Friday, June 30, 2017

Ocala Missing Veteran Alert Walked Away from VA Clinic


Update: Missing, endangered veteran found dead

Law enforcement officials said Friday afternoon that a missing 21-year-old U.S. Navy veteran was found dead near the vehicle he had been driving.

OPD seeks help finding missing, endangered veteran
Ocala Star Banner
Austin L Miller
June 30, 2017

Ocala Police Department officers are asking for the public’s assistance in finding a 21-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who is considered missing and endangered.

Mac McKeon, the father of Mark Raymond McKeon Jr., said Friday that his son checked himself out of the Veterans Administration Clinic in Gainesville against doctors advice on Monday. He said his son called and told him he knew it was a bad idea to leave.
McKeon said that after his son left the facility, he visited a friend and talked with several other people. He said his son lives with his sister and her husband in the 2000 block of Southwest Ninth Road in Ocala. He said his son left the home on Wednesday, which was the last time anyone has seen or heard from him.

Homeless Veteran Died Saving Teenagers

Army Veteran Dies in Fatal Beating After Saving Teens From a Homeless Man’s Attack
Milwaukee Community Journal
BY PAISHANCE WELCH
JUNE 29, 2017
"Apparently Farmer was living out of his car so that he could save money and move back to Seattle with his fiancee. They were planning to buy a home together."
Being labeled a hero doesn’t necessary mean you wear a cape and a mask and save the world. Some of the most honorable heroes are completely visible and use no super powers. 

As for 62-year-old James Farmer Jr., he will go down in history for his selfless act of saving two teenage boys from a homeless man’s attack. 

James Farmer, an Army veteran, was sleeping in his car when he woke up and saw two teens being attacked by 28-year-old, DeJuan Stamps, a homeless man in downtown Denver. 

Approaching the violent man, he then took the attention from the teenage boys, making himself the target. This eventually ended up in the veteran losing his life. read more here

Motorcycle Crash Claimed Life of Navy Corpsman

Man killed in Camp Lejeune crash identified as Navy corpsman

Jacksonville Daily News
Amanda Thames
June 29, 2017
Camp Lejeune has identified the man killed in a one-vehicle motorcycle crash on base this week.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Youngwelch, 29, of Buffalo, New York died in a motorcycle crash Tuesday, said First Lt. Eric Abrams with the base’s public affairs office, but the details of the crash itself remain few.
“The specifics of the situation are still pending investigation,” Abrams said.

Silver Star For Air Force Thunderbolt Pilot

A-10 pilot who braved 'hailstorm of anti-aircraft fire' to save soldiers receives Silver Star
Air Force Times
By: Stephen Losey
June 30, 2017
Thornton and his leader fought for 33 minutes, braving "the ever-increasing hailstorm of anti-aircraft fire," and destroyed or demobilized three T-72 tanks, six armored personnel carriers and several utility vehicles that were within striking distance of the U.S. troops, the citation said.
In the opening days of the Iraq war, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment were advancing on Baghdad when they ran into fierce resistance from the Iraqis.

Tanks and armored infantry fighting vehicles dug in on the eastern side of a bridge across the Tigris River unloaded on the troops.

In his A-10 Thunderbolt overhead, then-Capt. Gregory Thornton saw the task force's lead element taking fire and swung into action. He flew through a blinding sandstorm, dodged heavy anti-aircraft fire, and took out the Iraqi armor holding back the troops.

On Friday, Thornton — now a retired lieutenant colonel — will be honored for his bravery that day, April 6, 2003, by receiving the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for valor.
read more here


A-10 Thunderbolt

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Airman Found Dead At Fairchild Air Force Base

Airman found dead in dorm at Fairchild identified
KXLY News
Elena Gardner
Posted: Jun 27, 2017

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. - UPDATE: The Airman has been identified as 20-year-old Nolan Fournier, assigned to the 92nd Communications Squadron.

Fournier, from West Branch, Michigan, was a Knowledge Management Apprentice who served in the Air Force since June 7, 2016.

"Airman Fournier was a great American Airman and a part of Team Fairchild, and the loss of any member of our team is felt across the community," said Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "We are doing all we can to support the family members, teammates and loved ones impacted by this loss."
read more here

Major Veterans Groups Fighting for Veterans Against More Cuts

Major veterans' groups voice concern over Senate health bill
ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON
By HOPE YEN
Jun 27, 2017
"What will become of these veterans as they face higher insurance costs?" Carl Blake, associate executive director of Paralyzed Veterans, wrote in a letter sent to all 100 senators. He pointed to more than 1.7 million veterans now on Medicaid — nearly 1 in 10 — as well as veterans ages 45 to 64 who have benefited from tax credits offered under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin arrives at the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Scottish actress Louise Linton, at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Major veterans' organizations are voicing concerns about a Senate GOP bill to repeal the nation's health care law, fearing the impact of rising insurance costs and worried the underfunded Department of Veterans Affairs won't be able to fill the coverage gap.

While there are more than 21 million veterans in the U.S., only about 8 million receive health care from the VA. The others rely on Medicaid, purchase insurance on state or federal exchanges, have employer-provided insurance or have no coverage at all.

In a letter Tuesday to senators, Paralyzed Veterans of America, one of the six biggest nonpartisan veterans' groups, criticized an "opaque and closed" legislative process and proposed cuts to Medicaid that could lead to hundreds of thousands of lower-income veterans losing their insurance.

It joins a Democratic-leaning group, VoteVets, in opposing the bill. VoteVets launched a six-figure ad campaign in two states, mostly to pressure moderate Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces a tough 2018 re-election race. Heller, who indicated his opposition to the bill last Friday, says he's worried that too many people will lose coverage.

Two other major groups, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS, also are expressing concern about the Senate legislation backed by President Donald Trump. They are worried the beleaguered VA — already facing an emergency $1 billion shortfall — won't have enough money to provide federally paid health care to more patients and say VA must be better funded.
read more here

USS Carl Vinson Sailor Returns to Expanding Family

Surprise! Navy Wife Hides Pregnancy, Saves Reveal for Sailor's Homecoming
After a shocked pause, Chris pokes his wife's pregnant belly and asks, "Is it real?"
NBC San Diego
By Cassia Pollock


"Welcome Home Baby Daddy."


The wife of a U.S. Navy sailor had a big surprise to share with her husband when his aircraft carrier docked in San Diego: a new member of their family, nearly ready to join their ranks.

Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Daugherty, a Navy cryptologic technician, returned to the U.S. on June 23 after a six-month deployment on board the USS Carl Vinson.

Upon disembarking, Daugherty's two daughters and son rushed over to greet their uniformed father. He hugged his little ones, who were clad in mini sailor outfits, while his wife, Natasha Daugherty, hung back, smiling.
read more here

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bad Paper Discharged Veterans Get Some Justice

'Bad-paper' veterans now get 90 days of mental help
San Diego Union Tribune
Jeanette Steele
June 28, 2017
The VA estimates that more than 500,000 former service members hold other-than-honorable discharges. About 125,000 of them are post-9/11 veterans, according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
It's official. Veterans with other-than-honorable discharges can get 90 days of mental-health help from the VA.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the policy Tuesday, confirming a move that VA Secretary David Shulkin telegraphed back in March.

Otherwise, veterans with these “bad-paper” discharges -- which usually result from minor crime or misbehavior while in uniform — wouldn’t be eligible for care at VA hospitals.

The move is aimed at reducing the 20-a-day suicide rate among veterans.
read more here

Also on this, a little background; Vietnam Veterans of America have fought for all generations of veterans to receive justice.
Advocates, lawmakers push for answers to problem of 'bad paper' discharges
Military Times, By: Leo Shane III, September 13, 2016 It’s disturbing to see this issue come back,” said John Rowan, president and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America. “We saw half a million questionable less-than-honorable discharges during the Vietnam era. And to think that today there are as many as 300,000 more since Sept. 11, that’s a disgrace.”
Resources are scarce for many veterans with less than honorable discharges
Columbus Dispatch, William T Perkins, June 12, 2016
Veterans without access to the VA are seven times as likely to end up homeless, six times as likely to end up in jail and 30 percent more likely to die by suicide.
That’s due, in part, to downsizing in the military, said Kristofer Goldsmith, assistant director for policy and government relations at Vietnam Veterans of America. Between 2000 and 2015, the size of the military dropped from 3.8 million service members to 1.1 million, according to data from the Department of Defense. And military cuts are expected to continue in coming years.

Goldsmith, who was other-than-honorably discharged in 2007 after a suicide attempt, said the easiest way for commanders to meet those cuts is by issuing more bad-paper discharges, cutting short those service members’ active-duty time.
Now that you see that, keep in mind that as the "training" the DOD was pushing to "prevent" the "one too many" suicides they kept talking about, the numbers did not go down to reflect that size drop in the number of service members.  How is that for "awareness" now?


“Protectors of Freedom,” Memorial from WWI to War on Terror

Toms River unveils elaborate monument to veterans
Asbury Park Press
Erik Larsen
Published June 26, 2017
“Over 16 million U.S. service members — 560,000 from New Jersey — answered the call to unconditionally defeat two of the most militarily powerful, hate-filled, racist and fanatical dictatorships the world has ever known,” Smith said.
TOMS RIVER - One hundred years to the day that the first U.S. troops arrived in France after America entered World War I, a monument was dedicated in town Monday honoring a century of service by the men and women who have served in uniform on behalf of the nation.
“Protectors of Freedom,” by local sculptor Brian Hanlon and funded through The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, features six service members representing conflicts from World War I to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Located in Bey Lea Park, the five statues (one includes two figures) depict a World War I “doughboy;” a poncho-clad soldier from the Korean War calling for support on a radio; a wounded World War II soldier being carried from the battlefield by his 21st century counterpart; and a Vietnam War infantryman escorting an Army nurse through hostile territory. Watch the video above to take a tour of the memorial.
read more here

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Vietnam Veteran Gets Final Wish, Motorcycle Escort While Still Alive to Enjoy It

Final wish: Vietnam vet granted motorcycle escort 
WLOX News 
By Michelle Masson 
June 26, 2017


Ladner said deBie is overwhelmed and happy after seeing the large crowd of people who turned out to support him. (Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -
A terminally ill Vietnam veteran received his final request Monday, as dozens of bikers from all over the Southeast escorted him to the Biloxi VA hospital from Gulfport Memorial.

Hancock County resident Teresa Ladner said she and her family have taken in Army veteran Martin deBie as their own for the past several years.
"He's just so happy that everybody came out for him and showed him he's not alone. I just need to let him know he's not forgotten. None of the veterans are. His family gave up on him, but we didn't," said Ladner.
Ladner said deBie went to the hospital for a broken hip a month ago, only to be diagnosed with cancer that had spread throughout his body.
He was being treated at Memorial Hospital Gulfport, but needed to be transferred to the Biloxi VA Hospital.
When deBie knew he'd be moving locations, he requested an escort from biker groups, like the Patriot Guard Riders, Bikers for Trump, and the Christian Motorcycle Association. Ladner helped make it happen.

"There's no words to describe it, but it's a wonderful experience," said deBie.

read more here

PTSD Awareness Day Something to Beware of

Reporter should be aware of a lot of things beginning with the fact that anyone with PTSD is not a VICTIM, but is a survivor of something that could have killed them. As for the rest, more of the same-old-fluff instead of getting to the real food veterans need to know, like THEY ARE SURVIVORS of something they were willing to die for. Would also be nice to mention the fact that the lives of others meant that much to them, but their own needs to be worthy fighting for as well!
PTSD Awareness Day: Resources for vets ahead of Independence Day celebrations
The Denver Channel
June 27, 2017


DENVER — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day couldn't come at a better time for many veterans who shudder at the sound of fireworks. It helps bring veterans and their struggles to the front of many minds.
Observed on June 27, PTSD Awareness Day is a day to support those veterans who fight a battle with traumatic memories. It also helps other Americans who aren't as familiar with the disorder come to a better understanding of how it impacts veterans. 
According to the National Center for PTSD, it is an issue many develop after life-threatening events, like combat. Experts say it isn't a statement on the mental toughness of those suffering through PTSD, it is a disorder completely out of the control of its victims. 

Vietnam Veteran and Point Man Leader Honored

Dana here from Headquarters,
I just wanted to share this good news about our Point Man Antelope Valley Outpost leader.


Michael J. Bertell honored as ‘Veteran of the Year’ by Asm. Lackey
Antelope Valley Times
Tim Townsend
June 21, 2017




SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) honored Michael J. Bertell as the 2017 Veteran of the Year for the 36thAssembly District. 

Michael is a Vietnam combat veteran who served in the U.S. Army from September 1969 – August 1971.  He spent most of his time in the jungles of Vietnam where his unit suffered from friendly fire on December 24, 1970.  Michael was fortunate to survive the incident and received an honorable discharge in August, 1971.  For his service, Mr. Bertell received the Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Air Medal.

“I am extremely humbled and would like to extend this award to all Veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Michael said.  “As veterans, we all share the burden of our time on duty and I have always felt we must stick together and support each other. Bringing the Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall to the Antelope Valley was an idea I helped move forward to honor those who died. It’s great to see a day in California where veterans are honored and recognized.”

Michael continues to dedicate his time towards others through his volunteer leadership at Point Man Antelope Valley (PMAV) where he leads weekly meetings that allow veterans of all ages to meet in a safe environment to share stories and help each other heal.

“Mr. Bertell is a true American hero.  His devotion to our country and the Antelope Valley is highly commendable” said Assemblyman Lackey.  “His selflessness is inspiring to all.”

Currently, Michael is the President of The Mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall – AV Wall committee, honoring Vietnam veterans and allowing family members to honor their fallen loved ones.  Moreover, Michael’s leadership has ushered in an education component that allows veterans to interact with students and teach them the history of the Vietnam War and its effect on the Antelope Valley.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Doing "For" Some Veterans Does Something "Not Good" To Them

Stop, Look Around and Think of What We're Doing to Most Veterans
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos

June 26, 2017
This hangs on the wall right behind my computer to remind me of how long this has all been going on. It is faded, old and worn out, much like my patience over the last decade.

It seems as if everyone has pulled their head out of their...whatever-wherever, and discovered that veterans have a problem that they have the only solution for. It is almost as if they just woke up one day and decided they were the Messier of PTSD.

After all, if they had not heard of it before, it must be something totally new. (Gee, safe bet the folks thinking the earth was flat were stunned to find out suddenly it got round when they were sleeping.) Well, PTSD has been called that a lot longer than I've been doing this. 

How did you think I learned it almost 35 years ago? I learned reading clinical books with a huge dictionary because at least one word in every sentence was cringe worthy.

I learned from experts. One of them was this guy. What I want you to notice are the title and the date.


Forgotten Warrior Project: Identity, Ideology and Crisis - The Vietnam Veteran in Transition Paperback – 1977


The date is important because the pamphlet is something the DAV funded based on the work from John Wilson PhD and put together by Jim Goodwin PhD but all that work was pretty much forgotten about, ironically.

There is a commercial I hear on a daily basis while I'm at work, trying to enjoy the music, when I hear a guy talk about how bad it is to be forgotten about right after he lists all the things PTSD used to be called. He says "now it is called" at the same time he talks about OEF and OIF veterans. And that ladies and gentlemen is the basis for my rant being held in control while the vein pops out of my head.

The problem is, most of the charities out there have not just forgotten about the majority of veterans in this country THEY FORGOT THEY WAITED LONGER FOR SOMEONE TO REMEMBER THEY WERE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

S. 1963 later became P.L. 111-163, the Caregivers and
Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (hereinafter,
``the Caregivers law''), on May 5, 2010. 
At the same hearing, Rick Weidman of Vietnam Veterans of America observed: "Many Vietnam veterans are alive today because their wives, or sisters, or other relatives have been taking care of them for decades. Heretofore there was never any recognition of the fact that these veterans would either have had to enter into long term care or would have been on the street if not for the extraordinary efforts of these family caregivers. Either way the additional cost to American society would have been extremely large, whether in fiscal cost or the societal cost of having many additional veterans among the homeless."
And Weidman was absolutely correct! Right now some in Congress are trying to do the right thing while others are saying the government just can't afford to do it for all families. So far no one has explained why they found the money to do it for the smallest population of those giving care to some of our veterans.

Gee do you think it may be a good time to actually think of what we should do for veterans instead of letting so many get away with doing it to them?

Disabled Veteran Captures "Porch Pirate" on Video

Denver ‘porch pirate’ caught on camera stealing packages from disabled veteran

VA Press Releases on Homeless Veterans and Air Force

VA and Air Force Announce Tele-Intensive Care Unit Sharing Agreement
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Midwest Health Care Network and the Air Force Medical Operations Agency today announced a collaborative Tele-ICU agreement that will allow Air Force patients at five military treatment facilities to use VA’s Tele-ICU capabilities through its centralized support center in Minneapolis.

The agreement extends to Air Force patients in Las Vegas; Hampton, Virginia; Biloxi, Mississippi; Dayton, Ohio; and Anchorage, Alaska.

The patients will be able to see VA’s Tele-ICU licensed physicians — called Tele-Intensivists — and critical-care nurses through telecommunications or other electronic technologies, which include direct view of the patient through live audio and video feed; electronic monitoring; and chart review and consultations. The doctors are also able to prescribe medications, order tests or procedures, make diagnoses and discuss health care with patients and family members.

“For VA, telehealth is revolutionizing the way we practice medicine,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin, who also sees patients by telehealth. “Tele-ICU is more than just a way of providing remote care. We know it improves the quality of care, decreases costs by supporting evidence-based practices and it improves patient outcomes through decreased ventilator days, ventilator-associated pneumonias and reduced lengths of stay. We are pleased to partner with the Air Force in this effort.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Dr. David Smith, agreed, noting that “Collaborative partnerships, such as this agreement with VA, help us provide the best possible care to our service members, military family members and retirees who receive health care though the Department of Defense.

VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Poonam Alaigh, added, “This cooperation between the Air Force and VA reflects our shared commitment to caring for those who serve in our nation’s military, both during their service and beyond. We are pleased to establish this partnership.”

The collaborative effort is a result of a 2015 DoD-VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund, also known as the Joint Incentive Fund (JIF) project. JIF was authorized by Congress as part of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. The intent of JIF is to facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges of health-care resources between DoD and VA, with the goal of improving access to high-quality and cost-effective health care.


Veterans Matter Program and VA Announce Milestone of Helping 1,500 Homeless Veterans Secure Stable Housing

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department Veterans Affairs (VA) and Veterans Matter — a program that provides security deposits to homeless Veterans in 14 states and the District of Columbia — today announced that, through their joint efforts, they have helped 1,500 Veterans exit homelessness and move into permanent housing.

Veterans Matter, supported by John Mellencamp, Dusty Hill, Katy Perry, Kid Rock and many others in the entertainment industry, was established in 2012 by the Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit 1Matters.org, and focuses exclusively on providing security deposits to homeless Veterans who qualify for rental subsidies from the joint U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. In providing these security deposits, Veterans Matter removes a major barrier to securing stable housing for homeless Veterans.

“VA can’t end Veteran homelessness alone,” said Anthony Love, senior adviser and director of community engagement for the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs Office. “Partnerships with innovative, community-oriented groups, such as Veterans Matter, have played a major role in the decline in Veteran homelessness in recent years.”

“In collaboration with VA, we are able to make a greater impact for homeless Veterans than we could on our own,” said Ken Leslie, who founded Veterans Matter and was once homeless himself.

Once Veterans are housed through the HUD-VASH program, VA case managers can connect them to other supportive services — such as employment assistance, health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling — to help them recover and improve their ability to stay housed.

Based on data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016, since 2010, there has been an estimated 47 percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans across the country. Further, HUD said, between 2015 and 2016 alone, the number of homeless Veterans decreased by 17 percent. In addition, of all VA homeless programs that assist Veterans, HUD-VASH assists the largest number of Veterans who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. And of those Veterans in the program, 91 percent remain housed. The program has allocated more than 88,000 housing vouchers nationwide to date">Veterans Matter — a program that provides security deposits to homeless Veterans in 14 states and the District of Columbia — today announced that, through their joint efforts, they have helped 1,500 Veterans exit homelessness and move into permanent housing.

Veterans Matter, supported by John Mellencamp, Dusty Hill, Katy Perry, Kid Rock and many others in the entertainment industry, was established in 2012 by the Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit 1Matters.org, and focuses exclusively on providing security deposits to homeless Veterans who qualify for rental subsidies from the joint U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. In providing these security deposits, Veterans Matter removes a major barrier to securing stable housing for homeless Veterans.

“VA can’t end Veteran homelessness alone,” said Anthony Love, senior adviser and director of community engagement for the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs Office. “Partnerships with innovative, community-oriented groups, such as Veterans Matter, have played a major role in the decline in Veteran homelessness in recent years.”

“In collaboration with VA, we are able to make a greater impact for homeless Veterans than we could on our own,” said Ken Leslie, who founded Veterans Matter and was once homeless himself.

Once Veterans are housed through the HUD-VASH program, VA case managers can connect them to other supportive services — such as employment assistance, health care, mental health treatment and substance use counseling — to help them recover and improve their ability to stay housed.

Based on data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016, since 2010, there has been an estimated 47 percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans across the country. Further, HUD said, between 2015 and 2016 alone, the number of homeless Veterans decreased by 17 percent. In addition, of all VA homeless programs that assist Veterans, HUD-VASH assists the largest number of Veterans who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. And of those Veterans in the program, 91 percent remain housed. The program has allocated more than 88,000 housing vouchers nationwide to date.

UPDATE

Veterans Matter is a program of 1Matters.org, the Toledo, OH, non-profit sparked and supported by singer John Mellencamp and others in the music industry. 1Matters creates and funds the startup of new local and regional initiatives to move people to financial and domestic autonomy. Veterans Matter is the organization’s first national program and has organically grown to house over 1,500 veterans in 14 states.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CIA Honored "Smokejumpers"

They were smokejumpers when the CIA sent them to Laos; they came back in caskets
The Washington Post
By IAN SHAPIRA
Published: June 25, 2017
Leary, the University of Georgia history professor and Air America expert, wrote the CIA a letter urging the agency to give the three men Memorial Wall recognition as far back as 1993.
Their families didn't know they were in Laos, and didn't know that they'd started working for the CIA in addition to their jobs with the U.S. Forest Service.
The CIA Memorial Wall uses stars to honor those killed in the line of duty.
JOHN MCDONNELL/THE WASHINGTON POST
They were young firefighters-turned-CIA operatives working thousands of miles from home in a remote corner of Southeast Asia. David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks and John S. Lewis, all in their mid-20s, were on a mission to drop supplies for anti-Communist forces in what was then known as the Kingdom of Laos. But on Aug. 13, 1961, the CIA-operated Air America plane carrying the men tried turning out of a mountaintop bowl near the Laotian capital of Vientiane and one of its wings hooked into a ridge.

The C-46 "cartwheeled into little pieces," according to the book, "Smokejumpers and the CIA," published by the National Smokejumpers Association. The CIA operatives died, along with Air America's two pilots.

When their families were told they'd been killed in Laos in a plane crash, they were stunned.
read more here

Amputee Afghanistan Veteran is Now a "Road Warrior"

Disabled veteran surprised with special wheelchair
WCYB 5 News
Ellie Romano
Posted: Jun 24, 2017

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - Jeremy Young was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 where he fell victim to a blue on green attack.

One of his Afghani counterparts opened fire on him and his comrades.

Young was shot 13 times and suffered severe nerve damage and had to amputate his leg.

Now, he has a new form of transportation.
The Road Warrior Foundation gifted Young with a massive wheelchair that can work in tough terrain.

"I couldn't believe that was for me. I wanted one of these chairs since I got hurt, and the first time I saw it I was like 'do you know how cool it would be to own one of those.'" Young explained.

The organizers of this surprise where very particular in choosing the right recipient.

Road Warrior's Mid-Atlantic Regional Director said they denied about 15 candidates before finding Young.
read more here

500 Homeless Veterans Found Home and Hope in Pensacola

500 homeless vets housed through VA, Pensacola program
Pensacola News Journal
Kevin Robinson
June 25, 2017
"If it wasn't for the psychiatrist and the case workers and HUD-VASH, I probably would have fell backwards. They're all proud of me because of where I'm at now compared to how I used to be."
Billy Gillard
Billy Gillard's welcome to Vietnam was a hail of enemy gunfire.

The 18-year-old U.S. Marine Corps infantryman was deployed to Vietnam in 1968, the bloodiest year of the war. When his plane landed, Gillard's first instructions were to grab his duffel bag and sprint for cover. From there, Gillard spent restless nights unsure where or when the next attack would come. He lost brothers in arms suddenly and violently, and still can't shake the memories of the dead and wounded.

He made it home physically whole, but he left some piece of himself in the jungle.

"Now, I have a psychiatrist, and they recognize it's (post traumatic stress disorder)," Gillard, now 68, said. "Back then it was like, 'What do I do now?' ... . There were a lot of battles I was fighting by myself when I got back here."

Gillard turned to drugs to cope. He went through three marriages, more than a decade in prison and 15 years drifting from place to place without a home to call his own. In 2008, he realized he was tired of the way he was living, and this time, there was someone there to help.

Gillard is one of the hundreds of local, formerly homeless veterans who have been able to obtain housing through the HUD-VASH program.
read more here

Huey's Still Coming to Rescue of Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam Veterans give therapy rides to fellow Vets in 1968 Huey Helicopter
KTVU News
Leigh Martinez
June 25, 2017
That was the start of his mental healing process and Raquiza now volunteers every weekend with the Huey Vets and recruits veterans from all battlefields to take therapeutic rides and discuss military PTSD.
On the tarmac at the Bud Field Aviation Hanger, there’s a sound familiar to all Vietnam Combat Veterans. The deep, loud ‘thud, thud, thud’ of a Huey helicopter.

This distinct sound meant supplies, medic rescue, and most importantly, that they were going home.

"I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for a UH1 helicopter taking care of me,” said US Army pilot Randy Parent, one of two pilots commanding the EMU 309.

Today, veterans claim the Huey continues to save their lives. The EMU 309 is a Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter restored to its 1968 Vietnam War configuration. The all-volunteer team of Huey Vets now maintain the EMU 309 to provide therapeutic flights above the San Antonio Reservoir to veterans suffering the after-effects of war.

Geoff Carr and Peter Olesko bought the Huey helicopter in 2003. Carr mortgaged his house to restore it.

“I knew if these go out of service, they can become beer cans and lose their history,” said Carr.

It has turned the lives around for two veterans, who credit the aircraft for starting their PTSD recovery.

"You hear that expression 'Coming home' and I think it's different for everybody, but if I was going to use that expression, I'd say ‘coming home’ for me was getting back in this chopper and flying it again,” said Andy Perry, who flew the Huey 309 during the Vietnam War for the Royal Australian Navy, fighting alongside American troops.

Perry and U.S. Army Sgt. Faustino Raquiza both received silver stars for their roles in Vietnam. Raquiza was awarded two silver stars.

"The silver star doesn't mean anything to me,” said Raquiza.

“I know people make it a big deal -third highest ranking star in the United States military, but I rather be understood; understood for what I'm going through and not patronized. It's hurtful."

Perry and Raquiza said they had no idea what they were returning home to after their service in Vietnam.

"I was booed at the airport, they threw stuff at me, I was called a baby killer, women killer,” said Raquiza.
read more here
America's Forgotten Heroes - No Longer from Huey Vets - EMU, Inc on Vimeo.

PTSD Missing Veteran James Ivy

Police: Milwaukee man last seen a week ago in Fernwood
Chicago Sun Times
CHICAGO NEWS 06/25/2017

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a Milwaukee man who last last seen a week ago in the Fernwood neighborhood on the Far South Side.

James Ivy, 69, was last seen about 10 p.m. on June 17 in the 10300 block of South State Street, according to a missing person alert from Chicago Police.

Ivy is a retired veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder and may be headed back to Milwaukee via Amtrak, police said.

He is described as a 205-pound, 6-foot-1 African American man with brown eyes, black hair and a medium complexion, according to police.
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

DAV fight for post-9/11 caregiver benefits

Disabled American veterans fight for post-9/11 caregiver benefits 
CBS Radio Connecting Vets 
Jake Hughes 
June 22, 2017 

“It’s bringing to light that a lot of pre-9/11 families, caregivers and veterans like our family, are under served by the VA,” says Jason Courneen, adding that he and their daughters are the only way his wife is able to get through her day.

In 1998, a horrible accident befell Alexis Courneen. While serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Courneen was struck by a crane carrying a buoy that caused traumatic brain injury and other injuries, leaving her entirely reliant on her husband and caregiver, Jason Courneen.
Now, she’s fighting to ensure she can get the same benefits as a service member injured after 9/11.
“We spent a good 10 years very frustrated, very isolated, while I was learning that it was okay to speak up to the doctors,” Jason Courneen says.
Currently, the Department of Veteran Affairs has the Post-9/11 Comprehensive Caregiver Program, which offers enhanced support for caregivers of eligible veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.
To qualify, service members must have sustained or aggravated a serious injury — including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder — in the line of duty, on or after September 11, 2001; and be in need of personal care services to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.
However, the program leaves out service members injured before 9/11, going as far back as Vietnam Veterans. A study released by Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, highlights the disparity of care and attention given by the VA between pre- and post-9/11 veterans.
“It’s bringing to light that a lot of pre-9/11 families, caregivers and veterans like our family, are under served by the VA,” says Jason Courneen, adding that he and their daughters are the only way his wife is able to get through her day.
Glad someone is thinking about the Forgotten Warrior Generation and families like mine!
Glad my husband and I are life members of the DAV and the Auxiliary!

Wounded Marine Gets New Home After 3 Tours in Iraq

Wounded veteran receives mortgage-free home in Oakland

Home at Last donates 7th home to wounded veteran

Click Orlando
By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor
OAKLAND, Fla. - A house doesn't become a home until it's filled with family, love and -- as the nonprofit organization Home at Last works to include – honor.
The nonprofit dedicated its seventh home to wounded former Marine Corps Sgt. Seann Windfield Saturday morning in Oakland.
The veteran told News 6 he can't wait to move in and make his new home his foundation.
“I could say thank you a million times, however my family's actions and being good Americans will prove our gratitude," Windfield said.
Windfield, who served in the Marines for eight years, was overwhelmed as he looked around his new, mortgage-free home.
Windfield did three tours in Iraq before he was medically discharged in 2012 after hurting his back.
Now he's going through the tough transition from Marine to civilian.

Vietnam Veterans of America honored 19 forgotten veterans

Vietnam Veterans honor forgotten, unclaimed remains with special ceremony at Fort Logan Cemetery

The Denver Channel 
Lance Hernandez 
Jun 23, 2017

DENVER – The Colorado Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America honored 19 forgotten veterans with a solemn ceremony at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

They were honors that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines had earned, but never received.

“Our guiding principal was and is that never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another,” said Lt. Col. David Steiner, USAF (Retired)
Chapter member Jim Topkoff said they discovered that there were literally thousands of unclaimed remains spread around the country that had never been recognized and never been given a proper military funeral.
He said members of Chapter 1071 took on the Honors Burial Program a year and a half ago, because of the way they were treated when they left the military.
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Marine Vietnam Veteran Fought Back After Being Shot by Invaders

Friends Of Veteran Shot In Home Invasion Search For The Missing Shotgun

WKRG News
Published: 

Mobile, AL (WKRG) Like looking for a needle in a haystack, friends of Michael Irving combed through the overgrown ditches on Bay Road searching for the missing shotgun used in Thursday’s home invasion.
Irving, a Vietnam veteran battling cancer., was inside his home when three suspects showed up at his back door and fired a shotgun through the window pane, striking him in the right shoulder.
“They were going to kill him, plain and simple. You don’t fire a shotgun at someone unless you mean it. But, guess what?  He’s a marine, and he came back with a vengeance. Of all people to pick on why pick on a marine?” Irving’s close friend who goes by the name, “Roadkill,” told us.