calm? Hypercontrolling due to PTSD! Lose weight, gain weight, maintain weight, those are all PTSD markers. Get in fights? PTSD, natch. And avoid fights? Well, clearly it's .... are you starting to get the idea?” O’Brien declined to be interviewed for this story.

To Afghanistan veteran Weidman, most people who so stridently dismiss PTSD have simply failed to read the available scientific literature on the subject and are, he said, “uneducated.”

But Weidman acknowledged that different people possess varying degrees of mental “resiliency,” underscoring the slippery nature of diagnosing anxiety disorders. That means, he added, that if an entire platoon collectively endures the same moment of extreme combat violence, not every platoon member will ultimately feel the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, those signs can include “flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
read more here

Oklahoma National Guards struggle with PTSD rates

Military in Oklahoma, nationwide still struggling with PTSD rates, treatment
NewsOK
By Bryan Dean
Published: November 22, 2012

“If 75 percent of the people who need care aren't getting it, we aren't doing our job right,” Kilpatrick said.

WASHINGTON — If the averages apply, at least 500 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers who returned earlier this year from Afghanistan will show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Identifying and treating those soldiers is one of the great challenges for the modern military, and both military and mental health professionals said they still aren't very good at it.

Officials with the U.S. Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies gathered last week for a workshop on post-traumatic stress.

Despite monumental efforts by the military to grapple with PTSD and suicide, the numbers aren't encouraging.

Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of force health protection and readiness programs at the U.S. Department of Defense, said about 5 percent of those in the military show signs of post-traumatic stress when they are screened before going on deployments.
read more here

Veteran sent home with appointment instead of care died

VA sued for negligence in ex-Councilman Witter’s death
GlobeGazette
By JOHN SKIPPER
November 21, 2012

MASON CITY — The widow of former Mason City Councilman Scott Witter is suing the U.S. Veterans Administration, claiming that negligence by the Mason City VA outpatient clinic contributed to his death.

Witter, 56, died Feb. 23 of a massive heart attack, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court.

His widow, Teresa L. Witter, says her husband went to the Mason City VA outpatient clinic at about 3 p.m. on Feb. 22 complaining of chest pains.

According to the suit, Witter was examined by an outpatient nurse who questioned him about his complaints and took his vital signs.

The clinic office records state Witter felt better after interacting with the nurse. He was to have lab tests the next morning and made a follow-up appointment at the clinic for March 8.

At no time was he seen by a physician nor was any physical examination or any diagnostic testing done, according to the suit.

Witter suffered the fatal heart attack the next morning.
read more here

Veterans team up to help others

Veterans raise money to build sport court at VA Medical Center in Prescott
Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier
11/25/2012

Young veterans are returning with different needs for recreation and rehabilitation than older vets, so a veterans group is raising funds to build a sport court at the Bob Stump Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Prescott.

"The needs are great," said Bob Wallace, with the Arizona Military Order of the Devil Dogs Charities, part of the Marine Corps League. "We do a great job for our older veterans, but we need more for our younger veterans."

The project includes a wheelchair-accessible lighted multi-sport court where able-bodied and disabled veterans can play basketball, tennis, badminton, paddleball, volleyball, and shuffleboard, a single-wall handball and racquetball court, and seating which can be expanded for large events.

"More than $42,500 has been raised of the $75,000 anticipated cost of the facility," said Wallace, project director in Prescott for the Arizona Military Order of the Devil Dogs Charities.

Funds for the project have been collected through yard sales, raffles, and donations from individuals, organizations and businesses, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization is looking for more donations to they can start building this summer, Wallace said.

After Wallace told his 8- and 10-year-old grandchildren about the project, they asked him why he was doing this.

"I told them I wanted to give back to the veterans who sacrificed so much for us," Wallace said. "They just opened up their piggy banks and said here's some dollars to help."
read more here

What It's Like to Go to War

Encore: What It’s Like to Go to War
November 20, 2012
America has been at war for over a decade, with millions of soldiers having seen death and dying up close in Afghanistan and Iraq. But most Americans — watching comfortably on their TVs and computers, witness to statistics, speeches, and “expert” rhetoric — don’t get what’s really going on there. In this encore broadcast, Bill talks to Karl Marlantes — a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, Rhodes Scholar, author, and PTSD survivor — about what we on the insulated outside need to understand about the minds and hearts of our modern warriors. Marlantes shares with Bill intimate stories about how his battlefield experiences both shaped and nearly destroyed him, even after returning to civilian life.

“’Thou shalt not kill’ is a tenet you just do not violate, and so all your young life, that’s drilled into your head. And then suddenly, you’re 18 or 19 and they’re saying, ‘Go get ‘em and kill for your country.’ And then you come back and it’s like, ‘Well, thou shalt not kill’ again. Believe me, that’s a difficult thing to deal with,” Marlantes tells Bill. “You take a young man and put him in the role of God, where he is asked to take a life — that’s something no 19-year-old is able to handle.”
click link for more

Department of Veteran's Affairs Still Shows Veterans to the Door

Everyday 18-22 American Veterans Commit Suicide and The Department of Veteran's Affairs Still Shows Veterans to the Door
By Jennifer McClendon
OpEdNews Op Eds
11/26/2012

The point of this Op Ed is to illustrate significant flaws in the system that is set up to treat our veterans. If we continuously operate with a longstanding maladaptive treatment system for our veterans we might want to ask ourselves as a nation what their sacrifice was worth to this nation. We may want to ask ourselves whether we can do better on their behalf.

The Politics of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment is a moral atrocity at the Department of Veteran's Affairs and in military medicine. There is a national discussion between veterans about the treatment of traumatized at the Department of Veteran's Affairs specialized trauma departments.

PTSD can be described as a set of symptoms that are normal reactions to abnormal and tragic stimuli such as war, natural disaster, or sexual assault. Another approach to defining PTSD is to define PTSD as a set of maladaptive traits that developed as a result of a trauma. The latter definition presents the traumatized veteran as flawed or defective. The conditions that cause PTSD are so horrific that referring to the person that suffers, as "Disordered" is a misnomer at best and victim blaming at worst.

Paula J. Caplan, in her book When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How all of Us Can Help Veterans, alerts the American public to the fact that war is indeed horrific. Perhaps listening to veterans rather than labeling them is the most humane thing that America can do for those that served us.

The term "Disordered" is not the worst part of PTSD diagnosis and treatment. There is a politics that accompany PTSD diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of PTSD can overlap with several other conditions such as "Bipolar II" and "Borderline Personality Disorder." According to a 2004 Article that was written by pioneer Military Sexual Trauma Advocate Susan Avila Smith:

These women are misdiagnosed and labeled as "psychotic," "drug-seeking," and "bipolar" or "borderline personality." Knowing this, I tell them that they are "normal" if they are experiencing such symptoms and that they need to file claims for these symptoms Secondary to their PTSD. They typically break down with relief that they are not alone, because they often have been led to believe that they are crazy or somehow "delusional" because they have failed to "get over it." (Smith 2004)
read more here

Testing to prevent PTSD

Where do I start on this one? It is obvious that Sgt. Major Devaney gave this a lot of thought and is very smart. The problem is he seems to have done too much studying of books and not enough studying of people.

Combat PTSD is not as much of a mystery as it is a misery. They can prevent PTSD in a lot of cases but that can only be accomplished by responding to the survivors right after "it" happens. They haven't been able to do that because while the commanders understand the nature of warfare they do not understand the nature of humans.

Testing to prevent PTSD
Avoiding people and increased anxiety are signs of PTSD.
Author: SgtMaj David K. Devaney

I believe many cases of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be prevented in combat troops through proper education. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is a severe anxiety reaction to a traumatic event, such as rape or war, in which individuals repeatedly relive the event, avoid stimuli associated with the trauma, and experience symptoms such as difficulty sleeping and irritability.

1 Typically the symptoms develop shortly after the event, but also could take years to develop. The duration for symptoms is at least 1 month for this diagnosis. Symptoms include reexperiencing the trauma through nightmares, obsessive thoughts, and flashbacks. There is an avoidance component as well, where the individual avoids situations, people, and/or objects that remind him of the traumatic event. For many people there is increased general anxiety, possibly with a heightened startle response. According to D. Grossman, for many people diagnosed with PTSD, it is like being told they have cancer; they assume it is fatal.

2 PTSD is more like being overweight.

3 Some people are just a couple of pounds overweight and they can use self-aid to get their weight under control. Other people are 20 to 30 pounds overweight and will need buddy aid and/or professional assistance. But full-blown PTSD is like being 50 to 100 pounds overweight, and without professional assistance they will likely have much trouble surviving. Almost all combat troops will have some form of PTSD or combat stress after continuous combat, but most of them will be fine.
Precombat education in the form of lectures about the psychological and physiological effects of combat will prevent much combat stress because it teaches warriors about the phenomena found in combat. Much self-induced stress comes from a lack of education, such as people being raised hearing “thou shall not kill.”

4 According to The Marines’ Bible the commandment should have been written, “thou shall not murder.”

5 The point is there is a big difference between murder, which is unjustifiable killing, and justifiably killing an enemy combatant. When someone is trying to kill you or those you are sworn to protect, you are justified in killing them first.
read more here


While it is not always possible emotional debriefing works when it is done correctly. Having a safe place to talk about what happened brings the whole warrior into the "now" and begins the process of leaving the event behind them. If it is not done, then that event takes hold. Changes happen in all traumatic events. Every part of the survivor is reacting to it. Leaving them psychologically where it happened ends up freezing the end in their minds.

I had a National Guardsman contact me after two suicide attempts. He was on patrol in Iraq when a car approached them at a high rate of speed. The end result was he had to open fire and killed everyone in the car. It was a family.

The image of the parents and kids lying dead in the car haunted him. He had kids of his own back home. He couldn't let that image go and it took over his whole life.

Once we had established mutual trust and he knew his thoughts were safe to relate, he trusted me enough to be able to "watch" the whole event. Long story short, he had forgotten everything he tried to do to prevent what happened.

He thought he had become evil but when he was able to understand what happened, why it happened and what his intent was, he was able to forgive himself and he started to heal.

The above article points out the spiritual aspect of PTSD. It is a spiritual wound and must be addressed spiritually, not pacified by religious slogans.

It cannot be medicated away. Medications numb so that therapy has a chance to work but if that is the only treatment they receive, then all it does is puts PTSD to sleep along with every other good emotion.

The whole veteran must be treated in order to really heal. They have to relearn how to calm down their bodies as much as they have to calm down their thoughts. If this is all done soon after the traumatic event, they have a better outcome. If it is allowed to go on for years, then they face a lifetime of medical intervention.

As Vietnam veterans have proven it is never too late to get help to heal even for them, but had they been treated soon after they came home properly, it would have prevented a lifetime of suffering and most of what they lived with afterwards could have been bypassed.

Special courts aim to keep vets out of jail

Special courts aim to keep vets out of jail
By Meg Kinnard
The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Nov 25, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When a knee injury left him on disability and reliant on pain medication, Army veteran Clarence Johnson hit a wall. Out of his prescription drugs, the New York City native was arrested during a visit to South Carolina last year after buying narcotics on the street.

Johnson was facing up to two years in jail.

But under a new program for veterans facing some nonviolent crimes, Johnson was able to stay out of jail — and get off drugs, he hopes, for good.

Because of his military service — four years each in the Army and National Guard — Johnson, 55, was eligible for something called a veterans treatment court. They are set up like drug courts, which offer people facing nonviolent drug offenses a chance to stay out of jail as long as they comply with court-ordered attendance at rehab and meetings. The veterans courts give people with military service ways to get and stay connected with resources available through the Veterans Administration, like addiction treatment and counseling.

Through weekly meetings with attorneys, counselors and a veteran mentor, participants get the encouragement that hopefully will help them both stay clean and keep from breaking the law again.

“This time, it seemed like my chance to really clean my act up,” said Johnson, who was among 18 men who were the first graduates of Richland County’s veterans court, the first in South Carolina. “It changed my life.”
read more on Marine Corps Times

US Marine's murder in Bel-Air caught on cam

US Marine's murder in Bel-Air caught on cam
report from Maan Macapagal ABS-CBN News
Posted at 11/26/2012

MANILA, Philippines - A closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera recorded the mauling and stabbing of a member of the US Mission to the Philippines by 4 men in Makati on November 24.

The CCTV footage from the corner of Rockwell Drive and Kalayaan Avenue in Bel-Air, Makati City at around 4 a.m. Saturday shows the victim, George Anikow, walking home to Bel-Air Subdivision.

He asked the guard how he could get in.

The guard answered that the gate is always closed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

A Volvo car then arrived with 4 men on board.

The guard asked where they were going and checked their IDs.

Anikow suddenly joined the conversation and hit the side of the car with his hand.
read more here


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Marine's Dad surround by love and more Marines

Yesterday I posted this story. Dad of Marine killed in accident wants stolen memories back I couldn't imagine how this Dad felt. By the response around the country, it looks like it really pulled at our hearts.

Marine's dad gets nationwide support
Photos of late Marine Gregory Courtney stolen
Monday, 26 Nov 2012
By Ken Kolker

GOBLES, Mich. (WOOD) - A Marine dad who made a desperate plea to burglars to return the memories they stole of his son said he has received support from around the country since telling 24 Hour News 8 his story.

Many of his son's Marine buddies have offered to gather up their videos and photographs and send him those.
read more of this great story here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finding Peace With Combat PTSD

In 2002 I self published For the Love of Jack so that families like mine would not have to learn the hard way how to find peace living with Combat PTSD. Everything I was afraid of happened.

Suicides and attempted suicides went up. Families fell apart. Older veterans realized they did not escape Vietnam as much as they thought they did. Newer veterans came home to the same issues all generations faced before them but as millions of dollars were spent every year, charity after charity collected more and more money, they went without the help they needed.

The book is no online again after being provided for free on my old website.

If you want an inside look at what was known so long ago, read my book and then you'll know that nothing is impossible. They can heal and so can their families if they are finally told what they needed to know.

You can also watch my videos on the above link to Great Americans to help you understand what it took 30 years for me to learn.

For the Love of Jack His War/My Battle: Finding Peace With Combat PTSD
Authored by Kathie Costos
List Price: $10.00
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
268 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1481082570 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1481082574
BISAC: Biography and Autobiography / Military

The battle to save the lives of combat veterans is not lost and it is not new. 18 veterans and more than one active duty service member take their own lives each day. More attempt it.

Kathie Costos is not just a Chaplain helping veterans and their families, not just a researcher, she lives with it everyday. Combat came home with her Vietnam veteran husband and they have been married for 28 years.

She remembers what it was like to feel lost and alone.

Everything you read in the news today about PTSD is in this book originally published in 2002 to serve as a guide to healing as well as a warning of what was coming for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

If you see a link this book with a different cover, it is not a legal copy. It was pulled from the original publisher years ago.

Deputies had no warning man had history of mental health crisis

Baldwin sheriff: Deputies had no warning before man with mental health history started shooting AL.com
By Brendan Kirby
November 24, 2012

Baldwin County Deputy Scott Ward, left, died on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, during a violent confrontation with Michael J. Jansen, right, according to law enforcement officials
MARLOW, Alabama – Deputy Scott Ward and two other law enforcement officials had no warning before a man with a history of mental health problems started firing shots from a 9mm handgun, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said today.

The Friday evening shooting in this community east of Fairhope resulted in the deaths of both Ward and Michael J. Jansen, and left a second deputy critically wounded.

“A number of gunshots were fired by Mr. Jansen and the deputies. Both deputies were shot numerous times. I don’t have the number of gunshots,” Mack said. “We’re still working the scene even today.”

Mack said autopsies had been performed on both Ward and Jansen, but he added that he has not seen the report.

Ward, 47, was a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and previously served as a Prichard police officer. He also was a Coast Guard Reserve officer who had served in Afghanistan.

Citing an ongoing internal affairs investigation, Mack would not release the names of the other deputies involved. He said the wounded deputy is a sergeant who was the shift supervisor. The sheriff said that the third deputy, who was not hurt, has been with the Sheriff’s Office for about a year.
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Baldwin County Deputy Killed Served In Afghanistan

Military family start charity to help other just like them

Couple pay it forward with charity
MIKE DUNHAM
Anchorage Daily News
Posted : Saturday Nov 24, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Rich and Tonya Watson are looking for a few good gifts. The couple’s nonprofit enterprise, Christmas for Heroes, is collecting Christmas presents for wounded soldiers and their families attached to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The holidays can be particularly difficult for injured military personnel, the Watsons say — and they speak from experience.

Rich, a 1993 graduate of Service High School in Anchorage, was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2007.

“A grenade launcher blew up behind me in a crossfire,” he said.

He suffered traumatic brain injuries and was sent back to Fort Lewis, Wash., the home base of his outfit, the 2nd Infantry Division, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Tonya, who had been working as a substitute teacher and nurse’s assistant, quit work to take care of him.

“Most of his appointments were at the Seattle Veterans Administration Hospital because the military hospital on base was overloaded with other wounded,” she said.

The cost of driving him back and forth to Seattle three or four times a week, the loss of her paycheck and the end of the additional pay he received while in a combat zone combined to create what Tonya described as “a financial disaster.”

It looked like the Watsons and their three children would miss out on Christmas.

“We didn’t have anything,” Rich said. “We didn’t have a tree. We were thinking of skipping a car payment to buy a few presents.”

Then a Seattle law firm stepped in to help.

“To this day we still don’t know the name of the firm,” said Tonya. “But they gave us the Christmas we would have been missing if not for them.”

Other groups helped the Watsons buy food and pay bills.

“After that, we wanted to find a way to show our gratitude and pay it forward,” she said.
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Dad of Marine killed in accident wants stolen memories back

Father of Marine killed in car crash wants stolen videos, pictures of his son returned
By Anthony Smigiel
November 24, 2012

ALLEGAN, MI – The father of a U.S. Marine who has already suffered the loss of his son has now lost most of the memories he had of his son as well.

Gregory Courtney, 22, died in a car crash in Allegan County on Sept. 16, 2011, just a little more than a month after returning home from Afghanistan.

His father, Joe Courtney, said someone on Nov. 15 stole a digital camera containing pictures of his son, a Sony camcorder, videos of his son and a Marine sign from his home on 102nd Avenue in Allegan County.
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Veterans Affairs office 'Pennsylvania's best-kept secret'

Franklin County Veterans Affairs office 'Pennsylvania's best-kept secret'
Public Opinion
By ANDREA RICH

Bob Harris, Franklin County director of veterans affairs, said one vet told him the county office is "Pennsylvania's best kept secret."

Why is it so hard to reach veterans?

"We try to do a campaign when units return from Reserves or National Guard," Harris explained, but the most recent group returns for Franklin County were in 2004 and 2009.

Since then troops typically separate from their units in Fort Dix, N.J. where representatives from the Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars give presentations about post-active-duty life and services.

"At that point you are so overwhelmed (with the separation process) and you just want to go home," Harris said. It's a lot for soldiers to take in, he added.

As is the national trend, many young soldiers don't realize what the county office can do for them.

"We advocate - at no cost to you (the soldier)," Harris said. That includes getting veterans connected to the right people for veteran's health care, education benefits, housing allowance and employment.

The latest veteran count in Franklin County was done in Fiscal Year 2010 and at that time Franklin County had 12,984 veterans.

Harris said the county office is even more important to young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan because they don't connect with groups that typically can get them connected to services through experience.
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