Friday, February 15, 2008

Congressman to visit Drum, discuss PTSD treatment

Murtha to 10th Mountain Division

WASHINGTON — The chairman of a House defense spending panel will visit Fort Drum next Friday to discuss the treatment of soldiers for disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rep. John R. Murtha, D-Pa., who heads the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, said he will meet with base commanders and Department of Veterans Affairs representatives as well as with soldiers and their families.

Mr. Murtha's plans follow reports of long waits for soldiers seeking psychological help at Fort Drum, which came on the heels of revelations that VA counselors stopped helping wounded soldiers navigate the bureaucracy in applying for disability benefits.

As a result, the Army and the VA signed an agreement this week spelling out each agency's responsibilities — a development Mr. Murtha acknowledged Thursday as progress toward addressing the issue identified in reports from National Public Radio.

Mr. Murtha said he wants to know more about how PTSD is being handled at Fort Drum, where the 10th Mountain Division is one of the most heavily deployed units to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pennsylvania congressman is one of the most influential lawmakers on defense issues and said the Drum visit is part of his career-long interest in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Asked if he had discussed the visit with Rep. John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, Mr. Murtha said, "Sure, we'll invite him."

Mr. McHugh said he expects to be unavailable that day, however, because of a family conflict. But he praised Mr. Murtha for making the visit and noted his influence directing money to military installations. And he said that personally, Mr. Murtha is a friend.

"Jack Murtha is always a good person to come calling," said Mr. McHugh, who added that he has accompanied Mr. Murtha at Fort Drum in the past.

A spokesman for Mr. Murtha said he would be accompanied by committee staffers but not by other lawmakers, unless Mr. McHugh is able to attend.

Defense officials have made the rounds in congressional hearings during the past week, noting efforts to improve care for wounded warriors and to smooth the transition from Army care to VA care. Among other measures, they have hired 300 additional mental health professionals and plan to hire more, officials said.

And more than 800,000 soldiers have been trained in recognizing signs of PTSD, they said, as the Defense Department tries to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental illness.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, of which Mr. McHugh is the ranking Republican and former chairman, was scheduled to address wounded service member services at a hearing today

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McCain is a "deficit Hawk" let the grand kids pay

Ignoring his costly policies on taxes and Iraq, AP called McCain a "deficit hawk"
Summary: An Associated Press article described Sen. John McCain as a "deficit hawk" but provided no support for that characterization. While the article mentioned that McCain has called for making permanent President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, it did not note the absence of budget offsets to pay for them. Further, McCain repeatedly voted in favor of emergency supplemental spending bills for the Iraq war that exacerbated the deficit.

In a February 15 Associated Press article, reporter Liz Sidoti described Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as "[a] deficit hawk." Sidoti provided no support for the label. While she did report that McCain has called for making permanent the tax cuts President Bush called for in 2001 and 2003, she did not note the absence of budget offsets to pay for them. Additionally, Sidoti failed to report that McCain repeatedly voted for or supported emergency supplemental spending bills for the Iraq war, which appropriated funds outside of the normal budgeting process and exacerbated the deficit.


McCain asserts on his website that as president, he would "make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent" and "permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)." According to a February 1 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), based on Joint Committee on Taxation and Congressional Budget Office estimates, making permanent the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, as well as repealing the AMT, would have a "direct cost" of $3.6 trillion over 10 years and come to an average of $400 billion in annual cost. CBPP also asserted that "[w]ithout offsets, making the tax cuts permanent would increase the deficit and thereby add to the national debt. The interest payments needed to service this higher level of debt would amount to about $700 billion over the next ten years."

After opposing Bush's tax cuts in 2001, McCain voted against legislation in 2003 to accelerate the tax reductions enacted in the 2001 bill and to cut taxes on dividends and capital gains. In 2006, however, he voted for the bill extending some of the 2003 tax cuts, saying during the April 2, 2006, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press that he changed his position because: "I do not believe in tax increases. ... The tax cuts are now there and voting to revoke them would have been to -- not to extend them would have meant a tax increase." Now McCain claims on the campaign trail that he initially opposed the Bush tax cuts because they were not accompanied by offsetting spending cuts -- but the absence of offsets did not prevent him from voting for the tax cut extensions in 2006. Further, McCain frequently touts his tax policies without mentioning such offsets.


While in 2005 McCain voted for an amendment to express the sense of the Senate that "funds for a fiscal year after fiscal year 2006 for an ongoing military operation overseas, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, should be included in the annual budget," McCain supported emergency supplemental spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal years 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003. In its 2006 report, the Iraq Study Group criticized this budget procedure, asserting that it "erodes budget discipline and accountability":

The public interest is not well served by the government's preparation, presentation, and review of the budget for the war in Iraq.

First, most of the costs of the war show up not in the normal budget request but in requests for emergency supplemental appropriations. This means that funding requests are drawn up outside the normal budget process, are not offset by budgetary reductions elsewhere, and move quickly to the White House with minimal scrutiny. Bypassing the normal review erodes budget discipline and accountability.

In addition, in 2003, McCain voted to table an amendment that would have provided "funds for the security and stabilization of Iraq by suspending a portion of the reductions in the highest income tax rate for individual taxpayers."

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis detailed by director Peter Orszag during his October 24, 2007, testimony before the House Committee on the Budget, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is projected at $1.055 trillion for 2008-2017. The projections are based on a scenario in which "the number of personnel deployed to Iraq and other locations associated with the war on terrorism would decline ... from an average of about 200,000 in fiscal year 2008 to 75,000 by the start of fiscal year 2013 and then remain at that level through 2017." Orszag also asserted that the wars would cost $570 billion through 2017 if "the number of personnel deployed on the ground for the war on terrorism would be reduced from an average of about 200,000 in fiscal year 2008 to 30,000 by the beginning of fiscal year 2010 and then remain at that level through 2017." The CBO analysis included the cost of "military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities associated with the war on terrorism, as well as for related costs incurred by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for medical care, disability compensation, and survivors' benefits."

From the AP article:

A deficit hawk, McCain also berated [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] and [Sen. Hillary Rodham] Clinton [D-NY] for directing federal money toward pet projects in their home states, a practice known as earmarking.

He said Clinton had received some $340 million worth of earmarks for New York, while Obama sent home $90 million to Illinois. McCain also castigated Obama for failing to disclose details about his earmarks.

"Is that transparency in government? I don't think so," McCain said. "Examine my record on earmark and pork-barrel projects and you will see a big fat zero."


Obama, in turn, has lumped McCain in with Bush by referring to "Bush-McCain Republicans" and arguing that McCain's national security and economic policies are "bound to the failed policies of the past."

At one point, Obama noted that McCain twice opposed Bush's tax cuts but now supports making them permanent and said: "Somewhere along the line he traded those principles for his party's nomination and now he is for those tax cuts."


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War Torn When Strains on Military Families Turn Deadly

why do they die?

Published: February 15, 2008
A few months after Sgt. William Edwards and his wife, Sgt. Erin Edwards, returned to a Texas Army base from separate missions in Iraq, he assaulted her mercilessly. He struck her, choked her, dragged her over a fence and slammed her into the sidewalk.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
A VETERAN’S GRAVE Erin Edwards, who was fatally shot by her husband in 2004, was buried in Clearfield, Pa. More Photos »

Slide Show
War Torn: Violence at Home
Interactive Graphic
The Cases
Audio Interview: Dr. Jonathan Shay on Returning Veterans and Combat Trauma (January 13, 2008)
War Torn: In More Cases, Combat Trauma Is Taking the Stand (January 27, 2008)
War Torn: An Iraq Veteran’s Descent; a Prosecutor’s Choice (January 20, 2008)
War Torn: Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles (January 13, 2008)
Blogrunner: Reactions From Around the WebAs far as Erin Edwards was concerned, that would be the last time he beat her.

Unlike many military wives, she knew how to work the system to protect herself. She was an insider, even more so than her husband, since she served as an aide to a brigadier general at Fort Hood.

With the general’s help, she quickly arranged for a future transfer to a base in New York. She pressed charges against her husband and secured an order of protection. She sent her two children to stay with her mother. And she received assurance from her husband’s commanders that he would be barred from leaving the base unless accompanied by an officer.

Yet on the morning of July 22, 2004, William Edwards easily slipped off base, skipping his anger-management class, and drove to his wife’s house in the Texas town of Killeen. He waited for her to step outside and then, after a struggle, shot her point-blank in the head before turning the gun on himself.

During an investigation, Army officers told the local police that they did not realize Erin Edwards had been afraid of her husband. And they acknowledged that despite his restrictions, William Edwards had not been escorted off base “on every occasion,” according to a police report.

That admission troubled the detective handling the case.

“I believe that had he been confined to base and had that confinement been monitored,” said Detective Sharon L. Brank of the local police, “she would not be dead at his hands.”

The killing of Erin Edwards directly echoed an earlier murder of a military wife that drew far more attention. Almost 10 years ago, at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, a different Army sergeant defied a similar restriction to base, driving out the front gate on his way to a murder almost foretold.

That 1998 homicide, one of several featured in a “60 Minutes” exposé on domestic violence in the military, galvanized a public outcry, Congressional demands for action and the Pentagon’s pledge to do everything possible to prevent such violence from claiming more lives.

Yet just as the Defense Department undertook substantial changes, guided by a Congressionally chartered task force on domestic violence that decried a system more adept at protecting offenders than victims, the wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq began.

Pentagon officials say that wartime has not derailed their efforts to make substantive improvements in the way that the military tackles domestic violence.

They say they have, for example, offered more parenting and couples classes, provided additional victims advocates and afforded victims greater confidentiality in reporting abuses.

But interviews with members of the task force, as well as an examination of cases of fatal domestic violence and child abuse, indicate that wartime pressures on military families and on the military itself have complicated the Pentagon’s efforts.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” said Peter C. McDonald, a retired district court judge in Kentucky and a member of the Pentagon’s now disbanded domestic violence task force. “The war could only make things much worse than even before, and here we had a system that was not too good to begin with.”

Connie Sponsler-Garcia, another task force member, who now works on domestic violence projects with the Pentagon, agreed.

“Whereas something was a high priority before, now it’s: ‘Oh, dear, we have a war. Well get back to you in a few months,’ ” she said.

The fatalities examined by The New York Times show a military system that tries and sometimes fails to balance the demands of fighting a war with those of eradicating domestic violence.

According to interviews with law enforcement officials and court documents, the military has sent to war service members who had been charged with and even convicted of domestic violence crimes.

Deploying such convicted service members to a war zone violates military regulations and, in some cases, federal law.

Take the case of Sgt. Jared Terrasas. The first time that he was deployed to Iraq, his prosecution for domestic violence was delayed. Then, after pleading guilty, he was pulled out of a 16-week batterers intervention program run by the Marine Corps and sent to Iraq again.

Several months after Sergeant Terrasas returned home, his 7-month-old son died of a brain injury, and the marine was charged with his murder.

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please go read the entire article

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Bolton: Only U.S. can stop proliferation

Bolton: Only U.S. can stop proliferation

Isaac Arnsdorf
Staff Reporter
Published Friday, February 15, 2008

As the only nation with the power to blunt the nuclearization of Iran and North Korea, the United States must act decisively to defuse the threat from those two countries, former Bush administration diplomat John Bolton ’70 LAW ’74 said at the Law School on Thursday.

The mustachioed former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — whose nomination to the post in 2006 provoked fierce resistance from senators because of past statements he had made that criticized the international body — spoke about nuclear non-proliferation and international cooperation before a crowd of about 100 during a lunch event at the Law School. The program was sponsored by the Yale Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian law students.

“There’s only one country that’s going to stop nuclear proliferation and the threats presented by Iran and North Korea, and that’s the United States,” he concluded. “And that’s the cold, hard truth about international organizations.”

Bolton served as U.N. ambassador under a recess appointment beginning in August 2005. His nomination to the post in 2006 was never approved by the Senate.

Bolton described what he sees as the current challenges in American non-proliferation policy and discussed the United States’ best options in addressing nuclear threats — hardly bothering to veil his disdain for international law and institutions.

“When I was here, I didn’t take any courses at all on international law,” he said, “and frankly I don’t think I missed a thing.”

The paradigm for stemming proliferation, Bolton said, is Libya’s voluntary disarmament in 2003 under American and British pressure — without the help of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

In this triumph for American and British intelligence and diplomacy, Bolton asserted, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi gave up his nuclear-weapons program rather than expose his regime to American intervention.

“He did so in a cold-blooded calculation that — the United States, having just led a coalition to overthrow Saddam Hussein — he might be next,” Bolton said. Allowing “a thuggish regime to stay in power … was pretty hard to swallow, but getting rid of the nuclear capability was worth it.”

After Qaddafi’s announcement, Bolton said, the IAEA’s director was miffed that his organization was left out of the process.

“He thought that we had been dissing him and his agency, as if his agency could have done a thing about a program they knew nothing about,” he said. “Had we left it to the IAEA, [Libya’s weapons] might well still be there.”

The IAEA was similarly ineffective in the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bolton told the audience. IAEA inspectors ignored what Bolton considered the top concern about Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities: his cadre of scientists with nuclear knowledge and his inability to produce any evidence of having destroyed the “enormous quantities” of chemical weapons he had declared after the first Gulf War, Bolton said.

Bolton said this judgment, and the resulting decision to go to war that it motivated, was not an intelligence failure but a “defect in our decision-making process for not calling into question the very assumption that his declaration was accurate,” since Hussein may have lied about ever having had those weapons.

Bolton rejected the idea that this “defect” in the decision to invade Iraq should prevent policy makers from taking dramatic steps to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

Last December’s National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian nuclear ambitions was widely misread and misreported, Bolton said. The report, which said that Iran suspended its nuclear program in 2003, adopted the Iranian definition of a nuclear-weapons program as weapons design and weaponization, which are the final steps in production of a nuclear bomb, Bolton said.

Although the rest of the report mostly echoed the 2005 estimate and admitted the U.S. government had poor knowledge of the state of Iran’s more broadly defined nuclear program, the report’s impact was “to shred the Bush administration’s policy,” Bolton said.

Iran cannot be made to give up its nuclear program by the U.N., since the Iranians have repeatedly lied to and hidden evidence from the IAEA, Bolton said, and since China and Russia, who have commercial interests in Iran, will veto any tough Security Council sanctions.

While the Iranian threat is mostly confined to the Middle East, Bolton said, the world’s other major nuclear threat, North Korea, is more than regional — the North Koreans would sell weapons to anyone who will pay.

“If al-Qaida had the requisite amount of hard currency, North Korea would have no hesitation whatsoever to supply them technology or even a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Furthermore, Bolton said, North Korea has repeatedly broken its pledges to halt its nuclear program and dismantle its existing arsenal.

Bolton also warned that other countries with nuclear aspirations are watching how the United States deals with Iran and North Korea, and allowing those two nations to attain nuclear weapons could create a domino effect, he said.

While Bolton’s speech focused on national-level threats, he said in an interview with the News after his remarks that international institutions have proven even less effective in addressing threats from non-state actors, such as terrorist organizations. The U.N. Security Council has yet to even settle on a definition of terrorism, he said.

“If they can’t even define what terrorism is, it’s not surprising that they can’t come up with a strategy to combat it,” he said.

Students in the audience interviewed said they valued Bolton’s perspective on international power dynamics but were struck by his dismissal of multilaterism.

“I appreciated his critique of the international system, but his disrespect for international law is pretty apparent,” Karen Kudelko LAW ’10 said. “I saw his appointment [as U.N. ambassador] as a slap in the face in many ways to the international law movement.”

Others said Bolton’s hour-long speech was a welcome contrast to the prevailing academic ideas of international law.

“It was a breath of fresh air in terms of what you get in the liberal international political science, which is what you get at Yale,” Alexander Besant GRD ’08 said.

While Bolton allowed his cynicism toward international institutions to show through, he was not as provocative as some in the audience had expected.

“By the standards of what John Bolton talks, it was quite tame,” Johannes Thimm GRD ’08 said.

Bolton last visited campus in December. He also addressed the Yale Political Union in October 2004.


I am afraid John Boltons answer to everything is bomb them into submission, he would make a great NSA for a President John McCain they can sing Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran together as a duet, these pathological Neocons need to retire quietly away and the sane people like Colin Powell need to become the voice of reason for the Republican Party.......

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Guess who the general is who is quoted below? General Colin Powell

Subject: General Identified: General Blasts Lack of Hospitals

Friday, 15 February 2008: Guess who the general is who is quoted below? Some had no idea...some guessed it was General Colin Powell. Only one person knew who it was and that was Colonel Dan at The answer appears at the end of the below repeated article.

General Blasts Lack of Military Hospitals

Robert F. Sawallesh
12 February 2008

"The former head of the...has called on the government to maintain military hospitals."

"Seven of the eight military hospitals have closed since...the early 1990s...."

"Soldiers who have been wounded, psychologically are far better off one with the other in the same ward under a military environment."

"Asked if he thought it was a mistake to close military hospitals...," "I'm afraid I do."

"But he acknowledged the decision was taken at the end of Cold War and was based on clinical needs."

"We ought to make a better effort to give soldiers who are wounded in the course of their duty, care and rehabilitation within the military environment if at all clinically possible," "he said."

Sawallesh trivia: Give some careful and deliberate thought as to the name of the high level military leader who stated the above. Answer will be sent on Friday.

Friday: Who stated the above quotes? Take another guess. Answer at

Call to save military hospitals
The former head of the British army has called on the government to maintain military hospitals.

In an interview on BBC Two's Newsnight, Sir Mike Jackson said personnel were "better off" in dedicated facilities.

Seven of the eight military hospitals have closed since a Tory government review in the early 1990s and the last in Haslar, Hants, will shut in 2009.

The government says military hospitals cannot match NHS specialised care which provides "top-quality treatment".

Sir Mike told Newsnight: "Soldiers who have been wounded, psychologically are far better off one with the other in the same ward under a military environment.

"That's their life, that's what they respond to. This is not easy to achieve under the present arrangements."

Asked if he thought it was a mistake to close military hospitals, Sir Mike said: "I'm afraid I do."

But he acknowledged the decision was taken at the end of Cold War and was based on clinical needs.

He said his opposition to the closure of military hospitals had always been "more of principle than of numbers".

"We ought to make a better effort to give soldiers who are wounded in the course of their duty, care and rehabilitation within the military environment if at all clinically possible," he said.

'World class'

Sir Mike's comments came after some veterans told Newsnight they did not feel they received adequate treatment at NHS hospitals.

A military-managed ward has recently been set up at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital.

But Veterans Minister Derek Twigg said there were no plans to re-establish military hospitals.

He said: "There isn't the (military) population now to justify military hospitals to ensure that our clinicians and nurses get the training and development they need to maintain skills that are needed today to treat and care for the injured service people."

He said there were military managers at every level of the NHS and an increasing number of military nurses.

He said soldiers and their families had talked very highly of treatment and care at Selly Oak.

"I'm very clear that in the operational theatre and places like Selly Oak our personnel are getting world class and top quality treatment," he added.


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hey Bill OReilly read this it brings reality to the homeless vet

Vets: Back from the war but not home
Vetwork helps homeless veterans access services
Twenty years ago, Paul Kozak took a leave from his job to start a program to help fellow Vietnam veterans in Ocean County.

GLORIA STRAVELLI Above, Paul Kozak uses the Vetwork van to respond to calls about homeless veterans in need of assistance. At right, plants, books, DVDs and photos of family and his canine companions decorate the apartment of a formerly homeless veteran.

Kozak took a one-year leave of absence and never went back. Years later, that program has expanded and become Vetwork, a nonprofit organization that helps American veterans who find themselves homeless in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there may be as many as 6,500 homeless veterans in the state of New Jersey.

"I saw that there was a bigger need," said Kozak of his continued involvement with the program, which is well established in Ocean County but was lacking a Monmouth County base.

To reach veterans in Monmouth County, Vetwork needed an additional mobile van. That is how theMonmouth CountyAssociation of Realtors (MCAR) became involved.

"There was a need for a mobile office for vets in Monmouth County. When we heard about it, we felt it was something we would want to be a part of," said Jane Canlim, a Realtor with the Tinton Falls-based MCAR. "It was an eight-to-10 week project that the public relations committee ofMCAR took on."

The initiative began with a $20,000 grant fromtheOceanFirst Foundation that could be used toward the van ifMCAR raised the additional funds for the vehicle.

"It was really a win-win for both of us," Canlimsaid. "Alittle over $13,000was raised."

Thanks to the donations, Vetwork announced in January that it would be expanding services to provide homeless Monmouth County veteranswith emergency services from a rapid-responsemobile unit. To be eligible for services, the veteran must be a single male or female, honorably discharged, and willing to enter a VA transitional housing program, work-study programor detox/rehab facility.

Vetwork is a programsponsored by the notfor profit Vetgroup Inc., based in Forked River inOceanCounty. The programresponds to and helps veterans dealingwith homelessness, providing support services that include counseling, transportation to Veterans Administration health-care facilities, emergency shelter, food, clothing andmore.

Vetworkprovides services to allhonorablydischargedOcean County veterans, but with the help ofMCAR's fundraiser, will be able to expand services inMonmouth County.

"Our needs are growing," Kozak said. "We don't want to turn anyone away. The number of veterans who are in need continues to climb, especially as troops return home fromthe war. Currently, we are well equipped to provide essential services in Ocean County, but we have a real need in Monmouth County."

The priority for Vetwork, Kozak explained, is to provide immediate assistance to homeless veterans in the area. Whether that need is food, shelter or rehab, counselors are ready to assess the situation and provide veterans with the help that they need.

"There's really no way to know how many homeless vets there are,"Kozak said. "I address themas they come through my door.We had four guys in the last two weeks that are already in programs."

Joe, a 78-year-old veteran ofWorldWar II, is one example of a Vetwork success story.Although he had served his country and worked continuously over the years, Joe, who does not want his last name used, found himself living in motels, vans and the woods in and around Monmouth County for more than 30 years.

Sitting in his cozy, brightly decorated apartment in Brick recently, Joe rememberedmore than two decades of hardship during which his only home was a yellow van and his only companions, his two dogs.

"If itwasn't forVetwork," Joe said, "I probablywould have been dead."

Kozak recallsmeeting Joe back in 2005, at a timewhen he needed a place to recuperate fromsurgery.

"Iwas living in that van for 20 years," Joe said. "And Iwas working."

Joe,who has lived inNewJersey all his life, lost both of his parents at a young age, leaving him with little security. At the age of 19, he joined theU.S.Navy, inspired by patriotism, but in retrospect calls war a "necessary evil."

Upon returning from the service, Joe took up the family trade of tile work, a trade he continued to work at while homeless, but one which he said did not provide a secure source of income.

"[Tilework] was a good trade at one time," Joe said, in a matter-of-fact sort of way. "Some people do very well at it… but Iwasn't one of them. For awhile youwere busy and then there's no work, and before you know it, you can't keep up with the rents."

Joe cited rising rents, the lack of affordable housing, as themain reason for becoming homeless, despite the fact that he continued to work at his trade.

A lover of animals and nature, Joe has filled his apartment with colorful plants, photographs of his parents, and images of animals, including his beloved dogs.

His books, which Kozak recalls Joe would haul around with him during his "yellow van days," are now neatly stacked on shelves along the wall.

"It goes to showyou that a homeless person can live decent too," Joe remarked with pride.

Yet it took a lot of bad breaks and just a few good ones for Joe to get to where he is now, living comfortably in public housing.

"That kind of stuff didn't hold me back. Just likewith the homelessness, it happened. There it is - what are you gonna do about it?" he said.

However, when his van broke down and his dogs died, Joe described the nightmare of his years spent wandering and alone.

"I love nature, but I don'twant to live in it," Joe said. "Not under those conditions. I like a nice house, a nice apartment. The scariest thing in my life was when I first realized my truck was gone - that was my security - and thought, 'What amI going to do now?' "

Joe described the horror that he lived through during the two or three years that he spent living in thewoods following the loss of his van.

He described the fear of being alone and in the darkwithout a sense of direction or a point of reference.

"Here I amin the woods, in the dark. It was pitch black. I was lucky when it was warmweather, but I was in the freezing weather too. Sometimes I would walk into huge puddles or get tangled up in weeds. From the distance I could hear people talking and sometimes a gunshot would go off. Someone must have been hunting, and I wondered, am I going to get picked off out here? Iwas alone, Iwas all over, and I hated it. I hated everyminute of it."

Help finally came for Joe when someone made a call to Vetwork in 2005. He had been in an insurance office paying an insurance bill to keep his van on the road when a woman there found out about his situation. She reached out to social service agencies unsuccessfully, andwould later callVetwork on Joe's behalf.

By then it was a matter of life or death for Joe, who had been getting sick.

"I didn't knowmy way around as far as bureaucracy," Joe said. "I always just went out and went to work. But the van broke down and I didn't have the money to fix it and you couldn't go towork if you couldn't get there. Then I foundVetwork and they helpedme, gotme a pension, did a lot forme."

The people atVetwork also showed Joe something that he had never really found at social services or from the surrounding community: compassion.

"I was negative at first," Joe recalled. "I thought, 'They won't be able to help me.' But when I finally got to Vetwork, they offer you coffee…Imean, generosity, you know, instead of 'Oh, you creep, what are you doing here?' "

"Joewas pretty overwhelmed, too,"Kozak remarked. "He was under a lot of pressure at the time.He was being chased off the street.He needed an operation and he didn't knowhow to approach social services."

Vetwork was able to help Joe access services, getting him food and shelter, and treatment for his medical condition, as well as a pension and, finally, a home.

"For veterans 62 or over and below a certain income, we can get thema pension,"Kozak said. "In Joe's case,we signed himup for a pension, but this takes time."

In the interim, Vetwork provided Joe with food and housing until he was established with an income and an apartment.

When he was working, Joe had been unable to get help finding housing, butVetwork helped himto secure an income that, along with Social Security benefits, and his pension, is livable.

The first time he closed the door to his own apartment, Joe said he thought, "Hallelujah! I couldn't believe it."

It's been three years now that Joe has been living in his own apartment. Vetwork followed up for a while, but now, said Joe, "I've got the pension and I canmanage."

Joe's experiences have provided him with meaningful insight.

"All of these homeless people today, you can bet your bottom dollar that these people hate it like I did.Many of these people were forced out of their homes," Joe said.

Joe doesn't complain about his struggles and is proud that he managed to get through those tough years, but he is bitter about one thing: a society that accepts homelessness.

Hismessage is that homelessness should not exist at all.

"Don't accept homelessness.Don't accept it.Nobody should accept it.They should be out there raising hell about it. If they don't want to work, well, that's their business. But there are people that want to work and that are willing to work and I don't see why they should be without a home," he said.

"What does itmean when that other person is freezing to death out there? There has to be some heart, some compassion. If you don't have that, you're not going to have any feelings for anybody."

Joe also is indignant about the treatment ofwar veterans who end up on the streets,when they should be respected for their service.

"The veterans are coming back with no arms and no legs, and theywere healthywhen theywent into the service. They are over there laying down their lives and they should be treated different…they should be a priority!"

Vetwork'smission statement is exactly that. "We support those who served."

Paul Kozak and his associates continue to work to help veterans in the area and, in turn,Kozak said they appreciate the support of the community to help keep the programgoing.

More information on Vetwork can be found on the Web site,, or by calling (609) 971-7613.

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Illinois Veteran Children can file for college scholarships

Children of Illinois veterans eligible for tuition waivers at University of Illinois campuses
by Emerald Morrow
Feb 13, 2008

As part of the state's observance of Lincoln’s Birthday this week, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn encouraged eligible students to apply for full-tuition scholarships to the University of Illinois.

The scholarships, six to be given in each of Illinois' 102 counties, are available to students with a parent who has served during wartime. They are good for a full tuition waiver at any University of Illinois campus. The waiver can be used for either undergraduate or graduate study and is applicable for four years.

Each scholarship will be awarded, in part, on the basis of a parent's involvement in conflicts including World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the two Gulf wars.

Students must be Illinois residents, and preference is given to children of deceased veterans, though students whose parents survived their wartime service are eligible. There is no age restriction on the scholarship.

No funds are set aside for the scholarship, as the award is a tuition waiver.

According to Elizabeth Austin, communications director for Quinn, the scholarship was first established for children of Illinois’ Civil War Veterans and has been consistently awarded since then.

March 1 is the deadline to apply for a scholarship for the school year beginning in fall 2008.
Applicants will be notified by April 1.

Find out more at

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Family tried to help him

A soldier dies at home after 2 combat tours

BRIDGETON -- Those who knew U.S. Army Spc. German Sanabria said it was especially sad to know the 26-year-old was killed at home after having survived two tours in Iraq.

"I'm saddened to hear his life was cut short," said Miguel Lopez, a counselor at Bridgeton High School. "It's shocking to hear things like this happen."

Sanabria was shot by a city police officer early Wednesday morning after he repeatedly stabbed his stepfather in their home on Atlantic Street.

Raised in Bridgeton, he had returned to the area in May 2006 following his second tour of duty in Iraq, according to family member Celia Ray.

Family members believe Sanabria was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the war, Ray said, noting she and Sanabria's mother had taken him to Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia on Monday for evaluation.

Lopez knew Sanabria through the Latin American Club at Bridgeton High.

As the club's advisor, he said he remembered Sanabria being an active participant in the group.

"I also remember the sense of humor he had about things," he added.

Consuelo Hernandez, a close friend of Sanabria's family, said Wednesday he was a "very nice guy.

"The last time we saw him was in January, for Three Kings Day," she said. "He was enjoying being with family and friends. But after he came back from Iraq, there was a difference. He was a gentle man before that."

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In August 2003, and again in December 2004, Sanabria was honored by Bridgeton City Council and the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders for his service in the Army.

An attendee of both ceremonies, Lopez said it was quite an honor the two organizations bestowed on Sanabria.

"As it was explained to me, they looked at him as being a representative of the young men who are serving and who did serve in this area," he said.

Although joining the Armed Forces is never an easy decision, Sanabria's family and friends supported his decision.

Ray, a cousin of Sanabria's mother, said previously they just wanted him to be happy.

"We are excited, but sad at the same time," Ray said. "I know he's fighting for our freedom, and we need that. We have to show him that we appreciate what he's doing because he volunteered, not because anyone else told him to. He sacrificed his youth to be there."

Sanabria's mother, Eva Garcia, 53, was one of the few people who said they did not want him to go.

It may have been his mother's reservations that led him to comment to Lopez during a leave home that he wanted to give up the Army life.

"He said while the service was something he wanted to go into, because of the long tours that our servicemen have to go on, he was about ready to settle down and get out," Lopez said.

Lopez added it is unfortunate Sanabria could not fulfill his dreams.

"I don't know which is sadder, those that die over (in Iraq), or those that make it through all that and then come here to face something like this," he said. "I am shocked and saddened."

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Warning on cuts in veterans' health care

Senators oppose Bush proposal

WASHINGTON -- Democratic senators warned Wednesday that a Bush administration proposal to cut VA medical center construction funding and boost prescription drug co-payments would be devastating to former service members.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the proposals -- part of the Bush administration's budget request for fiscal 2009 -- "would close the VA's door to thousands of our nation's veterans."

Murray's comments came during a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which was reviewing President Bush's requested budget.

Bush has asked Congress to spend $93.7 billion on veterans -- $3.4 billion more than the current fiscal year. The extra money includes higher spending on the health care of veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Veterans Affairs anticipates treating 333,000 veterans from the current conflicts in fiscal 2009 -- 40,000 more than expected this year.

Bush would pay for some of the increase by slashing in half the spending on VA construction projects -- from $1.1 billion this year to $587 million in fiscal 2009.

At least two projects at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in the Seattle area would lose funding under Bush's plan -- a $43 million project to make a nursing building meet current seismic standards and the construction of a mental health services building, which carries a price tag of $178 million.

Bush also has proposed new enrollment fees of up to $750 for some veterans and increasing co-payments for prescription drugs for higher-income veterans who were not disabled as part of their military service. Under the president's proposal, those co-payments would jump from $8 to $15.

The administration sought similar new fees last year, but Congress rejected the idea.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, predicted lawmakers would once again refuse to increase the co-payments.

"Year after year, Congress throws this in the garbage can where it should belong," Sanders said.

Murray, the panel's third-ranking Democrat, said the fees would "discourage many veterans from accessing the VA -- even as our veterans are turning to the VA in larger numbers than ever before."

Newly installed Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake defended the administration's proposal, saying that money for treatment of veterans would be twice as high as when Bush took office seven years ago.

The VA has sought new fees for some higher-income veterans without service-related disabilities so it can continue to focus first on treating former service members who were injured in the military, Peake said. "Our priority, I think, is appropriately those with (service-related injuries) or a severe economic need," he said.

Murray said the construction projects slated for cutbacks are important to modernize decades-old VA buildings. On average, VA buildings are 57 years old.
Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders stand up for veterans

The Bush Administration has attempted to double the medication copays for the past 5 years that I am aware of, Nicholson did raise the copay from 7 to 8 on his orders a few years ago, when Congress stopped the 15 dollar copay, given the fact that many drug stores and big box stores now offer a 30 day med suppy for 4 dollars, the VA's attempt to raise a 30 day supply to 15 is ridiculous. It is not needed it is excessive, and to raise fees on disabled veterans is a slap in the face to every soldier and veterans who has ever served.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

they do say stress kills

Anger Plus Depression Means Double Trouble for Heart

Hostility and depression often appear together, and the combination can put a strain on the heart, a new study finds.

Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examined emotional symptoms and blood markers of inflammatory proteins in 316 healthy people aged 50 to 70.

As reported in The New York Times, patients with depressive symptoms and hostility were more prone to higher levels of the inflammatory proteins interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein -- each of which have been linked to heart disease risk.

"The relationship of these negative emotions to inflammatory markers is more complex and much stronger than depression or hostility individually," lead researcher Jesse Stewart, assistant professor of psychology, told the Times. "There are, of course, mental health reasons to treat depression and hostility. Now we know there is a physical health reason -- the link to cardiovascular diseases," he added.

The study is published in the February-March issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.


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Revived career fair draws dozens of employers

Columbia VA to add call center jobs

By CHRIS TRAINOR/Index-Journal staff writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:56 PM EST
One of the main goals for any college or university is to get students prepared for their future career.

On Tuesday, Lander University took things one step further, hosting a career fair in the school’s Cultural Center. Nearly three dozen corporations had representatives on campus, giving students the opportunity to submit resumes and mingle with potential future employers.

Jennifer Pierce-Turman, of Lander’s career services, spoke about the event, which was Lander’s first career fair in several years.

“We haven’t had a career fair in a few years, so this is kind of new,” Pierce-Turman said. “We have about 33 or 34 employers here. They are talking with the students, telling them about internships or other openings they may have.”

A broad spectrum of companies was present, including representatives from CountyBank, Milliken, Walgreen’s, Park Seed and Waffle House.

Pierce-Turman said the goal was to have as diverse a group as possible.

“Most of the time, when we have employers come to campus to greet our students, we have students say, �Well, you didn’t have anybody (related to) our major,’” Pierce-Turman said.

“We have businesses from mass communications covered to marketing management to accounting, healthcare. We try to cover a wide array of companies.”

Some employers were approaching students with completely new opportunities. Such was the case with Doug Chapman, who was representing the U.S. Office of Veteran’s Affairs. The group will soon open a large call center in Columbia.

“We’re in the process of increasing the positions we have in Columbia,” Chapman said. “So we’re looking for legal administrative specialists. We’re going to be building a call center (in Columbia) to answer questions on veterans’ claims from up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

“We’re also recruiting veterans services representatives.”

Mike Barnes, a regional coordinator for Waffle House, described what his company was looking for from college students.

“We are recruiting management,” Barnes said. “We have been in business 52 years, and we are looking for quality folks to run units for us.”

Matt Walker, a senior exercise science major at Lander, was one of many students strolling through the Cultural Center, dropping off resumes and networking with business representatives.

Walker said he appreciated the opportunity to make new contacts.

“This is a good foundation for somebody for after school, or even while you’re in school,” said Walker, who hails from North Augusta. “It’s helpful. I’ve even spoken with some employers who have said they are looking for employees with degrees in any major. It’s good to know there are businesses seeking employees.”

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Man getting clout for Gulf War veterans

Kirt Love

by Bryan Kirk - Telegram Staff Writer
Published February 13, 2008

Chet Edwards
Kirt Love is a man on a mission, and for the first time in a long time, he is getting some political muscle to back him up.

With the help of U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, Love is hoping to help those who served during the first Gulf War to get more access to resources through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Last month, Edwards wrote a letter to Dr. James Peak, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and asked him to form an advisory committee.

On Feb. 5, Dr. Peak responded to Edwards’ appeal and agreed to form the Gulf War Veteran’s Advisory Committee to address issues related to treatment, benefits and family support.

“My staff is drafting a proposed charter for my review within the next 10 days,” Peak wrote.

In the corner of the memo sent back to Edwards, Peak wrote that he appreciated the suggestion made by Edwards.

“My motivation was to see that Gulf War veterans have adequate input into VA decisions,” Edwards said.

There have been a number of committees born as a result of the specter of Gulf War illness.

In January 2002 a presidential advisory committee, known as the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses was formed to determine what causes the illness known as Gulf War Syndrome.

However, those questions were never answered.

“There is still a question about exposure to chemical agents in the first Gulf War. There are still a lot of concerns that have not yet been fully answered.”

Love couldn’t agree more.

The Crawford resident and Bell County native has been fighting for answers from the U.S. government about the ailment commonly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome for more than a decade.

Love mounted his campaign in 1997, six years after the war ended and four years after he nearly succumbed to what he still believes were chemical agents used by Iraqi forces against U.S. troops during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

The changes in Love, however, were gradual.

When he and other members of his unit returned from Iraq, they began to experience substantial weight gain. Two years later, Love found himself substantially thinner and near the point of dying.

“I spent two years on my death bed. I was not supposed to make it,” Love recalled.

He was unable to eat or drink unless he ingested a teaspoon of powdered sulfur.

Still, no one knew what he had, and they still don’t know, Love said.

When he recovered sufficiently, Love went to Washington to try to get something done for Gulf War veterans who suffer from ailments that may have resulted from chemical agents.

...For the complete article, pick-up your copy of the Temple Daily Telegram or subscribe now

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John McCain Parody

Have all of you seen this McCain parody (11+ / 0-)
Recommended by: Terri, acquittal, Paulie200, peraspera, joanneleon, LNK, Ekaterin, edsbrooklyn, Timothy Scriven, Brandon Friedman, haruki
of the Yes We Can video?

Probably, but just in case...

why NOT to vote for John McCain

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HOMELESS VETERANS » Community gives lip service to vets

Opinion on Homeless vets

In reading the News-Leader and listening to the television newscasts it is apparent to me that about all anyone wants to do about the "homeless veterans" is to pay lip service to giving them any assistance whatsoever. There appears to be one person that would attempt to do something for them and everyone seems to be fighting him all the way.
The people that are against allowing them a decent place to live, especially for what they have done for their country, have the mentality of a very ungrateful population that are living in nice homes, making several thousand a year, paid for by the taxpayers, and having plenty of food to eat and warm clothes to wear. Either they are too stupid to remember what these people have done for them as a group or really could care less. These people lived part of their lives in the mud, grime and filth of a foreign country. Why should they be relegated to the same in their own country?

Everyone has labeled them as trash without even giving them a chance. It appears that the people that are most against this location for them to live are those that probably never served one day of their lives in the military or if they did it was probably behind a nice hardwood desk, in a nice warm building, or in a nice climate. People wonder how the veterans become what they are, it is because of the way they are treated by our nation.


Senator John Edwards emphasized their plight, Bill O Reilly ridiculed him for it and claimed they didn;'t exist and when forced to admit they did exist he blamed it on them for drug and alcohol abuse, he obviously doesn't know anything about PTSD and self medicating with whatever the vets can get ahold of, legal or illegal. The demons in the braisn of these veterans don't care what puts them at bay, booze, legal prescriptions or illegal drugs, just anything that will give the vets a few hours without the demons tearing their minds apart.

I know because I am one of them, unlike mosy of them I have a supportive spouse and have stopped drinking after 35 years and the only drugs I take nowadays are prscribed by VA doctors, all kinds of them, mood stabilizers, anxiety, sleeping pill s etc, it has taken afew years but I no longer feel like a zombie, I am aware of my surroundings which is an improvement.

But the VA treatment is a double edged sword if you are drinkingor using illegal substances,they refuse to admit you to treatment until you have been clean for 90 days, none of the PTSD vets I know can last 90 days without something booze or drugsto help them cope, so the hamster wheel comes into play, want help quit, can't quit, can't get no help.

This is one screwed up system is all I can say

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Telemedical access bill would link rural patients to health care

VA sets standards for rural health care

for the Mail Tribune
February 13, 2008
SALEM — A bill that would allow mental health patients in 18 rural counties to receive treatment via teleconferencing has been approved by a Senate committee, but must clear the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The "telemedical access bill" would link patients with licensed mental health specialists via a video link-up from a secure facility.

Local doctors could in turn confer with Oregon Health and Sciences University psychiatrists in Portland for treatment opitions. OHSU operates a

telehealth program that has served, among others, victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The chief sponsor is Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, who was elated when the Senate Health Policy Committee sent the measure, SB1100, out Monday evening.

"They (OHSU) found that it's worked fantastically well when the privacy was there, and the physician was in a clinical environment," Atkinson said. "I've got to put that same option in the hands of local providers in outlying areas of Oregon."

He said his bill could provide world-class clinical medical care to rural people.

Atkinson had hoped to keep the bill out of Ways and Means, given the downturn in the revenue forecast and the vow from the co-chairs to allow few, if any, new programs to be funded.

The Central Point legislator now has a major hurdle in convincing the parsimonious Ways and Means Committee to give his bill the green light by showing that with grants, Medicaid reimbursements and private insurance there should not be a cost to the state.

As originally introduced, the bill included all health services, with an estimated price tag pegged at $900,000 by the Legislative Fiscal Office. As a result, Atkinson scaled it back.

The measure has the strong backing of the Association of Oregon Counties, a major lobbying group.

"It's in our (the counties) best interest to provide the best care we can," said Gina Nikkel, executive director of AOC's mental health section.

While care currently is adequate, given fiscal constraints at the local level, Nikkel said the counties can "do better." She said a telehealth system "saves everybody time and money."

Becky Martin, mental health director for Jackson County, said the system could provide improved access to more rural areas of the county. Jackson County's program was once supported by county timber revenues,

but with the reduction in harvests it now operates with with Medicaid reimbursements, some Medicare and state general fund dollars.

"But each county is different," she said.

Josephine County contracts out its program to a private nonprofit organzation, Options, according to Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass. "Medicaid by and large pays for it," said Maurer.

Martin and Maurer praised the bill.

Martin said her agency serves mainly those people on the Oregon Health Plan, or those who are in crisis. She said the uninsured who are not in crisis and live in remote areas are the ones who could benefit greatly from a telehealth system.

"This is an area the state has to explore," said Maurer. He cited the Department of Veterans Affairs' telehealth program as a model the state should study.

"They're way ahead. They know how to do it," he said. He said more frequent, short contacts with patients could go a long way to making them better.

Added Maurer, "It's all about linking experts with local medical professionals where time and distance are a big hurdle to adequate treatment."

Don Jepsen is a freelance writer living in Salem.

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Berkeley eases anti-Marines stance

Berkley relaxes anti Marine position

By MICHELLE LOCKE Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 02/13/2008 02:12:03 AM PST

Click photo to enlarge
American Legion Veterans Service Officer Robert Cacy sits at a rally... ((AP Photo/Jeff Chiu))«1»BERKELEY, Calif.—City council members who were criticized for telling Marine recruiters they don't belong here have moderated their position, saying they oppose the Iraq war but support the troops.
The Berkeley City Council voted two weeks ago to send a letter to a downtown recruitment station advising the Marines they were not welcome.

After a marathon session that stretched into early Wednesday, the council decided against sending the letter, saying it recognizes recruiters' right to be in Berkeley. The council members say they still strongly oppose the war and the recruitment of young people, but "deeply respect and support" the men and women of the armed forces.

Some on the council had pushed for issuing an apology. Others rejected that, saying they just wanted to clarify their position.

Councilwoman Linda Maio said the council opposes recruitment, not the military. "It's behavior that we oppose, not the people," she said.

The meeting drew hundreds of people on both sides of the issue who rallied outside City Hall from dawn until well into the night.

Inside the chamber, scores of speakers addressed the council, some decrying its earlier action.

"You owe our military an apology," said Kevin Graves, a San Francisco Bay area resident who said his son died serving in Iraq.

Others applauded the council's stand.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink, said her group supports the troops—"we support them so much that we're desperate to get them back home."
In rallies outside, pro-troop group Move America Forward sponsored one protest, holding signs that said "Stop Bashing Our Boys." On the other side, anti-war group Code Pink held bouquets of flowers and waved signs saying "Peace Now" and "Bring Our Troops Home."

Police estimated the crowd at about 2,000 at its height. A handful of people were arrested for scuffles between protesters, police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said.

The recruiting office opened in Berkeley in late 2006. It operated quietly until four months ago, when Code Pink began holding regular protests.


On the Net:

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LAWRENCE: Stokes pleads guilty to impersonating a Marine

another fraud

By Jill Harmacinski
Staff Writer

LAWRENCE — Former School Committee member James Stokes yesterday cited his "conscience" as the reason he pleaded guilty to federal charges of impersonating a Marine veteran and lying about receiving a Purple Heart.

Stokes, 63, of 103 Boxford St., remains a free man until his May 15 sentencing in U.S. District Court in Boston. Stokes faces up to a year in prison, fines of $100,000 and a year of supervised released on each charge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said.

Kelly said he would push for prison time for Stokes but he could not specify the length until he reviews a pre-sentencing report from probation.

During the 10-minute plea hearing in Boston, federal Judge Joyce Alexander asked Stokes what led him to plead guilty.

"My conscience," said Stokes, who was dressed in a beige suit.

Kelly said he was pleased Stokes admitted his guilt and the criminal case was handled promptly.

Stokes was arrested by FBI agents Jan. 9 at Top Donut in South Lawrence. He resigned from his newly elected seat on the School Committee two days later.

"I credit the fine work of the FBI," Kelly said.

Stokes and his lawyer, William Fick, declined comment.

Kelly said the evidence against Stokes included a forged discharge document he presented to a Lawrence veterans official in November 2006. Last October, during a rally for missing Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who is from Lawrence, Stokes then told another veteran he was a Purple Heart recipient.

Finally, during questioning by an FBI agent on Jan. 4, Stokes "admitted he was never a Marine," Kelly said.

The Purple Heart is awarded to military personnel wounded or killed in action by or against an enemy. The federal Stolen Valor Act, signed by President Bush in 2006, made it a crime to falsely claim ownership of a Purple Heart.

Stokes has claimed the forged discharge record, known in military circles as a DD214, was given to him by a deceased brother. Stokes signed the document, which claimed he served 20 years in the Marines, and turned it into the city in 2006.

Francisco Urena, the city's current Veterans Affairs director, said the document was littered with contradictions and inaccuracies.

Yesterday's plea ends a decade of local speculation over Stokes' military record.

Questions about his service were raised during his four failed attempts for the City Council. Inquiries surfaced again when Stokes defeated Gregory Morris, the School Committee incumbent. Stokes identified himself as a veteran on the city ballot.

Over the years, Stokes also appeared in military uniform at Lawrence events.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Plant Science Laboratories

Site 21
Location: Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia
Fort Chaffee, Fort Smith, Arkansas
Apalachicola National Forest, Sopchoppy, Florida
Date → July 1967 – October 1967
Activity Description: During the period December 1966 to October 1967, the
newly named “Plant Science Laboratories” at Fort Detrick initiated a comprehensive
short-term project to evaluate desiccants and herbicidal mixtures as rapid-acting
defoliants. The objectives of this study were to evaluate rapid-acting desiccants as
defoliants and to assess the defoliation response of woody vegetation to mixtures of
herbicides and/or desiccants. The criteria for assessment was based principally on
rapidity of action, but included other features such as safety and ease of handling,
compatibility with dissemination systems, and low toxicity to man and wildlife.
The approach to the objective of an improved rapid-acting defoliant involved three
phases: (1) evaluation of commercially available rapid desiccants or contact herbicides;
(2) evaluation of improved formulations of rapid desiccants developed under industry
contacts and by in-house effort; (3) development and evaluation of desiccant-herbicide
mixtures containing the rapid defoliant characteristics with the sustained long-term
effects of Orange and other Tactical Herbicides. The project required an immediate
access to a diversity of woody vegetation. Accordingly, Fort Detrick arranged for test
locations at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia; Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Arkansas,
and Apalachicola National Forest near Sopchoppy, Florida.
The Georgia site was described as a warm temperate, humid, moderate rainfall climate
with deep, well-drained sands in rolling topography. The vegetation type was an oakhickory-
pine forest. The Arkansas site was described as a temperate continental,
moderate rainfall climate with fine sandy loam soils in rolling topography. The
vegetation type was an oak-hickory forest. The Apalachicola National Forest site was
described as a subtropical, humid, moderate precipitation climate with sandy soils in a
flat poorly drained topography. The vegetation type was described as a Southern mixed
forest. All sites were selected because of their isolation from any local human
populations, e.g., in Florida, the site was a ridge located in a swamp forest.
Assessment: The desiccants selected for evaluation included Herbicide Blue (a
tactical herbicide), and the commercial desiccants diquat, paraquat, dinitrobutylphenol
(DNBP), pentachlorophenol (PCP), hexachloroacetone (HCA), and monosodium
methanearsonate (MSMA), pentachloro-pentenoic acid (AP-20), endothall, and various
mixed formulations of these desiccants. The systemic herbicides included the two tactical
herbicides Orange and White; the potassium salt, triisopropanolamine salts, and the
isooctyl ester of picloram; and, a ethylhexyl ester of 2,4,5-T mixed with HCA. Mixtures
of propanil, nitrophenol, linuron, and silvex were also evaluated. All chemicals were
furnished by Fort Detrick.
Aerial application at these three sites were made with a Bell G-2 helicopter equipped with
two 40-gallon tanks and a 26-foot boom with 6-inch nozzle positions adaptable for
volume deliveries of 3, 6, or 10 gallons per acre in a 50-foot swath. Spray equipment,
pilot, and support were furnished under contract with Allied Helicopter Service of Tulsa,
Oklahoma. Aerial applications were made on duplicate 3-acre plots, 200 by 660 feet in
dimension. A sampling and evaluation trail was established in each plot on a diagonal
beginning at 100 feet from one corner. Major species were marked along 500 feet of this
transect and individual plants were identified by combinations of colored plastic ribbons.
A minimum of 10 individuals of each species was marked unless fewer were present.
Evaluations were made at 1-, 5-, 10-, 30-, and 60-day intervals by experienced Fort
Detrick personnel. At each evaluation period the identical marked individuals of the
major species were rated for defoliation and desiccation. At each location, approximately
475 gallons (~10 drums) of Herbicide Blue, 95 gallons (~2 drums) of Herbicide Orange,
and 6 gallons of Herbicide White were expended.
The assistance of Department of Army forestry personnel at Fort Gordon, Fort Chaffee,
and the 3rd and 4th Army Headquarters were acknowledged in the report for their support
in the selection and preparation of sites in Georgia and Arkansas. The land and facilities
for the Florida tests were provided by the Supervisor, Apalachicola National Forest,
Tallahassee, Florida. Personnel from the Physical Sciences Division, Fort Detrick
assisted in the development of formulations and preparations of field test mixtures. They
also provided the data on the physical characteristics of the candidate tactical defoliants
and mixtures.
Sources: Darrow RA, Frank JR, Martin JW, Demaree, KD, Creager RA (1971): Field
Evaluation of Desiccants and Herbicide Mixtures as Rapid Defoliants. Technical Report
114, Plant Sciences Laboratories, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland. Document
unclassified but subject to special export control. Available from the Defense
Documentation Center, Accession Number AD 880685.DOD PDF

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Study: Reservist vets commit most suicides

National Guard and Reserves more likely to commit suicide

By Kimberly Hefling - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 12, 2008 7:46:57 EST

National Guard and Reserve troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan comprise more than half the veterans who committed suicide after returning home from those combat zones, according to new government data obtained by The Associated Press.

A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of continuing research of deaths among veterans of both wars found that Guard or Reserve members were 53 percent of the veteran suicides from 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, through the end of 2005.

The research, conducted by the agency’s Office of Environmental Epidemiology, provides the first demographic look at suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who left the military — a situation that veterans and mental health advocates worry might worsen as the wars drag on.

Military leaders have leaned heavily on Guard and Reserve troops in the wars. At certain times in 2005, members of the Guard and Reserve made up nearly half of the troops fighting in Iraq.

Overall, they were almost 28 percent of all U.S. military forces deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan or in support of the operations, according to data from the Defense Department through the end of 2007.

Many Guard and Reserve members have done multiple tours that kept them away from home for 18 months. When they returned home, some who live far from military installations or VA facilities have met with difficulty getting access to mental health counseling or treatment, activists have said.

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the study’s findings reinforce the argument that Guard and Reserve troops need more help as they transition back into the civilian world. The military’s effort to re-screen reservists for mental and physical problems three months after they return home is a positive step, Rieckhoff said, but a more long-term comprehensive approach is needed to help the troops — particularly in their first six months at home.

“National Guardsmen and reservists are literally in Baghdad in one week and in Brooklyn the next, and that transition is incredibly tough,” Rieckhoff said.

VA has said there does not appear to be an epidemic of suicide among returning veterans, and suicide among the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is comparable to the same demographic group in the general population. However, an escalating suicide rate in the Army, as well as high-profile suicides such as the death of Joshua Omvig, an Iowa reservist who shot himself in front of his mother in December 2005 after an 11-month tour in Iraq, have alarmed some members of Congress and mental health advocates.

In November, President Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill, which directed VA to improve its mental health training for staff and do a better job of screening and treating veterans.

According to VA’s research, 144 veterans committed suicide from Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan — through the end of 2005. Of those, 35 veterans, or 24 percent, served in the reserves and 41, or 29 percent, had served in the National Guard. Sixty-eight — 47 percent — had been active-duty troops.

Statistics from 2006 and 2007 were not yet available, VA said, because the study was based in part on data from the National Death Index, which is still being compiled.

Among the total population of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have been discharged from the military, nearly half are formerly active duty and a little more than half were in the Guard and reserves, according to VA.

Among those studied, more than half of the veterans who committed suicide were ages 20 to 29. Nearly three-quarters used firearms to take their lives. Nearly 82 percent were white.

About one in five was seen at least once at a VA facility.

Last year, the VA started a suicide hot line. VA and the military have also made other improvements in suicide prevention care, such as hiring more counselors and increasing mental health screening.

“The challenge is getting people to come to us before they commit suicide, knowing they can come and get help and knowing they have access to those resources,” said Alison Aikele, a VA spokeswoman.

The VA study does not include those who committed suicide in the war zones or those who remained in the military after returning home from war.

Last year, the Army said its suicide rate in 2006 rose to 17.3 per 100,000 troops, the highest level in 26 years of record-keeping. The Army said recently that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide last year. If all are confirmed, the number would be more than double the total reported in 2001.

Some mental health advocates have complained that there is no comprehensive tracking in one place of suicide among those who served in the wars, whether they were still in the military or discharged.

In October, AP reported that preliminary research from VA had found that from the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, until the end of 2005, 283 troops who served in the wars who had been discharged from the military had committed suicide.

VA later said the number was reduced to 144 because some of the veterans counted were active duty and not discharged when they committed suicide.

Okay time for me to be personal, this issue is one I have to deal with daily, I am a Army veteran with severe PTSD, it does not make me a "crazy person" it just means I have "issues" hell I have lifelong subscriptions. I made my first suicide attempt while I was still in the Army a few years after the "stressor incident" occurred. I had been drinking (self medicating is the term the shrinks use) it was the only way I could get to sleep for a few hours. My first attempt was with booze and pills, luckily I was found and taken to DDEMAC at Fort Gordon, Ga, where I spent the next two weeks in a lockdown ward, was referred to the Base Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program where I spent the next year being tested and counseled. I was never diagnosed with PTSD or any other problem other than substance abuse. I like many other soldiers refused to admit to my "demons" and found ways to "control them" or so I thought. Like many soldiers, I had problems with my wife and kids, my drinking did not help. I left the Army in Sep 1982 as a Staff Sergeant. I went to work for the Postal Service and after transferring to Georgia, I then joined the Army National Guard in 1988, I volunteered to become activated with the 48th Brigade when they were called up for Operation Desert Storm in November 1990, I was assigned to an Infantry Battalion my primary MOS, I was assigned to HHC, 121st Inf Battalion in Milledgeville, Ga, I was made a Squad Leader for a 4.2 mortar platoon. I served in Oman at Khasab Air Force base on the tip of Oman just across from Iran, we used to watch the smugglers make their runs at dusk from UAE to Iran with their contraband.

I came back from that war, and felt at a loss with my life, I missed the Army life, but it did not pay enough for me to quit my Postal Career and go back on active duty. I took up drinking heavily again, the stress from earlier episodes in my Army career kept reliving themselves, during work, at home, in my dreams, the nightmares were bad. I went thru 4 marriages and my children refused to visit with me when I was supposed to have them in the summer. Due to my behavior and drinking. Looking back on it now, I can't blame them. In May 2000 the stress had caused me to have extreme health problems, 7 heart attacks and a failed triple bypass, I walked away from the Postal Service before the job stress killed me. I did not get a medical retirement, I just quit, walked away from a 17 year career.

I had spent my entire adult life either in the Army or at the Postal Service, from age 18, thru age 4527 years, 10 years Army and 17 years Postal Service. I just threw it away by walking out that door. I felt my life was over, the nightmares were not even being controlled by the drinking any longer, I had basically had a complete meltdown in May and June 2000. On a June night I drank about a fifth of Jack Daniels and took a handful of pain pills, I wanted the pain to end, the nightmares to end. I woke up three days later, when my ex wife's Uncle came banging on my door. Uncle Bill made some coffee and saw the booze bottles and the empty medications and we talked, he persuaded me to move in with him and try and get my life back together. Like me, Uncle Bill also has PTSD and had come to terms with it, I still refused that label. I knew I had problems but never accepted it might be PTSD caused by what I had seen and done and had been thru since I was 18 years old.

It would be another meltdown in November 2002 before I asked my new girlfriend to help me get an appointment with VA's mental health department, I had learned more of the Edgewood experiments secrets than I should have, I went three weeks without sleep and became suicidal again.

The VA was very thorough in their assessment, it took 4 months of interviews and tests, before a team of 3 doctors determined I have PTSD and it is service connected from incidents that happened while on active duty back in 1974 and 1975, 1979 in Germany, in 1981-1982 at NTC, watching soldiers maimed and killed in training accidents.

I take many meds now for the symptoms of PTSD, I still have thoughts of suicide and I can't remember a day without flashbacks or nightmares, I keep my mental health appointments and my new wife works hard to keep me focused, and we take it one day at a time.

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Mental health teams deploying to frontlines with Marines in Iraq

mental health teams deploy with Marines

8:30 a.m. February 10, 2008

CAMP PENDLETON – Navy Chaplain Dick Pusateri has witnessed the stress of war on the faces of troops put in harm's way daily, in the strained relationships of families facing long deployments and the confessions of men shaken by the human cost of war.
For too long, chaplains were among the few people combat Marines felt they could turn to in a crisis.

AdvertisementThe Navy and Marine Corps aim to change that by sending teams of mental health professionals to the frontlines this month, after studies showed a jump in the past five years in cases of combat-related mental health disorders, primarily post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We've got a lot of knowledge about the way combat trauma affects people, and having somebody there to guide Marines through it in Iraq means we can respond to it more quickly,” Pusateri said.

While psychologists and psychiatrists have long treated military service members on bases and in field hospitals, the deployment of teams of psychological professionals – one per regiment – next month to combat zones marks a new approach in identifying and treating mental health before problems arise.

The teams assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force – made up of about 11,000 Marines – will include a psychiatric technician, a chaplain and, in some cases, a Naval social worker. Psychiatrists or psychologists could deploy to forward operating bases and, in extreme cases, patrol with units.

Three top commanders of the U.S. Marine Corps' fighting forces recently asked to make the pilot program a permanent fixture.

“Now is the time to adjust fire,” the generals wrote in a letter to the commandant. “We must shift the current direction of combat/operational stress control efforts to a more holistic, nested enabling strategy that provides a sound, unified approach.”

Marine commandant Gen. James T. Conway is reviewing the request and a decision is expected later this year.

The Army adopted a similar approach last year, and has been deploying behavioral health specialists to patrol with its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“What is probably new here is that we want to address it close on the frontlines, and thereby return people both back to combat and back to society healthy,” said Navy Capt. Mike Maddox, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force surgeon.

The push to make the program permanent comes after a report by the Institute of Medicine found post traumatic stress disorder is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among veterans. It affected an estimated 13 percent of those returning from Iraq and 6 percent from Afghanistan.

Figures released by the Marine Corps show a fourfold increase in the number of Marines diagnosed with PTSD – from 394 in 2003 to 1,669 to 2006.

“If we identify a stress and if we can treat it close to the unit, it's less likely that person will be sent back, medivaced out of there,” said Cmdr. David Oliver, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force psychiatrist.

Previously, Marines identified with possible combat-related mental health stress or disorders have been pulled from duty in Iraq and shipped to the U.S. or Germany for assessment and treatment.

Under the expanded program, mental health specialists would be in daily contact with troops at forward bases, working with chaplains to identify potential risks to troops, talking with squad leaders about their troops, and responding to IED explosions and other combat situations that could effect a Marine's mental health.

While certain combat-related mental health conditions may require extended care, most of the cases in Iraq can be treated or eased.

In some cases Marines or sailors showing signs of stress, such as sleeplessness, anxiety or agitation, may just need a rest.

“In many cases, he's probably not going to have problems if he's given the chance to get some sleep, get some hot chow, take a hot shower,” Oliver said.

In more serious cases, identifying the problem early gets the person needed treatment more quickly and gives them a better chance for recovery.

The success will largely depend on the ability to convince Marines and sailors to seek help.

“There's a stigma. Take that stigma away, the more and more you will be able to break down that barrier for Marines,” said Lt. Col. William Swan, who attended a conference this week of military officers and mental health professionals meeting to make permanent the pilot program.

While the Marines have adopted stiffer deployment and post-deployment mental health screening measures, critics say the problem remains that Marines are stigmatized if they seek help.

That claim was bolstered last year by the Washington-based advocacy group Veterans of America, which found Marines were reluctant to seek help for post traumatic stress disorder and other problems.

If left improperly treated, problems can worsen. On the frontlines, that can have disastrous consequences, as it appeared to have in March 2006 when an Army private who sought military medical help for stress later allegedly killed an Iraqi family.

Maddox said the stigma of seeking help is dissipating among younger Marines because mental health assessment has always been part of their training.

Lifelong Marines, though, have shown the most resistance to the program. He said awareness and education were the key to overcoming resistance.

For many troops, it will be the first time they come face-to-face with psychologists near the frontlines.

Cpl. Ben Eberle, 25, of Fairview Heights, Ill., said he liked the idea of having someone nearby to talk to, if needed. Seeing the team members around the base would make it easier if he or one of the men in his unit need to talk to someone.

“If I know that person, and I am on a conversational basis and I've met that person in the past, I would be totally comfortable talking to that person,” he said.

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New Members Appointed to VA Panel on Minority Veterans

New Members Appointed to VA Panel on Minority Veterans

Peake: Members Represent "Diversity of America"

WASHINGTON (February 12, 2008) -- The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has announced the appointment of six new members to the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, an expert panel that advises him on issues involving minority veterans.

"These new members are veterans who represent the diversity of America and are recognized authorities in areas pertinent to the needs of our veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake.

Chartered on January 30, 1995, the committee makes recommendations for administrative and legislative changes. The committee members are appointed to one-, two-, or three-year terms.

The new committee members include retired Army Col. Dr. Doris Browne of Washington D.C.; Army Reserve Lt. Col. Dr. Irene M. Zoppi of Crofton, Md.; retired Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Furnie Lambert, Jr. of Maxton, N.C.; retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John W. Jelks of Dale City, Va.; retired Army Spc. and former POW Shoshana N. Johnson of El Paso, Texas and Navy veteran Alexander Y. Chan of Fairfax Station, Va.

There are approximately 4.7 million minority veterans in the United States and its territories. They make up nearly 19 percent of the total veteran population.

VA has minority veterans program coordinators at each VA medical center, regional office and national cemetery to assist minority veterans with health and benefits issues.

A list of the full membership of VA's Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans is attached.


VA Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans

* Diego E. Hernandez, Puerto Rican, Miami, Fla., a retired Navy vice admiral, currently is an active consultant to private and public companies.

* James H. Mukoyama, Jr. (Chair), Japanese American, Glenview, Ill. A retired Army Reserve major general, currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Regal Discount Securities in Chicago.

* Julia J. Cleckley, African American, Washington, DC. A retired Army brigadier general, currently is the director of armed forces education with the University Alliance.

* Dr. Doris Browne, African American, Washington, DC. A retired Army colonel, currently the senior scientific officer of the Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

* Reginald Malebranche, Haitian American, Alexandria, Va. A retired Army colonel with over thirty-five years of expertise in policy, planning and program management.

* Kerwin E. Miller, African American, Washington, DC. A retired Navy commander, currently serves as the first director of the newly-established District of Columbia office of veterans affairs, within the executive office of the mayor.

* Joe C. Nuñez, Mexican American, Littleton, Colo. A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, currently works for the Department of Health and Human Services as a Regional Director.

* Dr. Irene M. Zoppi, Hispanic American, Crofton, Md. An Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, currently an adjunct professor at the College of Notre Dame, Strayer University, and the Command General Staff College.

* Furnie Lambert, Jr., American Indian of the Lumbee Tribe, Maxton, N.C. A retired Marine master gunnery sergeant, currently serves as the chairman of Veterans Affairs Committee for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

* John W. Jelks, African American, Dale City, Va. A retired Air Force senior master sergeant, currently the coordinator for National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

* Debra L. Wilson, Lakota Sioux, Tahlequah, Okla. A former Marine Corps staff sergeant, currently works as a compliance officer for the Cherokee Nation gaming commission.

* Nelson N. Angapak, Sr., Alaskan Native, Anchorage, Ala. An Army veteran, currently is the executive vice president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

* Shoshana N. Johnson, Black Hispanic American, El Paso, Texas. A retired Army specialist who is the first black female POW in the U.S. history and currently conducts speaking engagements across the country discussing her experience as a POW in Iraq.

* Alexander Y. Chan, Asian American, Fairfax Station, Va. A Navy veteran, currently a senior enforcement officer and certified internal auditor in the Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau.

* James T. McLawhorn, Jr., African American, Columbia, S.C. Currently the president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Urban League in South Carolina.
# # #

I congratulate all of these veterans on their selection to this board, I look forward to them making a positive impact for all veterans, and am pleasantly surprised to see Shoshana Johnson as one of the appointees, as a POW she was introduced to the nation upon her rescue and return to the US. She is an inspitation to all Americans, and am glad to see one of my fellow Columbia SC residents has also been appointed James T. McLawhorn Jr. SALUTE to you all

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Ex-Marine Vanishes After Combat 'Flashback'

Vet with combat flashbacks disappears


FLASHBACK" -- "He had an imaginary weapon in his

hand shooting imaginary people in the house."

Eric Hall, 24, who suffered serious injuries three years ago during a fatal explosion in Iraq, had recently moved from Indiana to Florida. He was staying with relatives on Sunday, Feb. 3, when he reportedly began having flashbacks and fled the home on his motorcycle. He has not been seen since. (photo from Charlotte County Sheriff's Office)

Story here...

Story below:


Ex-Marine Vanishes After Combat 'Flashback'

Florida Authorities Find Eric Hall's Motorcycle Running, but No Sign of Injured Iraq War Veteran


Relatives and volunteers -- some members of the military -- continued searching in Florida today for a former Marine who has been missing for a week and who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Officials say 24-year-old Eric Hall took off on his motorcycle after experiencing what his family called a "combat flashback."

The bike was later found in the middle of a roadway in Deep Creek, near Fort Myers, on Florida's west coast. It was lying on its side with the engine running. There was no sign of Hall.

Hall, who was seriously injured three years ago in a bomb blast in Iraq, had recently moved from Indiana to Florida. He was staying with relatives on Sunday, Feb. 3, when he began "having flashbacks and walking around the home acting like he is shooting an invisible gun at people that are not in the home," according to a release by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

"He had an imaginary weapon in his hand shooting imaginary people in the house," said Bob Carpenter, a Charlotte County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

A small fire was burning near the motorcycle, but authorities were not able to determine whether it was connected to the mysterious disappearance.

For two days last week, the sheriff's office led a search of the surrounding area for any sign of the former Marine. Deputies on horseback, K-9 units and swamp buggies combed what Carpenter described as a thickly covered area on the Gulf side of Florida.

The search also included helicopters, which Carpenter said were flown low over the area to produce an effect similar to a combat rescue.

"He could be hiding anywhere," Carpenter said. "He could have just taken off."

The ex-Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from the bomb blast, his aunt and family spokesman Marge Baker told ABC News. The June 2005 explosion killed a fellow Marine and injured Hall's right arm, left leg, hip and the left side of his abdomen.

His injuries were so severe that he spent 13 weeks in military hospitals in Germany and Bethesda, Md. He has undergone nearly 20 operations since the explosion and was left with a permanent limp, Baker said. Hall was granted a medical retirement by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Carpenter said the sheriff's office has called off its formal search for Hall and will focus instead on the detective work necessary to follow up on tips as they stream in to authorities.

Family members, friends and volunteers have continued the ground search on their own, Baker said. Hall's mother has flown to Florida, while his father waits at home in Indiana in case their missing son calls or even returns to the house.

Baker said that Hall frequently would wake up in the night after having nightmares about combat. He had moved in January to Florida with the hope of putting his military experiences behind him. "While it is a disabling [injury], he didn't want it to be the forefront of him," Baker said. "He wanted a job, he wanted to get back into society and be meaningful to society."

But he also recently went off anti-anxiety medication, which Baker said the family believes may have something to do with his behavior the day he disappeared. "We believe that could be what triggered this," she said.

The behavior Hall was exhibiting could certainly be consistent with PTSD, which is often associated with combat veterans, according to Nadine J. Kaslow, a professor at Emory University's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

Kaslow described three ways in which PTSD can manifest itself for men and women back from war: "re-experience," in which a person continues to think intensely about combat situations; "avoidance," in which emotions associated with trauma are beaten back; and "hyper-arousal," in which a person may act abnormally paranoid or jumpy.

Flashbacks a common symptom of PTSD, Kaslow said, but added that hallucinations may go beyond the disorder into some type of psychosis.

Eric Hall is described as a white male, standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. He has numerous tattoos, a scar on his leg from the combat explosion and may be wearing a black leather jacket and carrying a motorcycle helmet.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

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