Saturday, November 30, 2013

A cavalry troop discovers a different war than the one it trained for

A cavalry troop discovers a different war than the one it trained for
Stars and Stripes
By Steven Beardsley
Published: November 29, 2013

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Traveling through this dusty city inside the windowless belly of an armored vehicle, Pfc. Mike Forgach opened his eyes, shifted in his seat and turned to the sergeant standing through the ceiling hatch.

“Want some downtime, sergeant?” the young mortarman asked. “I’m getting bored.”

The sergeant declined, saying he needed to monitor the radio, and Forgach, with hours to go in a routine convoy and little chance of dismount, closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep, his mortar tube stowed in a nearby rack.

If the front lines in Afghanistan are often elusive, they’ve felt especially distant for L Troop, 3rd Squadron. In the three months since being posted to Kandahar Airfield, one of the largest military installations in the country and a hub of the coalition’s approaching combat withdrawal, its soldiers have rarely set foot outside their base and have yet to see much of the enemy.

The war grinds on around them. Reports about it reach the troop like dispatches from a distant front. Insurgents attack police checkpoints, trade gunfire with Afghan soldiers and plant bombs outside their compounds.

Older soldiers marvel at how much has changed since their last deployment. Younger soldiers wonder what happened to the war they trained for in the spring.

“I think they feel like maybe this was misrepresented to them,” Capt. Craig Nelson, L Troop commander, said of his soldiers. “But I won’t apologize.”
read more here

Parent pushes for Afghanistan war memorial in Brevard

Parent pushes for Afghanistan war memorial in Brevard
FLORIDA TODAY
Written by
R. Norman Moody
November 29, 2013

MERRITT ISLAND — Over 18 months, Jeanne Weaver completed many drafts of a drawing that will be become a sculpture that pays tribute to those who served in the war in Afghanistan.

Weaver, an artist from Cocoa Beach, worked from several photographs, including one of her son, Army Lt. Todd Weaver, to come up with final drawing that will be the Afghanistan War Memorial at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center plaza.

Todd Weaver, was killed Sept. 9, 2010, when a bomb exploded along the road his platoon was patrolling in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“He is the lone soldier who will represent all of our troops serving in Afghanistan,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned he is a nameless lone soldier.”

Weaver will not be identified in the sculpture. The soldier is kneeling, his rifle in one hand; his other hand pointing offinto the distance. A mountain, a desert and a river completes the scene for the 4-foot wide by 5-foot tall monument that will list the names of those from Brevard or with local family connections killed in the war in Afghanistan.

“I wanted to show emotion and I wanted to show passion,” Weaver said. “I wanted it to be a lasting memorial.”
read more here

Christmas Tis the Season for Selfish and Selfless

Christmas Tis the Season for Selfish and Selfless
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 30, 2013

I checked NBC this morning for news but when I saw side by side videos it got me thinking about how this time of year brings out the best and the worst in us. This is the worst.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Are people really shopping to give to others or for themselves? Black Friday frenzy is not about what others are getting but more about what people want for themselves.

Would they really give a huge flatscreen TV away? Women rushing to buy clothes and jewelry are a dead giveaway since they try on the stuff they load their carts with. Guys buying tools, computer games and the latest gadget when they have small kids with them, a sure bet the stuff isn't for the kids.

Right next to this video was a report about troops in Afghanistan.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Back here in the states families all over the country are spending this season with Skype and emails instead of sharing hugs while the vast majority of the American people are simply spending on bargains.

While most focus on their own needs, wants and issues,there is another group spending this season the same as they do the rest of the year, caring about others. They donate to charities, volunteer their time and show up with someone is in need.

They may get into the shopping frenzy but they are not loading up their cars with things for themselves. They are loading them up with things for others, like blankets and warm clothes for the homeless. Buying toys for their own kids as well as toys to donate so that other kids have something special just for them even though the givers know no one will ever really know it was from them.

When people donate to charities the people getting the services never know the people supporting them on the flip side. They just know someone out there does care about them. Unlike the shoppers pushing and shoving to get the best deal possible for themselves they put others on their to do list.

Which one are you?

From serving the homeland to no home: why?

Why are reporters still asking "why" veterans go homeless?
From serving the homeland to no home: why?
Times Press Wisconsin
Julie Belschner Times-Press
November 30, 2013

They’ve served their country. They’ve risked their lives to keep home, family and country safe. They are the best of the best.

So why, as most people prepare for Thanksgiving, are more than 50,000 veterans homeless? There is a mixed bag of reasons, many the same as homeless people in general – alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment and divorce. But too many veterans also suffer from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Veterans who have seen extensive combat stress and death are much more likely to suffer from PTSD, the Veterans Administration says.
read more here
It is all so easy to ask why this is happening to our veterans now, especially when not many people asked why it was happening to Vietnam veterans.

In 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs published a report from the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans.

There is also a report from 2007 that shows how homeless veterans were regarded.

“We (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) are the agents of a grateful society grateful for people who put on the uniform,” Nicholson said. “But we have challenges to take care of the many living veterans who are no different from the rest of the citizens of our country. We have veterans who have problems.”


This attitude of "no different" was a huge part of the problem. Another part of the problem was the simple fact there were less working for the VA with two wars creating more in need of services.

Since the launch of the Iraq war more than four years ago, the number of people charged with reviewing and approving veterans' disability claims has actually dropped. According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 Veterans Service Representatives in June 2007 compared to 1,516 in January 2003.


In the same article was another part of the problems veterans faced, Dishonorable Discharges. It is one that a Fort Bragg solider knew all too well. Specialist James Eggemeyer was facing this.
Returning to Fort Bragg in April 2004, James was quickly discharged from the military. His experience in Iraq had changed his disposition. He started fighting with his captain, and was given "dishonourable discharge under honourable conditions", which allowed him to use services from Veterans Administration but denied him access to college tuition assistance or vocational training.

There were many, many more.
Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008).

Since nothing was really fixed when Vietnam veterans came home, as they died they were simply replaced by this generation of veterans being left behind.

So now there are less living on the streets and some people want to pretend it is a new problem our veterans face. It is far from new. It is just improved. The question is, what will it be like for them when another war comes and no one planned for more?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Arrests made after deployed Army Reservists were targeted by identity thieves

Active-duty Army reservists victims of identity theft; 2 men arrested
LA Times
By Adolfo Flores
November 29, 2013

Two men were arrested in connection with the identity theft of U.S. Army Reserve officers who were on active duty in Afghanistan, authorities said.

Mauro Cortez, 25, and Rigoberto Cortez, 29, were arrested Wednesday after the Los Angeles County Identity Theft Task Force served a search warrant at a home in Pomona, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The men were allegedly provided the identity information of more than five U.S. Army Reserve officers who were serving overseas in Afghanistan and then used it to establish lines of credit and buy cars.

Deputies found evidence at the home allegedly linking the Cortez men to the identity theft.
read more here

Grieving family says military drops the ball on wounded veterans

Grieving family says military drops the ball on wounded veterans
CTV Atlantic
Published Friday, November 29, 2013

A family from Truro, N.S. is dealing with shock and anguish over the death of a family member serving in the military.

They say warrant officer Michael McNeil struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and never got over the death of a his cousin, who was also a soldier.

McNeil died Wednesday at the Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario and his family says he committed suicide.

McNeil is one of three Canadian soldiers believed to have committed suicide this week and his family is calling on the military to take better care of its veterans.

“The support that they get when they get home is almost nil,” says his uncle, Frank McNeil. “I mean, they’ve got an illness and they’re not looking after it.”

He says his nephew, a 19-year war veteran, suffered from PTSD after serving overseas in Kosovo and Bosnia.

“I’m hurt to think that there wouldn’t be someone to help these young guys.

read more here

Canadian Military Investigating Three Deaths

Fundraiser to help Wounded Warriors go home for Christmas

Fundraiser to help Wounded Warriors go home for Christmas
Sun Journal
By Charlie Hall
Published: Sunday, November 24, 2013

A chance meeting between a New Bern businessman and a leader of the Military Order of the Purple Heart eight years ago blossomed into a major local fundraising project.

Wounded Warriors Leave Fundraiser has raised more than $2 million to give recovering wounded Marines a most special Christmas gift —a trip home for the holidays.

Steve Tyson’s business is real estate and his community involvement includes being a Craven County commissioner. With military service of his own, he often attends functions involving veterans.

Jim Casti of Newport is a retired Marine and multiple winner of the Purple Heart. He is a leader in the nonprofit organization for combat-wounded veterans.

The two were seated beside each other at a 2005 military fundraiser in Havelock, an event unrelated to the Purple Heart group. Their conversation set the stage for what has become an annual holiday event in New Bern —the Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Fundraiser. This year, it is Dec. 11 at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.
read more here

Airman of the Year AIr National Guardsman's body found

Body found in water is DC Air Guard's Airman of Year, cops say
The Associated Press
Published: November 28, 2013

BALTIMORE — The body found in the water near Fells Point is that of an airman with the D.C. Air National Guard who went missing last week, Baltimore police say.

Police said Thursday that divers with the department's marine unit removed the body of Airman 1st Class Evan Curbeam, 29, from the water at the Inner Harbor Wednesday afternoon.
read more here

Homeless slayings suspect died after eating something

UPDATE
Accused O.C. serial killer swallowed Ajax in cell, attorney says

Lawyer: Homeless slayings suspect died after eating something
Orange County Register
By MARY ANN MILBOURN and SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
Nov. 29, 2013

BULLETIN: SANTA ANA — A former Marine who was awaiting a death penalty trial in the deaths of six people, including four homeless men, died after ingesting something while in his jail cell, his defense attorney told The Associated Press on Friday.

Attorney Michael Molfetta would not say what his client ingested but said the death raises serious questions about how much supervision Itzcoatl Ocampo, 25, was getting from Orange County sheriff's deputies.
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Unfair Feres Doctrine Bars Wrongful Death Suit for Soldier's Baby

Unfair Feres Doctrine Bars Wrongful Death Suit for Soldier's Baby
By Anne C. O'Donnell of FindLaw
November 8, 2013

"We can think of no other judicially-created doctrine which has been criticized so stridently, by so many jurists, for so long," wrote Judge Nguyen of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case, Ritchie v. United States.

The doctrine to which she is referring is known as the "Feres doctrine." Under this doctrine, the government is not liable for injuries to members of the military service arising out of, or in the course of, activity incident to service. It originates from a 1950 case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which actually involved three different claims against the government:
-The wrongful death of an active service member who died in a fire in barracks allegedly known or which should have been known to be unsafe;

-A medical negligence claim alleging that an army surgeon left a towel 30 inches long by 18 inches wide in a soldier who underwent an abdominal operation; and

-The wrongful death of an active service member who died due to negligent medical treatment by army surgeons

The Federal Tort Claims Act waives the federal government's sovereign immunity, allowing it to be sued just as a private individual would be. The Feres court carved out a judicial exception to this rule, by holding that "the Government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to servicemen where the injuries arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service."

This principle was extended to include claims brought by third parties, which derive directly or indirectly from injuries to service members incident to military duty.

The Feres court and its progeny assert three policy rationales for this rule: (1) the government should not be subject to liability based on the fortuity of the situs of the injury; (2) there are alternative compensation systems available; and (3) the fear of damaging the military disciplinary structure.
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Army starts to correct records of Madigan PTSD Veterans

Army begins correcting medical records for some former Madigan patients
Review board’s decision allows misdiagnosed to begin receiving benefits
The Olympian
BY ADAM ASHTON
Staff writer
November 29, 2013

The Army has begun correcting medical records for former Madigan Army Medical Center patients who left the military with conflicting diagnoses for behavioral health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jeanie Chang, 30, of Tenino learned last week that the Army Review Board for Correction of Medical Records will change her file to reflect the PTSD diagnosis she received at Madigan last year.

Previously, the review board rejected her PTSD diagnosis and refused to correct her records, a decision that cost her disability benefits and left her with a sense that military doctors were misusing her conversations with them.

Chang was among some 400 former Madigan patients who were called back to the hospital last year amid concerns the hospital’s forensic psychiatry team was under-diagnosing PTSD to save the Army money in long-term disability benefits. Of those, 158 patients left the review with PTSD diagnoses.

About 20 of them have had trouble persuading the review board to honor their newer diagnoses. Instead, the board favored the forensic psychiatry reports that were at the center of the hospital’s PTSD controversy.
read more here

PTSD in Civil War times

PTSD in Civil War times: A Md. museum exhibit
By Associated Press
November 29, 2013
FREDERICK, Md. — A new exhibit at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick offers a historical perspective on post-traumatic stress disorder.

The exhibit is titled, “The Emotional Toll of War.” It opened last weekend and will be up through March.

The exhibit includes period newspaper articles, soldiers’ letters and accounts by Civil War surgeons.

The documents offer perspectives on homesickness, melancholy, insanity and suicide.
read more here

VA officials probe how its hospital treated blind Las Vegas veteran

UPDATE
VA investigators sent text messages in North Las Vegas probe
VA officials probe how its hospital treated blind Las Vegas veteran
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
By KEITH ROGERS
November 27, 2013

Sandi Niccum is shown slumped in a hospital waiting room on one of her last days. She was blind and in severe pain. (Courtesy Dee Redwine)

The House Veterans Affairs Committee and local VA officials are probing allegations that staff at the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas mistreated a blind veteran who was writhing in pain while she waited six hours for emergency care at the center on Oct. 22.

The long wait compounded by frustration with incomplete radiology orders and alleged rude treatment increased 78-year-old Sandi Niccum’s frustration to the point that she would pound her walking cane on the hospital floor.

“Several times she would just beat it on the floor and say, ‘Please somebody help me.’ But they didn’t. Nobody cared,” said Niccum’s friend, Dee Redwine, who was with her through the ordeal.

The Navy veteran, described by her aide, Shirley Newsham, as a “brittle diabetic,” had been a volunteer for the VA’s Visually Impairment Services Team for at least eight years. She died Nov. 15 at a local hospice.

Before she died, Niccum asked Redwine to write a chronology of the VA experience and submit it to the Review-Journal.
Her blindness stemmed from diabetes developed during her fifth year of active duty with the Navy Medical Corps as a medic for the Marine Corps at Parris Island, S.C. She was honorably discharged in 1958. She lost vision in one eye in 1983 and the other eye three years later.

Suffering from septic shock from the ruptured abscess in her colon, she died in her sleep about 2 a.m. on Nov. 15. The exact cause of death was unknown, Redwine said.

Niccum’s ashes will be buried at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City at 10 a.m. on Dec. 12 with full military honors.

Donations can be made in her name to the Blinded Veterans Association, P.O. Box 46272, Las Vegas, NV 89114.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

read more here

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 28, 2013

"Blessed are the peacemakers" as well they should be. They possess every attribute in the list Christ said would be blessed.
Matthew 5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:


3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
After you come home it is very hard for you to remember the reason you went. It was to save the lives of the others you were with.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
If you mourn or grieve for the loss and over the horrors you endured, then you shall be comforted for the love you were able to keep alive inside of you. If you did not love, if you did not care, you would not mourn and grieve.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Being meek does not make you weak. You did what you had to do when you had to do it and then, then you fought no more.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
You hunger and thirst for a day when all mankind lives together and wars will be fought no more. You know the price paid all too well.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
You showed mercy to those you were with and even to the people you did not trust.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
No man is pure but some are pure in heart when they do not seek riches and glory for themselves but do what they are compelled to do for the sake of others.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
You are peacemakers and keepers because you were prepared to stop when your job was done and prayed for peace in the land you stood in.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Your actions were for a righteous sake because it was for the sake of the others you were with.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
There are some that want to accuse you. Some want to walk away from you. Some want to ignore you but when you look around you'll see what was inside you the day you decided to serve and that came from a place of love, honor, courage and compassion.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

John 15 13

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.



This you were willing to do.
So why do so many veterans feel cursed instead of blessed? Why is it so hard for you to understand the very fact you mourn is a reflection of that same ability to care that allowed them to be able to risk your lives for someone else?

Everything you need to heal is inside of you already. All you need to do is seek help to reconnect to it and see.

Recalling The Takeover: A Marine Captive In Tehran


Recalling The Takeover: A Marine Captive In Tehran

StoryCorps' National Day of Listening encourages people to take advantage of the days following Thanksgiving to talk to a family member or friend and have a conversation. This year, host Scott Simon speaks with Marine Corps veteran Kevin Hermening about his time as a captive in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, during the Iran hostage crisis of 1980-81.

Fort Campbell Giving thanks loudly for safe return of 345 soldiers

Giving thanks loudly for safe return of 345 soldiers
'Currahees' bring hundreds home to Fort Campbell for holiday
Leaf-Chronicle
Written by
Philip Grey
November 28, 2013

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — The biggest return flight of soldiers from Afghanistan in recent memory could not have come at a better time than the evening before Thanksgiving.

And the hundreds of family members, friends and comrades waiting for 345 soldiers could not have been more unanimously in agreement on that point.

Certainly, for the soldiers who came home to Fort Campbell on Wednesday – nearly all from the 4th Brigade Combat Team “Currahee, 101st Airborne Division – the pumpkin pie will taste a little sweeter on this side of the world for this particular holiday.

What was even sweeter for all involved was a deployment cut short, from nine months to six months, for the best possible reason – mission accomplishment.

More Currahees are on the way home soon. Most will be in time for Christmas, as the transition of more areas of Afghanistan to Afghan self-sufficiency proceeds apace.
read more here

Veterans charity fundraising: Buddy can you spare a dime?

Veterans charity fundraising
Where does money donated over the phone go?
FOX 11
By Robert Hornacek
November 27, 2013

They can be annoying and intrusive, but often, telemarketing calls are a pretty successful way to raise money.

The money you pledge doesn't always help the cause as much as you might like. Case in point: the Veterans Assistance Foundation, based in Tomah. The charity hires a company called Xentel to raise money over the phone and by mail to help homeless veterans. But documents we uncovered show that for every dollar raised by Xentel under that contract, approximately 10 cents goes to the charity.

We're not talking chump change here. FOX 11 Investigates reviewed the charity's tax returns from 2009 through 2012. In just four years, the professional fundraising company raised $4.7 million dollars in the name of homeless veterans. But just $463,373 went to the charity. The company raising the money raked nearly $4.3 million.

"Is this the best way? No. I wouldn't say it is. I know it isn't. But it's the best I can do right now,” Veterans Assistance Foundation founder and CEO Bob Piaro said.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation offers programs for homeless veterans at the VA Clinic in Tomah and the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King. It also operates homes in Madison and Tomah. You might not think you're donating any money to the Veterans Assistance Foundation, but you are. Most of the group's funding comes from taxpayers in the form of federal grants. In fact, the Veterans Assistance Foundation receives about $1 million a year from the government. Thanks to taxpayers, the organization was able to expand last month. It now offers services in 34 counties, including Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago.

But Piaro says the grants don't cover everything. So the foundation still needs to raise money.
read more here

Happy Thanksgiving, Team Rubicon Nation

Happy Thanksgiving, TR Nation!
November has been a busy month for us; our volunteers have been mucking out flooded homes in Austin, TX, providing medical relief to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, and helping homeowners rebuild after the tornado in Washington, IL.

Whether we're sharing a Thanksgiving turkey with friends and family from the comfort of our home or splitting a pack of Turkey jerky and a cornbread MRE with our fellow volunteers in Illinois or the Philippines, we're incredibly thankful for your support.

Because of you, we've deployed volunteers on over fifty operations around the world and here at home. Over 13,000 veterans, first responders, and medical professionals have joined TR to answer the call of continued service.

Thank you, and from our family to yours,
Happy Thanksgiving!

- The Team

Empty Chairs At Thanksgiving Tables

Empty Chairs At Thanksgiving Tables
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 28, 2013

They survived combat but could not survive because of it. That is what makes their suicides even more tragic than civilians losing hope they needed to believe the next day would be any better than their last day was.

The Department of Defense releases the suicide numbers for Army, Army National Guards and Army Reserves month by month.

The last release put the number of soldiers no longer here with this.

October, 10 Army, 11 Army National Guards and 1 Army Reservist. From January thru October there have been 126 soldiers taking their own lives, 82 Army National Guardsmen and 43 Army Reservists.

They also updated the numbers they previously released for 2012 with these totals.

Army, 186, Army National Guards 93 and 47 Army Reservists. This number was changed since the report that came out in February 2013

In December of 2012 there were 7 Soldiers, 10 Army National Guardsmen and 5 Army Reservists. There has been no explanation as to why the DOD does not release the same data for the Marines, Air Force and Navy or the other Guards and Reservists. There has been no explanation as to why the DOD has not release the Suicide Event Report for 2012 after the end of this 11th month of 2013.

That means there were 273 members of the Army here last Thanksgiving but left an empty chair this Thanksgiving.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a report there are at least 22 veterans a day committing suicide. That means 8,030 a year. If you count the current numbers of military forces committing suicide the numbers are close to 9,000 gone since last Thanksgiving.

Every year we honor veterans on Veterans Day, November 11th and in the same month we give thanks for all we have. Everyday veterans carry the full weight of the duty they were willing to fulfill. Everyday we forget to help them carry that load. Forget to offer a hand, an arm to lean on and ear to hear them. Everyday we fail them we are assuredly contributing to the increase in those we remember of Memorial Day.

Whey you give thanks for all you have today, remember all  lost as well. Their families are looking at empty chairs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Loss of VA grant imperils skiers’ paralympic hopes

Loss of VA grant imperils skiers’ paralympic hopes
Stars and Stripes
By Matthew M. Burke
Published: November 27, 2013

Aspen’s snow-covered mountains are Joshua Elliott’s sanctuary, a place where the double amputee can be free and feel closer to God.

But Veterans Affairs’ decision to withhold an annual grant for adaptive sports that keeps veterans like him on the slopes threatens to derail Elliott’s dreams for Olympic gold and to leave the retired Marine sergeant without a mission.

The Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club’s adaptive program — one of the country’s pre-eminent programs for wounded veterans and a feeder for almost half of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team — faces a $300,000 shortfall and might have to shut its doors Friday if funding isn’t secured for this year’s competitive season.

A number of Olympic dreams are on hold as Elliott, 32, and his teammates scramble to find money to keep the program going, even if just for one more month.

“[After my injury] I was afraid this was lost,” Elliott said last week from Aspen, where he is training. “I was questioning a lot of things. I was a little scared with this crazy life change … Now, here I am, competitive, looking at the Paralympics.”

The AVSC adaptive program was founded with wounded veterans like Elliott in mind but since has expanded to include a number of nonveterans as well, according to the AVSC website. Each year, the VA provides the U.S. Olympic Committee with grant funding for adaptive sports programs, Elliott said. About $500,000 goes to AVSC’s adaptive program.
read more here

'Guardian Angel' keeps peace between American and Afghan soldiers

'Guardian Angel' keeps peace between American and Afghan soldiers
NBC World News
By Ghazi Balkiz, reporter
November 27, 2013

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. troops and Afghan soldiers sat together, monitoring classified information streaming in on various screens earlier this week at the Tactical Command Center on Gamberi military base here in eastern Afghanistan.

But they were being watched: Staff. Sgt Howard Linville, an official “Guardian Angel,” was stationed by the door, observing the peace.

Dressed in full battle gear, the 28-year-old Iowan’s mission that morning was to protect and to prevent any “Green on Blue” violence, a term used by the U.S. military to describe attacks by rogue Afghan security personal on American soldiers. The Guardian Angel program was started in March 2012 after a spike in "Green on Blue" attacks on U.S. troops.

When Linville arrived in Afghanistan last July for his first tour in Afghanistan – he’d already done three in Iraq -- he volunteered to be part of the Guardian Angel team.

“I think it is a really good responsibility to have, to be able to keep the other guys safe out there. It is something I wanted to do,” he said.
read more here

Canadian Military investigating two suicides tied to Shilo Base

UPDATE and then there were three
Trio of suicides by Canadian soldiers leaves military, minister reeling
The Canadian Press
By: Murray Brewster

OTTAWA - Beyond expressions of sympathy, the Harper government and the Canadian Forces appeared at a loss Thursday to explain a number of suicides this week among veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

The latest case, which occurred within the last couple of days, involved a senior non-commissioned officer at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa. Military police are investigating and have not released any details, including the officer's name.

A Defence Department investigation into two other deaths in Western Canada is currently underway, a sombre and visibly moved Defence Minister Rob Nicholson told the House of Commons.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of these departed individuals, and I wish all those associated with those individuals peace during this difficult time," Nicholson said.

Earlier in the day, Nicholson called the deaths "very troubling," but noted that since 2011, the Conservative government has poured millions of extra dollars into the treatment and counselling of returning soldiers.
read more here

Military investigating suicides of two soldiers with ties to Shilo base
Winnipeg Free Press
By: Mike McIntyre
November 27, 2013

Two Canadian soldiers with links to CFB Shilo died by suicide this week in separate incidents, the Manitoba military base has confirmed.

Lori Truscott, director of public affairs, told the Free Press on Wednesday that both deaths are now under investigation.
SUICIDE HELP
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or dealing with a suicide loss, call the Manitoba Suicide Line -- a free, confidential, 24-hour service -- at 1-877-435-7170.


The first occurred earlier this week when a soldier posted at CFB Shilo took his own life in a private residence off-base, she said. Hours later, another soldier who had been posted at the western Manitoba base until this past summer died by suicide in Alberta. That incident also happened away from his new posting in Lethbridge.

No other details are being released, including the names or hometowns of the two men. Truscott said there is no apparent link between the men or their deaths, other than the fact they both had been posted at CFB Shilo and ended their lives within a 24-hour period of each other.

The soldier who died off the base in Shilo was with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

A national organization which advocates on behalf of Canadian soldiers first reported the suicides on Wednesday morning.
read more here

Home Healthcare Nurse stole from Korean-Vietnam veteran according to police

Cops: Nursing assistant steals almost $30K in jewelry from Vietnam vet
WFTV.com 9 News
November 26, 2013
Their 85-year-old father was a two-star general in the Air Force who served in Vietnam and Korea.

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Investigators in Brevard County said a Palm Bay home health care nurse stole tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry from a sick, elderly couple.

Police said she cashed in on her patients by pawning off their most treasured items.

Police believe she may have other victims and they want to get her picture out there.

Joyce Speed had only been working for the company for six months and passed extensive background checks.

She's out of a job and out of jail, after allegedly taking advantage of the couple.

For months, Joyce Speed was entrusted with caring for Mr. and Mrs. Titus Hall inside their Palm Bay home.

Police said she'd been stealing from the elderly couple.

"She confessed to the crime and said she was in need of cash," Palm Bay public information officer Yvonne Martinez said.

The victims' daughters only realized nearly $30,000 in jewelry was missing after Hall passed away.
read more here

Veteran held up at Lubbock airport over issue with PTSD service dog

Veteran held up at Lubbock airport over issue with service dog
CBS Atlanta
Posted: Nov 26, 2013
By Taylor Langston

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD)
Everyone's trying to make it home for the holidays, but one veteran at the Lubbock Preston Smith Airport had to put her plans on hold.

Zondra Perkins battles PTSD and leans on her furry friend Sergeant Ski to overcome the symptoms.

The pair has been together for seven months and are now inseparable, so the idea of traveling without her pal was overwhelming.

"He's my best friend in the whole world," Perkins said. " He listens to me when nobody else will. He's there for me. He means the world to me."

Perkins was able to board flights at airports in South Carolina and Dallas on her way to visit a friend in Lubbock, but was held up after not providing proper documentation for the service animal.

According to American Airlines, all airlines are required to follow the same protocol for checking service animals provided by the Department of Transportation.
read more here

Family wants ‘definitive proof’ man in Vietnam isn’t Army sergeant

Family wants ‘definitive proof’ man in Vietnam isn’t Army sergeant
Stars and Stripes
Matthew M. Burke
Published: November 26, 2013

For years, a man living in Vietnam as Dang Tan Ngoc has been claiming that he is Army Sgt. 1st Class John Hartley Robertson, a Special Forces soldier who went missing in 1968 and was declared dead by the U.S. government.

Ngoc’s story was the subject of a controversial documentary, “Unclaimed,” which premiered in the U.S. in May as part of the annual GI Film Festival. The film professed to have found the Green Beret living in a remote Vietnamese village, spurring an impassioned backlash from veterans.

The U.S. government has condemned Ngoc as a fraud, but members of Robertson’s family aren’t so quick to dismiss the claims.

They want to know for sure.

The family wants to exhume the body of Robertson’s mother, Mildred Robertson, from a Birmingham, Ala., cemetery and perform a mitochondrial DNA test to see whether the man living in Vietnam is John Robertson.

“We need definitive proof,” said Robertson’s niece, Cyndi Hanna, who launched a fund-raising effort on behalf of her family to cover the costs of exhumation. “I believe it’s him. I believe it’s him enough to try and confirm it one way or another.”
read more here

Deadlines approach for Veterans' Money

Michigan Veterans

Deadline nears for property tax exemption for Mich. veterans
ABC News 57
By Alexandra Koehn
Nov 26, 2013

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- If you are a disabled veteran who received an honorable discharge and live in the state of Michigan, you may be eligible for a refund on your property taxes. You only have until December 6th to fill out the paperwork.

"$900 on our taxes! That's phenomenal because that will help us live a little better and help our children because we also have a disabled daughter," said Claudia Kelley.
Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski says to be eligible for a property tax exemption, a veteran must meet one of the following requirements:

1) Be rated by the VA as 100-percent disabled
2) Individual unemployability rating
3) Specially adapted housing grant rating
find out more here

Ohio Gulf War Veterans
Ohio Veterans Bonus deadline near for Gulf War Era veterans
Lima Ohio
November 26. 2013

COLUMBUS – Ohio veterans who served during the time of the Persian Gulf War have until December 31, 2013 to apply for the Ohio Veterans Bonus and receive the thank you for their service awarded them by Ohio’s citizens.

The Ohio Veterans Bonus continues for veterans of the Iraq War, who have until December 31, 2014 to apply. No deadline has been announced for veterans of the Afghanistan War and all veterans who served after October 7, 2001.

“I personally urge any eligible veteran, particularly those who served during the Persian Gulf War, to apply for the Bonus immediately. It’s a very personal thanks to every one of our veterans who served during our recent wars from all the people of our great state,” Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Tim Gorrell said. “To everyone in our veterans’ community, please reach out to these veterans and make sure they’re aware. And if anyone has a friend or a family member who served, let them know.”

The specific criteria are below:
· Military service of more than 90 days active duty, not for training, anywhere in the world during the following periods:

- August 2, 1990 through March 3, 1991 – Persian Gulf; deadline to apply is December 31, 2013

- October 7, 2001 through a date to be determined by the President – Afghanistan

- March 19, 2003 through December 31, 2011 – Iraq; deadline to apply is December 31, 2014

· Eligible veterans and military service members must have been Ohio residents at the time of their entry into the military, and must be Ohio residents at the time they apply.


The bonus pays $100 a month to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf theater, or in the countries of Afghanistan or Iraq, up to a maximum of $1,000. For veterans who served elsewhere, the payment is $50 a month up to a $500 maximum. Veterans medically discharged due to injuries sustained in combat can receive $1,000, plus up to $500 for months of service elsewhere. Family members of those killed in action or who died from disease as a result of their in-theater service can receive a bonus of $5,000 plus whatever the service member was eligible for, up to a total of $6,500. find out more here

American Legion: veterans helping veterans

American Legion: veterans helping veterans
Navajo-Hopi Observer
Katherine Locke
Reporter
November 26, 2013

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Orrin Chimerica, 40, has haunted eyes. Slightly watery and red, likely from the three shots he received hours ago for his lingering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

His eyes have seen more of the horror of war than many people. As a combat coreman (medic) in the United States Navy, he was the first person to patch up the injured on the battlefield.

The suicide a week and a half ago of a friend and fellow veteran who had completed two combat tours shook him but also made him more determined to inform veterans that there are places to go for help. As the new American Legion Post No. 3 Commander in Flagstaff, and the only Native American and Hopi to assume the post, Chimerica is in a position to deliver on that determination.

"I want to do this for everybody, not just Native Americans, but any veteran who comes through these doors, that's my job," Chimerica said. "A lot of people died for the flag."

The American Legion, while a closed and private club restricted to those who are veterans, Sons of the American Legion or part of the Ladies Auxillary, reaches out to the community in a number of ways all with the goal of helping veterans.
read more here

Green Beret Command Sgt. Major arrested for elder assault

Would anyone like to explain again how the "training" the military has been doing to help soldiers is working?
Allegation: Fort Carson Green Beret beat up mother-in-law in wheelchair
The Gazette
By Lance Benzel
Published: November 26, 2013

A top-ranking soldier in Fort Carson's secretive Green Berets was jailed Saturday on allegations of physically assaulting his elderly mother-in-law.

Jerry Lentz Lambert, 52, was booked into Teller County jail on suspicion of a crime against an at-risk person, third-degree assault and child abuse after authorities say he forced a plate of food into the 82-year-old woman's face and rammed her wheelchair into a table.

The woman's injuries did not require her to be hospitalized, family members said. Lambert was released Monday afternoon after posting $1,000 bail.

Police decided to pursue a child abuse charge because children were home and witnessed the alleged attack in the 1500 block of Crestview Way, said Woodland Park police Sgt. Thomas Kinney.

The 10th Special Forces Group - or Green Berets - confirmed Monday that Lambert works in the unit as a command sergeant major, the highest rank available to enlisted soldiers.
read more here


There was also this out of Fort Carson
Fort Carson soldier suspected in attempted kidnapping
November 24, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — A 28-year-old Fort Carson soldier was arrested after police say he crawled into the back seat of a woman’s car in downtown Colorado Springs and threatened to hurt her unless she drove away.

The Gazette reports Staff Sgt. Matthew Warren was arrested early Saturday and is being held on suspicion of attempted second-degree kidnapping.

Camp Pendleton Marines set up Christmas Tree Lot for Homeless Charity

Marines set up tree lot to raise money for homeless
UT San Diego
By Linda McIntosh
NOV. 25, 2013
Staff Sgt. Chae, CWO3 Huntington, Staff Sgt. Smith, Gunnery Sgt. Gamez, Sgt. Davis, Capt. Arriaga, Sgt. Richardson, Capt. Rogers, Gunnery Sgt. Pritchard, Gunnery Sgt. Rubenacker and Sgt. Ward. Photo by Michelle Hoppe

CAMP PENDLETON — Marines from Camp Pendleton volunteered their time Friday morning to set up a Christmas tree lot with artificial trees at Brother Benno’s thrift Store on Mission Avenue.

Staff Sgt. Chae and Gunnery Sgt. Gamez put together a tree at Brother Bennos Thrift shop. A group of 10 Marines from Marine Air Command and Control Squadron-X put together 15 artificial Christmas trees that the community donated to raise money for the nonprofit which serves the homeless and working poor.

“It would have taken our volunteers days to assemble what they did in a few hours,” said Michelle Hoppe, the store’s manager.
read more here

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

PTSD and depression hitting fifth of soldiers in Germany

A fifth of serving soldiers 'have mental problems'
The Local Germany's News
Published: 26 Nov 2013
One in five of German soldiers being sent on operations abroad have mental health problems before they go - and are far more likely to develop serious difficulties when they return according to a study published on Tuesday.

Researchers at Dresden's University of Technology described “manifest but largely unrecognized” illnesses including depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affecting a fifth of troops before they went into duty.

And on their return, the soldiers had a four to six times greater risk of developing further mental health problems, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen from the university’s Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy told the Süddeutsche newspaper.

The German parliament commissioned the study in 2008 to see how many cases of PTSD were undiagnosed in the military. It showed the problem remained hidden as soldiers feared being stigmatized if they admit to having difficulties.

Troops also thought it would hurt their career if they told colleagues or superiors they were suffering from mental strain, the Süddeutsche said.

Researchers tested 2,500 soldiers, some of whom had served abroad and some of whom had not. They also interviewed 621 soldiers before they went to Afghanistan and then again a year after their return.
read more here

Wounded Warrior Project Sues Veterans Charity

Charities for Wounded Veterans Wage Bitter War in Court
Courthouse News
By JACK BOUBOUSHIAN
Tuesday, November 26, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - The Wounded Warrior Project claims an Indiana veterans charity defamed it and criminally deceived donors by calling it a "fraud" and a "cash cow," and telling people to send their money elsewhere if they want it to reach veterans.

The Wounded Warrior Project sued Help Indiana Vets Inc., and its founder Dean Graham, both of Acton, Ind., in Federal Court.

The Wounded Warrior Project, founded in 2003, describes itself as a nonprofit that offers tens of thousands of injured veterans free services, including counseling, physical rehabilitation, vocational training, and camaraderie through discounted events and an online community.

"WWP does not charge any membership dues for its programs and services because WWP believes the alumni paid their dues on the battlefield. In fiscal year 2013 alone, WWP served more than 30,000 injured service members and their family members through its various programs and services," the complaint states.

The Wounded Warrior Project has received extensive media coverage and corporate support, leading the 8th Circuit to write in an unrelated opinion that Wounded Warrior Project has "become synonymous with veteran service to this generation of wounded veterans and their families," according to the 31-page complaint.

Defendant Dean Graham, founder of Help Indiana Vets, who says he is a disabled veteran of the Iraq War, told Courthouse News the Wounded Warrior Project turned him away when he sought assistance after his discharge.

"I called them in the middle of my discharge from the Army," Graham said in an interview. "During that time that financially destroyed me and our family we ended up filing bankruptcy and lost everything. I contacted the project for help and was told by six different civilian employees, no, we don't give financial assistance."

Graham continued: "Once we started helping vets in Indiana, I got a call from WWP and they wanted to add us to their list of people veterans can call. So what they would do is ask people to contact local charities for help, even though they were taking donations for the WWP, and then put the burden of providing services on the local organizations."

Graham posted statements on Help Indiana Vets' website saying that Wounded Warrior Project is a "fraud," and the "best paid nonprofit ever."
read more here

UPDATE

Sorry, I had to pick up the pizza right after I posted this. First, I didn't read anything that was not already out there for a very long time so why would this huge charity pick on a little one like Help Indiana Vets? Seems to me that this lawsuit is doing more to damage their reputation than anything else. I wouldn't have heard of Help Indiana Veterans otherwise and a lot of people wouldn't know that WWP has had a lot of issues going on like the ones in this lawsuit.

This came out a while ago.
Charity Investigator: Wounded Warrior Project posted by Kris Hundley Jul 16, 2013

Wounded Warrior Project, created in 2003, has become one of the fastest-growing veterans’ charities in the country.

When the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting asked readers in June to suggest charities to investigate, it was one of the most requested.

Unlike the 50 charities the Times and CIR named on its list of America’s worst in June, Wounded Warrior Project does not rely heavily on for-profit solicitation companies to raise money. And it does not pay telemarketers to drum up donations.

Instead, it uses a combination of fundraising events, corporate sponsorships, advertising and direct mail appeals.

Last year, the charity raised nearly $150 million.

About $81 million was raised through professional solicitors. Wounded Warrior paid 11 percent of that money to cover its solicitors’ fees and the expense of the solicitor-run campaigns. In comparison, veterans charities on the Times/CIR list of worst charities paid an average of 82 percent to their solicitors.

Like any charities you plan on giving to, know what exactly it is they do with your money and don't just guess.

I have a feeling Help Indiana Veterans group will be seeing a lot more donations after this. What was WWP thinking with this lawsuit?

Indiana Veteran Nonprofit Being Sued For Defamation
Indiana Public Media
By EMILY WRIGHT
Posted November 26, 2013

read more here

This is from Help Indiana Veterans Post with the comments left.

Wounded Warrior Project is a Fraud

Among the comments left, this one broke my heart
Vietnam Marine Staff Sargent Paul Sr
(Saturday, March 16 13 02:12 am EDT)
I never relized this was a fraud, I should have known better when I called them for help last July. My son was blown up June 2011 and my wife and I were out of work to be with our son in Germany, Bathetia, Tampa, then to Lajuene, I needed financial help to have new stairs put in because my son lost his vision and needed wider steps to get to the front entrance, we ended up bowering 18,000 to do our front steps.

Bottom line, Wounded Warriors did dog shit to help us. I got lip service.

However, I have received a total of 7 letters from wounded worriers stating John Doe(s) has made a generous donation to wounded warriors in honor of my son.

Real nice, wounded warrior collects from donors, I have a son that is blind and deaf with a plate in is head, a scar that goes from ear to ear PTSD -bills up the ass, and thus group has the balls to say they help the wounded, Maybe if he lost his legs or became a vegetable we might have at least got a post card, we git the big O, so thank you wounded warrior for being such fraud organization.
it must be the Vietnam Marine in me, just grin and bare with it, we are survivors.

I don't think this Vietnam veteran knows what help is out there for his son. First, the DAV will help make sure he gets what he should with his claim from the VA. He can also contact the Wounded Warrior Regiment (Marines)
The United States Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment provides and enables assistance to wounded, ill and injured Marines, sailors attached to or in support of Marine units, and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental headquarters element, located in Quantico, Va., commands the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., and multiple detachments in locations around the globe.

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment contact the Sergeant Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at 1-877-487-6299.


Home Depot Foundation offers help as well

Homes For Our Troops is a good place too if they need a home adapted for their son.

Combat wounded Iraq veteran and family see new home

Veteran, family get first look at donated home
Bank and foundation team up to provide houses
Ocala.com
By Carlos E. Medina
Correspondent
Published: Monday, November 25, 2013

The last 12 years have tested Jamie and Della Whitaker.

Jamie Whitaker survived three tours in Iraq and just as many IED attacks. Badly wounded in one, Whitaker struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. He also suffered a series of heart attacks starting in 2011, which required bypass surgery and a defibrillator.

All the while, Della Whitaker has worked hard to keep their three children, including the youngest, Jonathan “Zeke,” who has autism, safe and healthy. She also has cared for her husband as he deals with his health issues. The family of five have done it while living in a 900-square-foot apartment in Georgia. Jamie Whitaker grew up in Lake City.

On Monday, the family arrived in Ocala to see, for the first time, their new 1,700-square-foot house, donated to them by Bank of America through the Military Warriors Support Foundation.

“We’re home,” said Della, as she hugged Jaime upon entering the house.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran recovering after saving woman at Oakland Raiders' Game

Vietnam Veteran Who Injured Himself Rescuing A Falling Woman At NFL Game
Credits Military Instincts
Fox News Latino
Published November 26, 2013

OAKLAND, CALIF. – When he saw a woman jumping from the upper deck at the Oakland Raiders' stadium on Sunday, Donnie Navidad said his military instincts immediately kicked in as he lunged forward trying to catch her.

But though he was injured in the process and authorities say he saved the woman's life, he maintains that he's no hero and that he would do it again.

"I just wished I would've grabbed her and held on to her," Navidad said. "I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do anything."

Both Navidad and the woman hit the concrete hard from the impact about 15 minutes after the Raiders' 23-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Navidad said he was among several people pleading with the woman not to jump as he positioned himself to try catching her. When she plunged about 45 feet from the upper deck at the O.co Coliseum, Navidad, with his arms open, ended up breaking her fall.

The 61-year-old Marine Corps veteran was hospitalized overnight and was recuperating from a severely bruised arm at his home in Stockton.
read more here

Redskins honor members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association

Redskins honor members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association
Washington Post
BY MIKE JONES
November 25, 2013
As a joint celebration of the NFL’s Salute to Service month and Native American Heritage month, the Washington Redskins recognized four members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association.

The code talkers were a group of Native American service members who transmitted secret communications beginning in World War II.

Four representatives — Navajo Code Talkers Association President Peter MacDonald Sr., Vice President Roy Hawthorne and members George James Sr. and George Boyd Willie Sr. — were recognized during a commercial break during the first quarter of the Redskins’ game vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
read more here

Great Video tribute to Code Talkers on Washington Redskin site and Twitter is fired up over this.

Stocking drive for veterans connects students

New Haven stocking drive benefits veterans in West Haven
The New Haven Register
By Charlotte Adinolfi
POSTED: 11/24/13

NEW HAVEN
After sending more than 144 stockings to wounded veterans in San Antonio, Texas, last year, Lisa Siedlarz thought it was time to turn the attention to wounded warriors in her home state.

Siedlarz, block captain for the SOHU, or South of Humphrey Street Association in the East Rock neighborhood, started sending stockings to those in the military six years ago. She then decided it was time to donate to veterans at the West Haven Veterans Affairs medical center, a branch of the Veteran Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System.

“I have a long history in my family of people serving in the military and I think people have forgotten about the veterans and the wars, what sacrifice they have made,” Siedlarz said. “We should take the time this time of the year to remember them and let them know others are thinking of them.”

When Siedlarz, who works at Southern Connecticut State University, started the collection she was sending care packages to her brother, who was stationed in Afghanistan.
read more here

Marine gets Lion's share of attention at Ford Field

Marine's surprise return from Afghanistan hits home
The Detroit News
Terry Foster and Francis X. Donnelly
November 25, 2013

Detroit — Michelle Munsee thought her husband was half a world away.

During the Lions game Sunday at Ford Field, the scoreboard showed a video message from Marine Capt. Joshua Munsee in Afghanistan, telling Michelle how much he missed her and how he couldn’t wait to return from the war-torn country.

And so Michelle and the couple’s three young children weren’t ready for what happened next.

At the end of the video, the family, standing on the football field, turned to see Joshua — live and in person — jogging toward them.

Michelle held her hand to her mouth in shock.

“Where did you come from?” she asked her husband. “I don’t even know how you pull something off like this.”

Moments later, she was still trying to get her mind around what had happened. It was a happy struggle.

“Stunned is a good word,” she said. “I was completely shocked.”
read more here

A Pacifist's Take on Veterans' Rights

Have you ever been involved in a really important conversation on your cell phone and suddenly realize you are just talking to the phone? When the call dropped the only one listening to what you said was you. There is a huge disconnect in this country going on everyday but it can't be blamed on cell phones. It happens because when veterans finally talk, few are listening, even less want to do something about it and even less try to.

This is a great article from a student at Princeton talking about what is happening when veterans are just not part of the conversation.

A Pacifist's Take on Veterans' Rights
Huffington Post
Nick Sexton Student, Princeton University
Posted: 11/24/2013

I spent my fall break in our nation's capital, sponsored by Princeton's Pace Center for Civic Engagement, visiting congressional lobbies, vocational employment centers, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where I saw, firsthand, those who had experienced the casualties of war. Eating in the hospital cafeteria, I sat among masses of amputees, the people who actually comprise the looming, abstract statistics we hear always on the news.

These are the people we half-acknowledge. We hear about soldiers who get maimed, who are sidelined by our legal system, who fall through the cracks and end up living on the street. But we sigh, mutter "what a shame," and then generally move on with our lives. This is largely due to the manner in which the wars of the 21st century have been waged. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are extremely different from the Vietnam War and World War II, in the crucial fact that they have not depended on a draft to fill the ranks; as such, they have directly engaged a much smaller percentage of the population. Throughout the week in Washington D.C., the thing that we heard over and over is that the American public does not pay attention to veterans, that there is a dearth of dialogue, because the issues that plague veterans are often deemed irrelevant by the average American.

I believe that this stance is wholly inconsistent with a humanitarian mindset. The moral principle that should compel us to care about veterans, even if no one in our families has ever been affiliated with the military, is the same one that underscores how white people need to care about racism, men need to care about sexism, and straight people need to care about LGBT rights.

I am writing this on November 12, the day after Veterans Day. Yesterday, Princeton's campus was quiet. A small slam poetry gathering and a service in the university chapel -- attended almost exclusively by ROTC members -- were all that set it apart from any other day. I heard no conversations about veterans. I asked a good deal of friends and acquaintances if they knew what holiday it was, and a considerable portion of them had no clue. This lack of on-campus attention to veterans reflects our nation's greater apathy about the rights of members of our armed forces.
read more here

Monday, November 25, 2013

Veterans warned of wrong number dialed for VA

Marketers Using Bogus VA Numbers to Target Vets
Military.com
by Bryant Jordan
Nov 25, 2013

The chief policy officer with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America called a marketing company's use of phone numbers closely matching Department of Veterans Affairs' national call centers a "disgusting" example of people looking to prey on the country's veterans.

"These people should be in jail," Tom Tarantino said.

Veterans reaching the bogus numbers by accident are "trying to get help or trying to manage their benefits and services. It's frustrating enough to deal with VA's actual call centers, but then to be preyed on by unscrupulous marking firms -- It's disgusting," Tarantino said.

The VA issued warnings through emails and social media late last week that veterans trying to reach the VA's National Call Center or the GI Bill Call Center risked connecting to two fraudulent numbers differing from the legitimate numbers by a single digit.

"If the fraudulent number is dialed by mistake, the answering party will offer a gift card and try to obtain personal and financial information, including credit card information, from the caller," the VA said in its Facebook posting. "The answering party may even transfer the caller to the VA after the caller's information is obtained."
read more here