Monday, November 30, 2015

Combat Air Evacuations May Make TBI Worse?

New study: Air evacuation may do further harm in patients with brain injury 
Findings could have major implications for treatment of military injuries
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
November 30, 2015
About a quarter of all injured soldiers evacuated from Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered head injuries.
Baltimore, MD, November 30, 2015--Over the past 15 years, more than 330,000 U.S. soldiers have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is one of the leading causes of death and disability connected to the country's recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of these patients were evacuated by air from these countries to Europe and the U.S. for further treatment. In general, these patients were flown quickly to hospitals outside the battle zone, where more extensive treatment was available.

But now a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found evidence that such air evacuations may pose a significant added risk, potentially causing more damage to already injured brains. The study is the first to suggest that air evacuation may be hazardous for TBI patients. The study was published today in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

"This research shows that exposure to reduced barometric pressure, as occurs on military planes used for evacuation, substantially worsens neurological function and increases brain cell loss after experimental TBI - even when oxygen levels are kept in the normal range. It suggests that we need to carefully re-evaluate the cost-benefit of air transport in the first days after injury," said lead researcher Alan Faden, MD, the David S. Brown Professor in Trauma in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Anatomy and Neurobiology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, and director, Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research Center (STAR) as well as the National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Services.
The research was funded by the U.S. Air Force.
"This research has the potential to connect bench to bedside in an important, potentially lifesaving way," said Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also Vice President of Medical Affairs, the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko Bowers Distinguished Professor. "Dr. Faden is part of an impressive group of scientists at the School who are helping to unlock the mysteries of the brain."
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Killed in Massachusetts

UPDATES
2 Teens Charged In Vietnam Veteran Murder In New Bedford

New Bedford stunned by taxi driver’s killing
Boston Globe
By Jan Ransom GLOBE STAFF
DECEMBER 01, 2015

"He wouldn’t want me to be mad about what happened. The people who did this to my father had no idea who they did this to."
Barry Depina, whose father, Donald, was killed over the weekend



NEW BEDFORD — Donald A. Depina, an Army veteran from the Vietnam War, survived a search-and-destroy mission in Chu Lai as an infantryman nearly five decades ago.

But Saturday, Depina, a 66-year-old cabdriver who had dedicated his life to helping veterans, was found suffering from a gunshot wound about 11 p.m. in a parking lot outside Brooklawn Park, the Bristol district attorney’s office said.

He died almost an hour later at St. Luke’s Hospital.

“They took a really good man from us,” his son, Barry Depina, 29, said. “I’m sure they thought he was a lowly cabdriver with no family, but the entire city loves him.”

The Bristol district attorney’s office declined to comment on the case Monday and said the shooting remains under investigation. An autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office is pending.
read more here
New Bedford mayor condemns slaying of ex-veterans agent
Boston Herald
Laurel J. Sweet
November 30, 2015
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is condemning the murder of Donald DePina, the city’s former veterans agent, as a “heinous act of violence.”

Police found DePina, 66, mortally wounded by gunfire late Saturday night near the parking lot of Brooklawn Park.

DePina, a Vietnam War veteran, was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight, according to Gregg Miliote, spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III.

“Our prayers go out to the family of Donald DePina, a servant of both our nation and city,” Mitchell said in a statement to the Herald.

“I am saddened and horrified by this heinous act of violence. We will work relentlessly with the District Attorney’s Office to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
read more here

Toys for Tot's Marine Veterans Endure Harsh Weather

Sorry folks but not letting my blood pressure boil over this one. My husband and I do it all the time for the DAV. It doesn't matter what the temperature is or what the weather is like. We stay outside no matter if the building has cover or not. Salvation Army bell ringers are outside too.

As you'll read in this article the past store manager made a decision to let them go inside but it is something that most never expect out of a store letting us go there to ask for donations.

As for the title of this article, it is an attention grabber and nothing more. It takes away from the fact that these veterans are willing to do it no matter what the weather is like!
Veteran forced to stand outside of Medina Walmart
WKYC-TV
Wale Aliyu
November 30, 2015
Veteran stands outside of Walmart to collect toys (Photo: Facebook)
MEDINA, Ohio -- Controversy is brewing in Medina, after a local Marine veteran was forced to stand outside of a Walmart this weekend as he collected money for Toys for Tots.

It was rainy and cold, but despite the weather, the store manager said he had to stand outside.

Now, people are outraged that he wasn't allowed inside of the store.

When someone took a picture of the veteran and posted it to social media, the post went viral within hours. The post read, "He can bleed and die but not stand inside."

The controversy started as a conversation between a Walmart store manager and a couple of veterans.

The vets were collecting money for Toys for Tots and the VFW. They said they asked to go inside, but the Walmart store manager said it's against the company's solicitation policy to allow them inside.

The vets were then asked to stay outside of the store.

The temperatures were in the low 40's.
read more here

Iraq Veteran Among Dead in Colorado

UPDATE

Planned Parenthood Victim Ke'Arre Stewart Tried to Save Others



Man killed in Colorado shooting was veteran, served in Iraq
AP
By KRISTEN WYATT and SADIE GURMAN
Nov. 30, 2015

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A look at the three people who were killed in a shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic:

COMBAT VETERAN, FATHER

Ke'Arre Stewart, 29, was accompanying someone at the clinic when he was killed, said Amburh Butler, a lifelong friend and family spokeswoman. Stewart leaves behind two girls, 11 and 5, who live in Texas. Stewart and Butler met when they were 11 in Waco, Texas and were high school sweethearts, she said.

They both joined the Army, but Stewart joined first, right after his high school graduation in 2004, she said. He served in the Fourth Infantry Division and was deployed to Iraq, where he would often send her letters describing the horrors he saw on the front lines.

"He would tell me how terrible it was, how many guys he watched die. It was terrible for him," Butler said. The Army stationed Stewart at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs in 2013, she said. He was discharged from the military the following year. "He went someplace where people expect to die, only to come back ... and be killed."


John Ah-King told The Denver Post that his daughter 36-year-old Jennifer Markovsky, was one of three people who died Friday when a gunman opened fire. He described Markovsky as a kind-hearted, lovable person with two children.

Garrett Swasey worked as a police officer at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He was there when he was called to assist with an active shooter at the nearby clinic. read more here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Da Nang Vietnam Veterans Remember Twist of Fate

Veterans form friendship, discover unusual link
The News Gazette
Jim Dey 1
1/26/2015

Nearly 50 years ago — May 22, 1968 — Bob Harrison, a 19-year-old U.S. Marine from Villa Grove, was carrying a radio as part of a four-man patrol team near Da Nang in Vietnam, the site of a major air base used by American and South Vietnamese forces.

He had seen extensive combat since arriving on Thanksgiving Day 1967. That included a harrowing 77-day siege at Khe Sanh that began Jan. 21, 1968. It's one of the most publicized battles of any American war, one in which hugely outnumbered Marines, assisted by round-the-clock B-52 airstrikes, fought off North Vietnamese soldiers trying to overrun their base.

American forces suffered extensive casualties. Although Harrison's backpack took a bullet, he escaped injury. But his luck was about to run out.

The last thing Harrison remembers of his patrol that day is calling in his group's position.
read more here

Miami Family Grieving After Murder Suicide

Mother, son found dead in Miami home in apparent murder-suicide 
Woman finds mother in pool of blood, calls 911
Local 10 News
Author: Peter Burke, Managing Editor
Amy Viteri, Reporter
Published On: Nov 25 2015
Sources told Local 10 News that Loholfftz was preparing a Thanksgiving turkey when she was shot. They said Reyes' sister and friend told them he was an Army veteran and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
MIAMI - A woman and her son were found dead inside a Miami home in an apparent murder-suicide.

The discovery was made Wednesday afternoon in the 1700 block of Northwest 30th Street.

Miami police said a woman entered the home, found her mother lying in a pool of blood and saw her brother sitting in the living room with what appeared to be a gun, so she ran out of the house and called 911.

When police arrived, they found the woman's mother and brother dead of gunshot wounds.
read more here

Guest Post on PTSD Treatment

Guest Post: As a policy, allowing guest post does not signify an endorsement. Any questions, see links.

A New Treatment That Addresses The Real Cause of PTSD

PTSD is a serious problem. Why isn’t anyone really paying attention? There are countless statistics quoted by the media, yet how many veterans with PTSD are really treated to remission?

The drugs aren’t working and we need alternative solutions.
We are all frustrated at how our heroes and loved ones have been treated. They deserve better. What’s the solution?
According to a group of forward-thinking therapists and doctors, the reason a solution has not been developed is that the medical field doesn’t truly understand PTSD. This causes doctors and medical organizations to take the easy way out and just prescribe medications.
Prescription medications only treat the symptoms of PTSD, not the underlying illness. The flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares and other symptoms are NOT the illness. They are a symptom of a much deeper issue.
Blue Morpho Foundation has discovered the true source of PTSD – it is a problem of consciousness.
PTSD happens when a person experiences a negative or damaging shift in consciousness during trauma. After the traumatic event, prolonged symptoms pattern the trauma into PTSD. To cure the illness, there needs to be a new shift in consciousness - a peak experience to allow for a positive shift in consciousness and a method to integrate it.

A new treatment that actually works?
We have treated PTSD into remission without medication or decades of psychotherapy. In fact, there are now thousands of former PTSD sufferers worldwide who swear by our treatment’s effectiveness. They attest to the results that they have experienced firsthand, which includes lasting relief without the return of their illness.
The treatment works without medications and the common side effects thereof. It works by using propriety technology to address the underlying issues in the patient’s psyche. Through a series of healing shifts in consciousness, the release of a traumatic past is achieved.
The BMF advisory board, comprised of forward-thinking therapists, is treating PTSD into remission without side effects or medication using these new techniques.

This isn’t your average psychotherapy.
It leverages all four modalities of human experience, harnessing the power of imagination, cognition, body, and emotion individually and in unison to shift consciousness to a new state where the mental illness is no longer present.
We truly want to help our veterans and have dedicated our lives to treating mental illness. Our goal is to fund a long-term research study that will prove to the world what we have discovered - that our treatment works. Our veterans desperately need a solution and we need to make this available to them. Thousands can already testify to the efficacy of our treatment; now we just have to prove it to the modern medical establishment so that we can legally distribute it.  
For more information on this campaign, please go to our website: www.bluemorphofoundation.org
For all media inquiries, please contact Jed Wallace at (310) 403-0559 or jed@streetrelations.com.

Town Tore Down Home of Navy Veteran Away For Surgery

This sums everything up.
"The house was in terrible condition for a long time," next door neighbor Keylin Escobar said. "Nobody really lived in the house; the house was abandoned. Everyone who came over to visit, people always say, 'What's going on with this house?'"
Then why didn't they care enough to learn anything about the neighbor who served this country and probably couldn't afford to fix it? Maybe they could have offered to lend him a hand instead of giving him an empty lot to go back to?
Town demolished veteran's house while he was away for surgery
Associated Press
By By MICHAEL BALSAMO and FRANK ELTMAN
Published: November 28, 2015
"The town basically took everything from me," said Williams, who is now staying with a friend in Florida and has only two suitcases of belongings. "The town does not have a right to take all of my property, all of my possessions."
WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — When a U.S. Navy veteran traveled from Long Island to Florida for a knee replacement, his house was the last thing on his mind. But now his memory of it is all he can think about.

Philip Williams' home was demolished in the spring by town officials while he spent about six months recuperating from surgical complications in Fort Lauderdale. Back in New York, officials in the Town of Hempstead deemed his modest two-story home unfit for habitation and knocked it down.

The 69-year-old has now waged a legal battle against the suburban New York town. He wants reimbursement — for the house and all the belongings inside.

"I'm angry and I'm upset. It's just wrong on so many levels," he said "My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date ... everything was current and fine."
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Remembers Battle of the Ia Drang

Not sure about this report. How could a soldier go through basic training in 1963 and not know anything about Vietnam for a year?
1965 Major battle erupts in the Ia Drang Valley
1st Cavalry unit ambushed in the Ia Drang Valley

Something about this story seems off,,,,
Vietnam Voices: Bob Beebe: 'Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into?'
Billings Gazette
Larry Mayer
Updated Nov 27, 2015

Bob Beebe served in the United States Army from 1963 to 1968. He graduated from Bozeman High School. He served in the Battle of the Ia Drang, one of the bloodiest and most severe, which was highlighted in the book and movie "We Were Soldiers Once and Young." This is part of his Vietnam story.

Gazette: In 1963, did you know anything about Vietnam?

Beebe: "Not until March 1964 — that's when I first I heard about Vietnam because it started hitting the news."

Beebe did basic training in Fort Ord, Calif., and then did artillery school in Fort Sill, Okla., for advanced individual training. In January 1964, he went to "jump school" in Fort Benning, Ga.

Beebe: "The U.S. government at that time was getting interested in the Vietnam War, and we started experimenting with helicopters, so we formed the 11th Air Assault Division ... We spent three months in North and South Carolina in maneuvers and experimenting with helicopters."

Beebe: "The U.S. government at that time was getting interested in the Vietnam War, and we started experimenting with helicopters, so we formed the 11th Air Assault Division ... We spent three months in North and South Carolina in maneuvers and experimenting with helicopters."
read more here

Navy Vietnam Veteran Still Serving His Country

Vietnam Navy vet Joe Hill still serving his country
KPLC News
By John Bridges
Posted: Nov 27, 2015

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Vietnam veteran of the Navy, Joe Hill continued his military career helping other veterans. After graduating OCS, Joe Hill went on to the Navy JAG school to become a Navy legal officer. He later found himself doing 2 tours of duty in Vietnam on board the U.S.S. Pyro.

"We had people ashore and at that time it was top secret," said Hill. "The second one was a shooting war. Our job was to keep the combatants: the destroyers, the cruisers, the aircraft carriers... full of bullets."

After the war, Hill got involved in Navy intelligence.

"I felt very privileged for Operation Homecoming in which we interviewed all of the prisoners of war from the Vietnam War and heard their stories and helped shoe spoon them back into a country that they didn't even recognize."
read more here
KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Firefighters Battled Apartment Fire in Santa Monica

Man In Custody After Explosive Fire At Santa Monica Apartment 
CBS Los Angeles
November 29, 2015

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say one person has been taken into custody on suspicion of arson after a huge explosion and fire rocked a Santa Monica apartment.
The explosion unfolded about 1 a.m. Sunday at a second-story apartment of a complex in the 1800 block of Euclid Street. Neighbors say it was then that they heard a huge explosion. A fire erupted afterwards. “I was watching TV and tried to go to sleep and I just heard a big blast that pretty much shook the apartment,” Nguyen Trinh, a neighbor, said.
Neighbors described that person as a veteran. They said they believe he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to authorities, the man allegedly told them he turned on the gas, which they believe caused the explosion. read more here

Australia Soldiers Say Mefloquine Left Them Scarred

Soldiers fear drug program has scarred them with depression, anxiety, nightmares
Sydney Morning Herald
Henry Belot
November 29, 2015

"At various times it was like living in a heavily armed lunatic asylum."
ADF veteran prescribed Lariam
Major Stuart McCarthy is calling for a public inquiry into the ADF's use of antimalarial drug mefloquine. Photo: Brendon Thorne
Australian soldiers and veterans are calling for an immediate inquiry into the use of an antimalarial drug they believe scarred them with permanent psychological damage, anxiety attacks, vertigo, nightmares, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations.

The group, which includes commandos and officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, believe they have been incorrectly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and were ignored by the military after raising concerns about the drug.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force has launched an internal inquiry into the use of the drug mefloquine, or Lariam, which has been used on up to 2000 personnel since a controversial drug trial in East Timorin 2001-02.

Major Stuart McCarthy was prescribed mefloquine while serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2001 and has since suffered depression, vertigo, hearing and memory problems and cognitive impairment.

Major Stuart McCarthy was prescribed mefloquine while serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2001 and has since suffered depression, vertigo, hearing and memory problems and cognitive impairment. Photo: Brendon Thorne
But documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell does not support a campaign against the drug because it would deny deployment opportunities, despite acknowledging the side effects.
"I have been an army officer 27 years and I have no trust in the Australian Defence Force's handling of this matter," he said. read more here

Will Congress Notice Neglect of Veterans Began With Congress

Neglect of Veterans Began With Congress!
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 29, 2015

"Gus Bilirakis represents Florida's 12th congressional district" wants to hold the VA accountable. Sounds good however veterans are wondering when members of Congress will hold themselves accountable in the first place. It isn't as if he hasn't known about all these problems.

He heard them just last year. Veterans tell Bilirakis about heath care complaints

Holding the VA accountable
Washington Examiner
By GUS BILIRAKIS
11/28/15

Our veterans have bravely fought for our country. They have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis, and I am forever grateful for their service.

As vice chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have the privilege to work with my colleagues in the House to serve our nation's heroes. This is not a job I take lightly. This is my top priority – to ensure our veterans receive the support and care they deserve.

Unfortunately, as the committee has seen firsthand through many reports, hearings and meetings, our veterans often face unnecessary barriers when it comes to accessing quality care.

Earlier this year, a Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General report found "serious" problems with enrollment data for veterans seeking healthcare. The VA's inspector general confirmed that nearly 900,000 military veterans have officially pending applications for healthcare. Of those 900,000, an estimated 307,000 veterans listed died before their applications for care were processed.
read more here
Why not mention that a VA Claim does not go away until the veteran gives up? They can keep a claim in appeals for as long as they have the will to fight in them. Even when they pass away, the family can keep the claim in the system. Justice for veterans does not end when their lives do.

Why not mention the simple fact that veterans have been living on a rollercoaster of claims going way up over and over again as the line gets longer? While we're on the subject, how about mentioning the fact that Congress approved of the VA paying contractors to process claims as well as provide substandard care members of Congress always blame the VA employees for?
Not that he hadn't heard about all these problems going back to when he was first elected.
Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He was first elected to Congress on November 7, 2006, and is currently serving his fifth term in the United States House of Representatives.
But this part sums it all up!
Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Subcommittee on Health: Legislative, oversight, and investigative jurisdiction over the Veterans Health Administration, including medical services, medical support and compliance, medical facilities, medical and prosthetic research, and major and minor construction.

Bilirakis wrote,
They are depending on us to ensure the commitments made to them are upheld, as they have honored their commitment through service and sacrifice.
And he's right on that but what he is wrong about is the fact they blame members of Congress since they have jurisdiction over the VA. They heard all the speeches, read all the claims members have made since 1946 and they are fed up. Tied of promises delivered over and over again only to discover their pockets have been picked as they are pushed to the back of the line past sessions of Congress promised to fix.

Here's a few links to what they already know.

VA is buried in a backlog of never-ending veterans disability appeals

History Repeated on Veterans Waiting for the VA and Congress!

Veterans Crisis Proves the Devil is in the Details

Daily Show Jon Stewart credited for clueing in Congress?

Canada Military Suicides "In a sense, these are our forgotten casualties"

National Defence Minister Orders Suicide Prevention As A Priority For Soldiers And Veterans
“In a sense, these are our forgotten casualties.”
The Argus Lakehead University Canada
By Olivia Levesque , Staff Writer
November 26, 2015
“The military will spend a fortune to train a soldier to go to war. They need to spend that same amount of money to repair that soldier when they come back.” says military veteran Darrell McMullin to the Globe and Mail in an interview after the investigation was released.
On the day before Remembrance Day, Globe and Mail released an investigation that had been in the works for months with the Canadian Armed Forces. The investigation known as “The Unremembered” released disturbing statistics of the number of soldiers and veterans who had taken their own lives after serving in Afghanistan.

The numbers show that Canada isn’t just losing troops overseas, but losing them here at home too. Since the beginning of the 13-year NATO-led Afghan mission, 54 military personnel and veterans have committed suicide, according to the statistics released by the Globe and Mail. The number suicides since the beginning of our mission in Afghanistan number more than one third of the number of Canadian troops who killed in action during the conflict itself. It’s a sad reality but it seems those returning from deployment face a war on Canadian soil almost as deadly as the one they faced overseas.

National Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, has responded to the investigation by issuing an order to Canada’s top military leader to make suicide prevention a major priority within the Armed Forces. The investigation has also shown that the number of suicides have increased over the past year amongst returning veterans as well. Fourteen suicides were recorded since the beginning of 2014 according to the investigation.
read more here

New "Honorary Marine" Joins Less Than 100 in Marine Corps History

Local man to be awarded "Honorary Marine"
KXXV ABC News
By Taylor Durden
Posted: Nov 28, 2015

Waco Texas
A local man will be honored by the United States Marine Corps as an "Honorary Marine" on Thursday, a title that less than 100 people have been given in the 240 years of the Marine Corps.

Waco native, Rusty Hicks, will head to San Antonio on Thursday to receive the "Honorary Marine" title for his work in helping wounded military men and women.

"Seeing that there was a need, I decided to really get involved and jump in with both feet. I just didn't know how deep I was going to jump in," said Hicks.

Hicks said it all started after 9/11. He felt like he needed to do something patriotic and wanted to help wounded military men and women. Today, Hicks is the executive director of Combat Marine Outdoors, a non-profit organization that has taken over 2,000 combat wounded on fishing and hunting excursions to help with their rehabilitation.

"You get them back into an environment that they used to enjoy before their injury," said Hicks. "And we have seen visible results time and time again. All these warriors want is an opportunity to be treated normal. We don't talk down to them. It is what it is. Let's go have some fun."

Combat Marine Outdoors has taken 55 hunts so far this year and that number is still increasing. Hicks said the number of combat wounded, ill and injured in the U.S. is staggering.
read more here

KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Why Are "Several Food Pantries" Needed For Military Families?

Fast food workers want $15 an hour while soldiers go to food pantry? Does this make sense to anyone? The worst thing is, none of this is new.

Food pantries support those in need all year
Killeen Daily Herald
By Jennise Colin-Ventura
November 29, 2015

Many families struggle financially to provide food, shelter and expenses for their household, especially during the holidays. And of course, if you are trying to save up for a few gifts under the tree, your finances are pretty much drained.

There are several food pantries in the area to help you and your family.

Operation Phantom Support and the Sgt. Leevon Ritter Support your Troops Resale Center: 317 E. Avenue C, Killeen. Call 254-233-1441 or go to www.operationphantomsupport.com and www.facebook.com/OOIALFortHood.

Anyone in need can visit this pantry once a month at no charge. Plus, anyone with a military ID can pay $10 or more a month and visit the food pantry twice a week. The food pantry is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All is needed is photo or military ID and basic household information. Food selection varies for each visit but you may get meat, eggs, canned and dry goods as well as fruits and vegetables. They also have a thrift shop inside so when you need clothes or furniture, you can shop there, especially when they have their “Fill A Bag” sale. They also offer a program called “Operation Phantom Cakes,” which offers free birthday cakes for children up to 18 years old. If you would like to donate cake mixes, frosting or money for this program and/or to the organization, call 254-233-1441.
read more here and find more places to turn to
None of this is new. This report is from 2013
Celebration of Love brings holiday cheer to Fort Hood
Fort Hood Sentinel “Some Soldiers may need a little extra help getting ready for the holiday season, so we try to provide something that would help out during this time,” said Michael Ashford, the president and executive director of Celebration of Love. “We provide the makings for a Christmas meal, which includes a turkey, a pie, four cans of green beans, four cans of corn, two boxes of mac and cheese, apple sauce, milk and rice.”

You can find a lot more reports from "Armed Forces Day Armed With Food Stamps" post on Wounded Times May 15, 2008. And this report is from 1994.
As Military Pay Slips Behind, Poverty Invades the Ranks
New York Times
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: June 12, 1994

WASHINGTON, June 11— Like other airmen at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, 21-year-old Jason Edwards worries about tensions far away in North Korea that could erupt into fighting and involve his supply base.

But Airman Edwards has more immediate concerns, too. He is worried about how to feed his 22-year-old wife, Beth, and their two small children on his total pay and allowances of $1,330 a month. In desperation, the Edwardses last month began drawing $228 a month in food stamps to get by.

"It's a very tight squeeze for us," Mrs. Edwards said. "We haven't bought any steaks since we've been here, and whenever I want to cook something with ham, I substitute Spam for it."

In a trend that has senior Pentagon officials deeply troubled, an increasing number of military families are turning to food stamps to make ends meet. Three-quarters of America's enlisted forces earn less than $30,000 a year, and the gap between civilian and military wages is growing.

To be sure, no one ever joined the military to get rich. But neither did they expect to have to go on welfare. Military officials worry that a growing demand for food stamps and other Government assistance may signal larger personnel problems in a culture that preaches self-reliance and self-discipline.
The truth is we don't take care of them while they are in the military and we sure as hell don't take care of them when they come home. Just goes to show that no political side is really grateful for those willing to sacrifice their lives to retain the freedoms the rest of us enjoy, including demanding more money than they make!

Legionnaires Bacteria Found At Minneapolis VA

Minneapolis VA taking steps to clean water system of Legionnaires disease bacteria
Star Tribune
By Josephine Marcotty
NOVEMBER 27, 2015
No human illnesses have been discovered.
JIM MONE – ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP
Minneapolis VA officials said routine testing on Nov. 19 found the type of Legionella bacteria that causes most human illness.
The bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ Disease have been detected in water samples at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center, and officials said they are taking steps to eliminate the pathogen.

No illnesses have been discovered.

VA officials said routine testing on Nov. 19 found the type of Legionella bacteria that cause most human illness in 5 out of 40 samples from the hospital’s water system. The hospital has since installed filters on taps and shower heads and is flushing the water system to eliminate the bacteria.

First identified in 1976 after an outbreak at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, the Legionella bacterium causes 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalizations a year in the United States. Prompt treatment with antibiotics typically cures the infection.
read more here
Linked from Military.com

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Memorial for Harold "Cutter" Perry

Today was a sad day because on November 14, 2015 shortly after the Veterans Day Parade in Orlando, Cutter was on his motorcycle on the way home and was killed.  He had a day doing what he loved with people he called family.  
Nov 28, 2015
On November 14, 2015, shortly after the Veterans Day parade in Orlando, Cutter was killed while riding his motorcycle. Today was the day we celebrated his life and said goodbye.

Soldier from Florida Among Dead After Blackhawk Crash

Fort Hood releases names of soldiers killed in Blackhawk crash
WFAA 8 ABC News
November 27, 2015
FORT HOOD — The names of the four Soldiers killed in a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter crash on Nov. 23 have been released after next-of-kin notification. The crash occurred sometime after 5:49 p.m. in the northeast portion of the Fort Hood training area. All four crew members were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, First Army Division West. The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission.

The Fallen Warriors are: 
Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, a Hays, Kansas native
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, a Cantonment, Florida native
Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, a Destrehan, Louisiana native
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, 40, a Katy, Texas native.
read more here


UPDATE report on each soldier. Fort Hood Crash Victims Were Veterans Of Wars In Afghanistan, Iraq
Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Smith and his wife, Trisha M. Smith
(Photo courtesy of the Smith family)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael F. Tharp
(Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

Joe Donnelly's "Care Package" Empty Box

This is really getting ridiculous! They keep committing suicide and members of Congress keep getting writers cramp. The latest is another bill by Senator Joe Donnelly called "Care Package" but it turns out it will be another empty box with a pretty wrapping paper.
Donnelly’s Military Mental Health Provisions Signed into Law with National Defense Bill Senator’s bipartisan efforts will improve quality of care and ease of access for servicemembers in ongoing push to address military suicide November 25, 2015
Donnelly said, “Seeing the ‘Care Package’ signed into law is another important step forward as we continue the fight to bring military suicide numbers down to zero. Getting these provisions implemented in communities across Indiana and throughout the country will improve the quality of mental health care provided to our servicemembers. It will expand their options, helping connect Hoosiers with local providers who are specially trained to deal with challenges unique to the military. It will also help our Department of Defense providers better recognize the signs of suicide risk in their patients and connect them with the resources and support they need. We owe it to our servicemembers and their families to help them get access to the best quality mental health care. Our work is far from done, and I will keep pushing to improve mental health care for our servicemembers, veterans, and their loved ones.”


Exactly what good has any of the other bills done? This is from Joe Donnelly's site.
"In the first half of 2015, DoD reported that more than 200 servicemembers took their own lives. Last year, 443 servicemembers took their own lives and in 2013 474 were lost to suicide, the Pentagon reported."
This may sound good until you consider the simple fact the number of servicemembers has dropped by the thousands. Plus add in the first attempts to reduce suicides happened back in 2007 when there were 99 suicides in the Army.

March 2012
Total - Worldwide
Total 1,409,877
Army 557,780
Navy 320,961
Marine Corps 198,427
Air Force 332,709

2013
Total 1,382,684
Army 532,043
Navy 324,308
Marine Corps 195,848
Air Force 330,485

By September 30, 2014 1,378,834
By September 20, 2015 1,353,762

Members of Congress have been more interested in writing bills than bothering to understand if anything has worked in the past. Repeating the same steps has produced devastation for servicemembers, their families and in the Veterans Community.
What does Joe Donnelly say about suicides now?

Blind Iraq War Veteran Needs Out of Trailer Home

Iraq War veteran and 970 WDAY host Eric Marts selected to receive home, but has trouble finding a spot to build it
WDAY News
By Kevin Wallevand
Nov 27, 2015
"I want to be close to Moorhead. My family is here and my whole support system is here and the VA is here which I have to frequent a lot," Marts said.
Moorhead (WDAY TV) - A Moorhead veteran who lost his sight after an IED blast while serving in Iraq is close to getting a special home to meet his needs thanks to a non-profit that helps vets. Homes For Our Troops selected Eric Marts as its latest recipient for a home, but because homes and land are so hard to come by in the Fargo-Moorhead area, the plan to move ahead has been on hold for months.

We followed Eric Marts to Washington DC recently during our Honor Flight special. The 970 WDAY radio host spends every weekend promoting veteran causes, but he rarely talks about his needs.

"A trailer house is all I have right now," Marts said.

His home now is anything but handy for a blind person.

"Not wide enough for Deacon and I to get through, too compacted and the kitchen is so small. I have to have everything laid out," Marts said.

The national charity Homes For Our Troops has built 200 homes nationwide for paralyzed, injured or blind soldiers like Eric.
read more here

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wheelchair Bound UK Veteran Left Homeless

War veteran Chris Lazzara homeless for Christmas after Army gave notice from Howe Barracks 
Kent Online
by Chris Pragnell
27 November 2015
A crippled war veteran is being ordered by top brass to clear out of Army digs just days before Christmas.

Former Private Chris Lazzara has been told to pack his bags – and slapped with a court summons for December 16.

Refusal could see Mr Lazzara, his wife and baby son turfed out of their house in Howe Barracks and left homeless over the festive period.

Mr Lazzara, who served his country in Afghanistan, said: “I feel like the Army has declared war on me."

“I feel really let down. I just can’t believe the timing of this. All we need is time to stay in the property while we acquire other accommodation.

“We’ve nowhere to go so I don’t know what we’re expected to do? I’m now trying to sort emergency accommodation through the council but we’ve no guarantees at all.”

Canterbury’s Howe Barracks site will eventually be bulldozed, but while most properties sit empty, some occupants are still in place.

Mr Lazzara, 32, is confined to a wheelchair following injuries he says he sustained during an Army exercise.

He says Army bosses are refusing compensation, claiming his injuries are the result of an earlier condition, and have launched eviction proceedings.

Having served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Mr Lazzara was discharged on medical grounds in July this year.
read more here

After 10 Years of Service, Veteran with 3 Children Homeless

COURAGE: Army vet, 3 children join ranks of hotel homeless in Brockton 
Cynthia Cast knows this Thanksgiving will be different for the family because of the difficult situation, but she is thankful and grateful for the help she has received.
Enterprise News
By Marc Larocque Enterprise Staff Writer
Posted Nov. 26, 2015
Before that, Cast served in the Army for 10 years. She enlisted as a senior at Brockton High School, following in the footsteps of her father, who was a veteran. She was the first woman in her family who joined the military, she said.
BROCKTON – In the Holiday Inn Express overlooking Westgate Mall in Brockton, an Army veteran has been living with three young children. Cynthia Cast found herself without a home in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

Her apartment lease ended and she was financially unable to secure a new one. Cast joined the ranks of roughly 50,000 homeless veterans around the country. “It’s been very discouraging,” said Cast, 42, who is trying to use a veterans rental assistance program to find a new apartment. “And it’s definitely stressful. You don’t want to be in a hotel. You want your kids to live a normal life.”
read more here

HOMELESS VETERAN, BEATEN BY TEENS ON CAMERA DIED

HOMELESS VETERAN, BEATEN BY TEENS ON CAMERA IN OLNEY, DIES
WPVI TV News Philadelphia
November 27, 2015

OLNEY (WPVI) -- A homeless veteran, beaten at a gas station in the Olney section of Philadelphia nearly eight months ago, has died.

The incident at the Sunoco in the 5500 block of North 5th Street was captured by a surveillance camera on April 7th.

The video shows 51-year-old Robert Barnes being pummeled by teens with a hammer, a piece of wood and punches, after police say a 10-year-old boy told his mother he got into an argument with Barnes.

The attack left Barnes in a coma.
read more here

400 American Soldiers Brown Bag Lunch Replaced

Shlomo Rechnitz Pays for US Soldiers Meal in Shannon, Ireland
Man Buys Hot Meals for 400 American Troops
[VIDEO]
KHAK
By Courtlin
November 24, 2015

This story will warm your heart! An L.A. business man did quite the good deed when he spent $20,000 buying dinner for American soldiers at an airport in Ireland.

44-year-old Shlomo Rechnitz is the owner of Brius Healthcare Services, the largest nursing home provider in the state of California.

He was waiting for a flight at an Ireland airport, on his way to Israel with his family, where he came across 400 American soldiers eating dinner out of brown paper bags. He noticed that everyone around them was eating hot meals, and that just didn’t sit right with him. That’s when he approached their commanding officer and offered $50 to each soldier so that they could eat at any restaurant in the airport. read more here

Nov 17, 2015
An LA businessman named Shlomo Rechnitz paid $50 per meal for about 400 US solders in an airport in Shannon, Ireland. He saw them eating standard army food while all the other passengers in the terminal were eating in trendy and appetizing restaurants. Rechnitz then asked their commander if he can give them something extra. This is Rechnitz offering words of appreciation to the soldiers after the commander agreed.

Vietnam Veteran Finds Comfort In Horses

Vietnam Veteran Finds Comfort In Horses, Helps Others Vets Cope
WYSO
By ADRIAN HILL
NOV 25, 2015
William Goforth ADRIAN HILL WYSO
Vietnam veteran William Goforth knows firsthand the challenge of returning to civilian life after a difficult deployment.

He found comfort in horses, and now finds purpose in sharing his discovery with Post-9/11 veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Army veteran, and Wright State student, Adrian Hill of Englewood has today’s Veterans’ Voices story.

William Goforth was drafted into the Vietnam War as a generator mechanic but once there he was assigned to tactical combat casualty care where he tended to critically wounded soldiers. When William returned home after serving he did not receive a hero’s welcome.

"I faced the same problems that everyone else faced," says William. "We came back and we weren’t welcomed and we didn’t feel like we were part of this world and we weren’t. We were a different individual after we went through the zone that we went through. It takes a lot of time to forget and you aren’t going to be able to forget, so you have to deal with it."

William’s way of dealing with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was by working with horses.
read more here

A place where wounded soldiers languished

In 2007 what was going on in Building 18 of Walter Reed Hospital was made public because reporters cared enough to do more than just listen to the wounded soldiers there. It was a part of a systemic attitude of bitter cruelty being passed off as caring for those who risked their lives.

What happened at Walter Reed was a national disgrace, but the way some Americans reacted was despicable.  They jumped to defend President Bush against the truth.  Much like today when reporters cover scandals at the VA, they are only interested in what is easy to complain about and not what has been going on for decades almost as if the past just didn't matter at all.

All of this is how we ended up right were we are today. For all the talk about being a grateful nation, in reality, we've turned into a nation of neglecters of the defenders.

So now Building 18 is gone but the damage done remains.
Saying Goodbye To Building 18 — Symbol Of Neglect For Military's Medical System
WAMU
By: Nahanni Rous
November 20, 2015
“It was very clear to me on many levels that we were not prepared for the number of wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s why service members ended up in Building 18 to begin with,” Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced this month the city will pay the U.S. Army $22.5 million for 66 acres of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which closed in 2011 after the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

But the city already owns one piece of the campus: formerly known as Building 18. This nondescript off-white brick building on Georgia Avenue is being demolished to make way for a new fire station for Engine Company 22.

Crews in fluorescent vests throw metal door frames and sheets of wallboard out of third floor windows. Trucks haul away debris. The structure looks like an abandoned, second rate motel. Walter Reed’s Building 18 once housed soldiers wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A place where wounded soldiers languished

Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon was treated at Walter Reed from 2004-2007. He says soldiers should never have been living there.
Nahanni RousD.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials break ground for a new fire station on the site of Walter Reed's Building 18.
“I think it should have been demolished a long time ago. It should have been demolished before they put service members in it," he says.

Dan Shannon is a decorated veteran of the Iraq war and served as a sniper with the Second Infantry Division. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Walter Reed Army Medical Center was bursting at the seams.

“It was very clear to me on many levels that we were not prepared for the number of wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s why service members ended up in Building 18 to begin with,” he says.

There were amputees, soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder. At the peak of the Iraq War, there were 900 soldiers on the campus, plus family members who came to help take care of them. Building 18 was part of the facility, but it was outside the gates. And it was decrepit. There was black mold on the walls, and mice and cockroaches in rooms where soldiers with open wounds were staying.

Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull spent four months posing as friends of patients to gain access to Walter Reed.

“Building 18 represented to me a microcosm of what was going on on the larger campus," Priest says.

Priest and Hull won a Pulitzer Prize for their 2007 series, which led with Building 18. The reporters described how a mountainous bureaucracy, lost paperwork, and insufficient social services kept soldiers languishing at Walter Reed, and Building 18 became the bricks and mortar symbol of that neglect.

"The whole thing just didn’t make any sense, that this building would exist in this place that the president had said delivered the best medical care in the world for returning soldiers," Priest says.
read more here

Chris Doleman, Emmitt Smith on a mission to help veterans

WATCH: Chris Doleman, Emmitt Smith on a mission to help veterans
CBS News
By Sean Wagner-McGough
Staff Writer
November 26, 2015
(Source CBS Sports)
In addition to memorializing the veterans who lose their lives while serving abroad, former NFL player Chris Doleman wants us to remember the veterans who make it back home safely. Doleman, who played in the NFL from 1985-1999, wants us to remember the 22 veterans who take their own lives every day.

That's why Doleman, along with Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, teamed up with Remember the 22 to help the veterans who do make it back home.

"Remember the 22 is an opportunity now," Doleman said. "Our goals are being able to get guys out of their homes, get them into things they enjoy. It's more of the camaraderie."
read more here

Reminder, not 22 a day. Too many are forgotten about as if they just don't matter. How do we get veterans to understand they do matter if we can't even get that number right?

Justin Fitch Remembered For Life's Work

Justin Fitch had no way of knowing that the number of veterans committing suicide everyday in America is closer to 73 than to 22. He had no way of knowing that state after state have been reporting that the percentage of veterans surviving military service is double the civilian rate for suicides.  He had no way of knowing any of this because reporters just keep repeating part of a study that came out in 2012 that also came with a disclaimer of just being an average from 21 states.

The only thing that this veteran knew was that there were far too many losing a reason to live while he did everything possible to stay alive long enough to change the outcome.
Friends honor late Iraq vet who fought to spread suicide awareness
Justin Fitch lost battle with stage 4 colon cancer in October
WCVB Boston
Mary Saladna
Nov 27, 2015
Despite the more than 50 chemotherapy treatments, he was determined to leave the world a better place.

BOSTON —Friends and family spent Thanksgiving Day remembering Justin Fitch.

Fitch, an Army captain and Iraq War veteran, lost his battle with stage 4 colon cancer in October.

Despite the more than 50 chemotherapy treatments, he was determined to leave the world a better place.

A veteran of two tours in Iraq, Fitch spent the final years of his life fighting to raise awareness and funds to end military suicides, calculated at 22 a day or more than 8,000 a year.

"The guy had stage 4 colon cancer, and for the last 2-and-a-half years of his life, fought, kicked, and screamed -- everything he could do to tell everybody that 22 veterans a day taking their own life is just a crime," said John Harlow, a friend.
read more here

Fence Jumper Put White House on Lockdown

White House On Lockdown After Man Jumps Fence
Associated Press
Published on Nov 26, 2015

A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving. An eyewitness spoke to the Associated Press about what she saw. (Nov. 26)
UPDATE From NBC
The man, identified as Joseph Caputo, was apprehended about 2:45 p.m. ET on the North Lawn of the White House grounds — the "front door" side along Pennsylvania Avenue, said Robert Hoback, a spokesman for the Secret Service. Police said Caputo was carrying a manila folder, NBC Washington reported.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hero Dog Layka Saved Lives, Now Has Army Behind Her

Hero Military Dog That Saved Unit in Afghanistan Gets a Second Chance
ABC News
By ESTHER CASTILLEJO
Nov 25, 2015

During her deployment in Afghanistan, U.S. military combat dog, Layka, saved many lives and now some of them are helping save hers.

Layka, a Belgian Malinois, lost one of her front legs when she was shot four times during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2013. Despite her wounds, the dog managed to save the soldiers from an attacker inside the building she was sent to clear.

Now 5 years old and adopted by her Afghanistan handler, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, Layka faces the possibility of losing her remaining front paw from a bad ATV jump earlier this fall.

"It's a big injury because she only has one leg," said Rebecca Switzer of Oklahoma, who met Layka and her handler at an event more than a year ago. "She struggled along with one leg and now her other leg is in jeopardy."
read more here

If You Hate "Merry Christmas" Then Go To Work That Day

Here is a list of Federal Holidays Notice the name of the last day?
Thursday, January 1New Year’s Day
Monday, January 19Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 16*Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 25Memorial Day
Friday, July 3**Independence Day
Monday, September 7Labor Day
Monday, October 12Columbus Day
Wednesday, November 11Veterans Day
Thursday, November 26Thanksgiving Day
Friday, December 25Christmas Day
Lawmakers respond to Salem VA Medical Center’s Christmas tree ban 
WSLS 10 News
By Jenna Zibton - Virginia Today Anchor
Published: November 25, 2015

WSLS 10 first reported the letter sent to employees saying Christmas trees wouldn’t be allowed in public areas this year because trees were considered religious symbols. After a heated meeting with employees the medical center reversed the decision saying “After a lengthy discussion, it was determined that Christmas trees could be displayed in public areas so long as they were accompanied by the respective symbols of the two other faiths that celebrate holidays during this holiday season – namely the Jewish Menorah, or Hanukkah Lamp, and the Kwanzaa Mkeka (decorative mat) or Kinara (candleholder).” read more here

If you have a problem with people celebrating Christmas, saying Merry Christmas, then go to work that day and stop whining. You are entitled to your own faith or lack of it but you are not entitled to force everyone to do what you want. Grow up and finally understand that Christmas is a holiday and not a "holy day" for most folks. I seriously doubt Christ would approve of Black Friday or buying a Lexus for yourself while using Him as a reason to go shopping.

VA Expands List of "Brown Water" Agent Orange Claims

VA updates list of Navy ships presumptive for Agent Orange exposure
Military Times
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
November 25, 2015
A Navy river patrol boat crewman mans a .50-caliber machine gun on the Go Cong River in 1967.
(Photo: National Archives)
The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded its list of Navy ships whose crews may be eligible for disability compensation as a result of exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

VA announced Monday it has added ships to the “Brown Water” inventory, meaning the vessels were found to have operated on inland waterways and all personnel who served aboard them are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.

The new additions include the Navy survey ships Sheldrake and Towhee, attack transport ship Okanogan, submarine rescue ship Chanticleer, destroyers Frank Knox and James E. Kyes, and transport ship General W. A. Mann.
read more here

Exposures Agent Orange
During your Vietnam tour, did your ship or boat have one of the following designations?
AGP (Assault Group Patrol/Patrol Craft Tender)
LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized)
LCU (Landing Craft, Utility)
LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel)
LST (Landing Ship, Tank)
PBR (Patrol Boat, River)
PCF (Patrol Craft, Fast or Swift Boat)
PG (Patrol Gunboat)
STABS (Strike Assault Boats)
WAK (Cargo Vessel)
WHEC (High Endurance Cutter)
WLB (Buoy Tender)
WPB (Patrol Boat)
YFU (Harbor Utility Craft)

National Guard Thanksgiving

Gen. Grass issues Thanksgiving message to civilians and uniformed personnel
By Gen. Frank J. Grass
Chief, National Guard Bureau
November 24, 2015
U.S. Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, addresses the Air Force Association's 2013 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland., Sept. 18, 2013. Grass just released his Thanksgiving message
(Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill/Released)
ARLINGTON, Va. - They had almost no food. They faced a harsh winter in poorly constructed shelters. And nearly half of them died from sickness. Yet the pilgrims who came to America wanted a day to give thanks.

In the midst of the Civil War, one of the darkest periods in American history, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving, a day for Americans to express gratitude for their blessings. Every year since, Americans have come together to reflect and to give thanks the fourth Thursday in November.

I, too, am thankful for the nearly 450,000 National Guard members for the work and sacrifice they make to keep our nation and communities strong and secure. I have met with Guardsmen and women serving overseas and in our 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. I have talked with Guard members who have lost friends in battle or have come home with permanent injuries. Despite their tremendous losses, they were thankful for the opportunity to serve.

I am thankful to the families and employers of Guardsmen who sacrifice each day to ensure our Soldiers and Airmen can focus on fighting our nation’s wars and protecting our homeland. Each has experienced loss, but they are thankful.

I am also thankful for the partnerships we have established with state and interagency domestic responders, and with 76 nations through our State Partnership Program. Our partners have seen firsthand the devastation wrought by natural disasters and by combat, but each has also saved lives and brought relief to the suffering. They are thankful.

Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, deployed or home, it is your service and commitment that allows us to enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving. For that, we all are thankful!

Local National Guard members prepare for one-year deployment
News 3 KSNV Las Vegas
Reported by: Denise Rosch
November 24, 2015

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) – From Paris to Mali, terrorism is top of mind for many Americans. This weekend, 38 proud Nevadans are heading right into the thick of things. Soldiers with the Army National Guard are deploying to Afghanistan.

No deployment is ever easy, but with Thanksgiving in two days and terrorism all over the world making headlines, these soldiers are sacrificing plenty. They’re training right here in Southern Nevada to protect our state and our country, and as you would expect, they're proud to do it.

“The Governor's paid a lot of money to train me, so I'm going to do what I can to stay safe,” says Sgt. Chris Hendrickson with the 137th Military Police.

The Henderson police officer is trading one uniform for another to serve his country in Afghanistan. Before the Nevada Army Guard 137th heads out, Hendrickson had one final loose end to tie up…

He put an engagement ring on his girlfriend’s finger at the happiest place on earth.

“Last Wednesday at Disneyland,” he said. “That's the one thing that's going to hurt a lot. The biggest thing for me is make sure we have constant contact.”

Hendrickson joins 37 other military police officers set to begin a one-year deployment. They’ll protect fellow Americans from criminal threats in one of the most dangerous regions of the world.
read more here

California Air National Guard Thanksgiving meal thankful thoughts

Air Force Base Thanksgiving

Hill Air Force Base Thanksgiving: Feeding a thousand
Standard Examiner
Mitch Shaw
NOVEMBER 24, 2015

Image by: (MITCH SHAW/Standard-Examiner) Airmen from Hill Air Force Base are served a Thanksgiving meal inside an airplane hangar, Tuesday, November 24, 2015.
HILL AIR FORCE BASE — How many dinner guests would have to huddle around your table this Thanksgiving to constitute “a large gathering?”

Twenty? Fifty? One Hundred?

To Cesar Vargas, a master sergeant at Hill Air Force Base, all of those numbers are small potatoes.

A jet engine mechanic by trade, Vargas led a group of 100 volunteers who worked to feed about 1,000 Hill airmen and their families on Tuesday, Nov. 24, part of the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings’ annual Thanksgiving feast.
read more here

Commentary: Think safety for Thanksgiving
Hilltop Times Air Force
By LT. COL. G. HALL SEBREN, JR.
75th ABW Chief of Safety
November 26, 2015

I wanted to pass a little information to you as you prep for the Thanksgiving weekend. As many of you know, a big danger during Thanksgiving has recently become frying up that delicious turkey.

Among some of the safety tips:
• Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and at a safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
• Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
• Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don’t control the temperature, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer during or after use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot long after it has been turned off.
• To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
Also, during this time of year, slips, trips and falls are a big concern. Most folks, graciously, wait until after Thanksgiving to put up their Christmas lights. This means ladders and cold weather, which can lead to a visit to the local emergency room after falling off the ladder because someone over-reached and fell.

The common theme with these kinds of injuries is laziness. People failed to descend the ladder, move it and ascend again. Don’t become a statistic. How about this: It’s another opportunity to burn a few extra calories by making a few extra descents and ascents!

Finally, I’d like to encourage a mindset change.

Many of us have “grown up” hearing the term “Safety First.” I’d like to propose we move away from that and get to a “Mission First” mindset. We should accomplish the mission within a culture of safety and compliance.

If we create this culture, we’ll decrease injuries and rework, which will increase productivity. How about that, mission accomplished and Airmen safe! Have a wonderful day and be careful out there.