Saturday, May 10, 2008

Veterans used in "classified experiments"

I have been categorized as a "crusader" by elected officials and veteran service organizations, which has hurt my ability to have my "message heard" that using military veterans in chemical weapons, biological weapons and pharmacuetical experiments from 1946 (Navy blister agents) then the 1953 Wilson Memorandum that approved "human experimentation" by Department of Defense agencies. Somewhere along the line the Central Intelligence Agency got involved thru Doctor Sidney Gottlieb

Joseph Scheider (Sidney Gottlieb) was born in 1918. He studied chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and after he finished his Ph.D. he joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He worked as a member of the Technical Services Staff (TSS) and eventually became head of the Chemical Division.

Richard Bissell, head of the Directorate for Plans, an organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world, made full use of Gottlieb's abilities. The Directorate for Plans was responsible for what became known as the CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power).

In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a CIA plan to overthrow Fidel Castro. Gottlieb was asked to come up with proposals that would undermine Castro's popularity with the Cuban people. Plans included a scheme to spray a television studio in which he was about to appear with an hallucinogenic drug (LSD) and contaminating his shoes with thallium which they believed would cause the hair in his beard to fall out.

Richard Bissell eventually decided to organize a CIA plot to kill Castro. Gottlieb came up with several ideas on how to do this including the insertion of poison into cigars Castro was known to smoke. Another scheme involved a conch shell that would be programmed to explode when Castro was swimming underwater. Gottlieb also came up with the idea of planting a poisoned handkerchief in his suit pocket. This was unsuccessfully used against General Abd al-Karim Kassem of Iraq.

Gottlieb was also assigned the task of planning the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. This included the idea of a lethal biological agent that would be added to a tube of toothpaste. Attempts were made to develop a biological agent that would cause tularemia, brucelloisis, anthrax, smallpox, tuberculosis and equine encephalis. These experiments ended in failure and eventually Lumumba was murdered by soldiers loyal to Moise Tshombe.

By 1967 Gottlieb became head of the Technical Services Staff and held the post until his retirement in 1972. Before he left he destroyed some 80 percent of the CIA's most damaging files. Most of these had something to do with programs run by Gottlieb.

In 1975 Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities began investigating the work of the Central Intelligence Agency. They discovered the existence of Executive Action. The disclosure of Gottlieb's work resulted in some of his victims taking legal action against the CIA.

Sidney Gottlieb died on 10th March, 1999.
Nice Guy!!!!!!!

This article from 2004 is about the Detroit Free Press series where David Zeman showed where the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration had ignored the WW2 veterans used in chemical weapon experiments from 1942 thru 1945. VA to contact veterans exposed to dangerous chemicals in WW II this article was dated December 17, 2004
VA Secretary Anthony Principi, who has announced he is leaving the department, declined comment this week, although Church said he personally approved a renewed search for chemical test subjects.

The Free Press series chronicled the experiences of the 1st Chemical Casual Company -- 100 soldiers exposed to mustard gas, lewisite and other poisons in the test chambers of Maryland's Edgewood Arsenal in 1943. Mostly young recruits plucked from boot camp, the men of 1st Chemical were among at least 4,000 soldiers and sailors used in secret wartime experiments to help scientists study ways to protect combat troops from a feared chemical attack.

The military misled volunteers about the danger and threatened the men with court-martial if they revealed the tests to anyone. The government made no effort to monitor the men's health, even though it knew the chemicals could pose a long-term health risk.

Many later developed cancers and lung, eye or respiratory diseases linked to the toxins.

Then there is this article from Lisa Friedman of the Los Angeles News Group published in April 2004 titled VA: Foot-dragging seen

House Veterans Affairs Committee aide Len Sistek said that's the goal of notifying veterans. The new list his staff provided to the government includes the names of military personnel who underwent testing at Fort Detrick; Edgewood Arsenal, now known as Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland; and Dougway Proving Ground in Utah.

"There's been a sea change in how America perceives this stuff," he said. "Whoever allowed the bad guy to get ahead of them with chemical or biological weaponry was at a huge disadvantage on the battlefield. It was part of the war effort."

Still, he and others argued, the government has a responsibility to provide benefits to those who did experience health problems.

"When you sign on the dotted line, you sign up for a broad spectrum of risks. But just because you were a volunteer does not mean America doesn't have a duty to you."

VA concerned

Leaders at the Department of Veterans Affairs said they agree.

"Obviously we're concerned, and we want to provide outreach to anyone who may have been harmed by toxic chemical tests," said Thomas Pamperin, VA assistant director for policy.

He and Kim Tibbitts, the agency's assistant director for procedures for compensation and pension services, said they first have to determine who the servicemen are and what agents they were exposed to. Many names on the list, Tibbitts said, include only a name but no Social Security number, and identify chemicals by codes that must be tracked down with the Department of Defense.

From there, he said, the agency plans to use personnel records and address locating services to determine if the serviceman is still living, or has surviving relatives.

In the notification letters, Pamperin said, veterans will be told the chemical they were exposed to and the dosage, and be encouraged to seek hospital tests to determine if they suffered related injuries.

"If and, hopefully, none of them have been harmed they will receive the kind of compensation they're entitled to," Pamperin said.

Rick Weidman of the Vietnam Veterans of America accused the VA of dragging its feet.

All I can say to Mr. Pamperin is that of the 7120 men used at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland from 1955 thru 1975 is that a March 2003 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report compiled by Doctor William Page P.H.D. showed that 40% of the men were presumed deceased in FY2000 when the data was gathered, and that of the 4022 survivors located another 54% of the veterans were disabled, which combines for a 75% death and disability rate, (I am not a scientist nor a doctor, but this rate seems excessively high) for a group of men aged 45-65. The report can be read here it is a pdf file.

In the spring and summer of 2006 I worked with a group of journalists that researched the human experiments of Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, the group is known as E Pluribus Media, and their work is very thorough and respected. The article written by retired Navy Commander Jeff Huber was researched by himself and many of the other E Pluribus Media volunteers.

Time Passed
In 2001, President Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen awarded yet another contract to the IOM to locate the Edgewood veterans and other subjects of DoD chemical testing. In a 2003 article published in Military Medicine , the IOM reported that it had conducted a survey of 4,002 Edgewood veterans. But this report focused on subjects of Sarin and other chemical weapon experiments, not specifically on the MK-ULTRA mind control program subjects.
Further confusing the issue was a 2004 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report titled Chemical and Biological Defense: DOD Needs to Continue to Collect and Provide Information on Tests and Potentially Exposed Personnel. The report covered veteran test subjects in a chemical and biological test program known as "Project 112," but also addressed a Department of Defense mandate to investigate all other human test projects conducted since World War II. The report stated that Army documents identified over seven thousand Army and Air Force personnel who participated in these "other tests" conducted at Edgewood and elsewhere, but didn't specifically break out which of these test veterans were involved in Gottlieb's mind control experiments. It also said the GAO had concluded that, "the scope and the magnitude of tests involving human subjects was not available, and the exact number of human subjects might never be known." *
The report also said, "DOD anticipates that it might take up to 5 years to complete the investigation of tests outside Project 112." * That means it will be 2009 at best before the DOD can determine which Edgewood veterans were involved in Gottlieb's mind control experiments, what damage they suffered as a result of their participation in those tests, and what veterans' benefits they're entitled to.
News of mind control experiments on the troops is the kind of news that military recruiters, under pressure to fill uniforms during a time of an unpopular and seemingly unending war, don't likely want their potential enlistees to hear about.
1 DAV Magazine, "Two Decades of Deception," October, 1991, pp 8-13.

2 William F. Page, "Long Term Health Effects of Exposure to Sarin and other Anticholinesterase Chemical Warfare Agents," Military Medicine, 168, 3:239, 2003, pp. 239-245.

I am NOT a crusader, I am a honorably discharged Army veteran who had the misfortune to get involved with the Edgewood Arsenal experiments, because I trusted the Officers who was doing the recruiting for "volunteers" in May 1974 at Fort Lewis, Washington, it was they who lied to the enlisted men to get us to "volunteer" for this safe program to test "battlefield equipment of the future" which turned out to be false, the purpose of Edgewood Arsenal was to conduct human experimentation involving chemical weapons and drugs, legal and illegal.

In 1987's Supreme Court case MSG Stanley versus the army, the decision was a 5-4 loss, in one of the dissents, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote this:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in a separate dissent, said that the Government and its officials should be protected from lawsuits by military personnel, but said that ''conduct of the type alleged in this case is so far beyond the bounds of human decency'' that ''it simply cannot be considered a part of military discipline.''

Mr. Stanley's suit grew out of secret Army experiments at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, using enlisted men who had volunteered for what they had been told would be chemical warfare tests with gas masks and protective clothing.

The Army's human experimentation with LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, was part of a broader Government program in which the Central Intelligence Agency also participated.

Mr. Stanley did not know that he had actually been given LSD until 1975, when the Army solicited his participation in a follow-up study. He filed his suit, which has had a tortuous procedural history but has not yet gone to trial, in 1979. Now 53 years old, he has a desk job in the County Sheriff's office in Palm Beach, Fla. No Statutory Remedy

New York Times article from 1987

After the decades and denials of liability of the federal government, it is time for the games to end, the bill HR 5954 for the SHAD/112 veterans is a good start but that is all it is, a start, Congress for once and for all take care of this problem created more than 50 years ago and was stopped in 1975 and care for the veterans and their families that may have been harmed as a part of these experiments. If there is any doubt as to what medical problems are related to the experiments and to later times in the veterans life, reasonable doubt should be given to the veterans or their widows and families.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

SALUTE to a Soldier's soldier a real hero

Please Take A Moment To Remember Col. David Hackworth... A True 'Soldier's Soldier'

Dave Gibson
May 09, 2008
Last week, marked the third anniversary of the death of a true American hero. His name was Col. David Hackworth and his story embodies both the American dream as well as the proud tradition of the American soldier.

In Col. Hackworth, this nation lost quite possibly the bravest soldier to ever wear a uniform. He not only displayed the heart of a lion in battle, but continued his brave ways long after leaving the Army. He was an outspoken critic of senseless abuses of power by our politicians, while remaining a most ardent defender of those who were charged with executing their orders. "Hack" as he was known, succumbed to the ravages of cancer on May 4, 2005. Those who were fortunate enough to serve under him and those of us who simply admired his bravery and insight, will never forget him.

Col. David Hackworth was born on Armistice Day in 1930. He became an orphan before the age of one. The only thing he wanted to do was become a soldier. At the tender age of 14, he convinced a stranger to pose as his father and escort him into a recruiting center, where the two lied about his age. In 1944, Hackworth was sailing with the U.S. Merchant Marine in the Pacific. When he turned 15, he joined the U.S. Army and his incredible career began.

Col. Hackworth served in Europe during World War II, the Korean war, and Vietnam. During the Korean War, he received a battlefield commission and before war's end became the youngest captain in the U.S. Army. While serving in Vietnam, Hackworth became the youngest full-bird colonel in that war.

While in Vietnam, Col. Hackworth led a rescue mission to extract several of his own men. The soldiers were pinned down by enemy fire and would have undoubtedly faced death. Hackworth stood on the strut of his helicopter and personally pulled the men to safety, all the while facing heavy NVA fire. The men who he saved that day recommended him for a Congressional Medal of Honor (one of three submissions).

In 1971, Col. Hackworth appeared on the ABC network show "Issues and Answers." In his typical fashion, 'Hack' pulled no punches. He proclaimed to the nation: "Vietnam is a bad can't be won. We need to get out." He went on to predict that the city of Saigon would fall to the communist forces of North Vietnam within the next four years. The colonel had earned the right to say anything he pleased and his prediction was right on the money.

Of course, Hackworth's honesty and candor angered President Nixon and his band of 'yes men' which comprised the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Due to Hackworth's incredible military service, unquestionable character, and overwhelming heroism--neither the President nor the Pentagon could mount a legitimate defense to the colonel's claims. However, following his appearance on "Issues and Answers," he retired from the Army and left the country for Australia.

While in Australia, Hackworth worked tirelessly against nuclear proliferation and for his efforts received the United Nation's Medal for Peace. He returned to the U.S. in the 1980's.

Hackworth was constantly sought out for his great insight on military issues. He became a correspondent and analyst for Newsweek as well as CNN.

As a journalist, 'Hack' was just as outspoken as he had been while in uniform. While giving a speech on his experiences covering the first Gulf War, the retired colonel said: "I didn't see any Japanese soldiers. I didn't see any German soldiers." He complained that American young men were fighting and dying for oil that was "fueling their economy, fueling their industry that's ripping our chops!"

Hackworth was the author of seven books and thousands of hard-hitting articles. For his reporting skills, he earned the prestigious George Washington Honor Medal.

Hackworth wrote a regular column for World Net Daily entitled "Defending America." The column was devoted to exposing wasteful military spending, useless politicians and top military brass, and the lack of military preparedness.

Hackworth described the "battle cry" of his column to be: "No more Vietnams. No more Somalias. No more Koreas. No more fights that see unprepared forces flung onto foreign battlefields to be chewed up like hamburger in a lion's den."

The colonel was also the founder of Soldiers For The Truth. SFTT is a veterans organization which fights for the rights of our men and women in uniform. One of the important causes on which that group is still battling our government is the recognition of Vietnam veterans who are suffering from the affects of Agent Blue. While the Pentagon finally admitted the dangers to which so many soldiers were subjected by the use of Agent Orange--exposure to Agent Blue while just as dangerous, remains officially unrecognized.

Col. Hackworth himself was exposed to Agent Blue in Vietnam and died of bladder cancer. Many Vietnam veterans are suffering from the same form of cancer due to their exposure to the deadly chemical.

Col. David Hackworth was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, as well as ten Silver Stars, eight Purple Hearts, eight Bronze Stars, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Of all the medals and accolades Hackworth received, he said that he was most proud of his Combat Infantry Badge.

Hackworth's dedication, toughness, and his soldier's heart distinguished him as one of America's greatest heroes. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

To Col. David Hackworth: Thank you for your fierce loyalty and determination. We will never forget you. Nor are we likely to ever see the likes of you again sir!...Godspeed.


It is my opinion and that of many other soldiers that "hack" earned the "Medal of Honor" the "system" deprived him of it because of his lack of candor and his ability to tell the truth, even when the powers to be didn't want to hear it, kind of like the General Officers serving in the Pentagon for the past 7 years except for those who retired like MG Paul Eaton and others like him rather than bite their tougnes and not be able to speak the truth. These are the men who should be promoted not the "kiss azz" types Rumsfeld and President Bush like

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Help for veterans with claims in Chicago lawyers needed

Veteran's Problems

LAF's new Veteran’s Project represents veterans and their dependents in pursuing disability and pension claims, dealing with consumer issues, upgrading discharges, and obtaining or keeping employment or housing.
Because the Project is new, people with questions about the scope of its services are urged to call LAF’s main downtown number for further information. More Veteran Atty's needed... pass this on to Chicago area Attorneys

Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
111 W. Jackson Blvd. 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (312) 341-1070 • Fax: (312) 341-1041

Each year hundreds of attorneys, law students, college students, and other professional and community volunteers assist LAF in solving the legal problems of thousands of Cook County’s most vulnerable residents. Some people volunteer for only an hour or two a month; others are full time. Volunteers do everything from interpreting and translating to client interviews to factual investigations to legal research to handling cases in court and before administrative agencies. Whatever they do, LAF volunteers make a significant difference in people’s lives.

How to Volunteer.. More Veteran Atty's needed... pass this on to Chicago area Attorneys

Law Student Positions
Attorney Positions
Long-term Care Ombudsman Project

Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago

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Iraq war strains U.S. army mental health system

Iraq war strains U.S. army mental health system

By Claudia Parsons

FORT DRUM, New York (Reuters) - Fort Drum, a bleak U.S. Army base in upstate New York, is a test case for how the military is handling a looming mental health crisis.

The military and its critics agree on one thing -- there are not enough therapists to treat all the soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan traumatized by the experience.

The 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2BCT) is the most-deployed brigade in the U.S. army since 2001. It served two tours in Afghanistan, totaling 11 months, and was sent to Iraq twice for tours of 12 and 15 months.

"They're kind of a canary in a coal mine," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army captain who founded the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "They're a good barometer to understand the human cost of the war."

A report by advocacy group Veterans for America said the mental healthcare system at Fort Drum was not meeting the demands placed on it and had prepared inadequately for the return of more than 3,500 soldiers from Iraq late last year.

"Even though we knew this group were coming back from their 4th deployment and there would be these problems, we still had massive waits of two months (for appointments)," Veterans for America spokeswoman Adrienne Willis said.

The report, released in February, said there were not enough counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, there was too much reliance on group therapy over individual care and there was a lack of continuity in care. The lack of a hospital on base was also a problem.

It said commanding officer Gen. Michael Oates deserved "commendation" for setting the tone that psychological wounds were legitimate combat wounds. Nevertheless, the stigma of mental problems kept many soldiers from speaking up, it said. Continued...


Please go to the web site and read the entire article thank you

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Understanding Sequelae of Injury Mechanisms and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Incurred during the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Persistent Postconcussive
Symptoms and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

A cross-sectional study of military personnel following deployment to conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan ascertained
histories of combat theater injury mechanisms and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and current prevalence of
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postconcussive symptoms. Associations among injuries, PTSD, and
postconcussive symptoms were explored. In February 2005, a postal survey was sent to Iraq/Afghanistan veterans
who had left combat theaters by September 2004 and lived in Maryland; Washington, DC; northern Virginia; and
eastern West Virginia. Immediate neurologic symptoms postinjury were used to identify mild TBI. Adjusted prevalence
ratios and 95% confidence intervals were computed by using Poisson regression. About 12% of 2,235
respondents reported a history consistent with mild TBI, and 11% screened positive for PTSD. Mild TBI history was
common among veterans injured by bullets/shrapnel, blasts, motor vehicle crashes, air/water transport, and falls.
Factors associated with PTSD included reporting multiple injury mechanisms (prevalence ratio ¼ 3.71 for three or
more mechanisms, 95% confidence interval: 2.23, 6.19) and combat mild TBI (prevalence ratio ¼ 2.37, 95%
confidence interval: 1.72, 3.28). The strongest factor associated with postconcussive symptoms was PTSD, even
after overlapping symptoms were removed from the PTSD score (prevalence ratio ¼ 3.79, 95% confidence interval:
2.57, 5.59).
Afghanistan; brain injuries; Iraq; post-concussion syndrome; stress disorders, post-traumatic; veterans; war;
wounds and injuries

you need to go to the link and read the entire study it is very well prepared.

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Questions and answers about veterans suicide

Questions and answers about veterans suicide

By KIMBERLY HEFLING – 20 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake took heated questions this week on Capitol Hill about whether his agency was withholding information about the number of veterans who are committing suicide.

His testimony was prompted by the disclosure of e-mails during a recent trial that seemed to suggest some VA officials were hiding the number of veterans trying to kill themselves. Peake promised to make the agency more transparent.

Here are some questions and answers on veteran suicides, what information exists, and what changes in care have been made.

Q: How many U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have committed suicide?

A: It's difficult to know for sure. There is no central place where the government keeps track of the number of troops who fought in these wars and subsequently took their own lives.

The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks the number of suicides among those who have left the military. It says there have been 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the wars.

The Pentagon says there have been 172 suicides by troops in the war zones. That's not the entire picture, however, because that count does not include those who returned home and committed suicide while still in the military. The Associated Press has repeatedly asked the Department of Defense and the Army for this information, but they have not provided it.

Q: What else do we know about these suicides?

A: Peake said the VA's research has found the rate of suicide among veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq was slightly higher — but not significantly different statistically — than the comparable general population. The VA's research is limited to suicides through the end of 2005.

In upcoming weeks, the Army is expected to release a report with information on Army suicides that occurred last year. As of January, the Army said at least 89 soldiers had taken their own lives in 2007, and the deaths of 32 others were being investigated as possible suicides.

In 2006, the Army's suicide rate rose to 17.3 per 100,000 troops — the highest in 26 years of record-keeping.

Q: What is being done to address the problem?

A: The Department of Defense does mental and physical screenings of all troops when they return to the United States after fighting in a war zone, and a second time from 90 to 180 days later. Army leaders say they're also working to change the stigma against seeking help.

The VA last year created a national suicide hot line for veterans. It also has appointed suicide prevention coordinators at all VA medical centers.

Some veterans advocates say that's not enough. Two veterans groups, Veterans for Common Sense in Washington and Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Veterans United for Truth filed a lawsuit seeking a judge's ruling to force the VA to make changes in mental health care. During the trial in the case, the e-mails surfaced. The judge has not yet ruled.

Q: Are veterans at higher risk for suicide than the general population?

A: There is what is called the "healthy soldier effect." When troops enter the military, they are considered at lower risk for suicide than the general population because they passed mental and physical health screenings. Researchers at Portland State University in Oregon found last year that male veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as male non-veterans. High gun ownership rates, debilitating injuries and mental health disorders were all factors that seemed to put veterans at greater risk.

Q: Is there a reason to be concerned?

A: Many mental health professionals say yes. A recent Rand Corp. study estimated that about 300,000 of the 1.6 million troops who have fought in the recent wars are suffering from mental health problems. Based in part on that report, Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told reporters Monday that it's possible that suicides and psychiatric mortality "could trump combat deaths." About 4,500 troops have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Q: A VA official said in an e-mail to colleagues that surfaced recently during a trial that 1,000 veterans a month attempt suicide while under VA care. Is this correct?

A: Peake told the House Veterans Affairs committee this week that the number was not accurate. He said it could be an underestimate. He said the VA is trying to improve its tracking of suicide attempts by veterans under its care. The number he cited was a count of all veterans, not just those from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q: How many veterans commit suicide every year?

A: The true incidence of suicide among veterans is not known, according to a Congressional Research Service report released this month. Based on numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the VA estimates that 18 veterans a day — or 6,500 a year — take their own lives. That number includes veterans from all wars.

Q: There are more than 58,000 names listed on the Vietnam Wall. Is it true that more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than are named on the wall?

A: No one knows for sure. Some say that's an urban myth, while others believe it's true. One government study of Army veterans from Vietnam found they were more likely to have taken their own lives than other veterans in the first five years after leaving the military, although the study found the likelihood dissipated over time. While there have been improvements in tracking suicides, advocates say more tracking and research must be done to better quantify and understand suicide among veterans and society as a whole.

Q: Is there a direct link between combat and suicide?

A: Suicide is complex and difficult to understand. There is research that indicates traumatic events like combat generally increases a person's suicide risk, but there is considerable debate about why, according to the VA's National Center for Postraumatic Stress Disorder. Combat experience is just one of many possible risk factors for suicide.

The toll-free Veterans Affairs Department suicide hot line number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Thursday, May 8, 2008



By Dana Hull
Mercury News
Article Launched: 05/08/2008 01:33:22 AM PDT

Click photo to enlarge
June Moss gets a checkup at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.... (Richard Koci Hernandez / Mercury News)«1234»Related Stories
May 8:
Mental health resources for military service membersMental illness in the military, by the numbers
War veterans who lost arms and legs don't think twice about getting fit for prosthetics. But when it comes to psychological injuries, many pause.

"You don't want to be seen as the weakest link," said Romeo Horvath, an Iraq war veteran who waited until he was home in Sunnyvale to seek counseling. "If you go to see the psychologist, then everyone in the unit says, 'You went to see the wizard.' "

Six years into the Iraq war, the mental health needs of America's military are now in the spotlight.

A barrage of data and recent studies show how critical the situation is: An average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day, but 61 percent of veterans think that seeking help will damage their careers.

"Everyone is asking: Is it going to have an impact?" Dick Talbott said of the new focus on mental health. He oversees 32 outpatient vet centers in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Guam. "It's encouraging. But if it will really change the culture remains to be seen."

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged troops to get psychiatric counseling for wartime mental health problems and called PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the "unseen wounds" of war.

His comments underscore the military's growing effort to raise awareness of mental health issues, including a new suicide hotline. Many clinicians say that someone as high ranking as Gates speaking out is an enormous step toward destigmatizing mental illness.



The talk comes with money: On Friday, the Veterans Affairs Department announced an additional $2 million for the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which includes a facility in Menlo Park.
But it remains to be seen whether the attention will change a stigma that is as deeply rooted in military culture as boot camp.

Until Gates announced a policy change last week, a PTSD diagnosis could cost soldiers their security clearance, curtailing their careers. The problem is compounded since mental health issues remain taboo in many families, particularly ethnic minorities who are disproportionately represented in the military.

"There are layers of reluctance," said Robert Jenkins, the first African-American psychologist hired by the VA in Palo Alto. "People are worried about being labeled by the military. And in many cultures, particularly among African-Americans, there's concern from family members that if you seek counseling you'll be airing dirty laundry."

Horvath, who worked as a military policeman at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghurayb prison, knows the issues well. His own PTSD diagnosis inspired him to work at the VA as a patient advocate. He says that the stigma of mental illness runs deep in many Asian communities.

"My family is Korean and my girlfriend is Vietnamese," Horvath said. "They say things like, 'You have your family. Don't go to the government.' "

Some families also mistakenly believe that going to the VA means rotating back to combat duty.

Serious PTSD research began in the 1980s, when a landmark survey found that more than 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffered from symptoms of PTSD. Efforts to reach out to veterans have grown dramatically as 1.6 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home and aging Vietnam veterans seek care in greater numbers.

To handle the increase, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System is hiring veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq to connect with the new generation of returning soldiers.

Still, some say that seeking psychological help has serious consequences. June Moss feels it cost her her Army career.

In Iraq, Moss drove a Humvee, fired weapons and stood guard at checkpoints. When she rotated home, she struggled with anxiety and insomnia and found it hard to connect with her two children. After finally seeking help from an Army psychologist, she was diagnosed with PTSD.

Then everything changed. Her duties were curtailed, and fellow soldiers began to shun her. Opportunities to rise through the ranks dwindled, and the Army medically discharged Moss in 2005.

"The attitude was: You're bonkers. You can't be around weapons," said Moss, 37, who grew up in East Palo Alto. "If you go get help to better yourself mentally, they get rid of you because they say you are a psychological liability."

A PTSD diagnosis does not automatically result in a medical discharge, an Army spokesman said. He could not comment on Moss' case, citing confidentiality.

Moss, who is black, found similar resistance in her family. When she told her father that she was getting counseling, he was angry. Don't go to a doctor, he said. Just pray.

"The attitude is, if you pray about it, the Lord will make a way for you," Moss said. "That's really strong in our community."

Moss does both. Every week, she talks with her VA case manager in Menlo Park. She takes anxiety medication. And she prays.

"When I talk to veterans, I tell them that I'm getting help," said Moss, who now works as an assistant of chaplain services at the VA. "I want people to know that it's not shameful. I don't want to be like the Vietnam veterans, who have been holding it in for 30 years. You can't hold it in."

Contact Dana Hull at or (408) 920-2706.


I am one of the Nam era vets I held it in until October 2002, my coping mechanisms failed and there was no one else to blame the problems on any longer except myself. Alcohol, drugs and work could not hide the demons of PTSD even after three decades, my 5th wife forced me to seek mental health help at the VA, it was either that or she was leaving, I don't know who was more shocked at the diagnosis of PTSD me or the VA shrink, he didn't believe the story of the classified chemical weapons experiments or the drugs and the LSD at Edgewood Arsenal, he could not believe the US Army or the federal government allowed human experimentation like that until 1975. That was just one of the issues I have issues with, combat situations, ambushes, near death experiences etc I had 15 years of Army service 10 years active and 5 years NG, Vietnam to Desert Storm. I had spent my career telling other soldiers to suck it up, "drive on" "if you go to a shrink they will yank your security clearance" the normal language for ever used in the military, seeing a shrink was a career ending experience for an Officer or an NCO, we were of the opinion the military only had them for our dependents and psycho's, if the chain of command found out you wanted to see one for "counseling" you were toast.

I don't care what they say the stigma will always be there. The change has to come from the top down and punish the officers and NCOs who harass or punish soldiers for seeking mental health treatment, until that happens, nothing will ever change.

This nation will be dealing with new diagnosed cases of PTSD in 2038 from the Iraq War.

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DoD: 43,000 unfit troops sent to war

DoD: 43,000 unfit troops sent to war

By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Thursday May 8, 2008 7:45:22 EDT

WASHINGTON — More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show.

This reliance on troops found medically “nondeployable” is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million service members to the war zones, soldier advocacy groups said.

“It is a consequence of the consistent churning of our troops,” said Bobby Muller, president of Veterans For America. “They are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before re-deploying.”

The numbers of nondeployable soldiers are based on health assessment forms filled out by medical personnel at each military installation before a service member’s deployment. According to those statistics, the number of troops that doctors found nondeployable but who were still sent to Iraq or Afghanistan fluctuated from 10,854 in 2003, down to 5,397 in 2005, and back up to 9,140 in 2007.

The Pentagon records do not list what — or how serious — the health issues are, nor whether they were corrected before deployment, said Michael Kilpatrick, a deputy director for the Pentagon’s Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs.

A Pentagon staffer examined 10,000 individual health records last year to determine causes for the nondeployable ratings, Kilpatrick said. Some reasons included a need for eyeglasses, dental work or allergy medicine and a small number of mental health cases, he said.

This is the first war in which this health screening process has been used, the Pentagon said.

Most of the nondeployable service members are in the Army, which is doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 5 percent and 7 percent of all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers slated for combat were found medically unfit due to health problems each year since 2003, according to statistics provided to USA Today.

Unit commanders make the final decision about whether a service member is sent into combat, although doctors can recommend against deployment because of a medical issue, Army spokeswoman Kim Waldron said.

“The commander consults with health care professionals to determine whether the treatment a soldier needs is available in theater,” said Army Col. Steven Braverman of the Army Medical Command.

At Fort Carson, Colo., Maj. Gen. Mark Graham ordered an investigation into deployment procedures for a brigade deployed to Iraq late last year. At least 36 soldiers were found medically unfit but were still deployed, Graham told USA Today.

For at least seven soldiers, treatment in the war zone was inadequate and the soldiers were sent home, and at least two of them should never have been deployed, he said.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, the panel’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Army leaders about an e-mail from the surgeon for the Fort Carson brigade that said medically “borderline” soldiers went to war because “we have been having issues reaching deployable strength.”

“That should not be happening,” Army Secretary Pete Geren told the committee. “I can’t tell you that it’s not, but it certainly should not be happening.”

Meanwhile, soldiers with medical problems have also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Drum, N.Y., and Forts Stewart and Benning in Georgia, according to Brenda Farrell, who is leading an investigation into the practice for the Government Accountability Office. A report from that investigation sought by members of the House Armed Services Committee is due in June

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Suicides of Iraq veterans could top combat deaths

Suicides of Iraq veterans could top combat deaths

By Bob Brewin May 6, 2008 Suicides by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could well top the combat deaths in the two conflicts, according to the top official of National Institute of Mental Health.
On Monday, Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told reporters at an annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington that it was possible that "suicides and psychiatric mortality...could trump combat deaths." Insel said he based this assessment in part on figures from a recent RAND Corp. study as well as suicide rates for patients who have substance abuse problems and other complications of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of combat.
Insel's comments were put in context on Tuesday during a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, when Dr. James Peake, secretary of VA, said that the number of suicide attempts by all veterans under treatment by the department could exceed an < a href=>earlier official estimate of 1,000 a month.
The Defense Department estimates that slightly more than 4,500 troops have been killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The RAND study determined that up to 300,000 returning U.S. troops from those wars suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The same study concluded that 320,000 troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered traumatic brain injury, with only half of those veterans seeking treatment.
During Tuesday's hearing, Peake told lawmakers that the number of suicide attempts could be more than 1,000 a month because of "underreporting" within the VA. Dr. Ira Katz, deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health at the Veterans Health Administration, testified that his earlier estimate of 1,000 suicide attempts per was based on only three months of data from the department's mental health co-coordinators.
Laurie Tranter, a VA spokeswoman, told Government Executive that the data Katz based his earlier estimate on was derived from a suicide tracking system and suicide prevention program. She said both are at various stages of deployment throughout the Veterans Health Administration.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee accused Peake Tuesday of "criminal negligence" in trying to cover up the number of suicide attempts by veterans. He said the VA's actions fit a pattern of trying to cover up or deny serious medical problems suffered by veterans from the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars.
Peake said that all veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq receive a mental health screening by a general practitioner. Filner said he wants VA and Defense to provide a mandatory, one-hour mental health check-up conducted by a psychiatrist for all combat veterans.


As a veteran, I suggest that the one hour interview be done no earlier than 90 days after return to the US, or home base of the soldiers, many symptoms of PTSD will not surface for weeks or even months.

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Tempers Flare At Hearing On Vet Suicides

Tempers Flare At Hearing On Vet Suicides

(CBS) The name of the hearing said it all: "The truth about veteran suicides."

After playing clips of recent CBS News reports outlining attempts within the VA to "cover up" suicide data, Committee Chairman Bob Filner lashed out at the man in charge, Secretary James Peake, accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of "criminal negligence," reports CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian.

"What we see is a pattern -- deny, deny, cover up, cover up," Filner said.

Filner's colleagues quickly followed, piling anger on top of disbelief.

With his embattled Director of Mental Health Dr. Ira Katz at his side, Secretary Peake presented a detailed series of charts and graphs generally backing CBS News suicide data.

"I've never had a concern with their overall numbers," Katz told the committee.

"We're as far from hiding information from the public as anyone I know," Peake said.

But several lawmakers weren't buying it, citing a Feb. 13 e-mail titled "Not for CBS News" where Katz appears to be trying to keep attempted suicide numbers quiet.

Read the e-mail, "Re: Not For the CBS News Interview Request"
Read an e-mail quoting suicide numbers

"That was very unfortunate," Katz said. "I deeply regret that subject line. I apologize for that."

Outside the hearing room we asked Peake to answer repeated calls from Congress for Katz's resignation.

"I do not have any intention of relieving Dr. Katz," Peake said.

"So Dr. Katz stays?" asked Keteyian.

"That's my plan absolutely," Peake answered.

The hearing opened with Chairman Filner showing two CBS News reports from April 21st and 25th of this year, detailing the VA’s reluctance to provide information about veteran suicide.

CBS News first reported on the epidemic of suicide in the VA in November 2007, finding that over 6,000 veterans killed themselves in 2005 alone. That averages out to more than 120 per week. Katz immediately dismissed our report at a December 12th committee hearing, saying CBS’s numbers were not “an accurate reflection of the rates.”


As a disabled veteran with PTSD, I am amazed that Dr. Katz is able to keep his position with the VA, after this mess has come to the light of day, to me this proves that the VA does not care about veterans health, this is just more political BS and shenanigans

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Commentary: An indictment of our Army's competence

Commentary: An indictment of our Army's competence

By Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Thursday, May 1, 2008 email | print tool nameclose
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The latest outrage is a father’s video of a U.S. Army barracks at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, the home of the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

It shows the quarters where his soldier son and other soldier sons were sent to live upon their return from combat. Mold and mildew and peeling paint are bad enough, but what about a big barracks bathroom ankle-deep in raw sewage?

Scandals like this latest one and an earlier eruption of public outrage over the miserably maintained quarters where wounded soldiers were warehoused at Walter Reed Army Hospital are an indictment of the core competency of our Army.

If the Army cannot afford to maintain minimally decent standards of housing and feeding our soldiers — and treat them with the best medical care and all the loving attention they deserve when they're wounded in combat — then, by God, the Army doesn’t deserve to have ANY soldiers at all.

There's only one real demand we place on the Army: That the institution turn out a well trained, well-armed, highly motivated American Soldier to protect our nation and defeat our enemies.

If this job is beyond the grasp of those who run the United States Army, then the Army needs new leadership that understands this demand and can get the job done every day, not just on those days when the hot light of scandal is shining in one dark corner or another.

One thing I know for certain: That barracks at Fort Bragg by now is sparkling and shiny and clean enough that you could eat dinner off the bathroom floor. Every barracks in the U.S. Army worldwide probably has been inspected, too, and those in scandalous condition have been or are being repaired.

That’s not the point, though. That barracks and every barracks in the Army should be inspected every week by a hard-eyed first sergeant who reports to an even harder-eyed sergeant major, and if something is wrong it gets fixed or else.

Just as every patient housing facility at every Army hospital should be inspected every week and every military dining facility — even if the cooks and helpers are contract employees — should be inspected for cleanliness and adherence to the basic rules of hygiene.

This isn't rocket science. This isn't an impossible demand. This is taking care of business at its most basic level. If Army leadership can’t do that every day, 24/7, then it has failed utterly and ought to be relieved of duty and drummed out of service in disgrace.

If the Army can’t do the job, then take the soldiers away and turn them over to, say, the Marines, and let’s see if the Marine Corps can take care of them properly and see that their most basic needs are met in a competent and consistent manner.

I have a lot of friends in the U.S. Army, from bottom to top, and this is going to stick in some craws. I know that I’m going to hear from them with all the usual excuses — some of this work doesn’t get done because Congress doesn't pass the defense budget bills in a timely fashion and that, in turn, means that a base commander is directed to skimp on things such as mowing the grass and painting the rocks and fixing broken toilets and blocked sewage lines so the money can be spent to continue fighting the war.

Sorry. That’s not a valid excuse. If money is short, stop running congressional junkets to Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of millions to protect the little darlings during their photo-op market visits in Baghdad. Stop painting general officers’ quarters. Stop mowing the grass on base golf courses. Close the Army Congressional Liaison Office until the budget bills are passed.

Cut the fat first. Cut the perks for fat cats first. Cut out the BS first.

We don’t want to see a single American soldier living like a dog in government quarters so filthy and broken they'd make a slumlord blush. We don’t want to see another American soldier wounded in battle being treated and housed with any less care and attention than a retired general with hemorrhoids routinely gets at an Army hospital.

This is the bottom line, the core competency, for Army leaders: Take Care of Your Soldiers First. See that they're sheltered and fed first. The best military leaders I've known never ate or slept until they'd first seen to the needs of their soldiers. Never. Got that? NEVER.


As a former NCO I am ashamed to see video's like this, the stories of incompetent medical care, barracks that aren't fit for prisoners let alone war veterans or even the military's newest recruits, I know if those had been my barracks 40 years ago I would have lost some stripes and I would have deserved it. Thank you Joe Galloway again you prove that you are truly a soldiers best friend in or out of the foxhole

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