Thursday, April 30, 2015

Soldier From Longwood Died in Training At Fort Bragg

Paratrooper dies during airborne training at Fort Bragg
Army Times
By Michelle Tan, Staff writer
April 30, 2015

A paratrooper from the 82nd Airborne Division died Tuesday during an airborne training operation at Sicily Drop Zone on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Spc. Nicholas Roberts died Tuesday in an airborne training accident at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
(Photo: Army)
Spc. Nicholas Roberts, 27, of Longwood, Florida, was an infantryman assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, officials from the 82nd Airborne said Thursday in a statement.

"Spc. Roberts was a tremendous young man," said Col. Curtis Buzzard, 3rd BCT commander, in the statement. "He had only recently joined us, but he brought with him experience and leadership qualities we seek in our paratroopers. We were all saddened to hear of this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

The incident, which took place during a nighttime operation, is under investigation.
read more here

Folded Flag Foundation Fallen Family Members Education Grants

"We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free."
President Ronald Reagan
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All operational and administrative costs are covered by Black Knight Financial Services and ServiceLink to ensure that 100 percent of all donations go directly to the family members helped by the Folded Flag Foundation.

If you know of someone who can benefit from these scholarships, please encourage them to apply today

Marines Returned 40 Years After Leaving Saigon

Last U.S. Marines to leave Saigon describe chaos of Vietnam War's end 
Chicago Tribune
April 30, 2015
On the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on Thursday, a group of Marines who were there that day returned to what is now Ho Chi Minh City for a memorial ceremony at the site of the old embassy, which is now the U.S. Consulate.
Last Marines out
Dita Alangkara, AP
Former U.S Marines pose for a group photo during the unveiling ceremony of a plaque dedicated to their fallen comrades Cpl. Charles McMahon and Lance Cpl. Darwin Judge, the last U.S. servicemen killed in the Vietnam War, at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.

As the Marines scrambled to the roof of the U.S. Embassy, they locked a chain-link gate on every other floor to slow the throng of panicked Vietnamese civilians sure to come behind them. They knew if the crowd pushed through to the top, they could easily be overrun by hundreds of people desperate to get a seat on one of the last helicopters out of Saigon.

The men barricaded the rooftop door using fire extinguishers and wall lockers and waited nervously as Vietnamese gathered outside rammed a fire truck through an embassy entrance. They could hear looting going on below and watched as cars were driven away and everything from couch cushions to refrigerators was carted out of the offices. South Vietnamese soldiers stripped off their uniforms and threw them into the street, out of fear they would be shot on sight by the northern enemy.

It was still dark when the U.S. ambassador left the roof on a helicopter around 5 a.m. April 30, 1975.

A message went out over the radio with his code name, "Tiger, Tiger, Tiger," followed by "Tiger out," to signal that the diplomat was en route to safety.

When the sun came up, the remaining Marines didn't realize that the pilots mistakenly believed that the call meant everyone had been evacuated. No one was coming for them, and they had no way to contact U.S. airmen ferrying Vietnamese allies and Americans to aircraft carriers offshore because their radio signals didn't carry that far.

The last U.S. servicemen in Vietnam were stuck alone atop the embassy, hoping someone would realize they were there before the city fell to rapidly advancing communist forces.
read more here

Correction for the above article. The last killed were: Mayaguez Incident May 12, 1975
Eighteen Marines and airmen were killed or missing in the assault and withdrawal from Kho-Tang. Twenty-three others were killed in a helicopter crash en route from Hakhon Phanom to U-Tapao, but the objectives of the operation were achieved.
The Mayaguez and its crew had been rescued, though at high cost.

Enemy at the gate: The history-making, chaotic evacuation of Saigon
CNN
By Thom Patterson
April 29, 2015
Story highlights
Chopper pilots tell stories about last days of Vietnam War
"Operation Frequent Wind" was history's largest helicopter evacuation
On 40th anniversary, witnesses tell how 7,000 fled Saigon via chopper in under 24 hours

(CNN)The CIA Air America helicopter bounced as it touched down on an aging apartment building in Saigon.

Its pilot knew there was no room for error. Scores of South Vietnamese were lined up on that rooftop, waiting anxiously to scramble aboard his chopper. They knew 150,000 North Vietnamese troops were just outside the city, ready to pounce.

Delicately working the controls, the pilot reduced power just enough to set down but leaving enough lift in the spinning rotor to keep much of the aircraft's weight off the rickety roof.

He held steady, while desperate men, women and children, some carrying luggage, hoisted themselves inside the vibrating aircraft. The pilot made sure they stayed clear of the deadly rotor blades while he avoided rooftop antennas that could trigger a crash.

After 15 passengers squeezed into a compartment meant for nine, it was time to go. Very slowly, the pilot raised the aircraft and pointed the helicopter forward. About 40 minutes later, the evacuees landed safely aboard a U.S. Navy ship offshore.

Now, imagine doing that again. And again. And again. All day long. No sleep, little food. Overbearing tension.
read more here

Nam Nights Of PTSD Still
If you are a veteran with PTSD, remember one thing, you are not stuck feeling the way you do right now. You can heal and live a better life. PTSD caused the change in you but you can change again and then help other veterans heal as well. Vietnam veterans have been doing it for decades.

Eugene Oregon Police Reach Out After Suicidal Veteran Killed by Officers

Eugene police reach out to vets
The chief is seeking their help with training after an officer fatally shot a veteran in crisis
The Register Guard
By Christian Hill
The Register-Guard
APRIL 30, 2015
“In the long run,” Kerns concluded, “our goal is that our department will have an expertise in the unique skills of working with veterans that will be ideal to the needs of our community.”

The Eugene Police Department is reaching out to veterans and enlisting their help to train officers in the wake of the March 30 fatal shooting of a war veteran in crisis.

Police Chief Pete Kerns outlined those and other steps he said his department is taking in an email he sent out before the publication in Wednesday’s Register-Guard of a lengthy opinion essay by Becky Higgins, the veteran’s therapist . The essay was highly critical of the police response.

Higgins was on the phone with her client for about 45 minutes before he was killed.

An as-yet-unidentified officer shot and killed Brian Babb, a 49-year-old former captain in the Oregon Army National Guard, after Higgins called police to Babb’s west Eugene home because he was suicidal and told Higgins he had fired a gun in his home.

Kerns has said the officer fired after Babb, who had moved to the doorway, pointed a rifle at the officer.

Higgins wrote in her op-ed essay that she felt “used by the police” and that officers approached the situation as if Babb “was an enemy combatant, instead of a wounded military officer.”

Higgins questioned the police department’s show of force and asked why officers were in a hurry when Babb appeared to her to be calming down. Engaging a traumatized combat veteran with startling commands from a bullhorn, she said, “begs common sense.”
read more here

Killing of suicidal veteran likely avoidable
The Register Guard
By Becky Higgins
For The Register-Guard
APRIL 29, 2015

Monday, April 27, marked a month since Brian Babb was killed at his home by Eugene police. The Interagency Deadly Use of Force Investigation Team (IDFIT) has given its report on the incident to Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner, who will determine whether the shooting was justified. Regardless of that decision, the shooting likely could have been avoided.

I was Brian’s therapist. I was on the phone with him until minutes before he was shot dead in the doorway of his home. In this column, I can share the information from the 911 call, which is a public record, and I can share my opinions. Everything else about Babb as my client is privileged, even after his death.

I called 911 on March 30 from my cellphone, reporting that I was a therapist in private practice, I had a client on my office phone who was suicidal, he was a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury (TBI), he had a handgun, and he was not willing to take the clip out of the gun or the round out of the chamber. The 911 operator told me to place my cellphone next to me while I talked with my client on my office landline. The recording, which picked up only my end of the conversation, lasted about 45 minutes. The 911 operator could hear me; I could hear her.
read more here

Wanda McBride Hollaway 3 weeks ago
Oh my son. I never knew pain until now. When you were four, you told me that when you grew up, you were going to marry me and take care of me. I hugged you and told you that would be great, but mommy would take care of you too. I have failed horribly. The only thing I can do now, is to make every effort to change prodigal on the VA RESPONSE to suicidal veterans. A trained team from the VA should be dispatched - not police! I will miss you every day of my life and look forward to our reunion in heaven. You are my heart, son.

Hundreds attend memorial for slain veteran

Eugene man killed by police was an Army veteran

Double Amputee Afghanistan Veteran "I Just Had A Bad Day At Work"

Volunteers coming together to help Afghanistan war veteran, family 
Strickland Times
by Will Healey
April 30th, 2015
At the first planning meeting, it was Fitzpatrick and one other person. Now, nearly 50 firefighters, police officers, and ex-military from nine states are coming to work on Jason's home, among them a contingent of New York City firefighters (some of whom were first responders to the World Trade Center), and New Orleans-area firefighters Fitzpatrick met while working in the area after Hurricane Katrina. 
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Jason Smith doesn't like the spotlight. In fact, if the 29-year-old war veteran had his way, he'd fade into the background. He doesn't talk much about his service or his sacrifice, and when he does, he refers to his time as an infantryman in the U.S. Army as "his job" and downplays the fact that he was blown apart by an IED in southern Afghanistan.

"People say, 'You're a hero,'" Smith said. "I'm not. I just had a bad day at work." 

For most people, a bad day at work means tolerating an annoying co-worker or feeling undervalued by your superiors.

Smith's bad day — July 25, 2012 — cost him both of his legs, two knuckles and the use of most of his right hand. Smith took what happened to him better than most, initially accepting it as more of an occupational hazard than a catastrophe.

But over the next seven months of healing and rehabilitation (which included 25 surgeries on his hand alone), the severity of his injuries and the changes in his life going forward hit the Ringgold native. "You don't think much about how much knees, toes and ankles go into your balance,"

Smith said. "I had to learn to use my back." Depression set in. Smith lost himself in video games and junk food, and wouldn't leave his room at his parents' house. He knew he needed to make a change.

"I decided to put my legs on, and I haven't taken them off since," he said.
Wilson and his son, David, started Steps 2 Hope after David lost the use of his legs for a year after his college was hit by a tornado in 2008. "We're grateful," Wilson said. "The Lord healed David far beyond what we imagined, so we want to help other people who have lost mobility." read more here

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brian Mahoney, Homeless Veteran, Buried with Honor

Homeless veteran receives full military honors at Wichita funeral 
American Legion Riders participate in the funeral of homeless veteran Brian Mahoney at Resthaven Cemetery.
Mahoney died March 18 and served in the Navy from 1972 to 1976. (April 29, 2015)
MIKE HUTMACHER THE WICHITA EAGLE

It is always powerful to see a veteran laid to rest. It is even more heartbreaking when the veteran was homeless.

This is the backstory on what happened to a homeless veteran in Orlando a few years ago.
Vietnam Vet Andrew Elmer Wright found a home as a homeless vet

Sep 1, 2011
First United Church of Christ proved that miracles can still happen. They took in a homeless Vietnam Veteran, gave him love and gave a family closure. His son was serving in the Marines when he found out what happened to his Dad.

Kansas University Alumni Football Player Touchdown at 89!

Bryan Sperry, 89, steals show in alumni flag football game 
Lawrence Journal
By Benton Smith
April 25, 2015

With time winding down, his younger teammates called Sperry’s number, and then formed a circle of blockers around him as the opposition feigned tackling attempts, complete with dives to the turf.
Photo by Nick Krug. Nick Krug.
Former Kansas University football player Bryan Sperry talks with reporters following the Alumni Football game which preceded the Spring Game on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. Sperry played for KU from 1946-1948.
Prior to Saturday's spring football game, Kansas University had about 40 alumni take the field for a flag football contest. While most participants weren’t too far removed from their glory days, it was a Kansas standout from 1946-48 who stole the show.

Wearing his blue No. 28 jersey with khaki pants and some comfy sneakers, 89-year-old Bryan Sperry closed down the flag football showcase by winning over the crowd with a slow-progressing touchdown run on the final play.
A World War II veteran who enrolled at KU after serving in the Army, Sperry said it had been quite a while since he ran as far as he did Saturday at Memorial Stadium. As one of the alumni who recommended the event, Sperry wasn’t about to miss out on the action. read more here
Bryan Sperry Touchdown in Alumni Game // Kansas Football // 4.25.15 Kansas Athletics

Brooke Baldwin Should Prove What She Really Believes About Veterans

"CNN’s Brooke Baldwin shows rest of media how to apologize" or so Erik Wemple wrote on the Washington Post. Maybe that is what she thinks however, there is far too much yammering and far too little thinking going on.

This is what Baldwin said in the first place.
“And a lot of these young people … and I love our nation’s veterans, but some of them are coming back from war, they don’t know the communities and they’re ready to do battle.”

This is the apology being defended by Wemple.
On CNN’s “New Day” program Baldwin said:
I made a mistake yesterday. We were in the middle of live TV, I was talking to a member of Congress, and I was recounting a story, a conversation I had had recently just referring to police. And I absolutely misspoke, I inartfully chose my words 100 percent and I just wish speaking to all of you this morning: I wholeheartedly retract what I said. And I’ve thought tremendously about this, and to our nation’s veterans, to you — this is just who I want to speak with this morning — I have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform. And I wanted you to know that this morning, so to all of you, I owe a tremendous apology. I am truly sorry.

"Recounting" a conversation she had? Ok, if someone told her in a conversation that the moon was made out of cheese, would she simply repeat that without ever wondering what kind of cheese it was? Would she do some research to find out if the person expressing the thoughts was telling the truth or not? Would she ask experts on the CNN payroll for their thoughts?

Baldwin may have shown how to say "sorry" but didn't do much good for proving being informed in the first place would have prevented her from even repeating those words.

Baldwin isn't just a person stopped on the street for an interview. She's a reporter! She has a job to do. This didn't just hurt the feelings of veterans but it added to the already uninformed believing veterans are dangerous and looking for some kind of a fight.

Guess it didn't matter to her that veterans are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else or the other very underreported fact that PTSD veterans have PTSD because they put their lives on the line over and over again for others and are, in my opinion, some of the best people you'd ever want to meet.

When they come home the number on job they go into is law enforcement followed by firefighting. Both jobs require putting their lives on the line to defend, protect and save lives. And yes, some of them have PTSD but just like the citizens after traumatic events in their own lives, most folks would never know they were suffering. Suffering doesn't mean they are not capable of love, compassion, mercy, forbearance, or lacking anything other than proper help to heal.

Then again maybe Baldwin is just remembering some of the other "reports" CNN has done over the years.
Experts: Vets' PTSD, violence a growing problem, By Ashley Hayes, CNN, Updated 5:02 PM ET, Tue January 17, 2012
A coincidence -- two recent high-profile cases? Or a sign of an increase in hostile behavior as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq, similar to that seen when U.S. troops returned home from the Vietnam War?

"You're going to see this more and more over the next 10 years," said Shad Meshad, founder of the National Veterans Foundation, who has been working with veterans since 1970. "... There's a percentage that come back, depending on how much trauma and how much killing they're involved in, they're going to act out."

And in the same article there was this,
"What we don't want to do is stigmatize veterans by saying they're walking time bombs," said Elspeth Ritchie, chief clinical officer for the Washington, D.C., Department of Mental Health and a former U.S. Army colonel. "They're not."
But then again, Richie had a bad habit of doing exactly that. Had she thought differently about our veterans she would have told the truth that an infinitesimal number of veterans cause trouble to anyone.

Keep in mind, according to the VA report from 2014 "Living Veterans (Periods of War and Peace) 23,234,000" yet there are few reports compared to those numbers. What we do see more of is veterans committing suicide and trying to on an upward trend at the same time there are more and more "efforts" to "raise awareness" and help veterans. (Don't get me started on that!)

There is way too much bullshit going on all over the country and the last thing veterans need is to hear something like what Baldwin said and they didn't deserve it to be in her mind in the first place. After all, if she didn't think it, she wouldn't have said it.

So, now what? Being one to open my mouth and let the words come out before I can actually think of how it sounds before it is too late, she is not beyond redemption. After all typing something isn't the same as saying something. I can hit the delete button and you'd never know I was about to be a blithering idiot, (Lucky you I usually catch myself) but saying it can't be taken back.

She needs to show that she has really wanted to learn what the truth is. Let her go on CNN and interview experts and veterans with a list of questions and then she'll show she how much she does care. We can judge by the type of questions she asks and if she had any follow-up questions ready. If she really cares then she'd do enough research to be able to do that.

Making mistakes is human, but showing where her heart really is, must now be proven.

Awesome Baltimore Veterans Line Up For Police

Awesome Veterans!!
Citizens Line Up to Protect Baltimore Police 
Young Conservatives
David Rufful
April 29, 2015

In a very unexpected turn of events, the community that was targeting and injuring police officers is now lining up…. to defend them. Take a look at this:
read more here

Decades After Vietnam, Retired Veterans Get Help for PTSD

The Long Shadow of PTSD
Decades after Vietnam, retired veterans reunite and seek help
AARP Bulletin
by Brian Mockenhaupt
May 2015

After two tours as an infantryman in Vietnam, Dave Dillard came home to a country that he felt didn't understand where he'd been, or how the war had affected him. The Army discharged him with no advice about the lingering mental strains of combat. His family told him to get on with his life.

Some of the World War II veterans he met at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post weren't much help, either. "Just forget it," they told him.
Dave Dillard, 66, of the 101st Airborne Division. — Brent Humphreys

He couldn't forget, but he moved on. He studied theater arts in San Francisco and later taught elementary school. But he gradually withdrew from friends and family. He avoided crowds and standing in lines. While mowing the lawn one afternoon, a loud noise sent him diving under a bush. Sleep was tortured. He dreamed that he'd been sent back to Vietnam for a third tour, and always he saw the same North Vietnamese soldier, his face lit up in the darkness by a rifle's muzzle flash.

In the mid-1980s he started searching for the men with whom he'd fought. He found them one by one over the next three decades. Many of them, he discovered, had been suffering as he had, and most hadn't gotten help until years later, if they'd sought help at all.

This is a common story among older combat veterans, who have contended with both the stigma of appearing weak and the lack of knowledge about the mental effects of combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — characterized by hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, nightmares and avoidance — wasn't a formal diagnosis until 1980, and effective treatments weren't widely available until the 1990s.

"They came home, stayed quiet and tried to muddle on as best they could," says Steven Thorp, a San Diego psychologist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "They worked really hard as a distraction, 70, 80 hours a week, so PTSD didn't really hit them full force until they retired, or the kids left the house, or they're reminded of loss through the deaths of their friends."

"What they do know is that they're different," Thorp says. "But they don't know why it happened, and they don't know how to change it."

Dillard didn't know how to right himself, but he knew exactly what had changed him: one long, terrible night in the jungles north of Saigon during his first tour, when Delta Company, his unit from the 101st Airborne Division, was nearly overrun by hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers. That night he witnessed heroics by his captain, Paul Bucha, and waited with Delta Company buddies like Calvin Heath and Bill Heaney for a dawn they feared would never come.

"That night marked all of us," says Dillard, 66, who now lives on a ranch in Livingston, Texas, and assists other veterans with their disability claims. "It's been the source of lots of nightmares."
read more here

It is never too late to heal!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PTSD Veterans Find Healing With Horses

Equine therapy helping local veterans
Horses help veterans suffering with PTSD
WESH 2 News Orlando
By Dave McDaniel
UPDATED 6:10 PM EDT Apr 28, 2015

Veterans and first responders receive therapy at S.A.D.L.E.S. free of charge.

ORLANDO, Fla. —You might not know it just by looking at him, but Lance Cpl. Chris Brooking has only recently returned from the battlefield. Sometimes the scars of war can be seen and other times completely hidden.

Brooking's wounds weren't only the visible kind. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I couldn't bring myself to even walking around the neighborhood, constantly being on guard, on high alert, crazy uncomfortable,” he said.

The recipient of a Purple Heart after being injured in Afghanistan, Brooking wasn't the same when he came home.

“I was very uncomfortable in every day situations,” he said.

“Whenever I talked with him, I felt I had to walk on eggshells, because sometimes anything I said would set him off,” said his wife, Katie Brooking.
read more here

Wisconsin Police Billboard Features Officer Who Shot 2

Thank-you billboard features Wisconsin police officer who shot two men days apart 
Washington Post
By Sarah Larimer
April 27, 2015

This billboard shows police officer Pablo Torres. (Bill Siel/Kenosha News)

Last month, Kenosha police officer Pablo Torres was involved in two separate shootings, including one that was fatal.

This month, his face is on a billboard in the Wisconsin city.

“Thank you for your support, Kenosha,” reads the billboard, which pictures a smiling Torres and a dog.

The police association, which paid for the ad, said it was an attempt to thank the local community. But some people connected to Aaron Siler — who was fatally shot by Torres — said they were upset by the display, which went up after a rally in support of law enforcement, the Kenosha News reported.

“I saw it and I was immediately sickened,” Kathy Willie, a Siler family friend, told the newspaper.
read more here

The other call was for a suicidal veteran after his wife called police for help to save him.

Philadelphia Veterans Get Massive Awareness Resource

Connecting the dots for veterans 
Philly.com
DON SAPATKIN, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Tim Wynn came home from Iraq in 2003, suffering from what he now knows was PTSD. Wynn pictured at the 9/11 Memorial in New York.

Just four days after coming home to Northeast Philadelphia from Iraq in 2003, Tim Wynn got into a bar fight. The Marine was arrested for the first time in his life.

That wasn't even the worst of it.

"I can remember, my mother and my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, they didn't know what to do," he said. It took five years and six more arrests before he began court-ordered treatment for the PTSD that he didn't know he had.

His homecoming might have been easier if he could have had access to a new website for Philadelphia-area veterans that went live Monday.

It has 200,000 pages of searchable local resources - legal clinics, housing, job openings specifically for veterans - and tens of thousands more about medical conditions, insurance, and veterans organizations.

There are 30,000 pages on assistive devices alone. A diagram of a human lets you click on body parts to begin seeking information about what might be wrong. A keyword search for bills in Harrisburg - "disability" finds 25 bills - allows you to e-mail legislators involved in the effort.

The site is the first local version of www.networkofcare.org for veterans in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Philadelphia hosts sibling sites for inmates released from prison; every Pennsylvania county has one for people with mental health questions.

They were built by Trilogy Integrated Resources L.L.C., a San Rafael, Calif., company that began the local-links concept in its home state more than a decade ago. The early adopters spent millions of dollars developing the sites, Bruce Bronzan, president of Trilogy, said at a City Hall news conference, at which he demonstrated the veterans' website Monday. The local host, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilty Services, paid a $10,000 setup fee; maintenance costs were waived.

Even caseworkers would not otherwise have access to many of the links on the site, Bronzan said. Veterans don't know that many of the services are out there.

"How does somebody find things when they don't even know that they exist to look for?" Bronzan said.
read more here

Vegas Station Casinos Chips Homeless Veterans

‘Month of Honor’ casino promotion helps village for homeless vets
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
By KEITH ROGERS

April 27, 2015

With a boost from Station Casinos’ “Month of Honor” promotion in May, Arnold Stalk expects his Veterans Village living center for homeless veterans will soar to a new level.

In addition to augmenting operation of the transitional and permanent residence, the effort by Station Casinos could help lay a financial foundation for a couple more floors that Stalk, founder and an architect, envisions on top of the two that already provide 125 rooms for homeless vets at the former Econo Lodge, 1150 Las Vegas Boulevard South

“When I meet with people, I don’t ask them for checks or donations,” Stalk said Monday after a tour of Veterans Village, a few blocks north of the Stratosphere. “We promote by attraction.

People get attracted to seeing the grassroots effort. They get attracted to our residents.”

The rippling effect of the branding of Veterans Village “has gotten a head of steam. This takes us to another level,” he said.

Through the end of May, all 19 Station Casinos properties and venues including cafes, casino bars, bingo rooms, spas and gaming areas will donate a portion of their proceeds and gaming winnings.

Lori Nelson, Station Casinos vice president of corporate communications, noted this is the first year of the effort and wasn’t sure how much it will generate.

“The more our guests enjoy our patriotic-themed offerings, the more money we can donate,” Nelson said.

The offerings include “patriotic pastries” and “patriotic poker,” as well as certain slot machines, designated blackjack tables and special bingo cards for players who want to help Veterans Village.

“We have obviously taken a deep interest and commitment in the local military community,” Nelson said. She was referring to Operation Thank You and the Military Mondays program that Station Casinos launched last year to thank local veterans with special discounts.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Took Stand Against Baltimore Rioters

Vietnam Veteran took stand against Baltimore rioters and bravo for him. When he said why he did it, he was expressing what a lot of other people feel.

The truth is, the rioters respect nothing but use everything they can to pretend what they are doing has any value at all. It doesn't. They used the death of Freddie Gray to the point where I actually had to look up his name because I couldn't remember it.  It solved nothing when they became the story.

His family asked protestors to respect their grief just for one day, but they ignored it. No one knows what happened right now but the one thing everyone should know is the entire police force is not to blame even though it seems as if a few are responsible.

They attacked police officers even though what was done to Gray was not done by all of them, but that didn't matter. It didn't matter that they were destroying businesses and neighborhood property. Nothing mattered.

It never seems to matter that veterans are killed by police officers everyday all over the country because they do not get the help they need to come home and live in peace. Depending on where they live, some officers are trained properly and the veteran is taken to get help.  In other parts of the country, they are shot quickly. There are hardly no protests at all for them.

Well, one veteran decided he was going to do something about it and he took a stand against the corrupters of Gray's family in pain. Even London took notice.
Baltimore riots: Video shows 'hero' Vietnam vet who told looters to go home and study
London Evening Standard
RAMZY ALWAKEEL
Published: 28 April 2015

Veteran: Robert Valentine tells CNN's Joe Johns why he has confronted rioters
(Picture: CNN/YouTube)

A Vietnam veteran who stood up to rioters in Baltimore has been branded a hero.

Robert Valentine was interviewed by CNN after he was spotted confronting rioters in the street after a wave of violence broke out following the death of a black man who was in police custody in the US city.

The war veteran astonished news reporters when he delivered a poignant message on camera denouncing rioters.

Speaking to CNN reporter Joe Johns, he said: "I did 30 years, came out Master Sergeant. I've seen more than all this. I've been through the riots already."
read more here

Veteran stands up against rioters
Anderson Cooper 360 | Source: CNN
Added on 9:55 PM ET, Mon April 27, 2015
There was a lot of folks showing great courage and those were the folks showing up to do their jobs in spite of the criminals destroying their city instead of working to make it a better place to live. Protesting peacefully is one thing but this, this inflicted more pain on more people.

Afghanistan Veteran Killed By Police Had PTSD

Parents of veteran fatally shot seek answers 
Victoria Advocate
By Bianca Montes
April 27, 2015
Lawrence, a U.S. Army veteran, was diagnosed with PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, his wife, Yasmine Lawrence, told the Advocate. He was trying to get help and had just started a new combination of medication.

The parents of a 25-year-old Victoria man fatally shot by police officers want answers.

Answers they say Victoria police officials have been reluctant to offer.

Saturday night, officers responded to a disturbance call in the 800 block of Simpson Road behind Academy Sports and Outdoors. At the scene, one of the officers observed a man inside his own residence holding a 23-inch machete.

Police Chief J.J. Craig said at a news conference Sunday that officers ordered the suspect, Brandon Lawrence, out of his residence. He said they also ordered him more than 30 times to drop his weapon.

Lawrence didn't comply and was fatally shot outside his home, Craig said.
read more here
Afghanistan Veteran Killed By Police in Texas

Monday, April 27, 2015

Two Navy SEALs Died in Training Accident

2nd Navy SEAL dies after accident in Little Creek pool 
Pilot Online
Virginia Pilot
Lauren King
April 7, 2015

A second Navy SEAL involved in an accident at a Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek pool has died.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Allen Marihugh, 34, of Livonia, Mich., died Sunday afternoon of his injuries, according to Lt. David Lloyd, a Naval Special Warfare Group 2 spokesman. Marihugh and Petty Officer 1st Class Seth Cody Lewis were found unresponsive Friday in a swimming pool on base while doing physical fitness training.

Both belonged to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, and Lloyd said in a news release that the two men were discovered at the bottom of the pool by service members assigned to the Combat Swimmer Training Facility, which is used by members of the SEAL team for regular fitness training.

Lewis was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Sentara Leigh Hospital, the news release said. Marihugh had been in critical condition and was transferred to Sentara Virginia Beach General, where he later died.
read more here

Linked from Military.com

Afghanistan Veteran Killed By Police in Texas

Victoria police kill man wielding machete (w/Video)
Victoria Advocate
By Bianca Montes
Updated April 27, 2015

At least two Victoria police officers were placed on administrative leave Sunday after fatally shooting a 25-year-old man outside of his home.

The officers will remain on paid leave during the investigation, which is being led by the Texas Rangers, per departmental policies, chief J.J. Craig said Sunday at a news conference.

Craig declined to name the officers involved in the shooting or how many fired a weapon at the scene.

Officers responded to a disturbance call about 11 p.m. Saturday in the 800 block of Simpson Road behind Academy Sports and Outdoors.

A man, who was later identified as Brandon Lawrence, was observed by officers just inside his residence holding a 23-inch machete.
read more here

Man shot by police suffered from PTSD, wife says
Victoria Advocate
By Bianca Montes
April 26, 2015
Lawrence met her husband while stationed in Alaska.

The two were in the U.S. Army, and their attraction was instant, she said.

"He was a protector; he was sweet."

Lawrence, 23, said her husband deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 while she was pregnant with their first child.
read more here

Veteran Shot to Death Trying to Save Woman

Wife of Marine veteran mourns his death after he was shot to death in Ohio while visiting family
10News Digital Team
Apr 26, 2015
SAN DIEGO - A woman in Oceanside is mourning the death of her Marine veteran husband who was shot and killed in Ohio while he was trying to break up a bar fight.

Lydia McJilton said her husband Josh McJilton saved her life when they met and married five years ago. She said she was lost and he became her best friend. She believes Josh died a hero.

He was visiting family in his hometown of Wauseon, Ohio, and was at a bar when he noticed a fight starting between a man and a woman in a car.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Dropping Sunflower Seeds?

A vet seeks to make 58,183 U.S. casualties more than a number 
The Register-Guard
By Jack Heffernan
APRIL 27, 2015
Bruce Hindrichs, a Vietnam War veteran, holds a map of the route of the Seed Walk that he has organized as a memorial for the U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam. He stands in front of the Lane County War Memorial in Skinner Butte Park in Eugene.
(Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard)
An 11-mile line of sunflower seeds will stretch from south Eugene to Coburg on Thursday.

The seeds — a total of 58,183, the number of U.S. military personnel who died in the Vietnam War — won’t be planted.

They’ll just be sprinkled near roadways, to be blown away by gusts from passing cars or eaten by birds and squirrels.

That’s just fine with Vietnam War veteran Bruce Hindrichs, the Eugene resident who came up with the novel way to commemorate the war.

Hindrichs, along with nine fellow veterans and two family members, plan to drop the seeds along 10 miles of the route on Wednesday.

The entire 11-mile route will begin at Spencers Crest Drive and Willamette Street in south Eugene, then snake north to cross the Ferry Street Bridge and travel along Coburg Road, all the way to the southern city limits of Coburg. The seeds will sit about 1 foot apart along the route.

Hindrichs is then inviting the public to join him to drop the final 5,300 or so seeds on Thursday, the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s end with the U.S. evacuation from Saigon.
read more here

Thugs Kidnapped Korean War Veteran Couple

POLICE: 2 ARRESTED IN KIDNAPPING OF VETERAN, GIRLFRIEND
ABC 6 News
Saturday, April 25, 2015

SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Authorities say two people have been arrested in the kidnapping case of an 86-year-old veteran and his girlfriend in Southwest Philadelphia.

25-year-old Damon Cornish of the 5900 block of 21st Street and 23-year-old Vashti Williams of the 500 block of South 56th Street were taken into custody.

Cornish has been charged with theft and unauthorized use of an auto. Williams is charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and related offenses.

More arrests are expected.

Authorities say three women kidnapped the veteran and his girlfriend in Southwest Philadelphia then opened a bank account and rented cars in the victim's name.

55-year-old Priscilla Jones doesn't know the trio of women who had a small child with them.

The suspects allegedly abducted her and her 86-year-old boyfriend George Saunders.

Saunders is a Korean War veteran with a double knee replacement.

Both victims use canes and walkers and are new to their Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood.
read more here

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Medal of Honor Recipient John Baca Focused on Healing Others

Whiting: These Vietnam veterans help so others will never be abandoned again
Orange County Register
BY DAVID WHITING / STAFF
April 24, 2015
Medal of Honor recipient John Baca, left, is greeted by Ret. Army Sgt. Greg Young of Yorba Linda before a service for their friend at Miramar National Cemetery.
CINDY YAMANAKA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Surrounded by the trees and hills of Julian, Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient John Baca flips through a binder of thank you cards for the apple pies he sends veterans. At his elbow, the widow of one of this nation’s first combat casualties after 9/11 beams.

It is a moment of friendship, of sharing, of a bridge between two wars. But it is also about much more.

The thank you cards – and the bond between Baca and Mary Ellen Bancroft, both wounded in very different ways by very different wars – embody the legacy of America’s Vietnam veterans.

Shunned by many, including the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America is the largest and most active group of veterans in the U.S. Its motto: "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."

A former Orange County resident, Baca has a park named after him in Huntington Beach. But as appreciative as Baca is for the recognition, the soldier who threw himself on a grenade to save eight buddies is not a man who pays much attention to such things.

Baca and other warriors like him focus on reaching out to families like Bancroft’s and helping veterans both young and old deal with such things as navigating VA hospitals, managing finances, coping with PTSD.
read more here
John Baca Medal of Honor
Official Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist Fourth Class Baca, Company D, distinguished himself while serving on a recoilless rifle team during a night ambush mission A platoon from his company was sent to investigate the detonation of an automatic ambush device forward of his unit's main position and soon came under intense enemy fire from concealed positions along the trail.

Hearing the heavy firing from the platoon position and realizing that his recoilless rifle team could assist the members of the besieged patrol, Specialist Fourth Class Baca led his team through the hail of enemy fire to a firing position within the patrol's defensive perimeter.

As they prepared to engage the enemy, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the midst of the patrol.

Fully aware of the danger to his comrades, Specialist Fourth Class Baca unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety, covered the grenade with his steel helmet and fell on it as the grenade exploded, thereby absorbing the lethal fragments and concussion with his body. His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved 8 men from certain serious injury or death.

The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Specialist Fourth Class Baca, at the risk of his life, are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Senator Grassley Has Second History on Veterans Gun Rights

I had some extra time this morning to read some old emails and right now, I am very glad I did. This one came in on the 17th. It is about Senator Grassley all in a dither about veterans losing their "second amendment rights" because of the VA. Seriously? He thought he could get away with it? He voted for it back in 2007!!!!!!!
Joshua Omvig Bill Signed into law Nov 05, 2007 Joshua Omvig Bill Signed into law Senator Chuck Grassley today made the following statement after President George Bush signed into law the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill. The law is named for Joshua Omvig, an Iowa soldier who committed suicide upon returning from serving in Iraq. “Today’s action helps give veterans who are suffering mental anguish a place to turn when all else seems lost. These are brave men and women who need to know that there is help out there and they deserve medical treatment just like any other veteran.”
Sen. Grassley: VA Trampling Vets' Second Amendment Rights 
NewsMax
By Courtney Coren
Friday, 17 Apr 2015
"That's no determination of whether you're mentally defective." Grassley argues that "not being able to handle your own money is not a high-enough standard that you shouldn't be able to have a gun."
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tells Newsmax TV that there's no way to justify the Veterans Administration's putting so many veterans on the "mental defective" list, which prevents them from legally obtaining firearms. Grassley wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder this week saying that the classification, which affects 83,000 veterans, "effectively voids their Second Amendment rights." 

"This is something that we're not going to be able to justify," the Iowa Republican told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV on Friday. read more here
Some think the latest bill Senator Coburn held up was the only one but way back in 2007, he held up another suicide prevention bill because of gun rights and tracking veterans. Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention
Senator Coburn Opposed the Bill Because He Was Concerned that Data-Gathering Would Prevent Veterans from Purchasing Guns. Coburn expressed concern that a section of the bill saying the Veterans Affairs Department ‘shall provide for appropriate tracking of veterans’ would result in data-gathering that could prevent veterans from purchasing handguns. Coburn said his concern was that if the department shared health data with other federal agencies, such as the Justice Department, then veterans with mental illness could be barred from purchasing handguns. [CQ Today, 8/23/07]
But, again another politician tried to rewrite their own history because Grassley not only supported it, he was part of starting it.
From Senator Tom Harkin
Let me give a little bit of history. I introduced this legislation, along with my colleague from Iowa, Senator Grassley, after learning about the case of a young Iowan--his name was Joshua Omvig--who tragically took his own life shortly after returning home from an 11-month deployment in Iraq. Joshua was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, 339th MP Company, based in Davenport, IA. Before leaving for Iraq, he was a member of the Grundy Center Volunteer Fire Department and the Grundy Center Police Reserves. He was honored to serve his country in the Reserves and hoped to return to his community to serve as a police officer.

Oklahoma VA Investigator Was Convicted Felon?

Fired Oklahoma Veterans Affairs investigator is charged with 26 counts
The Oklahoman
by Nolan Clay
Published: April 24, 2015
Steven B. Pancoast Jr., a fired Oklahoma Veterans Affairs Department investigator, is charged with perjury, forgery and other crimes. The accusations already have had an impact on pending criminal cases and investigations where he was involved.

EL RENO — Prosecutors are accusing the fired chief investigator of the Oklahoma Veterans Affairs Department of being such a fraud that he even faked the college diplomas on his office wall.

Prosecutors on Friday filed 26 criminal counts against Steven B. Pancoast Jr., 41, of Mustang.

Pancoast was fired March 13 after authorities concluded he had faked his credentials and was actually a convicted felon, not a state-certified law enforcement officer. He was originally charged March 23 with three felony counts.

He is accused in the new charge of lying about his credentials at a 2012 rape trial, at a 2014 murder preliminary hearing, on arrest warrant requests, on a search warrant request, in a deposition and on multicounty grand jury subpoenas for bank records.

He also is accused of carrying around a counterfeit badge, forging law enforcement credentials, forging business cards, forging a diploma from Oklahoma State University and forging a diploma from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

He is accused of carrying a firearm as part of his ruse for almost a year, even though it is illegal for him to possess a firearm because of his 1993 felony convictions.
read more here

Camp Pendleton Marines Honor Vietnam Predecessors

Marines hold reunion for Vietnam-era recon predecessors
Stars and Stripes
By Jennifer Hlad
Published: April 24, 2015
John Burtoft, of The Villages, Fla., was a corpsman with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and went to Vietnam twice: once on the USS Pyro for 18 months in 1964-65, and again with recon in 1968-69.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.
Ken Benckwitz was spit on at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Retired Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor, right, talks to a Marine with 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion on Thursday, April 23, 2015, at a reunion for Vietnam-era recon veterans at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
JENNIFER HLAD/STARS AND STRIPES

People threw feces at Dan Mulvihill at LAX.

After his return, John Baker was told by the first girl he dated not to mention to her friends or family that he had been a Marine in Vietnam.

But this week, when about 175 fellow reconnaissance Marines from the Vietnam era gathered in San Diego County, they were welcomed and embraced.

Cpl. Brandon Tan was one of several current recon Marines who participated in a raid demonstration Thursday for the veterans. Afterward, wearing camouflage face paint and foliage on his uniform, he shook the hand of veteran after veteran.

“Thank you. You’re the reason we’re here,” he said.

The reunion was designed as a way for all Marines who served in recon units in 1965-71 to commemorate 50 years since the U.S. entered the Vietnam War.

Active-duty Marines showed off their equipment and demonstrated a helicopter jump and a raid.

Afterward, they honored the memory of their fallen recon brothers at a memorial service.
read more here

National Award for Warrior Transition Units Scandal Reporting

NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth Wins National Journalism Award 
The Society of Professional Journalists Recognizes NBC 5 Investigates Team
By Brian Hocker
Apr 24, 2015
"Our NBC 5 Investigates team and The Dallas Morning News were relentless in pursuing a Texas story with national implications that has helped many soldiers. We couldn't be prouder of these journalists."
"Injured Heroes, Broken Promises," the six-month-long investigative partnership between NBC 5 / KXAS-TV and The Dallas Morning News, has been awarded the prestigious 2014 National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting under the Large Market Television category by The Society of Professional Journalists.

"Injured Heroes, Broken Promises" uncovered complaints from hundreds of injured, active-duty soldiers claiming they were mistreated, harassed and verbally abused by commanders of the U.S. Army's Warrior Transition Units, or WTUs. These units were created to improve care for injured soldiers after the 2007 Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal.

Just nine days after the first NBC 5 report aired and appeared in The Dallas Morning News, the Army issued orders requiring staff at all 25 of the Army's WTUs located worldwide, to undergo new training.

NBC 5's coverage about the treatment of soldiers injured in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting resulted in the NBC 5 Investigates team discovering the difficulties that soldiers faced years after they had left the WTUs. NBC 5 filed a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act request seeking Army complaint records at several Texas military installations.

"Our viewers depend on us to dig for information and sources not available to the average citizen," said Susan Tully, NBC 5 Vice President of News. read more here

Congress: Veterans Committing Suicide "National Embarrassment"

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 26, 2015

We should file this under Veterans suicide awareness, too much too little, too late for far too many. If we continue to just slam the VA then we will never be truly aware of the origins. Leaving our veterans lacking care is a "national embarrassment" because of how long Congress has been trying to prevent them, or so they said they would.

Why haven't members of Congress managed to look at what the DOD did in the first place to these veterans? After all, their PTSD issues started in the military.

The military has managed to tell servicemembers PTSD is their fault and then they seemed shocked suicides went up. The VA has had issues with getting veterans the proper care to heal PTSD, or at least that is who Congress wants blamed. So why is everyone blaming everyone else leaving little room for real change?
KD Investigation: Congressman Wants Answers In Vet Suicides
KDKA News
Andy Sheehan
April 24, 2015

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq — returning U.S. veterans are committing suicide in astounding numbers. Just last month, veteran Michelle Langhorst of Plum shot herself in the parking lot of the VA in O’Hara and Iraq war veteran David Cranmer hung himself on a job site, where he was working in the North Hills.

An average of 22 veterans commit suicide in this country every day — and following our report — one congressman is demanding answers on whether we’re doing enough to help them. “This is a national tragedy,” said Rep. Tim Murphy. “This is a national embarrassment.”
Tim Murphy wants to know if veterans with PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder — are getting the care they need and deserve.

David Cranmer’s father — former Allegheny County Commissioner Bob Cranmer — says they are not. “This casualty rate is unacceptable for people who aren’t actually at war,” said Cranmer.
“These young people have come home, They’re trying to reintegrate back into society and they’re killing themselves.”

Cranmer says his son was diagnosed with PTSD after just one therapy session and his doctor prescribed the psychotropic drug Zoloft — a drug with an FDA warning that it can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Cranmer says his son received no other treatment and hung himself a month later.
read more here

Ok, so why didn't Murphy mention the other thing RAND Corp reported on in 2009?
RAND researchers extrapolated from a survey they conducted of 1,965 vets to conclude that nearly 300,000 service members and vets of Iraq and Afghanistan were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — or major depression. Filner told the pair of researchers, who summarized their findings for his committee, that their work probably understated the problem.

Or the other RAND Corp study on the much touted "resiliency" training the DOD had been doing
Most programs have been implemented before evidence of their effectiveness has been established.
Topped off with the fact that this did not fit with military culture in the first place among many other issues.
"The military has nearly 900 suicide prevention programs across 400 military installations worldwide, but in a report released Tuesday, the task force describes the Defense Department's approach as a safety net riddled with holes."
Task force calls military suicide prevention efforts inadequate, By BARBARA BARRETT McClatchy Newspapers

Or the other thing RAND Corp reported on about the other thing happening to veterans?

A Rand Corp. survey of 522 psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers found that just 13 percent met the study's criteria for "cultural competency," meaning they understood military mores, language and background, and delivered appropriate care for illnesses unique to the military, such as combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The results are important, Rand researcher Terri Tanielian said, because insensitivity and unfamiliarity with proven treatments may keep troops and veterans from getting quality psychiatric care.

"These findings suggest that when service members, veterans or family members seek care from providers not affiliated with the Defense Department or Veterans Affairs, they may encounter providers who are not as well prepared to deliver culturally sensitive care," Tanielian and the other authors wrote.
Army Times Rand: Civilian mental health providers don't 'get' the military
But then again, why even mention the fact that in 2012 the DOD had not spent all the money Congress had allocated for suicide prevention.
Congressman Jim McDermott (WA-7) and Congressman Leonard Boswell (IA-3) urged leaders of the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee this week, to work with them in getting the Pentagon to use all of its unspent suicide prevention funds to reach more service members as soon as possible, and to go even further with higher funding next year.

In July, the McDermott-Boswell amendment that would increase critical funding for suicide prevention for active duty military by $10 million passed with strong support in the House Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013.
Shaun Knittel, Online News Editor, Out Serve Magazine, 20 September 2012

But naturally the biggest whopper of all is that members of Congress keep asking the same questions over and over again,
House Committee Reviews Effectiveness of VA’s Outreach Efforts on Suicide Prevention
Committee Reviews Effectiveness of VA’s Outreach Efforts on Suicide Prevention FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2010

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, Chairman Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) conducted a hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee to examine the progress of suicide prevention outreach efforts at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Subcommittee evaluated the current state of VA’s ability to educate the public of VA services concerning suicide prevention and discussed the effectiveness of the media campaign to encourage veterans to seek help at the VA.

Public Law 110-110, The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, required VA to develop a pilot program encouraging veterans battling suicide to seek help at the VA. As a result, VA advertised its suicide hotline using Washington, D.C. metro area buses and metro subway trains, in addition to creating a Public Service Announcement for network television use.

“As you know, many of our newest generation of veterans, as well as those who served previously, bear wounds that cannot be seen and are hard to diagnose,” said Chairman Mitchell. “Proactively bringing the VA to them, as opposed to waiting for veterans to find the VA, is a critical part of delivering the care they have earned in exchange for their brave service. No veteran should feel they are alone,” said Chairman Mitchell.

The two witnesses of the hearing’s first panel were Warrant Officer Melvin Cintron, USA (Ret.) who has served multiple tours in Iraq, and also Ms. Linda Bean, who tragically lost her son to suicide after he returned from his second tour in Iraq. Mr. Cintron observed that while the VA’s suicide hotline is a valuable and much needed service, there should be other equally accessible resources offered by the VA that service intermediate levels of urgency prior to the final resort of calling the suicide hotline. Ms. Bean stated that to improve suicide prevention and outreach, the VA must publicize civilian mental health counseling alternatives that might better suit some veterans who are either not located near a VA facility, or who may otherwise choose not to approach the VA for help.

Back to the report from above, it is vital to be aware of the fact that most of these veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50,,
"Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide"
but Congress doesn't want us to remember that fact. After all, that would then translate into how long they have had to take care of other veterans and failed. And then when the subject is the younger generations, their numbers show that what Congress has let the DOD get away with has caused most of their problems.
The rate of veterans committing suicide is double the civilian population with the majority of them being over 50. Then there is the other figure of young veterans committing suicide at triple the rate of their civilian peers.


When you have results like this, it seems as if all these years have been a waste of time, yet members of Congress fail to admit it is their job to write the rules for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, fund them to meet the need and when they don't, hold them accountable.

No one seems to understand that we are supposed to hold members of Congress accountable for not doing their jobs in the first place. We let all of them get away with repeating the same worn out pretentious grandstanding as if they didn't have anything to do with this tragic outcome.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Melbourne Wickham Park Veterans Reunion

I was glad for the clouds since it wasn't too hot out in Melbourne this morning. It was great to see the crowds and still stunning, even after all these years, to see the memorials.
















UPDATE

Veterans reunion attendance builds after rainy start
FLORIDA TODAY
R. Norman Moody
April 24, 2015
"I get to connect with my fellow veterans," Miller said. "I get camaraderie with the other veterans."

MELBOURNE – The crowds, kept away from the rained-out opening ceremony of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, began to build Friday morning at the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion.

Veterans strolled among the dozens of information and vendor booths and tents as others reflected at the wall.

The reunion, which goes on through Sunday, is open to the public. It is being held at Wickham Park in Melbourne and is billed as the largest of its kind.

"I like to meet different veterans and tell them 'Welcome home,'" said Harvey White, 73, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

White, 73, who served with the Army's 71st Transportation Company in Vietnam, said liked the camaraderie he encountered at the reunion.

"I'm very proud to have worn the uniform of this country," he said.

David Miller, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran from Palm Bay, has been a part of the reunion for many years. He serves on the organizing board.
read more here

PTSD What Are You Really Aware Of?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 25, 2015

This article got to me this morning.
The deepest war wound may be the anguish of moral injury 
Los Angeles Times
BY NANCY SHERMAN
April 25, 2015
Moral injury is distinct from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is generally thought of narrowly as a fear-conditioned syndrome marked by hyper-vigilance and flashbacks. The prevailing treatment for PTSD is therapy to “decondition” the fear response. But guilt, shame, raging resentment and betrayal are different from fear. To overcome them requires relationships that rebuild a soldier's sense of trust in himself and others, no small order given the effects of war.

When the Greek playwright Sophocles came home from war, in the 5th century BC, trust and betrayal must have been on his mind. He wrote “Philoctetes,” about a wounded Greek warrior abandoned by Odysseus on the way to Troy.

The stench of Philoctetes' wound and his wails of distress made him a liability. That is, until Philoctetes' sacred bow, a gift from the god Heracles, turned out to be the Greeks' last hope for defeating the Trojans. Odysseus returned to rescue Philoctetes (or at least his bow), but he dared not show his face to the man he had left behind. Hidden, he coached a young soldier, Neoptolemus, on how to build rapport with Philoctetes in order to exploit it to get the bow.

The twist in the play is that real trust is cultivated instead; and with it, hope that heals.

The ancient Greeks understood Philoctetes' agony and salvation in the context of the Peloponnesian War. Modern Americans can apply it to the longest conflicts in American history: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which 2.7 million troops have served.

Many are bringing home the weight of resentment and betrayal, and often guilt and shame, even if it's masked by a stoic military demeanor. Like Philoctetes, some feel betrayed by commanders or unit members; some by civilians who've been “at the mall while we've been at war”; and some by politicians they think have failed to take full responsibility for the wars they started.
read more here
It seems as if everyone is doing something to help raise awareness on PTSD, and that is a good thing to a point. The trouble is when no one seems aware of what they need to know if they have PTSD.

There is what the general public seems to believe and then there is the reality of what is actually real to the veterans.

First is how they feel about their service with the DOD claiming they are treating soldiers for what comes after their operational battles. The fight to stay alive after combat is the one they are not equipped to win. No matter what the DOD claims about their own "efforts" to help soldiers heal, the end result has been a rise in suicides.
USA Today addressed a huge part of the problem. Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is the biggest reason why suicides went up. It tells soldiers that they can train their brains to be mentally tough, translating they must be weak if they end up with PTSD. In other words, it is their fault. This is not just a theory. It is what the head of the Army actually admitted he believes. During an interview with the Huffington Post Odierno said a mouthful. Army Chief Ray Odierno Warns Military Suicides 'Not Going To End' After War Is Over
Q: Why do I think some people are able to deal with stress differently than others?
A: 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.

This wasn't just a slip because as later reports showed, it was spread wider reenforcing the soldiers beliefs they had something to be ashamed of. Blaming soldiers and their families in public was tame compared to what they actually had to endure.

They had to even endure this emotional abuse in the very place they were sent to as a place to heal. Warrior Transition Units treated them as if they were a problem to the military.

The Dallas Morning News and NBC out of Texas did fantastic reporting on this in Injured Heroes Broken Promises however, when the national news stations failed to notice, the general pubic was left without a clue as to what was behind most of the suffering they wanted to raise awareness of.

The military keeps telling reporters they understand and are doing something to help mend them after war but as suicides within the military and in the veterans community increased, they failed to change anything they did wrong.
Army morale low despite 6-year, $287M optimism program
USA TODAY
Gregg Zoroya
April 16, 2015
"The Army funds this program because the Army values the lives of soldiers and wants to instill skills and competencies that will enhance their connections, relationships and ability to mitigate stressors and exercise help seeking behaviors through their life," says an Army statement released last month.

More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as "I rarely count on good things happening to me." Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.

The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.

The Army began a program of positive psychology in 2009 in the midst of two wars and as suicide and mental illness were on the rise. To measure resiliency the Army created a confidential, online questionnaire that all soldiers, including the National Guard and Reserve, must fill out once a year.

Last year, Army scientists applied formulas to gauge service-wide morale based on the assessments. The results demonstrate that positive psychology "has not had much impact in terms of overall health," says David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis who served on a scientific panel critical of the resiliency program.
read more here

The worst part of all of this is none of this should have surprised anyone. Even I predicted pushing this FUBAR research project of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness would increase suicides back in 2009.
If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.

Again, there are conversations we have and then there are conversations the general public has. Ours is based on the realities we live with everyday hitting every part of our lives. I didn't got to war, but I was the daughter of an Army veteran and am a wife of an Army veteran. What happens to them hits us and our children.

We become experts on what war does after the fact and the facts don't change just because reporters ignore most of it.

Soldiers have to battle the DOD, struggle with being treated as if they are bad soldiers, enforced by the threat of bad paper discharges, like the Army discharging 11,000 in 2013 alone, and being sent to hell to "heal" and then once they are out of the military, treated to more betrayal because the VA wasn't ready for any of them. Wonder how long it will take to actually give these veterans justice? We have an example of that from what was done to Vietnam veterans as 80,000 out of 250,000 are getting a second chance.

We put blame right where it belongs and that is with members of Congress!