Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides

U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides even after all these years of the DOD saying they were taking care of the men and women serving this country. Even after suicides and attempted suicides went up. Even after even the "toughest" of the tough suffered. Anyone know what is going to change? How to change it? Who is accountable for it?

Joe Miller, then an Army Ranger captain with three Iraq tours under his belt, sat inside his home near Fort Bragg holding a cocked Beretta 40mm, and prepared to kill himself.

Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann, 25, of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, killed himself June 28 (2011) at Lewis-McChord. Staff Sgt. Hagemann had orders to return to Afghanistan for a ninth tour of duty.

Crowley-Smilek, 28, a former U.S. Army Ranger who suffered from combat stress and physical injuries from service in Afghanistan, was dead; shot multiple times by a police officer outside the Farmington municipal offices on U.S. Route 2.

Staff Sgt. Charles Reilly, is a Special Forces soldier who has been deployed six times in the past decade. She said psychiatrists have diagnosed him with PTSD, and he's assigned to Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion, where soldiers recover from physical and mental wounds.

Sgt. Ben Driftmyer was discharged and betrayed. Survived.
"I had spent eight years serving the military. I never got in trouble. Never did anything bad. And I got treated like I was a piece of crap because of it," said Ben Driftmyer, discharged U.S. Army Sergeant and Cottage Grove resident. Driftmyer was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by Eugene doctors after he was chaptered out from the special forces unit in Baghdad. He suffered several mental breakdowns during his service, but his discharge was classified as "other than medical." "Because the military didn't want to pay for me for the rest of my life," said Driftmyer.

Chief Petty Officer Jerald Kruse, served 19 years in the Navy. He was a SEAL, an elite warrior sent to fight in some of the toughest situations around the world, including in Iraq. “His problems really began in ’05. That’s when I really began to notice something was wrong,” she said. He drank excessively, stayed up all night and lashed out at her and their three kids.

Navy Cmdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, died Saturday while serving as the commanding officer of SEAL Team 4, a special warfare unit based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Navy SEAL Robert Guzzo returned from Iraq, he feared seeking treatment for PTSD would endanger his career.

U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides: admiral
TAMPA, Florida
Thu Apr 17, 2014

(Reuters) - Suicides among U.S. special operations forces, including elite Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, are at record levels, a U.S. military official said on Thursday, citing the effects of more than a decade of "hard combat."

The number of special operations forces committing suicide has held at record highs for the past two years, said Admiral William McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command.

"And this year, I am afraid, we are on path to break that," he told a conference in Tampa. "My soldiers have been fighting now for 12, 13 years in hard combat. Hard combat. And anybody that has spent any time in this war has been changed by it. It's that simple."

It may take a year or more, he said, to assess the effects of sustained combat on special operations units, whose missions range from strikes on militants such as the 2011 SEAL raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden to assisting in humanitarian disasters.
read more here

Vet with PTSD lawsuit settled for $3.1 million

Vet with PTSD to receive $3.1 million from government
Times Tribune
Published: April 19, 2014

Fifteen months after he was awarded $3.7 million in a federal lawsuit, a Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will receive all but roughly $600,000 of the verdict after the government agreed to drop most of the issues it raised on appeal.

Stanley Laskowski III of Carbondale and his wife, Marisol, filed suit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, alleging medical officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Twp. improperly treated his PTSD for years, causing it to worsen.

The case went before Senior U.S. District Judge James Munley for a nonjury trial in September 2012. In a 69-page ruling issued in January 2013, the judge agreed doctors made numerous errors in treating Mr. Laskowski, 36, and awarded him $2.4 million for past and future lost earnings and $1.2 million for pain and suffering. Mrs. Laskowski was awarded $140,615 for loss of her husband’s companionship.
Mr. Laskowski receives disability based on his PTSD. The government argues the value of those future benefits over his projected lifetime should be deducted from the award. Mr. Brier said he opposes that because there is no guarantee Mr. Laskowski will continue to receive the benefits as disability determinations undergo periodic review and payments could be halted in the future.

Regardless of the outcome of that dispute, Mr. Brier argued, and the government agreed, the portion of the verdict that is not in dispute should be paid. The 3rd Circuit Court on Thursday approved the request.

“This court order is a tribute to the Laskowski family’s perseverance, courage and faith in each other and the judicial system,” Mr. Brier said in a prepared statement. “This partial victory permits these American heroes to start to rebuild their lives.”
read more here

Marine's family allowed to sue VA after suicide and being turned away twice

Apr. 18, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The family of a Marine who killed himself after a tour of duty in Iraq will be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against the federal government over his treatment by two Veterans Affairs facilities in Kentucky.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that the lawsuit brought by the family of 21-year-old Cameron Anestis of Georgetown shouldn't have been dismissed. Anestis' widow, Tiffany Anestis, sued the federal government in 2011, seeking $22.5 million in damages after her husband developed mental and emotional problems.

"You're just shocked," said Al Grasch, the attorney for the Anestis family. "The VA turned him away, not once, it turned him away twice."

Anestis' family claimed the VA was negligent when it turned away the Marine at two VA hospitals in Lexington when he sought a mental health evaluation and treatment.

A spokesman for the VA declined to comment on the pending litigation.
read more here

Fort Drum Soldiers in Afghanistan Running Marathon in Remembrance

Fort Drum soldiers to run shadow Boston Marathon in Afghanistan
Watertown Daily Times
From left, Capts. Mike Giaquinto, Matt Peterson and Stephanie Stuck of the 101st Airborne Division pose with Boston Marathon shirts in Afghanistan before today’s running of a shadow race comparable to the Boston Marathon.

Days before runners take to the streets for the Boston Marathon on Monday, deployed Fort Drum soldiers and other military personnel will take part in their own version of the iconic race today in Afghanistan.

Rather than the windy roads by sites like the Ashland clock tower and Boston College, or the crushing climb of Heartbreak Hill, 600 entrants from a range of units and countries will run 26.2 miles on the roads of Bagram Airfield.

This year’s race was organized by Capt. Lukasz Willenberg, a chaplain in the 10th Mountain Division’s headquarters who ran in Boston last year.

The Barrington, R.I., native completed the race, for a fourth consecutive year, about two hours before a set of bombs went off near the race’s finish line at Copley Square.

After a beautiful day of running and beating a personal best time, “all the magic of that day was ruined.” Capt. Willenberg said he and other entrants planned to run in honor of soldiers who have died in Afghanistan, along with victims of last year’s bombings in Boston.
read more here

Fraud Charities May Not Be What You Think

Fraud Charities May Not Be What You Think
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 19, 2014

Having posted about a lawsuit from Wounded Warrior Project Help Indiana Vets Responds to Wounded Warrior Project lawsuit against them I started to think that it is a good time to think about what the word "fraud" actually should mean to us when it involves charities.

I am State Coordinator of Point Man International Ministries for Florida. We are a non-profit started in 1984 in Washington to help Vietnam veterans. Since then we have been helping all veterans and their families.
“ To connect the hurting veteran as well as their families and friends with others who have already begun the transition home after war. With Jesus Christ as our focal point it is our desire is to provide spiritual and emotional healing through our existing Outpost and Home Front system.”
PMIM is run by veterans from all conflicts, nationalities and backgrounds. Although, the primary focus of Point Man has always been to offer spiritual healing from PTSD, Point Man today is involved in group meetings, publishing, hospital visits, conferences, supplying speakers for churches and veteran groups, welcome home projects and community support. Just about any where there are Vets there is a Point Man presence. All services offered by Point Man are free of charge.

Its ok that most of us operate out of our pockets and the kindness of someone with a building to allow us to hold meetings. Frankly we don't do much fundraising simply because what we do does is not expensive. How much does it cost to talk to someone in crisis on the phone? How much does it cost to have a cup of coffee or a sandwich with someone needing to talk? Or send emails? Or offer a hug at an event? It doesn't even cost much at all for us to buy Bibles written for combat veterans.

I work temp jobs because I have to cover my cell phone, travel and paying back student loans is hard. I went to Valencia College for Digital Media to be able to film local events and put them up on YouTube because the press wasn't interested most of the time. What I do is done out of love and everyday you read some of it here but most of the time, you won't ever hear about the veterans and family members I help all the time because that is private. It is up to them to talk or not and I will not betray that trust.

Our charity is one that has been out there for 30 years doing the work we claim to do but most people never heard of us. It is all word of mouth.

Some charities have become huge operations but do not spend money on professional fundraisers. One of them close to my heart is Patriot Guard Riders

Our Mission

“The Patriot Guard Riders is a 100% Volunteer, Federally registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and Honorably Discharged Veterans.”
Our Vision
The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security including Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and Honorably Discharged Veterans. If you share this respect, please join us.

We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn't matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect.

Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives:
1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
2. Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.
We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.

To those of you who are currently serving and fighting for the freedoms of others, at home and abroad, please know that we are backing you. We honor and support you with every mission we carry out, and we are praying for a safe return home for all.

There are some others doing what they say they are doing as well. Nothing is really free and someone always has to pay something besides their time. There is always some kind of bill to pay, so charities need to raise some funds to cover expenses. Then there are others that never say what they are doing. Some folks seem to think that makes them a "fraud" but that word gets misused a lot.

If a charity says they are raising funds to buy cars for veterans, but you discover they are the only ones getting the cars, is that fraud? No. If they are all veterans, then they didn't lie. You just didn't ask how they decide which veterans get the cars bought with the money you gave.

If a charity says they are supplying transportation for homeless veterans and you discover they were buying bikes with the money, that doesn't mean it was fraud. You just didn't ask what kind of transportation they were talking about.

If they said they were buying cars for homeless veterans but gave a bike or kept the cars for themselves, then that would in fact be a fraud. They did not do what they said they were going to do with the money you gave.

It is always up to us to find out what the truth is before we give any money to them. Don't just assume you know or that they are truthful. If you discover they were not what you thought they were, it could be their fault and they lied or your fault because you didn't check them out first.

Help Indiana Vets Responds to Wounded Warrior Project lawsuit against them

You may remember reading in November Wounded Warrior Project Sues Veterans Charity "Help Indiana Vets." Dean Graham sent out an email to update everyone one what has happened since then. This action was covered all over the internet after Courthouse News reported on the lawsuit. Most of the links are still active including this one on FOX 59 National veterans’ charity sues local Indiana veterans’ charity
Wounded Warrior Project Complaint
Exhibit C has images from comments left on Facebook. Exhibit D is the lawsuit.
To: All,
Below you will find my opposition to Wounded Warrior Projects preliminary injunction.

Here is my declaration also filed today.
As of now there is no gag order issued.

I am willing to discuss this lawsuit until a gag order is issued.
Dean Graham
US Army Retired
(317) 610-9779

Declaration of Dean Graham
​​​​​​​​​Exhibit 1
I, Dean Graham, state under penalty of perjury as follows:
1. I first would like to point out when the website was still operational (HIVI), I always had a disclaimer for people, stating clearly “I Leave it up to all Americans to investigate on your own; do not take my word for it ”The disclaimer can be seen on (WWP’s Exhibit B“Wounded Warrior Project is a Fraud”, Letter, Bullet #8) Webster’s dictionary says a fraud is defined as “: the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person: a person who pretends to be what he or she is not in order to trick people: a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people”. I further believe it is a provocative word and have apologized for using this word to describe WWP.

2.I am going to reply to some of the accusations leveled by Mr. Steve Nardizzi in his DECLARATION dated (November 26, 2013) using the corresponding numbers and letters to match his statements:
10.a. “(WWP) commercials do not mention anything (WWP does) to help the injured service members….”) the following commercial is the most commonly played on T.V. http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7Iio/wounded-warrior-project alan-featuring-trace-adkins.

I have listened to this commercial over and over and still do not understand what exactly they did if anything to help Alan. WWP does however show the most horrible pictures of our injured veterans, just like the ASPCA commercials for animals. Our heroes deserve much better treatment and are not pieces of meat to parade around our TV screens. WWP has recently adjusted their commercials to try and show a different light on the solicitations. I personally believe this lawsuit is the reason for these positive changes. I will be happy when not one more dime goes to any place, thing or person who does not directly help the injured veterans.

10. b. ”(WWP) has many paid board members; this is not legal according to their own company bylaws.”

This statement makes reference to a lavish trip that took place atthe Broadmore in Colorado. I was in no way implying they are directly paying their board members.

10. c. “(WWP) has multiple board members and employees who are former Veterans Administration employees, including the former head of the Veterans Administration. This allows the WWP to tap into federal grants that may not otherwise be available.”

In my exhibit # 5 it clearly shows Board Member Anthony Principi who is the Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs. This coupled with a paid lobbyist also contained in the 990, this leaves plenty to speculate. I would question why WWP needs a lobbyist in congress when you have so many veterans committing suicide each day over financial distress?

The Veterans Administration is over 2 years behind on compensation and pension claims for our heroes in Indiana. If WWP is lobbying for faster times in the V.A.it is not working. I really should leave it up to the proper agencies that look into these type organizations to investigate. If this lawsuit has taught me anything so far it is surely never follow your heart and soul into what you believe in, even when you are armed with the truth.

10. d. “(WWP) uses the Non-Disclosure agreements with actors and employees to keep them from the truth about where the money actually goes.”

I responded to this charge in the “Opposition to WWP’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction”.

10. e. “(WWP) is a for profit business, working under the umbrella of a non-profit. I believe they should be exposed for what they really are”

I made this statement after looking at WWP’s own 990 tax information, for example when you have total net assets of $36,392,589.00 in 2011 and total net assets of $101,438,851.00 in 2012 this return sounds more like a for profit. I know WWP has tried so hard to debunk these facts, but facts do not lie. Again I pose the question to the Court, why would a Non-Profit helping veterans end up with that much money in the bank at the end of the year?

10. f. (WWP) “Many caring people are duped into donating to WWP, believing their donations will really help injured veterans…Wounded Warrior Project is a fraud… that needs to be investigated immediately.

I continue to believe people need to look into the financial workings of WWP. I am not a tax professional, but I do have two eyes and my two eyes clearly show me either the Non-Profit laws allow non-profits to hoard bunches of money collected to helped injured veterans or the law does not allow it and it will be exposed in due time. I have not had one single person tell me after looking at WWP’s tax return they feel comfortable with what they do with their donations. People are pulling their donations because of this surplus, and I repeat once more too many of my brothers and sisters are committing suicide each day, when just a few dollars could have helped them. I would like to say that WWP and I have the same goal in mind for Veterans but this lawsuit has showed me that money does decide who lives and who does not live to fight another day. I would not change one thing about the exposure WWP received, they deserved for people to know where the money goes.

10.g. (WWP) is pulling the biggest Oke Doke ever pulled on the American Public.

I feel WWP has kept many good non-profits from getting off the ground by using an aggressive campaign of commercials, radio, movies, phone calls, mailings to solicit donations thus stripping funding for other great non-profits, without telling people what they really are donating for. The fact WWP currently holds approximately $100,000,000.00 in the bank as of 2012, is simply pitiful for those veterans waiting on compensation and pension decisions from the Veterans Administration. I believe there is no telling what this year’s tax return will show. I do believe, their own 990 tax form cost them whatever they lost, not my comments. I am a part of the American Public and I think this is not right. So many Americans want to help service members, I tell them to help a veteran directly so they know it made it directly to a hero.

10. h. (WWP) will not go quietly and has an army of lawyers on staff to punish all those who try and expose WWP.

I find this the easiest to prove as true, WWP has listed an army of lawyers on this case against me. During the last phone conference they had no less than six different people listening in. They are going to keep their cash cow on the backs of our nation’s heroes going for as long as they possibly can. I have not spoken one lie and would like to point out some inconsistencies in Mr. Nardizzi’s own declaration that WWP is not using donor funds to pay for legal expenses, when on their 990 they clearly show legal fees paid to the very law firm Kutak Rock who is prosecuting this case.

Smoke and mirrors will only work when the mirror is not broken. I do not trust Wounded Warrior Project and I believe their mirror has been broken. Their time has gone and this court can set the precedent for American and put non-profits like WWP on notice they will be held to a much higher standard. WWP is full of our nation’s heroes; I still cannot put my finger on why they would not come forward and agree with me. Could it be a Non Disclosure stands in the way or maybe the salaries and lavish outings are just too much to give up. I have given up my fight to expose them, and I am sure no matter the ruling in this court they will find some way to spin it to fit their needs and desires.

Dean Graham Dated
Dean Graham
U.S. Army Retired

Florida is looking at huge charities because of reporting done on some of the worst cases.
Non Profit Quarterly
Current state law requires charities to register, but not much else; the Herald says that the proposed legislation is sweeping, and includes in its proposals:

All charities will have to provide additional information, such as the names of their leaders, contact information and financial reports.

The state’s Division of Consumer Services will create an interactive database on its website to list information about each nonprofit, including any violations of state law.

Charities that fundraise more than $1 million a year will have to provide audited financial reports.

Nonprofits that receive more than $1 million but spend less than 25 percent on programming will have additional disclosure requirements: employee salaries, fundraising expenses, and details of family relationships with any business partners.

Non-profits that raise less than $25,000 a year, or have religious, education, or government exemptions, will have fewer requirements.

The state will have the right to ban nonprofits from operating in Florida if they are found in violation of regulations in other states.

Charities that emerge due to a natural disaster or tragedy and raise more than $100,000 will have to submit quarterly financial statements.

There will be new oversight of professional fundraisers, with the same requirements now required of telemarketers—a licensing fee and fingerprints for background checks, with people convicted of theft or fraud barred from working as professional solicitors.
As you can see, charities do not have to spend all the money on the cause they are raising funds for. It is up to us to take a good long look at their ratings as well as their tax filings. It is not enough for us to just assume they are giving all our money the way we want them to.

When you see ads for the cause, especially on TV, someone is paying for that airtime. When you get contacted to donate to any charity, most of the time they are professional fundraisers. Someone is paying them to do it.

When I am contacted about WWP and the caller says they are a fraud I make it clear that they never say where the money is going or what they are doing. Guide Star gave them a Gold Star rating and reports their mission statement:
Mission Statement With the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering 20 unique programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war. Each year, WWP serves tens of thousands of wounded veterans and their families through programs that engage, nurture their minds and bodies, and encourage their economic empowerment. WWP serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wounded, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families. All WWP programs and services are offered free of charge.

Honor and Empower? Seems like that is being done pretty much for free all over the country topped off with the fact most of the time it is being done by Vietnam Veterans and their families. They are not included in on the veterans WWP will honor or empower.

Anyway, as you can see, they do not claim to be doing much at all. Their TV ads do not claim to be doing much either. I do not believe that qualifies this charity to be considered a fraud. If people can't read, research or pay attention, it is not WWP's fault. It is ours for getting a gushy feeling seeing the wounded on TV.

There are a lot of great charities out there. Search to read what they claim to do and who they do it for. Then decide if they meet your devotion. Want to help all veterans? Make sure they do as well. Want to help homeless veterans? Make sure that is what they are doing with the money. Want to help keep fundraisers in business? Check out how many money goes to them instead of the cause they are raising funds for.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Man charged with shooting on Kansas City highway is not a veteran

Man charged with shooting on Kansas City highway is not a veteran

Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings
Associated Press
April 18, 2014 (AP)

After nearly a month of reports of gunshots being fired at vehicles and more than 100 tips, authorities announced charges Friday against a Kansas City-area man suspected in connection with about a dozen highway shootings that wounded three people.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a news conference that 27-year-old Mohammed Whitaker, of Grandview, has been charged with 18 felony counts and was being held on $1 million cash bail. Baker said Whitaker, who had been under surveillance by police for about a week before his arrest, was charged with two counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and injuring a person, seven counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and nine counts of armed criminal action.

"This has impacted all of us, each side of State Line, each side of the river," Baker said. "It's been something that's been at the hearts and thoughts of all us since the day this case first broke."

Police Chief Darryl Forte declined to discuss a possible motive for the shootings, and the probable cause affidavit released Friday also does not address the issue. Baker's office said it was unclear whether Whitaker had a lawyer.

Whitaker's mother, Maria Dunn, 55, said she doesn't believe any of the charges against her son, who she said has always been "happy" and a "good kid."
read more here

VA drink refill cost veteran $525

SC man fined $525 for not paying for drink refill
Posted: Apr 17, 2014

An 89 cent drink refill that went unpaid is costing a South Carolina man $525. It happened at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Charleston. The Medical Center has signs posted saying drink refills are not free.

Christopher Lewis of North Charleston refilled his drink Wednesday, but neglected to pay. A federal police officer gave him a ticket that carries a fine of $525. Lewis said he tried to pay for it right then and there, but wasn't allowed to. Instead he was given the ticket and reportedly told not to return to the property.
read more here

"In reviewing the case, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has determined a warning in lieu of a citation is sufficient in this case," hospital spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael said. "The individual is not banned from the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center."

Jail time for woman after stealing money meant for homeless veterans

Woman gets 2 years for misusing $364K for homeless vets
The Tennessean
Maranda Faris
April 18, 2014

A Nashville woman was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to two years in prison for defrauding the Veterans Administration of more than $364,000 over three years.

Birdie Anderson, 55, received a $80,600 grant from the VA in April 2007 in conjunction with a program to house homeless military veterans. Anderson used the grant to buy a house on Kirk Avenue in East Nashville, but the house was foreclosed upon in 2009.
read more here

Upcoming Central Florida Veterans Events

April #2 list - Veterans, military and patriotic events in Central FL
This list includes additional events that have been added since the previous email of April 8.
If you wish to be removed from the email list, just let me know.
Please share these events with your friends and interested others and attend.  Post where appropriate.
Memorial Day - Groups are starting to think about planning ceremonies for Memorial Day.  Please consider coordinating them together or staggering event times.  Many people are interested in attending more than one and cannot because of time overlaps.  More people would be able to attend – strength in numbers.  Communicate your event info with your city and county veterans’ councils.
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Iron Pigs Nemour Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cancer Run – Sat. April 19 – Registration 10am with escorted motorcycles and all vehicles departing 12 noon.  Starting at Nemours Hospital, 13535 Nemours Pkwy, Orlando, 32827 and ending at Johnny’s Fillin’ Station, 2631 South Ferncreek Ave., Orlando, 32806.  Fine raffle items include leather recliner, 42” flat screen TV, and more.  Info:  ipmc.ezregister.com   ipmc@earthlink.net  321-230-1960.  (Sponsors include Orlando Harley-Davidson, The Fran Haasch Law Group, Metro-State Vehicle Protection Unit, Saxon-Clark Interiors, Fasen Arts.)
Children's Spring Festival – Sat April 19 – sponsored by American Legion Pine Castle Memorial Post 286 Family. 12 pm - 2 pm.  529 E Fairlane Ave. Orlando,  32809.  The public is invited to attend.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.  We look forward to having local children and youth attend for a free day of fun activities, treats and prizes.  The American Legion Post 286 Family "working together as one" is dedicated in our Mission to support community, active duty service personnel and veterans families in the local Orlando area. 407-859-1460 
4th Annual VFW District 18 Golf Tournament – Sat. April 19 – All are welcome to play which provides financial resources for the valuable Youth, Educational and Patriotic programs.  $100 hole sponsorships available.  District 18 covers 9 posts in Orange and Seminole Counties and Clermont.  The cost is $55/player, 4 per team, shotgun start at 8am at Sweetwater Country Club, 2700 Sweetwater Country Club Dr, Apopka, 32712.  A steak lunch is included and will follow at the Longwood VFW Post that 1.5 miles away.  Also included are prizes and good times!  Contact OIF Iraq veteran Terry Guthrie at 407-473-2507 or  dist18cmdr@flvfw.org
Dinner honoring recent Congressional Medal of Honor Award Recipient Melvin Morris – Sat. April 19 - Melbourne Regional Chamber and Veterans Resource Committee host this dinner to salute Congressional Medal of Honor Award Recipient  Melvin Morris, retired Sgt. 1st Class, U.S. Army.  This resident of Port St. John in Brevard County was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor - the country’s highest military honor – awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. More than four decades ago, Morris received the Distinguished Service Cross (the Army’s second-highest  commendation) for courageous actions on Sept. 17, 1969, while a staff sergeant during combat operations in South Vietnam. After a 2002 congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice, President Barack Obama awarded the Florida resident, now 72 yrs old, and 23 others including 2 other living warriors, the Medal of Honor at a special White House ceremony on Tuesday, March 18.  6-9 PM at Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, 200 Rialto Place, Melbourne, 32901.  $35 to Active Duty, Retired and Veterans with ID card or DD214;  $40 All Others.  Please RSVP ONLINE under the Events Tab at:www.MelbourneRegionalChamber.com   For Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Justin Anderson at (321) 724-5400 x233 orjustin@melbourneregionalchamber.com.
Job Fair by Hilton Worldwide - Mon April 21 - 11:30am-2:30pm hiring fair by Hilton Worldwide family of properties for local Guard and Reservist, veterans and military spouses.  Hilton Worldwide kicks off this heightened effort to fill actual job positions locally.  Hilton Lake Buena Vista at 1751 Hotel Plaza Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, 32830.  (Southwest Orlando – Disney Village area.) Free parking/validation. Info: Melissa Stirling, PMP Director, Military Programs Human Resources at (w) 703 883 5650 , (c) 703 819 4623 ormelissa.stirling@hilton.com
Warrior Aviation making Arlington Cemetery Fly over – Tues. April 22.  Warrior Flight Team flyover at 1pm in Washington DC area will consist of 4 Tactical Jets and 4 Historic Warbirds of the WW-II, Korean War Era flying in 2 four airplane divisions. All the airplanes have been donated by the owners with the flying pilots (all veterans themselves) donating their time as well.  Proper waivers, flight plans, and clearances have been obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service and FAA to perform this most honorable mission in this highly controlled airspace.  Budget cuts now require this honor to be performed by public instead of military resources.  Donations gratefully accepted to defray costs.  This event in particular honors the interment of USMC fighter pilot, Lt. Bruce A. Guetzloe, a warrior from WWII and Korea and father of local Orlando resident Doug Guetzloe.  www.warrioraviation.org    Also see:  fundly.com/warrior-aviation-arlington-flyover  Info: guetzloe@aol.com
FAVOB meeting – Wed. April 23 – Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses (FAVOB) at 4:30-6:30pm at Doc’s Streetside Grille, 1315 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando, 32806 – across from ORMC hospital.  Director’s meeting begins at 3:30pm – all are welcome, only directors may participate.  General meeting begins at 4:30 in upstairs/private dining room.  Networking, information.  Info:  Annie Artis,Secretary@FAVOB.org
United States Navy Construction Battalion (CB) State wide Convention - April 23 to 27 - Seabees gather from all over Florida at the Park Inn by the Radisson, at Orlando Celebration, 3011 Maingate Drive, Kissimmee, 34747.  The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing a myriad of other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. Find a WWII, Korean War, or any CB and invite them to attend. “Can do…Have done...Will do”   For registration and schedule see: www.florida-seabees.com   Also see the national group of Navy Seabee Veterans of America at  www.nsva.org 
RAFMAN Annual Fish & Chicken fry – Sat, April 26 - 12 noon - 5:30 pm. Retired Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy group holds this famously delicious fund raiser for scholarships at the Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center, 1723 Bruton Blvd, Orlando, 32805.  (North of I-4, exit 79 on John Young Pkwy, west of Columbia, south on Bruton.) $10 per person.  Donations appreciated!  Contact George Jordan at 407-841-8378.    www.rafmanclub@bellsouth.org 
Honor Flight Central Florida wants the following stated:
Honor Flight Central Florida Hero's Welcome Home – Sat. April 26 – “Come join us at Orlando Sanford Airport, 1200 Red Cleveland Blvd, Sanford, 32773 for a very special welcome home to a very special group of honorees. After a day spent in Washington DC, 72 WWII Veterans along with several Veterans that defended our nation in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Afghanistan will be returning home from their Honor Flight to our Nation's capital after viewing and reflecting at the memorials erected to them and visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The Honored Veterans and their Guardians are scheduled to return at 10:15 PM and members of the public are encouraged to assemble in the domestic terminal beginning at 9:45 PM. Bring your flags, banners and signs and show them your appreciation for their service to our Country. A 26 piece VFW band will be on hand to play patriotic music and 40's era swing music to entertain the crowd and play part in the welcome.
This is a chartered flight thru Allegiant Airline assigned flight number 4606. We encourage the public to call (702) 505-8888 to confirm arrival time.”
(Note from Cathy:  Or check the Allegiant Airlines website for arrival time.  There currently are no provisions for free parking.  Carpool if possible.)
Escort of Vietnam Memorial Wall – Sun. April 27 – Hundreds of motorcycles and other vehicles will escort the traveling wall of tribute to the fallen from service in Vietnam.  Starting at Brevard College, Cocoa Campus to Wickham Park, Melbourne.   8am gathering;  Hundreds of people lining the route of US1 with flags, horns and banners.  Wickham Park will be the site of the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion - the nations’ largest veterans’ reunion.  Starting on May 1 – 4 - military displays, military vendors, POW-MIA ceremonies.  Wickham Park in Brevard Co, Melbourne.  Take I-95 to Exit 191 or old Exit 73.  Check on line for schedule of events.  Info: floridaveteransreunion.com  321-501-6896 or 321-427-2843 
Honor Flight Welcome Home – Sun April 27 – After a day spent in Washington DC, a large group of 50 veterans of WWII, Korea and other service eras return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport.   The single day will be spent visiting the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witnessing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  The veterans and their assistants will return at about 9:00 pm.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! Southwest Airlines #4092 from Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Terminal A, Airside 2 (hotel area in front of Starbucks.) Free parking has been arranged at an off airport property with free shuttle to airport - Contact Cathy Haynes for those details NLT 7pm  -  407-239-8468   chaynes11629@yahoo.com 
USO Supporters Meeting – Mon April 28– 5-6:30 pm.  Continued updates on the new USO facility to be at Orlando Int’l Airport.  Opening is scheduled for this October 1.  These meetings discuss fund raising and the significance of USO.  Meeting at 851 Celebration Ave, Celebration 34747.
Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion – May 1 – 4 – The nations’ largest veterans’ reunion.  Military displays, military vendors, POW-MIA ceremonies, Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.  Wickham Park in Brevard Co, Melbourne.  Take I-95 to Exit 191 or old Exit 73.  Check on line for schedule of events.  Info: floridaveteransreunion.com  321-501-6896 or 321-427-2843
Medal of Honor Recipient Recognition – Fri. May 2 – Sponsorships Welcomed!  WWII Marine veteran Hershel Williams and recipient of Medal of Honor will be recognized in our community. He was involved in the battle on Iwo Jima that earned him the MOH – he is the last surviving recipient from the service on that island.  In addition, he is one of only 2 WW2 MOH Marines living.  The other noble Marine is in very frail health.  Plans for the day include a law enforcement escort from Orlando Int’l Airport to a Meet and Greet at the Museum of Military History. 12 noon – 1pm at 5210 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, 34746.  The evening highlights with a fundraising dinner (6pm – 10pm) and 40 minutes of Mr. Williams speaking.  Other MOH recipients are attending.  Cocktails, live entertainment and catered dinner at The Pines in Windermere.  Special commemorative cigars to be made on site.  $150 per plate; Discounted cost to $99 per plate if the person wears their military uniform to the event!  Proceeds going to several organizations - including the Hershel "Woody" Williams Foundation that will build a monument in honor of Gold Star Families.  (FYI - Before his enlistment, at age 15 Mr. Williams drove a taxi that also delivered telegrams from the War Department to casualty families.  It left him touched with what happens on the porches of the home front.)  Tables/sponsorships for the dinner are available.  Event flyer is available.  Contact Ron Mathis  407.894.5740   rdmcms001@gmail.com
West Orange Habitat for Humanity 5K run – Sat. May 3 – starts 8am at Oakland Presbyterian Church, 218 E. Oakland Ave., Oakland, 34760 (just west of Winter Garden.)  $30 by April 27 then $35 thru race day.  Event flyer available.  www.westorangehabitat.org  Sponsorship info: Alberto Herran at 407-592-1244.  (The West Orange Habitat for Humanity special project of Home At Last builds specially adapted homes for wounded military service members.) 
Caretakers M E 7th Annual Poker Run – Sat. May 3 – Motorcycle and other vehicles are invited.  Proceeds are given to various military groups:  Honor Flights, KISS (Kids In Support of Soldiers), JOSH (Just Our Soldiers helpers), Sentinels of Freedom and others.  Run starts and ends at American Legion Post 183, 2706 Wells Ave. Fern Park, 32730.   Raffle of an AR15 style 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle - comes with one (1) 30 round magazine and a 6x32 scope by UTG or $500 cash.  Tickets are $10 each with only 1000 tickets sold.  Registration begins at 8:30, Blessing of the Bikes at 9:30.  First Bike out at 10:00.  Last bike in at 3:00.  Poker Hands $10 for rider and $5 for passenger. (includes lunch) Info: Magi at 407.340.9780 or email magi@caretakersme.com
USMC Combat Correspondent's Association Florida Chapter Golf Tournament  – Fri. May 9 - This national organization with a foundation provides assistance to Marines who are in the public affairs field and other benefits to both active duty Marines, Reserve Marines, and Marine Veterans.  Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club in Davenport, near I-4 and Hwy 27.  Ceremonies begin at 8 am. Tournament fee of $65 entitles you to golf, cart, lunch and all the free Heineken product you can handle. Info:  www.usmcccaonline.com   email James “Red” Carpenter atJCar1@tampabay.rr.com.
Nam Knights of America and Semper Fidelis of America 3rd Annual Fund Raising Dinner – Sat May 10 – A 3 course dinner professionally catered by Le Cordon Bleu with live music. $100 per couple.  1451 N. County Rd 13, Orlando/Bithlo, 32820. (East side)  Proceeds go to Homes For Our Troops – this year for USMC Sgt Anthony McDaniel  www.nkorlando.org and www.semperfidelisamerica.org 
Fallen Floridians Memorial Cross Tribute – Fri May 16 - 385 crosses, one for every military member from Florida who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, will arrive on the grounds of the Lawton House  in Oviedo.  Larger crosses will collectively honor those who gave their lives in previous conflicts.  Each cross will hold a wreath created in 2013 by Eagle Scout 17-year-old Conner MacFarlane and refurbished by his 14-year-old sister, Chloe.  One of the crosses is in honor of their father who died in Afghanistan in 2012.  Chloe and fellow Girl Scouts from the Oviedo area will lay the wreaths.  There will be a special flag raising, wreath laying ceremony and prayer vigil that evening to honor our fallen military members.  The event starts at 6:30 PM and will be held at the Lawton House, 200 West Broadway, Oviedo, 32765.  From May 17 - May 27 the public is invited to walk the grounds of the Lawton House from 10AM to 8PM daily to see the crosses and pay tribute to these brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Armed Forces Day – Sat. May 17.  Fly your American and service flags proudly!  And thank an active serving regular, reservist, or guardsman!
The Military Edge Inaugural "Armed Forces Day" Golf Tournament – Sat. May 17, Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Club, 9939 Universal Blvd. Orlando, FL 32819 Fundraising event to benefit scholarship program, job expos, youth programs, and veteran projects .  Please contact Nik Patterson for additional details 513-898-9097  npatterson@themilitaryedge.com;   www.themilitaryedge.com
Armed Forces Day Golf Tournament – Sat. May 17 – 8am start at Wekiva Golf Club, 4100 Wekiva Club Golf Drive, Longwood, 32779.  $65 entry, lunch included.  Entry deadline May 13; send payment and list of players to Orlando VA Medical Center, Attn: Christine Breeze, 5201 Raymond St., Orlando, 32803. (Note: this event is not sponsored nor endorsed by Dept. of Veteran Affairs.)  321-397-6068
7th Annual Memorial/National Armed Forces Ride and Event – Sat. May 17 – Motorcycle/vehicle ride starts by Police escort at American Legion Post 101 and goes to the National Cemetery in Bushnell in commemoration of Armed Forces Day.  9am Registration ($15Driver or Non-rider, $10 Passenger.) Legion breakfast available. Ride ends at Stormy Hill Harley-Davidson, 2480 S Hwy 17, Clermont.  Activities, Big engine, Food, entertainment and more!  Everyone is welcome to the event!  Proceeds benefit Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and First 200 registerd receive “Freedom Isn’t Free” event T-shirt, lunch ticket, event bag, and raffle ticket.  Registration online at www.stormyhillharley.com  Sponsors , Vendors, or Info POC: Peggy 352-787-8050 x 21   gatorharleyevents@gmail.com
3rd Annual Hero Fest – Sun. May 18 – Military and first responders will be honored with multiple events at Old Town, 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, 34746.  www.myoldtownusa.com 
Memorial Day (Mon. May 26) and weekend event notices are pending.
4th Annual Pars & Stripes Forever Golf Tournament - Fri, May 30, at Orange County National.  Camaraderie Foundation organizes this fund raising event to assist military personnel and their families with counseling needs and transition.   Marriages, families and lives are saved. Sponsorships welcomed.  www.camaraderiefoundation.com    407-841-0071.
Honor Flight Welcome Home – Sat. May 31– After a day spent in Washington DC, 25 veterans of WWII and Korea return home thru Orlando Int’l Airport.   The single day will be spent visiting the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War Memorials, Marine Corps Iwo Jima and the Air Force Monuments, and witnessing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  The veterans and their assistants will return at about 9:45pm.  Come welcome these former warriors home!  Bring your flags, banners and signs! Southwest Airlines #1205 from Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Terminal A, Airside 2 (hotel area in front of Starbucks.) Free parking has been arranged at an off airport property with free shuttle to airport - Contact Cathy Haynes for those details NLT 7pm   chaynes11629@yahoo.com   407-239-8468.
American Legion, Dept of FL Annual Convention – June 12-15 at The Renaissance Orlando at Sea World.  Info: members.floridalegion.org/convention   Mary at 407-295-2631 x232
Flag Day – Sat. June 14.  Fly your American flags proudly.  Retire your faded, torn, or tattered flags, and replace them with flags made in the U.S.A. 
Flag Retirement ceremony – Sat. June 14 at the Orlando Scottish Rite Center.  Info pending.  Gather your neighborhood retired flags and bring them for proper disposal.
Caring and sharing,
Cathy Haynes
Member/supporter of numerous veteran and military organizations in Central FL

Military Religious Freedom Foundation wants to take right away?

Why do they forget this part of the First Amendment?
Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If no one is forced, then they should not try to take rights away from people. The only time I think this group is right is when the military forces anyone in matters of their faith.
Group calls for DoD to withdraw from Prayer Day event
Army Times
By Leo Shane III
Staff writer
April 17, 2014
Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein said senior Pentagon civilians and officers have complained to his group about military participation in a National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill.
(Courtesy of Mikey Weinstein)
Longtime critics of Christian conservatives’ influence in military culture are demanding the Pentagon back away from involvement in a National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill next month, saying it’s a thinly veiled rally for far-right fundamentalists.

In a letter to military leaders and the White House, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is asking officials not to provide speakers or ceremonial support for the event, which they argue would show favoritism and endorsement of evangelical Christians.

“The planned participation by uniformed U.S. military personnel in this private fundamentalist Christian religious event, run by a non-federal entity, is an unequivocally clear violation of [a] plethora of DoD regulations and instructions,” the letter states. “The U.S. military absolutely cannot endorse these searingly sectarian events by its public participation in them.”
read more here

Soldiers and Saddles helping veterans with PTSD

Bond between veteran, stable owner forms new program
By Erika Mahoney
Updated Apr 18, 2014

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The gentle movement of a horse's stride and fresh air can be relaxing and therapeutic, making it a healing activity for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.

After years of helping children with special needs and disabilities, the owner of Stable Movement founded the program "Soldiers and Saddles."

"I have a brother who has PTSD," Pedroso said. "So that was a reason why I decided to really get the ball rolling on the program Soldiers and Saddles."

Another reason -- a Vietnam veteran, Tom Wiser, who stumbled upon her stable four years ago. "I came up the hill here and I saw Theresa had horses here," Wiser said. "I stopped and said, 'do you need any help?'"

Wiser suffered a stroke from the chemical use of Agent Orange.
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Minnesota veterans avoiding Veterans Service Centers

Veterans forgoing use of county services centers across Minnesota
Star Tribune
Article by: PAUL LEVY
Updated: April 17, 2014

Across Minnesota, county veterans services officials have struggled with getting visitors.

Minnesota veterans who were deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan have returned to their families, friends, jobs or school. But rarely do they visit county veterans services offices — not even those vets with post-traumatic stress disorder.

County officials have tried to lure young veterans into these service offices through billboard and newspaper advertisements, brochures and word-of-mouth — usually with little success. In Fillmore County, center director Jason Marquardt alerted young vets to his officewhile telling them about a new veterans cemetery under construction in southeastern Minnesota — anything to get their attention.

Pride, resistance to government programs and a preference to use the Internet are among the reasons some avoid the services offices, officials say. And there is the simple matter of age.

“Let’s say you’ve just been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Milt Schoen, Hennepin County veterans services officer. “You are invincible. You’re always going to be strong. You don’t need to go to an office where somebody can tell you about benefits if you have PTSD.”

The centers provide an array of services, from helping vets complete forms for government-paid medical assistance to providing financial and mortgage advice to directing people to resources on health and other issues. And while younger veterans’ absence is more noticeable, it’s not only they who have eschewed the offices.

“The older veterans don’t want to come in because they think they’re taking away something from younger veterans,” Marquardt said. “The Vietnam, Korea or World War II guys either don’t want anything to do with government or don’t want to take anything.”
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Operation Red Dragonfly Veteran Health Outreach Mission

American Legion Post #1 Supports Veteran Health Motorcycle Outreach Mission
Portland Veterans support our annual ride to help educate Veterans.

(PORTLAND) - The American Legion Post #1 in Portland made a generous donation to Operation Red Dragonfly, Salem-News.com's Veteran Health Outreach Mission that is taking place for the second year in a row.

Salem-News.com editor Tim King will traverse the nation, giving talks about critical life and death issues affecting Veterans, their families, and all Americans.

In the video below, recorded Wednesday night in Portland at the American Legion Hall on SE 122nd, Tim gives examples of what his talks are about.
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Apr 17, 2014
The American Legion Post #1 in Portland made a generous donation to Operation Red Dragonfly, Salem-News.com's Veteran Health Outreach Mission that is taking place for the second year in a row. Salem-News.com editor Tim King will traverse the nation, giving talks about critical life and death issues affecting Veterans, their families, and all Americans.

In the video below, recorded Wednesday night in Portland at the American Legion Hall on SE 122nd, Tim gives examples of what his talks are about, the objectives including sharing information about deadly toxic base contamination, raising awareness of existing and developing answers for those who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, with an emphasis on lowering the rate of Veteran suicide, and other issues that have heavy impacts on the Veteran population in America, including Agent Orange, and the effects that toxin has on the children of Vietnam Veterans.