Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Orlando Veteran Life On Hold For VA

Vet says VA lost his files, not helping him get benefits 
April 17, 2015

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A central Florida veteran who served two tours in Iraq and says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, told Channel 9 that he is stuck waiting for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He is one of about 500,000 veterans caught up in a backlog of those waiting for decisions to be made about their benefits.

Sgt. James Northcote received a letter from the VA telling him the paperwork he submitted in January 2013 as part of a claim had been lost by October of that year.

Northcote served 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and did tours of duty in Iraq in 2003 and 2006. read more here

Georgia Veterans' Cemetery Turned Into Movie Set?

Families outraged after veteran cemetery turns into movie set 
WSB News
April 17, 2015
The widow of a Korean War veteran said to see the cemetery turned into a movie set was heartbreaking. “This isn't Las Vegas, or California. This is a veterans’ cemetery. It's sacred to us,” Shirley Bryan said.
CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Families outraged after veteran cemetery turns into movie set. A group of veterans and their families contacted Channel 2 Action News to express their disapproval of a decision to allow a production company to shoot a movie scene at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. read more here

Vietnam Veterans Still Live Battles To Fight

While most reporters seem to overlook pre-9-11 veterans, this is a good article about Vietnam veterans and the battles they still have to fight.

There are no new wounds separating generations no matter how much easier it is for Congress to pretend it is all new to them.

Had it not been for Vietnam veterans fighting for all generations when they came home, there would have been nothing available for PTSD help among servicemembers, veterans and yes, the civilian population. As imperfect as things are today, it would have all been worse had it not been for them.
50 years later, Vietnam veterans still live with the war 
Post Bulletin
Matthew Stolle
April 18, 2015
The Vietnam War may have slipped into the annals of history, but for those who served, it never completely ended.

As a special forces commander during the Vietnam war, Bill Fritts of Byron ran recon and civil affairs missions in and around South Vietnam for 32 months. But it wasn't until two decades later, when the war had long been over, that Fritts realized it wasn't over for him.

He began having horrible dreams.

He would awaken at night drenched in sweat. Fritts had a recurring dream in which his men were "running operations" in some jungle-laden locale. It would dawn on Fritts, as the dreams continued, that the men in them were dead now. "I'm the only guy still alive."

Then one night Fritts woke up in his Byron home, and there, sitting at the end of his bed, was a North Vietnamese Army lieutenant, smoking a cigarette and smiling. As soon as Fritts would sit up, the Vietnamese man vanished.

A doctor later diagnosed Fritts' case as the worst Vietnam-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he had ever seen.

It's been five decades since Fritts, now 79, served in the Vietnam War as a Green Beret special forces commander, running small-group missions, moving stealthily through the jungle, wearing the black pajamas that allowed him to blend into his surroundings.
read more here

Veteran to Homeless to Blindness to Powerlifter

Blind veteran power lifts to world games
Carly Q. Romalino
April 16, 2015
"I've been blind for 25 years. Just in the last 12 years or so I've come to understand what blindness is as far as being able to navigate and accept it," said King, a post-Vietnam war veteran honorably discharged from the Army for health reasons.

Powerlifter Charles King, a blind and formerly homeless veteran, works out at the Carousel House in Philadelphia as GW Stilwell, a Logan Township man and VA Hospital employee who helped King get back on his feet, looks on. King is trying to fundraise his way to the International Blind Sports Association's World Games in South Korea in May. (Photo: JOHN ZIOMEK/COURIER-POST)
PHILADELPHIA – As Charles King adds weight to the bench press bar, it's easy to forget the Philadelphia man is blind. He lifts the 250-pound bar over his head, then holds a perfect squat position.

He moves through the Fairmount Park Carriage House's gym, avoiding collisions with machines, chairs and stacks of weights. At 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds, King seems invincible.

After everything the formerly homeless veteran has endured in 20 years, he just might be. He may be on track to compete in the International Blind Sports Association's World Games in South Korea next month, but he'll still tell you he's a "dead man."

He lived on the streets, lost his daughter in 2000 and battles addiction, prostate cancer, arthritis and diabetes. "Everybody has to be passionate about something in life to keep them going," said Logan Township resident GW Stilwell, coordinator of the blind rehabilitation staff at Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

It took 64 years and lots of support from Stilwell and the VA, but King finally found his passion — power lifting.
read more here

Florida Veterans Events Kick Off With Wall Escort

Melbourne Florida Veterans Reunion
Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall Escort - Sun April 19 – begins at 10am from Brevard Community College, Cocoa and proceeds down the highway to Wickham Park, Melbourne. It will remain at Wickham Park thru Sun. April 26 for the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion. The escorted arrival is always exciting with hundreds of motorcycles and First Responder vehicles.

This is the escort into Wickham Park last year.
Apr 28, 2014 Yesterday at Wickham Park in Melbourne Florida, the Vietnam traveling Wall was escorted by hundreds of motorcycles for the kick off the the 2014 Veterans Reunion.

More Events From Cathy Haynes
Mid-April notice of veteran, military or patriotic events in Central Florida
Florida Women Veterans Conference – Apr 17-19 - a first ever weekend conference open to ALL women veterans of ALL eras.   Noted speakers.   Sandcastle Resort in Sarasota (1540 Benjamin Franklin Dr., Sarasota, 34236)   The website provides full information including the agenda, registration and hotel:  flwvc.org  
Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Seminole Co. – Sat. Apr 18 – located at Seminole County Health Dept, 400 W. Airport Blvd., Sanford, 32773.   9am – 1pm providing free services like medical, dental, haircuts, food, VA claims services, Legal assistance, clothing and more.   Free LYNX bus service with the flyer.   Contact Ed B. at 407-665-2371, or VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans 321-397-6607.

Law Enforcement Career Forum – Mon Apr 20 - Recruiting by City of Orlando and Orange County to become law enforcement professionals and 911 communications personnel.   3pm – 6pm at Valencia College School of Public Safety, 8600 Valencia College Lane, Orlando, 32825 (East Campus.)   Contactkristina.fleming@ocfl.net   407-254-7489

Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses mtg (FAVOB) – Tues Apr 21 – a “Chamber of Commerce” of sorts open to all veteran owned businesses, meeting at 10am, American Legion Florida Department bldg., 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.   19 states offer contract preferences to veteran owned businesses.   Florida is NOT one of them.   Our goal is to change that in big business, our cities, and counties too.   See FAVOB Facebook site.

Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion – Apr 23 – 26, Wickham Park in Melbourne.   The nation’s largest veteran reunion is very well attended; military displays, reenactments and ceremonies, old and new friends.   Additionally, the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall will be onsite from Apr.19 – 26.  
Check the website for the schedule of events – very busy and interesting each day.   www    floridaveteransreunion.com

Leesburg Bikefest – Thurs – Sun, Apr 23 - 26   AMVETS Post 2006 will offer limited secure and parking areas for all motorcycles... as you may know they are only a few blocks from downtown at 500 N Canal St, Leesburg, 34748.   Breakfast offered Fri thru Sun from 8am-10am.   Lots of food (Fish Fry, Chicken dinners and more, beverages, music and FUN.   Special fundraising T-shirts.   AMVETS Post 2006   352-323-8750 or see their Facebook page.
Employment 101 – Fri, Apr 24 – 10am – 12noon at the Orlando VA Medical Center, Auditorium A, Rm 504 (Lake Baldwin site), 5201 Raymond St, Orlando, 32803.   Assistance for landing that desired job.   Ellamay "Annie" Artis, Veteran Community Employment Coordinator,   407-629-1599 x1846  ellamay.artis@va.gov

Homeless Veterans Stand Down in Brevard Co. – Sat. Apr 25 – located at National Guard Armory, 308 N. Fiske Ave., Cocoa, 32922.   8am – 2pm providing free services like medical, dental, hearing and eye exams, VA claims services, Legal assistance, haircuts, food, clothing and more.   Donated bicycles to be given away.   Free SCAT bus service.   Contact Bill at 321-431-0364 or Kim at 321-704-6712.

Greeters needed!   Honor Flight Welcome Home –Sat. Apr 25 – Orlando Int’l Airport –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 9:00 pm and enter the terminal area at about 9:30pm.   Come welcome these former warriors home!   “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports makes a difference!   Bring your flags, banners and signs! – Southwest Airlines #2642 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 (tips welcomed by drivers!) - Contact Cathy Haynes for those details NLT 7pm     chaynes11629@yahoo.com    407-239-8468.
New  Vouchers are available for airport garage parking from a GOAA rep. in the terminal for this event – maximum of 3 hours – BUT you have to take a paper/card upon entering the airport garage.   The vouchers will not work if you use the SunPass transponders.
For the Early Birds - you can wave these veterans off in the morning no later than 5am – same location.  They process thru Security early and quickly.   Wave them off for a wonderful day!

Women in Defense Networking  - Tues Apr 28 – Central Florida Chapter of Women In Defense (WID) will gather with wine tasting in a Napa-Style Tasting Room and sample wine selections. A tasting includes seven to eight different wines and no reservation is necessary.  5pm – 7pm, Cooper’s Hawk at Waterford Lakes, 529 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32828.   $20 Member | $25 Non-Members, RSVP to Laura - programs@wid-cfl.org    Women In Defense, a National Security Organization, is a cross-section of national security professions in industry, government, military and academia.

Heroes Commons at Jefferson Park Ground Breaking – Wed. Apr 29 – 2pm at 1205 Polk St, at the corner of Benson Ave. in Downtown Orlando.   Homes for former warriors and their families are sponsored by numerous organizations.   Info and RSVP to lindsays@orlandorealtors.org   407.513.7277

USMCCCA Foundation Golf Tournament – Fri. May 1   U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association, Foundation tournament.   The proceeds go to the Semper Fi fund to help wounded Marines and their loved ones.   James “Red” Carpenter at   jcar1@tampabay.rr.com  Sponsorships welcomed.

Honor Flight Welcome Home –Sat. May 2– Orlando Int’l Airport –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 9pm and enter the terminal area at about 9:30 - 10pm. (HOWEVER – I have not received flight information yet from the Central Florida Honor Flight group.  Time may vary.)  Come welcome these former warriors home!   “Welcome Home” receptions at the airports makes a difference!   Bring your flags, banners and signs! – Unknown airline at this time.   If you are interested in attending, please contact me so when I know, I’ll let you know.
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 (tips welcomed by drivers!) - Contact Cathy Haynes for those details NLT 7pm     chaynes11629@yahoo.com    407-239-8468.
New:   Vouchers are available for airport garage parking from a GOAA rep. in the terminal for this event – maximum of 3 hours – BUT you have to take a paper/card upon entering the airport garage.   The vouchers will not work if you use the SunPass transponders.
For the Early Birds - you can wave these veterans off in the morning no later than 5am – same location.  They process thru Security early and quickly.   Wave them off for a wonderful day!

100th Birthday reception for WWII veteran – Sun. May 3 at 12:15p (Public welcomed) at Conway United Methodist Church, 3401 S Conway Rd, Orlando, FL 32812, in their fellowship hall around the back.   Mr. Barbe served from 1942 to 1945 with the 101st Airborne Division with Co. B, 327th Glider-Parachute Regiment.   He made a glider landing in enemy territory and he still has the shaving kit that caught a bullet and saved his life in the air.   Birthday cards would be welcomed and can be mailed to the church in attention to Mr. Barbe.   Contact me (Cathy Haynes) for info as details are still being ironed out as I send this.

VetBuds of Orlando meeting – Thurs. May 7 - a group of military veterans whose purpose is to provide assistance to other veterans thru personal resources - by our combined businesses, social and personal knowledge and connections.   9am at First Watch, 1414 North Mills Ave, Orlando, 32803 (northwest corner of intersection of Virginia Dr. and Mills) Purchase your own breakfast, informal and casual meeting.   No dues.   Info:   Forrest at   citrusolution91@gmail.com    407-347-6499

Central Florida Navy League luncheon and meeting – Wed. May 13 – All persons who support the sea services, whether civilian or military, are welcomed to attend this gathering on the 2nd Wed. of each month.   11:30 – 1pm at the Radisson Hotel (near UCF), 1724 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 32826.  Interesting speakers and networking potential includes the simulation technology businesses.   $20 with RSVP or $25 at the door.   3rd largest Navy League in FL.   Contact Bob K. (Membership Chair.) atnavleaguecenfl@juno.com    407-977-7575

Armed Forces Appreciation Night – Wed May 14 – The Citrus Club in conjunction with the AUSA Sunshine Chapter, the Central Florida Marine Corps Foundation and the Central Florida Navy League host this event to honor our military service members.   (Air Force – why didn’t you join? Maybe next year? But AF people will NOT be turned away!)   6pm – 8:30pm at the Citrus Club, 255 S. Orange Ave. (18 th Floor), Orlando, 32801.   Hors d’doeuvres served.   No cost to attend but RSVP’s required toelcy.hernandez@ourclub.com   Add’l info: Jan Drabczuk at 407.448.5369

Sunshine Chapter of AUSA Scholarship Golf Tournament - Fri, May 15 – Local chapter of Association of the United States Army sponsors this event at Timacuan Golf and Country Club, 550 Timacuan Blvd, Lake Mary, 32746.   8am Shotgun Start; Check-in starts at 7am.   Lots of special fun!  $75/pp Golf & Texan BBQ Lunch and more.   Sponsorships welcomed. Register early at website of ausa-sunshine.org      Info:   Delloyd Voorhees at 407.541.4121   delloyd.voorhees@GDIT.com ; or Jeff Moss at jeffery.moss@gdit.com   407.541.2178.
Interested in becoming an AUSA member?   Sunshine Chapter has flexible general meeting dates.   See the website or contact   john.reams@zeltech.com   407.571.9920

Armed Forces Gala – Fri. May 15 at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, 411 Mercy Dr. Orlando, 32805.   6PM - 10PM.   Proceeds will support The Military Edge Scholarship Program, and career workshops.   More details can be found on armedforcesgala.    eventbrite.com. Contact Nik Patterson 513-898-9097 npatterson@themilitaryedge.com  Sponsorships welcomed.

The Jerry Dugan Memorial Charity Golf Tournament – Mon. May 18 - Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)Central Florida at the Heathrow Country Club, a private golf course in Heathrow.  Sponsorships VERY welcomed!   Cost for non-veterans is $125 and $100 for veterans and includes 18 holes of golf, unlimited drinks during play (beer, soda and water), a lunch buffet, a goody bag worth approximately $50 and a 60” golf umbrella. Hole in one prizes, on designated holes, include a 2015 Mercedes Benz, and an EZ GO Golf Cart. Prizes (gift cards for each team member) will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place as well as closest to the pin and a raffle of over 40 different items as well as a silent auction with over 20 items. For more information call PVACF office at 407-328-7041 or emailccentralflorida16@cfl.rr.com
(PVA assists vets with spinal injury and neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.   There are 27 known veterans with ALS in Central FL.)

Golf Outing with a Hero - A Villagers for Veterans Event – Tues. May 19 - Bonifay Country Club, The Villages Fl. Come and meet SSGT. Brian Mast, a true hero. Brian lost both his legs and a finger while clearing for bombs in Afghanistan during one of his tours. Brian recently returned from Israel, where he volunteered for the IDF.   Afternoon Golf and Dinner - $100;   Dinner Only - $25.   Contact Marie Bogdonoff at 516-220-5068 villagersforveterans@gmail.com  

Indy Orchid Gala – Wed. May 20 – Sponsored by Villagers for Veterans to benefit the Independence Fund for severely wounded warriors.   6pm – 10pm, Silent Auction opens at 5pm.   $50 regular for dinner, dancing, show; or $75 VIP includes full cocktails with meet/greet Fox News Correspondent Jennifer Griffin. The Savannah Center, 1545 Buena Vista Blvd, The Villages, 32162.   Contact Marie Bogdonoff at 516-220-5068 villagersforveterans@gmail.com  

Tallahassee National Cemetery Dedication Ceremony – Fri. May 22 – 1pm ceremony with VA Secretary Bob McDonald scheduled to attend.   This site off of Apalachee Parkway will offer families in that area an alternative other than the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.  
NOTE:   A second one – the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Scottsmoor of Brevard County, will open within the next year.   It will serve more than 163,000 veterans, spouses and their eligible dependents living in the central eastern Florida area.   If there are (or will be) cremains that you need to place, the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery may be closer to you than the one in Bushnell…something for you to consider…..

MEMORIAL DAY/weekend  events:   (Mon. May 25) PLEASE consider joining with other organizations, Posts, etc. to commemorate and honor the DECEASED warriors and veterans of our communities.   Please consider the staggering of ceremony days and times.   Joining with others and staggering of days and times allows for a larger number of persons to participate in the ceremony, a larger overall attendance, saves monies and resources, allows more media coverage opportunity, etc.   I know…I frequently hear “We’ve ALWAYS done it this way for ten (or thirty, forty) years..”  But there can more awareness of the participating groups when they join together to form a larger effort.   Then you might gain the interest of potential new members.
So far notice has been received for:
Fri. May 22 – 11am – Ocoee Memorial Day Ceremony, Ocoee.
Sun. May 24 – 10am – American Legion Post 112, and Sea Cadets in Orlando.
Mon. May 25 – 8am – Osceola Memory Gardens, Kissimmee – Osceola County Veterans Council
Mon. May 25 – 10am – Mount Peace Cemetery, St. Cloud – Osceola County Veterans Council
Mon. May 25 – 10am – Orange County Courthouse by the Orange County and Orlando City Mayors’ Veterans Advisory Councils, and others.
Mon. May 25 – 10am – Seminole County Memorial Day ceremony
Mon. May 25 – 2pm – the first Memorial Day ceremony at the Central FL Veterans Memorial Wall located at the Lake Nona VA Hospital site.
Mon. May 25 – 11am – Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell.

Lake Nona VA Hospital dedication – Tues May 26 – Ceremony starts at 10am and VA Secretary Bob McDonald will be attending  to provide the keynote address. The dedication will culminate a week of special events, including a day for Veterans, the media, and our stakeholders as well.   Lake Nona Campus of Orlando VA Medical Center – 13800 Veterans Way, Orlando, 32827.   Public Affairs office – 407-599-1301.

Pars & Stripes Forever Golf Tournament - Fri, May 29  Disney’s Palm Golf Course is the site for this 5 th annual event sponsored by Camaraderie Foundation. The Foundation provides counseling resources for warriors (past and present) and their families – especially for those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress.   The proceeds of this tournament assist with those resources.   Sponsorships (corporate and private) are VERY welcomed.   8am Shotgun Start.   Info online or to register at www   ParsandStripes2015.kintera.org   or contact Jackie Nelson at 407.841.0071jnelson@camaraderiefoundation.org

Battle of Midway Commemorative Dinner – Sat. Jun 15 in St. Augustine.   Contact the Navy Leagues in Mayport or St. Augustine for info.

240th Army Birthday Ball – Sat. June 20 – The local Sunshine Chapter of AUSA (Association of the United States Army) planning committee is working diligently to ensure we recognize our Government Civilians and Soldiers with a grand celebration.   Special invitations to Wounded Warriors, Soldiers, Gold Star families and our senior war veterans from Central Florida.   All interested persons are welcomed to attend with RSVP.   6pm – 11pm at Rosen Centre, 9840 International Drive, Orlando, 32819.   Sponsorships welcomed.   Discounts for event and hotel room rates if registered before May 15  Info:   Mike Flanagan or Tony Krogh at armyball@ausa-sunshine.org    407.277.8069, x 304, (c) 717.609.9665
Interested in becoming an AUSA member?   Sunshine Chapter has flexible general meeting dates.   See the website or contact   john.reams@zeltech.com   407.571.9920

The American Legion, Department of Florida, June 25 -28 - 96th Annual Department Convention at Renaissance SeaWorld in Orlando.

3rd Annual Bob Bret Memorial Golf Tournament - Mon. July 20. Central Florida Navy League, a large active group composed of civilians and veterans supporting all sea services.   (USN, USMC, USCG, and Merchant Marines.) This golf outing honors a long-time CFNL member, Robert "Bob" Bret - Proceeds go to support NJROTC scholarships and the Welfare & Recreation fund for USCGC Cutter's Vigilant and
Shrike, (based in Port Canaveral) crew & families.   Tournament at The Golden Bear Club, Keene’s Point in Windermere.   Corporate sponsors welcomed.   Contact Brian Holmes at 407.252.3008  bholmes@aegistg.com

EXTRAS of interest
Unique PTS Therapy – Warriors, past and present with service in Iraq and Afghanistan, experiencing life altering Post Traumatic Stress may wish to inquire about a local clinical research program.   The UCF (Univ. of Central FL) RESTORES is still investigational but three years of results reported by warriors are very encouraging.   Two separate therapy programs are available at NO COST use sights, sounds and smells to reduce fear and anxiety.   One program lasts 17 weeks, and the other is an intense, shorter termed one.   Both instruct you to deal with and manage your anger, depression, and re-adjustment after deployment.   Contact the Program Coordinator Dr. Sandra Neer at 407.823.1668 for a confidential telephone interview.

Research Study volunteers with children needed – UCF Family Stress and Resilience Program needs several types of families for a study of biological and psychological stressors.   Orlando is one of three sites (the others are Houston, TX and Honolulu, HI) for this comparison of children (ages 7 – 17) with military or civilian family stresses.   Participating families will receive $100.   Saliva (spit) will be collected to measure cortisol - the stress hormone – NO needles!    Needed as many families as possible:  Military families with a currently deployed parent; Military family with no currently deployed parent; Civilian family with parents who are divorced or separated (within past 12 months); Civilian family with two parents/caregivers in the home; Civilian family where one parent is temporarily separated from the family because of a work assignment (ie: working on oil rig.)   Contact: UCF Coordinator Dr. Sandra Neer at 407-823-1668 sandra.neer@ucf.edu   

Free Cell Phones at VA Locations - Veterans can apply for a FREE cell phone through the SafeLink Program. There are a few guidelines for usage. Must be able to present some form of military ID (i.e. VA card, Retired ID). Only one phone will be issued per household.
SafeLink outreach reps are staffing numerous locations around central Florida. Here is a helpful schedule for our VA clinics:   Orlando VA Medical Center in Baldwin Park: 9 am-2 pm, M, T, and F, next to the Travel Counter
Kissimmee CBOC: 9 am-2 pm, Th and F.
Orange City CBOC: 9 am-2 pm, W and F.
Leesburg CBOC: 9 am-2 pm, M-Th.
Ocala CBOC: 9 am-2 pm, M-Th.
Viera Outpatient Clinic: 9 am-2 pm M and W.
Daytona Beach location: 9 am-2 pm M and T.
POC: Laine Strutton – Orlando Manager, Safelink (914) 689-6716

Civil Air Patrol – Wanted:   Youth and adults who have a passion for aviation, space, the military or leadership and want to learn to fly, lead, hike, camp, get in shape and push themselves to new limits.  Details:   407-600-8596.   capsmkin-sey@gmail.com   or fl259.org

Museum of Military History – History in Miniature special exhibit  Over 50 past and present award winning military dioramas, hand crafted tall ships, 1/72, 1/48, 1/35 scale airplane models, historical artwork and more!   5210 .comW. Irlo Bronson Hwy., Kissimmee, 34796.   Open 10am – 6pm Tues – Sun.   www   museumofmilitaryhistory

Work at Lake Nona -The Orlando VA Medical Center has opened a Recruitment Center at the new medical center in Lake Nona. The Recruitment Center provides a "one stop" location for potential employees to find out information about applying for jobs at the Orlando VA Medical Center.   Human Resource Specialists, Nursing Recruiters, and Physician Recruiters are located at the Center and are available to provide information and assistance.
The address for the new medical center at Lake Nona is 13800 Veterans Way.   Upon arrival to the medical center, park on the first floor of the west parking garage and follow the signs to enter the building. Take the elevator to the fourth floor and follow the signs to the Recruitment Center welcome desk. The room number is 4A101. Volunteers are stationed at the facility to assist with directions.
The main telephone number for the Recruitment Center is 407-631-4001.

INFO to keep and share - because we care
Veterans in crisis – For you or someone you know - Confidential Hotline:   1-800-273-8255, #1.  
Or:   Website at   veteranscrisisline    provides 24/7 confidential chat online assistance;
Or:   text 838255   for   24/7 confidential assistance.   They are there because they care….

Camaraderie Foundation in Central Florida provides resources for private and confidential Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) counseling for warriors and their families.    It works.   It has saved lives, marriages and families.   Contact 407-841-0071

Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance.     operationhomefront.org    Central FL rep:   Chip Whiting at 407-758-0492   whiting_charles@bah.com   

Vet Centers are available for combat zone veterans to help with personal and family readjustment counseling and outreach services.    The nearest centers are located in:
Orlando - 5575 S. Semoran Blvd., Suite #30, Orlando, 32822.   407-857-2800 Or 877-927-8387.
Melbourne -2098 Sarno Road, Melbourne, 32935.   321-254-3410 Or 877-927-8387.
Clermont -1655 East Highway 50, Clermont, 34711   352-536-6701 Or 877-927-8387.
Daytona Beach -1620 Mason Ave., Suite C, Daytona Beach, 32117.   386-366-6600 Or 877-927-8387.
And coming soon to Seminole County....      vetcenter.va.gov       
Caring and sharing,
Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL

Friday, April 17, 2015

Veterans Are At Mercy of Congress, Not the VA

How Long Have Veterans Been Abused?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 17, 2015

The best place to start this article is simply mentioning a much ignored fact. There are problems with the way some veterans are treated but there are many more getting great care. That's the most under-reported fact of all.

My Dad and my husband are examples of that simple fact. My Dad was a Korean veteran and had been getting care most of his life, so I've seen the best along with the issues veterans have faced for decades.

You may think my husband's care has something to do with this site, but it doesn't and it never did. He's been going since the early 90's.

His claim took six years to be approved but while fighting with that part of the VA, his doctors and their staff were always wonderful. As for being quasi-famous now, they don't have a clue who I am.

Good care isn't any more a secret in the veterans community than troubles are. The difference is, we don't blame the VA. We blame members of Congress because they have been telling us they're fixing the VA for decades.

There have been 8 men blamed for problems with the VA and 4 put in between as acting heads since President Reagan turned it into a Cabinet position. Since then, they got all the blame and Congress, well, Congress was able to just pull off a fast one on the public as if they had nothing to do with any of the problems. The flip side has always been when the VA got something right politicians were the first ones to add it to their campaign ads.

We need to look at the most recent report of all of this for a better view of how badly member of Congress have actually performed.
Boxes of ignored mail, rodent infestations in Philadelphia latest black eye for VA
Stars and Stripes
By Heath Druzin
Published: April 15, 2015

A Philadelphia VA office simultaneously underserved and overcompensated veterans, keeping them waiting for months to get answers to their benefits questions, paying out millions in duplicative benefits and housing some employees in a vermin-infested warehouse, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General.

In the latest bad news for an agency that has been embroiled in a yearlong scandal, the exhaustive report details a range of problems, from failure to process thousands of pieces of mail to unsafe working conditions, at the VA’s Philadelphia Regional Office.

“There is an immediate need to improve the operation and management of this VA (Regional Office) and take actions to ensure a more effective work environment,” the 78-page report reads.

One of the most striking findings was that investigators found 31,000 inquiries went unanswered for an average of 312 days even though staff is supposed to respond to each within five days.
That was in addition to 22,000 pieces of returned mail, some which had been there for four years, and almost 15,000 pieces of mail related to claims processes that had not been placed in veterans’ files — some languishing unprocessed for more than three years.
read more here

Guess what isn't new? Army Times from 2009 report
A new report about Veterans Affairs Department employees squirreling away tens of thousands of unopened letters related to benefits claims is sparking fresh concerns that veterans and their survivors are being cheated out of money.

VA officials acknowledge further credibility problems based on a new report of a previously undisclosed 2007 incident in which workers at a Detroit regional office turned in 16,000 pieces of unprocessed mail and 717 documents turned up in New York in December during amnesty periods in which workers were promised no one would be penalized.

“Veterans have lost trust in VA,” Michael Walcoff, VA’s under secretary for benefits, said at a hearing Tuesday. “That loss of trust is understandable, and winning back that trust will not be easy.”

Unprocessed and unopened mail was just one problem in VA claims processing mentioned by Belinda Finn, VA’s assistant inspector general for auditing, in testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

At the time this is what the VA backlog looked like.
The VA's claims backlog, which includes all benefits claims and all appeals at the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Board of Veterans Appeals at VA, was 803,000 on Jan. 5, 2009. The backlog hit 915,000 on May 4, 2009, a staggering 14 percent increase in four months.
At the same time this was going on,
The 2008 investigation confirms the IG and VA officials were aware that schedulers were using bogus tactics to “game” the system, allowing them to falsely claim patients were getting the medical care they needed within agency deadlines.

With all of this ending up full circle back to a few months ago across the country in California.
The claims, which dated back as far as the mid-1990s, were discovered in 2012 as a national scandal erupted over the VA’s sloppy and slow handling of benefits, which outraged veterans.

The report said the office in 2012 counted 13,184 informal claims for benefits that had been found in the cabinet, with 2,155 requiring “review or action.” Those files were assigned to a special team, the report said, but later, in spring 2014, office workers found a cart of the claims that the team had reviewed but failed to act upon.

Since reporters don't seem all too interested in how things got this bad for veterans any more than they want to remind folks of who is supposed to do what, now you know more than they do.

Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif Laid To Rest At Arlington

Decorated Marine killed in Florida training accident buried at Arlington National Cemetery 
By WRIC Newsroom
Published: April 16, 2015
The ordeal is a stark reminder of the risks associated with military service that aren’t always on the front lines of the battlefield.
Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, was awarded the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at Stone Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 6, 2015.
(Photo: Dept. of Defense via ABC News)

The pouring rain on Tuesday was fitting for the occasion: a military funeral was held at Arlington National Cemetery for Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif, killed in a training accident in Florida one month ago.

Exactly one week after being awarded the Navy’s third-highest award for valor, the Silver Star, Seif’s helicopter crashed in heavy fog during a training exercise in the Florida panhandle. Among the dead were some of the most highly trained Marines and Army pilots: 11 men from Marine Special Operations Command, knowns as MARSOC, and two pilots and two crewmembers from the Louisiana National Guard.
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ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos

War Came Home to Families

It doesn't matter which war they came home from. The truth is, the whole family is part of all of it. My daughter was raised knowing what PTSD is and it was still hard on her. This is a powerful reminder whenever you read stories here, there are usually a lot more people involved in the story you never hear enough about.
When veterans return, their children also deal with invisible wounds of war
Washington Post
By Emily Wax-Thibodeaux
April 16, 2015
In Atlanta, Christian Aguilar, 10, has watched his father, an Iraq Army veteran, be loaded into an ambulance more than a dozen times. He hugs his teachers so often — sometimes 17 times a day — that he’s now receiving therapy for “secondary PTSD,” a common diagnosis for the children of veterans.
Retired Marine Cpl. Donny Daughenbaugh, who suffers from memory loss, stands with daughter Gabby, 11.
(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Twice a day, Koen Hughes’s medicine alarm beeps and sputters. He yells out across the kitchen to his father, retired Army Staff Sgt. Jonah Hughes, an Iraq war veteran, who suffers from such a severe brain injury that it’s hard for him to remember things like whether he showered, and sometimes how to shower.

Koen is always there, reminding him to take his anti-seizure pills, nervously double-checking his medicine box and squinting as he monitors his father’s behavior.

Koen is 10.

“Daaad! Your medicine!” pants a frantic Koen, who has a mop of light-brown hair and loves geography, Legos and Indiana Jones.

His burly 38-year-old father wears a black Wounded Warriors T-shirt and pocket pants, and speaks slowly, softly, searching for words his brain has lost.

“Got it,” he answers.

He’s what Koen calls a “wounded parent.” And, the boy says, lowering his blue eyes to the ground, “It’s different than having other kinds of parents.”

In households nationwide, hundreds of thousands of wounded parents have come home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their children are struggling to navigate the invisible wounds — traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, which together afflict an estimated 30 percent of the 2.7 million former troops.
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Veteran Needed Help, Found It and Paid It 4ward

Veteran Pays It 4ward to man who volunteered his time to help him, family after returning from war
KOB Eyewitness News 4
By: Tessa Mentus

Tito Rivera saw his fair share of battles while serving in the US Army, and they didn't go away when he took off the uniform.

"I was a single father with three girls at one time, and it was a hard thing to deal with," he said.

That was especially true as he tried to live his life with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He needed help, and he found it.

"Mark has been the biggest blessing of all, really," Rivera said.

He met Mark through Paws and Stripes, an organization that does great work in our state by providing veterans with service dogs.

Mark would give Rivera rides if he needed them, made sure he had food and helped with his daughters – just to let Rivera know he was there no matter what.

"He never asks for anything in return," Rivera said. "He never asked for no money or anything; he did it all on his own time."
read more here

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hasan's Victims Will Finally Get Benefits

Fort Hood attack Purple Heart recipients to get added benefits 
April 16, 2015 (Reuters) -

The U.S. Army said on Thursday it will provide additional benefits to the dozens of soldiers awarded Purple Heart medals stemming from a 2009 shooting rampage by an Army psychiatrist at the Fort Hood Army base in central Texas.

The Army also said it would award the Purple Heart medal to a soldier who was killed and another who was wounded in a 2009 attack on a recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Three-dozen Purple Heart medals were awarded last week at Fort Hood to wounded survivors and relatives of those killed in the shooting rampage by then-Army Major Nidal Hasan following years of lobbying by politicians and lawyers. read more here

Dying Veteran Can't Get Pain Medicine from VA?

Local veteran dying of cancer can’t get pain meds from VA 
WFTV News 9
April 15, 2015
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County veteran diagnosed with terminal colon cancer said he was given just months to live. But after serving for more than 30 years, he said Veterans Affairs denied him pain medication that he needs to make it through the day.

Channel 9 found out the denial is being blamed on a paperwork mistake. Leroy Brugonone said even though he’s fought in war, he had no way to prepare for his fight with the VA.

“I’m just like a number, not a countryman. I’ve fought lots of battles. Not like this,” he said. 

Brugonone has colon cancer. Doctors told him surgery or chemotherapy would not save his life. “I pray to God I can live one more day,” Brugonone said. He said the only thing he can do now is live comfortably and it takes several pain medicines to get him through the day. But now he says he can’t get the medicine anymore. 

Brugonone said the VA told him last week he was denied because he missed too many appointments.

He said he missed them because he didn’t know when they were. read more here

American Sniper Stunning Donation Choice

American Sniper is coming out on DVD but I strongly suggest you do not buy it. When you see which charity is getting $1 million, Dr. Evil may come to mind and not in a good way.

Watch it on a pay-per-view service and if you feel the need to help PTSD veterans then please, donate to the charity that actually has ties to Chris Kyle or some of the other groups out there. You'd think they would have thought of that as their choice to donate to, but you'd be wrong.

It is a powerful movie and a lot of people have told me they understand PTSD a lot better than ever before.

Some veterans went to see it at the theater but most have been waiting to be able to watch it in the privacy, and security, of their own homes.  I am glad they are not making you wait too long to see it so that part is all good.  The rest, well, you'll see what I mean.

I removed the links to the "project" because I'm sure you know where to find them if you really wanted to. After all it must take a lot of money to "help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other" as if that isn't something veterans do for each other for free everyday!


“The best film of the year.”
 Kyle Smith, New York Post


Warner Bros. to donate up to $1 million to
Wounded Warrior Project
Burbank, CA, April 15, 2015 – From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” arriving onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on May 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production. “American Sniper” stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter. 

A two-time Oscar® nominee for his work in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Cooper stars alongside Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell. 

Oscar®-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) directed “American Sniper” from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The autobiography was a runaway bestseller, spending 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 13 of those at number one. 

The film is produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan. Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim, Steven Mnuchin and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.

American Sniper” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own American Sniper” via purchase from digital retailers.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will donate a portion of the proceeds across physical and digital sales to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). One dollar of each purchase will be donated up to $1,000,000 from April 21, 2015 through December 31, 2015, void in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and South Carolina. To get involved and learn more, visit 

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP’s life-saving programs and services, please visit  


From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter. 

Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.

Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. 


“American Sniper” Blu-ray Combo Pack & Two Disc DVD contains the following special features:
·         One Soldier’s Story: The Journey of American Sniper
Join director Clint Eastwood and his creative team, along with
Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, as they overcome enormous creative and
logistic obstacles to make a film that brings the truth of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's story to the screen.
·         Making of American Sniper


On May 19, “American Sniper” will be available for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on their favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, CinemaNow, Comcast, Flixster, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. “American Sniper” will also be available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

*Digital HD with UltraViolet allows fans to watch a digital version of their movie or TV show anywhere, on their favorite devices. Digital HD with UltraViolet is included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs. Digital HD with UltraViolet allows consumers to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through UltraViolet retail services like CinemaNow, Flixster, VUDU and more. For more information on compatible devices go to wb.com/ultravioletdevices. Consult an UltraViolet Retailer for details and requirements and for a list of HD-compatible devices.


PRODUCT                                                                            SRP
Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                               $44.95
Two Disc DVD Amaray (WS)                                               $28.98

Standard Street Date: May 19, 2015
DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French
BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese
DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French
BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Brazilian Portuguese
Running Time: 132 minutes
Rating: Rated R by the MPAA for strong and disturbing war violence and language throughout, including some sexual references.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.


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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Alyssa Some, 818/977-0074



I emailed them and didn't hear back so if you feel compelled to let them know how you feel about this, please use their contact information and let them know.