Thursday, January 31, 2013

Prosecutor gunned down outside Texas courthouse

Prosecutor gunned down outside Texas courthouse
By Michael Martinez and Rich Phillips
CNN
updated 3:59 PM EST, Thu January 31, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
NEW: "We have officers going over all of this case," a sheriff's spokeswoman says
NEW: The FBI has joined the manhunt, the bureau says
Mark Hasse was an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, east of Dallas
He was shot and killed while getting out of his car, spokeswoman says

(CNN) -- A manhunt is under way in Texas for whoever gunned down a prosecutor outside a county courthouse east of Dallas on Thursday morning, authorities said.

Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, was fatally shot several times as he got out of his car in the courthouse parking lot, sheriff's spokeswoman Pat Laney told CNN.

Investigators are looking for an older-model, four-door sedan, either brown or silver, but it wasn't clear whether there were one or two suspects Thursday afternoon, Laney said.
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Price Middle School Shooting

It will be interesting to read about what type of weapon he used. If it was not a high capacity assault weapon, then it will prove the point that people do stand a chance to stop a gunman with equal weapon.

UPDATE February 1, 2013
Price Middle School Shooting: Wounded Student Recovering After Fellow Teen Opened Fire
By KATE BRUMBACK
01/31/13

ATLANTA — A student opened fire at his middle school Thursday afternoon, wounding a 14-year-old in the neck before an armed officer working at the school was able to get the gun away, police said.

Multiple shots were fired in the courtyard of Price Middle School just south of downtown about 1:50 p.m. and the one boy was hit, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said. In the aftermath, a teacher received minor cuts, he said.

The wounded boy was taken "alert, conscious and breathing" to Grady Memorial Hospital, said police spokesman Carlos Campos. Grady Heath System Spokeswoman Denise Simpson said the teen had been discharged from the hospital Thursday night. Campos said charges against the shooter were pending.

Police swarmed the school of about 400 students after reports of the shooting while a crowd of anxious parents gathered in the streets, awaiting word on their children. Students were kept at the locked-down school for more than two hours before being dismissed.

"The obvious question is how did this get past a metal detector?" Davis asked about the gun. "That's something we do not know yet."

The armed resource officer who took the gun away was off-duty and at the school, but police didn't release details on him or whether he is regularly at Price. Since 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December, calls for armed officers in every school have resonated across the country.
click links for the rest
Original report

Price Middle School Shooting: Multiple Injuries In Attack At Southeast Atlanta School
Huffington Post
Posted: 01/31/2013

Police responded to a shooting at Price Middle School in Atlanta early Thursday afternoon, WSBTV reports.

Authorities say that multiple people, including a 14-year-old boy, were wounded, according to Fox News.

Police said the teen was shot in the back of the neck and immediately transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment, 11Alive reports. The boy was reportedly awake and responsive while being transported to the hospital, and the injuries are non-life threatening.
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Tony Perkins Blames Gays For High Military Suicide Rates

Wonder what he thought was the problem when Vietnam veterans came home and then committed suicide, but then again, what he "thinks" and what is real do not seem to matter to him. He doesn't seem to even try to acknowledge that suicides were high before the repeal.

If you want to read more of this you'll have to use the link since I cannot stomach posting any more of what he Perkins had to say.

Tony Perkins Blames Gays For High Military Suicide Rates
by DAVID BADASH
JANUARY 31, 2013

Tony Perkins says the military’s high suicide rate is a result of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is “adding additional stress” by “driving Christianity out [and] putting homosexuality in.” Perkins is the head of the certified anti-gay Family Research Council.
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Special Ops to feel budget pain along with rest of military

Special ops to feel budget pain, leaders say
By Paul McLeary
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jan 29, 2013

The potential budget hit produced by sequestration and the possibility that Congress uses another continuing resolution to fund the Pentagon for the rest of 2013 may hit the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) hard, the command’s leadership told an industry conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

SOCOM commander Adm. William McRaven warned the audience at the National Defense Industrial Association Special Operations conference that if Congress passes another continuing resolution to fund the Pentagon through the remainder of 2013, his Special Operations Command would likely lose about $1 billion in funding.

The continuing resolution “puts a greater constraint on us than I think sequestration will,” McRaven said, adding that “we don’t know what sequestration is going to look like, but there is an expectation that it is clearly going to be an additional bill on top of that.”

Whatever the cut might be, however, he assured the crowd that his command’s first priority will always be to protect SOCOM’s ability to fight, saying, “we want to make sure first and foremost that we protect our war-fighting capability. And we will do that.”
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Hagel: Sequester cuts would devastate military
By Marcus Weisgerber
Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jan 30, 2013

Sounding much like the man he has been tapped replace, Chuck Hagel believes billions of dollars in defense spending cuts, know as sequestration, would devastate the U.S. military.

Hagel, the former Republican senator that President Barack Obama has nominee for defense secretary, expressed many of the same opinions on major budget and programmatic policies as current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a 112-page document submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The panel of senators will have a chance to question Hagel during a Jan. 31 confirmation hearing.

“[Sequestration] would harm military readiness and disrupt each and every investment program,” Hagel said. “Based on my assessment to date, I share [Panetta’s] concerns. I urge the Congress to eliminate the sequester threat permanently and pass a balanced deficit-reduction plan.”

Panetta has repeatedly said sequestration – about $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade -- would cause significant damage to the military. The cuts are even more problematic, defense officials say, because Congress has not passed a 2013 defense appropriations bill, meaning the Pentagon is operating under a continuing resolution where spending is frozen at 2012 levels.
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Missing Air Force Pilot's Family Confident of Safe Return

UPDATE
1 minute ago
Body of missing Aviano pilot found in Adriatic Sea
By MATT MILLHAM
Stars and Stripes
Published: January 31, 2013

The body of an Air Force F-16 pilot who went missing during a night training flight late Monday was found Thursday off the coast of Italy, his family announced in a statement.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that the body of Captain Lucas Gruenther was found in the Adriatic Sea this afternoon,” the statement said.

Gruenther and his F-16 Fighting Falcon went missing about 8 p.m. Monday roughly 150 miles south of Aviano Air Base, where his unit, the 31st Fighter Wing, is stationed.

A massive search effort ensued, including Italian coast guard and navy ships, fishing vessels and an assortment of planes, including other F-16s from the wing.
click link for more
Missing Pilot's Family Confident of Safe Return
Jan 31, 2013
The Modesto Bee
by Patty Guerra

TWAIN HARTE, Calif. -- The Air Force on Wednesday launched several F-16 fighters to help in the search for a pilot from Twain Harte whose plane disappeared over the Adriatic Sea near Italy on Monday. Family members expressed optimism that Capt. Lucas Gruenther will be found safely.

The fighter jets will help several other U.S. and Italian aircraft already involved in the search for Gruenther, chief of flight safety for the 31st Fighter Wing. Gruenther, who is stationed in Italy, was conducting a nighttime training sortie when the Air Force lost contact with his aircraft.

"If anyone could survive something like this, it would be Luc," Cassy Gruenther said of her husband in a news release provided by the military. She described her husband as a "self-reliant outdoorsmen who would sleep every night under the stars if he could" and said he's in excellent physical shape.

Search teams on Tuesday recovered debris believed to be from Gruenther's F-16 Fighting Falcon. On Wednesday, family members said searchers located Gruenther's drogue parachute and his helmet. "The drogue chute is a good sign," said Cassy, who will deliver the couple's first child, a girl to be named Serene, in a few weeks. "It means he ejected, and we've been told the helmet is in good condition."
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PTSD Murder Trial Could Have National Repercussions

War Veteran with PTSD Murder Trial Could Have National Repercussions, Experts Say
Case of the shooting of Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena by her spouse, Benjamin Sebena is not cut and dried, say a criminologist who advises and teaches the FBI and former State Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske.
Fort Bragg Patch
By Jim Price

To the legal layperson, the case of the murder of Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena may appear to be open and shut.

Jennifer’s husband, Benjamin Sebena, admitted to investigators in statements that he had stalked her for days, had lain in wait for her on Christmas Eve morning, and shot her five times in the head.

The two guns presumed used to kill her – one of them her service weapon, the other a rare type that matches a shell casing found at the scene – were found hidden in the Sebenas’ basement ceiling.
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Reward grows for info in Fort Bragg soldier’s death

Reward grows for info in Bragg soldier’s death
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jan 30, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Officials at Fort Bragg are doubling the reward being offered for information in the case of a driver who struck and killed a soldier last year.

The Fayetteville Observer reports that the Army Criminal Investigation Command is offering a $10,000 reward for help in identifying the driver of a late model white Chevrolet Impala involved in the fatal hit-and-run. The original $5,000 reward was announced in December.
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Fort Wainwright soldier seriously injured after convoy hit

Soldier Badly Hurt After Truck Crashes Into Salcha Military Convoy
By Chris Klint and The Associated Press
Channel 2 News
1:46 p.m. AKST, January 30, 2013

ANCHORAGE, Alaska
A Fort Wainwright soldier was severely injured Tuesday afternoon after Alaska State Troopers say a pickup truck struck several vehicles from a military convoy, including his Humvee, in a parking lot off the Richardson Highway near Salcha.

U.S. Army Alaska spokesperson Lt. Col. Bill Coppernoll identifies the injured man as Spc. Zachary New, 20, a member of Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

An AST dispatch Wednesday says the troopers responded shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday to the crash, in the Midway Lodge's parking lot at Mile 315 of the Richardson. The incident began as vehicles in the convoy, followed by 20-year-old driver Forrest Hermanns of Tok, were pulling into the lot.

“(Hermanns) was driving a 3/4 ton GMC pickup with a large trailer loaded with logs for sale,” troopers wrote. “Hermanns struck a (U.S.) Army Humvee that was slowing and preparing to turn into the parking lot. (His) vehicle continued into the parking lot, striking a soldier exiting a parked Humvee and then two parked (Stryker) armored vehicles.”
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Teen who performed at Obama inaugural events shot dead in Chicago

Teen who performed at Obama inaugural events shot dead in Chicago
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Ted Rowlands
CNN
updated 7:24 AM EST, Thu January 31, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
NEW: Chicago mayor: "We have a responsibility to see a stop to this"
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot dead in Chicago on Tuesday
Last week she performed in events surrounding President Obama's inauguration

"Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she's gone," Sen. Dick Durbin says Can there be a solution to America's gun problems? Anderson Cooper looks at both sides of the debate in "Guns Under Fire: an AC360ยบ Town Hall Special" Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

Chicago (CNN) -- A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama's inauguration was shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide.

The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday.

"She was an honor student and a majorette," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Performing at inaugural events last week "was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life," he said.

Speaking at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Durbin mentioned Pendleton's death as he argued that more must be done to stop gun crimes.
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UK Afghanistan veteran talks about "shame" and PTSD

After all these years, far too many have gotten the wrong message about Combat and PTSD. It is not the weakness of their minds, but the strength of their feelings that cause PTSD. The stronger their ability to feel, the more they feel emotional pain.

Some people, (and we have to remember servicemen and women are still just as human as the rest of us,) have a sense of self more than for others. Some people have a stronger sense for others. Some have a blend. Everyone feels things at different levels. The vast majority of the veterans I talk to have been very caring in their lives and that was what caused them to want to join the military. Instead of seeing how unselfish they are, they end up thinking PTSD is a sign of weakness instead of strength.

If you need more evidence of this, stop and think of the majority of military suicides do not happen while they are deployed. They happen when they are back home and their friends are out of danger. If they manage to live through all of that comes with combat deployments but can't survive being back home, that says a lot about how mentally tough they really are as much as it says how much they need more help back home.

Skelmersdale man Mark Minton urges veterans to confront post-traumatic-stress-disorder
Jan 31 2013
by Tom Duffy
Skelmersdale Advertiser

FORMER soldier Mark Minton hopes other veterans will speak out about their emotional problems after he told the Advertiser about the horrors of Helmand.

Last week the Digmoor man revealed that his life had fallen apart after he completed a five-month tour of duty with the Army in Afghanistan.

Now the dad-of-three hopes other soldiers will consider talking about their problems despite the stigma still surrounding post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD).

Mark said: “I had to reach rock bottom before I could move forward. You have to lose everything and then you seek help.”

Mark has now made contact with Combat Stress, which provides care to veterans struggling with mental health problems.

The charity, which was founded in 1919, currently supports around 5000 veterans including 284 who served in Afghanistan and 638 who fought in Iraq.

A spokesman for Combat Stress told the Advertiser that the majority of veterans are reluctant to talk about their mental health problems.

He said: “Over 81% of veterans who responded to our survey said they were ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health problems, and one in three veterans were reluctant to talk to their families about it.”
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

At least 5 hurt in Phoenix office complex shooting

At least 5 hurt in Phoenix office complex shooting
By Jane Lednovich
The Arizona Republic-12
News Breaking News Team
Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:03 PM

Five people are injured, three of them shot, in a shooting at an office complex in north-central Phoenix Wednesday morning, officials said.

The shooting occurred inside a building in the 7310 block of 16th Street, near Glendale Avenue, officials said. It is unknown if the shooter is in custody. People inside the building told azcentral.com that the incident appeared to be over but officers were sweeping the building.
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Marine veteran slain in front of his skate shop

Marine veteran slain in front of his skate shop
AP
January 30, 2013

MALDEN, Mass. (AP) — A U.S. Marine Corps veteran and father of two has been gunned down in broad daylight in front of the Malden skateboard shop he owned.

Authorities say 39-year-old Shawn Clark of Saugus was shot multiple times just before 1 p.m. Tuesday in front of his Patriot Skateboards shop. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
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List of Senators voting against helping Hurricane Sandy Survivors

UPDATE
High winds, tornado trap Georgia residents, turn over cars
By Michael Pearson. Phil Gast and Vivian Kuo
CNN
January 31, 2013
(CNN) -- Powerful winds and a tornado spawned by a 1,000-mile-long storm system pounded communities in northwest Georgia on Wednesday, overturning dozens of vehicles and trapping residents.

The tornado caused significant damage in Adairsville, Georgia.

One person died in that town and another died in Tennessee, authorities reported. At least 17 people were injured in Georgia, two critically.

The Adairsville death marks the first person killed by a U.S. tornado in 220 days, a record for most consecutive days without such a fatality, said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen.
In the mountains of North Carolina, iReporter Matt Able said most of the roads around Appalachian State in Boone were impassible because of flooding. He sent in video of people driving down U.S. 321, which was under several inches of water.

Earlier, in Alabama, the storms blew the metal roof off a building in Sheffield, CNN affiliate WHNT said. The storm also damaged a church steeple in Rogersville, the station reported.

In Kentucky, winds blew off much of the roof of the Penrod Missionary Baptist Church and damaged several homes, CNN affiliate WFIE reported.

In Nashville, the weather service listed dozens of damage reports across the region: a funnel cloud was reported early Wednesday in Jackson County, there were dozens of reports of downed trees and power lines, and law enforcement reported damage to homes and businesses.

CNN affiliate WSMV also reported the partial collapse of an office building in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

"I built it myself to take an event like this. And it looks like a freight train hit it," the station quoted building owner Dewey Lineberry as saying. "It's just destroyed. It laid the building down on top of cars, it put the building on top of people. It's unbelievable."
List of Senators voting against helping Hurricane Sandy Survivors

Sessions (R-AL)
Boozman (R-AR)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Flake (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
Rubio (R-FL)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Chambliss (R-GA)
Isakson (R-GA)
Grassley (R-IA)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Crapo (R-ID)
Risch (R-ID)
Kirk (R-IL)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Coats (R-IN)
Moran (R-KS)
Roberts (R-KS)
McConnell (R-KY)
Paul (R-KY)
Blunt (R-MO)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Burr (R-NC)
Fischer (R-NE)
Johanns (R-NE)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Portman (R-OH)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Coburn (R-OK)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Toomey (R-PA)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Graham (R-SC)
Scott (R-SC)
Thune (R-SD)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cruz (R-TX)
Hatch (R-UT)
Lee (R-UT)
Johnson (R-WI)
FEMA Disaster Declarations
Barrasso (R-WY)
Enzi (R-WY)

Newtown's Police Officers Are Already Showing Signs of PTSD

Newtown's Police Officers Are Already Showing Signs of PTSD
Slate.com
By Josh Voorhees
Jan. 29, 2013

The New York Times has a rather haunting piece in today's paper based on interviews with seven Newtown police officers who were among the first responders to last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. The account they provide, as the Times rightly puts it, is "filled with ghastly moments and details, and a few faint instances of hope."

The report also highlights a secondary issue at play, one that is easy to lose sight of during the heated debate over gun control and safety that is now going on across the nation: Namely, the absolute hell that Newtown's police officers, many of them parents themselves, went through, and very well may continue to go through for the rest of their lives after seeing what they did on Dec. 14.

"One look, and your life was absolutely changed," Michael McGowan, one of the first officers to arrive at the school, told the paper. Another recounted how, two weeks later, he began to sob uncontrollably after driving by a roadside memorial. "I just lost it right there, I couldn't even drive," Jason Frank said. "Words can’t describe how horrible it was," said a third officer, Joe Joudy, one of the detectives who was tasked with the unenviable job of spending nearly a week collecting and inventorying every piece of evidence from the crime scene.
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NRA forgets no one is free from laws

When I read that the father of one of the Sandy Hook students killed was heckled by some people shouting "Second Amendment" because he asked why anyone needed an assault weapon, I was stick to my stomach. This is what keeps getting missed in the debate. They do not need them. They just want them. If the shooter at Sandy Hook did not have the ability to take his Mom's legal assault weapons to the school that day and only had regular rifles or handguns, the teachers would have had a fighting chance to stop him. He'd have to reload. One more thing getting missed in the claim that arming teachers is the way to go since they will have only handguns but murders will show up with this slaughter machine. Cops don't even have them. They have to call in SWAT. The Second Amendment does not void the first. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The language of the Second Amendment, as adopted, read:
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
English history made two things clear to the American revolutionaries: force of arms was the only effective check on government, and standing armies threatened liberty.

Recognition of these premises meant that the force of arms necessary to check government had to be placed in the hands of citizens. The English theorists Blackstone and Harrington advocated these tenants. Because the public purpose of the right to keep arms was to check government, the right necessarily belonged to the individual and, as a matter of theory, was thought to be absolute in that it could not be abrogated by the prevailing rulers.

These views were adopted by the framers, both Federalists and Antifederalists. Neither group trusted government. Both believed the greatest danger to the new republic was tyrannical government and that the ultimate check on tyranny was an armed population. It is beyond dispute that the second amendment right was to serve the same public purpose as advocated by the English theorists. The check on all government, not simply the federal government, was the armed population, the militia. Government would not be accorded the power to create a select militia since such a body would become the government's instrument. The whole of the population would comprise the militia. As the constitutional debates prove, the framers recognized that the common public purpose of preserving freedom would be served by protecting each individual's right to arms, thus empowering the people to resist tyranny and preserve the republic. The intent was not to create a right for other (pg.1039) governments, the individual states; it was to preserve the people's right to a free state, just as it says.
This is what "regulated means.
regulated
Control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly. Control or supervise (something, esp. a company or business activity) by means of rules and regulations.


Standing Army
Convinced that preparedness deterred war, nationalists wanted a standing Navy to match the standing Army. But the United States still had no navy in 1793 when trouble loomed on two fronts. First, the French Revolution exploded into a world war, putting neutral American commerce at risk. Second, with the Europeans preoccupied, the Barbary state pirates, whom the European powers had earlier bottled up in the Mediterranean Sea, were now sending their ships into the Atlantic to prey on American shipping. In response to this dual crisis, Congress passed a Naval Act on March 27, 1794 authorizing the construction of six frigates; each frigate was to have a Marine detachment of one officer and approximately fifty enlisted men. Those six frigates had a tangled history, but a reasonable argument can be made that the 1794 Naval Act marked the real birth date of an American Navy.

Finally, as the Quasi-War with France approached in 1798, Congress passed a spate of military preparedness legislation. Among other things, it dramatically increased the naval forces. Until then the Secretary of War handled both land and naval affairs. To ease the secretary’s burgeoning administrative burden, Congress cleaved the Secretary of War’s responsibilities in half by creating a separate Department of Navy. Then on July 11, 1798 Congress passed a law organizing the Navy’s Marines as a Corps of Marines, thus marking the real birth of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Conclusion
The Constitution initially threw those who embraced Radical Whig ideology into the deepest, most profound depths of despair. They feared that the United States would soon have “a military king, with a standing army devoted to his will,” which he would use to suppress civil liberties.[3]Exercising its explicit authority and ample power, the new Constitutional government overrode Radical Whig fears to create a regular standing Army (that is, a permanent army that existed in both war and peace), a regular standing Navy, and a regular standing Marine Corps. But as it has turned out, for more than two centuries and counting, it created neither tyranny nor a despotic government.


In closing, we do have a Standing Army and they need the weapons to fight our battles but even they do not agree on what civilians should and should not have.

In interviews with various media outlets McChrystal drew no hard distinctions between the AR-15 and M4, both of which fire a .223 caliber round.

"We've got to take a serious look -- I understand everyone's desire to have whatever [weapon] they want -- but we've got to protect our children, we've got to protect our police, we've got to protect our population," McChrystal said during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe earlier this month. "Serious action is necessary. Sometimes we talk about very limited actions on the edges and I just don't think that's enough."
This was taken from this article

Green Beret Group Lobbies Against Gun Control
Jan 29, 2013
Military.com
by Bryant Jordan

More than 1,100 former and current Army Special Forces troops -- Green Berets -- have reportedly put their names to a letter condemning any efforts to restrict gun ownership following the massacre of 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The 2,900-word letter has been distributed to media outlets and posted on Professionalsoldiers.com, which is operated by retired Army Special Forces Master Sgt. Jeff Hinton. Because of the sensitive nature of their military careers the names of those signing the letter are not being released.

Hinton -- who has routinely exposed phony Green Berets and others on his website -- said he has confirmed that everyone who put his name to the letter is a current or former Special Forces soldier. Military.com could not validate all 1,100 names by press time.

VA won't say how many veterans die waiting for disability benefits

VA won't say how many veterans die waiting for disability benefits
By Yvonne Wenger
The Baltimore Sun
January 29, 2013

How many veterans die annually while they wait for the embattled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to approve their claim for disability benefits? The answer: The VA won’t say.

In half a dozen calls and emails, The Baltimore Sun asked the VA over a period of about two weeks for information about its backlog to process disability claims for American veterans — and the consequences of the delays on servicemen and servicewomen.

The Sun’s report showed the Baltimore office, which handles claims for all of Maryland’s 450,000 veterans, is the worst performing in the country. The local office was the slowest and had the highest error rate in the U.S., according to latest information available.

The VA has made strides in improving transparency and access to information with an interactive online database of processing times and error rates called ASPIRE. The agency also created an online portal called eBenefits for veterans to learn the latest status on their claims, although many find it confusing and the information it provides not timely.

The ASPIRE Dashboard was integral in producing the Sun investigation. But it couldn’t answer all the questions, most notably, the number of veterans who die before the agency approves or denies their claim.

Nearly 19,500 veterans died from October 2011 to September 2012, the federal fiscal year, while they waited for benefits, according to an article published in San Francisco’s Bay Citizen. That figure is based on the $437 million in retroactive benefits paid to the survivors of the deceased veterans, according to the report. The number of veterans who died waiting during that period is likely higher.
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Florida PTSD veteran in hospital after VA tries to collect

Family says First Coast veteran's mental illness is service connected, Veterans Affairs says it is not
First Coast News
Jan 29, 2013
Ken Amaro
"It has been very hard and currently Jamie is in the hospital because of major depression and the stresses," said Heather Levesque.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Heather Levesque has been Jamie Levesque's wife, friend and companion for years and now she is fighting for his military benefits.

"We got a letter on January 22 that said in a month we are going to lose our benefits," she said.

Jamie Levesque receives $1,000 a month in disability income.

Veterans Affairs is threatening to withhold it for a year to reimburse Uncle Sam for what was given to Levesque in 2008.

"We will lose our home because this is the only income that Jamie has," said Heather. "He has been unemployed for approximately two years."

In 2008, Levesque was given an honorable discharge and was paid $19,000, before taxes, as a separation benefit.

"Now the military says you owe us the money," said his wife.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rep. looks outside VA to fill mental care gap

Rep. looks outside VA to fill mental care gap
By Kevin Freking
The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jan 29, 2013

WASHINGTON — Veterans who have trouble getting timely mental health care from Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics should also have access to thousands of health care providers who care for military personnel and their families, says the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The proposal by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., borrows from the playbook of Republican Mitt Romney, who raised the idea of tapping into the military’s Tricare network of doctors during the course of the presidential campaign.

“We can double overnight the number of providers for those who are in need,” Miller said in an interview. “Eighteen veterans a day commit suicide in this country. Nobody thinks that is acceptable.”

The VA has beefed up its mental health staff over the years to try to keep up with the needs of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but a critical inspector general’s report last year found that about half of those seeking care for the first time waited about 50 days before getting a full evaluation. The VA had been reporting that the vast majority of those patients were getting care within 14 days.

Shortly before that report was released, the VA announced it would be adding 1,900 mental health professionals to its staff. VA officials said the department has made good progress on the hires, but they couldn’t provide specific numbers yet.
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Father of slain 6 year old Sandy Hook student heckled by gun activists

Neil Heslin, Father Of Newtown Victim, Heckled By Pro-Gun Activists
(VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Huffington Post
Posted: 01/29/2013

Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy who was slain in the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, stoically faced down pro-gun activists last night.

More than 1,000 people attended a hearing before the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Monday to share their views on gun control, USA Today reported. Among them was Heslin, who held a large framed picture of himself and his son Jesse as he urged officials to consider strengthening gun laws in Connecticut.

But as he gave his emotional testimony, pleading with lawmakers to improve mental health options and to ban assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used to murder his child and 25 other people, his speech was interrupted by dozens of audience members, The Connecticut Post reported.

“I still can't see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort. You're not going to use them for hunting, even for home protection," Heslin said.

Pro-gun activists responded by calling out: "Second Amendment!"
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Camp Pendleton Marine Awarded Bronze Star While Deployed At Sea

Camp Pendleton Marine Awarded Bronze Star While Deployed At Sea
KPBS
By Beth Ford Roth
January 28, 2013

Cpl. Timothy R. Childers
USMC
Lieutenant Col. John Wiener, commanding officer, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, pins the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device on 1st Sgt. Bradley G. Simmons, Sergeant Major, CLB-15, 15th MEU, during his award ceremony aboard the USS Rushmore, Jan. 25.
Camp Pendleton Marine 1st Sgt. Bradley G. Simmons was awarded the Bronze Star January 25 on the flight deck of the San Diego-based USS Rushmore during the ship's deployment at sea.

Simmons is assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is currently deployed with the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group.

Simmons received the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device for "heroic service" while serving in Sangin District, Afghanistan in 2011, according 15th MEU Public Affairs. Simmons served then as the first sergeant of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), II Marine Expeditionary Force.
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Veteran Iraq sniper targets new enemy

I am glad this veteran came forward for several reasons. Above all, he sought treatment to heal. Other than that, he was a sniper. I know a couple of them and they got help too. These guys are about as trained and tough as they come so when others notice even they need help, it makes it easier for them to come to terms with their own needs.
PTSD in-patient treatment changes life of Denver veteran
FOX31 Denver
by Jeremy Hubbard
January 28, 2013

He was there as a truckload of soldiers from his unit were blown up by an improvised explosive device, and the trauma of that – and other horrors he witnessed in Iraq – have haunted him for years.

But now Army veteran Curtis Bean is getting intensive help for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. And it’s been a life changing experience.

In Iraq, Bean was a sniper, one of those guys constantly staring through a scope with an eye out for the enemy. Little did he know, when he got home from war, he’d have a few different enemies to look out for.

“I was drinking heavily. There were times I was drinking so heavily I wouldn’t remember what I did,” Bean said.

He was trying to deal with his PTSD, a condition up to 80 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan face. He encountered some horrifying things during his two tours in Iraq, including an IED blast that killed four men from his unit.

“Not dealing with it is not the right answer,” Bean said.
read more here

Vietnam veterans honored on 40th anniversary of Paris Peace Accords

Vietnam veterans honored
By Zack McDonald
The News Herald
January 27, 2013

PANAMA CITY — Several Vietnam veteran groups stood in silence, heads bowed, eyes closed, as a bell tolled far off in the distance after each name of a deceased Vietnam veteran echoed through Oaks by the Bay Park Sunday.

The scene Sunday afternoon coincided with the 40th Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accord signing, which formally brought the Vietnam War to an end. It was intentionally reminiscent of an earlier event in Bay County. Four years ago The Moving Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., was at Oaks by the Bay Park to mark the state of efforts to place a permanent dedication to fallen soldiers.
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Paris Peace Accords

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quadruple amputee Iraq veteran gets new arms

UPDATE
January 29, 2013


Soldier who lost all four limbs in Iraq bomb blast receives double arm transplant
Brendan Marrocco, injured by a roadside bomb in 2009, was the first soldier to survive after losing all four limbs in the Iraq war. The New York City native is recovering after undergoing a double arm transplant and a bone marrow transplant on Dec. 18 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, his father said Monday.
BY CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS , JOSEPH STEPANSKY AND STEPHEN REX BROWN
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

He was the first soldier to survive the loss of all four limbs in Iraq, and now he’s the recipient of a cutting-edge double-arm transplant.

Staten Island’s own Brendan Marrocco, 26, endured the 13-hour operation on Dec. 18 at Johns Hopkins Hospital to replace the arms he lost because of a roadside bomb on Easter Sunday 2009.

“He never quits, he fights to survive,” said Giovanna Marrocco, 76, Brendan’s grandmother.

“He’s very happy, he wanted this transplant. I’m happy, too.”
read more here
Double-arm transplant given to Iraq war veteran
By The Associated Press
on January 28, 2013

BALTIMORE — A soldier who lost all four limbs in a roadside bomb attack in 2009 in Iraq has received a double-arm transplant in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Hospital officials said Monday.

Surgeons who treated the unidentified infantryman plan to discuss the transplant Tuesday at a news conference with the soldier. The soldier is one of seven in the U.S. who have undergone successful double-arm transplants, the hospital said.

The transplant last month is the first for the hospital and involved an innovative treatment to prevent rejection of the new limbs. The treatment used the dead donor’s bone marrow cells and so far has prevented rejection and reduced the need for anti-rejection drugs. Those drugs can cause complications, including infection and organ damage, hospital officials said.

The novel treatment to help prevent rejection was pioneered by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, plastic surgery chief at Johns Hopkins, when he previously worked at the University of Pittsburgh.
read more here

Soldier famous for YouTube video of Taliban firefight

I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong but in this case I am doing it when no one knew I was. When this video first came out, I watched it a few times and there was something about it that didn't look right to me. I can't explain it, but it seemed fake. After reading the interview, now I know I was wrong.
Soldier famous for YouTube video of Taliban firefight interviewed
Stars and Stripes
Published: January 27, 2013

The formerly anonymous soldier made famous on YouTube for scrambling away from Taliban gunfire on an Afghanistan hillside reflected on the incident viewed at least 23 million times in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

The harrowing helmet cam footage, with bullets landing to each side of Pfc. Ted Daniels as he tries to find cover, perhaps is the most popular online video from what is known as the most filmed war in history.

For Daniels, a former cop in Maryland and Pennsylvania who enlisted at age 37, the drama of that firefight didn’t end when he was injured and eventually sent stateside.
read more here

Fort Bragg spouse of the year was not good enough for some

Lesbian Wife Named Fort Bragg's Spouse of the Year
Jan 26, 2013
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
by Drew Brooks

A lesbian wife of a Fort Bragg soldier was named the installation's military spouse of the year through a voting competition.

Ashley Broadway is not recognized as a spouse under federal law, and she recently was denied official membership in a Fort Bragg officers' spouses organization.

But her selection in the competition by Military Spouse magazine was praised by advocates for gays and lesbians, who say it underscores the need for the federal government to extend full benefits to same-sex couples.

Broadway, the wife of Lt. Col. Heather Mack of Fort Bragg's 1st Theater Sustainment Command, will represent Fort Bragg in the 2013 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year competition.

Broadway will be pitted against winners from other Army installations.

Online voting on Feb. 5 at msoy.militaryspouse.com will decide who will be the Army-wide spouse of the year.

That person will compete against winners from the five other service branches for the national title.

The military is not involved in the competition, though spouses of top Pentagon leaders help pick the national winner.
read more here

Fort Bragg Officer Spouse changed rule after gay spouse wanted to join

These military women were already doing it

Female Soldier Recounts Time Under Fire
Jan 28, 2013
Military.com
by Richard Sisk

Army Lt. Col. Kellie McCoy adopts the just-doin’-my-job poker face when asked about her combat time, but she stands out in history along with many other of the 280,000 military women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCoy has served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. She knows what it feels like to kill on the battlefield. She earned a Bronze Star with Combat “V” in the process. Maybe most importantly, McCoy knows how to cram 11 paratroopers and their combat gear into a Humvee under fire.

All of that would set her apart from other uniformed women had so many other women not experienced similar situations the past 10 years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCoy is part of the generation of women that convinced U.S. military leaders to make women eligible for combat roles for the first time in U.S. military history.

A West Point graduate who completed airborne school as a cadet, McCoy led 11 male paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division into combat in Iraq in 2003. The St. Louis native was a captain at the time.

Soon after a firefight off Highway 10 near Fallujah, she spoke to a reporter and gave full credit to her men for overcoming the ambush. McCoy explained how she led her men to concentrate fire in specific directions.
read more here

1st Woman to Lead in Combat 'Thrilled' With Change
Jan 25, 2013
Associated Press
by Michael Biesecker

RALEIGH, N.C. - Former U.S. Army Capt. Linda L. Bray says her male superiors were incredulous upon hearing she had ably led a platoon of military police officers through a firefight during the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Instead of being lauded for her actions, the first woman in U.S. history to lead male troops in combat said higher-ranking officers accused her of embellishing accounts of what happened when her platoon bested an elite unit of the Panamanian Defense Force. After her story became public, Congress fiercely debated whether she and other women had any business being on the battlefield.

The Pentagon's longstanding prohibition against women serving in ground combat ended Thursday, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that most combat roles jobs will now be open to female soldiers and Marines. Panetta said women are integral to the military's success and will be required to meet the same physical standards as their male colleagues.
read more here

Silver Star Recipient A Reluctant Hero
NPR
by RACHEL MARTIN

February 22, 2011

The idea of being a hero doesn't really sit well with Leigh Ann Hester, so having an action figure modeled after her is, in a word, surreal. The doll, decked out in Army fatigues, an M4 rifle and small Oakley sunglasses, is supposed to be a tribute to Hester, a sergeant in the Army National Guard who received the Silver Star in 2005 for valor during a firefight in Iraq. "The action figure doesn't really look a whole lot like me," she says. "The box is better."

Hester has had a hard time seeing herself in any of the hero stuff that has been made of her — and there has been a lot: paintings, posters, even a wax figure on permanent exhibit at the Army Women's Museum in Fort Lee, Va.

When Hester enlisted with the National Guard in the spring of 2001, she had been selling shoes at the local Shoe Pavilion near her home in Nashville, Tenn. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, happened right before she left for basic training. She remembers the drill sergeants telling her and the other recruits that they would be the ones to go to war. And that's exactly what happened. In July 2004, Hester was ordered to Iraq.
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Woman Gains Silver Star -- And Removal From Combat
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 1, 2008

KHOST, Afghanistan -- Pfc. Monica Brown cracked open the door of her Humvee outside a remote village in eastern Afghanistan to the soft pop of bullets shot by Taliban fighters. But instead of taking cover, the 18-year-old medic grabbed her bag and ran through gunfire toward fellow soldiers in a crippled and burning vehicle.

Vice President Cheney pinned Brown, of Lake Jackson, Tex., with a Silver Star in March for repeatedly risking her life on April 25, 2007, to shield and treat her wounded comrades, displaying bravery and grit. She is the second woman since World War II to receive the nation's third-highest combat medal.
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Military suicides and the power of the point

Military suicides and the power of the point
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
January 28, 2013

There are too many people still asking why soldiers commit suicide. After all, the reasons have been known for over 40 years but when the military knows the answers, they ask a different question until they hear the answer they want to receive. Much like when facing the enemy, they want to know how many, where they are, what the weaknesses are and how well they are armed. That's how they defeat the enemy they can see but when it comes to the enemy they can't see, it is anyone's guess in the position of authority they listen to. Guess? Yes. Considering how long this has all been going on and the lack of progress in saving lives, they are still listening to the wrong people.

This came out in February of 2008 along with surveys and expert reviews of the Daddy of "Resiliency training" but the military pushed the program no matter how it failed those who serve.

The "Battlemind" program dealing with PTSD and TBI is simplistic almost to the point of being insulting - dealing with two very complex issues as a simple "cause and effect" scenario. The psych care afforded to active duty military personnel is at best "sketchy" and at worst, dangerous.

Again in 2008 there was this report but again, nothing substantial was done about it so we ended up with a record year of suicides in 2012.
'Battlemind' is the Soldier's inner strength to face fear and adversity with courage. Key components include: - Self confidence: taking calculated risks and handling challenges. - Mental toughness: overcoming obstacles or setbacks and maintaining positive thoughts during times of adversity and challenge.

Battlemind skills helped you survive in combat, but may cause you problems if not adapted when you get home.
Conclusions
• Multiple deployments and longer deployments are linked to more mental health and marital problems.
• Good NCO leadership is related to better Soldier/Marine mental health and adherence to good battlefield ethics.
• Good officer leadership results in Soldiers/Marines following ROE.
• Soldiers/Marines with mental health problems were more likely to mistreat non-combatants, highlighting the importance of getting them help early.
• Mental health services are most needed during the last six months of a year-long deployment since this is when Soldiers experience the most problems.

Now you have a bit more background on how we got where we are on addressing the enemy the DOD can't see.
'The storm' is coming
As the U.S. military suicide rate soared to record heights during 2012, the families of service members say they, too, are witnessing a silent wave of self-harm occurring within their civilian ranks: spouses, children, parents and siblings.

Some suicides and suicide attempts — like those that ravaged the Velez family — are spurred by combat losses.

Others may be triggered by exhaustion and despair: As some veterans return debilitated by anxiety, many spouses realize it's now up to them — and will be for decades — to hold the family together.
'Like an airborne disease:' Concern grows about military suicides spreading within families
By Bill Briggs
NBC News contributor
Before Army Spc. Andrew Velez left Texas for the final time, he asked his fragile sister to write him a promise – a vow he could carry with him to Afghanistan.

Monica Velez knew she owed him that much. In the horrid weeks after each had lost their beloved brother, Freddy Velez, to enemy fire in Iraq, Monica tried to end her life with pills and alcohol. Now, she put pen to paper: “I will not hurt myself. I will not do anything crazy. I know that Andrew loves me. I know that Freddy loved me.” Andrew folded her note and slipped it into his pocket.

“Don’t break your word to me,” he told her before heading back to war.

Seven months later, Andrew, 22, sat alone in an Army office at a base in Afghanistan. He put a gun to his head and committed suicide. Back in Texas, word reached Monica Velez who, once again, found herself in a dangerous place. Only now, she was alone. Days of alcohol and anti-depressants. Nights of dark thoughts: “It would just be better if I was gone.”
read more here

The Powerpoints can be, “for lack of a better term, overkill,” said Knowles, not part of the Connecticut Guard’s new outreach. “They jam it down your throat, and I don’t find it to be effective because you’re getting it SO much.”

Connecticut National Guard Feels Pain of Military Suicides Directly
Litchfield County Times
By Joe Amarante
January 27, 2013

When he heard of his good friend’s death by suicide recently, National Guard Capt. Kyle Knowles said he was shocked at first but not very surprised.

“He was just a tense kind of guy. I never would have thought he would do something that drastic, but he fit the bill.”

Knowles, a central Connecticut resident, husband and father who previously deployed to Iraq with the Massachusetts National Guard, now works on active duty in the ROTC center at Western New England University in Springfield. He spoke last week, a day before attending Massachusetts funeral services for his friend, who had PTSD and served at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison during one of two deployments.

“I don’t think he’d ever say, ‘Hey, I want to kill myself,’ but ... certainly somebody should have grabbed him and said, ‘Dude, are you just a stressed-out guy or do you need to really talk to somebody?’” Knowles said of the man he served with about 18 months ago.

Military suicides hit a record high last year at about one a day nationally amid a chorus of concern and a growing list of prevention efforts. Connecticut officials are feeling the urgency but also some confidence in their approach.

Col. John Whitford of the Connecticut National Guard said his units have had two and three deployments to the war zones. For each, they are first sent to a behavioral health specialist. But you can only prepare so much for mental and physical trauma, and sometimes it’s just white noise for a soldier headed into action.
read more here
Now for all the people trying to say that "oh well suicides in the general population have gone up too, there is this piece of information that once and for all should cut the claim down to the size it should be.
Suicide is a national issue as well as one for the Army,” he said.

During World War II, suicide rates went down compared with what they were during peacetime, and physicians believed they understood mental health problems in the military, Dr. Ursano said.

Some 300,000 service members developed PTSD or major depression after tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In more recent times, suicide rates have increased during war. Rates for civilian and military suicides are now about the same when matched along age and gender demographics, but before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started, the military suicide rate was about half of the rate for the general population.

War creates particular stress for servicemen and women. They are in high-tempo operation environments — where everything moves faster — at the same time that they are separated from family and significant others. Physicians who study military suicides often find depression or anxiety before such a death, but there are other variables.


The power of the point was reached a very long time ago. Showing soldiers a Power Point presentation not only bores them out of their minds, it is a waste of time, and as it turns out, deadly to their lives. If the military continues to push the programs that have not worked, the only thing they succeed at doing is insuring more soldiers take matters into their own hands. These folks are a lot different than the rest of the population.

Consider this. How can they be willing to survive during combat, doing whatever it takes to stay alive along with their buddies, yet back home, can't find any reason to stay alive another day?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Veteran files suit against Louisville police after being tasered

Veteran files suit against Louisville police
By Jason Riley
The Courier-Journal
Posted : Saturday Jan 26, 2013

A Kentucky National Guard lieutenant colonel has filed a lawsuit against several Louisville Metro Police officers, alleging he was assaulted and wrongfully detained when they took him to the ground and handcuffed him after a confrontation in January 2012.

Lt. Col. Donald Blake Settle claims he was stopped as he tried to leave Mid City Mall on Jan. 29, with one officer eventually pulling a Taser on him before he was forced face-down onto the concrete and restrained, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Police have said they believed Settle was a homeless panhandler because his clothes were dusty, he had difficulty speaking and he couldn’t provide his address.

In an interview in September, Settle, a Purple Heart and multiple Bronze Star recipient, said he has a poor memory and difficulty speaking as the result of injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, incurred in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan and a vehicle rollover.

His case resulted in an internal police investigation, sharp questioning from Fort Knox officials and a new mandatory training program for police on how to deal with military veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

Lt. colonel with brain injury was handcuffed by police
Also another case
Tasered Veteran Files Lawsuit Against New Lenox Police Brian Wilhelm, 28, was Tasered by police in December 2010 while trying to help people in a car accident.

Time for communities to stand up for National Guards

Time for communities to stand up for National Guards
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
January 27, 2013

"Connecticut suicides tied to military one a week" this about that for a second. Now think about all the members of the National Guards and Reservists and what they go through in our name. Aside from the obvious of being deployed to respond to natural disasters, they are deployed into combat as well. They are able, willing and ready to take care of the members of their communities as well as go wherever they are sent.

There is so much in this article to point out that it is hard to ignore any of this. It focuses on Connecticut "citizen soldiers" and how they are falling back home. There is an term used when a service member is killed in combat and the KIAs are "fallen soldiers" or "fallen Marine" but there doesn't seem to be such an honorable term for them when they take their own lives because of where they'd been, what they witnessed and endured in the nation's name.

For the Citizen soldiers of the Guards and Reserves, their identity is connected to serving others. That is why they join others, train to be able to respond to the needs of their communities. Most of them are employed in law enforcement, fire departments, emergency responders, medical fields and teaching. Some are employed in offices and other fields working side by side with people with little or no understanding of what they do as "weekend warriors" and even less of what they do as deployed into combat for a year while someone else has to take care of their jobs here at home.

How can they understand when few of them take an interest?

These men and women train with others from their own communities. As pointed out in this article, there is a bond that goes beyond meeting up with strangers on a military base and training. These are their neighbors. While the bonds in the military are strong, for them the bond has lasted longer.
"Schwartz noted the Guard and Reserve members are different than active Army because “they grow up together, they train together ... go to war together. It’s like going to war with your high school class. ... It’s just a very strong and intense bonding that people may never know.”


Most of the phone calls I receive from Moms come in from National Guardsmen and women, especially when they have been discharged. Their identity, much like the military members has been about service, so when they can no longer do it, they lose a part of their lives. With Citizen soldiers employed in law enforcement and fire departments, discovering they can no longer do those jobs or remain in the Guards, it is a loss too many can cope with. Everything tied to a lifetime of service has been taken from them. Who are they now? What are they supposed to do now? They spent their lives wanting nothing else, pulled into taking care of others to the point where they are willing to die for their sake.

To understand how deeply this can be connected to "who they are" just look at some of the news stories about amputees staying in the military. Civilians have a hard time understanding this.

But a Connecticut resident who serves in the Massachusetts National Guard saw it another way.

“The programs are there for the active-duty guys,” said Capt. Kyle Knowles. “The Guard guys, they’re put through the ringer of all these medical and psychological tests ... and then they go back into the civilian world, and you kind of lose track of them.”


Regular military members have a problem when they can no longer serve in the military due to combat wounds but hit harder when their wounds of combat come into them in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is hard for them when they never thought of doing anything else. Yet for members of the National Guards when they can no longer serve, it is harder because for them, disasters hit close to home and they must then cope with not being able to help as members of the Guards or for most, not being able to do their "day" jobs in law enforcement and as firefighters.

Here is just one example of a member of law enforcement and also a member of the National Guards
"Frederick L. Blohm Jr. , 42, is one such person. He has devoted his life to police work and the military and is now a corporal with the Indiana State Police and a second lieutenant with 113th Engineering Battalion of the Army National Guard, where he is an ordnance officer in Gary, IN.

He works about 60 hours a week as a trooper, while enthusiastically performing his Guard service one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. He actively responds to calls from both services when off duty while fulfilling the demands of family life, with a wife, two sons and five stepchildren. Along the way, Blohm makes time for physical fitness and has volunteered for deployment abroad.

Self-effacing, Blohm credits his colleagues, as well as the support of the state of Indiana, its governor, the leadership of the Guard and his wife for being able to do all this. But to understand why he does it, it helps to go back to his roots."


It is impossible to ignore how dedicated members of the Guards are, not just to their communities but to the whole nation.
In Connecticut, veteran suicides on rise
The Register Citizen
By Joe Amarante
January 26, 2013

It was Veterans Day 2011 and Connecticut Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz was on a float at a welcome-home parade in New York City, behind Connecticut singers performing the Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic tunes.

“You’re going down 5th Avenue and it’s just like in the movies! People are waving, it’s all going well,” Schwartz recalls. “And then you come home and there’s a message on your phone, and someone is calling because their sister who had served in Bosnia ... committed suicide. And you say to yourself, here on this day, to feel so alone...”

Her voice trails off as she recalls the day she heard veteran Lisa Silberstein of Hamden had taken her own life at 37.

Silberstein’s death was one catalyst for the expansion of a state support program for veterans, but the wave of returning vets from two wars and multiple deployments has arguably stacked the deck and pushed military suicide totals to disturbing numbers nationwide.

Active-military suicides are running almost one a day in this country, according to new Pentagon figures. There were a record 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year, up from 301 the year before.

A records check by Scwhartz of those buried at one of two state veterans cemeteries shows suicides are running about one a week in this state for active and nonactive service people. Officials on the front lines of the suicide prevention fight are fighting back with a mix of outreach, local clinical help and programs that partner with the huge and plodding Department of Veterans Affairs.

“She was very devoted to her military service,” said Dubuque. “Her work was her life ... and her identity was so wrapped up in being a soldier. After she got out ... it was hard for her to make that transition to civilian life.” Especially in a new state.
read more here


They need more help when they come home to heal from where they've been and they need programs that not only work for them but for their families as well. They stood up when their communities needed them and it is time for communities to stand up for them when they are the ones needing help.

National Guards and Reservists don't stop risking their lives when they come home from combat. When they need help to heal, they need it more than ever.

PTSD I Grieve from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Help pours in for vet who stopped burglar

Help pours in for vet who stopped burglar
The Associated Press Posted : Saturday Jan 26, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. — An Athens Army veteran who made headlines after he used a pistol to scare a burglar out of his home says he's seeing an outpouring of support from people offering to help buy him a new door.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that 53-year-old Mark Sikes, who uses a wheelchair and lives on a fixed income, says his phone hasn't stopped ringing for two days and he's shocked and a little embarrassed by all the attention. But he says he appreciates the help after having to borrow $750 to replace his front door.
read more here

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cases overwhelm Veteran Affairs

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cases overwhelm Veteran Affairs, still
I left this comment.

"We can pretend all of this is new, but it isn't. VBA's pending compensation and claims backlog stood at 816,211 as of January 2008 is posted on my blog along with way too many other reports. Congress has never gotten it right for our veterans."

Homeless Iraq veteran stole from Chapel then left note

Homeless Iraq war veteran stole from Staten Island chapel, left note, cops say
By John M. Annese
Staten Island Advance
January 26, 2013

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A homeless 25-year-old who served in the Iraq War stole cash from a chapel donation box in Meiers Corners, then left a note asking people to "give money to homeless veterans," according to authorities.

Casey Cocozello was arrested on the grounds of the Society of St. Paul Alba House, at 2187 Victory Blvd., last Saturday, after he made two separate trips into a locked office there that day, according to police.

On Tuesday, police hit Cocozello with additional charges, accusing him of stealing the credit card numbers of a friend who had given him a place to stay and using them to go shopping.
read more here

Military Suicides Reflect the Moral Conflicts of War

Military Suicides Reflect the Moral Conflicts of War, Says Marine Captain
Magic Valley.com
Times News

Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo, a graduate student at New York University, deployed to Iraq in 2009 and to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.

When I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I would kill people. I was trained to do it in a number of ways, from pulling a trigger to ordering a bomb strike to beating someone to death with a rock. As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not.

I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary? I didn’t have time to resolve this question before deploying. And in the first few months, I fell right into killing without thinking twice. We were simply too busy to worry about the morality of what we were doing. But one day on patrol in Afghanistan in 2010, my patrol got into a firefight and ended up killing two people on a motorcycle we thought were about to attack us. They ignored or didn’t understand our warnings to stop, and according to the military’s “escalation of force” guidelines, we were authorized to shoot them in self-defense. Although we thought they were armed, they turned out to be civilians. One looked no older than 16.

It’s been more than two years since we killed those people on the motorcycle, and I think about them every day. Sometimes it’s when I’m reading the news or watching a movie, but most often it’s when I’m taking a shower or walking down my street in Brooklyn. They are not the only deaths I carry with me. I also remember the first time a Marine several miles away asked me over the radio whether his unit could kill someone burying a bomb. The decision fell on me alone. I said yes.

Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible. This incongruity can have devastating effects. After more than 10 years of war, the military lost more active-duty members last year to suicide than to enemy fire.
read more here

To Combat Suicides, Army Focuses On The Homefront

How many years do we have to hear the military finally understands how important families are in all of this? Two, three, five, ten? How about 30? How about 40? That's how long we've know families need to not just be informed of what PTSD and what they can do, they need help to do it.

They need help to go beyond just staying with their veterans and given the tools to do it, they need support for themselves as well.

To Combat Suicides, Army Focuses On The Homefront
by BLAKE FARMER
January 25, 2013

Alicia McCoy holds a photo of her husband, Sgt. Brandon McCoy. Despite taking part in basewide suicide prevention efforts at Fort Campbell in 2009, Sgt. McCoy took his own life in 2012.

When Sgt. Brandon McCoy returned from Iraq, he showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. His wife, Alicia, remembers him being on edge in public.

"I'm watching him, and his trigger finger never stopped moving, constantly," says Alicia.

Four years later, after he returned from a tour in Afghanistan in 2011, she says, she'd wake up with his hands wrapped around her throat. She told him: Get help or get a divorce. So he scheduled an appointment and — along with Alicia — trekked to the Fort Campbell hospital located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

"I sat there and watched this person ask my husband, 'Do you feel like hurting yourself today?' 'No sir.' 'Do you feel like hurting anybody else today?' 'No sir.' And I went, 'Are you kidding me?' " says Alicia.

Her husband was given sleeping pills and antidepressants. But more than a year later, he was found dead in a west Tennessee motel room with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

"I wear his dog tags every day. They were hanging on the rearview mirror in his car," she says. "It is what it is. I can't change what happened."
read more here


40 years ago when Vietnam veterans came home, they didn't have support and their families had even less. In 1982 when I started out after meeting my husband, I didn't have support. I had to read clinical books and old magazines about Vietnam before I started to understand. In 1984 Bill Landreth, a Seattle Police officer and Vietnam veteran, started a group dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Point Man International Ministries developed Out Posts for veterans and Home Fronts for families.
Chuck Dean, publisher of a Veterans self help newspaper, Reveille, had a vision for the ministry and developed it into a system of small groups across the USA for the purpose of mutual support and fellowship. These groups are known as Outposts. Worldwide there are hundreds of Outposts and Homefront groups serving the families of veterans.

PMIM is run by veterans from all conflicts, nationalities and backgrounds. Although, the primary focus of Point Man has always been to offer spiritual healing from PTSD, Point Man today is involved in group meetings, publishing, hospital visits, conferences, supplying speakers for churches and veteran groups, welcome home projects and community support. Just about any where there are Vets there is a Point Man presence. All services offered by Point Man are free of charge.


Dana Morgan has been the President of Point Man International Ministries for many years and heads the group of dedicated volunteer veterans and their families across the country to make sure more and more know about what can be done to heal.

Wives have to not just grieve by the grave of their husbands but regret fills them because no one told them what they could have done differently. Parents visit graves and wonder why no one included them in helping their sons and daughters survive being home after they survived combat.

There are no more excuses left for neglecting the families when they are in fact the ones on the front lines of coming home.

Friday, January 25, 2013

SPC. Brenden Salazar remembered by huge crowd in Oviedo FL

Today in Oviedo Florida at Hagerty High School, a plaque was dedicated to a former student and fallen hero, SPC. Brenden Salazar. He was killed in Afghanistan on July 22, 2012.




This was taken from the video I was shooting of the dedication. While the video should be online tomorrow, when I saw this image of the saluting shadow over Brenden's picture, it was almost as if his spirit was saluting back at all the people gathered together.


Army Specialist Brenden Salazar was killed while serving in Afghanistan on July 22, 2012. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne Brigade Combat Team Caserma Ederle Italy. He was 20 years old.

Congress lack of budget causes Navy to cut back

Navy Orders Cuts to Begin; Thousands to Be Fired
Jan 25, 2013
The Virginian-Pilot
by Bill Bartel

Navy flag officers and top executives were told Thursday to begin cutting expenses -- laying off thousands of temporary civilian workers, reducing base operations and preparing to cancel maintenance work on more than two dozen ships and hundreds of aircraft.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, directed the reductions in a memorandum sent to senior Navy officials. The cuts are driven by uncertainty over how much a divided Congress and the White House might approve for the Pentagon's 2013 budget.

"We are making the following reductions, starting now, to ensure we can fund ongoing deployments and other mission-critical activities," the memo said.

The reductions do not specifically mention Navy operations in Hampton Roads, but they are expected to affect numerous private and military facilities in the region -- as well as ships and aircraft. Southeast Virginia is home to multiple bases, including the Navy's largest, Norfolk Naval Station, and Norfolk Naval Shipyard, a government-owned facility in Portsmouth where thousands of civilians work on Navy vessels.
read more here

Military women bigger kahunas than Tucker Carlson

Military women bigger kahunas than Tucker Carlson
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
January 25, 2013

There is something about military women that keeps getting missed in all the reports coming out about how they are now going to be allowed to have combat jobs technically when they were already doing most of them. The fact that they have to not only face the same threats to their lives as males, they are also willing to face the fact they could be raped by them. Think about that. They are that determined to serve their country they are even prepared to face that horrible possibility. It hasn't been bad enough for them they have had to hear some male chauvinists shoot off his mouth when he won't even pay attention to what is going on.

Tucker Carlson does not know this is not an office job.
Memorial Day weekend at Walter Reed in 2010 I flew to Washington to meet up with the Nam Knights in Washington for the Memorial ride to the Vietnam War Memorial. When I landed, I caught a cab to Walter Reed for a VIP tour and a chance to meet some of the wounded heroes I wrote about all the time. As a Chaplain with two organizations, I was given the opportunity to talk to these men and yes, wounded women, for as long as I wanted to.

One of them was a young woman the same age as my daughter. (not the woman in the picture) She was a beautiful blonde with stunning eyes. She was an MP and an RPG took off a leg above the knee. When I walked into the room, her Mom was there. I thought about how I would feel with my own daughter lying in that bed and then I decided to not show any sadness.

I talk to her for a bit, then told her about a triple amputee I know and how he handled life afterwards. She started to laugh. Her Mom wiped happy tears of relief from her face. The MP looked up at her Mom with a big smile and said, "Well, thank God it wasn't higher!"

She understood her life was far from over. I understood that when people say things against military women, they are stunningly stupid. They have no clue what these women are like.
By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military
January 24, 2013

More than 200,000 women are in the active-duty military, including 69 generals and admirals. A quick look at women in the military, according to Pentagon figures.
Tucker Carlson has the right to remain safe at home along with the right to prove just how uninformed he is. The thing he missed is that while he thinks this,
Tucker Carlson ✔ @TuckerCarlson
Feminism's latest victory: the right to get your limbs blown off in war. Congratulations.

It was already happening but he just didn't notice. Lt. Dawn Halfaker was featured in this article in 2005!
Women in combat: One soldier's story
CNN
By Jake Tapper and Jessica Metzger
January 24th, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jake Tapper is an anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN. He’s also the author of the best-selling book about Afghanistan “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor”

In her senior year at West Point, Candace Fisher decided she wanted to join the Military Police since it would allow her the most options “to do the most soldier-like things,” Fisher recalled in an interview with CNN.

In 2006 and 2007, Fisher served at what would become Combat Outpost Keating, one of the most dangerous bases in Afghanistan. Fisher – who then went by her maiden name, Mathis – led a platoon of Military Police, supervising 36 troops, including six other women, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 71st Cavalry.

With Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announcing today that the Pentagon would end its policy of excluding women from combat positions, Fisher – reached at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks, where she is currently a small group leader for an officer leadership course – said the Army was acknowledging what has already in many ways become a reality in the military.

“It’s a formalization of what we’ve been experimenting with the last ten to twelve years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Fisher told CNN. “I think that those two conflicts have probably given the Army a pretty good idea of whether or not an actual policy change was warranted.”

Even though Fisher is Military Police and not Infantry or Cavalry, she says “given the nature of the fight over the last ten years or so, it’s made us all very dependent on each other as far as branches, interdependent as far as combined action and combined arms. So there has been a lot of bleed-over for missions regardless of what branch you are based on the conflict.”

During one mission in October 2006, Fisher and her MPs were teamed up with Able Troop’s 3rd platoon when they had to push through a complex ambush. The female MPs returned fire along with the male soldiers. Actually, one male soldier recalled, with their AT-4 grenade launchers, the MPs had stronger firepower than the scout platoon.
read more here

Single mom fought alongside combat troops in Afghanistan
CNN iReport
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
January 25, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
An unemployed single mom with bills to pay decides to enlist in the Army
In Afghanistan, Kimberly Bratic worked with a combat team
One of her three sons struggled with her decision to leave
She just got home to Ohio and still cannot find a job

(CNN) -- Kimberly Bratic hauled her gear up Afghan mountains. She went into areas where Taliban lived. She grieved when fellow soldiers were blown up by a suicide bomber. She missed her family for a year, and heard the worry in her sons' voices when she got the rare chance to call home.

She lay awake, thinking, "What if I don't make it home?"

The only difference between the 39-year-old single mom and the men she went on 70 missions with was their job titles.

U.S. lifts ban on women in combat

The guys were combat infantry. She was a public affairs specialist, the person who documented their experience training Afghan military and police. read more here