Friday, January 2, 2009

Tricare deputy gives system ‘C+ or B-’

Tricare deputy gives system ‘C+ or B-’

By Tom Philpott, Special to Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, December 27, 2008
Too many beneficiaries of the military direct-care health system still can’t get timely appointments, or reach doctors after hours, or establish a close family-doctor relationship with a single military physician or group.

For these reasons and more , Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Elder Granger, deputy director of TRICARE and a principal advisor within the Department of Defense on health policy and performance, gave the military health system an overall grade of “C plus or B minus” in an interview with Military Update.

In the first half of our 45-minute phone interview, Granger reviewed steps being taken to improve health care and customer satisfaction. In the final half, pressed to explain the overall grade he give the system, Granger expressed frustration over the hurdles many beneficiaries still must clear, particularly to use military treatment facilities versus TRICARE’s expanding network of civilian providers. In fiscal 2008, the number of civilian providers accepting TRICARE patients grew by 115,000 to reach 1.1 million nationwide.

Users of military hospital and clinics, he said, too often face telephone busy signals in trying to make appointments. He wants more consistency in administrative support, from how phones are answered to how appointments are booked, from how providers are reached after hours to how health readiness is tracked and preventive care services are offered.

“How do you get to your primary care provider after hours? That’s a challenge we continue to work,” Granger said. “That’s why I’m being honest about this C+ or B-.”

There is uneven support online in the system, and improvements needed with electronic records, Granger said. He wants more emphasis too on disease prevention and measuring performance among health providers

How does a patient reach a military physician after hours?

“Well, it varies,” Granger explained. “Some places will say ‘Go to the emergency room.’ Some will say, ‘Call this number.’ Some will say ‘Call the hospital and get the administrative officer of the day.’ It’s not a consistent process. Yet our policy says we must take care of you 7-24-365. That’s why I’m being a little hard on us because we’ve got to get that under control.”

Every year more beneficiaries migrate from base hospitals and clinics to networks of civilian physicians under contract to TRICARE. The migration is seen in enrollments figures for TRICARE Prime, the managed care option. Since October 2003, the number of enrollees with civilian doctors has doubled, from 600,000 to 1.2 million while enrollees in military direct care have fallen by roughly 300,000 to stand below 3 million.

Patient workloads show a sharper drop. The number of inpatients in military hospitals in 2008 was 30,000 below the 2003 total, even as the beneficiary population grew, yet the number of military beneficiaries with stays in civilian hospitals rose by 80,000.

Walk-in visits to military facilities in 2008 were a million down from the 30 million reported in 2003. Meanwhile, military patient visits to civilian contract doctor climbed from 24 million in ’03 to nearly 40 million in ’08.

Various reasons are cited for the shift: base closures; downsizing (“right-sizing”) of Air Force facilities; wartime deployments of medical staff; overall growth in number of beneficiaries; a priority for wounded warrior care in military facilities. Granger suggested that more light also must be shed on how beneficiaries judge the performance of their health care system.

“If you look at the [Department of Veterans Affairs], they are very transparent about their quality. We have to be more transparent about our quality and outcomes,” he said.

As deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity in Falls Church, Va., Granger, 55, leads a staff of 1800 in planning, budgeting and executing an $18 billion-a-year defense health program. He is responsible for ensuring access to quality healthcare for 9.2 million beneficiaries.

Granger said his boss, Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, also has been pushing for greater transparency. President Bush has too, signing an August 2006 executive order promoting quality and efficiency in federal health care programs through greater use of information technology and greater transparency on care quality and price.

Every year the Department of Defense conducts a Health Care Survey of DoD Beneficiaries, asking more than 200,000 users to report on the quality of their experience in the military health system. The results haven’t received much public attention but Granger’s staff noted the website where they are posted:

They show the military system falls below most “benchmarks” of beneficiary satisfaction from surveys of healthcare users across America. As expected the satisfaction gap is wider for military direct care than for users of TRICARE’s civilian networks. For example, the nationwide benchmark is 77 percent satisfaction with getting care quickly. For military beneficiaries who see military doctors, the comparable figure for quick care is 61 percent. It is 74 percent for military patients using TRICARE civilian doctors.

Likewise, the nationwide benchmark is 90 percent satisfaction with how well doctors communicate. For military beneficiaries who see military docs, satisfaction with communication is 83 percent. Patients of TRICARE civilian docs give an average score 89 percent, near to the benchmark.

The steady shift of patients away from military direct care is worrisome, Granger said, “because the backbone of our medical readiness is what we do within our military health care system and [by] sending our providers and nurses to the civilian sector to get training. That is…our go-to-war, support-the-war fighter readiness piece. So yes, I’m concerned.”

To comment, e-mail, write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111 or visit:

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Military Struggles With Response To PTSD

Military Struggles With Response To PTSD

(CBS) The Pentagon says 1 in 5 service members who come home from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Some find their experiences too much to bear. There were 115 military suicides last year, and 93 through just August of this year.

The biggest obstacle to getting those numbers down may be the military culture itself, reports CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

First Sergeant Jeff McKinney was a model soldier, a newlywed, and a new father.

Now, his family says, he's a casualty of war. Two wars really: the war in Iraq, where he served honorably, and the war within the military over how to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

On July 11, 2007, McKinney, serving on his second tour, killed himself in front of his men. He had endured months of sleeplessness, nightmares and guilt over losing so many of the soldiers he commanded.

"I think he felt like he couldn't send one more broken body home, one more dead person home," Jeff McKinney's father, Charles McKinney, said.

McKinney's personal battle mirrors the war within the U.S. Army, between those who call combat stress a killer, and those who call it an excuse.

In McKinney's case, there had been troubling signs, but he hadn't been taking the medication given to help him cope -- and his captain feared taking him off duty would destroy his career.

Commanders like First Sergeant McKinney are often the hardest to convince they need help.

"We've got a rough and tough, sort of macho culture that says none of that soft squishy touchy feely stuff," said Brigadeer General Loree Sutton, director of the military's Center for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. "Well, we need to bring the brain out of what has been a black box."

But that's fighting Army tradition.

Commanders at one army base posted a fake "Hurt Feelings Report" -- portraying a crying cartoon face -- to mock soldiers seeking help for combat stress. Selections on the form included: "I am a crybaby," "I want my mommy" and "All of the above." It was tacked on the barracks bulletin board, next to the sign-up sheet, for the mental health clinic.

Sutton says the military's challenge is to teach soldiers - and commanders - that the nightmares or flashbacks aren't signs of weakness.

"It's about starting a different dialogue, giving folks permission to talk," she said.

The military is testing promising pilot programs.

Instructor and former Army ranger Steve Robinson, who runs says it's about training the brain to cope with traumatic memories: "Teaching soldiers skills like visualization, event resolution, breath work, quiet time so they can process what happened."

But for First Sergeant McKinney, there were no such tools to cope. His wife says she knows what she'll tell her son.

"He needed help and nobody helped him," Chrissy McKinney said. "And that's the reason why he died."

But, she said, "He died a hero."


Commanders at one army base posted a fake "Hurt Feelings Report" -- portraying a crying cartoon face -- to mock soldiers seeking help for combat stress. Selections on the form included: "I am a crybaby," "I want my mommy" and "All of the above." It was tacked on the barracks bulletin board, next to the sign-up sheet, for the mental health clinic.

Whichever unit this was done in, I hope the Chain of Command from the Platoon Sergeant, Platoon Leader, the Company 1SG and the Company Commander were all relieved, they should be held accountable, mental health is a very serious problem.

Yes, I am 100% PTSD and I was also a SSG 11B3M and served during Vietnam and Desert Storm and I waited for more than 3 decades before I admitted I HAD a problem, before that I did like the Army taught me "suck it up" "drive on" etc, BS, people need help and they maybe won't destroy their lives they way I did. The only thing about not seeking help, is you are not being a man by hiding your problems, and a bottle and all the pills in the world are not going to stop the demons.

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Wounded veterans battle for treatment at home

Wounded veterans battle for treatment at home


Video December 31st, 2008Byron Harris reports. View larger E-mail clip More video Search Video:
For tens of thousands of American families, the holidays this year are not the same as they were five years ago.

They are the families of men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For many, when the war ended for their military loved ones, it only began again when they came home.

Painfully, families are learning that it’s up to them to support the former warriors, and to wrestle with the system to get the benefits their loved ones deserve.

Jeffrey Taggart of The Colony fought in Iraq.

Now his parents are fighting the war’s aftermath in their home. Sitting at a kitchen counter with a stack of paperwork in front of her, Jeffrey’s mom sums up her frustration.

“It’s totally, totally wrong,” she says. “I think it’s time that someone woke up and realized the way vets are being treated today. And the harassment that they’re being given.”

Jeffrey is a compact man, now who now sports a red goatee since his discharge from the Army two years ago. His wounds are physical and financial: a traumatic brain injury, a stroke, the consuming terror of post traumatic stress disorder, and just trying to get by.

He says society doesn’t have a clue of what wounded veterans are going through. “They worry more about saving the banks and the big three unions,” he says, “than saving soldiers that are suffering."

Jeffrey was a medic during his six years in the Army. He served a year in Iraq, and potentially more stressful as a medic, nearly two years at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany, where the most severely injured servicemen and women from Iraq and Afghanistan are brought for treatment.

In Iraq, Taggart was usually the first on the scene after a mortar strike, firefight, or roadside bomb, trying to keep his comrades alive. Tough duty. But Landstuhl, he says, was worse. “The first time I walked into and ICU room and saw one of my former medics as a double amputee with an open head injury, I went weak in the knees and passed out,” he says. “No words can describe how that feels.”

It was a roadside bomb, northeast of Baghdad, that blew Taggart from the hatch of his armored personnel carrier. When he hit the ground a hundred feet away, he suffered a traumatic brain injury, VA doctors say. That led to a small stroke. The post traumatic stress disorder came from all he saw in the war’s aftermath. Thirty per cent of all people who experience combat suffer from PTSD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Taggart experiences survivor’s guilt, fear of crowds, depression and withdrawal. In months past, he’s had bouts of alcohol abuse. At age 29, the paralytic mental state has forced him to move into his parents’ home. He’s been able to hold one job—for three months—since his discharge.

He’s not pleased to have to live with his parents, but with his disability check from the Veterans Administration amounting to just $500 a month, he has little choice. He takes 16 prescription drugs just to function. But in 36 months, the VA will cease supplying them, unless he can convince the VA to increase his disability rating. Although the agency agrees that he has PTSD, it says he must prove that his traumatic head injury and stroke were caused by combat.

All this makes even sleep a chore for Taggart. “I have an honest fear of dreams,” he says.

“It’s been a living hell,” says his dad Jeff. “There have been some mornings that we’ve been afraid to open his bedroom door for fear that he’d hurt himself.”

Mary Taggart, Jeffrey’s mother, helps manage his paperwork. She was just notified by the VA that more paperwork is needed for the case, even though he’s applied four times. “If I’m reading this crap coming in the mail,” she says, "then I know there are many, many others. And it’s just time that somebody spoke up.”

A report by the Government Accountability Office this year says there are 392,000 pending appeals. The average takes 657 days, according to the GAO. Jeffrey Taggart’s has taken more than two years.

The Taggarts don’t expect their war to end soon.


The average is 657 days mine will be over 6 years old when I go for my BVA hearing on Feb 4, 2009 I filed my claim in November 2002.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Blast from the Past

More Guinea Pigs Time Magazine Aug 4, 1975

Giving LSD to someone without his informed consent opens the door to the "ruthless modification of people's minds," declared Dr. Judd Marmor, president of the American Psychiatric Association, after he heard the circumstances of the suicide of Biochemist Frank Olson (TIME, July 21). Even if done for security reasons, added Marmor, such experiments as those conducted by the CIA are unethical.

America’s Medicated Army

Last week similar experiments, all done on the ground of national security, came to light at a Pentagon news conference held by Dr. Van M. Sim, chief of medical research at Maryland's Edgewood Arsenal. For twelve years beginning in 1955, affirmed Sim, the Army, as part of a chemical-warfare testing program, gave LSD to 585 men. Later in the week the Army revealed that another group of 2,490 volunteers were given other hallucinogens, and in some cases BZ, a temporarily incapacitating gas.

What are the symptoms displayed by someone under the influence of these substances? Would the drugs help break down a person's defenses during interrogation? These were some of the questions the early experimenters sought to answer. As for LSD, the Army found it too "unpredictable" and "unreliable" for wartime use. No conclusions about the other tests have been revealed.

No Suicides. It was no secret that the Army had tested drugs on G.I.s. What interested reporters at the press conference was the clarification of the ground rules for the LSD experiments. After psychological and physical screening, the soldiers, all volunteers, were told they would be given a chemical that might influence their behavior—but not what it was. Said Sim: "You are prejudicing the experiment by leading them into suggestive thoughts about it."

As a reward for their participation in the program, the soldiers were given three-day passes. There had been no suicides after the tests, said Sun, although he admitted that only 10% of the subjects had been given follow-up interviews or questionnaires.

Were the soldiers ever told exactly what they had been exposed to? No, the Army admitted. But anyone who thinks he was involved in the experiments can find out now by phoning the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Development Command. The number, says the Army helpfully, is 202-693-8065.

The Army is still conducting tests with hallucinogenic drugs and with alcohol—but only on animals. It has requested permission from the Surgeon General to do similar experiments again on humans, which Sim defends as "very important" to national security.

To my knowledge they never again allowed soldiers to be used in these type of experiments, I knew DR Van Sim and Fred Siddell I was at Edgewood Arsenal in the summer of 1974 the last summer of "fun" in 1975. The Department of the Army IG released a report on human experimentation, and the Sec of the Army ordered all human experimentation stopped at all Army facilities, in 1976 President Ford signed laws banning human experimentation by all government agencies and President Carter signed more. Yet to this date the VA is still using veterans in human experiments, yes they get permission, but are they really explaining the possible long term effects, 100 veterans are being used in Ecstacy experiments for the treatment of PTSD in Charleston SC and then the VA is using Chantix for PTSD and to stop smoking, we are always expendable. Nothing ever changes...just the names

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

VAN BOVEN: Dealing with PTSD

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
VAN BOVEN: Dealing with PTSD
Robert Van Boven

On Friday, December 19th, millions of Americans were exposed on the "Dr. Phil" show to the antithesis of service many of our wounded warriors have received upon their return to civilian life. The honorable Rep. Bob Filner, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, decried that "the American people assume we (the VA) are taking care of our kids ... we are not."

He pointed out that the nearly one million new veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are dealing with a backlog of nearly 800,000 benefit claims. Moreover, Mr. Filner cited unethical conduct at the VA including shredding and deceitful post-dating of many hundreds of benefit claims at several sites. He further pointed out notorious VA communications to conceal suicide rates and encourage alternative diagnoses to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), thereby threatening health care benefits for many thousands of returning soldiers suffering from PTSD. Unfortunately, congressional oversight is hindered, according to Mr. Filner, because it depends upon self-disclosure of wrongdoing by the VA, and "if they want to cover-up, they can cover-up."

Just as intrinsic failures of self-regulation by lending institutions set the stage for the nation's economic debacle, insulated cultural problems at the VA are in need of reform and stronger external oversight, beyond the VA's own inspector general.

Although the VA has a budget of nearly $100 billion, the "system is designed not to help them (veterans) but to support the bureaucracy," according to Col. David Hunt of FOX News. For example, at Central Texas Veterans H Care System, suppression and inaction to disclosures of fraud, waste, plagiarism, and cronyism fell upon deaf ears to protect the inner circle of involved management and shortchange victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Consequently, attempts to bring to light misdoings by management at the only dedicated TBI brain imaging and treatment research program in Texas resulted not in remedies, but reprisals and covert plans for considering closure of the program without explanation.

Thus, such a burial would also conceal the transgressions. The VA modus operandi prevailed, characterized by Mr. Filner, as "Deny, deny, deny, then cover-up, cover-up, then down play it, then hopefully years later people will forget about it." Fortunately a unified protest to the possible shutdown of the TBI Program last week from Sen. John Cornyn and Reps. John Carter, Lloyd Doggett, Michael McCaul, and Lamar Smith may thwart the tactic of "throwing the baby out" (closing the TBI program) and keeping the dirty bath water (managers responsible for misconduct and mismanagement).

As we celebrate the New Year and a new beginning for our nation, let us pray and remember the over 4,200 men and women who perished in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, the over 140,000 soldiers who cannot be with their families at this time, and pledge our commitment to our wounded warriors so that they may achieve recovery and lead fulfilling lives.

The Rand Corp. estimates that nearly 300,000 returning soldiers suffer from PTSD or depression and up to 320,000 have sustained TBI. The Institute of Medicine has also recently underscored long-term consequences of TBI including dementia, depression, impaired family relations, and unemployment. According to National Alliance to End Homelessness, nearly one out of four homeless (1-out-of-3 men) in America are veterans though they only represent about 11 percent of the general population. The next wave of potential homeless must not follow this horrific fate for their service to our country. We are in dire need of sensitive methods to diagnose and treat TBI. Speak out for increased accountability, transparency, and integrity in our VA system, in service to those who risked their lives so that we can enjoy our holidays and freedom. Our heroes deserve no less.

Dr. Robert Van Boven is a neurologist-scientist and serves as director of a VA TBI program in Texas.

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Soldiers to ring in New Year in NYC

Soldiers to ring in New Year in NYC

WOUNDED WARRIORS: Group from Fort Drum to be in Times Square
A A A FORT DRUM — A group of 36 soldiers and spouses will get the VIP treatment for New Year's Eve in New York City.

The soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 85th Infantry, Warrior in Transition Unit on Fort Drum will be escorted around Brooklyn and Manhattan, getting tours by the New York Police Department of Rockefeller Center and the Catholic Ward Veterans Hall. They then will be ushered into a special corner of Times Square tonight where they can watch the ball drop and welcome in 2009.

"I've never been to New York City and this will even be the first time I've ever watched the ball drop. I've never even watched it on television," Spc. Craig S. Tybring said. "I never would have gone there if I didn't have the escort and the sectioned-off area. For me, with my knee injury, I wouldn't have been able to stand and get pushed around, I would end up under the feet of 50,000 other people."

That's what is most important to the soldiers who are going. They are getting a chance to experience one of the most recognizable New Year's celebrations just like someone without an injury.

"Going down there means a lot to me because half of the people in our company have trouble getting around," Spc. Rowena C. Clifford said. "This is them helping us out and showing us that we can still do things and we can still be a part of something like this."

Spc. Clifford's husband, Sgt. Douglas E. Clifford, also is in 3-85, and both will go on the trip sponsored and organized by the Wounded Warrior Project. Sgt. and Spc. Clifford met while stationed at Fort Drum and were married in October, and this is an opportunity for the newlyweds to share something special.

"We've only been married for a few months, so this is something really great that we get to do together," Sgt. Clifford said.

As for New Year's resolutions, Sgt. Clifford intends to help out around the house and do more dishes.

"I did all the laundry yesterday, actually, but I'm going to make more of an effort to pay her back for how well she takes care of me," he said.

All of the soldiers from 3-85 left Fort Drum early today and will check into a hotel in Brooklyn. From there they will be escorted to Catholic Ward Veteran Hall, where they will have dinner. The highlight of the night is being able to stand in Times Square with a group of other wounded soldiers brought from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and watch the ball drop.

"I'm originally from Long Island, so I've been in and around New York City most of my life," Capt. Roy S. Chiquito said. "When you are from there, this is not something you do because you know all about the crowds — but going as a part of this group makes me fortunate. It's going to be very memorable for us."

This power chair bound veteran can understand this SALUTE to the people that make trips like this happen for the troops and their families

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Vets Stage Rally For Homeless Brothers In Arms

Vets Stage Rally For Homeless Brothers In Arms

No Bond For Suspect In Homeless Beating Death (12/28/2008)

Homeless Man Was Beaten To Death Over "A Look" (12/27/2008)

Authorities Call Attention To U.S. Homelessness (12/12/2008)

A call to arms by a group of South Florida veterans angered over the recent deaths of two homeless vets in Miami.

The group Vets United said the military credo of 'no man left behind' applies to more than just the battlefield.

On November 7th, army veteran Ernest Holman, 67, was found beaten to death behind a Liberty City bus bench. A month later, on December 26th, marine veteran Todd Hill was beaten to death with as he slept on a Miami Riverfront bench.

On Wednesday they plan to hold a "State of Emergency Declaration and Rally" at Miami Dade County Hall to press the need for a homeless shelter for veterans.

The rally is scheduled to begin at noon.


I have never heard of this group, and I hope they are active for the right reasons and not using this as a "fund raiser" there are to many grous that raise funds and don't actually help vets. Does anyone know these people?

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President signs Army Commemorative Coin Act

President signs Army Commemorative Coin Act

Dec 30, 2008
BY Nick Rhinehart
The National Army Museum, shown in this conceptual design, will be built at Fort Belvoir, Va., partly with funds from the Army Commemorative Coin Act signed by the president earlier this month. Photo by courtesy
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 30, 2008) - President George W. Bush signed into law the "United States Army Commemorative Coin Act of 2008" on Dec. 1, authorizing the creation of a series of commemorative coins to recognize and celebrate the establishment of the United States Army in 1775, and to honor the service and sacrifice of American Soldiers of both past and present, in wartime and in peace.

These will be the first U.S. coins ever issued to celebrate and honor the Army and its 234 year heritage. The U.S. Mint will work on six coin designs, front and back with the Army Historical Foundation. Coins will be minted and sold during 2011 and come in a $5 gold piece, a silver dollar and a copper-clad half dollar. An estimated $10-$12 million of the sales revenues will help fund the National Museum of the United States Army slated for construction at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"The Commemorative Coin Act will help raise the revenue needed to build a museum dedicated to the men and women who have for so long protected the sovereignty and freedom of our country," said Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma. "The museum will serve to commemorate the enormous sacrifice of our Soldiers and will be a symbol of the Army's dedication to the fight for freedom."

Designated in 2000 as the Army's primary partner in building the museum, the Army Historical Foundation led the drive to establish the Army Commemorative Coins.

"Passage of the commemorative coin legislation has been the only legislative priority of the Army Historical Foundation over the past twelve months, and we are very pleased to announce the success of this initiative," said retired Brig. Gen. Creighton W. Abrams AHF executive director. "These coins will be beautiful mementos of past service for veterans, and will make appropriate gifts for retired veterans and currently serving Soldiers alike,"

(Nick Rhinehart writes for the Army Historical Foundation)


I collect coins anyway so I will be one of the first buying at least one if not more of these coins all 6 of them the Marine Corp Commemorative went up in value quickly

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Shocking Document from the VA Itself

I have written a lot, and extensively about the Cold War Human experiments called by the names SHAD/112 approx 6500 men used, the chemical weapons and drug experiments at Edgewood Arsenal from 1955 thru 1975 7120 men used, and the Fort Detrick Biological weapons program from 1955 thru 1972 approx 2300 men used.

The DOD and the VA have failed the veterans for decades, and a Feb 2008 GAO report shows that as of Feb 2008 they still had not identified more than half of all the veterans, and I presume the widows of all the deceased veterans that had been used in these classified experiments.

The veterans in most if not all of these programs had to sign National Security Agreements that we could tell NO ONE, not family members, spouses, doctors, etc. any violation of this would result in a 25 year sentence to Leavenworth the federal prison. This started falling apart in 1975 when the Department of the Army IG released a report on Human Experimentation.

Then in 1987 Master Sergeant Stanley sued the Army for using him in the late 50s in a LSD experiment and never telling him, he did not learn of his use, until the late 70s when the Army did a follow up of the veterans used in the LSD experiments. He sued and it made it's way to the Supreme Court where he lost a 5-4 decision. Congress did pass a law compensating him about 500,000 dollars. There was another settlement with another LSD veteran who had broken his neck jumping into an empty pool which left him paralyzed in the early 90's I beleive and it was settled for 1.2 million. Other than that no other "test veterans" have been compensated, many of the veterans are service connected (SC) by the VA for other medical problems but not as a result of exposures in the experiments.

The common tactic is for the VA to tell the veterans you can't prove you were exposed to any substance that caused your medical problems. Denied. You provide them with EPA Superfund reports showing the 77 toxic substances in the drinking water and soil of Edgewood Arsenal found in 1978, and they tell you that you can't prove you ingested any of the toxins, excuse me I know I am not real bright, but I was there for almost three months, do they honestly beleive I didn't drink or bathe for the entire period? We all used the water wells for drinking water, the cooks made coffee and kool aid with the water, they cooked with it. We used it for brushing our teeth, showers, and the post swimming pool was filled from those wells, how could we avoid it? They then told me that the EPA reports were Internet trash and not factual government reports duh?

Yesterday I found this report VA Fact Sheet Edgewood/Aberdeen Experiments Information the conclusions section left me shaking my head.

Based on it the VARO's around the nation should be accepting all of the "test vets claims" and give them all the "benefit of the doubt" yet they continue to deny all claims, why?

Is there anyone in government that can explain this to me and the other veterans and the widows? anyone care to try?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

S.D. official, Obama offer views on Guard

S.D. official, Obama offer views on Guard

The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Dec 27, 2008 11:20:11 EST

MITCHELL, S.D. — President-elect Barack Obama has said he’d like to relieve some of the pressure on the National Guard.

But a prediction by South Dakota’s National Guard adjutant general, Steve Doohen, that the Guard’s role won’t change under the new commander in chief conflicts with Obama’s earlier statement.

During a June campaign visit to Mitchell, a reporter asked Obama what the National Guard’s role would be under his presidency.

Obama said he wants to expand the nation’s active-duty military force.

“If we expand our ground forces, then we should be able to put the National Guard back in the business of protecting our homeland and providing emergency services here,” Obama said. “We won’t be able to do that immediately, obviously, because it will take some time to build up our core structure, but that would be my intention.”

National Guard equipment has been “decimated” by the war on terror and must be restored, he said.

Earlier this month, Doohen said he doesn’t foresee any change in the Guard’s role. He said the National Guard has become more operational in nature and that he does not expect that to change.

Some South Dakota National Guard units already have been told they will be deployed next year, Doohen said.

Republican Sen. John Thune, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he doesn’t believe the Guard’s role will change significantly anytime soon. Thune said the Guard’s role is crucial in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to Thune, the Constitution says the Guard’s proper role is to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.

“I believe that the effort to make the Guard more of an operational force, rather than a strategic force, is appropriate under the guidelines of the Constitution,” he said.

Megan Smith, spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, says the nation has relied heavily on National Guard and Reserve units in response to the 911 terrorist attacks and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is unlikely to change in the near future, but Senator Johnson hopes we can begin to ease the pressure placed on the members of the National Guard and their families,” she said.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the South Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,100 soldiers and 1,000 airmen. Currently, about 40 soldiers and airmen from the South Dakota National Guard remain on duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in Southwest Asia and Europe.

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Sherman with major role at Bastogne found

Sherman with major role at Bastogne found

Staff report
Posted : Monday Dec 29, 2008 14:04:08 EST

Army historians have identified a World War II-era tank on display at Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany as being the first tank to enter American lines 64 years ago in relief of besieged 101st Airborne Division soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

Called the “Cobra King,” the M4 Sherman tank was used by the 4th Armored Division’s C Company, 37th Tank Battalion to break the German encirclement of U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium on Dec. 26, 1944.

Army historians from U.S. Army Europe and the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Ky., used serial numbers and registration numbers to verify the tank’s identity.

The tank was built in mid-1944 at the Detroit Tank Arsenal, and is one of only 254 “Jumbo” models of the M4 to come off the arsenal’s assembly lines.

Because of its historical importance, USAREUR officials expect the tank will be displayed at the National Museum of the Army after construction of that facility is completed at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The relief of Bastogne signaled the defeat of the Germany Army in the Battle of the Bulge, a desperate attempt by Hitler to split Allied forces in central Europe by launching a mammoth armored offensive through the hilly and wooded Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxemburg.

The Bulge, or Ardennes Offensive, was the biggest battle in Army history, involving an army group of 800,000 soldiers.

While a stunning victory, it resulted in the deaths of some 19,000 soldiers.

At NTC when it first opened we used Sherman Tanks as mocked up Soviet BRMs, they were small close quarter vehicle's I spent hundreds of hours over the 2 years I was at NTC in 81 and 82 I am glad they "found" this special one

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Some Veterans to See Another Travel Reimbursement Increase

Some Veterans to See Another Travel Reimbursement Increase

WASHINGTON (Dec. 29, 2008) - Service-disabled and low-income veterans
who are reimbursed for travel expenses while receiving care at
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities will see an increase in
their payments beginning January 9.

A recently passed law allows VA to cut the amount it must withhold from
their mileage reimbursement. The deductible amount will be $3 for each
one-way trip and $6 for each round trip -- with a calendar cap of $18,
or six one-way trips or three round trips, whichever comes first. The
previous deductible was $7.77 for a one-way trip, and $15.54 for a round
trip, with a calendar cap of $46.62.

"I'm pleased that we can help veterans living far from VA facilities to
access the medical and counseling help they deserve, especially in the
current economic climate," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James
B. Peake. "Together with the increased mileage rate approved last
month, we can further reduce the financial hardship some veterans
undergo to use our superior health care."

In November, Peake announced VA's second increase in the mileage
reimbursement rate during 2008, from 28.5 cents to 41.5 cents a mile.

Service-disabled and low-income veterans are eligible to be reimbursed
by VA for the travel costs of receiving health care or counseling at VA
facilities. Veterans traveling for Compensation and Pension
examinations also qualify for mileage reimbursement. VA can waive
deductibles if they cause financial hardship.

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Dugway's secret tests: Vets link health problems to chemical exposure

Dugway's secret tests: Vets link health problems to chemical exposure

Dugway's secret tests: Vets link health problems to chemical exposure
By Stephen Speckman

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008 12:15 a.m. MST

Dwight Bunn easily becomes breathless and says he has lung scarring from exposure during chemical tests conducted in secrecy on troops while he was stationed at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Tooele County from 1962 to 1963.
David W. Davidson tried to hold his breath while being gassed at Dugway back in 1961. But he now has a laundry list of health maladies, any one of which may be connected to that day 47 years ago.

A doctor told Samuel Waller Anderson Jr. that the peripheral neuropathy in his feet and numbness in his hands was caused by some kind of exposure to chemicals. Anderson was stationed at Dugway from 1952 to 1956 and also was a guinea pig during tests at the isolated 1,300-square-mile Army base.

Government records show there may be hundreds, possibly thousands, more veterans like Anderson and Bunn — soldiers who were told shadowy military tests at Dugway and elsewhere wouldn't hurt them but who decades later can't explain what's happening to their bodies.

The claims made by Bunn, Davidson and Anderson are also the type of stories that the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs want to hear. Both departments in September set up a Web site,, which is partly intended to jog the memories of former soldiers, most of whom are now in their 60s and 70s.

The Web site details what types of chemical and biological agents were used in myriad tests at Dugway and other military bases and even at sea. The tests all took place toward the end of World War II and during the Cold War from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Back then, subjects used in the tests were told to keep quiet, and for decades, most stayed true to their government's heavy-handed request. In some tests, soldiers simply weren't told what was happening at the time, and to this day, they still don't know much about what went on.

As of this month, the Defense Department had received e-mails from 119 individuals who had visited the Web site. Department officials had responded to 107 of the inquiries, in some cases directing vets to VA sources for help with filing claims.

A telephone hotline listed at the site has drawn 43 calls. Out of 614 benefit claims filed with the VA attempting to link old military tests with current health issues, 39 have been granted, according to Charlene Reynolds, a Virginia-based Defense Department spokeswoman over health affairs.

Washington-based VA spokesman Jim Benson said that vets need to be patient as the VA works with the Defense Department, which has the records on all those old tests.

"They should be encouraged that the VA is very much on their side," Benson said. The key, he added, is starting with the Defense Department to get the process rolling.

Reynolds said her department is working closely with the VA to provide that agency with information about decades-old tests, many of which until only recently were classified. Some of the information the departments need is hard to come by.
"The investigation at Dugway is not done," said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, Defense Department Military Health System director of strategic communications.

All of the unclassified testing has been identified, and most of all of those names are collected, he said this month. "They are really just getting started with the classified testing, so it may be a year before that work is done," he said. "There's no way to estimate how many tests or how many people."

Kilpatrick said that if there is a "preponderance of evidence," or a 50 percent chance or more, that a claim might be connected to military service, that person will get help through the VA.

But at least a few former soldiers say they feel like lab rats again, giving the government what it wants but getting little in return.

A chemical-weapons race

As of this past June, the U.S. Force Health and Readiness Programs counted 10,500 veterans who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals during more than two decades of tests, which government officials say are no longer conducted on humans.

The tests during the 1950s and 1960s came after the world had already seen the horrors of chemical warfare. The U.S. government estimates there were 90,000 deaths and over 1 million casualties during World War I from chemical agents. By the end of WWII, the U.S., Russia and Germany were fully engaged in a race to develop the nastiest types of chemical and biological agents they could find to use against their enemies.
"As part of this accelerated program, experiments used service members as human volunteers to determine the effects of chemical agents, as well as to develop therapeutics and prophylactics," Defense Department officials now admit on their new Web site.

Real health problems, regardless of whether they are proven to be service-connected, are not going away for soldiers who were part of the tests at Dugway and elsewhere.

Bunn, 64, doesn't figure the Defense Department or VA will come through for him, but he's trying, hopeful he'll get the benefits he thinks he deserves.

He now lives in North Bend, Wash. Decades ago, he took part in Project 112, which spawned Project SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense). Those projects were designed to test defenses against chemical and biological warfare on land and at sea. Many of Project 112's tests were conducted at Dugway.

Bunn said he's been trying since 2002 to get the VA to pay for tests on his lungs that will determine the best treatment options. His lung scarring makes it hard for him to exhale, although he inhales with relative ease.

To date, he has had to pay about $3,000 out of pocket for tests. A simple walk to the mailbox or playing with his granddaughter leaves the former private first class struggling to breathe. He wants relief.
Bunn said the VA has told him that his condition is related to exposure to asbestos during childhood. He disagrees, pointing to a time at Dugway when he spent a week in the hospital after one test.

"I'm not even sure what they were testing," Bunn said. "They told me when they let me out that my lungs would not function correctly. But they had the greatness to write it up as an upper respiratory infection."

On Nov. 5, Bunn contacted someone at the phone number listed on the new Web site. A month later, he was still waiting to hear about something that will help him.

"All I want is my medical benefits," Bunn said. "I want this service-connected so that they'll pay for all these tests. I'm still a guinea pig. They're getting the information they want from my body, but I have to pay for it ... I'm still a lab rat."

Health problems

Samuel Anderson, 78, was a pilot in charge of shadowing a drone aircraft that sprayed nerve gas during tests at Dugway in 1955. A photographer on board his plane was supposed to record the drone's activity. During one flight, Anderson received an alarming call over his radio.

"They kept yelling at me, 'Return to base, return to base,"' Anderson recalled. "I wasn't really certain what the situation was. Someone told me I had flown through the (nerve gas) cloud."
Right after he landed, Anderson and the photographer stripped to their underwear and were sprayed with a decontaminant. "I thought: This is serious business. This is not play time," Anderson said.

In the years that followed his honorable discharge from the Army as a first lieutenant in 1956, Anderson, who now lives in Knoxville, Tenn., said his feet burned after exercise. He eventually was diagnosed as having neuropathy, which long term means he may completely lose feeling in his feet or even be forced to amputate one or both of them.

After Medicare covers some of Anderson's medication, he pays about $7,000 a year of his own money to treat the neuropathy. He and his wife live on the stocks they have invested in over the years, and with the downturn in the economy, a lot of that money is disappearing, making the increasing cost of medication more of a worry for them.

Because Anderson didn't serve overseas, he never felt worthy of approaching the VA for benefits. The new Web site and his worsening financial situation have changed his opinion.

"I can't get it out of my mind that ... this is related to what happened to me at Dugway," Anderson said.

Anderson told his buddy Amos E. Long about the new Web site. They were at Dugway at the same time in 1955. They now keep in touch.

Long, 76, lives in Alabama. For years, he has suffered problems with his feet. One doctor told him he has nerve damage.
"When I wake up, it feels like my ankles are the size of volleyballs," said Long, who left the Army as a first lieutenant.

Long's job was in meteorology, to go out into the field at about 2 a.m. and test surface wind direction and speed prior to tests, as well as during or after tests. He recalled a road being closed when one cloud of chemicals drifted off base.

"I don't have any idea where it went," Long said about the cloud. "All we had to do was to protect our people."

Long had his own experience with being exposed to something, he doesn't know what, and being decontaminated afterward. He has been unsuccessful so far in getting the VA to pay for testing and treatment for his feet.

"I have no idea what I was exposed to," Long said. "They should have let us know what we were close to."

'Chemical School'

Despite what went on at Dugway and the risks soldiers took during tests, at least one man isn't claiming any related health problems.

Jerry Reed finished "Chemical School" in Alabama in 1959 near the top of his class, earning him a trip to Dugway in June 1959. He can still remember arriving.

"When they put us on that old Army bus and took us out past Saltair and down Skull Valley, I was convinced it was the end of the world and I would never go home again," he said.
Reed, 67, contrasted growing up in rural Arkansas surrounded by green trees and waist-deep grass with coming to a "forbidding" place at Dugway.

"The NCO that met us at the main gate said, 'We don't worry about you going AWOL, we just watch you walk away for three days and then go out and pick you up,"' he said.

Reed and Anderson have stories about tests using mosquitoes and fleas. Neither man knew exactly how the insects were being used, but they guess it may have had to do with finding a way to spread chemical or biological agents.

For other tests, Reed donned a rubber suit and would decontaminate an area where animals had been exposed to nerve agent and had died within seconds or minutes. He said the animals were doused with gasoline, burned and buried in a trench.

Reed said he's still trying to get his mind around how naive the soldiers were to allow themselves to be used as "guinea pigs." But it was a different climate back then, he said. "I guess we just totally believed that they would not do anything that could harm us."

Reed, who in the Army reached the rank of staff sergeant, said his "health issues" now are more related to age and weight and that he enjoyed 40 years of good health after Dugway.

"I have no ax to grind with the Army," he said. "I am proud of my service, strange as it was."

Davidson, 72, of West Haven, spent about nine months at Dugway in 1961, and he remembers how so-called volunteers were chosen for tests.

"They just said, 'You, you, you and you,"' Davidson said.

For one test, the former sergeant remembers everyone being lined up without gas masks in a field and being gassed by something, forced to gut it out until the gas cloud went away.

"We had to stay in it and then report back," Davidson said. "I tried to hold my breath as long as I could. When I took a breath, it took me right to my knees."

He isn't sure what the gas was and didn't dare ask back then.

"We were in the service," Davidson said. "We just obeyed. You did what you were told to."

When asked what health problems he has today, Davidson has to retrieve a list written on a piece of paper. Prostate cancer, kidney failure, skin cancer and congestive heart failure appear to be the worst among his maladies.

About a month ago, Davidson contacted the VA for help in paying for tests and treatments for his health conditions. But he has run into a glitch: He has been told there are no records of what sort of gas was used in 1961.

"Good grief! They used to take us out and gas us," he said.

My response to the Deseret News

I am an Edgewood "volunteer" my number is 6778A I am one of 7120 enlisted men used from 1955 thru 1975. The VA asks for information that the veterans have no access to, what day was the test done? Do you remember what you did every day from June 1974 thru August 22 1974? I can't and the stroke in 1992 didn't help.

The VA spokesman statement:

"They should be encouraged that the VA is very much on their side," Benson said. The key, he added, is starting with the Defense Department to get the process rolling.

Reynolds said her department is working closely with the VA to provide that agency with information about decades-old tests, many of which until only recently were classified. Some of the information the departments need is hard to come by.

This part of the story is a joke, I have been in the appeals process with the VA since July 2003 after they denied my initial claim for service connection.

Edgewood Arsenal is one of the bases linked to the "classified experiments" they did chemical weapons and drug experiments there, from the LSD experiments to Sarin, BZ and Mustard agents, in all they used 254 different substances from 1955 thru 1975.

The EPA Superfund report shows the contamination of the bases water wells was discovered in 1978 and the EPA ordered the capping of the drinking water, a new source of water had to be piped into the base and the town of Edgewood, Maryland as the aquifer shared by the town and the base has the same toxic materials in it.

Here are the EPA reports and the list of contaminants found in the drinking water, ground water and soil of Edgewood. ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND (EDGEWOOD AREA Contaminants

Given that 77 of these contaminants cause everything from pulmonary issues, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, cancer, nuerological etc and that I like the other "medical volunteers" was drinking and training in this soil for our assignments, there was no way to avoid the contaminants is there. Yet the VA's denial letter stated that I could not prove I was exposed to the 77 toxic materials, I am not real smart but if they were in the drinking water and I was there for more than 2 months, how did I avoid them? What about the "benefit of the doubt" they claim they are giving the veterans.

I might buy their arguments if I had only one or two medical problems, but I have a laundry list, and have had since they started at age 36 in Feb 1992 with a stroke and TIAs, followed by cardiac problems, autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, gastrointestinal problems, basically the entire gauntlet of known medical problems to chemical weapon exposure. The VA has denied SC for all of my medical problems except PTSD.

The VA and DOD's long stream of broken promises in helping these veterans used in the Cold War experiments is now becoming a broken record. In 1991 CBS broke the story about these veterans Sec of Def Dick Cheney promised help, and acting Sec of the VA Anthony Principi promised help.

In Nov 2004 David Zeman of the Detroit Free Press asked Sec of the VA Anthony Principi why these veterans had still not been helped, he replied he thought they had and he would get right on it, in Jan 2005 he stepped down and Sec Nicholson did nothing, he helped bury the lists of veterans named uncovered by Len Sistek Jr a House VA Committee investigator sent by Congressman Lane Evans and Ted Strickland to Dugway, Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick where most of the Cold War tests took place, he gave them the names of 7120 men of Edgewood, 2300 men of Fort Detrick and 6500 names of men used at Dugway.

Sec Nicholson claimed the lists were useless and sent them to Sec of def Donald Rumsfeld where he sent them to an understaffed office for SHAD.

A Feb 2008 GAO Report shows that DOD and the VA have failed to contact more than 4000 of the veterans, why?

The more questions they get asked the more they lie, they are just waiting for us to die off.

Mike Bailey

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