Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Veteran Suicides Older Than You Think

When you read something like this report about Amanda Lee Weyrick losing her battle with PTSD, it is easy to think OEF and OIF veterans are the only ones suffering.

Iraq veteran Amanda Weyrick was buried Thursday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, her once-promising life ruined by the effects of war, PTSD and a fatal infection likely driven by methamphetamine abuse, her family said.

A San Antonio native, she spiraled down after returning from deployment, serving a stint in prison, taking drugs and running in the wrong crowd.

Weyrick was tough, stubborn and tenacious, developing into a standout basketball player at Greenville High School and a top graduate in the Army’s MP course. There were signs of trouble, however, even in Iraq, where fellow GIs say she and other first-tour soldiers were hardened by war.

Family members share tales of her shooting insurgents in Diyala province, one of Iraq’s most violent areas, but fellow soldiers say she endured close calls but didn’t kill anyone. Back in Greenville, she wrestled with post-traumatic stress disorder and took meth and crack cocaine — all the while denying she had a PTSD or drug problem.
Since 2009, the number of veterans qualifying for government PTSD disability pay has nearly doubled, to 684,000. Studies show that one in every five veterans has PTSD, but only about 40 percent are even in the VA network.

What you do not think about is the fact most of those veterans are not OEF or OIF. They are older veterans suffering longer but mostly forgotten about.

It is great to have a story to make us think we're doing something about this growing tragedy for our veterans. Really nice to think we've done something good so reporters tend to paint a picture so that we don't actually stop to remember how long we've told ourselves a bedtime story of doing good when the outcomes have been so deplorable.

In the process, reporters and a lot of charities have turned other veterans into last on the to do list. This was reported by El Paso Times, Chris Roberts, in October of 2007. It is up on Wounded Times and still up on Veterans Today where you can read the whole article.
Two-tiered system of healthcare puts veterans of the war on terror at the top and makes everyone else -- from World War I to the first Gulf War -- "second-class veterans"
An internal directive from a high-ranking Veterans Affairs official creates a two-tiered system of veterans health care, putting veterans of the global war on terror at the top and making every one else -- from World War I to the first Gulf War -- "second-class veterans," according to some veterans advocates.

"I think they're ever pushing us to the side," said former Marine Ron Holmes, an El Paso resident who founded Veterans Advocates. "We are still in need. We still have our problems, and our cases are being handled more slowly."

Vice Adm. Daniel L. Cooper, undersecretary for benefits in the Department of Veterans Affairs -- in a memo obtained by the El Paso Times -- instructs the department's employees to put Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans at the head of the line when processing claims for medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, employment and education benefits...

Veterans Affairs officials say prioritizing war-on-terror veterans is necessary because many of them face serious health challenges. But they don't agree that other veterans will suffer, saying that they are hiring thousands of new employees, finding ways to train them more quickly and streamlining the process of moving troops from active duty to veteran status.

"We are concerned about it, and it's something we are watching carefully," said Jerry Manar, deputy director national veterans service for Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington, D.C. "We'll learn quickly enough from talking with our veterans service officers whether they're seeing a dramatic slowdown in the processing of claims."

Manar and Holmes said Afghanistan and Iraq veterans deserve the best care possible, but so do all other veterans.
This was also in the article.
In the past 18 months, 148,000 Vietnam veterans have gone to VA centers reporting symptoms of PTSD "30 years after the war," said Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, deputy commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He recently visited El Paso.

Now add this more recent report to the above
"Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide"

The worst thing for them to deal with in all of this is the simple fact they are responsible for everything the younger veterans have to help them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

VA Wants Money Back from Texas Iraq Veteran

Iraq War Veteran Stripped of Benefits For Wife and Daughter Because of the State They Live In 
IJ Review

An Iraq War veteran has been ordered to pay back the benefits she received from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) for her family.

The VA claimed the vet received them by mistake. According to The Advocate, Melissa Perkins-Fercha must pay back the federal money because she and her wife live in a state – Texas – which does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Perkins-Fercha, a disabled veteran, and her wife, got married in the state of Washington, in 2012. In 2014, her wife gave birth to their daughter. The VA covered Perkins-Fercha’s wife and daughter for less than a year.

Then they sent her a letter, informing the veteran that all of her benefits would be frozen until she paid back the money sent for her legally unrecognized family.
read more here

Military Sexual Assaults Not Forgotten By Vicims

We have unlimited access to knowledge today but if we settle for what some folks want us to know, we won't know much at all. That is the basis behind one issue veterans face after another. Some want to believe PTSD only hits the OEF and OIF veterans. That way they won't have to take a look at how many years this has all been going on while members of congress make a bunch of bullshit speeches that allow bad to turn into worse.

We also see it going on even know with speeches about military sexual assaults, as if anything has changed.

Never settle for what we're being told today without wondering how it got this bad. Reporters have a nasty habit of forgetting who did what and when they did it. Nothing will get fixed unless we really hold folks accountable. Never stop asking questions and when you get the answer, ask for more.

In 2012 there was a case where a female veteran had been waiting years for justice. How long? 50 years!
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A former Marine is coming forward with a painful secret.
An 80-year-old Portland woman says she was raped during her military service — and has been fighting ever since for the veterans benefits she says she deserves.

If you want to know why female veterans are fed up with what has been coming out of congress, begin with understanding this betrayal is far from new. All of these stories are on Wounded Times and when possible the link to the source is provided, still active and you can read the entire story.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a Monday letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harassment and assault of military women, especially in combat zones, is a “scourge” that needs to be eliminated.

Casey is particularly interested in how the military handles complaints from women in the National Guard and reserve, whose cases may be harder to investigate than those of women on full-time active duty and in the federal civilian workforce.

In the letter, Casey said he knows the military is trying to do more, but added: “I am still very troubled by a process that may dissuade many victims from ever coming forward with claims.”
From Reuters
Nearly 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical care from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department have suffered sexual trauma, from harassment to rape, researchers reported on Tuesday.

And these veterans were 1.5 times as likely as other veterans to need mental health services, the report from the VA found.
2009 New York Times James Dao, veterans had to pay after being assaulted.
The department is required to provide free care, including counseling and prescription drugs, to veterans who were sexually harassed or assaulted while in military service. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape.

But the Office of Inspector General at the department found this year that an outpatient clinic in Austin, Tex., had repeatedly charged veterans, mostly women, for those services. Based on concerns that the practice may be more widespread, the office decided to expand its review to a sampling of veterans health care centers and clinics nationwide.

An official in the office declined to comment, saying it does not discuss pending reviews. The official said the review would be made public when it was completed, possibly by October.

In a statement, the Department of Veterans Affairs said the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, which oversees the Austin clinic, was reimbursing patients who had been improperly billed. “Patients seen for military sexual trauma should not be billed for payment,” the statement said. “We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”
From RawStory report of 2011 based on what happened in 2009 when a female soldier was told by a military Chaplain the rape was God's will.
In February 2009, she reported for active duty training and, upon seeing her rapist, went into shock.

"She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain," the lawsuit reads. "When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that 'it must have been God's will for her to be raped' and recommended that she attend church more frequently."

From Army Times
The House Armed Services Committee adopted a series of new protections when it passed the 2012 defense authorization bill last week, and similar legislation was introduced Wednesday in the Senate by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., one of the cosponsors of the House sexual assault provisions, said introduction of a Senate bill “will help move this legislation closer to becoming law.”

The House and Senate initiatives are similar, drawn from recommendations of the 2009 final report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services to fix flaws in the rights and legal protections for assault victims.

Supporters said one in three women leaving the military report experiencing sexual trauma while in the service, but less than 14 percent of sexual assaults in the military are reported to authorities, and only about 8 percent of reported sexual assaults in the military are prosecuted.
2012 From Huffington Post
A U.S soldier committed a violent sex crime every six hours and 40 minutes in 2011, a rate far above that of the general population, the report found.

"This is unacceptable. We have zero tolerance for this," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, said at a press conference Thursday. "Army leaders take sexual assault seriously."

Chiarelli said the Army was confronting the problem by stepping up surveillance of barracks and cracking down on drug and alcohol abuse, a key factor in sexual assault.

CNN reported that women were being discharged under "personality disorders"
Stephanie Schroeder joined the U.S. Marine Corps not long after 9/11. She was a 21-year-old with an associate's degree when she reported for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

"I felt like it was the right thing to do," Schroeder recalls.

A year and a half later, the Marines diagnosed her with a personality disorder and deemed her psychologically unfit for the Corps.

Anna Moore enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and planned to make a career of it. Moore was a Patriot missile battery operator in Germany when she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and dismissed from the Army.

Jenny McClendon was serving as a sonar operator on a Navy destroyer when she received her personality disorder diagnosis.

These women joined different branches of the military but they share a common experience: Each received the psychiatric diagnosis and military discharge after reporting a sexual assault.

Earlier in the month, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., was one of the first to call for action in light of the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military.

“I am deeply outraged that today’s report released by the Pentagon indicates that sexual assault continues to be so prevalent today in our military,” Casey said in a May 7 statement.
And here we are after all these years.

2014 December report from the Washington Post
A recent VA survey found that 1 in 4 women said they experienced sexual harassment or assault. WASHINGTON — Thousands of female veterans are struggling to get health care and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs on the grounds that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by sexual trauma in the military.

The veterans and their advocates call it the second battle — with a bureaucracy they say is stuck in the past.

Judy Atwood-Bell was just a 19-year-old Army private when she was locked inside a barracks room at Fort Devens in Massachusetts, forced to the cold floor, and raped by a fellow soldier, she said.

For more than two decades, Atwood-Bell fought for an apology and financial compensation for PTSD, with panic attacks, insomnia, and depression that she recalls starting soon after that winter day in 1981.

She filled out stacks of forms in triplicate and then filled them out again, pressing over and over for recognition of the harm that was done.

And the Pentagon released data on Dec. 4 that showed that 62 percent of those who reported being sexually assaulted had experienced retaliation or ostracism afterward.

They have been waiting for someone to change things so that more victims won't have to remember what we've been allowed to forget.

President Obama Gets Credit For What President Bush Actually Did?

Reading an article on Breitbart about Rep. Ryan Zinke was stunning since it appears Edwin Mora decided to just follow along the rest of the crowd and give President Obama credit for something President Bush actually did.
The panel’s moderator asked Rep. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL Team Six commander, “You fought that war, would you have gone in knowing what we now know?”

“No,” candidly responded Zinke who led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq.

“I probably would not have gone, nor would I have left as soon as we did,” also said Zinke, later adding,“We left too soon and now we have to reengage.”

See, not only did President Bush start the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he actually ended US operations in Iraq before being replaced by the newly elected President Obama.
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary
December 14, 2008

President Bush and Iraq Prime Minister Maliki Sign the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement Prime Minister's Palace Baghdad, Iraq

PRIME MINISTER MALIKI: (As translated.) I'd like to welcome the President of the United States, President George W. Bush. I would like to welcome you here as a guest. You have stood by Iraq and the Iraqi people for a very long time, starting with the -- getting rid of the dictatorship, helping the Iraqis to fight terrorism.

President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki shake hands following the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement at a joint news conference Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, at the Prime Minister's Palace in Baghdad. President Bush said, " The agreements represent a shared vision on the way forward in Iraq."

Your visit today to Iraq, Mr. President, comes after the signing of the agreement between the two countries, which represents -- (audio drop) -- foundation and draws a road map that will govern and guide the relationship between the two states.

I believe that Iraq, we have performed and have done great work in a cooperative and integrated way in fighting terror. We have succeeded in Iraq, and we hope that efforts also around the world will succeed in defeating terrorism. Today Iraq is moving forward in every field. Through the new Iraqi political system we are working very hard through this, as well as developing the Iraqi economy, and reconstruction of Iraq. We are doing all of this in order for Iraq to restore its rightful place among nations and among the world, and away from the previous reckless policies that focused on wars with the previous regime.

The various political institutions have taken a very strong leadership position and the agreement was ratified, was approved by our political system, our parliament, and various institutions of the Iraqi government. They have approved and ratified the SOFA agreement and the withdrawal of American forces. We believe that these efforts culminated the height of real understanding and cooperation and friendship between Iraq and the United States. Now remains the part of implementing such an agreement. Now we are in the process of forming the proper committees that will carry out all elements of the various two agreements that were signed -- and I'm referring to the various fields, military, scientific, educational, commerce, as well as economic fields.

President Bush, you have played a very supportive role in achieving and concluding this agreement and prior to the actual date of starting to implement this agreement, in January 1, '09 we already start working through the United Nations Security Council we are in the process of drafting a resolution that will make it very clear that Iraq no longer represents a threat to world peace and security. And also a resolution that will set the basis for the protection of Iraqi financial capabilities and bring Iraq back to its rightful place among world communities.

Once again I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you, Mr. President. Once again I wish you a very joyful stay here in Baghdad and a safe trip back home.
We're also signing a Security Agreement, sometimes called a Status of Forces Agreement. The agreement provides American troops and Defense Department officials with authorizations and protections to continue supporting Iraq's democracy once the U.N. mandate expires at the end of this year. This agreement respects the sovereignty and the authority of Iraq's democracy. The agreement lays out a framework for the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq -- a withdrawal that is possible because of the success of the surge.
the link is still live and you can read the rest here

Whenever you read something be careful of what the article really says as much as what it doesn't say. A lot of smart people look really stupid when they believe something just because they want to.

Community Takes Action For Vietnam Veteran Jailed With PTSD

A Veteran’s Fight: TAKING ACTION, GETTING RESULTS for a Forgotten Hero
WHNT 19 News
FEBRUARY 26, 2015
Ron Buis came home from Vietnam with a Purple Heart, a Vietnamese Citation for Gallantry with Bronze and Silver stars, and a Gold Star from the Marines in lieu of a second Purple Heart.
He also brought with him the haunting memories of a horrible experience that would later manifest themselves as psychotic depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. From the records we could obtain, Buis was being treated for these issues a decade ago.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – WHNT News 19 is Taking Action on the behalf of a prisoner in the Madison County Jail. Ron Buis served his country with honor but now he’s serving time. We agreed to do his story because of the reason he’s behind bars.

Buis is charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling. It’s a felony, and he’s being held without bond. It’s not that Buis was outside shooting into someone else’s house. He was in his mobile home and the bullets traveled into the mobile homes near his. It happened on more than one occasion, too.

His friends tell us Ron wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. They say he was shooting at the voices in his head.

In 1967, Ron Buis was only 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marines. As a member of Alpha Company, First Battalion, First Marines, he saw plenty of combat in Vietnam, plenty of things he would seldom discuss.

“It’s frustrating. You feel really helpless, you know, somebody you love, and they’re suffering,” said longtime friend Kay Sewell.
“What we have is the VA that’s releasing these people out here in society that need help. And the overall society is at risk in addition to these men are at risk. And there’s no reason for that,” says Buis’ attorney, John C. Taylor of Huntsville. read more here

U.S. Army Sniper Veteran Couldn't Survive Home

If you are stunned by this report, don't be. It shows how the military has not been doing a very good job getting servicemen and women to understand what PTSD is and what it does, anymore than they explain to them how to heal. It shows how all these years of Congress passing bills claiming they understand how to do it, actually boils down to they don't have a clue.

When a veteran is a "helper" and tries to help others, you pay a price emotionally if you do not have the strength to begin doing it. If you want to help others, get stronger first the way you had to train to go into combat in the first place, preparing your body as well as your mind.

Next, don't be afraid to ask for help no matter how others seem to think you know it all. They will actually look up to you more considering you have more knowledge than they do but still need help from time to time.

We've lost too many advocates in this battle after war. Remember to be good to yourself so you can help even more veterans just like you.
How veterans are helping other vets fight against suicide
Mike Warren
Posted: Feb 26, 2015

This week the Central Texas community lost another veteran.

On Monday Brett Aycock, a U.S. Army sniper veteran, killed himself.

This is especially hard for the community because Aycock was actively involved in raising awareness about veteran suicides.

He'd recently been working with the WYSH Project, a group we have profiled several times on the Care Gorce that fights against military suicide.

We want to extend our condolences to Aycock's family and friends.

The WYSH project isn't the only group fighting against vet suicide. There is also a state-wide organization called the Military Veterans Peer Network.

Mike Warren caught up with Christopher Araujo to learn more about the organization.

Araujo is one of about 36 area coordinators with the Military Veterans Peer Network.

The group's formula to help struggling vets is simple: they are veterans too.

"I'm a combat vet, you're a combat vet, I understand what you're going through, I can help with what you're going through because I've been there. I've done it," Araujo said.

He says that method works in Central Texas because the rate of veteran suicides here is far less than the national average of about 22 a day.

He says he's never lost anybody, and he's sure not going to lose Darrell Garrett, despite his PTSD.

Garrett served in Iraq and it was his parents who contacted the peer network because Garrett was isolating himself and they were worried.

"There've been days where I'm sad I woke up but I've never made a plan. You feel alone. Nobody understands what you're going through," he said.
read more here
MyFoxAustin | KTBC | Fox 7 Austin | News Weather Sports

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some Veterans Don't Want "Thank You"

Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service 
New York Times
FEB. 21, 2015
It’s hard to assess how widespread such ideas are among the men and women of today’s generation. So, rather than try to sum up what invariably are many views on the subject, I’ll relate more of Mr. Garth’s story. He grew up in Florida, son of a Vietnam vet, grandson of a decorated World War II vet, himself a bit of a class clown who drank his way out of college and wound up working the docks. The Marines offered a chance to make something of himself and, despite his parents’ pleadings otherwise, to fight.
Hunter Garth, 26, a veteran who fought in Afghanistan: “I pulled the trigger. You didn’t. Don’t take that away from me.” Credit Daniel Borris for The New York Times
HUNTER GARTH was in a gunfight for his life — and about to lose.

He and seven other Marines were huddled in a mud hut, their only refuge after they walked into an ambush in Trek Nawa, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan.

Down to his last 15 bullets, one buddy already terribly wounded, Mr. Garth pulled off his helmet, smoked a cheap Afghan cigarette, and “came to terms with what was happening.”

“I’m going to die here with my best friends,” he recalled thinking. I didn’t know any of this — nor the remarkable story of his survival that day — when I met him two months ago in Colorado while reporting for an article about the marijuana industry, for which Mr. Garth and his company provide security. But I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service. 

“No problem,” he said. It wasn’t true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service? read more here
Linked from Army Times

Army Sgt Fights For Right To Bury Marine Dad At Arlington

Soldier fights for right to bury her father 
Military Times
By Karen Jowers, Staff writer
February 28, 2015

"I want him to be closer to me," said James, who plans to retire in Maryland. "And to me, Arlington is the ultimate cemetery. My dad was so proud of his service. That's all he talked about. He did four years, and you'd think he did 30. He loved the Marines."
A few years ago during a visit with her father, a Marine Corps veteran, in St. Louis, Army Sgt. 1st Class Yvette James asked about his burial wishes when that time came. "I said, 'I'm your only child.

What do you want me to do?' " she recalled. "He went to his room, got a folder, pulled out a copy of his DD 214, and said, 'All I want is to be buried with military honors.' " But James, who is stationed hundreds of miles away at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, found herself plunged into an intense month-long family battle when her father, Clinton Brownlee, died Jan. 25.

James contends she was wrongly excluded from the burial planning largely due to her military service, even though under Missouri law she has the right to make those decisions as Brownlee's primary next of kin and only child.

A funeral home had allowed James' cousin to make arrangements for the service and burial — even after James had faxed the home a letter expressly denying permission for her cousin to do so.
read more here

PTSD? Don't Settle For Comfortably Numb, Heal Instead

Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?

Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
Well, I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again

I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again

I can't explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

I have become comfortably numb

Just a little pin prick
There'll be no more aaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick

Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working, good
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on, it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone

I have become comfortably numb.
The meaning behind the lyrics of Comfortably Numb

Stop being comfortably numb and start healing! You can get better. You are not trapped as you are today and yes, tomorrow can be better than today. PTSD is caused by something that happened to you, not something wrong with you. You just feel things more deeply and got hit harder.

While there is no cure for PTSD, that doesn't mean you are stuck suffering the way you are right now. You can change again and live a better quality of life.

I've seen the worst of what PTSD can do but on the flip side, I've seen the best veterans can do and usually it has been about doing something for others. Amazing how that works!

Sarah Palin Needs Military History Lesson, Quick!

This generation? Is she kidding? Palin repeated the same old line of this generation being different from others.


Among the number of those committing suicide as Palin stated to be "23" they are not even close but the majority of those veterans are over 50 Gulf War veterans, Vietnam veterans who pushed for everything done on PTSD, and Korean veterans as well as WWII veterans. Palin also didn't even bother to mention that the Congress is responsible for passing laws, rules and funding the VA along with holding people accountable.

Yep, ain't happened in generations.

Sounds like a painful speech Palin should have had Tina Fey read. Wouldn't have been a lot less draining on the ears. Oh by the way, the front of the line has been older veterans waiting even longer for everything she talked about for the newer generation.

Sarah Palin forgot that "he who sent them" was George Bush and he didn't have plans or any intention of getting the VA ready for the growing needs of our veterans. Again, history can't be changed and we know what the history of congress is when it comes to our veterans.

Palin also said that Afghanistan is the longest war. Not true either.
But the official start of the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, set by the Defense Department in 1998, is Nov. 1, 1955, when the Military Assistance and Advisory Group was established in Saigon. The official end of the Vietnam War for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ purposes is May 7, 1975. Matching that with the DoD start date would make the Vietnam War 19 years, six months long.

Vietnam Memorial Wall
The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956.
The last American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident.
Others list Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove and Danny G. Marshall as the last to die in Vietnam. These three US Marines Corps veterans were mistakenly left behind on Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez incident. They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are located on panel 1W, lines 130 - 131.
Congress has had since 1946 to get the veterans in this country taken care of so the sum of all these years is, as many veterans claim, "delay, deny and wait til they die" and politicians just keep making speeches like the one Sarah Palin made.
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives was authorized by enactment of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, which was entitled "Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946." Section 121(a) of this Act provides: "there shall be elected by the House at the commencement of each Congress the following standing committees": Nineteen Committees are listed and No. 18 quotes: "Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to consist of 27 Members." This Act has since been amended so that there are now 22 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives. The number of Members (Representatives) authorized to serve on each Committee has been changed from time to time. There are currently 29 members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

UPDATE From Washington Post
Sarah Palin’s inaccurate claim about suicides of veterans of the ‘war on terror’
There also were “significant limitations” in using death certificates, researchers noted. This is mainly due to the inclusion of people who were incorrectly identified as veterans on death certificates.

An updated report with data from at least 44 states is scheduled to be released this summer. The VA, CDC and Department of Defense also are working on a larger study that is expected to be the most comprehensive review of veteran suicides rates and trends.

While researchers and advocates need to know as much information as possible many things stand out and honestly, freak us out!

First, they will never really know the true count. Too many variables. Was it an accidental overdose or on purpose? Was it a true single vehicle accident or on purpose? Was the individual a member of the military or just a claim made on the form or omitted from it?

One more factor we don't talk about is that PTSD comes with a huge array of health issue from heart failure due to the stress associated with it and an ever growing list of illnesses set of by PTSD.

Ok, so not one more, add in TBI. Some still haven't figured out the two are not the same. PTSD strikes after the event caused shock and TBI happens during it when the bombs blow up and a brain is mushed around in a scull. Some suicides should be tied to TBI as well.

Whatever the finding, the conclusion is, there are far more suicides now when more is being done and that is inexcusable, but what makes all this worse is, no one really mentions that nothing about what combat does is new.

These are the numbers of Vietnam veterans who committed suicide when no one was paying attention.
According to a study by Tim A. Bullman and Han K. Yang in the Federal Practitioner 12 (3) : 9-13 (March 1995), “…no more than 20,000 Vietnam Veterans died of suicide from the time of discharge through the end of 1993″. However there are others that claim that many more veterans have died of suicide since the Vietnam War. In Chuck Deans’ book, Nam Vet., printed in 1990 by Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon, 97226, the author states that “Fifty-eight thousand plus died in the Vietnam War. Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.” According to this book, Chuck Dean is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the 173rd Airborne, arriving in Vietnam in 1965. At the time the book was written, Mr. Dean was the executive director of Point Man International, a Seattle based, non-profit support organization dedicated to healing the war wounds of Vietnam Veterans.

But hey why bother remembering Vietnam veterans? After all, they are the ones who pushed for all the research into what was happening to them, just like all generations before them and they knew, for sure, all generations coming after them.

MOH for Kyle "See it as a political posturing"

Effort to get Chris Kyle the Medal of Honor under fire by veterans
The Washington Post
Dan Lamothe
February 27, 2015

A Texas congressman introduced legislation on Thursday to get “American Sniper” Chris Kyle the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in Iraq. As Checkpoint already explored, it’s highly unlikely it will happen. But the effort is also under fire from some who have served and see it as a political posturing.

The military blog This Ain’t Hell weighed in on the subject Friday. Army veteran Jonn Lilyea wrote that while he defends Kyle’s legacy in combat, the Navy SEAL has never been considered by the Navy for the nation’s top award recognizing combat valor.

Williams introduced the legislation two days after Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh was convicted of murdering Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, on Feb. 2, 2013 at a gun range in Texas.

read more here

While the Washington Post didn't think the Representative's name was important, This Ain't Hell did.
Texas Congressman Roger Williams
And here's the quote from NBC News
“Chris gave the ultimate sacrifice and served his nation with distinction and bravery while saving countless American lives,” Williams said in a statement obtained by NBC News. “There is no doubt that this true American hero is worthy of our nation’s highest military honor."

For a second there I thought they were talking about Brian Williams.

Honoring Kyle's service is one thing, but this is what the Medal of Honor stands for along with the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross, which can also be found on the link.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the United States government. It is presented by the President of the United States, in the name of Congress, and is conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty:
While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States;
While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
There are three distinct versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard).

And there is a process after that.
Recommendation Process

Veterans Welcomed Home At Lake Nona VA Hospital

Lake Nona VA Hospital Welcome Home February 28, 2015
Welcome Home at the New Orlando VA Medical Center, Lake Nona!  Sat. Feb. 28 - The Orlando VA Medical Center presents its 2015 Welcome Home and Cruisin' Event, at the new Lake Nona VA Hospital and Clinic, 13800 Veterans Way, Orlando, FL   32827.   Make plans to attend on Sat. Feb. 28, from 10 am to 2 pm.   The event will host Employers & VA Resources; a display of vintage cars, Motorcycles & Trucks; Tours of the New VA Hospital & Clinic; Raffle Prizes; Fun for the Entire Family.  
And then drizzle turned into rain
Janet Murray Ph.D Clinical Psychologist, Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator

Little Rock VA Changed Dates of Veteans Claims

Report: Data manipulation confirmed at Little Rock VA
By Elicia Dover, Reporter
Feb 27, 2015
"Among the 43 rating-related claims, 1 claim was 20 years old, but the date of claim had been adjusted to make the claim appear 14 days old," the report stated.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Data manipulation has been discovered at the Veterans Affairs Little Rock Regional Office, according to a report.

One claim that was 20 years old, was changed to appear it was only 14 days old.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report Thursday saying their office had substantiated an anonymous allegation that the staff at the VARO in Little Rock manipulated data on veterans' benefit claims.

"The complainant alleged that adjusting the dates of claims was done to give the appearance that VBA was making more progress than it actually had in eliminating its backlog of disability claims," the report stated.

The report found the staff did so in compliance with the VBA Fast Letter, known as FL 13-10, in effect at that time. However, the letter was suspended on June 27, 2014, by the Under Secretary for Benefits after the Office of Inspector General determined staff were misapplying the guidance at another VARO. The VBA did not take action to terminate FL 13-10 until January 22, 2015.

"This guidance applied to 48 cases that maybe we overlooked something in the past and when we discovered it, we immediately took care of it," said Lisa Breun, Director of the Little Rock VA Regional Office.

The Office of Inspector General reviewed 48 cases, most of which were rating-related and involved if a veteran would get disability or not.

According to the report, an average of 1 year and 8 months elapsed between the date the VA received the claim, until the staff discovered the claim.
read more here
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Dying Marine Final Wish To Be Buried In Uniform

Marine Gets His Dying Wish The Oklahoma City V-A along with several veterans’ organizations came together to not only honor his final wish but also to pay his funeral expenses and give him an honor guard.

“That he was ready to go and that he was at peace and it was O.K. and he said ‘I don’t want you guys to be sad I want you guys to keep going and keep helping people’,” said Cleary.
Beloved dying Marine had one final wish
Marine requests to be buried with dress uniform, Marine Corps flag
By Rob Hughes
Feb 27, 2015
Loneman wanted his pallbearers to be Marines.
"He said I don't want you guys to be sad, I want you guys to keep going, and keep helping people," said Cleary.
OKLAHOMA CITY —A dying Marine had one final wish. He wanted to be buried in uniform, along with a Marine Corps flag.

"He had a good heart. He had a great sense of humor," said Christine Cleary with the Oklahoma City Veteran's Affairs Medical Center.

Donnie Loneman loved being a Marine. He was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Doctors gave him three weeks to live.

Shortly after that, Loneman moved to Oklahoma City. He was fighting his demons. Christine Cleary with the VA homeless program worked to get Donnie off the streets.
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Marine Veteran Stood Up to Teenager Robbers So They Killed Him

Former marine gunned down by teenage thugs after standing up to them in Brooklyn: cops 
Friday, February 27, 2015,
Alexander Manning was fatally shot in the chest when he stood up to four teens outside his East Flatbush apartment on Sunday evening, according to cops.
A former marine who served eight years for his country was killed by a group of gun-toting teens when he refused to let them rob him in front of his Brooklyn apartment, police and his family said Thursday.

Alexander Manning, 52, went by the nickname Peanut because of his small stature as a child, but he cast a long shadow to his friends and family, relatives said.

“He was a Marine before he became a Marine,” his sister, Olivia Manning, 50, one of seven siblings, told the Daily News. “At 12 years old, he said ‘I’m the man of the house.’

Just from a young age, he stepped up.” That gusto is likely why Manning stood up to four teens who tried to rob him just steps from his modest apartment on E. 52nd St. near Winthrop St. in East Flatbush around 8:45 p.m. Sunday, family said. When Manning resisted, one of the teens opened fire, fatally striking him in the chest, cops said.
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