Saturday, June 21, 2008

California's war death toll reaches 500

California's war death toll reaches 500

By David Kelly, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 21, 2008
HEMET, CALIF. -- More than anything else in the world, Marc Retmier's parents wanted him to return from Afghanistan, go to college and get back to doing what he did best: bossing them around, riding motorcycles and telling his brother to cut his hair.

"He was supposed to be here July 4th for leave," said his father, Steve Retmier. "We almost had him back."

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But this week, the 19-year-old Navy hospitalman who had hoped to become a doctor instead became a grim statistic and poignant milestone. He was the 500th Californian to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, the seventh from this working-class city of about 66,000 in southern Riverside County.

Retmier, who has two younger brothers, was killed Wednesday when a Taliban rocket slammed into his Humvee as he was patrolling in northern Paktia province. He was a medic assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Sharana. Petty Officer 1st Class Ross Toles III, 37, of Davison, Mich., also was killed.

Retmier's death left his parents questioning the war and wondering whether it was worth the life of their son.

California's War Dead

Profiles of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus reactions from readers.

Browse by: Age, Cemetery, Country of Birth, High School, Hometown, Number of Children, ... His mother Joy, a clerk at a Stater Brothers store, said she was always uneasy about his military service. Friends told her he was "lucky" to be in Afghanistan because Iraq was so much worse. But as Marc e-mailed her with more and more stories about his experiences on the ground, she began to wonder if the U.S. was making any real progress.

"He told me he would go through villages handing out coloring books and the kids would rip them up and throw them back at him," she said. "He told us they didn't want Americans there."

She produced photographs of her son tending to the bloodied heads of two Afghan men who had nearly beaten each other to death.

Then she began to cry.

"My baby was only 19," she sobbed. "I don't want another parent to go through what I went through."

His father, who sat on the living room couch Friday as a steady stream of neighbors stopped in to offer condolences, looked over at his son's maroon-and-white jacket with the varsity swim team letter on it lying across a chair. Marc was a swimmer, surfer and motocross rider and looking forward to sky-diving.

"I don't blame the military. I am a military enthusiast," he said. "I just don't know if we are making any difference over there. And if my son is No. 500, I don't want to see 501."

Retmier had three years left in the Navy, then planned to attend Cal State Long Beach and study medicine.

"His passion was always to be where the action was," Steve Retmier said. "He could have stayed at Bethesda Naval Hospital and been a corpsman. My son believed in what he was doing and he kept volunteering. He didn't have to be there."

Marc's grandfather, Dale Powers, 75, a decorated Korean War veteran, said the teenager wanted combat experience on his resume. Powers took the death especially hard.

"He used to follow me around like a little shadow; I practically raised him," he said. "I took him everywhere. I took him camping and fishing. He was sort of in charge of the family."

At the Retmier home and around town, no one could explain why Hemet has seen so many combat deaths. Six of the seven killed attended Hemet Senior High School. Retmier spent a year there but then was home-schooled and graduated early from Alessandro High School.

One of the Retmier's neighbors said there was so little future in town that youths saw the military as a way out. Others noted that Hemet is a haven for retired veterans and younger service people fleeing higher-priced military towns.

"Only the good Lord knows why so many people have died from Hemet. There are a lot of good people here, and they aren't afraid to stand up and fight for their country," said Mayor Marc Searl. "It's something we are trying to deal with, and we will never forget them. War is devastating. War is hell."

At the nearby VFW Post 2266 in San Jacinto, some older veterans just shook their heads.

Jerry Woodbeck, 80, said it is a sad fact of history that young men die in battle. During World War II, he said, when he served in the Navy, a single death was barely worth noting.

"You had a gold star or a blue star in your window," he said, explaining that the gold star meant someone had died and the blue meant someone was serving. "I think it's just a quirk of nature that so many have come from Hemet. I don't think we are more patriotic than anyone else."

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Dozens of immigrants among war casualties
Military recruiters, however, described Hemet as one of the top recruiting sites in all of Southern California.

Staff Sgt. Charles Hudson, a Marine who did two tours in Iraq, said he is usually happy to get two recruits a month. He got seven last month in Hemet.

"Hemet is untouched. It's booming," he said. "You have all of these high schools around here with lots of young people."

California's War Dead

Profiles of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus reactions from readers.

Browse by: Age, Cemetery, Country of Birth, High School, Hometown, Number of Children, ... On Friday, Hudson had Cody Stewart, 16, and his mother, Janice Sanches, in his office. Stewart said he wants to join the Marines when he's 17 and become part of its elite Force Reconnaissance unit.

Hudson said he is "brutally honest" with potential recruits. But when a visitor mentioned it, he said, he hadn't yet broached the subject of possible death with the Hemet High School student. Stewart was unfazed. He said he didn't even think about it.

"It's tragic when somebody dies, but it was his choice to join," he said. "For me, it's a chance of being a part of a big brotherhood that goes back hundreds of years. Death never crosses my mind."

His mother supports his decision.

"If my son is killed in the line of duty, then it was his time to go," she said. "My husband is a sheriff's deputy, and I have the same attitude toward him."

Hudson looked at young Cody. "This kid is highly qualified," he said. "He knows what he wants."

At the Retmier home, it seemed that 17-year-old Matthew Retmier also knew what he wanted: to join the Navy like his brother.

"I want to finish what Marc started and honor his legacy," he said.

His mother stared hard at the boy. "I don't want to lose another child," she said.

Matthew looked down.

"Maybe I could be on a ship somewhere," he said quietly.

Retmier's funeral is set for Wednesday at Pacific View Memorial Park and Mortuary in Corona Del Mar.

To share a memory about Retmier or any of the 500 Californians killed in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq visit The Times database of Californians killed in Afghanistan and Iraq allows you to search by name, high school, hometown and more, as well as read hundreds of obituaries and view links to personal websites and other news reports.


I grew up in Riverside, which is about 45 miles from Hemet, it is a small town mostly of retirees, it was the place where people from the east coast went to retire, Sun City is about 10 miles from Hemet. Out of the 4100 dead to think that 500have come from California seems to be be out of kilter with the nations dead from these wars, I am curious as to the extent of the wounded from California now?

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Army Is Starting Its Own Air Unit

Army Is Starting Its Own Air Unit

Published: June 22, 2008
WASHINGTON — Ever since the Army lost its warplanes to a newly independent Air Force after World War II, soldiers have depended on the sister service for help from the sky, from bombing and strafing to transport and surveillance.

But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have frayed the relationship, with Army officers making increasingly vocal complaints that the Air Force is not pulling its weight.

In Afghanistan, Army officers have complained about bombing missions gone awry that have killed innocent civilians. In Iraq, Army officers say the Air Force has often been out of touch, fulfilling only half of their requests for the sophisticated surveillance aircraft that ground commanders say are needed to find roadside bombs and track down insurgents.

The Air Force responds that it has only a limited number of those remotely piloted Predators and other advanced surveillance aircraft, so priorities for assigning them must be set by senior commanders at the headquarters in Baghdad working with counterparts at the Air Force’s regional command in Qatar. There are more than 14,000 airmen performing tasks on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Air Force civil engineers replacing Army construction engineers.

But now in Iraq, the Army has quietly decided to try going it alone for the important surveillance mission, organizing an all-Army surveillance unit that represents a new move by the service toward self-sufficiency, and away from joint operations.

Senior aides to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates say that he has shown keen interest in the Army initiative — much to the frustration of embattled Air Force leaders — as a potential way to improve battlefield surveillance.

The work of the new aviation battalion was initially kept secret, but Army officials involved in its planning say it has been exceptionally active, using remotely piloted surveillance aircraft to call in Apache helicopter strikes with missiles and heavy machine gun fire that have killed more than 3,000 adversaries in the last year and led to the capture of almost 150 insurgent leaders.

The Army aviation task force became fully operational last July with headquarters at Camp Speicher, in the north-central city of Tikrit, and focuses its efforts on insurgents planting roadside bombs. But it also has located and attacked insurgents in battles with American and Iraqi troops, and has supported missions of the top-secret Special Operations units assigned to capture or kill the most high-value targets in Iraq.

The battalion is called Task Force Odin — the name is that of the chief god of Norse mythology, but it also is an acronym for “observe, detect, identify and neutralize.” The task force of about 300 people and 25 aircraft is a Rube Goldberg collection of surveillance and communications and attack systems, a mash-up of manned and remotely piloted vehicles, commercial aircraft with high-tech infrared sensors strapped to the fuselage, along with attack helicopters and infantry.

The Army cobbled together small civilian aircraft, including the Beech C-12, and placed advanced reconnaissance sensors on board. Also assigned to the task force are small, medium and larger remotely piloted Army surveillance vehicles, including the Warrior and Shadow, with infrared cameras for night operations and full-motion video cameras.

All are linked by radio to Apache attack helicopters, with Hellfire missiles and 30-millimeter guns, and to infantry units in armored vehicles.

Civilian casualties are always a risk in air raids, particularly those attacking bomb-placing teams that operate in cities and villages. Army officials declined to say whether they believed the casualties from the new Army raids included innocent civilians, but they sought to pre-empt some criticism by screening an aerial surveillance video that they said showed the precise nature of the raids.

The video showed an insurgent who had escaped attack and hid in a courtyard a few feet from a grazing mule. It then showed Apache helicopter fire killing the insurgent, while the mule was left grazing beside the corpse.

In contrast to Predators, which are assigned by the top headquarters for missions all across Iraq, Task Force Odin is on call for commanders at the level of brigade and below, an effort by the Army to be responsive to the needs of smaller combat units in direct contact with adversaries — and a clear sign of rivaling concepts with the Air Force.

Task Force Odin was created on orders of Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s outgoing vice chief of staff, as a way to improve the detection of roadside bombs before they explode, and to strike more adversaries more safely, from a distance. Thus far, not a single helicopter or piloted surveillance airplane has been lost in the unit’s missions.

“Task Force Odin provides a current example in Iraq that reveals how reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition improves survivability,” General Cody said in a statement.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Mr. Gates “wants to make sure that we are looking at not just top-down solutions, but ground-up solutions. We need to pay attention to anything that works.”

Strains between the services have surfaced in the years since the military undertook the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army and Marine Corps officers in Afghanistan have complained that Air Force pilots flying attack missions in support of ground operations do not come in as low as their Navy and Marine counterparts. Instances of civilian casualties from bombing and missile attacks have increased tensions among local populations, which have to be eased by ground commanders, adding to their burden of winning hearts and minds in the counterinsurgency efforts.

“We are supporting the Army as best we can,” Michael W. Wynne, the departing Air Force secretary, said Friday. He said that as the Army and Marine Corps increased ground forces in Iraq as part of the so-called troop surge over the past year, the Air Force quadrupled its number of sorties and increased its bombing tenfold. The number of surveillance flights by Predators and the larger Reaper vehicles over Iraq and Afghanistan has doubled since January of 2007.

Army officers who are promoting the new concept have shown senior Pentagon officials classified video clips intended to advertise the service’s increasing go-it-alone ability. One clip from a remotely piloted vehicle shows an insurgent using palm fronds to smooth dirt over a bomb he had buried late at night along a major convoy route. Moments later, he disappeared in 30-millimeter fire from an Apache that was alerted by the remotely piloted Army surveillance craft overhead.

The Army is asking for money to create a similar unit in Afghanistan within the next six months.

My step father joined the Army Air Corp in 1942, he flew with the 8th Army Air Corp out of England bombing Germany and he then went to the Air Force when they carved it out of the Army, personally I think he would be happy to see the Army start their own air support group again. The more things change, the more they go back to the way they used to be, the Army needs quick response air help, not when the Air Force gets around to it. This is what lead to the Army creating the Apache and other armed helicopters and C-130 gunships during Vietnam.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Almost 10,000 Vermont Veterans and Retirees Due Stimulus Checks

Almost 10,000 Vermont Veterans and Retirees Due Stimulus Checks - If They File -- 06/20/2008

BURLINGTON, June 20 – Almost 10,000 Vermont retirees and disabled veterans may qualify for an economic stimulus check but have not yet claimed it.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today urged veterans and retirees to claim the stimulus payment and his office offered to help people with questions about filling out the paperwork.

“It’s not too late to file,” Sanders said. “In today’s economy, many of our people could use this extra money. Further, putting money in the hands of people who are truly in need will help the economy overall.”

In Vermont, 38,982 people who receive Social Security and veterans on disability benefits were eligible for stimulus checks, according to the Internal Revenue Service, but 9,749 of those Vermonters have failed to file for the rebates.

The rebate checks would total $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples.

Overall, the Internal Revenue Service has issued 76.5 million payments worth $63.8 billion as part of the economic stimulus package that Congress passed last February. For many of them, the IRS sent rebate checks automatically. By the end of the year, the IRS expects to issue 124 million stimulus payments.

Nationwide, about 5.2 million seniors and veterans are owed rebates but haven’t filed for them.

Many of the 20 million seniors on Social Security and 250,000 veterans living on disability benefits do not ordinarily owe income taxes and do not have to file tax returns.

To qualify for the stimulus checks, however, those individuals must fill out an IRS Form 1040A by October 15.

The IRS Web site has forms and more information here.

If people need additional help, they may call the senator’s office from Vermont at 1 (800) 339-9834.


This was put out today by Senator Sanders, I imagine it applies to all states and their veterans also, many have not filed for whatever reasons, but they are entitled to.

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from the IAVA

Dear Michael,
We just received some great news from Washington, DC and I wanted to share it with you right away.

The White House and Congress have reached an agreement on the new GI Bill. The bill will now be included in the Emergency Supplemental Funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House of Representatives gave their overwhelming stamp of approval to the plan on Thursday afternoon with a vote of 416-12. Once the Senate passes the updated version of the bill, it will go to the President's desk for his signature.

Last week, Paul told you about the final hurdles facing the new GI Bill. The President was threatening to veto it, and a small group of representatives in the House was planning to stall the bill on a technicality. But people like you have shown extraordinary support for this bill over the past several weeks. By keeping the pressure on the President, you truly made a difference.

In fact, on the Senate floor yesterday, Vietnam veteran and Senator Jim Webb mentioned your impact when he said, "I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans' service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House."

Our hard work in fighting for the new GI Bill continues to pay off. The White House and members of Congress put aside their differences to come together and show real support for our troops. This fight will be remembered as a great example of Washington choosing patriotism over partisanship.

This development comes at an especially fitting time, since we're only a few days away from the 64th anniversary of the original GI Bill being signed into law.

We are about to make history ourselves. While we wait for the President's signature, I'd like you to know how inspiring your support has been throughout this fight.

Thank you for standing with us.


Patrick Campbell
Iraq Veteran
Legislative Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

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China admits taking, burying U.S. POW

China admits taking, burying U.S. POW

By Robert Burns - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jun 20, 2008 8:22:13 EDT
WASHINGTON — After decades of denials, the Chinese have acknowledged burying an American prisoner of war in China, telling the U.S. that a teenage soldier captured in the Korean War died a week after he “became mentally ill,” according to documents provided to The Associated Press.

China had long insisted that all POW questions were answered at the conclusion of the war in 1953, and that no Americans were moved to Chinese territory from North Korea. The little-known case of Army Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, of Shoreham, Vt., opens another chapter in this story and raises the possibility that new details concerning the fate of other POWs may eventually surface.

Chinese authorities gave Pentagon officials intriguing new details about Desautels in a March 2003 meeting in Beijing, saying they had found “a complete record of 9-10 pages” in classified archives.

Until now, this information had been kept quiet; a Pentagon spokesman said it was intended only for Desautels’ family members. The details were provided to Desautels’ brother, Rolland, who passed them to a POW-MIA advocacy group, the National Alliance of Families, which gave them to AP this week.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Rolland said he did not follow up on the information he got in 2003 because he did not believe it. He was not aware it marked the first time China had acknowledged taking a U.S. POW from North Korea into Chinese territory or burying an American there.

Two months after the March 2003 meeting, the Pentagon office responsible for POW-MIA issues sent Rolland Desautels a brief written summary of what a Chinese army official had related about the case.

“According to the Chinese, Sgt. Desautels became mentally ill on April 22, 1953, and died on April 29, 1953,” the summary said. It added that he had been buried in a Chinese cemetery but the grave was moved during a construction project “and there is no record of where Desautels’ remains were reinterred.”

The reported circumstance of Desautels’ death — sudden mental illness — may sound improbable. But the key revelation — that he was taken from North Korea to a city in northeastern China and then buried — matches long-held U.S. suspicions about China’s handling, or mishandling, of American POWs during and after the war.

It raises the possibility that wartime Chinese records could shed light on the fate of other U.S. captives who were known to be held in Chinese-run POW camps but did not return when the fighting ended in 1953.

And it appears to undercut the Pentagon’s public stance that China returned all POWs it held inside China. The Pentagon has focused more on the related issue of China’s management of POW camps inside North Korea during the war, which Chinese troops entered in the fall of 1950 on North Korea’s side.

Desautels’ reported burial site — the city of Shenyang, formerly known as Mukden — is interesting because it is far from the North Korean border and was often cited in declassified U.S. intelligence reports as the site of one or more prisons holding hundreds of American POWs from Korea. Some U.S. reports referred to Mukden as a possible transshipment point for POWs headed to Russia.

Desautels was an 18-year old corporal assigned to A Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit encountered a swarming Chinese assault near Kunu-ri, North Korea, on Dec. 1, 1950. According to a Pentagon account, Desautels and his fellow captives were marched north to a POW compound known as Camp 5, near Pyoktong, on the North Korean side of the border with China.

Subsequent events are a bit fuzzy, but Desautels was moved among prison camps and apparently was used by the Chinese army as a truck driver. A number of U.S. POWs told American interrogators after their release from captivity that they had seen Desautels alive and well in Camp 5.

One who said he spent four months with Desautels said that in March 1952, Desautels said that if he should disappear, others should make inquiries with the proper military authorities. Numerous returned POWs said Desautels had spent several months inside China before being returned to Camp 5 in 1952.

Rolland Desautels, 81, recalls his older brother as “a strong character who came off the farm,” enlisted in the Army at age 17 and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., before being shipped to Korea in August 1950, two months after the war began with North Korea’s invasion of the South.

The Pentagon has taken an interest in the Desautels case for many years. A June 1998 Pentagon cable to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said the case was one of several on which China should be pushed to provide answers, that “we believe the Chinese should be able to account for these individuals.”

Now it turns out that China did provide an account, although it is incomplete and was kept under wraps for five years.

Larry Greer, a spokesman for the POW-MIA office at the Pentagon, said Thursday that although U.S. officials asked to see the 9-10 page file on Desautels, China has yet to provide it or additional information.

Mark Sauter, an author and researcher on the subject of POWs from the Korean War, said in an interview that Beijing authorities are to be commended for finally providing useful information.

“The case of Sgt. Desautels has been a focal point of a six-decade cover-up by the Chinese government,” Sauter said. “This is the first crack in the dike. From what we can tell, the Pentagon has not aggressively followed up, either on the Desautels case or those of hundreds of other Americans for whom the Chinese should be able to account.”

American officials believed from the earliest days of the armistice that concluded the Korean War without a formal peace treaty in July 1953 that the Chinese and North Koreans withheld a number of U.S. POWs, possibly in retaliation for U.S. refusal to repatriate those Chinese and North Korean POWs who chose not to be returned to their home country out of fear of retribution.

Gen. Mark W. Clark, the American commander of U.S.-led forces during the final stages of the Korean War, wrote in a 1954 account that “we had solid evidence” that hundreds of captive Americans were held back by the Chinese and North Koreans, possibly as leverage to gain a China seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Over time, however, U.S. officials muted their concerns, while periodically pressing the Chinese in private. Publicly, the Pentagon’s stance today is that China returned all the U.S. POWs it held.

“Some U.S. POWs spent time across the [Yalu] river in Manchuria, but to the best of our knowledge, all have returned,” the Pentagon’s POW/MIA office said in a summary of wartime POW camps

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CBS Story by Kelly Wallace posted on you tube by Larry Scott of VA

It discusses how the VA is not really geared up to handle combat wounded female veterans. Great story

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Rep. Bob Filner: "This is ridiculous. These guys

were there. They all have cancer. Take care of them."

For more about "test vets," use the VA Watchdog search here...

Story here...

Story below:


Low approval rate for vets' chemical tests claims


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Veterans Affairs Department has granted only 6 percent of health claims filed by veterans of secret Cold War chemical and germ warfare tests conducted by the Pentagon, according to figures obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Veterans advocates called the number appallingly low.

By comparison, about 88 percent of processed claims from Gulf War vets were granted as of last year, according to VA documents. More than 90 percent of processed claims from Iraq and Afghanistan vets were granted as of earlier this year.

During the tests thousands of service members were exposed, often without their knowledge, to real and simulated chemical and biological agents, including sarin and VX.

The tests were conducted at sea and above a half-dozen U.S. states from 1962-1973 to see how U.S. ships would withstand chemical and germ assaults and how such weapons would disperse.

The Defense Department says 6,440 service members took part in the experiments called Project 112 and Project SHAD, and 4,438 veterans have been notified of their participation. Others could not be located or have died.

As of May, the VA had processed 641 claims filed by veterans of the tests, many of whom are suffering from cancer, respiratory problems or other ailments.

Thirty-nine of the claims were granted, 56 were pending and 546 were denied.

AP obtained the figures from the VA on Thursday following a congressional hearing on the issue last week.

An agency spokeswoman had no immediate comment on why the rate of granting the claims was so low.

"These numbers are shocking, disgraceful and disappointing and reflect poorly on VA," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.

"This is ridiculous," said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "These guys were there. They all have cancer. Take care of them."

Filner's committee last week held a hearing on legislation by Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., that would grant coverage to project veterans without them having to prove a link between their problems and their participation in Projects SHAD/112.

The bill is patterned after legislation passed in 1991 to help people exposed to Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used by U.S. forces in Vietnam that was linked to cancer and other ailments

Filner said he hoped to vote the bill out of his committee by July 4.

The VA and Pentagon both oppose the bill, arguing that there's no clear scientific evidence linking the Project SHAD/112 experiments to the illnesses veterans are experiencing.

The Pentagon only began to disclose details of the tests in 2001, after pressure from veterans and lawmakers. Two years later Defense officials stopped looking for additional project participants, despite criticism from the Government Accountability Office, which said untold number of veterans and civilians could remain unaware of their potential exposure.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org


There are many more veterans that were exposed to chemical weapons or biological weapons during the Cold War, SHAD/112 was but one program or many, you have Operation White Coat at Fort Detrick that ran from 1953 - 1972 and used 2100 enlisted men, then you had the chemical weapon and drug experiments at Edgewood Arsenal that ran from 1999 - 1975 and used 7120 men. These men were used in a Sarin health study in March 2003 complied by the IOM in FY2000, this study showed that 40% of the men were presumed deceased, 3098 men could not be found using IRA, VA and SS records, men aged 45 - 65 do not quit paying taxes, or drawing veterans benefits or SS disability payments. Of the 4022 survivors located, 54% of them or another 2200 men reported being disabled, yet the report never explained the cause.

There are also the many men and women who went thru Chemical weapons training or NBC training at Fort McClellan and were exposed to nerve agents or other chemical weapons during training.

DOD and the VA point to the March 2003 IOM study and say there were no oong term health effects from the low level exposures, yet DR William Page who conducted the study ignored the Jan 1994 report from the National Institute of Health on chemical weapons exposures Toxicity of the Organophosphate Chemical Warfare Agents GA, GB, and VX: Implications for Public Protection and this report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) from 1975 showing the many health conditions caused by low level CW exposure Delayed Toxic Effects of Chemical Warfare Agents

To conclude this section, the closing observations from Spiegelberg’s monograph
will be cited (these remarks do not refer exclusively to organophosphorus
CW agents) [2]:
A psychiatric delayed-effect syndrome was found as a result of systematic investigations
on former members of CW production and testing stations for the Wehrmacht. In
terms of frequency, two groups of symptoms can be distinguished–each consisting of
four separate symptoms or signs.
(1) The great majority of persons examined showed:
(a) persistently lowered vitality accompanied by marked diminution in drive;
(b) defective autonomic regulation leading to cephalalgia, gastrointestinal and
cardiovascular symptoms, and premature decline in libido and potency;
(c) intolerance symptoms (alcohol, nicotine, medicines);
(d) impression of premature aging.
(2) Further, one or more symptoms of the second group were found:
(a) depressive or subdepressive disorders of vital functions;
(b) cerebral vegetative (syncopal) attacks;
(c) slight or moderate amnestic and demential defects;
(d) slight organoneurological defects (predominantly microsymptoms and singular
signs of extrapyramidal character).
Our results are a contribution to the general question of psychopathological delayed
and permanent lesions caused by industrial poisoning. On the basis of our studies of
the etiologically different manifestations of toxication, the possibility of a relatively
uniform–though equally unspecific–cerebro-organic delayed effect syndrome is conceivable

As you can see in this study that ALL bidy systems are affected by low level exposures, so the position taken by DR Page and DOD or the VA is questionable at best.

It's time for Congress to force the VA to help these men, women and their widows.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Administration, Congress Settle Dispute Over Surveillance

Administration, Congress Settle Dispute Over Surveillance

Deal Would Provide Some Telecom Immunity, Extend Government Powers

By Paul Kane and Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 19, 2008; 12:33 PM

The White House and Congress today reached a deal on the most comprehensive overhaul of the nation's intelligence surveillance laws in 30 years. It would provide potential retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that previously cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program and extend government surveillance powers.

After months of negotiations between President Bush's top advisers and congressional leaders, the deal was announced today and set to be approved on the House floor tomorrow. Senate passage of the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which had been held up since last summer largely because of fights about the immunity provision, would likely come next week.

Some Democratic leaders have argued that the bill does not go far enough in protecting civil liberties. They were backed by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that have filed lawsuits against telecommunications companies for helping the government monitor phone calls and e-mails into an out of the United States without warrants after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A key element of the new plan would give U.S. district courts the chance to evaluate whether telecommunications companies deserve retroactive protection from lawsuits. A previous proposal offered by Republicans would have put the question to the secret FISA court that approves the warrants.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), who has been the lead Democratic negotiator with the White House and congressional Republicans, said this week that the bill is much better than the version approved earlier this year by the Senate, which allowed for no court review of telecom immunity.

"It will accommodate the protection of civil liberties going forward," Hoyer said yesterday.

But the outlines of the deal bode poorly for more than 40 lawsuits filed against telecommunications providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint for providing vast troves of customer data to government investigators after the terrorist attacks.

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and leaders of the intelligence community have warned that if a deal to overhaul FISA were not struck this summer, valuable information that could help forestall terrorism might have been lost.

Democrats fought the administration over the immunity provision for the warrantless wiretapping program -- which many civil libertarians viewed as unconstitutional -- and delayed passage of the FISA overhaul. Instead, they passed the Protect America Act last August, providing some of the new laws needed to monitor suspected terrorists. FISA Court orders that allowed continued surveillance while the legislation was debated are scheduled to expire early this August, according to administration officials.

Critics question whether the data really would have been unavailable and whether the administration is citing a possible intelligence gap for political gain.

"It looks like it was all give from the Democratic side and all take from the Republican side," said Caroline Frederickson, a Washington based lobbyist for the ACLU.


The WAPO closed comments for this article, I guess they knew there would be thousands of comments about this deal. This deal does nothing for the average American excpet tell us that our civil liberties are toast. If giving President Bush and VP Cheney the power to use our telephone lines and computers to spy on every user in the United States, and protect the telecom industry from lawsuits arising out of their willful compliance with DOJ requests.

I feel that this is NOT one of the Congresses finest an American I am ashamed to see this deal what country is this again?

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VA Reaches Out to Women Veterans

VA Reaches Out to Women Veterans
Department Hosts 4th Quadrennial Summit

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2008) - The Fourth National Summit on Women
Veterans' Issues will take place at the Westin Washington, D.C., City
Center from June 20-22. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B.
Peake said the three-day meeting will help ensure that women veterans
know about the benefits and health care they have earned.

"With more women than ever serving in our armed forces, this public
forum will bring visibility to the issues important to women veterans of
all eras," Peake said. "Today, women are important contributors to the
military and valued members of the veterans community."

Recognizing the valor, service and sacrifice of America's 1.7 million
women veterans, VA has created a comprehensive array of benefits and

Women veterans are entitled to the same benefits and medical care as
their male counterparts, including health care, disability compensation,
education assistance, work-study allowance, vocational rehabilitation,
employment and counseling services, insurance, home loan benefits,
nursing home care, survivor benefits and various burial benefits.

In addition, VA also has a multitude of services and programs that
respond to the unique needs of women veterans, including pap smears,
mammography, and general reproductive health care, substance abuse
counseling, counseling for sexual trauma, and evaluation and treatment
for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Today, over 200,000 women are serving in the armed forces. About 11
percent of the U.S. forces currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are

According to a recent "hospital report card" by VA, the Department's
screening for breast and cervical cancer for women in VA facilities
exceeds screening in private-sector facilities, but women veterans lag
behind their male counterparts in some quality measurements.

VA has already launched an aggressive program to ensure women veterans
receive the highest quality of care, including $32.5 million to purchase
additional equipment to meet the health care needs of women. This
includes full field digital mammography equipment, stereotactic imaging
technology, specialized ultrasound and biopsy equipment and DEXA
scanners for bone density measurements. The status of health care for
women veterans will be a major topic at the summit.

There is a women veterans program manager at every VA medical center, a
women's liaison at every community based outpatient clinic and a women
veterans coordinator at every VA regional office.

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"...Congress must act to prevent

the Secretary from continuing such blatant disregard

for the law and for the livelihood and welfare of

those that stand up to defend this Country."

NOTE: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness mentioned in the testimony below, is Dr. David friend of veterans.

For more about Dr. David Chu, use the VA Watchdog search here...

The following is testimony prepared for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

DAV testimony here...

Testimony below:


House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Testimony By Kerry Baker
Associate National Legislative Director
Disabled American Veterans

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the 1.3 million members of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), I am honored to present this testimony to the Committee to address the implementation of the wounded warrior provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 (NDAA). In accordance with our congressional charter, the DAV’s mission is to “advance the interests, and work for the betterment, of all wounded, injured, and disabled American veterans.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) Knowingly Violated the Law and Ignored the Intent of Congress When it Implemented Section 1646 of the NDAA.

The NDAA made several positive changes as part of an enhanced wounded warrior benefits plan—changes that in many respects, were nothing short of groundbreaking. The DAV applauds Congress for achieving these milestones on behalf of all service men and women injured in the line of duty.

One of those changes was improvements in disability severance pay from the military, which previously was based on a maximum of 12 years of military service, and is now based on a maximum of 19 years of military service. This change alone will make a remarkable difference in the lives of career service men and women who received disability separations from service prior to reaching full retirement tenure.

The above change would be pointless if an applicable service member was forced to pay back that severance pay from any future VA compensation, which has always been required until passage of the NDAA. Disability severance pay is based on past achievements in a service member’s career, i.e., rank and number of service years completed. Alternatively, VA disability compensation is paid based on future loss of earnings potential. It is obvious the two are designated for different purposes. As a consequence, a service member should not be forced to return his or her severance pay to the DOD via his or her VA disability compensation.

Congress understood this, and in addition to increasing the amount of severance pay, section 1646 of the NDAA (“enhancement of disability severance pay for members of the armed forces”) (emphasis omitted) eliminated the offset of VA disability compensation by the amount of any severance pay received by certain service members, but not all. The pertinent language in sec. 1646 reads:

No deduction may be made . . . in the case of disability severance pay received by a member for a disability incurred in line of duty in a combat zone or incurred during performance of duty in combat-related operations as designated by the Secretary of Defense.

National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-181, § 1646(b), 122 Stat 3 (codified at 10 U.S.C. § 1212).

A veteran must satisfy one of two criteria in order to be exempt from the offset of disability compensation. The first criterion—“in line of duty in a combat zone”—is self-explanatory and not in dispute. The latter criterion requires a deeper understanding of the term “combat-related.”

The logical explanation is that “combat-related” disabilities are incurred as a result of “combat-related” operations. The term “combat-related disability” is defined by the NDAA in, inter alia, section 1632 as “having the meaning given that term in 10 U.S.C.A. § 1413a” (“Combat-related special compensation”). sec. 1632. Section 1413a defines the phrase as follows:

Combat-related disability.--In this section, the term “combat-related disability” means a disability that is compensable under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and that--

(1) is attributable to an injury for which the member was awarded the Purple Heart; or

(2) was incurred (as determined under criteria prescribed by the Secretary of Defense)--

(A) as a direct result of armed conflict;

(B) while engaged in hazardous service;

(C) in the performance of duty under conditions simulating war; or

(D) through an instrumentality of war.

10 U.S.C.A. 1413a(e) (West 2002 & Supp 2007).

The Department of Defense (DOD) has defined the foregoing terms in DOD Instruction (DODI) 1332.38, as follows:

E3.P5.2.2. Combat-related. This standard covers those injuries and diseases attributable to the special dangers associated with armed conflict or the preparation or training for armed conflict. A physical disability shall be considered combat-related if it makes the member unfit or contributes to unfitness and was incurred under any of the circumstances listed in paragraphs E3.P5.2.2.1. through E3.P5.2.2.4., below.

E3.P5.2.2.1. As a direct result of armed conflict. The criteria are the same as in paragraph E3.P5.1.2. [Paragraph E3.P5.1.2 defines armed conflict as follows:]

E3.P5.1.2. Armed conflict. [] The physical disability is a disease or injury incurred in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict. The fact that a member may have incurred a disability during a period of war or in an area of armed conflict, or while participating in combat operations is not sufficient to support this finding. There must be a definite causal relationship between the armed conflict and the resulting unfitting disability.

E3.P5.1.2.1. Armed conflict includes a war, expedition, occupation of an area or territory, battle, skirmish, raid, invasion, rebellion, insurrection, guerrilla action, riot, or any other action in which Service members are engaged with a hostile or belligerent nation, faction, force, or terrorists.

E3.P5.1.2.2. Armed conflict may also include such situations as incidents involving a member while interned as a prisoner of war or while detained against his or her will in custody of a hostile or belligerent force or while escaping or attempting to escape from such confinement, prisoner of war, or detained status.

E3.P5.2.2.2. While engaged in hazardous service. Such service includes, but is not limited to, aerial flight duty, parachute duty, demolition duty, experimental stress duty, and diving duty.

E3.P5.2.2.3. Under conditions simulating war. In general, this covers disabilities resulting from military training, such as war games, practice alerts, tactical exercises, airborne operations, leadership reaction courses; grenade and live fire weapons practice; bayonet training; hand-to-hand combat training; rappelling, and negotiation of combat confidence and obstacle courses. It does not include physical training activities, such as calisthenics and jogging or formation running and supervised sports.

E3.P5.2.2.4. Caused by an instrumentality of war. Incurrence during a period of war is not required. A favorable determination is made if the disability was incurred during any period of service as a result of such diverse causes as wounds caused by a military weapon, accidents involving a military combat vehicle, injury, or sickness caused by fumes, gases, or explosion of military ordnance, vehicles, or material. However, there must be a direct causal relationship between the instrumentality of war and the disability. For example, an injury resulting from a Service member falling on the deck of a ship while participating in a sports activity would not normally be considered an injury caused by an instrumentality of war (the ship) since the sports activity and not the ship caused the fall. The exception occurs if the operation of the ship caused the fall.

Based on all of the above, it is clear that when a veteran receives a medical discharge based on a disability resulting from any of the above circumstances then such disability constitutes a “combat-related disability” in accordance with section 1413a of title 10, United States Code, and DOD instructions. (See also 26 U.S.C. § 104). Therefore, under the plain language of section 1646 of the NDAA and title 10, United States Code, such a veteran is not subject to an offset of VA disability compensation by the amount of any military severance pay.

However, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, (“Secretary”), has issued a “directive-type memorandum” dated March 13, 2008, implementing, inter alia, the foregoing provisions of the NDAA. In that memorandum, the Secretary directed that determinations of whether a service member’s disability was “incurred during performance of duty in combat-related operations” is to be made consistent only with the criteria set forth in DODI 1332.38 paragraph E3.P5.1.2., which defines “armed conflict.”

The effect of the Memorandum is to impose an express limitation on NDAA § 1646. Under the Memorandum, the definition of “combat-related operations” excludes hazardous service, duty under conditions simulating war, or disabilities incurred through an instrumentality of war unless the service member was engaged in armed conflict. The Memorandum defines “combat-related operations” even more narrowly than “in a combat zone.” The interpretation renders the alternative basis upon which Congress intended that a disabled former member should be exempt from the offset of VA disability compensation under the NDAA, “or incurred during performance of duty in combat-related operations as designated by the Secretary of Defense,” superfluous. This action has intentionally read “hazardous service,” “conditions simulating war,” and “instrumentality of war”completely out of the law.

In doing so, the Secretary has narrowed the scope of the statute contrary to the intent of Congress, ignored the plain language of the NDAA and associated statutes, and otherwise violated the law. The Secretary’s action has rendered it far more difficult for veterans to benefit from this provision of the NDAA than as otherwise intended. It is unlawful to read such a limitation into a statute, thereby narrowing its scope and construing it against veterans. See Brown v. Gardner,513 U.S. 115, 117-18 (1994); Miller v. United States, 294 U.S. 435, 439-40 (1935) (regulation or procedural rule that is inconsistent with the authorizing statute constitutes impermissible legislation). Congress must not let the Secretary’s action stand.

Essentially, the Secretary has drawn a distinction between “combat-related operations” and “combat-related disability.” Such distinction lies not with the words “operation” and “disability,” but rather with the established and well-defined meaning of “combat-related.” We do not view this as an oversight—we view this as an intentional effort to conserve monetary resources at the expense of disabled veterans.

Countless thousands of veterans will be detrimentally affected by this unforgivable situation. Congress must also understand that once this injustice is perpetrated, reconciliation will be nearly impossible. There is currently no procedure in place for unsuspecting service members that have been and will be harmed by this unlawful and uncaring act that could rectify the injustice and correct their records.

The ultimate result of this interpretation of NDAA § 1646 is that thousands of service members who Congress intended to exempt from offset of their VA disability compensation will be denied that protection. Those who become disabled while performing hazardous service or training for combat will have their VA disability compensation reduced contrary to the intent of Congress.

The foregoing action by the Secretary forces one to question his true resolve to care for those he sends into battle, or orders to train for battle. This same Secretary has stood before this Committee and declared that no unlawful decision that may have deprived service members injured in the line of duty was ever made based on an intention to save monetary resources. If that is the case in this circumstance, then the DAV must ask one simple question. Why? We can think of no other conceivable reason for the Secretary to circumvent the law as he has done here. The offset discussed herein is governed by title 10, United States Code , not title 38, meaning it is a DOD offset, not a VA offset. To answer the question of “why,” Congress need only determine in whose budget the disability compensation is deposited once offset by VA. We believe the answer to that question is the DOD budget.

In light of the above, Congress must act to prevent the Secretary from continuing such blatant disregard for the law and for the livelihood and welfare of those that stand up to defend this Country.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony on behalf of DAV. We hope you will consider our recommendations.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org


DR Chu has been attacking retired and disabled veterans since he has been in the Rumsfeld Pentagon, he has made statementts to the effect that disabled veterans and retirees will prevent the Pentagon from fielding an Army in the future due to the financial constraints they put on DOD, in other words we are leeches on DOD and don't deserve our compensation according to DR Chu. I will be happy to see this man leave the Pentagon in Jan 2009, he is a political appointee CYA don't want to be ya

I wonder how he even sleeps at night?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Veterans’ Subcommittee Reviews Legislation to Bolster Disability Benefits for Veterans
Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, led by Chairman John Hall (D-NY), conducted a legislative hearing to review eleven bills that would improve benefits for veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“A veteran is entitled to compensation for disabilities incurred in or aggravated during active military, naval or air service,” said Chairman Hall. “A few of the bills before the Subcommittee today address establishing presumptions of service-connection based on military service and seek to provide benefits to veterans afflicted with various illnesses as a result of their military service. A presumption for these illnesses would ease the often needless evidence hurdles many of these veterans face when filing their claims for disability compensation.”
Six of the bills reviewed at the DAMA Subcommittee hearing address establishing or expanding presumption of service-connection for certain diseases, service or specific veteran populations:
H.R. 1197 – The Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2007 (Rep. Bilirakis)
H.R. 3795 – You Were There, You Get Care Act of 2007 (Rep. Filner)
H.R. 5454 – To establish a presumption of service connection of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis for purposes of the laws administered by the VA Secretary (Rep. H. Brown)
H.R. 5954 – To provide veterans for presumptions of service connection for purposes of benefits under laws administered by VA Secretary for diseases associate with service in the Armed Forces and exposure to biological, chemical, or other toxic agents as post of Project 112 (Rep. Thompson)
H.R. 5985 – Compensation for Combat Veterans Act (Rep. Braley)
H.R. 6032 – To direct the VA Secretary to provide wartime disability compensation for certain veterans with Parkinson’s Disease (Rep. Filner)
Five bills would enhance benefits for veterans and outreach efforts at VA:
H.R. 3008 – Rural Veterans Services Outreach and Training Act (Rep. Wu)
H.R. 4274 – Gold Star Parents Annuity Act of 2007 (Rep. Walsh)
H.R. 5155 – Combat Veterans Debt Elimination Act of 2008 (Rep. Shea-Porter)
H.R. 5448 – Full Faith in Veterans Act of 2008 (Rep. Allen)
H.R. 5709 – Veterans Disability Fairness Act (Rep. Space)
Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, provided testimony on H.R. 3795: “The You Were There, You Get Care Act would ensure that veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and subsequent conflict will be rated ‘service-connected disabled’ for any illnesses currently covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. I believe that in the past, many exposures were due to a lack of knowledge of the effect they would have on service members who were exposed, but that is not the case now. We know that health problems can result from exposure to depleted uranium, and we know that if veterans have been exposed, we have a responsibility to care for them.”
Chairman Filner also offered testimony on H.R. 6032: “This bill would establish a presumption of service-connection for Parkinson’s disease due to exposure to Agent Orange for Vietnam veterans afflicted with this degenerative and incurable condition. The Institute of Medicine needs to further study the link between Parkinson’s disease in these veterans and their exposure while in service to their country.”
Witness List:
Panel 1
The Honorable David Wu, Oregon, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Thomas Allen, Maine, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Michael Thompson, California, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Denny R. Rehberg, California, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable James T. Walsh, New York, United States House of Representatives
Panel 2
Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, Executive Director, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
Sidath Viranga Panangala, Analyst Veterans Policy, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress
Accompanied by:
· Christine Scott, Specialist Social Policy, Congressional Research Services, Library of Congress
· Douglas Weimer, Legislative Attorney, Congressional Research Services, Library of Congress
Panel 3
Les Jackson, Executive Director, American Ex-Prisoners of War
Steve Smithson, Deputy Director, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, The American Legion
John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America
Lieutenant Commander Jack Alderson, USNR (Ret.), Ferndale, CA
Jeff Faull, McEwensville, PA, (Disabled Veteran) on behalf of The ALS Association
David Woods, Director, Veterans Affairs of Scott County, Iowa
Panel 4
Bradley G. Mayes, Director, Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, United States. Department of Veterans Affairs
Accompanied by:
· Bradley B. Flohr, Assistant Director for Policy, Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
· Richard Hipolit, Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Prepared testimony for the legislative hearing is available on the internet at this link:

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Filner to the VA: Suspend drug study IMMEDIATELY!


Filner to the VA: Suspend drug study IMMEDIATELY! IT MAY CAUSE SUICIDE!
Washington, D.C. – House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) provided the following statement on reports that reveal that veterans are being recruited for VA tests on drugs with violent side effects:
“Today’s news report that the VA is conducting experimental drug tests on our veterans is appalling.
“Once the FDA issued the warning that it had received reports linking Chantix to suicidal thoughts and aggressive and erratic behavior, the VA should have immediately suspended this study and notified participants of the possible dangers. Instead, the VA took more than three months to notify patients and they did so in bureaucratese that did not clearly state the side effects of the drug.
“There were only 940 veterans in this study. Why didn’t the VA just call them and bring them in immediately?!
“This warning came too late for James Elliott, a decorated Army veteran, who came close to ending his own life in ‘suicide by cop.’ He says the VA used him like a lab rat and treated him like ‘a disposable hero’.
“Nearly 40 suicides and more than 400 incidents of suicidal behavior have been linked to Chantix, yet the VA has chosen to continue the study and administer Chantix to veterans with PTSD.
“The VA must immediately suspend this study until a comprehensive review of the safety of the protocol is conducted.”

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Woods to miss rest of 2008 season,

Woods to miss rest of 2008 season,

Woods to miss rest of 2008 season, needs more surgery on left knee
- AP
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tiger Woods is done for the year, but not without one last major that capped off a painful 10 months.

Woods said Wednesday he will have season-ending knee surgery, revealing he has had a torn ligament in his left knee since last July.

And he suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia while preparing to return to the PGA Tour last month, which forced him to miss the Memorial and was the source of his pain at Torrey Pines when he won the U.S. Open.

"Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee," Woods said in a statement on his Web site.

He had arthroscopic surgery April 15 to clean out cartilage in his left knee, bypassing ACL surgery with hopes it could get him through the 2008 season. But going 91 holes for his 14th career major made it impossible to play any longer.

Woods was last seen in public late Monday afternoon walking with a pronounced limp across Torrey Pines toward the parking lot, the U.S. Open trophy in his arms.

Upcoming surgery makes his 14th major title even more staggering -- despite the stress fractures, he managed to win a U.S. Open that required five days of flinching, grimacing and a long list of spectacular shots that have defined his career.

"Although I will miss the rest of the 2008 season, I'm thrilled with the fact that last week was such a special tournament," Woods said.

He played only seven times worldwide this year and won five of them. He will miss a major championship for the first time in his career and will not be available for the Ryder Cup in September.

It will be the third surgery in five years on his left knee, although Woods said doctors have assured him the outlook is positive. When asked Monday if he further damaged his knee by playing in the U.S. Open, Woods said, "Maybe."

Doctors have told him, however, that the stress fractures will heal with time.

He did not say when he would have surgery.

Woods is ultra private with his health and personal life, never more so than at the U.S. Open. He never mentioned the torn ACL or the stress fracture, and wouldn't say how he was treating it, only that it was more sore as the week went on.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was when the injury first happened.

Woods said he tore the ACL while jogging at home after the British Open last July. He chose not to have surgery and went on a run that included seven consecutive victories, including the Dubai Desert Classic in Europe and his Target World Challenge, an unofficial event.

He did not play overseas late last year for the first time since 2003, hopeful that rest could allow him to play more this year. But the pain intensified through the Masters, where he finished second, and Woods said the cartilage damage developed from the ACL injury.

What he didn't anticipate were the stress fractures, discovered as he tried to get ready to play in the Memorial.

"The stress fractures that were discovered just prior to the tournament unfortunately prevented me from participating and had a huge impact on the timing for my return," Woods said. "I was determined though, to do everything and anything in my power to play in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which is a course that is close to where I grew up and holds many special memories for me."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


I know that this is not military or veteran related, but Tiger Woods is the son of a retired Army Green Beret Colonel. I have been a Tiger Woods fan since he won his first Masters and I got the privilege of delivering mail to the home that his mother and father rented in Augusta for the week, near the golf course. I was a letter carrier in Augusta for 16 years from 1985 thru 2001 and met a lot of professional golfers, I met Charles Howell III when he was 10 years old and watched him grow up to become one of the so called "young guns", he's a nice young man. His parents are very proud of him.

Tiger gave the golf fans of the world a memory of the US Open that they will never forget, his hobbling around the course injured, in extreme pain and he still managed to win the tournament, Rocco Mediate made him earn it, after 18 holes of playoff golf they had to go to a sudden death 19th and Tiger grimaced it out. All I can say Tiger is SALUTE, you are one hell of a man, your Dad would be very proud of your performance last week and on Monday, you are a true warrior, you do yours on the golf course and are a role model to millions of children. Your First Tee program and all you do for kids, you are a very special man, heal quick, listen to your doctors, come back and give us 20 more years of outstanding golf. Enjoy your daughter, during your break.

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Anything Not to Go Back’

Anything Not to Go Back’

As an internist at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Stephanie Santos is used to finding odd things in people's stomachs. So last spring when a young man, identifying himself as an Iraq-bound soldier, said he had accidentally swallowed a pen at the bus station, she believed him. That is, until she found a second pen. It read 1-800-GREYHOUND. Last summer, according to published reports, a 20-year-old Bronx soldier paid a hit man $500 to shoot him in the knee on the day he was scheduled to return to Iraq. The year before that, a 24-year-old specialist from Washington state escaped a second tour of duty, according to his sister, by strapping on a backpack full of tools and leaping off the roof of his house, injuring his spine.

Such cases of self-harm are a "rising trend" that military doctors are watching closely, says Col. Kathy Platoni, an Army Reserve psychologist who has worked with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. "There are some soldiers who will do almost anything not to go back," she says. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top psychologist, agrees that we could see an uptick in intentional injuries as more U.S. soldiers serve long, repeated combat tours, "but we just don't have good, hard data on it." Intentional- injury cases are hard to identify, and even harder to prosecute. Fewer than 21 soldiers have been punitively discharged for self-harm since 2003, according to the military. What's worrying, however, is that American troops committed suicide at the highest rate on record in 2007—and the factors behind self-injury are similar: combat stress and strained relationships. "It's often the families that don't want soldiers to return to war," says Ritchie.

Soldiers have long used self-harm as a rip cord to avoid war. During World War I, The American Journal of Psychiatry reported "epidemics of self-inflicted injuries," hospital wards filled with men shot in a single finger or toe, as well as cases of pulled-out teeth, punctured eardrums and slashed Achilles' heels. Few doubt that the Korean and Vietnam wars were any different. But the current war—fought with an overtaxed volunteer Army—may be the worst. "We're definitely concerned," says Ritchie. "We hope they'll talk to us rather than self-harm."

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4 accused of stealing government benefits

4 accused of stealing government benefits

by The Associated Press
Three West Virginia residents are among four people accused of stealing almost $150,000 in government benefits after the death of a relative.

A federal grand jury in Charleston on Tuesday indicted 48-year-old Cynthia Lambert of St. Albans; 67-year-old Roberta Smith and 65-year-old Mary Hill, both of Charleston; and 51-year-old Brenda Kay Newton of Chesapeake, Ohio.

U.S. Attorney Charles Miller says Lambert is accused of stealing nearly $51,000 from the U.S. Veterans Administration; Smith and Hill, nearly $37,000 from the Social Security Administration, and Newton about $59,000 from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution.

Three West Virginia residents are among four people accused of stealing almost $150,000 in government benefits after the death of a relative.

A federal grand jury in Charleston on Tuesday indicted 48-year-old Cynthia Lambert of St. Albans; 67-year-old Roberta Smith and 65-year-old Mary Hill, both of Charleston; and 51-year-old Brenda Kay Newton of Chesapeake, Ohio.

U.S. Attorney Charles Miller says Lambert is accused of stealing nearly $51,000 from the U.S. Veterans Administration; Smith and Hill, nearly $37,000 from the Social Security Administration, and Newton about $59,000 from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

'Disposable Heroes': Veterans Used To Test Suicide-Linked Drugs

'Disposable Heroes': Veterans Used To Test Suicide-Linked Drugs

An ABC News and Washington Times Investigation Reveals Vets Are Being Recruited for Government Tests on Drugs with Violent Side Effects
June 17, 2008
67 comments FONT SIZE
SHARE Mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects, an investigation by ABC News and The Washington Times has found.

James Elliott and his fiancee tell Brian Ross about his experience on Chantix.The report will air on Good Morning America and will also appear in The Washington Times on Tuesday. (click here to read the Washington Times coverage of "Disposable Heroes")

In one of the human experiments, involving the anti-smoking drug Chantix, Veterans Administration doctors waited more than three months before warning veterans about the possible serious side effects, including suicide and neuropsychiatric behavior.

"Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero," said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration.

Elliott, 38, of suburban Washington, D.C., was recruited, at $30 a month, for the Chantix anti-smoking study three years after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He served a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq from 2003-2004.

Months after he began taking the drug, Elliott suffered a mental breakdown, experiencing a relapse of Iraq combat nightmares he blames on Chantix.

"They never told me that I was going to be suicidal, that I would cease sleeping. They never told me anything except this will help me quit smoking," Elliott told ABC News and The Washington Times.

On the night of February 5th, after consuming a few beers, Elliott says he "snapped" and left his home with a loaded gun.

His fiancee, Tammy, called police and warned, "He's extremely unstable. He has PTSD."

"Do you think that he is going to shoot or attack the police?" the 911 dispatcher asked.

"I can't be certain. I don't know," she said. (click here to hear part of Tammy's 911 call)

"He was operating as if he was back in theater, in combat theater," she told ABC News. "And of course, a soldier goes nowhere without a gun."

When police arrived, they found Elliott in the street, with the gun in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.

"Are you going to shoot me? Shoot me," Elliott said, according to the police report. (click here to see the police report)

Police used a Taser gun to stun Elliott and placed him under arrest.

It wasn't until three weeks later that the Veterans Administration advised the veterans in the Chantix study that the drug may cause serious side effects, including "anxiety, nervousness, tension, depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted and completed suicide."

The VA's letter to the veterans, on February 29, 2008, followed three warnings from the FDA and Chantix' maker Pfizer, that were issued on November 20, 2007, January 18, 2008 and February 1, 2008. (click here to read the FDA warning and click here to read Pfizer's statement on Chantix)

"How this study continued in the face of these difficulties is almost impossible to understand," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Doctors at the Veterans Administration say they acted as quickly as they could.

"This didn't justify an emergency warning at that level," said Dr. Miles McFall, co-administrator of the VA study.

Dr. McFall said there is no proof that Elliott's breakdown was caused by Chantix and he sees no reason to discontinue the study. Some 140 veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder continue to receive Chantix as part of a smoking cessation study.

Dr. McFall says the VA decided to continue the Chantix study because "it would be depriving our veterans of an effective method of treatment to help them stop smoking."

Caplan, one of the country's leading medical ethicists, said he was stunned by the VA's decision to continue the Chantix experiment.

"Why take the group most a risk and keep them going? That doesn't make any sense, once you know the risk is there," he said.

Chantix is one of the drugs being used in an estimated 25 clinical studies using veterans by the VA.

Pfizer maintains that "the benefits of Chantix outweigh the risks" and that it continues to do further studies on the drug.

The FAA has prohibited commercial airline pilots from using Chantix because of its possible side effects.


you should go to the ABC web site to see documents and video related to this story and read the comments other people have left.

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"When I got out, I hate to say it, but man, that was it.

Everybody just kind of washed their hands of me,

and it was like, 'OK, you're on your own.'"

Isaac Stevens is photographed at his Operation Homefront apartment in San Antonio, Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Stevens was moved to the Operation Homefront apartment after a social worker at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, acting on her own initiative, intervened to rescue Stevens from a homeless shelter there. Stevens suffered a head injury and spinal damage after a headfirst fall over a wall on the obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. The injury alone didn't put him in a homeless shelter. Instead, it was military bureaucracy _ specifically, the way injured soldiers are discharged on just a fraction of their salary and then forced to wait six to nine months, and sometimes even more than a year, before their full disability payments begin to flow. (AP Photo /Eric Gay)

Story here...

Story below:


Soldiers risk ruin while awaiting benefit checks


SAN ANTONIO (AP) — His lifelong dream of becoming a soldier had, in the end, come to this for Isaac Stevens: 28, penniless, in a wheelchair, fending off the sexual advances of another man in a homeless shelter.

Stevens' descent from Army private first-class, 3rd Infantry Division, 11 Bravo Company, began in 2005 — not in battle, since he was never sent off to Iraq or Afghanistan, but with a headfirst fall over a wall on the obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. He suffered a head injury and spinal damage.

The injury alone didn't put him in a homeless shelter. Instead, it was military bureaucracy — specifically, the way injured soldiers are discharged on just a fraction of their salary and then forced to wait six to nine months, and sometimes even more than a year, before their full disability payments begin to flow.

"When I got out, I hate to say it, but man, that was it. Everybody just kind of washed their hands of me, and it was like, `OK, you're on your own,'" said Stevens, who was discharged in November and was in a shelter by February. He has since moved into a temporary San Antonio apartment with help from Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization.

Nearly 20,000 disabled soldiers were discharged in the past two fiscal years, and lawmakers, veterans' advocates and others say thousands could be facing financial ruin while they wait for their claims to be processed and their benefits to come through.

"The anecdotal evidence is depressing," said Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., who heads a subcommittee on veterans disability benefits. "These veterans are getting medical care, but their family is going through this huge readjustment at the same time they're dealing with financial difficulties."

Most permanently disabled veterans qualify for payments from Social Security and the military or Veterans Affairs. Those sums can amount to about two-thirds of their active-duty pay. But until those checks show up, most disabled veterans draw a reduced Army paycheck.

The amount depends on the soldier's injuries, service time and other factors. But a typical veteran and his family who once lived on $3,400 a month might have to make do with $970 a month.

Unless a soldier has a personal fortune or was so severely injured as to require long-term inpatient care, that can be an extreme hardship.

The Army, stung by the scandal last year over shoddy care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, has been working to help soldiers during the in-between period, said Col. Becky Baker, assigned to injured soldier transition at the U.S. Surgeon General's Office.

In a change in policy that took effect last August, the Army is allowing wounded soldiers to continue to draw their full Army paychecks for up to 90 days after discharge, Baker said. It is also sending more VA workers to Army posts to process claims more quickly, and trying to do a better job of informing soldiers of the available benefits and explaining the application process.

"We make certain that we've covered all the bases before we discharge the soldier," Baker said.

She acknowledged, however, that the changes have been slow to take hold across an Army stretched by war. "It's definitely a practice that is new. It takes awhile for new practices to be institutionalized," the colonel said.

Stevens was moved to the Operation Homefront apartment after a social worker at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, acting on her own initiative, rescued Stevens from a homeless shelter there.

"This is a situation where someone used their common sense and they did the right thing, versus saying, `This is the rules. We can't do this,'" Tripler spokeswoman Minerva Anderson said of the social worker.

Typically, the first 100 days after discharge are spent just gathering medical and other evidence needed to make a decision on disability, VA officials say. If paperwork is incomplete, or a veteran moves to another state before the claim is decided, the process can drag on longer. Disagree with the VA's decision, and the wait time grows.

"The claims are a lot more complicated than people think," said Ursula Henderson, director of the VA's regional office in Houston.

Amy Palmer, a disabled veteran and vice president of Operation Homefront, which helps newly disabled servicemembers, said: "Nobody's assigned to them. You're on your own once you get out."

Hall is pushing legislation that would force the VA to use compatible computer systems and more consistent criteria and to reach out to veterans better.

"A veteran goes and serves and does what the country asks them to do," the congressman said. "But when they come back they're made to jump through these hoops and to wait in line for disability benefits."

Simon Heine served three tours in Iraq as a tank mechanic before he was discharged with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

His wife quit college so she could figure out how her four children could live on less than $1,000 a month. Eventually, she moved the family of six into an Operation Homefront apartment so they could finish navigating the bureaucracy and wait out the arrival of Social Security and VA benefits.

"It is like giving you a car and taking the steering wheel off. They say, `There is the gas and the brake. Just go straight,' and hopefully, you are going in the right direction," Heine said.

On the Net:

* Operation Homefront:


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org


I have seen this to many times, and if you are already a veteran then become disabled the problems get magnified, because you don't have any support system like Operation Homefront you are just out there on your own. Your life will sound like a country western song before the VA and SSD help you, your are going to lose your home, your family, your truck and probably your dog.

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VA testing drugs on war veterans

VA testing drugs on war veterans,Experiments raise ethical questions

VA testing drugs on war veterans
Experiments raise ethical questions
Audrey Hudson (Contact)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The government is testing drugs with severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior on hundreds of military veterans, using small cash payments to attract patients into medical experiments that often target distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a Washington Times/ABC News investigation has found.

In one such experiment involving the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took three months to alert its patients about severe mental side effects. The warning did not arrive until after one of the veterans taking the drug had suffered a psychotic episode that ended in a near lethal confrontation with police.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES Veteran James Elliott arrives at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington for his scheduled substance-abuse class in April. Mr. Elliott, a chain smoker, served 15 months in Iraq as an Army sharpshooter and suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES Iraq war veteran James Elliott opted for a government clinical trial for a smoking-cessation drug for $30 a month, starting in November. Two weeks later, the FDA informed the VA of serious side effects.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES STILL SMOKING: Iraq war veteran James Elliott smokes on his porch in Silver Spring as he talks about his experiences in war and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Mr. Elliott suffered a psychotic episode while taking the anti-smoking drug Chantix.

James Elliott, a decorated Army sharpshooter who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving 15 months in Iraq, was confused and psychotic when he was Tasered by police in February as he reached for a concealed handgun when officers responded to a 911 call at his Maryland home.

For photos, video of James Elliott, official FDA documents and more, visit the interactive site for the Disposable Heroes report.

Mr. Elliott, a chain smoker, began taking Chantix last fall as part of a VA experiment that specifically targeted veterans with PTSD, opting to collect $30 a month for enrolling in the clinical trial because he needed cash as he returned to school. He soon began suffering hallucinations and suicidal thoughts, unaware that the new drug he was taking could have caused them.

Just two weeks after Mr. Elliott began taking Chantix in November, the VA learned from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the drug was linked to a large number of hallucinations, suicide attempts and psychotic behavior. But the VA did not alert Mr. Elliott before his own episode in February.

In failing to do so, Mr. Elliott said, the VA treated him like a "disposable hero."

"You're a lab rat for $30 a month," Mr. Elliott said.

Brightcove Video
Play Disposable Heroes - Part 1

Brightcove Video
Play Disposable Heroes - Part 2

One of the nation's premier medical ethicists said the VA's behavior in the anti-smoking study violated basic protections for humans in medical experiments.

"When you're taking advantage of a very vulnerable population, people who have served the country, and the agency that's responsible for their welfare isn't putting their welfare first, that's a pretty serious breach of ethics," said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Please go to the website and read the entire article and watch the video's, this reminds me to much of the Edgewood Experiments that took place from 1955 thru 1975. Ethical issues and all, if there is a question of harm, then the experiments should NOT be done at all, what is that saying "Physician do no harm"? The experiments at Edgewood are being excused as for the greater good, chemical weapons and drugs, here they are just using the drugs, and ignoring the dangers, but the doctors can claim they have signed waivers and they are paying the veterans for participating, what about the ones who end up committing suicide, how will they compensate them?

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Illinois attorney Edward Bates

earned the thanks of many vets for helping them

obtain benefits. But, the VA has a different view.

The story below paints just part of the picture.

You will want to read the report from the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission from July of last year. Full report is here...

The report is long and involved, but worth taking the time to read. In it you will find this:

Respondent's Testimony Concerning the VA Accreditation Proceedings

Respondent became concerned when some of the veterans he represented told him that the Chicago regional office was destroying their medical records. (Tr. 516). Respondent had approximately 300 cases at the Chicago regional office and he noticed that frequently medical records he had submitted to the office on behalf of his clients were missing from their files. (Tr. 516-7). Due to the pervasiveness of the problem, Respondent suspected that VA employees were destroying evidence so that they could get credit for closing files. (Tr. 517).

To address this issue, Respondent filed 50 writs of mandamous with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims requesting that the next procedural step be taken for each case he filed a writ. (Tr. 518). He also informed the Chicago regional office that that he had filed the 50 writs and would file 200 additional writs if the cases did not advance. (Tr. 518). Additionally, Respondent called the VA regional counsel, Mr. Morgan, to inform him that Respondent's requests for his clients' files were not being complied with and that he suspected someone was destroying evidence in the files. (Tr. 518-9). A couple months later, five IRS criminal investigators came to Responent's house and he lost his accreditation to practice before the VA. (Tr. 519). The IRS investigators told him they had been sent to his house by another government agency. (Tr. 520).

Makes you wonder...doesn't it?

Story here... http://www.suntimes.

Story below:


Vets' ally, or just cashing in?
VA Lawyer who helped win disability benefits may lose his license

Staff Reporter

Edward Bates could have practiced any kind of law, but he chose to spend his career helping injured veterans secure disability benefits.

It's the kind of work that has earned him stacks of letters and pictures from vets, thanking him for the effort.

But now that effort could cost him his law license, as he stands accused of violating a decades-old rule that prevented veterans from directly paying an attorney to help them appeal a ruling on benefits.

That rule has since been lifted, but state legal officials are pushing for disbarment after complaints were made by the Department of Veterans Administration about the years of work Bates did.

At issue are VA rules allowing a "disinterested third party" to pay an attorney on the vet's behalf, but prohibiting the attorney from taking payment directly from the vet or sharing in the benefits secured on the vet's behalf.

The VA accused Bates of violating that rule, and a hearing officer recommended a five-month suspension of his law license. But the Illinois Attorney Registration Disciplinary Commission is now appealing, pushing for disbarment.

"I thought someday my daughter would be able to look back and say how much I did for people," the 65-year-old said. "Now, they'll only remember these proceedings. I'm not going to be able to undo any of this."

Attorney Thomas McGarry is fighting to help Bates keep his license, calling the VA rules archaic and insulting to veterans.

"They tell vets, 'You don't need a lawyer, we'll look out for your best interests,'" he said. "[Bates] represented them, did stellar work for them and is now accused of committing a crime that reflects adversely on the legal profession."

Bates suspects he made himself a target because of the national reputation he earned by winning so many benefits for injured veterans.

But VA and ARDC officials contend Bates reaped in those earnings, as well. While VA officials declined to address his case, they said the rules were clear and that Bates violated them.

And while the ARDC acknowledges in court filings "it may well be that the veterans' benefits system is flawed," the answer can't be to allow attorneys to skirt rules while they're in effect.

Bates, they say, "built a personally lucrative practice on the backs of those he professed to serve ... his misconduct was dishonest and illegal, and it was undertaken to enrich himself."

A decision by a legal panel is expected this summer.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

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The Court will consider the extent to which the VA is liable

if it fails to adequately inform a veteran of the information

needed to process a benefits claim.

The notice of the veteran's case is in the second part of the story below.

The full petition can be downloaded or opened for reading here...

For more on this case, plug this into Google "Peake v. Sanders" using the quotes.

Story here...

Story below:


Supreme Court to hear Ashcroft immunity, veteran benefits, prison damages cases
Mike Rosen-Molina

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear three cases, including Ashcroft v. Iqbal, et al. (07-1015), in which the Court will consider whether high-ranking US officials are protected by qualified immunity from suit for alleged religious and ethnic discrimination by their subordinates.

Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani national detained during a terror sweep after Sept.11, 2001, filed a lawsuit against former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and other officials, alleging that he was subjected to abuse during his detention in a Brooklyn jail because of his religion and ethnicity.

The US Appeals Court for the Second Circuit allowed the lawsuit to go forward [ruling, PDF], but the Bush administration appealed the ruling, arguing that the officials were protected from suit for the acts of their subordinates. AP has more.

The Court also granted certiorari in two other cases Monday. In Peake v. Sanders (07-1209), the Court will consider the extent to which the US Department of Veterans Affairs is liable if it fails to adequately inform a veteran of the information needed to process a benefits claim.

In Haywood v. Drown (07-10374), the Court will consider whether a New York law that requires all damage claims against state prison employees to be heard in state claims court is unconstitutional.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

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