Thursday, July 3, 2008

GI in Iconic Photo Dies of Overdose

GI in Iconic Photo Dies of Overdose

July 03, 2008
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
PINEHURST -- Joseph Patrick Dwyer, a former Army medic who became famous after he was photographed helping a wounded Iraqi boy, died June 28 from an apparent overdose. He was 31.

In March 2003, then-Pfc. Dwyer became a symbol of heroism.

In the first week of the Iraq war, photographer Warren Zinn snapped a picture of Dwyer spiriting a half-naked, wounded Iraqi boy to a makeshift military hospital.

As quick as a shot, the photo traveled around the world on the front pages of newspapers and magazines.

Dwyer, who was at first misidentified as Joseph DeWitt, became an instant celebrity.

The photo of the grimacing boy cradled in the arms of a hustling soldier had mass appeal.

Dwyer, however, was uncomfortable in the spotlight. He tried to deflect the fame back onto his unit. He told reporters that he was part of a team that was trying to help wounded Iraqis that day.

"To be honest ... I was embarrassed by it," he told a reporter in 2005.

A few years later, he would be in the news again. But this time the coverage would be less flattering.

In October 2005, Dwyer was charged with discharging a firearm in a municipality, a misdemeanor, after a three-hour standoff with Texas police.

Dwyer, who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, told a Newsday reporter that he was firing at imaginary Iraqis. He thought they were preparing to attack his apartment.

"I know I don't need to be carrying a weapon," Dwyer told Newsday in 2005 from a hospital where he was being treated for PTSD. "And I'm scared of going home without having one, even though I know probably nobody's going to attack me."

In the Newsday story, Dwyer and his friends also admitted that Dwyer abused inhalants.

Bottles of prescription pills and Dust-Off, an aerosol computer cleaner, were found near Dwyer when police entered his home Saturday, said Capt. Floyd Thomas of the Pinehurst Police Department.

Dwyer had called Sandhills Transportation on Saturday night to take him to the hospital after an apparent overdose, Thomas said. When the cab driver arrived, Dwyer was lying on the floor. Dwyer told the driver he could not get to the door, according to the police report.

The driver called police, who kicked in the door of the Longleaf Drive home at Dwyer's request.

"Help me, please," Dwyer told police through his front door. "I'm dying. Help me. I can't breathe."

After being loaded into an ambulance, medics performed CPR, according to the police report. He was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.

Call to serve

In a 2003 interview with The Fayetteville Observer, Dwyer said he joined the Army two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

When the planes hit, Dwyer feared that his brother, Patrick Jr., a police officer in New York, had been killed in the attacks. Patrick survived, but Dwyer felt a call to serve.

"I just didn't want another family member feeling the way I did that day," he said. "I had to do something."

Dwyer served with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of Fort Stewart, Ga. He earned the Combat Medical Badge and other military awards.

Dwyer is survived by his wife of five years, Matina Brown Dwyer of Pinehurst; a daughter, Meagan Kaleigh Dwyer; his parents, Patrick Dennis and Maureen Higgins Dwyer; a sister, Christine Dwyer-Ogno of New York; four brothers, Brian, Patrick and Daniel Dwyer, all of New York, and Staff Sgt. Matthew Dwyer of Andrews Air Force Base.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Patrick John Dwyer, and a sister, Mary Elizabeth Dwyer.

A funeral Mass was at 10 a.m. July 2 at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Southern Pines. He was buried in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake.


The PTSD demons claim another victim, these men and women with PTSD that are dying deserve to be counted in the war dead, the war is the cause of death.....

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Program reaches out to vets in need / Golf outing, barbecue planned to aid in localizing Wounded Warrior Project

Program reaches out to vets in need / Golf outing, barbecue planned to aid in localizing Wounded Warrior Project

by Chelsia Marcius


Three days after surviving a suicide car bomb attack Sept. 14, 2005, in Baghdad, Stow resident Joe Gross awoke at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, without the lower half of his right leg.

Among the crowd of bustling surgeons, he said, was Wounded Warrior Project representative Brian Newman at his side and waiting to help.

"Realizing that there was an organization out there that stands by the beds of gentlemen when they are just getting done having the worst day of their lives," Gross, a U.S. Army soldier, said, "is something I knew that I wanted to stand for."

As part of a national objective to localize the Wounded Warrior Project, Gross, 31, will host a golf outing and barbecue as an area outreach coordinator at Stow's Leisure Time Recreation Center July 20. Aiming to educate community members on the organization's assistance of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, he continues the project's effort to reach what the groups considers Middle America.

"At first the WWP focused on [servicing] hospitals because that was where [the wounded] were," he said. "But now that [soldiers are] being released from the Army and going through rehab, WWP did not have the manpower to reach everyone. It's not like World War II where you have a few buddies in the area. The soldiers from Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror are very spread out."

To forge a camaraderie among the wounded, the organization has launched a joint program with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant called "Building a New Front Porch," an idea taken from a group of World War II veterans in Alabama who had gathered each night to exchange their stories of battle.

"What these vets didn't realize was that they were healing themselves," said Gross. "Just by talking about things, it helped whatever stresses they had, whatever problems they had and then knowing that there were people out there [experiencing] the same [things]."

These problems, he explained, can extend beyond visible physical damage. Traumatic brain injuries, caused by the impact of explosion shock waves through the body often result in short-term memory loss and speech impairments while Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly affects those who have witnessed combat.

"In Iraq, I had to sleep with my boots and pants on and a knife at my side with my gear in a certain place so that when [things] started blowing up I could get out, grab all my gear at the same time, and throw my back against the wall to protect from what was coming in my direction," he said. "Now, my house is set up like a patrol base and we've done rehearsals of what would happen if someone entered the home with a weapon. These are some of my defense mechanisms, part of the PTSD."

Loud noises like fireworks, Gross said, also trigger a series of bodily reactions, a consequence of the disorder.

"I can't go to the July 4 [celebrations], it's just impossible," he said. "I would probably start crying, shaking and sweating. These are the small things all [soldiers] go through."

Driven to inform the community and inspire other soldiers, Gross uses the Wounded Warriors Project philosophy to explain the struggle with life after war.

"The concept behind the WWP is that at one point in your life you're going to be carried off the battlefield and another point you'll be the one carrying others," he said. "We want to make these guys feel alive again."

Registration forms to attend the July golf outing are available at Leisure Time Recreation Center, 4561 Darrow Road in Stow. Space is limited to 88 participants. For more information on the event, call Leisure Time at 330-688-4162. To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit


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US troops in Iraq get pizza delivered from Chicago

US troops in Iraq get pizza delivered from Chicago

More than 2,000 pizzas are to be shipped from Chicago to Iraq in a bid to raise the morale of US troops.

The pizzas were last week packaged in temperature-controlled containers and taken to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York where they are due to be flown directly to the Middle East.

They will then be delivered to military bases just in time for July 4th celebrations.

"U.S. troops stationed overseas overwhelmingly appreciate receiving gifts and reminders of home," said Retired Master Sgt. Mark Evans who organized the effort with the support of local veterans and community members.

Evans collected enough donations to purchase 2000 pizzas, provided below cost by Lou Malnati's Pizzeria of Northbrook, Illinois and DHL offered free shipping.
"As a retired member of the military, I appreciate the support of the local community and DHL helping our troops stationed thousands of miles away from home to celebrate this patriotic holiday," Evans added.

Adrian Watts, Managing Director U.S. Government Sales and Support for DHL Express. "It's part of our ongoing efforts to support our troops, especially important at this time of year when we celebrate our nation's independence and those who are helping keep us safe."


Now the troops will APPRECIATE this gesture and this pizzeria will have a legion of new fans.....SALUTE

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update on status of Agent Orange Lawsuit

Subject: Update on the Agent Orange case against Dow and Monsanto

Given your emails with updates to me, I thought that I would update you on the status of the Agent Orange claims against the herbicide manufacturers.

As you know, in 2003, I argued in the United States Supreme Court that Vietnam veterans should be permitted to sue the manufacturers of Agent Orange if they became sick after the original settlement's 1994 deadline (since they had no opportunity to be compensated by the original settlement). The remainder of this email will set out what has transpired since the U.S. Supreme Court permitted us to proceed.

After we were successful, the Supreme Court returned all Agent Orange cases back to Judge Jack Weinstein, the same judge who had originally dismissed the cases and caused us to go to the Supreme Court in the first place. The herbicide manufacturers then asked Judge Weinstein to dismiss all of the cases on a different basis -- basically, a "government made us do it defense."

In order to explain that basis, legally described as the government contractor defense, you need to know that in 1988, in a case not involving Agent Orange, the Supreme Court held that when a company contracts with the U.S. Government, it is immune from suit if: 1) the terms of the contracts were precise; 2) the company followed those terms; and 3) the company made the government aware of all of the dangers of a product that were known to the company but not the government.

In order to demonstrate that the herbicide manufacturers did not deserve the immunity accorded by the defense, we submitted hundreds of pages of briefing, thousands of documents, and extensive reports from experts. In this material, we are quite confident that we showed the following things to be true:

1) the chemical that has caused most of the health problems from the herbicides sprayed in Vietnam was "dioxin";

2) not a single contract between the herbicide manufacturers and the government even mentions the word "dioxin" (so the contracts could not be precise as to "dioxin");

3) the herbicide manufacturers produced their herbicides at extremely high temperatures in order to produce them more quickly and thereby make more money;

4) the problem with producing these herbicides at high temperatures is that the higher the temperature used, the more "dioxin" that is created;

5) the herbicide manufacturers knew that manufacturing herbicides at higher temperatures created more dioxin, but they hid this fact from the government;

6) in fact, the manufacturers secretly tested their products for the amount of "dioxin" the products contained while knowing that the government didn't even own the equipment necessary to test for "dioxin";

7) the herbicide manufacturers deliberately hid the medical dangers they knew about from the government, including numerous references in their own documents that "dioxin" was the most toxic chemical they had ever tested;

8) once secret internal documents demonstrate that the herbicide manufacturers hid all of this information, because they were afraid of regulation and the loss of their lucrative contracts.

Unfortunately, Judge Weinstein wrote his decision without reading any of our briefing, without reviewing any of the documents we submitted, and without reviewing our expert reports. We know this because we were given a deadline of late Friday night to submit our original papers, reports and exhibits, and his lengthy written decision was issued at 8:00 a.m. the following Monday without any mention whatsoever of any of the papers, reports, or expert witness affidavits we filed.

Subsequently, we appealed to the Second Circuit, the federal appellate court above Judge Weinstein. Again we presented almost 300 pages of briefing and thousands of documents. Significantly, the Second Circuit AGREED WITH US that we had sufficient evidence regarding the above facts to allow us to have a jury trial! AT THIS POINT WE SHOULD HAVE WON!!

However, the Second Circuit then held that even though we had evidence to support all of the issues listed above, none of that mattered. Instead, the Second Circuit held that regardless of anything the manufacturers did or all that they had hidden, in their opinion the government would still have used the same herbicides in Vietnam. In coming to this decision on an issue we were never asked to brief, the Second Circuit actually admitted that they were not using the Supreme Court's test at all – instead, they were substituting a test of their own. Furthermore, how the Second Circuit could reach this conclusion is difficult for us to comprehend. Many government witnesses did testify that it was not their intent to use any chemicals that were known to be harmful to humans (Of note, the manufacturers told the government that none of their workers were affected during production, even though we have documentation that shows that literally hundreds of workers became sick during the manufacturing process.)

If you wish to review our briefing describing the problems in the Second Circuit's decisions, please go to:

Our only alternative now is to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review this case. Unfortunately, if the Supreme Court does not accept review, we will be at the end of our road. At the original request of Admiral Zumwalt I have been working on this matter for fifteen years. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

If you have any specific questions as to what you can do, please email me back.
Gerson H. Smoger, J.D., Ph.D.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

On Promises Kept, Rank Our Government "Unsatisfactory"

On Promises Kept, Rank Our Government "Unsatisfactory"
June 27, 2008
by Tom Segel

Harlingen, Texas, June 26, 2008: I really have a great amount of pity for those millions of poor souls who have such undying faith in the promises made by any politician, particularly those who hold national offices. Those who swallow this “ Alice in Wonderland” rhetoric will suffer the deepest cuts of all when they step back through the looking glass and view reality for the first time.

Perhaps the best available example of the “Promises Made-Promises Kept” lie can be found when viewing the health care provided for career military retirees. Those who enlisted in the armed forces from World War II through the Korean War and well up until 1958, who elected to make the military a career were all promised health care for themselves and their dependents for life. Recruiting literature and every reenlistment councilor promoted this free health care option continuously during all of those years. But, the end result was not as promised. There is limited care. It is not free. And the program is so stingy that a vast number of doctors and medical organizations will not even accept those who must use the program our government provides.

After 1958 the government started to weasel its way out of that “free care” obligation with changes in various regulations that called for medical services to be offered on a “space available” basis at military facilities. They also started to close many of the facilities that offered such services. There was CHAMPUS, a program that offered limited services with co-pay to the individual service member or retiree. Those past age 65 were directed to enroll in Medicare, effectively removing them from the Department of Defense obligation to cover their medical treatment.

When the CHAMPUS method of payment became too expensive TRICARE was created. It quickly morphed into a hodge-podge or different plans, each worse than the other. Members of Congress have also noted for the record that “A significant share of the Nation’s health care providers refuse to accept new TRICARE patients because TRICARE pays them significantly less than commercial insurance programs and imposes unique and extensive administrative requirements.”

Furthermore, TRICARE remains under the Department of Defense umbrella. Everyone in uniform knows that DOD views retirees as an extra burden hung around its neck. The agency feels retirees drain dollars away from the beans and bullets it needs for the active duty mission. Thus, when DOD was charged with constraining the cost of TRICARE, a major part of the department’s cost reduction effort has been to shift a larger share of those cost burdens to retired service members.

In the findings and sense of Congress section of H.R. 579 it remarks, “The beneficiary cost increases proposed by the Department of Defense fail to recognize adequately that career service members paid enormous in-kind premiums through their extended service and sacrifice.” But, even with such a rebuking review DOD still continues attempts to circumvent existing law and congressional guidelines.

The most unacceptable TRICARE discrimination still exists for many military retirees depending upon what services they need and where on this globe they have elected to make their retirement homes. This is particularly evident to those in the retired community who now make their homes in the Philippines .

Chief Petty Officer David Smith, United States Navy (Ret), is among the thousands of military retirees living in the Philippines who will be impacted by a bureaucratic move designed to circumvent the law as it pertains to TRICARE administration. Department of Defense supervision, congressional oversight and the legislation that requires balanced and equal TRICARE coverage for all military personnel are completely ignored by the DOD Tricare Management Activity with a major change to its Reimbursement Manual, which will become effective on October 1, 2008. According to Chief Smith, those retirees living in the Philippines will be relegated to a severely reduced payment status when the new instruction is implemented this fall.

TRICARE provides military retirees with a 75% government paid benefit and 25% co-pay by the patient. It also establishes an annual $3,000 cap on what any retiree must pay out-of-pocket. The changes inserted into the Reimbursement Manual single out those living in the Philippines for a greatly reduced benefit. These retirees will receive less than a 50% paid benefit and the annual $3,000 catastrophic costs cap on medical payments has been totally disallowed.

Chief Robert Smith subjected his life to the many riggers of service to his nation. His time in uniform spanned more than 20 years of his adult life, many of them hazardous. He and many like him are now facing that time of life when heart attacks, cancer and other life threatening maladies are commonplace. So, at a time when the government he served should be keeping its promises and protecting his health, it is doing everything possible to assure he receives a bare minimum of tax supported assistance.

Smith says, that what the country seems to be telling him is, “OK, if you are very sick then move back to the USA and get care. But, many retirees married foreign nationals and because of that, elected to stay in the Philippines . After all, the U.S. Government sent them here, they have made it their residence, costs are low and TRICARE is here. All are here because of economic circumstances. The bottom line is they are no more and no less eligible for health care benefits than a retiree living in the United States . But, TRICARE has singled out the retiree living in the Philippines and will not provide the same benefits as given to a retiree in the USA .”

Another retiree writing about unfair health care treatment is Lieutenant Colonel Paul F. Kelly, United States Army (Ret). He has made his home in the Republic of the Philippines and is a volunteer teacher at Don Bosco College in Cebu . He asks the question, “Is my service any less honorable because I choose to come here? Is my service any less deserving of my retirement benefit? Why does TMA (Tricare Management Authority) choose to limit me to less than 50% or 23% or even 5% of what a retiree living in the States gets to save his life?

“I like all the rest of my comrades under arms accepted substandard pay and sometimes substandard conditions and still remained for a life time of service. Part of the reason I was able to choose a service career was the knowledge I would receive free for life, complete medical benefits. It was the military’s promise to me and others like me. They said, ‘we take care of our own.’ Well, it seems times have changed and again they have conveniently forgotten their promises.”

Sadly, the harsh TRICARE restrictions about to be leveled against LtCol Kelly, CPO Smith and all military retirees now residing in the Philippines is not a new innovation for the paper shuffling battalion in Washington. The Department of Defense and its lackeys have a long history of attacking the funding and support for career military retirees. In fact it would be difficult to find any evidence of that cabinet agency doing anything of a favorable nature for those who served with honor, but no longer wear a uniform.

A solution to such repeated attempts to deny promised benefits seems to be very easy to implement. All Congress would need to do is pass legislation that would reduce appropriations to the DOD for an amount equal to what they cheated on funding any retiree, reserve, or veteran program. The same method of reduced dollar punishment could be used on any agency that attempted any back-door method of denying what was already promised to those who served.

The irony of the Philippine situation and many others of a similar nature is, without the military retirees, reservists and veterans of this nation there would be no country for the DOD to worry about defending. But, the mindset of most political hacks is to attack those least able to marshal any defense. Those who fought under the Stars and Stripes, who are now old, many sick and without a formal organization to support their rights are among that body our “Promises Make – Promises Kept” politicos deem unworthy.


I was told the same thing about lifetime health care for myself and my family if I spent 20 years and retired, turns out they had been misrepresenting the facts for decades.......I joined the Army in 1973 and re-enlisted for 6 years in 1976

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Legislation to Provide Mental Health Treatment for Family Members of Veterans

Health Subcommittee Reviews Legislation to Provide Mental Health Treatment for Family Members of Veterans
Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, June 26, 2008, the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee, led by Chairman Michael Michaud (D-ME), held a legislative hearing to review draft legislation and receive the views of interested stakeholders. The draft bills are intended to improve health care delivery and services for veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“I believe that our nation must be equipped and prepared to provide the finest and most timely medical attention for our troops and veterans,” said Chairman Michaud. “The legislation before the Subcommittee today looks to make necessary improvements to the health care that is currently offered by the VA.”
Draft legislation reviewed at the Health Subcommittee hearing focused on four different issues to improve delivery of health care to veterans and members of their families.
1. To expand VA’s authority to provide mental health treatment for family members
The bill would repeal the specification that in order for family members of non-service connected veterans to be eligible for counseling services, the counseling must be essential to permit the discharge of the veteran from the hospital.
2. To prohibit the collection of copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans
The bill would prohibit the collection of copaymetns from veterans who are catastrophically disabled (Category Group 4) for hospital or nursing care.
3. To authorize non-profit research and education corporations in the VA
The bill would clarify the purpose and powers of corporations and improve accountability and oversight of corporations.
4. To establish seven “Consolidated Patient Accounting Centers” to facilitate third party collections in the VA
The bill would mandate the VA to centralize third party billing functions at consolidated centers, instead of individual VA Medical Centers.
Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, offered the following statement: “I would like to thank Chairman Michaud for his steadfast commitment to improving care for our nation’s veterans. I believe that the tireless work of the members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health has provided this Congress with strong legislation to improve health care for veterans and I commit to working with my colleagues to pass comprehensive and bi-partisan legislation.”
Witness List:
Panel 1
· Carl Blake, National Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America
· Christopher Needham, Senior Legislative Associate, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Panel 2
· Gerald M. Cross, M.D., FAAFP, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Accompanied by
o Walter A. Hall, Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
o Gary M. Baker, Chief Business Officer, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Prepared testimony and a link to the webcast is available on the internet at this link:

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