Sunday, May 31, 2015

US Navy Ship Struck USS Arizona Memorial

Witness: US Navy Ship Struck USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii 
Military.com
by Brendan McGarry, Amy Bushatz and Michael Hoffman
May 27, 2015
The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place of most of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who were killed during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, according to the National Park Service. The 184-foot-long memorial structure spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship, according to the service.
A U.S. Navy ship struck part of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on Wednesday morning, according to a woman whose husband witnessed the accident.

Photos submitted by the woman, who declined to be identified because her spouse serves in the Navy, show the naval hospital ship USNS Mercy sailing dangerously close to the USS Arizona Memorial. Her husband took the photographs from nearby Ford Island.

"It went right over the dock," she told Military.com. "You could hear the metal crunching. My husband said you could see mud and water being kicked up. It backed up to within feet of hitting the white memorial building."

Tug boats were guiding the hospital ship from its port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at around 7 a.m. local time.

A Navy official who asked not to be identified said of the incident, "It looks like one of the tugs that was pushing her as she left the harbor might have hit the visitor landing to the Arizona."

It's unclear how much, if any, damage was done to the USS Arizona wreckage.
read more here

Marine Broke Record But Didn't Walk The Plank

Former Marine Officer Breaks World Record Plank to Benefit Semper Fi Fund 
NBC San Diego
By Monica Garske
May 30, 2015
George Hood, 57, spent a total of five hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds in the abdominal plank position on Saturday in Oceanside
A former U.S. Marine officer from Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, crushed the world record for the longest plank Saturday, raising money and awareness for wounded warriors in the process.

Former Marine officer and retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent George Hood, 57, spent a total of five hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds in the abdominal plank position at the Junior Seau Amphitheatre in Oceanside as he broke the Guinness World Record previously set at four hours and 26 minutes by Mao Weidong of Beijing, China, last September.

Before Weidong took the title, Hood held the planking record at four hours and one minute, which he set in June 2014.

The athlete and fitness professional’s planking feat – dubbed “The People’s Plank” – doubled as a fundraiser to benefit the Semper Fi Fund for injured U.S. service members, a charity that’s near and dear to Hood’s heart.
read more here

MOH Sgt. Charles Schroeter No Longer Lost Soul

Medal of Honor soldier set for reburial
The San Diego Union Tribune
By Jeanette Steele
MAY 30, 2015
Civil War-era cavalryman will be reburied at Miramar National Cemetery
Nearly a century after he died and was placed in an unmarked, communal crypt in San Diego, a Civil War-era soldier who received the Medal of Honor will be returned to his comrades-in-arms.

Sgt. Charles Schroeter will be buried at Miramar National Cemetery in July with full military honors, including a mounted Army detachment from Fort Irwin.

“We’re happy to be able to correct this mistake. It’s really important to us — even though he’s gone, he’s still a soldier,” said Kenneth Drylie, spokesman for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin.

“You never leave a fallen comrade.”

No one really knows why Schroeter, a cavalryman who bore saber scars and bullet marks from fighting Confederates and Indians, had no one willing to claim his ashes.
Throughout history, 3,493 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Of those, Morfe estimated there are still roughly 200 “lost souls” whose grave sites are unknown — like Schroeter’s until recently.
read more here

Veteran Sent To Jail After Asking For Help

UPDATE
June 4, 2015
Update from News Observer
Army vet who made threatening call will learn his fate Thursday

(Corrected title of original post: I apologize for the error. Usually readers point out mistakes because I do not have an editor checking what I do.)
Army combat veteran’s call for help lands him in jail
News and Observer
BY MANDY LOCKE
May 30, 2015
A search of federal court records across the country found charges against at least six other veterans whose rants on the crisis line or to a trusted VA medical provider brought arrest and imprisonment.

For years, Ryan Broderick has been trapped inside his mind, watching a constant reel of explosions that rocked the Army vehicles he had scrubbed of blood during three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since January, Broderick has been stuck inside a real jail, fortified by cinder blocks, surrounded by barbed wire. The government that Broderick upended his life to serve locked him up in Edgecombe County, about 75 miles east of Raleigh.

In the eyes of federal officials, Broderick posed a threat to America and should be treated as a criminal.

Broderick, 31, of Fayetteville, is being prosecuted for comments he let fly during a call to speak with a counselor at the Veterans Affairs suicide crisis hotline. He was frustrated and sleep-deprived.

His words were clear: If he didn’t get the help he needed for his post-traumatic stress disorder, he would bring a gun to the VA hospital and Fort Bragg and start shooting.
read more here

Surfs Up And So Is Morale For Wounded Veterans in Virginia

Surfing at Va. Beach Oceanfront helps vets cope with injuries
The Virginian-Pilot
By Elisabeth Hulette
© May 31, 2015

VIRGINIA BEACH
How does a triple amputee get up on a surfboard?

Easy, said 32-year-old Luis Rosa-Valentin, who lost an arm and both legs in a roadside explosion about seven years ago in Baghdad. You just pop up into a sitting position, balance and ride the wave to shore.

"I love being in the water," Rosa-Valentin said Saturday during the Wave Warriors Surf Camp that took over the beach by Rudee Loop. "There's nothing else in this world that I love more."

Of all the ways wounded veterans cope with injuries physical and mental, the Wave Warriors crew says becoming one with the sea is a pretty good way to go.

Ken Hunt, who helped launch the nonprofit seven years ago, said that out in the surf, stress and trauma just melt away.

"We call it saltwater treatment," he said. "It is so therapeutic. For us, it is a simple way to give back."
Preston Schofield, a 58-year-old from Tampa, Fla., who fell out of a helicopter and injured his back, said meeting other veterans at the event is good for morale.
read more here

Story Behind Desert Storm Famous Photo Continues

Strangers linked by iconic Desert Storm photo finally meet 24 years later
Buffalo News
By Tim Graham
News Sports
Reporter
May 30, 2015
Veteran whose face came to symbolize Desert Storm meets comrade’s widow 24 years after tragedy that forever binds them
The face of war: Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz, left, wails with grief after learning that the soldier in the body bag is fellow crewman Pvt. Andy Alaniz, in this February 1991 file photo. The widely published photo came to define the Persian Gulf War for many.

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Twenty-four slow, burning years have passed since Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz got wrecked to his soul.

Raw from a battle that ended moments before, dazed from the two missiles that smoked his Bradley Fighting Vehicle and weary from traversing an ungodly expanse of Iraq desert, Kozakiewicz did what any man would.

He read the name on the dead soldier’s identification card, looked away from the bloody body bag and wailed.

Kozakiewicz’s helpless, primal howl became the signature image of Operation Desert Storm. The picture, taken by David Turnley, showed war’s wicked truth and is considered one of military history’s most provocative photos.

Kozakiewicz, his broken left hand in a sling, had been guided into a medical evacuation helicopter after the Jalibah Airfield rout Feb. 27, 1991. The battle was among the final objectives of a dominant campaign to expel Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein’s army from neighboring Kuwait.

Kozakiewicz and Cpl. Mike Tsangarakis were about to be whisked away. Then a body bag was loaded onto the helicopter floor. Kozakiewicz demanded the dead soldier’s name.

A medic reluctantly handed Kozakiewicz the ID for 20-year-old Pvt. Andy Alaniz. In the center of the photo, Tsangarakis lifted his head bandages to glimpse the sack at his feet.
read more here

Beau Biden Passed Away At 46

Vice president's son Beau Biden dies at 46 of brain cancer 
The Associated Press
RANDALL CHASE
May 31st 2015

In addition to his work as a lawyer and attorney general, Biden was a major in an Army National Guard unit that deployed to Iraq in 2008.
DOVER, Del. (AP) -- He was the privileged son of a longtime U.S. senator and two-term vice president, yet Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III was no stranger to personal adversity.

When he was only 3, just weeks after his father, Joe Biden, had been elected to the Senate, the younger Biden was seriously injured in a 1972 car crash that killed his mother and infant sister. His father was sworn into office at his hospital bedside.

As a young college student, not long after his father's 1987 presidential campaign imploded among allegations of plagiarism, he was back in the hospital, holding vigil with other family members as Joe Biden underwent surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm.

And after launching his own successful political career, Beau Biden was dogged by health problems. In 2010, he suffered a mild stroke at the age of 41.

On Saturday, Beau Biden died of brain cancer, less than two years after he was diagnosed. He was 46.
read more here

Saturday, May 30, 2015

National Guard Family Told Son Can't Be Buried at Arlington?

UPDATE
Army sec. approves Arlington burial for La. guardsman killed in helicopter crash

Dad: soldier son killed in training crash deserves Arlington Cemetery burial
FOX News
Published May 30, 2015

A soldier from the Louisiana National Guard who died alongside Marines in a training accident deserves to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his father said Saturday.

Former Green Beret Stephen Florich told Fox and Friends it is a “travesty” his son has been denied that honor because he was not on active duty at the time of his death.

Most active duty or retired military members of military service are eligible for in-ground interment at Arlington. Members of the reserves or National Guard are not eligible unless they have been on active duty.

“I think my son was very active on that aircraft,” Florich said. “My son was in uniform. My son was serving in the capacity as a crew chief and a door gunner. And in adverse weather conditions, he accepted a mission to train people for combat in the future. And in that, he gave all and lost his life.”

The March 11 crash in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida killed Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26, of Baton Rouge, La., three other guardsmen and seven Marines. The Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down in heavy fog.
One of the Marines involved in the crash, Sgt. Andrew Seif, who had recently been awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, was buried at Arlington in April.

The seven U.S. Marines aboard the helicopter were all active duty service members and part of Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
read more here


National Cemetery Administration
Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps


(1) Reservists and National Guard members who, at time of death, were entitled to retired pay under Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code, or would have been entitled, but for being under the age of 60. Specific categories of individuals eligible for retired pay are delineated in section 12731 of Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code.

(2) Members of reserve components, and members of the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard, who die while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training, or undergoing such hospitalization or treatment.

(3) Members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force who die under honorable conditions while attending an authorized training camp or on an authorized cruise, while performing authorized travel to or from that camp or cruise, or while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while engaged in one of those activities.

(4)Members of reserve components who, during a period of active duty for training, were disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or, during a period of inactive duty training, were disabled or died from an injury or certain cardiovascular disorders incurred or aggravated in line of duty.

Alabama VFW Gave Vietnam Veteran New Wheels to Heal

Vietnam Veteran Gets Wheelchair
WTVY News
By: Toneshia Watkins
May 29, 2015

You may remember, Thursday, we told you about Joe Parrish. The Vietnam Veteran unable to get out of bed because of his broken wheelchair.

After seeing his story, many of you reached out wanting to help.

And thanks to the local VFW, Joe Parrish may no longer be tied to his bed.
read more here

Jon Stewart Looking For A Few Funny Veterans

Jon Stewart is helping veterans break into the TV industry
Army Times
Jon Stewart is leaving 'The Daily Show' but is leaving a job training program for Veterans as a parting gift.
Keri Lumm has the story.

Raising Hope Awareness On Combat PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 30, 2015

Maybe I am getting cynical after over 30 years of working with veterans to help them heal and witnessing the transformation from hopelessness to inspirational that drives me insane when the wrong kind of "awareness" is being pushed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is a growing parade of charities and veterans jumping on the awareness march and to tell the truth, it makes me sad. I can't help but wonder what their goal really is. Is it about following the massive charity pulling in millions a year (you know who I mean and they won't be mentioned here) raising awareness about themselves and getting folks to kick in huge sums of money? After all getting veterans to "aid and assist each other" is something they do for free every day all over the country. Doesn't make sense to give all that money for something that is freely, willingly and given all the time without much more money than it costs to buy a beer, cup of coffee, sandwich or spend time listening to them.

It requires a massive amount of patience that comes with experience back by knowledge. It requires time spent with them and then more time spent with support behind the helper because even we need help after helping them. It costs me gas, cell phone bill and internet charges. While my soul pays a price, restoring it comes swiftly when these veterans have that spark of hope back in their eyes and I know I contributed to that moment.

Healing PTSD, letting veterans know it is never too late to live better lives, is what has been missing in all this "awareness" talk. They are not even aware of the simple fact they are not stuck where they are emotionally right now.

Awareness in wrong place.

If the "awareness" raisers are trying to inform citizens, then they have arrived far too late since citizens are not even aware that everything being done on mental health tied to trauma is due to Vietnam veterans coming home and fight for it. They are not aware that this has all been going on full force for 40 years. It is very unlikely they will ever care enough to become aware of what has afflicted veterans in the US since the Revolutionary War and worldwide since the beginning of time.

Anyone holding a Bible (or tablet) in their hands can read all about it in Psalms as King David struggled with war and the toll on his soul.
Psalm 144
Of David.
1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

King David's inner struggles show that none of this is new.

This is a quote from Platoon
Chris Taylor: [voiceover] I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days as I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called possession of my soul. There are times since, I've felt like the child born of those two fathers. But, be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

Vietnam veterans are the reason civilian survivors of trauma have Crisis Intervention Teams because of the research spawn from their suffering.

VIETNAM VETERANS READJUSTMENT PROBLEMS The Etiology of Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and a copy of this hangs on my wall reminding me everyday how long this has been going on. Yet the most often underreported fact in the suicide reports, over 70% of those suicides involved veterans over 50. Civilians seem only able to think of the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Civilians have no clue after all these years. Trying to explain to them the 22 a day is not even close leaves them speechless yet most raising awareness repeat that number omitting the disclaimer from the VA that those numbers are an average from the states participating in the research. The VA also reported there are 1,000 additional veterans within their system alone attempting suicide on a monthly basis.

Veterans already know these numbers. The last thing they want to do is to become one of them.

They want to know how others make it. How others have been able to go on and live happier lives. They want to know what the right kind of help is and how to get it. They want to know where they fit in since they no longer feel as if they fit in with civilians.

How about raising awareness about healing and the simple fact they find support among other veterans? How about letting them know that while the suicide numbers are terrible more veterans survive and thrive with PTSD?

It happens a lot more often than they are aware of.

The time has passed to shout about how they die. It is time to shout about how they heal!


I've been married to a Vietnam veteran since 1984 and have seen it first hand. PTSD doesn't have to win anything and while it cannot be cured, it can be defeated.

Navy Veteran's Act of Kindness Solved Problem and Warmed Hearts

There are so many stories all over the country about acts of kindness by our veterans. This kind of story is not as rare as you may think.

This is one of those stories.

A Navy Veteran saw a family in need of simple-human kindness at an airport. He not only helped solve their problem, he touched their hearts.

Read the rest of the story on Mighty by Lauren Davis When a Veteran Stood Up for My Son at the Airport
"I was in a fog, sorting through my emotions and attempting to create an action plan. Then a man who overheard this conversation got up and started talking to the attendant. He was dressed in a retired Navy veteran sweatshirt and hat. I watched him, shocked by his kindness. We were complete strangers to him and he still tried to help us. But again, the attendant used her desensitized robotic voice to tell him the flight was full, she could not accommodate us, sit down.

All I could think of was to call the airline to contact a representative for help. I didn’t notice, but the Navy veteran left the gate. As I sat on hold with the airline, he returned within moments with a supervisor. He explained what had happened, and the supervisor immediately removed the attendant from her post."

That is just a small part of this story.  It gets even better when you understand exactly what happened before this part and afterwards. And oh, by the way Mighty is looking for your stories celebrating the human spirit too.
“A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown.” – Tom Hanks.

A version of this post originally appeared on HOPE.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Friday, May 29, 2015

County Fair Freedrop Claims Life of Navy Veteran

NAVY VETERAN DIES AFTER FALLING FROM 'FREEDROP' ATTRACTION AT SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY FAIR
ABC 7 News Los Angeles
Rob McMilan
May 29, 2015

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (KABC) -- A 31-year-old Navy veteran has died after falling from an extreme attraction at the San Bernardino County Fair in Victorville.

Fire department officials said Sabrina Gordon suffered injuries after taking part in the "FreeDrop USA" attraction around 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

She was airlifted to the Victor Valley Global Medical Center in Colton, where she died at 12:20 a.m. Friday

The "FreeDrop USA" attraction involves people jumping off a platform nearly 40-feet high and then land onto a giant inflatable bag.

The attraction was making its debut in California at the San Bernardino County Fair. The ride's owner said the attraction has had over 50,000 successful jumps on a 36-city tour across the nation.

Fair officials said the attraction has been shut down indefinitely.

Gordon was working at a CrossFit booth at the fair when she decided to take the jump.

She was a 10-year veteran with the U.S. Navy, where she worked in cryptology.
read more here

Members of Congress, Weapons of Mass Deception!

There is a very interesting report on Foreign Policy about contractors working with the military. Within the report is this stunning piece of information.
"The extent of contracted support for America’s wars can be unearthed in the Pentagon’s daily “contracts” press releases. The most important recent U.S. policy statement for America’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan did not come from the White House, but rather was found in two paragraphs published late on New Year’s Eve, in which the Pentagon announced $100 million in contracts for DynCorp International, LLC, to “advise, train, and mentor” the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense. Similarly revealing contracts include $12.8 million for Six3 Intelligence Solutions, Inc., $36 million for IDS International Government Services, LLC, and two — released on the same day — for $6.9 and $6.8 million awarded to Battlespace Flight Services, LLC, for work “performed at Jalalabad, Afghanistan,” and work “performed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada” (Foreign Policy)


We now know that contractors have also been paid to take care of the troops medical care, as well as veterans. An example of that was proudly talked about at a Memorial event I attended over the weekend. One of the speakers talk about providing this "care" to the troops and veterans.

Luke and Associates Inc., a tiny, Brevard County startup staffing company that had never generated any contracts or revenue, signed a 10-year, $1.9 billion contract -- that's billion with a "B" -- with the U.S. Air Force to supply medical personnel to bases all over the country.

Luke and Associates, Inc. Awarded $20 million Contract at Fort Bliss, Texas

Is this all there was? Oh hell no! Plenty more to go around. There was a time when politicians were ashamed to have this kind of thing go on but now, hey, business as usual.

While you're thinking of those numbers, remember this was all happening when these same guys decimated the military with sequestration cuts and deployed servicemembers got lay off notices because there wasn't enough money to let them stay on the only job they ever wanted to do.

Angry yet? Politicians sent troops into Iraq looking for WMD but they should have just checked in Washington first for the real ones jeopardizing our security. Members of Congress, Weapons of Mass Deception!

The New Unknown Soldiers of Afghanistan and Iraq
Did you know that private contractors in Afghanistan outnumber U.S. troops three to one?
Foreign Policy
BY MICAH ZENKO
MAY 29, 2015

This past Monday, as on every Memorial Day, American political and military leaders paid tribute to the sacrifice of service members who gave their lives for their country. The day of remembrance is not only to honor the past dead, but also to recognize the tens of thousands of service members still deployed in combat zones today, regardless of whether politicians label them as “wars” or whether these operations are in the forefront of Americans’ minds. On Memorial Day itself, the Pentagon released a somber statement: “Sgt. 1st Class Pablo A. Ruiz, 37, of Melbourne, Florida, died May 24, in Bagram, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.”

President Barack Obama, speaking at Arlington National Cemetery, used standard language of reflection declaring, “We honor the sacrifice of the thousands of American service members — men and women — who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.” This is factually accurate.

However, it overlooks the important sacrifices made by non-service members on behalf of military missions. Since 9/11, a total of 1,592 private contractors (approximately 32 percent of whom were Americans) working on Department of Defense contracts were also killed in Afghanistan. Last year, private contractors accounted for 64 percent of all U.S. deaths in Afghanistan (56 service members and 101 contractors died). But we cannot know exactly where last year’s deceased are from, because shockingly the U.S. Department of Labor “does not routinely track the nationality of workers injured or killed under any of the laws administered by the program.”
read more here

DOD Casinos and Stippers OK, Marine WIth Bible Verse Court Martialed?

It seems folks are really upset over the report about our tax dollars being spent by the Department of Defense on stippers and gambling. The kicker is that they could have spent more but the charges were declined. A Marine got kicked out over a bible verse on her computer. Bet these guys got promotions!
U.S. military charge cards used at strip clubs and casinos thousands of times
The Washington Post
By Dan Lamothe
May 20, 2015
The charges examined included 4,437 made in casinos and 900 made in adult entertainment venues, the IG found. The Army had the most adult-entertainment charges flagged by the watchdog, followed by the Air Force.

U.S. troops and Defense Department employees improperly used their government charge cards to spend more than $1 million in casinos and strip clubs in one year, according to a new report released Monday by the top Pentagon watchdog.

The Defense Department Inspector General found that in the 12 months ending June 30, 2014, $952,258 was improperly spent using government charge cards in casinos and $96,576 was spent in “adult entertainment establishments.” The numbers would have been even higher, the watchdog found, but some credit-card transactions were declined.
read more here

Sgt. Rafael Peralta To Receive Navy Cross Posthumously

UPDATE
Peralta family will donate fallen Marine's Navy Cross to ship
The family plans to treasure the Navy Cross over the summer and donate it to the ship for its Oct. 31 christening, Peralta-Donald said.

A photo of the newly named Navy destroyer Rafael Peralta is displayed during a ceremony in San Diego. (Photo: Lance Cpl. Anna Albrecht/Marine Corps)

Family of Rafael Peralta, fallen Iraq war hero, to accept Navy Cross award after long refusal
Washington Post
Dan Lamothe
May 28, 2015

The family of one of the most celebrated Marine Corps heroes of the Iraq war will soon accept the nation’s second-highest award for valor on his behalf, nearly 11 years after he was killed in combat and almost seven years after the Pentagon made the controversial decision to deny him the Medal of Honor.

Sgt. Rafael Peralta will soon receive the Navy Cross posthumously during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said his younger brother, Ricardo. Peralta’s mother, Rosa, still believes the sergeant deserves the nation’s highest award for heroism in combat, but is tired after years of appeals. She had refused to accept the Navy Cross, citing her belief he deserved the higher award.

“That decision does not mean that she was willing to settle,” Ricardo, 24, told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “It just means that she grew tired of it.”
read more here

Will Sgt. Rafael Peralta's life finally be honored?
Denial of Medal of Honor for Sgt. Rafael Peralta causes anger to survivors

The decision is "almost like somebody called me a liar," said Marine Sgt. Nicholas Jones, 25, who was with Peralta that day. Jones, a recruiter, said Peralta's actions have become part of Marine Corps lore, as drill sergeants and officer-candidate instructors repeat it to new Marines. "His name is definitely synonymous with valor," said Jones, who was wounded by the grenade blast.

"I know for a fact that I would have been killed … and that my daughter, Sophia, our new baby, Sienna, would not be here or coming into the world. And that my son, Noah, would have grown up without knowing his dad," said Robert Reynolds, 31, a corrections officer and former Marine who was with Peralta that day.

High School Students Build Home For Iraq Veteran

High school students build home from ground up for wounded veteran
The Associated Press
By JOHN ROGERS
Published: May 29, 2015
Asked when he'd actually move in, he laughed and replied: "As soon as the cameras leave."

27-year-old Iraq war veteran Jerral Hancock, sitting on an electric wheelchair, and members of Operation All The Way Home(OATH) chant their slogans after a meeting at Lancaster High School on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Lancaster, Calif. The seniors in Jamie Goodreau's high school history class learned Hancock was stuck in a modest mobile home for months, unable to travel the 70 miles to the nearest VA hospital in Los Angeles to have his bedsores treated or his rotting teeth fixed. Goodreau's students, who each year raise a few thousand dollars for veterans, decided to make Hancock their cause. AP

LOS ANGELES — Jerral Hancock is about to replace the worst day of his life with the best one.

The Army veteran, who was partially paralyzed, badly burned and lost his left arm when the tank he was driving through Iraq on his 21st birthday was attacked, will get a spacious, new home built from the ground up by a group of Southern California high school students. The students took up Hancock's cause as part of an annual school project honoring veterans.

After two years of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from selling T-shirts and refrigerator magnets, soliciting donations from businesses and receiving unsolicited help from people that included actor Gary Sinise and local prison inmates, they'll present the keys to Hancock on Friday, his 29th birthday.

"I'm grateful, I'm very, very grateful," the retired soldier said by phone Thursday in a voice filled with emotion.
read more here

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Patriotism and Pretence on Memorial Day

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 28, 2015

This weekend was one event after another. I told coworkers it was good to be back at work so that I could get some rest with the usual chaos.

I love covering the events and sharing what the press hardly ever shows.
This is from the Lake Nona VA Hospital Dedication.  As you can see, these cameramen blocked the view of the veterans behind them,
but what makes it worse is, none of them showed the whole event and few put anything on air at all.

I have a unique view of crowds behind the camera. I watch their faces, listen to the folks in the crowd almost more than I listen to the speakers. While the news crews were in the way, I was off to the side, standing in the sun in over 90 degree heat, so that I could see the speakers as well as the veterans. After all it was the dedication of their hospital.

We left early due to other appointments plus, I really didn't want to hear the same thing out of the politicians I've been hearing for years.

There is a vast difference between a politician speaking, reading words but clearly lacking the experience behind the words. They stumble over words that should come flowing out while they choke back words to appear to be emotional. Usually these stunts are followed by screwing up something important like a name or an important event in our history.

They read the words and some, if they are good and practiced enough, they glantz at the words written for them but if you pay close attention, it is easy to tell they don't have a clue what the words really mean to members in the crowd.

Then there are the veterans. When they speak, it is from their hearts filled with the experiences behind the words. Sometimes when they stop, choke back, then carry on, you can see it in their eyes and the change in their tone how much those words truly meant to them.

If you took the same speech about fallen servicemembers and had a politician read it right after a veteran did, you'd booo because the difference is that obvious.

I heard a Vietnam veteran talk about not leaving another generation of veterans behind and how they fight for all veterans to make sure they don't ever have to experience what they were put through. Then I heard politicians at another event talk about how they value veterans and want to make sure they are taken care of, but the words were just words. No emotion. No understanding of what it is like to be a veteran, disabled by risking his/her life because some politicians decided they needed to go but never planned for when these veterans returned.

The Lake Nona VA took about 10 years to get to the point where they started taking appointments and even now they are limited. It is supposed to be fully operational by the end of the year. Think about that for a second. All those years and all we heard out of members of Congress is it is all the VA's fault. After all, why would they want to remind anyone that they are responsible for this and everything else the VA does or does not do?
Jeff Miller
U.S. House of Representatives
United States Representative Jeff Miller serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for authorization and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA.) VA is the second largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $150 billion.

Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has been on that committee since 2001. That is proudly stated on his website.
After taking the oath of office in 2001, Congressman Miller was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He quickly established himself within Washington as a strong advocate for veterans' concerns and immediately supported changes to concurrent receipt and policy changes such as a greater co-sharing between the military and veterans' clinics.

Is this all his fault? No, but like all those before him, they simply don't feel the words they say and none of them have ever accepted responsibility for what they left behind. Mainly, veterans in line waiting for the care they were promised time and time again, years after more years. Most of the talking has been during election years.

The groundbreaking for the VA Hospital was in 2008 and every politician showed up to take credit for it even though building it wasn't scheduled to begin until 2010.  Every politician on that stage was involved in this in one way or another, but as with everything else, they seem to forget it was their job to make sure happened.

When politicians gave their speeches at the other events, their words painfully came out to the point where folks stopped listening hoping they'd finish. When veterans spoke the pain came from living what the words meant and folks hoped they'd be able to finish their speech without breaking down.

Hands wiped away tears for them yet when politicians spoke, hands wiped away sweat because the difference between the pretence of patriotism and true patriots was obvious.

Fort Bliss Soldier From Florida Receives Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device

Army chief of staff honors two young Fort Bliss soldiers as heroes 
Army chief of staff pins medals of valor for their actions during an ambush in Afghanistan
El Paso Times
By David Burge
POSTED: 05/27/2015
Rudy Gutierrez—El Paso Times
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, left, the 38th Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army pins the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device to SPC Robert Gillespie, center, and PFC Nile Clarke, right, during a ceremony on post. The two soldiers were cited for their actions on March 13, 2014 when the convoy they were riding in was ambushed by insurgents in Afghanistan.

FORT BLISS
Two young Fort Bliss soldiers say they were just doing their jobs as infantry men, but the Army says they are heroes.

Spc. Robert Gillespie, a 21-year-old from Bartow, Fla., and Pfc. Nile Clarke, a 20-year-old from Norwalk, Conn., were each given the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device during a ceremony at Fort Bliss on Wednesday.

They were recognized for their actions when the unit they were with in Afghanistan was ambushed on March 13, 2014, in the Zabul Province. They both exposed themselves to enemy fire, returned fire and allowed a six-vehicle convoy they were riding in to free itself up. No American soldiers were killed or wounded in the incident.

Making Wednesday's ceremony even more memorable, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who was visiting Fort Bliss for the day, pinned the medals on the two soldiers.

"They represent what we are about" as soldiers, Odierno said. "They care about the mission, they care about each other, about who they are and what they represent."

"War is a very personal business, especially on the squad and platoon level," Odierno added.

"It's about taking care of each other."
read more here

Fort Hood First Lieutenant Found Dead on Memorial Day

W. Mich. soldier dies from gunshot wound at Fort Hood
WWMT News 3
May 27, 2015

FORT HOOD, Texas (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A soldier from West Michigan has died from an apparent gunshot wound in Fort Hood, Texas.

30-year-old First Lieutenant Dilon Mitchell died on Memorial Day at his on-post home.
check here for update

Fort Bragg Soldier's Death Touched Many By How He LIved

Fallen Fort Bragg soldier remembered for selfless service, dedication to troops 
Fay Observer
By Drew Brooks, Military editor
May 27, 2015
A Fort Bragg soldier who died in Afghanistan the day before Memorial Day is being remembered for his selfless service to the families of fallen troops and his dedication to his soldiers.

Pablo A. Ruiz III died Sunday of non-combat-related injuries in Bagram.

The 37-year-old soldier from Melbourne, Florida, was deployed with elements of the 3rd Special Forces Group. The cause of his death remains under investigation, officials said.

Ruiz, who was posthumously promoted to master sergeant, was noncommissioned officer in charge of a dining facility for Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan, according to officials.

His battalion commander, Lt. Col. John Sannes, said in an email from Afghanistan that Ruiz led by example, "always diving in alongside his soldiers to complete any mission or task."

"We lost a great soldier, leader, husband and father," Sannes said.
read more here

Salem Virginia PTSD Veterans Sent to North Carolina?

The good thing is that this article points out they are separating types of PTSD finally. Treating them all the same, no matter what the trauma was, didn't make sense for decades. The best-real-experts, have been saying that for as long as they have been researching PTSD and that goes back to about 40 years ago.

The bad thing is, this means that the veterans will be away from their family support.
Salem VA to shift some PTSD patients to North Carolina
Roanoke.com
Luanne Rife

May 28, 2015

The Salem VA Medical Center in July will begin to send veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder to North Carolina for residential treatment.

The change announced Thursday affects only veterans whose PTSD is considered combat-induced. No changes are expected to outpatient PTSD treatment programs and support groups. Veterans whose PTSD is attributed to other causes, including military sexual assault, can continue to access a residential program in Salem.

Until now, the Salem VA did not differentiate between combat and noncombat PTSD.

“Right now we have an inpatient program that we bring in a big group for a six-week period of time for combat and noncombat PTSD,” said Ann Benois, a spokeswoman for the medical center. The shift requires sorting between the types and sending vets with combat-related cases to a pilot project established at the Salisbury VA Medical Center in North Carolina.
read more here

Ret. Master Sergeant Memorial Day Speech All Should Read

A speech on the occasion of Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 
Harvard Press
by Master Sergeant (ret.) Dennis Lyddy
May 28, 2015

Master Sergeant (ret.) Dennis Lyddy. 
(Photo by Lisa Aciukewicz) 
Distinguished guests, honored brothers and sisters in arms, my family—Kelly, Patrick, Victor, Taylor, and Ashton—fellow citizens of America …

I am grateful to be standing before you this Memorial Day, May 25, 2015.

Memorial Day is the day citizens can still freely gather to honor those men and women, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister who sacrificed everything in this world, so that we can continue our American way of life each day: a way of life safe from the horror of suicide bombers; secure from the brutality of snipers, car bombers, and thoughtless mines; unthreatened by indiscriminate mortars and the savagery of IEDs—a way of life that provides opportunity to learn without terror, to worship without judgment, to nourish without want, to love without labels, and to speak without fear.

Each of us present today believes, acts, and teaches the continuum of noblesse oblige.



A simple question: Why so few?
Memorial Day is a day of acknowledgment.
A day of memories and emotions Memorial Day is a day of memories and emotions.

On August 27, 2003, a native son of Deerfield, Massachusetts, died in Al Hilla, Iraq.

A roadside bomb, detonated by cowards, murdered 24-year-old Sgt. Gregory Belanger—a chef, a son, a fellow citizen-soldier.

The chef could not prepare a four-star, candlelit, romantic meal for two in a cozy apartment for a broken-hearted fiancée. The son did not get the chance to pass on his winning smile and impish tricks to a child that would make grandparents laugh and carry on the family name.

The nation lost a generous citizen-soldier who shared his tent with me and willingly left behind school, family, the love of his life, when he heard the clarion.

On September 20, 2003, a brutal insurgent mortar attack targeting Iraqi prisoners killed 26-year-old Sgt. David Travis Friedrich. Travis Friedrich, the student, studied with fabled Dr. Henry Lee to become a forensic scientist.

Sgt. Friedrich, the citizen-soldier, blended his skills, discipline, and humanity to go after the biggest group of criminals since World War II. Travis’s light was prematurely snuffed out before his brilliance could illuminate the darkness of crime.

These are only two small stories about Americans killed in a combat zone. When will they end? On MassLive, reporter Fred Contrada wrote about U.S. Army Capt. Roselle M. Hoffmaster, a Smith College graduate. Hoffmaster, a surgeon assigned to Iraq, died under “non-combat-related” circumstances in September 2007, according to the army. Sixteen months later, a government report concluded that Roselle took her own life.

In a May 6, 2014, article, the Boston Globe reported that Jeffrey Lucey, a USMC veteran, committed suicide on June 22, 2004. The Globe also photographed members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America placing 1,892 flags representing veterans and service members who have died by suicide.

These are only two short stories about Americans dying in a safety zone. The statistics from various studies, government agencies, and independent researchers reveal that the suicide rate of veterans exceeds the suicide rate of civilians for the first time.

I simply ask: Why so many? read more here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Military-Civilian Police Officer Not Allowed in 7-11 on Memorial Day?

This story is in need of editing. Deitch is the veteran/owner and Sox is the dog. Hope they fix it.
Owner of 7-Eleven apologizes for kicking out veteran's service dog
New Jersey.com
By Dave Hutchinson
May 27, 2015
Deitch is both a military police and civilian police service dog, according to News 12.
PARSIPPANY — The owner of a Parsippany 7-Eleven has apologized to a veteran who was not allowed into the store on Memorial Day because of his service dog, according to News 12 New Jersey.

Veteran Michael Deitch said he was not allowed into the 7-Eleven on North Beverwyck Road because he had his service dog, Sox, with him, the report said. Sox, a 7-month-old lab-hound-mix, is federally protected under the American with Disabilities Act, the report said. read more here

Boston Homeless Veterans Center Getting Makeover

The New England Center for Homeless Veterans is very near to my heart. When I lived in Massachusetts I had a tour of the building and saw the work they do first hand. I sat with some of the veterans for a while and discovered what a difference it made to them to know they were cared about as well as cared for.
Boston homeless veterans center to get $31m upgrade
Boston Globe
By Steve Annear
GLOBE STAFF
MAY 27, 2015
The renovation project will include adding 200 transitional housing units and 38 permanent housing units to the center, as well as upgrades to the 59 permanent living spaces already in use.
Homeless veterans in Boston and surrounding communities will have better access to improved living accommodations, transitional services, and vocational programs, as a center dedicated to helping them begins work on a multimillion-dollar renovation downtown.

On Wednesday, the New England Center for Homeless Veterans will break ground on the $31 million, 18-month construction project to provide state-of-the art resources for its clients.

“The building is showing its age, so we are creating a facility that can be adaptable for veterans for decades to come,” said Andy McCawley, president and chief executive of the Court Street center. “These upgrades will get people into housing faster and more effectively, and offer a full array of services like case management support, vocational training, employment services, and wellness services.”

The project should be complete by the end of next year, said McCawley, a retired Navy officer, and will help aid the more than 1,500 homeless vets that the center assists annually.
read more here

Camp Lejeune Marine Court-martialed Over Bible Verse?

Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse 
FOX News
Todd Starnes
May 26, 2015
“This is a very scary time when you are not allowed to have a very small printed Bible verse in your own personal workspace because it might offend other Marines,” Sasser told me. “Our Marines are trained to deal with some of the most hostile people on the planet. I don’t think they are afraid of tiny words on a tiny piece of paper.”

A United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer – a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable – a member of the Armed Forces criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Sterling, who represented herself at trial, was convicted February 1, 2014 in a court-martial at Camp Lejune, North Carolina after she refused to obey orders from a staff sergeant to remove the Bible verses from her desk.

She was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer.

The Christian Marine was given a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private.
read more here

Sailor's Death in Abu Dhabi Under Investigation

Sailor from Illinois dies overseas 
WGN News
BY TOM NEGOVAN
MAY 22, 2015

ABU DHABI– A sailor from Illinois has died overseas, according to the Department of Defense.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan D. Burris, 24, of Lisle, died May 21, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, of a non-combat related incident at Zayed Military City as he was helping to support Operation Inherent Resolve—that is the fight against ISIS.

He was temporarily assigned to the Crisis Response Element of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, Special Operations Command Central, U.S. Central Command, according to the Department of Defense. read more here

Restaurant Makes Amends After PTSD Veteran Turned Away

Restaurant manager fired after veteran, dog turned away
WGNO News
BY ANTHONY PERRUCCI
MAY 26, 2015
Hershey the Labradoodle was turned away from a restaurant in Illinois. (WGN)
ALGONQUIN, Ill. (WGN)— An Illinois veteran’s trip to a restaurant over the weekend caused an uproar and cost a restaurant manager her job.

Garrett Loughran of Huntley has served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And like a lot of veterans, Garrett uses a service dog to help with his PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hershey, a 5-year-old Labradoodle, helps keep him calm in crowds and adjust to civilian life. He’s no ordinary canine. In fact, he’s specially trained for this. By law, he’s allowed to go where Garrett does.

But Garrett’s mom wanted to take him to a pre-Memorial Day lunch at the Houlihan’s in nearby Algonquin. And that’s when things got a little touchy. The veteran, his mom and his dog were turned away.
Houlihan’s says the manager involved in turning Laura, Garrett and Hershey away has been fired and it’s donating $2,000 dollars to the organization Pets for Vets.
read more here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lake Nona VA Hospital Dedication

Published on May 26, 2015 Dedication of Lake Nona VA Hospital was this morning. VFW Post 4287 was there and the National Anthem was beautifully sung by a VA employee Sharon Stephens. As for the speeches, enough said.
Congressman Daniel Webster
Congressman Jeff Miller
Congressman Alan Grayson, late arrival
All the news crews blocking view of veterans behind them.
I left before the speeches but I am sure all those news crews managed to record every word said. You'll just have to try to figure out which ones actually have the coverage online.

Speakers, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Congressman Ron DeSantis, Congressman Bill Posey, Congressman Daniel Webster, Congressman John Mica, Congressman Alan Grayson, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Congressman Jeff Miller and Secretary Department Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald.

If the news stations don't have the speeches up, check their YouTube pages later.


UPDATE
Orange County Welcomes Orlando Veterans Administration Medical Center To Lake Nona
Rejoice Magazine Staff
Temia Brinson
May 30, 2015
The VA Medical Center includes a 134-bed inpatient diagnostic and treatment hospital, a 120-bed nursing home, a 60-bed domiciliary and an outpatient clinic. The Center will continue to open in phases through 2015.

With more than 1.8 million veterans in Florida, the new facility is capable of providing the highest quality of health care and services to local veterans and their families. The $616-million facility will provide access to state-of-the art health and medical services to approximately 400,000 veterans in Central Florida. According to VA Public Affairs Officer Heather Frebe, the new center should see about 100,000 patients a year.

Secretary McDonald recognized the steadfast efforts of the Central Florida community whose dedication contributed to opening of the nation’s newest VA Medical Center.

“Florida veterans have been lucky to have these advocates speak for them,” McDonald said during his remarks. “The VA can’t do things like this on our own; we depend on congress, Veterans Service Organizations and private partners.”
read more here

Veterans Response To Tampa Bay Jeff Miller Report

Jeff Miller forgets that he has been head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee since 2011.
United States Representative Jeff Miller serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for authorization and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA.) VA is the second largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $150 billion.


But Miller has also been on the Committee since 2001! Yep! So who does he blame? He blames the VA.
After taking the oath of office in 2001, Congressman Miller was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He quickly established himself within Washington as a strong advocate for veterans' concerns and immediately supported changes to concurrent receipt and policy changes such as a greater co-sharing between the military and veterans' clinics.

In that video Miller asked for Veterans to give their thoughts,,,,,,Here's some thoughts from veterans right here in Florida. "We're not gonna take it anymore!"
A year after VA scandal, House veterans committee chairman wants more progress
Tampa Bay Times
William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
Monday, May 25, 2015
The scandal has lifted Mil­ler's profile as he has become a sought-after quote by journalists reporting on the agency's deficiencies. And Miller, 55, is considering a 2016 Senate run for the seat expected to open as Marco Rubio seeks the presidency.
SEMINOLE — Whenever U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller attends a public event, veterans and Department of Veterans Affairs employees find him for short, intense conversations about one VA issue after another.

It happened after his Memorial Day speech at the Bay Pines Veterans Cemetery, where a short line of people waited to get a minute with the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee.

This is life for one of the VA's biggest Capitol Hill critics, who told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday he remains frustrated by the slow pace of reform at an agency hit in the past year by the worst scandal in its history.

"The VA did not get into the situation that exists today overnight," Miller said. "And it's not going to be resolved in a year's time. It is going to take an entire culture change within the department. There has to be transparency and accountability."

And too often, he said, those two qualities are still lacking.

The Pensacola Republican has been in the forefront of debate since the VA scandal erupted in April 2014 when a doctor at a Phoenix VA hospital said that 40 veterans there had died after delays in care and that the hospital kept a secret patient waiting list to hide its shortcomings. What followed was a series of revelations about the VA's widespread tactic of manipulating hospital performance measures nationally, its retaliation against whistle-blowers and patients lost in VA red tape.
read more here

There is absolutely nothing that has happened at the VA that should have surprised Miller since all the reports have come out repeatedly since 2001....actually even before that, but admitting that would assume members of Congress have a conscience.

Memorial Day Event Remembered Deaths After War

Combat Deaths, Suicides Memorialized at Claquato Ceremony 
Remembering the Fallen: Annual Memorial Day Commemoration Draws Large Crowd
Chronicle
By Justyna Tomtas
May 25, 2015
Hawkins said the senseless deaths that continue after bullets stop flying are unnecessary. He urged everyone to remain beside the dying and injured on the “battlefield of life,” just as one would not leave those on an actual battlefield.
Pete Caster
Memorial Day at Claquato
People gather around the American flag at Claquato Cemetery
as the pay their respects to veterans on Monday morning in Adna.


CLAQUATO — Jeff Hawkins worked as a hospital corpsman for the Navy in the early 1990s.

Throughout his four years of service, he saw three deaths. One was in combat. The other two were suicides.

The pastor and Chehalis resident said Memorial Day is a time to give thanks to those who died protecting America’s values, and also a day for remembering those who are plagued by the atrocities of war long after leaving the battlefield.

Observers listened to the message, and others, Monday morning at an annual ceremony at Claquato Cemetery outside of Adna.

Hawkins spoke of the more than 1.3 million American military members who have given their lives service of the country since 1775, noting that number does not include those who later commited suicide after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

“A veteran is a person who wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including one's life, and there is no expiration date on that check,” Hawkins said, later adding that statistics show 22 veterans commit suicide each day. “We’re here this morning to pay tribute to those who died fighting for our country, but there are many discharged veterans who never left those battles. They are still losing those battles, and they are still dying.”
read more here

Iwo Jima Veteran Shows It Is Never Too Late For Help With PTSD

Iwo Jima Marine vet fights the demons of war
WIVB 4 News
By Rich Newberg, News 4 Senior Correspondent
Published: May 25, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Ted Drews. a World War II veteran of Iwo Jima, had witnessed five of his fellow Marines and a Navy Corpsman plant the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi, in Japanese territory.

He witnessed it from his strategic position on the water near the mountain.

“They were brave to be doing that out in the open,” he recalls.

While many are drawn to that iconic image that came to represent World War II, Drews continued to fight the demons of war long after the Japanese surrendered.

He was nineteen years old when he was shipped off to Guam, and then Iwo Jima.

His job was to carry supplies, and, if possible, transport the wounded and the dead.

The images he carried home with him in his head after the war, remained hidden from his family for the longest time.

“People aren’t buried with their arms across their chest,” he recalled. “They’re buried the way they’re found. Some are sitting up. Their arms and legs are extended, and it’s just awful to see the way these nice young guys died.”

So awful are some of the memories, that Ted would suffer from terrible depression. He sometimes withdraw from his family, and had fitful dreams. The condition would manifest itself has the month of February approached. That was the month in 1945 that the Battle of Iwo Jima began.
read more here

Veterans Dying of Suicide Have Mom Remembering Them

Mother creates memorial wall for veterans who died of suicide 
Janine Lutz creates memorial as way to honor son, others
Local 10 News Author: John Turchin, Crime Specialist
Published On: May 25 2015 Weston Florida
Not all who lost their lives serving the United States died in battle.

An astounding number of veterans commit suicide after they return home. The mother of one of them believes they deserve to be remembered and honored on Memorial Day.

Janine Lutz created an 8-foot-tall, 50-foot-long wall displaying the faces and stories of veterans who died of suicide.

"With every tick of the clock, we are losing veterans," Lutz told Local 10 News. "With every 65 minutes, another veteran is dying of suicide."

Lutz has named the memorial wall after her son, Lance Cpl. Janos Lutz. The 24-year-old committed suicide two years ago.
read more here
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Taking Care of Our Veterans More Like Impossible Dream

In 2010 I used "The Impossible Dream" by Luther Vandross for a memorial tribute.

I put it back up on YouTube in March. While it has the quote about how veterans are treated attributed to George Washington, back then I thought it was but I've discovered the quote was not his. It should be the quote from all of us. It seems more like an impossible dream to far too many of them to receive the care they deserve.

This is from 2010. The numbers are higher now and the debt we owe them has still not been paid yet. Music

Special Forces Soldier from Florida Died in Afghanistan

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Release No: NR-197-15
May 25, 2015

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Pablo A. Ruiz, 37, of Melbourne, Florida, died May 24, in Bagram, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

He was assigned to Group Support Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day at Brevard Veterans Memorial Center

Today at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center there was a fabulous Memorial Day event at this gorgeous combo center/museum.
Life size mannequins
I will have the video up on this sometime tomorrow after the Lake Nona VA event.
UPDATE here's the video