Monday, September 30, 2013

This Suicide Prevention Month, Show Veterans They Matter

All of this is fine and sounds really good but regular folks don't buy it anymore. We're tired of hearing about how much the troops and veterans matter when clearly, they just don't matter enough.

They didn't matter to the DOD when they were discharged under personality disorders and left with nothing. They didn't mater when they were committing suicide at higher rates after the DOD pushed the program doing the most damage to them. On one hand you have the DOD telling they are worth billions a year of special training to make them "resilient" and then on the other hand you have General Gen. Raymond Odierno coming out and saying exactly how he feels about the troops he commands. They are not from supportive families like his and they lack intestinal fortitude. On one hand they say they care but they didn't stop this program.

The VA has the same problem because they say they care but they don't stand up for the veterans coming home and telling them what the DOD just put them through with this programming.

So as good as this piece is, it just does not add up to facts. Many people care, but they just don't care enough.
It Matters: This Suicide Prevention Month, Show Veterans They Matter
Huffington Post
Dr. Janet Kemp
National Director for Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement, Department of Veterans Affairs
Posted: 09/30/2013

Family matters. Friendship matters. Support matters. Every Veteran matters.

For each of us, life is given meaning by a variety of different things that matter: family, friends, relationships, job or interests. And though these things may differ for each of us, they are also what connect us to each other and provide purpose and inspiration each day.

Sometimes, stress, trauma or everyday demands may lead us to forget the things that matter. For Veterans the added stressors of readjustment and combat experience add to the problem. For some Veterans there are added complications such as PTSD or Brain Injuries. Sometimes, something as simple as talking to a Veteran can help them open the door and rediscover what matters most in their life. Whether the Veteran you know has just returned home, or they served years ago, you can be there to support them and help them remember what matters. You can provide that bridge from hopelessness and despair to treatment and hope for the future.

September is Suicide Prevention Month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) have chosen the theme It Matters to encourage Veterans and their loved ones to focus on the things that give life meaning--the things that matter most to them. For each of us, that represents something different. For me, it's spending time with my father, a World War II Veteran, and honoring him by dedicating myself to the VA services that support Veterans in crisis. For others, it may be spending time with their family and friends, playing a round of golf, creating a delicious meal or participating in community events. During this Suicide Prevention Month, I encourage each of you to reach out to a Veteran you know and show them They Matter.

read more here

VA’s opiate overload feeds veterans’ addictions, overdose deaths

VA’s opiate overload feeds veterans’ addictions, overdose deaths
Aaron Glantz
CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
September 30, 2013

Before dawn, a government van picked up paratrooper Jeffrey Waggoner for the five-hour drive to a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern Oregon. His orders: detox from a brutal addiction to painkillers.

He had only the clothes on his back, his watch, an MP3 player and a two-page pain contract the Army made him sign, a promise to get clean.

But instead of keeping Waggoner away from his vice, medical records show the VA hospital in Roseburg kept him so doped up that he could barely stay awake. Then, inexplicably, the VA released him for the weekend with a cocktail of 19 prescription medications, including 12 tablets of highly addictive oxycodone.

Three hours later, Waggoner, 32, was dead of a drug overdose, slumped in a heap in front of his room at the Sleep Inn motel.

“As a parent, you’d want to know how this happened to your child,” said his father, Greg Waggoner. “You send your child to a hospital to get well, not to die.”

Jeffrey Waggoner’s end and easy access to the narcotics that killed him have become tragically common, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
read more here

Reminder of the Walter Reed story that broke hearts around the country

And This Was Called Care? The Walter Reed Story
New York Times
By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published: September 30, 2013

As this week’s Retro Report video explains, the biggest scandal in recent times involving the care of wounded American troops was actually worsened because medicine on the battlefront had made such remarkable advances.

Compared with service members who served in Vietnam, troops sustaining combat wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan had roughly twice the chance of surviving. That meant many were airlifted back to this country with such severe injuries they needed the most sophisticated medical and rehabilitative care the country had to offer.

But once they became outpatients, thousands of service members entered a system that had not kept up with the times, that was understaffed, poorly organized and generally second rate.

The story broke in The Washington Post in the winter of 2007, with a series about Walter Reed Army Medical Center. While the most obvious shortcomings were the physical conditions of the hospital housing for the soldiers — peeling paint, crumbling walls, mold and rats — the more damning problem was an understaffed medical system overseen by a dysfunctional bureaucracy.
read more here

Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant fired!

Two Marine generals fired for security lapses in Afghanistan
Washington Post
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
September 30, 2013

The commandant of the Marine Corps on Monday took the extraordinary step of firing two generals for not adequately protecting a giant base in southern Afghanistan that Taliban fighters stormed last year, resulting in the deaths of two Marines and the destruction of a half a dozen U.S. fighter jets.

It is the first time since the Vietnam War that a general, let alone two, has been sacked for negligence after a successful enemy attack. But the assault also was unprecedented: Fifteen insurgents entered a NATO airfield and destroyed almost an entire squadron of Marine AV-8B Harrier jets, the largest single loss of allied materiel in the almost 12-year Afghan war.

The commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, said the two generals did not deploy enough troops to guard the base and take other measures to prepare for a ground attack by the Taliban. The two, Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the top Marine commander in southern Afghanistan at the time, and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, the senior Marine aviation officer in the area, “failed to exercise the level of judgment expected of commanders of their rank,” Amos said.
read more here

Last day of Suicide Awareness Month

Last day of Suicide Awareness Month
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 30, 2013

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno recently told The Huffington Post something that was known a long time ago. The military thinks that the soldiers simply lacked training and they could teach them a lesson in being resilient. They came up with Comprehensive Soldier Fitness after they failed with a program called Battlemind.

CSF was based on a research project to address self confidence in school aged kids, not troops heading into combat. They thought it was the answer to preventing suicides and PTSD.

The Huffington Post did a fabulous job trying to bring attention to these tragic ends of soldiers lives all month. What they missed was the cause of most of the damage being done. The military told the soldiers they could train to become resilient. What the soldiers heard was that if they ended up with PTSD it was their fault for not training right and being mentally weak.

David Wood wrote in his article Army Chief Ray Odierno Warns Military Suicides 'Not Going To End' After War Is Over
The Army's chief of staff, Odierno is charged with recruiting, training and equipping the 1.1 million active-duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers. He's also responsible for the health and well-being of Army troops and their families.

In the article Odierno said something that confirms the soldiers deepest held belief and is more responsible for them not seeking help.
"First, inherently what we do is stressful. Why do I think some people are able to deal with stress differently than others? There are a lot of different factors. Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations."

"But it also has to do with where you come from. I came from a loving family, one who gave lots of positive reinforcement, who built up psychologically who I was, who I am, what I might want to do. It built confidence in myself, and I believe that enables you to better deal with stress. It enables you to cope more easily than maybe some other people."

Odierno blamed the troops and their families when it was obvious years ago this program was to blame. They pushed it no matter what the deadly results were.

Last year was the deadliest year for suicides on record. Years after this attempted began and after the withdrawal of many forces leaving less in combat and less in military while adding to the veterans population. More suicides and less serving didn't seem to inform the military they lacked the intelligence come to the obvious conclusion that this programming was behind it. So they pushed it harder and pushed soldiers over the edge.

They were coming home and apologizing for grieving. They said "I didn't train right" and that they "were not supposed to show weakness" so they didn't feel worthy of much at all.

We saw reports out of Oklahoma and Arizona that veteran suicides rates were double the civilian population. We also were fully aware of the fact that veterans are only 7% of the US population but across the country there are at least 22 suicides a day. The last report out of the VA on attempted suicides was that there were 1,000 veterans attempting suicide every month.

While most of the press has taken little interest in all of this, the truth has been out there for years.

I made this video in 2007. There was hope back then that awareness would save their lives. Last year, that hope slipped away. Now as the month of awareness comes to an end, we have lost many more lives but the DOD doesn't seem to think this deserves serious attention. Had they understood how this hits so many, they would have released the Suicide Event Report for 2012 and the suicide monthly report for August by now.
Suicides are at an all time high. During and after Vietnam, it was easy to hide the true count of those who sacrificed their lives, one way of the other, but now there is a way to track them across the country. Their deaths should never be ignored. These over 100 names were taken from news reports. PTSD was at the root of most of them.


More assistance on PTSD offered after another suicide

Assistance available for those with PTSD
The Scribe
By Nick Beadleston
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013

The Colorado Springs Police Department responded to a report of a shooting in the 4700 block of Rusina Road on Sept. 13. Officers arrived to find a 27-year-old male dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman with CSPD, later confirmed the individual to be Eric Diederich.

Diederich was a grad student, attending UCCS in pursuit of a criminal justice degree. He was also a veteran, having served with the Army’s 7-10 Cavalry Troop in Afghanistan.

According to a 2012 Department of Defense report, data collected from 2010 indicates approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Many that return home have varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which “can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster,” according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Susan Diederich, mother of Eric Diederich, stated that her family was unaware if her son was suffering from PTSD. “We have a lot of questions and no answers.”

UCCS is home to more than 700 veterans, as well as many additional active duty military members and students relying on family GI benefits.

Phillip Morris, director of the Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs, said his office is working to promote awareness of PTSD and a cohesive veteran culture on campus.
read more here

Murder-suicide leaves Fayetteville police searching for answers

Murder-suicide leaves Fayetteville police searching for answers
WRAL News
September 28, 2013


FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A former Fort Bragg soldier and father of two who police say fatally shot two of his neighbors and their dog Saturday night before turning the gun on himself suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, his wife said Sunday.

"I feel that it was just eating him alive," Danica Thomas, told WRAL News. "I am truly and deeply sorry for the families that suffer because of this."

Lt. Todd Joyce of the Fayetteville Police Department said police responded to 7905 Gaza Court in the Farmington subdivision in Fayetteville around 8:15 p.m.

Saturday after Thomas called 911 asking for help because her husband, Allen Thomas, was in their front yard firing a handgun.

While responding to the call, police were notified about a nearby shooting at 6713 Potters Court, where they found Ann Awaldt, 68, dead and her husband, Todd Awaldt, 48, seriously injured.

He was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he later died.

About a half-mile away at Christina Street and Hoke Loop Road, investigators later found Allen Thomas, 29, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"It is a random act," Joyce said. "Detectives believe the suspect did not know the victims."
read more here

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Combat wounded Afghanistan veteran gets new home and hope in Florida

Disabled Army veteran gets donated house in Parkland
Sun Sentinel
By Lisa J. Huriash
September 28, 2013

A wounded Army veteran who once camped in the mountains of Afghanistan will soon sleep in a $450,000 house in Parkland that will allow him to grab food from the pantry and take a shower without sitting on the floor.

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Mast lost both his legs above the knee and his left index finger to a bomb. But the Michigan man found new hope and a new home thanks to a charity and donations meant for wounded warriors.

Mast's journey to South Florida began when he was a kid on Christmas vacation in Fort Lauderdale. After high school, he enrolled in the Army and was assigned to the 841st Combat Engineer Battalion in Fort Lauderdale.

Years later, Mast was working as a bomb tech clearing the way for soldiers to move into a village near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

"I didn't find anything," Mast, now 33, recalls of his search for explosives in September 2010. "I stood up and I took one or two steps more and found what I had looked for.
read more here

Wounded Afghanistan veteran gets new home and hope

Wounded veteran given new home in Kansas
KSN.com
By Justin Kraemer
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013

ANDALE, Kansas — Sgt. James “Matt” Amos used prosthetic legs and a cane to walk awestruck through his new home in Andale, built by local volunteers and a charity based out of Massachusetts for the wounded veteran.

“I really don’t think you can put into words,” said Amos. “It’s just amazing, the support of the community.”

Amos was wounded in action in Afghanistan in June 2011. The Marine lost both of his legs and shattered his pelvis.

He’s spent the last two years in California recovering through a dozen surgeries. Both Matt and his wife, Audrie are 1999 graduates of Andale High School and decided to return to Kansas when Homes for Our Troops contacted the family about building them a home.

Dozens of volunteers who hadn’t seen the Amos’ in a decade helped build the home. Cargill Beef donated $100,000.

“Folks in these communities genuinely love these men and women who have been wounded and they want to take care of them,” said Larry Gill with Homes for Our Troops.
read more here

VFW Post 4287 shows seniors still love to dance

One of the most active VFW Posts in Central Florida had a fundraiser last night to fight cancer. I don't know if I had more fun being there or doing the edits today. Aside from being a great group of people, they have supported my ministry for a couple of years now and have been a true blessing.

VFW Post 4287 Ladies Auxiliary Cancer Fundraiser was held Saturday September 28 and seniors proved that you are never too old to have a great time. A 93 year young lady danced to YMCA and the Twist. So did a Vietnam Veteran survivor of Hamburger Hill. Great time with Carlo Lovasco providing the music.

Look for part two.

These are some of the other great moments. When you see what was done at the end keep in mind that every time this groups has an event, this is how they end it.

Backyard war memorial asks "Am I worth dying for?"

Vet builds memorial in his yard
Sadusky Register
JESSICA CUFFMAN
BELLEVUE
SEP 28, 2013

Bikers and veterans search for it, and tourists sometimes stumble upon it by accident.

But no matter who visits George Keller’s veterans memorial in Bellevue, it always inspires the same reaction: awe and appreciation.

Keller, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army in Thailand, always wanted to build a memorial at his property, at the corner of Edmonds and Billings roads.

Two years ago, he started by installing a flagpole at the home he shares with his wife of 20 years, Sandy. A neighbor helped him dig a trench, and Keller built the base of the memorial, using bricks from an old Bellevue school building. He installed 12 engraved stones, one for each of the nation’s wars.

Since then, he and his wife have added to the memorial, piece by piece. They found replica military helmets in their travels, and George ordered replica rifles for eight of the 12 wars memorialized. He also added a plaque engraved with a prayer by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Wartime Prayer.”
read more here


This is the prayer that asks an important question all of us need to ask of ourselves.

Am I Worth Dying For?
Dear Lord,
Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

United for Care to Petition for Medical Marijuana Amendment in Florida

UPDATE out of Maine
Medical Marijuana Law Changes Help PTSD Patients
WABI News 5
By Catherine Pegram
Posted Tuesday, October 1st, 2013



Mainers living with post traumatic stress disorder will soon have another option to manage their symptoms.

Next week, state law will allow doctors to legally recommend medical marijuana for patients.

“Until I found medical marijuana, I was a ticking time bomb.”

When Marine Corps Sergeant Ryan Begin’s elbow was blown off by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, that was just the beginning of his pain.

Doctors also diagnosed him with post traumatic stress disorder.

“Any situation you see, all you see is the danger side of things. You don’t just see a street, you see a road that could be full of bombs. You see drunk drivers, you see people being unsafe, you see all of these horrific things around any daily event.”

Begin finally found relief in marijuana, then started working with advocates like Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine so others could find relief, too.

“We ran in humvees and we dealt with IEDs and stuff, so when I go under an overpass now, I still – the hair on the back of my neck, it’s still nerve wracking. But now with the use of medical marijuana, it only occurs for a brief second, a couple of seconds. It’s there and then it flows through me. It’s not just beating me in the back of my eyeballs continually.”

Supporters, like former Marine Corps Corporal Bryan King, say legally allowing patients to use pot will help anyone dealing with PTSD.
read more here
There are many conditions medical marijuana helps treat. Alzheimer's disease, Epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, Glaucoma, Arthritis, Hepatitis C, Cancer, Morning sickness among others but the ones we should talk about here are Depression and Anxiety because they are part of PTSD.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN recently wrote a great report about how he became informed and change his mind of legalizing it.

The medications veterans are on have been more about numbing them than helping them live a better quality of life. Pot helps their bodies calm down but does not leave them feeling as if they are zombies. It doesn't freeze out their emotions. Given a choice between the side effects of most PTSD medications the VA provides getting chilled out and having the munchies isn't that bad. Then there are more that actually do not work any better than a placebo.

If you think that people will just abuse pot, think again. People abuse all kinds of things but we do not make them illegal. We put laws on them like drinking and not being able to drive drunk. They get arrested. Medical pot should not be any different just as there are laws to control the use of all medications. The other factor to consider is that veterans are very respectful of the law. They don't want to break the laws of the nation they risked their lives to defend, so even if there is something out there that helps them, they will not seek it if it is illegal.

On the flip side they end up with medications that are more dangerous to them because the drugs the VA provides are legal. Do we want to help them or not? Do we want to numb them or take care of them to give them the best quality of life they can have?

If you are still against it then think of this. Most medications are taken from plants. Pot is a plant too. Just because a pharmaceutical corporation doesn't have their label on it, doesn't mean it isn't a good thing.
United for Care to Petition for Medical Marijuana Amendment in Florida

With John Morgan leading the charge, United for Care has said they will petition Florida’s Secretary of State in the 2014 election to add an amendment to the state’s constitution that will legalize medical marijuana.

“I have the finished product in front of me,” John Morgan, founder of Morgan and Morgan and chairman of United for Care, said. “I’m going to have it delivered to the Secretary of State office by Friday or early next week at the latest.”

United for Care have solicited approx. 700,000 signatures necessary to get the item added to the 2014 general election ballot.

United for Care, a statewide organization at the forefront of the push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and the subgroup behind the campaign, People United for Medical Marijuana, have solicited around 700,000 signatures necessary to get the item added to the 2014 general election ballot.
read more here

Hundreds of homeless veterans attend Stand Down in Orlando

Event aims to battle homelessness among local veterans
WFTC
Sept. 28, 2013

Red shirts are buddy volunteers staying with the veterans to make sure they get what they need
ORLANDO, Fla. — Hundreds of local veterans attended the 2013 Orlando Stand Down event on Saturday, which was aimed at eliminating homelessness among veterans.

Saturday's event was held by the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center and local organizations that assist homeless individuals and families.

Hundreds of veterans showed up for the 2013 Orlando Stand Down at the recreation center on W. Livingston Street. Lynx provided free transportation to veterans who needed a ride to the event, where more than 300 veterans were expected.

"We're just looking to help them out, and help them connect with some of the service providers and connect with some of the VA benefits that they can enroll for," Sean Gibbs with the Homeless Services Network said.
read more here

VA says veterans' benefits would stop in long shutdown

In combat, they lived and died for each other. Didn't matter where the other guy was from, how he voted or what he did for a living before. All that mattered was they were all in it together. Imagine that. Now imagine how they feel when they did all that deployed into combat to fight the battles members of Congress decided had to be done, then see all this crap going on in Washington. We elected children playing a game with the country the veterans risked their lives for. This continuing disgraceful, unacceptable behavior should not be tolerated by anyone especially when our veterans may end up paying for what Congress screws up yet again!
VA says veterans' benefits would stop in long shutdown
Posted by
CNN's Kevin Bohn
September 28, 2013

Washington (CNN) – The Department of Veterans Affairs clarified itself Saturday, saying that if a government shutdown occurs, and lasts at least a month, not all compensation and pension payments would continue.

“Those benefits are provided through appropriated mandatory funding, and that funding will run out by late October. At that point, VA will be unable to make any payments,” spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said in a statement to CNN.

The agency earlier this week said all payments would be handled.

She said the agency has excepted certain workers - meaning they can work if there is a shutdown. That means claims can be processed and beneficiaries can receive payments during a shutdown that lasts less than a month.

Among the benefits in question would be disability and GI Bill payments.
read more here
UPDATE
Defense Secretary Hagel calls government shutdown threat shortsighted
Associated Press
Lolita C. Baldor
September 28, 2013

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel criticized Congress on Saturday as “astoundingly irresponsible” and said that using threats to shut down the government to satisfy a political whim is dangerously shortsighted.

Hagel, who oversees as much as half of the government civilians who would be furloughed next week if Congress doesn’t reach a budget agreement, said the impasse threatens to delay paychecks to troops serving in Afghanistan.

“When you look at the greatest democracy in the world, the largest economy in the world and we’re putting our people through this — that’s not leadership. That’s abdication of responsibilities,” Hagel said en route to South Korea to meet with with top defense and diplomatic leaders. “This is an astoundingly irresponsible way to govern.”
read more here

WWII veteran meets Brad "who" Pitt

War veteran had never heard of Brad Pitt
Star Pulse
Dave Simpson
September 27th, 2013

Brad Pitt cracked up laughing when he met a World War II veteran serving as consultant on new movie Fury because the 90 year old had never heard of the Hollywood superstar.

The actor personally invited Peter Comfort to the U.K. set to watch him shoot the movie, in which the actor stars as a tank corps commander close to the end of the Second World War.

Pitt was eager to hear all about the former tank driver's experiences, but he was in for a surprise when he came face-to-face with the Brit.
read more here

Defund Congress Affordable Healthcare Coverage they get

Congress has the best healthcare coverage in the country and the taxpayers pay for it. Somehow that didn't translate into coming up with insurance for the rest of us to stay alive without bankrupting our families. After Congress passed the bill in the first place, some brats decided they would hold the country hostage to get rid of Obamacare no matter who got hurt. If they cared, these brats would have come up with a proper plan equal to the one they have for the people they were elected to represent. What did they do? They held about 50 votes to kill it instead of spending a fraction of their time to fix it. Then when that didn't work, they decided to pass a budget that defunds it even though it was only symbolic because they knew the Senate would reject it.

Well that happened so last night the House passed a budge that delays funding what they already approved. Amazing how they get to spend money and then refuse to pay for anything. Remember, that is how we ended up with sequestration and a lowering in our credit ranking but that wasn't bad enough for them.

During the election they whined about jobs but they haven't done anything to create jobs at the same time they said government does not create jobs. Must have made sense to them. It left the rest of us scratching our heads. They say a lot, spend a lot without any accountability but the worse thing is they also get a lot. Their expense reports are amazing considering we pay for what they do including their health insurance.

If we are not worthy of being able to see a doctor when we get sick then why should they be able to? Defund their healthcare and then they can prove we are all in this together. How fast do you think they'd fix the healthcare bill if that happened?
House Budget Vote Passes In Favor Of New Obamacare Deal-Breaker, Shutdown Looms
AP/The Huffington Post
Posted: 09/29/2013

The House voted early Sunday morning to pass a new continuing resolution, 231 to 192, which would fund the government thru Dec. 15.

The plan, which emerged on Saturday, would also impose a one-year delay of Obamacare and a full repeal of the law’s tax on medical devices.

"The House has again passed a plan that reflects the American people’s desire to keep the government running and stop the president’s health care law," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement, adding, "Now that the House has again acted, it’s up to the Senate to pass this bill without delay to stop a government shutdown."

Even before the House voted, Senate Democrats pledged to reject the measure and the White House issued a statement vowing a veto in any event. Republicans are pursuing "a narrow ideological agenda ... and pushing the government towards shutdown," it said.

The Senate is not scheduled to meet until mid-afternoon on Monday, 10 hours before a shutdown would begin, and even some Republicans said privately they feared that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., held the advantage in the fast-approaching end game. If so, a House GOP rank and file that includes numerous tea party allies would soon have to choose between triggering the first partial shutdown in nearly two decades – or coming away empty-handed from their latest confrontation with Obama.
read more here

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When I stopped crying, Wounded Times was born

When I stopped crying, Wounded Times was born
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 28, 2013

There are things that get to me and lately, it has been reading the achieves of my older blog. I wrote it during a time when I was stupid and got political, which am not proud of. Considering the men and women in the military are willing to die for each other, it seems a bit ridiculous that politics have gotten to the point where civilians can't even appear to care about the other side. I was like that until a Marine set me straight again and that is how Wounded Times came to be. He was in Iraq, risking his life and wrote to me to complain about my political posts. I got up on my high horse and slammed him defending my right to write whatever I wanted. Yep, I was that much of a jerk. Anyway after a long email ranting and raving about my rights, he responded with one question, "Are you doing this for us or yourself?"

When I stopped crying, Wounded Times was born.

That's the point too many make all the time. We miss the fact that if we are supposed to be doing things for them we need to remember that all the time. We also need to remember what happened or things will just keep getting worse for them.

Sometimes I forget how bad it has been for them because of how bad things are now. Even researching The Warrior SAW Suicides After War, things fade from my memory. I turn back when I have time and look at some of the over 8,000 posts there and the almost 20,000 posts here. Newspaper achieves can vanish but mine are always here year by year. Stuff bothers me!

Things like US Marines went hungry
"There are a lot of stories like that. We don't hear them much. They're kind of personal.So Nick Andoscia went to Iraq. And hunger soon followed."I got a letter," says Karen. "And he had called me before that. He said, 'Send lots of tuna.' "Nick told his mother that he and the men in his unit were all about 10 pounds lighter in their first few weeks in Iraq. They were pulling 22-hour patrol shifts. They were getting two meals a day and they were not meals to remember."He told me the two meals just weren't cutting it. He said the Iraqi food was usually better. They were going to the Iraqis and basically saying, 'feed me.'
That report was from 2006 with two wars going on. It proved that even back then the troops didn't matter a lot to the military but the did matter to a lot of people here.

The one that really gets me the most is when I read about what is still happening to our troops when more and more kill themselves after more and more has been done by the DOD and the VA.
Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring.And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military's own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves - accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths.The Courant's investigation found that at least 11 service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite exhibiting signs of significant psychological distress. In at least seven of the cases, superiors were aware of the problems, military investigative records and interviews with families indicate.Among the troops who plunged through the gaps in the mental health system was Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn, a young father and third-generation soldier, whose death last year is still being mourned by his native Choctaw, Okla.What his hometown does not know is that Henthorn, 25, had been sent back to Iraq for a second tour, even though his superiors knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice, according to Army investigative reports and interviews.

That was reported Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight By LISA CHEDEKEL And MATTHEW KAUFFMAN The Hartford Courant Published May 14, 2006 but since nothing was fixed back then, we ended up with 2012 worst year on record for suicides to the point where the number of suicides surpassed the reported numbers for the entire Vietnam war.

The worst thing is that things were not fixed back in the 70's when the Vietnam War ended and we ended up with what has been happening ever since.

If we do not revisit history to see where we have been, we will never be reminded enough to make changes that will really matter. So yet again I sit here and the tears come because I am reminded of what we knew and how long ago we knew it.

200+ Homeless Triad Veterans to Get Free Services in North Carolina

200+ Homeless Triad Veterans to Get Free Services
Meghann Mollerus
Good Morning Show
Sep 27, 2013

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than 200 homeless veterans in the Triad can get free health care and other assistance Friday at the eighth Triad Stand Down event at Westover Church on 505 Muirs Chapel Road.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, veterans can receive a wide range of services, including haircuts, hot meals, showers and clothing. They also can receive assistance with benefits or claims, locating permanent housing and legal advice. Dental, eye and health screenings, as well as educational support, also will be available.

"Last year, we served 240 homeless veterans. That was up 30 percent from the prior year. Each year, we see an increase, and I'm hoping it's just because veterans know more about our services, and the problem's not getting worse. But, I'm hoping people would come out, so we can kind of break that cycle of homelessness," said Servant Center executive direcor Shanna Reece.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran shot by police in Dallas

Neighbors Defend Dallas Officers Who Shot Vietnam Veteran
CBS
September 27, 2013

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - An East Dallas homeowner was killed in an officer-involved shooting at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday night after he allegedly shot and killed a man he said was trying to rob him.

Police said William Hall, 57, shot Jerry Hale at his home on Plummer Drive near I-635E. Hall was a Vietnam Veteran.

Hale was trying to break into Hall’s garage, according to police when they arrived. When Hall pointed his gun at police, refusing to drop it — officers opened fire.

“The cops repeated it 20-25 times put the gun down put the gun down. All of sudden he cocked it, pointed the gun and they just… they had to do what they had to do,” said Juan Garcia, who lives in the neighborhood.
read more here

Vietnam veteran beaten at gas station by thug on run for 10 years

Suspect in beating of Vietnam veteran at gas station had been a wanted man for 10 years
WXYZ News
Kimberly Craig
September 27, 2013

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Cortez Hawkins, suspected in Monday's beating of a Vietnam veteran, has been a wanted man and flying under the radar for a decade, according to court records.

The beating was caught on surveillance cameras at the BP Gas station located on Seven Mile near I-75.

On Friday, Hawkins, 32, was arraigned on two counts of Assault with Intent to Do Great Bodily Harm.

When Hawkins appeared in court, it was revealed that he had skipped out on a 2003 criminal case with charges that included Felony Firearm and Carrying a Concealed Weapon.

Two other men are also facing similar charges in connection with the beating of the 64-year-old veteran and his 58-year-old friend.
read more here

Army Reservist shocks daughter and gets cheered by 80,000 football fans

Soldier talks about surprising daughter in front of 80,000 football fans in Madison (with video)
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Written by
Katie Hoffman
September 27, 2013

Decked out in red and white, Bella Lund stood next to Bucky Badger in the middle of Camp Randall, surrounded by more than 80,000 screaming, cheering football fans.

She couldn’t hear anything over the roar of the crowd. But when Bella turned around, everyone around her immediately disappeared.

Her mom was home after six months serving in Afghanistan with the Army Reserve, and she was standing just yards away.

“I just kinda saw the uniform, and I was like, ‘That’s my mom.’ I just knew,” she said. “I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better than that.”

Bella’s mom, Army Capt. Jane Renee “J.R.” Lund, 36, is a 1995 D.C. Everest Senior High School graduate who joined the Army Reserve four years ago. She began a six-month deployment in April as a veterinarian with the 719th medical detachment in Afghanistan.
read more here

Rifle may give the greenest shots deadly accuracy at ridiculous range

Every soldier a sniper? Rifle may give the greenest shots deadly accuracy at ridiculous range
By Lance M. Bacon
Staff writer
September 28, 2013

GERRARDSTOWN, W.VA. — First it was the XM-25 Punisher that changed the battlefield. Now it is the XactSystem precision-guided firearm — a fire control system built by TrackingPoint that turns an average shooter into a competent sniper with the push of a button.

We’re not talking about picking off concealed targets at 350 meters. We’re talking about first-round hit probability in excess of 80 percent at distances of 1,200 meters.

An overstatement, you say? Army Times put that claim to the test.

Three 18-inch targets were placed at 850, 1,050 and 1,100 meters. Winds were a manageable 3 to 5 mph, but a canyon between the perch and the targets caused significant updraft. We were given three .300 Win Mag rounds. The result? Three rounds, three hits.
read more here

Body of Iraq War veteran from Sandy Springs found

Very sad update for the family searching for missing Afghanistan veteran with PTSD

Body of Iraq War veteran from Sandy Springs found in Brookhaven

Georgia State Patrol reports that officers have found the body of an Iraq War veteran who went missing on Tuesday.

Iraq veteran thought "Suicide is a death you'll never have to mourn"

Iraq Veteran And Suicide Survivor: 'I Was On Every Drug That Killed Anna Nicole Smith'
Huffington Post
Molly O'Toole
Posted: 09/28/2013
Cutler decided, "I'm just gonna check the fuck out," and got his paperwork in order for his family. "My exit strategy for Walter Reed was to hang myself," he said. "I was ready to roll. Once you've killed people, one more life doesn't really matter. Suicide is a death you'll never have to mourn."

Promethazine, zolpidem, nortriptyline, morphine, divalproex, metoprolol, prazosin, ibuprofen, diazepam, quetiapine, meperidine, trazodone, mirtazapine, hydromorphone.

For Boone Cutler, this was a "combat cocktail" -– just one month's worth of the medications he was given at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington while being treated for traumatic brain injury after a mortar attack in Sadr City, Iraq, in 2005.

"I'll tell you, at one point in time I was on every drug that killed Anna Nicole Smith, plus some," said Cutler, who was an Army sergeant at the time of the attack.

The drugs weren't enough. After being medically evacuated from Iraq, Cutler was confined to Walter Reed, which was then becoming crowded with the unanticipated casualties of the war. Soldiers were crammed together in rotting, rodent-infested neglect and, said Cutler, they were heavily medicated by the overworked staff.

"There were so many wounded and not enough to care for everybody," Cutler said. "So it was a chemical prison. You get there and they just throw you on a shitload of meds, with one 15-minute appointment a week. It was the worst time in my life. Two years. It was jacked. I saw a lot of guys looked better when they came in than when they left, because of the isolation."
read more here

Iraq veteran depends on food bank to feed family?

East Valley food bank is lifeline for Iraq veteran’s family
East Valley Tribune
September 25, 2013

For Iraq War veteran “John,” his wife “Sharon” and their teenage son and daughter, United Food Bank is the lifeline that helps them get by.

For the past 10 months they’ve showed up regularly when the food bank’s mobile pantry comes to their neighborhood.

John had served 10 years in the military and intended to make it his career when an injury sent him back to civilian life just as the economy was shrinking and his kids were growing.

The family caught the attention of Denise Montana, United Food Bank’s agency relations coordinator, who oversees the organization’s two mobile food pantries.

An Air Force veteran herself, Montana has an affinity for the many veterans who depend on the food bank to make ends meet.
read more here

Father and Daughter from Saipan Serve Together in Afghanistan

Father and Daughter from Saipan Serve Together in Afghanistan
Guam News
Written by Sgt. Edward Siguenza
1-294th Infantry Regiment
Friday, 27 September 2013

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – There’s something symbolic about dolphins in the Igitol clan and it’s not just because the mammals constantly swim around their Pacific Island home.

Spc. Ivan Igitol permanently branded five dolphins on his arm, representing his five children and Carolinian heritage.

Spc. Brittney Igitol tattooed one on her neck, symbolizing her love for her island culture.

Deep in an Afghanistan desert, where Brittney’s Foxtrot Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, runs Operation Enduring Freedom missions, the dolphin mythology exist. Same in Kabul, where Ivan’s Headquarters Company bravely executes missions. The father-daughter tandem is friendly, listens well, and not afraid of danger. Oh, and they don’t just communicate through phone calls and emails. Their family bond connects them through sonar.

“I’m proud of her and all my kids. Brittney chose to make the same sacrifices I am,” said Ivan.

“Our family knows we’re here for the same thing. We wanted to deploy to serve our country; we’re here to help protect our family.”
read more here

Inspiring Marine amputee says "I just put it on and walk"

Marine who lost leg inspiration at Great Bay Community College
Brady to receive Distinguished Leader Award
Seacoast Online
By Joey Cresta
September 28, 2013

PORTSMOUTH — A U.S. Marine who lost his right leg in Afghanistan is charting a new course that is inspiring teachers and officials at Great Bay Community College.

Craig Brady, 25, a native of Norwood, Mass., who now lives in Madbury, will be a recipient at the college's Distinguished Leaders Awards event at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle on Thursday night. The event highlights community leaders who have all achieved success and supported the college and their community in different ways.

Other award recipients are Jackie Eastwood, chief executive at Salient Surgical Technologies, and PixelMEDIA, a full-service Web strategy and application development company founded in 1994 by Erik Dodier and Thomas Obrey.

Brady's career path has been decidedly different from the other honorees. Straight out of high school, he enlisted in the Marines. He served in Iraq then Afghanistan, where, in January 2010, he stepped on an improvised explosive device.

Brady said he lost his right leg below the knee and spent two years recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After he was discharged, he said he found a new passion to pursue: therapeutic recreation, which was a major part of his recovery.

"I don't even think about my prosthesis. I just put it on and walk," he said.
read more here

After backlash from neighbors, town pitches in to build vet a house

UPDATE from ABC News
Illinois Veteran Gets Chilly Neighborhood Reception Then Outpouring of Generosity
By TINA CHEN via GOOD MORNING AMERICA
Sept. 28, 2013


New homeowners have been known to get into tiffs with their neighbors over their decorating choices. But a handful of Julie and Brian Wood's neighbors in Morton, Ill., drew up a petition against them for not choosing a brick exterior.

For Army Sgt. Brian Wood, 28, it wasn't the warm welcome he might have expected as a decorated war veteran. Wood has been awarded two Bronze Stars for his two tours in Afghanistan. He now works full time as a warehouse supervisor and continues to serve in the National Guard.

But the initial chilly reception caused a backlash from sympathetic neighbors and well-wishers, turning the sour note into a chorus of welcome and generosity.

Wood found his future home in the Peoria suburb through Habitat for Humanity. Wood, a father of three, lost hearing in one ear due to a combat injury, and that disability has limited his options for jobs, and hence a home loan.
read more here
After backlash from neighbors, town pitches in to build vet a house
KSL.com News
By Tracie Snowder
September 27, 2013

MORTON, Ill. — When U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Wood returned from Afghanistan, he was honored with an amazing surprise — Habitat for Humanity had offered to help his family build their first house.

But things quickly got ugly when some neighbors started a petition because they feared the house would not fit with the rest of the community. The petition actually ended up being a blessing in disguise as it helped Habitat for Humanity secure the donation money needed to build the house.

Wood's story has gone viral, and donations have been pouring in from around the world as people are being touched by the Afghanistan Vet's story.

"Bad has turned to good," Lea Anne Schmidgall, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Peoria, told Yahoo Shine. "The people who started the petition did us a favor in a roundabout way, because it raised awareness, as well as funds for the project."

In an interview with ksl.com, Wood said he's had a hard time since returning from Afghanistan. He earned two Bronze Stars and lost his hearing in one ear.

"It's been one of the hardest transitions I've ever had to face in my life," he said. "It's a complete change of lifestyle in each and every way. I was away from family for a total of 28 months during two tours. Going from fast-paced, hostile and dangerous environment to life at home has been a very hard transition."
read more here

Lesson one on military suicides, CYA and let them die

Lesson one on military suicides, CYA and let them die
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 28, 2013

Suicide Awareness is all fine and good because a lot of people feel empowered to speak out about what is going on. The stories from the troops, veterans and families are heartbreaking. Unfortunately, far too many believe it is also time to claim they have all the answers. These unfortunate souls actually believe what they have been doing has worked because they cannot face the facts they have failed.

I know a lot about failure because I am sitting here still reading these reports after over 30 years of trying to stop them from happening. Sure, I've saved lives, helped families and covered the news reports on suicides for Wounded Times since 2007 but since I'm still reading all the bad news, I haven't accomplished much at all. How do they still get away with the bullshit? Why haven't any reporters managed to actually learn something from Wounded Times so they at least know what questions have to be answered? It isn't as if they are not reading it. I get enough phone calls asking questions when a reporter without a clue has to write something for their publication. None of it matters because as bad as you think it is by reading these reports, it is worse in their real world.

There are things you read giving you a basic idea of what is going on but you have to remember that if there are ten reports on suicides in a given month there are hundreds not talking publicly about what is happening to them. Those are the phone calls that get to me the most because too few are healed and many, too many are lost.

The Huffington Post has a great article up by Madison West The Problem is War and he writes "I was taught in the military that asking for help is a weakness." The truth is that is the message they have been getting. All the bullshit about the DOD false advertising has been about covering their asses because every program they have come up with have been about telling them they are mentally weak and didn't train right.
"After seeing what we have seen, more importantly, doing what we have done in the name of this country, who are you to tell us that we can't kill ourselves? We, the American Soldier, supposedly fighting for freedom over there, shouldn't have the freedom of choice to end our suffering? -Iraq Veteran"

"While veterans are at best, "tolerated" in this society, the occupied people of Iraq and Afghanistan are completely ignored. They have no VA health system, no matter how backlogged, to go home to. The mental trauma they experience is replicated by walking the same streets in which that trauma was borne. Their tour of duty is their lives. Colin Powell, answering questions about the invasion of Iraq in 2003 said, "If you break it you own it." Well we broke it. Really badly. We have an obligation to these people. Above and beyond the obligation we have to our veterans. We must repair the damages of these wars and prevent the next one if we have any hope of stopping this problem."

The last good report we have to go by came out in 2012 with the numbers from 2011. They still have not released the report for 2012 even though this is the end of September.
The AFMES indicates that 301 Service Members died by suicide in 2011
Air Force = 50
Army = 167
Marine Corps = 32
Navy = 52
This number includes deaths strongly suspected to be suicides that are pending final determination.

A total of 915 Service Members attempted suicide in 2011
Air Force = 241
Army = 432
Marine Corps = 156
Navy = 86

DoDSERs were submitted for 935 suicide attempts (Air Force = 251, Army = 440, Marine Corps = 157, Navy = 87).

Of the 915 Service Members who attempted suicide, 896 had one attempt, 18 had two attempts, and 1 had three attempts.

This is what caused the military to "address" suicides. It came out in August of 2007.
"The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War."

"The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said."

They already knew they had a huge problem and so did the VA. They had separate totals with both groups committing more suicides. The VA was dealing with a rise in suicides as well as attempted suicides.

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense was on top of all of this before the press started to really pay attention. In December of 2007 there was an account of what was discovered in an article about Sullivan being interviewed by 20/20 News. What he managed to uncover was a massive coverup by the VA regarding the fact there were 1,000 veterans attempting suicide every month.

The VA was not ready for them. In 2004 there were calls for reduction in staff. "Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, acting under secretary of veterans affairs, said the medical staff of the department would be reduced by 3,700 employees under the president's budget. About 194,000 employees now provide medical care."

Jim Nicholson, the Secretary of the VA said "We have to make tough decisions. We have to set priorities."
According to John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA is calling for a reduction of 540 full-time jobs in the Veterans Benefits Administration, which handles disability, pension and other claims by veterans.

I left this comment on the article on Huffington Post.
The trauma of war has been documented throughout history. If you read the Old Testament, especially Psalms, you'll see accounts of what war does spiritually but most people skip over that. Wars have always been started by people in charge but at least back then, they had to go and risk their lives as if the war was that important. Those days are long gone. The end results are still the same. Someone will always decide to start wars so that should never really be about those sent. The reality is, the men and women risking their lives are not doing it for the people deciding but they do it for each other. That is the part that everyone has to remember. It requires courage. That is obvious. It also requires a level of love few others have within them. Because they care so much, they hurt so deeply. Leave out taking care of their spiritual health, they do not heal. They die because of combat and the fact that the deciders don't care enough.

The facts are simple. The DOD pushed a program that was still in research stages designed for school aged children onto troops heading into combat and expected a different result. When they didn't see the suicides go down, they pushed the program harder. The result was that the troops thought they didn't train right and they were weak minded so PTSD was their fault.

This week, their impression of what the DOD had been telling them was supported by Army General Ray Odierno.
Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations.
But these thoughts were not the worst he had to say. He ended up basically blaming the families for what the DOD failed to do.
But it also has to do with where you come from. I came from a loving family, one who gave lots of positive reinforcement, who built up psychologically who I was, who I am, what I might want to do. It built confidence in myself, and I believe that enables you to better deal with stress. It enables you to cope more easily than maybe some other people.
UPDATED

The number of troops in Iraq in 2011 were 45,000 in September. In June of 2011 there was this "United States will draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan by 10,000 this year and by a total of 33,000 by the end of summer 2012, President Barack Obama"

Equals less deployed into combat but more suicides after years of "programming" the troops to be "resilient" and have "Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations."
go here for first part of CYA

Friday, September 27, 2013

Army paid $16M to deserters, AWOL soldiers

Audit: Army paid $16M to deserters, AWOL soldiers
The Associated Press
By BRETT BARROUQUERE
Published: September 27, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Even as the Army faces shrinking budgets, an audit shows it paid out $16 million in paychecks over a 2 1/2-year period to soldiers designated as AWOL or as deserters, the second time since 2006 the military has been dinged for the error.

A memo issued by Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky., found that the Army lacked sufficient controls to enforce policies and procedures for reporting deserters and absentee soldiers to cut off their pay and benefits immediately. The oversight was blamed primarily on a failure by commanders to fill out paperwork in a timely manner.
read more here

Military practices CYA instead of saving lives

Today on the Huffington Post there is a great article on what an Army Captain thinks about what the Army is doing.
Army Captain Haunted By Recurring Nightmare From Afghanistan
Like many others, Adam shrugged it off as the "bureaucratic, cover-your-ass, in-processing" the Army requires for returning soldiers.

"I was given about 10 or 11 different surveys," he said. "'Do you feel like hurting yourself?' 'Did you see people die in combat?' Very raw questions I didn't even want to think about, and it's not a person asking me, it's a computer. It's 'here, lemme turn everyone into this data point.' Naturally, all of us, we just want to go home, right? I got very good at the tab, click, click, and filled everything in with the letter 'C' -- for average -- wherever they said, 'Rate this.'"


Cover your ass is right and that is what they have been doing all along. Amazing that the press has yet to catch onto this. You'd think they would have had plenty of time to actually do some investigating considering it has been going on since 2008.

Here are some basic headlines they could have used and then maybe, just maybe we could have saved thousands of lives every month. Thousands? Yes and you'll discover that in the list of missed headlines.
Less Deployed but More Suicides
Troops left Iraq in 2011. 2012 highest suicide rate on record.
U.S. troops have finally left Iraq - after nearly nine years, more than a trillion dollars and the loss of almost 4,500 American lives. The last soldiers moved across the border to neighbouring Kuwait in the early hours of Sunday morning, hugging each other in relief.


Associated Press had learned that suicides in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 for 2012 and almost every news site jumped on that number. While the press reported the totals, what they did not mention were the Army National Guards and Reservists suicides topped that high record off at over 492 suicides because there were 143 of them reported by the DOD in February of 2013.

Veterans committed suicide at a higher rate as well.

There were also over 30,000 calls to the suicide prevention hotline they managed to save among the hundreds of thousands of crisis calls.
The number of calls to the national Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua in the past six fiscal years:
2007: 9,379
2008: 67,350
2009: 118,984
2010: 134,528
2011: 164,101
2012: 193,507

So with everything being done, no one noticed that there were more veterans, less troops deployed into combat and even less troops in the military.

Army
Active duty force will decrease by about 75,000 soldiers to 490,000. (For perspective, there are about 565,000 soldiers on active duty today and there were about 480,000 soldiers on active duty on 9/11/01.)

Marine Corps
Active duty force will decrease by about 20,000 Marines to 182,000 total. (For perspective, there are about 202,000 Marines on active duty today, and there were about 173,000 on 9/11/01.)
Air Force

Eliminate six of the 60 Air Force tactical air squadrons, as well as one training squadron. The Pentagon will eliminate: 27 aging C-5As (leaving behind 52 C-5Ms and 222 C-17s); 65 oldest C-130s (leaving behind 318 C-130s) and they will divest 38 C-27s.
Navy

Retire seven cruisers that have not been updated with ballistic missile defense capabilities or that are in need of significant maintenance. Some fleet support ships will also be retired, and the building of several ships (1 large deck, 1 sub, 2 littoral combat ships, and 8 joint high speed vessels) will all delayed by one year or more.

So what do you think their next excuse will be considering the 2012 Suicide Event Report has still not been released? What is their excuse for the rise in attempted suicides this year? Any clue? I won't bring up all the other things that have come out in the last month because these questions have not been answered in all of these years, so it wouldn't do much good annoying active readers of Wounded Times. go here for Lesson one on CYA and letting them die

Wounded Soldiers ride 167 miles in two-day cycling trip

Wounded warrior bike trek ends with no one left behind
Soldiers ride 167 miles in two-day cycling trip
Leaf-Chronicle
Written by Philip Grey
Sep. 26, 2013

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — The first Bluegrass Rendezvous – a two-day 167-mile bike ride from Fort Knox to Fort Campbell – came to a successful conclusion on Wednesday afternoon as a group of 40 cyclists hit the finish line at Fort Campbell with everyone who started the ride at Fort Knox.

Following a half-hour rest stop in Guthrie, Ky., the cyclists completed the last 17-mile leg strong and fast, actually getting back to Fort Campbell and the finish line at the Warrior Transition Battalion well ahead of schedule.

It would have been an amazing performance and a proud moment for anyone, but for the wounded, ill and injured soldiers of the Fort Knox and Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Units, who comprised over half of the group, it was a statement that they were far from out of the game of life, and actually more fit than many who have never endured the kind of adversity some of these warriors have faced.
read more here

Afghanistan veteran with TBI struggling after dog was shot

Is this something that should happen when they come home? Read about everything going on in his life and then as the reporter writes, get ready to have your heart broken.

Veteran with brain injury faces steep bills after his dog was shot
KATU News
By Erica Nochlin
KATU.com staff
Published: Sep 26, 2013

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. – Be prepared to have your heart broken.
Luke Hunt is an Army veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan in 2010.

He’s divorced, he’s unemployed and he doesn’t have a car.

The one thing he does have is his dog, Pepper.

Earlier this week, somebody shot Pepper. Now Hunt faces a choice: Come up with thousands of dollars to fix Pepper’s leg, or have the leg amputated.

“It’s weird to say this and I know my family understands this when I say this … but she can’t talk back, and she just lays there and listens to me,” Hunt said. “I have more conversations with the things that I struggle with. Any nightmares I have, I wake up to her. She knows when I’m having a nightmare - I open my eyes and she’s licking my face.”

Hunt was a medic in the 101st Airborne Division when it was involved in a nearly 20-hour firefight in Kunar Province in June 2010. He said a friendly-fire bomb was mistakenly dropped about 25 feet away, leaving him with injuries he didn’t immediately recognize.

Once he got back to safety, he found himself frequently lost, confused, disoriented and unable to remember conversations he’d had just few minutes before.

“The traumatic brain injury is the one I deal with the most,” he said. “But I maintained in country for the rest of my deployment because I did the same thing every single day, all day.

“I didn’t start seeing those issues until I got back. Until there was more than just a horn blowing telling you when to eat breakfast lunch and dinner.”

Life got worse for Hunt when he got home.

He had won two medals and a Purple Heart, but the losses kept mounting.

Heat or stress can cause him to black out. Divorce ruined his credit. His car was repossessed because he couldn’t remember to make the payments.
read more here

Wounded vet returns home to Florida from Afghanistan

Wounded vet returns home to Zephyrhills from Afghanistan
Tampa Tribune
By Eddie Daniels
Tribune Staff
Published: September 26, 2013

ZEPHYRHILLS — Life, today, is much different for Tyler “TJ” Jeffries.
Tyler Jeffries’ dog, Apollo, was trained for five months by Los Angeles-based animal trainer Brian McMillan. Jeffiries and McMillan were connected through a mutual friend, Clay Burwell. McMillan participated in Dicovery’s Shark Week and has a CBS show titled Lucky Dog. TYLER JEFFRIES

Walking doesn’t come easy. In fact, most days, it hurts. Sometimes the pain limits Jeffries, a 2007 Zephyrhills High School grad and former baseball player, to his wheelchair.

Eleven months ago, Jeffries stepped on an improvised explosive device during an explosive-clearing mission in Afghanistan.

The explosion took off a portion of his left leg above the knee as well as a part of his right leg below the knee. It’s also put him in a hospital operating room at least a dozen times.

As difficult as tasks are now, not much can compare to the moments just after the Oct. 6 blast.

“From the time I got blown up to the time I got in the helicopter, it took 50 minutes,” Jeffries said. “So I was waiting there, legless, for 50 minutes on the ground. I remember every single second of that.

“I was awake the whole time talking to my guys and they were taking care of me.”
read more here

Florida Vietnam Vet awarded $762K after losing job over PTSD

Jury awards $762K to veteran fired from Delray job due to post-traumatic stress disorder
The Palm Beach Post
By Jane Musgrave
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
September 26, 2013

WEST PALM BEACH — For the second time in a month, a jury has slapped a city in Palm Beach County for mistreating a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After deliberating for 45 minutes, a jury on Thursday ordered Delray Beach to pay decorated Vietnam veteran Robert Desisto $762,000 for forcing him to retire after he explained he couldn’t drive a 20-ton truck on the open road because he suffers from panic attacks.
read more here

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What have we learned during Suicide Awareness Month?

What have we learned during Suicide Awareness Month?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 26, 2013

Twenty-six days into this month when we were supposed to be made aware of what is going on has left many of us worse than feeling empty. It feels as if all these years were just a waste of time. It sure has been a waste of money since apparently the Army thinks "Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations." Topped off with they lack a loving family like Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told David Wood of the Huffington Post in an interview.

If that is the case then Odierno should have alerted the Pentagon and Congress they didn't need all the funds to pay for stuff since it was the fault of the soldiers they died by their own hands. Bet the people responsible for the over 900 suicides prevention programs taking in billions a year got a big chuckle out of ripping off the treasury for something they didn't need to do. After all, they really got a kick out of it when they kept getting the money even after the suicides and attempted suicides went up.

I am not sure if it is more sickening than frightening right now.

Imagine being one of the survivors of military suicide and reading what Odierno thinks about them. Imagine being one of the family members already dealing with all the questions left behind while blaming themselves because someone they loved didn't want to stay alive anymore. After all, that happens more than 55 times a day without even counting the active duty forces or the Army National Guards and Army Reservists that keep being left out of the totals the press uses.

The Army has not released the August report for Army, Army National Guards and Army Reservists suicides as of today. What bothers most more is the fact the Department of Defense hasn't even bothered to release the full report for 2012 for all branches yet. We don't know how many committed suicide or how many attempted it. There were over 900 attempts in 2011.

While more and more people do care about this more and more are under some kind of grand delusion the military gets it. How could they? How could they even begin to understand what they have been claiming to fight against since 2008 when someone like Odierno comes out with that kind of crap they used to use during the Civil war when traumatized troops were shot for being cowards.

Where is common sense in all of this? Programs don't work so they push the programs that already failed. They tell the troops asking for help is not a sign of weakness but then Odierno says it is.

I hope all of this sinks in enough so all of us know when it comes to taking care of the men and women risking their lives for each other every day, the military really doesn't care. If they did, Odierno would be forced to resign and take all the others with him. His record sucks on paying attention but his record as a leader has been vandalized by his ignorance.

All the hacks out there pushing Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and what the military has been doing are also responsible for this deadly outcome.

Every time you read what one of them has to say, just look up the record of what they are getting away with claiming and know there is much more to what they say than the saving lives.

As for me, well, I am only more aware that one thing Odierno got right is the fact the suicides won't go down just because the war in Afghanistan will end. After all, the war on suicides was lost back when they started pushing a program still in research stages designed for school kids to give them more self esteem. Don't take my word for it but you can read at least this for yourself. The Dark Side of “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness”

Here is a taste of what experts I track have been talking about.

Also problematic, the CSF program is adapted primarily from the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP) where interventions were focused on dramatically different, non-military populations. Even with these groups, a 2009 meta-analysis of 17 controlled studies reveals that the PRP program has been only modestly and inconsistently effective. PRP produced small reductions in mild self-reported depressive symptoms, but it did so only in children already identified as at high risk for depression and not for those from the general population. Nor did PRP interventions reduce symptoms more than comparison prevention programs based on other principles, raising questions as to whether PRP's effects are related to the "resilience" theory undergirding the program. Further, like many experimental programs, PRP had better outcomes when administered by highly trained research staff than when given by staff recruited from the community. This raises doubts as to how effectively the CSF program will be administered by non-commissioned officers who are required to serve as "Master Resilience Trainers."

So they die because the military used a research project for school kids, inflicted it on our troops, and then blamed them for what the result was. That is what we learned this month.

PTSD On Trial: Ark. court asked to throw out veteran's conviction

Ark. court asked to throw out veteran's conviction
Associated Press
By JEANNIE NUSS
September 26, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Lawyers for an Iraq War veteran convicted of killing his girlfriend told Arkansas' highest court on Thursday that his case never should have gone to trial.

Steven Russell's attorneys told the state Supreme Court that their client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and should have been found not guilty because of a mental disease or defect.

Russell, 34, was convicted of capital murder in the 2009 death of Joy Owens and was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole.
read more here

Family searching for missing Afghanistan veteran with PTSD

His body was found

Army vet Andrew Ackerman missing since Tuesday
11 Alive.com
Julie Wolfe
Sep 26, 2013

ATLANTA -- Friends of an Army veteran missing since Tuesday worry he may be in the middle of a PTSD episode.

Atlanta police tell 11Alive's Julie Wolfe they responded to a call for a missing person Tuesday morning at the Hangovers Bar in Buckhead. Jeanette Kunitz reported her friend, Randal Andrew Ackerman, was last seen there around 2 a.m. Tuesday. He lives in Sandy Springs and was in the city going out after attending a Braves game.

When he stopped answering his phone, she called mutual friends who also were unable to locate him.

Ackerman's roommate said he hasn't been home. Kunitz told police she was concerned because Ackerman suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and could be in the middle of an episode. He was recently honorably discharged from the Army after a tour in Afghanistan. He's served for more than ten years and had also been stationed in Iraq for multiple tours.
read more here

Military officials investigated over ‘lost’ Medal of Honor nomination

Military officials investigated over ‘lost’ Medal of Honor nomination
McClatchy Washington Bureau (MCT)
By Jonathan S. Landay
Published: September 25, 2013

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon investigation into how a Medal of Honor nomination was “lost” — possibly because of an improper effort to kill the award — is focused on its mishandling by members of the chain of command that included retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and other senior U.S. commanders.

The investigation is being conducted by the Directorate for Investigations of Senior Officials, a division of the Defense Department Office of Inspector General that handles cases involving top military and civilian defense officials.

“Specifically, officials within the Directorate for Investigations of Senior Officials are conducting an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the lost recommendation,” the inspector general’s office wrote in a Sept. 3 letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who pressed for the probe.

The review is the latest turn in the convoluted history of the Medal of Honor nomination of former Army Capt. William Swenson, who was recommended for the nation’s highest military decoration for valor for his actions on Sept. 8, 2009, in one of the most extraordinary battles of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The Seattle native is scheduled to receive the medal from President Barack Obama on Oct. 15, nearly four years after he was first nominated and more than a year after his papers reached the White House.
read more here
Army officer refused surrender, saved lives in ambush
MILITARY INTELLIGENCE
USA TODAY
Jim Michaels
September 26, 2013

WASHINGTON — The insurgent ambush was well-planned and executed. About 60 Taliban fighters waited until the Americans and Afghan security forces got within small arms range before opening fire with AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades and machine guns.

The Taliban held the high ground and the Americans and Afghan security forces, including army and border police, were trapped at the end of a narrow valley, facing the enemy on three sides.

An hour into the fight communication with the lead elements was lost. The number of injured was piling up and the enemy was maneuvering against the Afghans and Americans, making it difficult to use artillery without risking friendly casualties.

At one point in the chaos, Capt. William Swenson was coordinating helicopter support, returning fire on the enemy and treating a critically wounded comrade, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook. All the while the enemy was drawing closer, close enough, in fact, that an insurgent signaled at the Americans to surrender.

"Outnumbered, flanked and facing enemy capture, Swenson put down his radio and halted his treatment of Westbrook long enough to reply to the enemy's demands for surrender," according to an Army account of Swenson's action. By way of reply he lobbed a grenade at the insurgent.

The fighting lasted for seven hours that September day in 2009 in Afghanistan's Ganjgal valley. For his actions the former Army officer will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for bravery, from President Obama at the White House on Oct. 15.
read more here