Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Watchfire to show you the way back from far

Watchfire to show you the way back from far
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 30, 2014
Jason headed down route 50 on his Harley waiting for the light to turn green
Looking around nothing seemed like home to him after everything else he'd seen.
He had been down the road a thousand times before
but then the world turned upside down on his last tour.
He'd been away for 9 long months in Afghanistan.
Not the first time he was there but he swore he'd never go back again.
His thoughts were of friends he lost
as he wondered if any of it was worth the cost.
Then he wondered what his life meant then or what it would mean tomorrow
when he couldn't remember the last time he wasn't filled with so much sorrow.
The light turned green, traffic moved ahead
he was stuck thinking of being better off dead.
Jason took the right onto Goldenrod almost hit by a jerk on the phone
he fought to control the bike as much as he fought feeling all alone.
Then he saw the bikes in front of the Laughing Horse bar, his second home.
Betty's eyes twinkled when he walked in the door
Stomped his boots on the floor
He winked with a grin he asked her "where you been?"
She gave him a hug and grabbed him a beer
thinking the last time she saw him was about a year
He took a seat and looked around a while
seeing the pictures on the wall, all with a smile
Then he saw a stranger with a Vietnam Vet patch on his head
He turned away long enough to get his belly fed
looked across to see the empty stool
then thought about his buddy from high school
So many plans they had as kids
No one ever thought they'd be doing what they did
But right after September 11th Bob joined the Army
prepared to leave behind his friends and family
Josh followed right behind the way it always was
since Josh believed that's just what a friend does.
Bob was killed took a part of Josh away
He made sure to have a beer to honor that day
the day Bob sacrificed his life to keep his word
to keep Josh alive or die trying, though living was prefered
The stranger came back and put out his hand
"Come with me if you want to understand"
Josh, polite as always followed and saw the flames behind the bar
"It's called a Watchfire to show you the way back from far
Back from far? What's that mean?
You didn't find your own way into war or what you've seen
You had to be shown the way and taken there
Now you have to be shown the way home to people who care
I went in a different time to a different place
but someone showed me the way home with grace
and helped me find peace to last all these years
Ya can't find it in cigarettes and beers
Ya can't find it unless someone helps you see it
that's why the watchfire was lit
but you don't have to look at the flames burning
to ease the places where you're hurting
What you need is already there
in the place where you care
cause it was love that caused you to go
to be willing to die for someone you know
It's my time to pass it on
Cause one of these days I'll be gone
but one day when you're as old as me
someone else will be lost as you seem to be
and you can help him find his way
the same way I guide you starting this day
PTSD doesn't have to ruin your life
or end your relationship with your wife
You ain't stuck with the way it is now
It changed you once but you can change again if you learn how
I'll spend as much time as you need me to
for only a promise that you'll do it too
when you're strong enough to take the watch for another
and show them the way back from far, brother to brother.

Veterans Caught Not Breaking The Law?

This is the headline on Washington Times
"Veterans caught triple-dipping on benefits"
Seems really bad right? Nope. This is the part that came further down the article.
"The arrangement is legal"
Few if able, stop working after they retire from the military. That means they pay into their pensions as well as Social Security. Hurt on the job then they get Social Security Disability plus any private insurance they pay for. Granted a service connected disability for what happened while in the military is another thing they paid for with their service.

So why all of a sudden are headlines like this coming out?
Veterans caught triple-dipping on benefits
The Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan
Thursday, October 30, 2014
The arrangement is legal, but it raises questions about the generosity of the American safety net system at a time when disability programs are already under severe financial stress.

One veteran on disability collected nearly $210,000 in benefits in 2013, while another earned more than $122,000 — nearly three times what his actual military pay would have been — according to a watchdog report being released Thursday that found tens of thousands of veterans are triple-dipping on disability.

Tens of thousands of veterans collect their military retirement pay and disability benefits from the Veterans Administration and disability checks from Social Security too, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. All told, nearly 60,000 triple dippers collected $3.5 billion in benefits.

“This report shows that, like other government programs, there is little coordination between these overlapping benefits, which increase cost[s] to taxpayers,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the GAO report. “We should fulfill our promises to the men and women who serve, but we need to streamline these duplicative programs.”

For decades, up until 2004, the government clamped down on veterans taking both military retirement pay and VA disability benefits. The Pentagon docked retirement pay dollar for dollar up to the amount of their VA benefits.
read more here

Upcoming Central Florida Veterans Events

October list #3 – Central FL additional List of veteran, military and patriotic events.

 
Are you going to be a person sitting at home in a chair while watching mind twaddle re-runs on TV with your mind dissolving?  Or are you going to be a patriotic person (if you aren’t already a Veteran) and participate in community events?

Everyone and especially Veterans – please plan to attend the various school programs.  There MAY be events at some schools near your home that are not listed here.  Our young ones need to be aware of who veterans are and how they have served our country.  Your attendance reinforces the efforts that some teachers are trying to provide.  Be an example – be someone that the young generation will remember and model after…
 
Again, these events are in ADDITION (except for updates) to ones previously posted……
 
Angel's Life Foundation's Motorcycle "Ride to Infinity and Beyond" - Sat. Nov 1 - Motorcycle ride to raise funds for cystic fibrosis awareness and research.  Local fallen warrior (KIA July 2012) Army SPC Brenden Salazar-Nelson's sole surviving sibling has cystic fibrosis - a life-threatening fatal genetic disease.  Ride Starts and ends at Orlando Harley Davidson South, 7786 West Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee, 34747 (about 3 miles west of I-4 on SR192) Events thru the day.  Angel’s Life Foundation - 501(c)(3) non-profit.  Info:Jovanna@Angelslife.Org  407-542-4929
 
Army Rangers and Others Breakfast - First Sat of each month local past and present Rangers, their families, and friends gather informally at IHOP located at 647 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando. (Summerlin and Colonial Dr. (CR50) just east of I-4.)   Just for friendship, laughs and storytelling mixed with a little truth!  Meals on your own. Special Forces, Navy Seals, Force Recon, Pararescue, etc. are also welcomed.  Facebook:  Ranger Breakfast Orlando.   Contact Richard Nelson for time and details - rnelson134@cfl.rr.com  
 
Camaraderie Foundation Family Fun Day - Sat. Nov 1 - Central Florida Women's League kindly honors military families with fun and food at no cost to them. 10am - 2pm at Bill Fredericks Park at Turkey Lake in southwest Orlando, 3401 S. Hiawassee Rd, Orlando, 32835.  RSVP needed to 407.841.0071 events@camaraderiefoundation.com  See website about assistance to military and their families.
 
Daylight Savings Time ends – Sun. Nov 2 – Turn your clock back one hour.  Use that bonus time to do something nice for our veterans and service personnel!
 
Osceola County Commissioners Proclamation - Mon Nov 3 - All veterans and public are invited to hear the proclamation recognizing them and their continued committed work within the communities and Osceola County. 1:30pm Commission Chambers, 1 Courthouse Square, Suite 4100, Kissimmee, 34741.
 
Election Day – Tues. Nov 4 – Become educated and do your civic duty – VOTE!
 
Greeters needed!  Honor Flight Welcome Home –WED. Nov 5 – Orlando Int’l Airport – This is the VERY LAST Honor Flight for the 2014 year from the Central Florida area.  Winter, ice, and senior citizens don’t do too well together in Washington DC.  The WW2 and Korean War veterans truly appreciate the “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports with the flags and patriotic signs – It makes a difference!  After a day spent in Washington DC, 25 veterans of WWII and Korean War veterans return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport.  The nation-wide organization has three local hubs that take veterans on a single day trip to our nation’s capital where they visit the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  This group will return at about 9:30 pm.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! Southwest Airlines #3303 from Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Terminal A, Airside 2 (hotel area in front of Starbucks.) Before leaving home, check online to see if the flight is on time because there may be delays due to weather, mechanical or medical issues.  Free parking has been arranged at an off airport property – FastPark and Relax – who has been very generous to Honor Flights with free parking and shuttles to the airport - Contact Cathy Haynes for those details NLT 7pm  -  chaynes11629@yahoo.com   407-239-8468. 
UPDATE:  Orlando Airport Operations is graciously providing parking validation for persons “sending off” and “welcoming home” the Honor Flight.  BUT certain conditions must apply.  Contact me (Cathy) for details.
For the Early Birds - you can wave them off in the morning no later than 5am – same location.  They process thru Security early and quickly.
Honor Flights will resume in the Spring of 2015 when the weather improves. 
 
A Tribute to our Heroes, A YMCA event - Sat. Nov 8 - Recognizing Wounded and Disabled Veterans in our community.  FREE, open to all from 11am to 1pm at Dr. P. Phillips YMCA Family Center, 7000 Dr Phillips Blvd., Orlando,  32819 (Southwest Orlando.)  Brunch, Flag ceremony, speaker Army Lt.Gen. Jay M. Garner (ret.) Info:  bevans@cfymca.org  407.351.9417  ymcacentralflorida.com  Shared by DAV member Lyle Schmeiser.
 
Veterans Day Fireworks Celebration - Sat. Nov 8 - VFW Post 10139 in Chuluota is the site for fun starting at 3pm with Fireworks starting at 7pm sponsored by Tijuana Flats. Bounce houses, food, drinks and music. Special ceremony. Post is located at the corner of Lake Mills Ave and East 7th St., Chuluota, 32766 in Seminole Co. Info: 407-359-5020  info@vfwpost10139.org   Shared by Adam Zavardino, Commander of VFW Post 10139.
 
Jewish War Veterans – Sun. Nov 9 – Join JWV Post 475 for a cup of coffee at 10:30 am while we remember and honor the liberators of the European work camps and death camps from 70 years ago.  All persons welcomed, especially the liberators.  The Jewish War Veterans is the oldest continuously active veterans’ organization in the United States, and serves all veterans. Congressionally chartered in 1896, JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. Honoring our service and our faith.  10:30 am meeting at Kinneret Apartments social room, 515 Delaney Ave, downtown Orlando, 32801.  Info:  Dave at   dlitwack@aol.com   407-363-0969.
 
Happy Birthday United States Marine Corps!  The official birthday is on 10 November 1775. That was the day when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines.  Semper Fi!
 
SOS Breakfast celebrating USMC 239th Birthday - Mon. Nov 10 - Central Florida Chapter of the 1st Marine Division Association invites all interested persons.  Winter Park Community Center (not the Civic Center!) located at 721 West New  England Ave. three blocks west of the Farmers’ Market, at 8:30 am.   The guest speaker is Lt. Col. William W. Yates, Program Manager of Training Systems (PM TRASYS).   $25 benefits local chapter outreach and scholarship fund.  RSVP required no later than Wed. Nov. 5, contact Mike for instructions - 321. 276.7515  koolade@embarqmail.com  (* If  SOS is not your “thing” a full breakfast buffet is included in your admission)  Shared by Mike Galyean.
 
Museum of Military History – Tues. Nov 11 – Free admission for Veterans with ID, $2 off admission for all others.   5210 West Irlo Bronson Highway - located west of SR 535 on SR 192  Kissimmee, FL – near the Poinciana Blvd. intersection on the south side of the road.  "Educating the world about the cost of freedom"  with educational exhibits starting with the Civil War, incorporating World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and leading the visitor up to the most current pages of our military history in Afghanistan and Iraq.     Hours of 10 am to 6 pm on Tuesdays thru Sunday (Closed Mondays.)  For more information call 407 507-3894         (See *Note below)
 
Veterans Day Parade in Melbourne - Tues Nov 11.  Parade hosted by Honor America honoring veterans and those currently fighting abroad. Starts 10 am  at Melbourne Ave. to Melbourne Ct., then to New Haven Ave., west through downtown to Oak Street., then North on Oak St. to the Liberty Bell Memorial Museum. The parade will end at entrance to the museum.  Info:  Honor America  321.727.1776.  Shared by Deb Plaag, Commodore John Barry Chapter of DAR.
 
West Melbourne Veterans Recognition Celebration -  Tues. Nov 11 - All residents of Brevard County invited to join, honor those heroes of America's armed forces who have served to protect our freedom on Veteran's Day. The ceremony starts at 1130 am at the Veterans Memorial Complex, 2285 Minton Rd, West Melbourne, 32904. Free event will feature:  Patriotic music, Presentation of the Colors, and a keynote speaker.  Info: agallagher@westmelbourne.org   321-837-7779.  Shared by Deborah Plaag of Commodore John Barry Chapter DAR.
 
Salute to Veterans in The Villages - Tues. Nov 11 - Honoring all area military veterans.  Villages Honor Flight has been designated as the beneficiary of the proceeds from the event.  This benefit (with 50/50 raffle, prizes, baskets) will assist funding the VHF mission of taking American war heroes to see the memorials dedicated to their service, without cost to them. Starts 5pm at Brownwood Square, The Villages, with a Parade of Veterans, music, food, and more.  Sponsored by Parady Financial Group.  Info: Sally Byrnes  352-259-5890 orsbyrnes123@yahoo.com
 
Saluting Our Troops, A Night of Jazz - Tues. Nov 11 - East River High School Jazz Ensemble celebrates our veterans with a FREE WWII era jazz concert!.  Swing to Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and more.  6:30pm at ERHS, 650 East River Falcons Way, Orlando, FL 32833 (east Orange County.)  Shared by Army Maj. Steven Celeste (ret.) JROTC instructor, steven.celeste@ocps.net 407.956.8550, Ext: 6332910
 
Central Florida Navy League Luncheon meeting – Wed. Nov 12 – The Navy League has grown into the foremost citizens’ organization to serve, support and stand with all the sea service members and their families – the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine.  Guest speaker: Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant from Port Canaveral.  He will be able to let us know what they have been up to while on patrol, especially intersecting drug transportation. Radisson Hotel, 1724 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32826 (near UCF; SW corner of Alafaya Trail and Colonial/50).  11:30 luncheon.  Cost is $20 with RSVP (before Tues.) or $25 at the door without RSVP.  Pay online at our website:   cfnavyleague.org   Info/RSVP:  Bob at   navleaguecenfl@juno.com   407-977-7575.
 
UCF Veterans' Speaker Series, Lessons Learned for Today's Veterans - Wed. Nov 12 - Free and open to the public.  4:30pm speaker: Dr. Brian Craig Miller specializes in the physical and psychological ramifications of warfare on veterans. 6 - 7pm: Joseph Sousa, filmmaker, producer/director on the critically acclaimed PBS series, "Coming Back with Wes Moore" that tells the story of a search for answers to some of the most difficult questions related to returning to war. And Army Sgt. Taylor Urruella (ret) who was wounded and appears in the series. Morgridge International Reading Center, Bldg. 122, 4143 Andromeda Loop, Orlando, 32816 on the UCF campus. Info:  Tiffany Rivera 407-823-3817  tiffany.rivera@ucf.edu
 
*Note: If you or your friends have military items that may not mean much to your other family members, please consider donating them or placing them "on permanent loan" with a Museum for safekeeping.  Others may appreciate their historical significance, and it will keep them out of potential landfills.  If possible please include the story of the item.
 
 
Caring and sharing,
 
Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central Florida
407-239-8468

Iraq veteran second chance taking care of Mom with $1 million

Iraq veteran 'taking care of mom' with $1M SC lottery win
The State.com
October 30, 2014

A Charleston man was fixing lunch when he got a call from the South Carolina Education Lottery yesterday saying he won $1 million.

When he hung up the phone, he turned off the stove and called his mom. “We need to talk,” he said.

The Iraqi veteran entered about five or so non-winning tickets in the Lottery’s Millionaire Madness Second-Chance Drawing and then completely forgot about them. One of those tickets was selected from more than 525,000 entries received to win the $1 million prize, according to a release from the South Carolina Education Lottery.

“I thought it was a practical joke,” he said, until he checked the Lottery’s website and saw the winner was from Charleston and the number that called him was registered to the Lottery.
read more here

Laughlin Air Force Base Pilot Stops Tragedy at Walmart

Air Force Pilot Saves Life during Stand-off
Air Force News
by Joel Langton
October 28, 2014

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It was just another trip to Wal-Mart for 2nd Lt. Joshua Nelson when he popped in to grab some fish hooks for a family trip to the lake this past Spring. Little did he know that a quick shopping trip would turn into so much more.

The West Virginia Air National Guardsman was walking to the Hunting and Fishing section when he heard a woman say, "Stop, put it down!"

"I could tell she was stressed and she sounded frightened," said Nelson. "I looked into the aisle, and this young man had a knife to a woman's stomach."

According to police reports, the young man was mad at his mother, who he had a knife to, because she wouldn't buy him a gun. Nelson told his wife Brittany to go alert the store manager and call the police. Nelson, who has a concealed weapons permit stepped up beside the woman.

"I put my hand on my pistol where he'd notice, and then I stepped in between them," said Nelson. "I kept demanding he hand me the knife. I wanted him to see only one option. As I was standing beside that lady, I felt like I was responsible for her life. I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect her." Then, according to the police report, Nelson went from trying to stop a murder to trying to stop a suicide when the assailant turned the knife on himself.
read more here

Actor Ron Perlman Talks About Attempted Suicide and Healing

Ron Perlman's Secret Suicide Attempt
The Daily Beast
William O'Connor
October 28, 2014

In his memoir, actor Ron Perlman opens up about his attempted suicide, life as a fat kid, and coming to dislike his Sons of Anarchy character.

The cigar-chomping, one-of-a-kind visage of Ron Perlman has enthralled audiences since his film debut in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire in 1981. Perlman would go on to win a Golden Globe for his performance opposite Linda Hamilton in Beauty and the Beast in the late ’80s, where George R.R. Martin was one of the writers. He is most recognized today, perhaps, for his role in the comic book adaptation of Hellboy and for his terrifying performance as Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy.

Now, Perlman is out with a no-holds-barred memoir Easy Street, detailing his childhood years, as well as his struggles in the film industry over the decades. In an interview with The Daily Beast, he opens up on topics ranging from his attempted suicide to his “fat kid” adolescence, and why he came to dislike his Sons of Anarchy character.
You write about your own attempted suicide. What was it like to dive back into that time of your life?

It was very cathartic. The story I tell about my own experience [of trying to commit suicide] has never been told before. Even my wife didn’t know about it until she read the galleys for the book. My mom hasn’t read the book yet, so I hope it doesn’t kill her when she reads it. It’s going to be a shock. That was the first time I shared that with anybody.

My contract with myself once the book got green lit is, I’m just going to write everything out, and then depend on a small circle of friends to make sure I don’t destroy myself, on what to leave in and what to take out. The bout I had with clinical depression was a singular incident—I don’t consider myself someone who has spent a lifetime battling this—it had a beginning, a middle, and end, and because I’ve remained vigilant about it not revisiting me, it never has.

I put it in there and I started getting calls from my dear friends, who said, “Jesus Christ, man, I’ve never told anybody this, but …” Everybody started telling me their own nightmare story that they’ve kept to themselves, and saying that if you went through it, and you’re willing to talk about it, it’s essential it stays in the book. It wasn’t my intention, but I realized I was going to help some people knowing that it’s not just them, they’re not alone. It can happen to anybody. It can happen to the guy playing a badass on Sons of Anarchy.

There’s a lot revealed that’s never been revealed. Have I gone too far, or revealed too much? That’s for the world to decide. There was something profoundly purging about finally grappling with it by putting it into words.
read more here

'Stolen Valor' Precedent Won't Help Lying Marine

'Stolen Valor' Precedent Won't Help Lying Marine
Courthouse News
By TIM HULL
October 29, 2014

(CN) - The Supreme Court's rejection of a law that made it a crime to lie about military service and accolades does not help a Marine Corps veteran who was photographed wearing unearned medals, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.

A federal jury in Idaho found Elven Swisher guilty in 2007 for making false statements to the Veterans Administration, forging discharge documents to obtain benefits and theft of government funds. The jurors also convicted Swisher, who had served three years in the Marines beginning in 1954, for "wearing unauthorized military medals."

During the one-week trial, prosecutors said that Swisher had in 2001 secured $2,366 a month in federal benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder he claimed to have developed after an off-the-books mission in 1957 that never actually happened.

An "unpublished narrative" included with Swisher's application for benefits told of his supposed participation in a secret combat operation during which "Swisher and approximately 130 other Marines were flown by helicopter to an unknown location in China or North Korea," the 9th Circuit explained.

Swisher allegedly claimed that he'd been seriously injured in a firefight while on the mission, and that he'd been awarded the Purple Heart and other medals but told to keep this a secret.

Marine Corps officials testified at the trial that there was no record of Swisher having received any injuries or medals during his service. Prosecutors also presented a photograph that showed "Swisher wearing the Silver Star, the Navy and Marine Corps Ribbon, Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a Bronze V, and the UMC Expeditionary Medal."

After the jury convicted on all counts, Swisher was sentenced to one year behind bars and three years of supervised released.
read more here

For More on Stolen Valor, ABC has Operation Stolen Valor

Marines Leave Afghanistan

Afghanistan War Fatalities from Icasualties.org
92% of Marine Casualties in Afghan War Occurred Under Obama
CNS News
By Ali Meyer
October 29, 2014
This handout photo provided Defense Department shows Marines and sailors with Marine Expeditionary Brigade – Afghanistan load onto a KC-130 aircraft on the Camp Bastion, Afghanistan flightline, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. The handover of the U.S. Marines' main base to Afghan control in the hardscrabble Helmand province is more than a signal that America’s longest war is ending. It is a reminder of the enormous loss and sacrifice by Marines who swept in as part of President Barack Obama’s surge of forces against a resurgent Taliban in 2009.
(AP Photo/Staff Sgt. John Jackson, Defense Department, US Marines)
There were 1,631 casualties of the Afghan war who were in the U.S. Army, which means that they comprised 73.3 of the casualties. After the Army, the Marines were the next branch of the military that had the highest number of casualties totaling 418.
(CNSNews.com) -- As U.S. Marines withdraw from Operation Enduring Freedom (the Afghanistan war), CNSNews.com's database on casualties shows that 418 Marines gave their lives in the conflict and that 92% of those casualties, 385 deaths, occurred since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

“U.S. Marines and service members from the United Kingdom left Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan’s Helmand province today, turning their facilities over to the Afghan security forces,” reported the Department of Defense on Oct. 27.

“We lift off confident in the Afghans’ ability to secure the region,” said Army Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, commander of the ISAF Joint Command. “The mission has been complex, difficult and dangerous. Everyone has made tremendous sacrifices, but those sacrifices have not been in vain.”
Sergeants and Specialists in the Army represent nearly half – 49.6 percent – of the total casualties of the Afghanistan War, according to CNSNews.com’s database of U.S. casualties in the war.
read more here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Paraplegic Iraq Veteran Sues VA Over Sponge Left Behind

Paraplegic veteran sues government for sponge left inside him after operation
Augusta Chronicle
By Sandy Hodson
Staff Writer
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014
On Dec. 31, 2012, Dixon had surgery on his left hip at a private hospital. The surgery, according to his lawsuit, found a “purulent segment of old gauze sponge inside.”

A wounded Iraq War veteran has filed suit against the government after discovering the seeping wound he endured for years resulted from a sponge left inside him after an operation at the Augusta VA hospital.

Kenneth Dixon filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against the United States of America.

Dixon served during the Iraq War until a 2004 vehicle wreck left him with a permanent spinal injury.

Dixon, a paraplegic since the crash, was treated for several years at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, which has one of the largest spinal cord units in the VA system. read more here

Man convicted of shooting Iraq Veteran 5 times

Harrisburg man convicted of attempted murder for shooting soldier 5 times during robbery
PennLive
By Matt Miller
October 29, 2014
Durbin, an Iraq War veteran, testified Tuesday that he was accosted and shot while sleeping in his car on Allison Hill after giving a fellow soldier a ride home. He said he could not positively identify Betts as the gunman.

A Dauphin County jury took about an hour Wednesday afternoon to convict a Harrisburg man of attempted murder for shooting a National Guard sergeant five times during a June 2013 robbery in the city.

For Tasai Betts, 18, the verdict equated to a loss on a very big gamble.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jack Canavan said he will seek a 25- to 50-year state prison term for Betts when Judge Deborah Essis Curcillo sentences him in January.
read more here

After Suicide VA Sent New ID Card and a Bill

EXCLUSIVE: VA forgets veteran's suicide, sends grieving sister his new benefits card: 'like losing him again'
Fox News Latino
By Bryan Llenas
Published October 29, 2014
Margarita said the VA has known about her brother's death from the start. Just 27 days after her brother died, the federal government sent a bill to the family asking that they return his disability check.

Since April 12th, Margarita Reyes has had good days and bad days. Tuesday was a good day, until she went and got the mail.

It was an envelope from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and in it was a brand new Veterans Health Identification Card with a photo of her brother Marine Corporal Elias Reyes, Jr. renewing his health benefits until October 12th, 2024.

The problem is Elias committed suicide six months ago after suffering from a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. Margarita Reyes says the Veterans Administration failed to help her 27-year-old brother by not delivering the kind of quality healthcare he deserved.

"I got his ID in the mail and it just brought everything back," Reyes said crying. "It just was really upsetting."

The department recently started issuing new ID cards to all its service members, and Reyes isn’t the only glitch in that system. In another incident last week in Kansas, a veteran who died a year and a half ago received an identification card as if he were still alive.
read more here

Film tells how horseback riding helped vet with PTSD

Medicine Horse Center plans 'Riding My Way Back'
Film tells how horseback riding helped vet with PTSD
Cortez Journal
For The Mancos Times Article
October 28, 2014

Medicine Horse Center plans to screen "Riding My Way Back," the new award-winning, short documentary about the powerful healing of therapeutic riding for a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The documentary will be screened at The Durango Elks Lodge, 901 E. Second Ave., Durango, on Friday, Nov. 7.

Tickets are available for $15, and free for veterans. Tickets will be available at the door or can be purchased in advance by contacting Lynne Howarth, of Medicine Horse Center at (970)-533-7403. Proceeds of ticket sales go toward veterans services with Medicine Horse Center.

"Riding My Way Back" chronicles a soldier's journey back from the brink of suicide.

In 2010, Staff Sgt. Aaron Heliker returned from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
read more here

60 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans diagnosed with PTSD?

Don't tell Michael Savage that the "celebration of weakness" has spread. The tree hugger's head will explode.
Support Our Veterans
Reedsburg Times Press
October 29, 2014
"A recent scientific national government study reports that more than 60 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – or other traumatic brain injuries since returning home. The same study reports that about 11 percent of surviving Vietnam combat veterans still suffer from PTSD and that, like alcoholism, PTSD may be treated and controlled but never fully cured."

read more here


Retired Chaplain Admits Army Programs Didn't Work Out

Keep in mind the "program" they are using now is called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness but while it has been pushed throughout the military since 2009, no one seem to mind suicides went up afterwards.
Army chaplain to speak at Mullica Hill Baptist on PTSD
NJ.com
South Jersey Times
October 28, 2014
The drugs and psychology provided by the military have not worked out as planned, he says, noting that the 349 suicides last year is a record high.

Mullica Hill Baptist Church, 18 S. Main St. in Mullica Hill welcomes guest speaker Chaplain Wayne Keast (Retired) on Nov. 23. Keast, a retired chaplain with Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries, is now ministering to wounded warriors.

In his 33 years of service, Wayne was trained in the Army's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) prevention programs. He knows what those programs can and can't do.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Joint Chiefs: Quarantine All Us Troops in Ebola Deployment

Joint Chiefs recommend quarantine for all US troops returning from West Africa
Stars and Stripes
By Jon Harper and Chris Carroll
Published: October 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — The military’s top brass has recommended that all American troops returning from the mission to combat Ebola in West Africa be quarantined, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel “shares the concerns by the chiefs about the safety and well-being not only of our troops but also of their families,” but has not yet made a decision about whether to approve the recommendation from the Joint Chiefs.

Hagel received the chiefs’ recommendation on Tuesday, shortly after Army leadership decided to isolate Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams and 10 other soldiers for three weeks to ensure they are not infected after spending time in Liberia, where they were participating in Operation United Assistance.

They and other soldiers arriving in Vicenza, Italy, will be allowed no physical contact with family members but will have access to telephones and the Internet, Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Alayne Conway said.
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MLB: Are Veteran Tributes Too Much?

A veteran says enough is enough when it comes to tributes for the soldiers
NBC Sports
Hardball Talk
Craig Calcaterra
Oct 28, 2014

KANSAS CITY — We’ve touched on the idea of conspicuous patriotism and tributes to the soldiers before — ESPN’s Howard Bryant wrote an excellent article about it last year — but today we have a thought-provoking piece from a veteran, Rory Fanning, talking about tribute concerts and the public thanking of the troops at sporting events:
"We use the term hero in part because it makes us feel good and in part because it shuts soldiers up (which, believe me, makes the rest of us feel better). Labeled as a hero, it’s also hard to think twice about putting your weapons down. Thank yous to heroes discourage dissent, which is one reason military bureaucrats feed off the term . . . Then you have Bruce Springsteen and Metallica telling them “thank you” for wearing that uniform, that they are heroes, that whatever it is they’re doing in distant lands while we go about our lives here isn’t an issue. There is even the possibility that, one day, you, the veteran, might be ushered onto that stage during a concert or onto the field during a ballgame for a very public thank you. The conflicted soldier thinks twice."

Fanning makes the argument that by doing things like these, we necessarily give our approval to the country’s military policies of the past 13 years and stifle dissent. I think there is a lot of truth to that. But more broadly, I think the obligatory manner in which we have imported patriotism and honoring of the military into baseball has caused us to lose sight of the fact that — even if doing these things are good and admirable — when we make our patriotism mindless, we lose an essential part of it, which is thoughtfulness. And, yes, to Fanning’s point, when we make our acts of patriotism obligatory we take away another essential thing: the freedom of dissent.

I think we’ve reached that point in baseball. Major League Baseball’s charitable efforts, specifically for the Welcome Back Veterans and Wounded Warrior charities are admirable. And there is no question in my mind that they are well-intentioned. But, at times, one does feel the sense of formality and a sense of the obligatory with respect to all of this. And no small amount of corporate sponsorship is involved, in effect, allowing corporations to ride on the back of patriotic sentiment in an effort, intentionally or unintentionally, to bolster their own image.
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Are there ever too many things being done for them? My vote is HELL NO!

Sgt. Maj. Paul Archie talks about career and what happened besides viral video

Sgt. Major speaks out: 'My career was defaced'
Marine Corps Times
By Hope Hodge Seck
Staff writer
October 27, 2014


Sgt. Maj. Paul Archie was fuming.

All day Marines had been coming to him with questions about a man who stood protesting outside Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, wearing the distinctive drill instructor’s campaign cover, known affectionately as a “Smokey Bear.” Like the Marines he spoke with, Archie felt that wearing the uniform item in a political protest was inappropriate and even against official regulations.

When he confronted Marine vet and former drill instructor Ethan Arguello, the heated exchange was caught on video by another protester. The 32-second clip that showed the two nose-to-nose in a shouting match was uploaded to YouTube and went viral, watched by more than 200,000 people.


The firestorm of news coverage the video created, coupled with third-degree assault charges pressed by Arguello that were later dropped, would ultimately result in Archie’s resignation from his post as sergeant major for Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting District, along with his retirement from the Marine Corps soon after.
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Police Officers Win Lawsuit Against C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center

VA settles suit by its police officers at Young VA for nearly $1 million
Tampa Bay Times
William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
Monday, October 27, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs has formally settled a federal lawsuit filed by eight agency police officers who worked at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center for $960,000, according to court documents filed Monday.

With recent settlements to three other VA police officers at the Pinellas facility, the total payout by the VA is $1.3 million.

Such settlements are usually confidential, and the public rarely sees confirmation of cash paid out. But in a highly unusual move, the officers' attorney, Ward Meythaler, and the VA asked a federal judge in Tampa to enforce the terms of the settlement. The court file does not show why they made the request.

As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven ordered the settlement to be filed and made part of the public record.

Meythaler and a VA spokesman declined to comment. In the settlement, the VA acknowledged no wrongdoing.

A trial would have offered a potentially embarrassing glimpse into the Young VA's small police force and its operations. Police leadership and officers have long been at odds over allegations that include sexual harassment, racial discrimination, physical altercations among officers and even disputes concerning policing strategies.
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National Military Suicide Survivors Seminar Offered Support

Military suicide survivors help each other heal at seminar
Stars and Stripes
By Heath Druzin
Published: October 28, 2014
Two women hug at a remembrance ceremony at the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar earlier this month in St. Petersburg, Fla. The program brings together survivors of service member loved ones who committed suicide.
Heath Druzin/Stars and Stripes
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sitting and sobbing outside the hotel room where her Marine husband had just hanged himself, Kim Ruocco said she was horrified to find that nearly everyone who responded to the scene somehow managed to make her feel worse.

First she asked the hotel manager where her husband was staying, and he wordlessly backed into another room, shutting the door to avoid her. A trauma specialist told her to lie to her children about what had happened.

And then there was the priest.

Addressing the newly widowed woman, just steps away from her Catholic husband’s body, he said, “You know what Catholics believe about suicide? It’s a sin.”

“I said, ‘Are you telling me that I should tell my kids that their dad is not only dead, but that he’s also in hell?’” she recalled. “And he just looked at me.”

That experience in 2005 started Ruocco on what has become a full-time mission to help fellow survivors cope, heal and thrive. That often starts with an annual seminar for and by those who have lost troops and veterans to suicide.
As a testament to the seriousness of the epidemic and the growing willingness of survivors to talk about their experience, the TAPS database for suicide survivors has swelled to more than 5,000.
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Crestview Florida On List for Successful Veterans

Where Do America’s Most Successful Veterans Live?
SpareFoot
Military Storage Station
Elizabeth Whalen
October 27, 2014

(Linked from AL.com)
From the first day of basic training to the last day of a long deployment, and all the time in between, members of the military develop high levels of discipline and focus. By the time they’re discharged, they know more than the average Joe or Jane about hard work.

Many also have developed specialized skills, such as flying helicopters or running sophisticated computer networks, that employers value highly.

In fact, in some parts of the U.S., veterans are substantially better off than their non-veteran counterparts in terms of income, employment and education. In honor of Veterans Day, MilitaryStorage.com assembled a list to salute the places where America’s most successful veterans live. These are the 12 metro areas where veterans are doing the best compared with non-veterans. Many of these areas, but not all of them, are home to military bases.


6. Crestview, FL

Eglin Air Force Base
Crestview, about 50 miles northeast of Pensacola, is home to Eglin Air Force Base.
Metro population: 253,618
Veterans’ median income: $47,064
Non-veterans’ median income: $21,578
Veterans’ employment rate: 94 percent
Non-veterans’ employment rate: 94 percent
Veterans with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 35 percent
Non-veterans with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 22 percent

Some See Higher Fraud Risk as More Vets Seek Compensation

They are still at it! Trying to blame veterans again. This article headlines "Some See Higher Fraud Risk as More Vets Seek Compensation, Overloading Doctors" but when you read the article, there are few examples of it happening. Just as in real life, fraud among veterans is pretty rare.
"Regulators have seen evidence that fraud is slipping through. The VA’s Office of the Inspector General says it investigates only a small percentage of complaints it receives about possible false claims, but that “stolen valor” arrests—cases that involve false claims of military service or disability—are on the rise, with 72 arrests so far in 2014, up 71% since 2009."

Does this mean mean frauds are a huge problem or does this mean they simply don't know yet?

Are investigators, doctors and claims processors overworked? You bet but they were before the rules were changed to help Vietnam Veterans file claims for PTSD and Agent Orange after decades of being left behind without hope of getting help to heal.

When we face how long there has been thousands in the backlog of claims, those claims represent a tiny fraction of frauds. The truth is, less than half seek help or compensation even though they need it and earned it. While some see "fraud" others see hope that veterans are finally seeking help.

VA Disability Claims Soar
Some See Higher Fraud Risk as More Vets Seek Compensation, Overloading Doctors
Wall Street Journal
Daniel Huang
October 27, 2014

Requests for disability pay by veterans have ballooned during the past five years, overloading many doctors who evaluate the claims and increasing the possibility of fraud, according to current and former VA staff and government watchdogs.

From fiscal 2009 to 2013, the number of medical disability claims received by the Veterans Benefits Administration—a branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs—climbed 44%, while the number of doctors called upon to evaluate the claims rose only 22%, according to the VA.

“Claims are coming in a lot faster than what the VA is able to handle,” said Daniel Bertoni, a director at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which investigates federal spending. A March 2013 GAO report found that claims jumped 29% from 2009 to 2011 but the agency processed only 6% more.
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