I know some of you are in dire straits, especially in these economic times. But some of you have appeared on Stardust Radio in one of their shows, others listen, some call in.
Others addressed here are the recipients of the help of people who have never asked for a dime for what they do, and this will not be one of these times. If you have received my help, I ask, if you can, to send a check or whatever you can afford to:
PO Box 102
Riverside, Iowa 52327
If you can't donate and you have a website for veterans or the military, please publish this letter there.
Why you may ask? Well here is why. Just so you understand, Jeff and Linda Showalter have been paying several hundred dollars (almost a thousand) every month for years to cover the phone lines and equipment to keep the station on the air. The 800 line was intended for quick calls for people to ask a question and then get off. But people have been staying on the line for 30, 40 minutes, an hour and longer and it has been very expensive. And the shows are not paying for the calls, so Jeff has to pay it. There are two base fees for the line every month and a charge of 24 cents per minute.
Judi Burns from Stardust just did a fantastic interview with a group of four K-9 at Manas Air Base. Two on patrols, the kennel master and the civilian trainer who had to get out and sign on with a contractor to stay on with K-9's. She talks to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan weekly, as well as those who support them.
The website costs money, the archive site costs money - it all costs money and they are trying to keep it going. Chat Star costs time and maintenance. They are constantly working on something for Stardust. He does not get much support or thanks from those of us who receive free air time with production and technician fees waived. A recent article in some local papers did bring him a few notes of thanks and he was amazed. He should hear it from us, too.
Again, please, please support this worthy cause.
Thank you and god bless you all,
Kurt Priessman, MSgt, USAF (Ret)
Vet Advocate, The Bottom Line, HELPPP, K-9
Stardust radio has great veteran programming and Congressman Filner Chairman of the House VA Committee is a frequent guest, it is an asset we will all miss, if it has to go away, all donations are appreciated.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I know some of you are in dire straits, especially in these economic times. But some of you have appeared on Stardust Radio in one of their shows, others listen, some call in.
Friday, May 8, 2009
VA PROVIDES OVERDUE RELIEF FOR VETERANS IN NURSING HOMES
Akaka & Feingold pushed for implementation of law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) today applauded news that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is finally implementing a law to reimburse state nursing homes for the full cost of the care they provide for certain seriously disabled veterans. More than two years after Congress passed legislation to provide full nursing home reimbursements for veterans with disabilities rated 70 percent or greater, cash-strapped states and more than a thousand disabled and elderly veterans stand to benefit from the law’s implementation. VA will pay retroactive reimbursements for nursing home care back to March 21, 2007.
“This long-overdue benefit will help disabled veterans receive the care they earned through their service. It will provide relief to nursing homes across the country that have been burdened with the cost of their care, despite Congress’s order that VA provide reimbursement. I am pleased that VA will provide retroactive benefits for the veterans and state homes that have waited for over two years to receive the assistance they are entitled to,” said Akaka.
Feingold stated, “For over a year, I have been pressing the VA to put in place these regulations so that veterans, and the state homes that care for them, won’t have to pay for care in state long-term care facilities that they would receive for free in VA facilities. I am pleased that the new administration has finally acted on this issue and our veterans who have more than earned this care will be able to receive it in more facilities and without having to use their often limited income to pay for it.”
On May 5, 2006, Senator Akaka introduced the Veterans Long-Term Care Security Act directing VA to pay the full cost of nursing home care for certain disabled veterans. That bill was later incorporated into the omnibus Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, which became Public Law 109-461 on December 22, 2006. When more than a year had passed and VA had yet to implement the law, Akaka and Feingold were joined by a bipartisan group of Senators in calling on VA to quickly issue the regulations necessary for implementation.
On Monday, Discovery Channel airs it's new three-part series Weaponizers. I thought this might be something your readers would love.
The series pits two teams of master builders against each other, as they turn ordinary vehicles into remote-controlled machines of destruction. With the pace and intensity of a video game, vehicles are completed with live-ammunition machine guns and other seemingly ordinary objects that are transformed into powerful weapons.
Photos of the cast and crew
--> VIDEO AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD: https://www.box.net/shared/m281linumt
Interviews are also available, please let me know if you have any interest or if you would like more information.
DISCOVERY CHANNEL'S NEW SERIES 'WEAPONIZERS" PREMIERES MONDAY, MAY 11
From the producers of MYTHBUSTERS comes an explosive new three-part series, WEAPONIZERS, premiering on Discovery Channel, Monday, May 11 at 9PM and Monday, May 18 at 8PM and 9PM ET/PT.
WEAPONIZERS pits two teams of master builders against each other, as they turn ordinary vehicles into remote-controlled machines of destruction. With the pace and intensity of a video game, vehicles are completed with live-ammunition machine guns and other seemingly ordinary objects that are transformed into powerful weapons.
In each episode, the teams convert regular rides such as a shuttle bus, an ice cream van and muscle cars into vicious vehicles.
Once all testing is complete, each team descends into respective underground control bunkers to command their vehicles for a two-round competition. In round one, the teams undertake a challenge-based phase where the vehicles race to destroy or defend exploding targets such as medieval castles or Mad Max style fuel depots. Then in round two, the Weaponizers are thrown into a Carmageddon Round where the rules are... there are no rules. It's a gloves off test of what expertise these teams can draw on to achieve victory, which in WEAPONIZERS' terms means there is only one vehicle left standing!
For the big kids in all of us, I can remember when we use to fantasize about making the remote controlled weapons systems, that could reak havoc and mayhem without putting our troops in harms way, this show seems right up our alley.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has introduced the Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009 (H.Res. 417
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has introduced the Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009 (H.Res. 417), calling on President Obama to reverse the damaging and illegal actions taken by the Bush/Cheney Administration and to collaborate with Congress to proactively prevent any further abuses of executive branch power.
“This measure lists steps President Obama can take to proactively prevent any further abuses of executive branch power and restore the public’s faith in our government,” Baldwin said.
The Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009 calls on President Obama to:
* Affirm our nation’s commitment to uphold the Constitution;
* Fully investigate Bush/Cheney administration officials’ alleged crimes and hold them accountable for any illegal acts;
* Hold accountable Bush/Cheney Administration officials who showed or show contempt for the legal duty to comply with Congressional subpoenas; disclosed the identity of any covert intelligence agent; pursued politically-motivated prosecutions;
* Ensure that any Bush/Cheney administration official guilty of a war crime is prosecuted under the War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Act;
* Affirm that it is the sole legal right of Congress to declare war;
* Criminalize lying to Congress and the American public about the reasons for going to war;
* Restore the writ of habeas corpus as an essential principle of our democracy;
* Ensure that torture and rendition are uniformly prohibited under United States law;
* Responsibly close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp;
* Ensure that Americans can bring claims against their government;
* Immediately take affirmative steps to protect all Bush/Cheney Administration documents;
* Publicly review potential abuses of the presidential pardon process; and
* Further reform the use of presidential signing statements.
A copy of the Executive Branch Accountability Act of 2009 as introduced can be found in this PDF.
Congresswoman Baldwin explains why she feels this bill is necessary: Video.
PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR!
Capitol Hill Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Find your Congress Member's phone and fax numbers.
as a veteran I feel the elected officials need to be held accountable for issuing illegal orders, and so far the only ones that have been held accountable are enlisted men and women, I feel they deserve better than this, from the actions they did take at Abu Graib, the memo's written by Judge Bybee and approved by the Chain of Command are what these men and women appeared to have followed, so why is it only the "little people" are held accountable, if Vice President Cheney is so concerned about the little people he should have spoke up, when the Army was court martialing these men and women. Justice should apply to all in the United States, not one set for the ruling class and another for the "little guys". The FBI agents present at Gitmo walked out of the interrogations and refused to participate due to the illegal acts they saw, and they were not punished by the administration, so why were Army personnel prosecuted for obeying the rule changes the Bush Administration lawyers at DOJ and the department of defense approved?
House bypasses governor’s veto to claim Oklahoma’s sovereignty
Although Gov. Brad Henry vetoed similar legislation 10 days earlier, House members Monday again approved a resolution claiming Oklahoma’s sovereignty.
Gov. Brad Henry speaks to members of the Oklahoma Press Association at their convention held at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown in Tulsa. SHERRY BROWN/Tulsa World Friday, Feb. 6, 2009
Unlike House Joint Resolution 1003, House Concurrent Resolution 1028 does not need the governor’s approval.
The House passed the measure 73-22. It now goes to the Senate.
"We’re going to get it done one way or the other,” said the resolutions’ author, Rep. Charles Key, R-Oklahoma City.
"I think our governor is out of step.”
House Democrats objected, saying the issue already had been taken up and had been vetoed, but House Speaker Pro Tempore Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, ruled the veto is not final action.
Key said he expects HCR 1028 will pass in the Senate. HJR 1003 earlier passed the House 83-18 and won approval in the Senate 29-18.
Henry vetoed HJR 1003 because he said it suggested, among other things, that Oklahoma should return federal tax dollars.
Key said HCR 1028, which, if passed, would be sent to Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, would not jeopardize federal funds but would tell Congress to "get back into their proper constitutional role.” The resolution states the federal government should "cease and desist” mandates that are beyond the scope of its powers.
Key said many federal laws violate the 10th Amendment, which says powers not delegated to the U.S. government "are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The Constitution lists about 20 duties required of the U.S. government, he said.
Congress should not be providing bailouts to financial institutions and automakers, he said.
"We give all this money to all these different entities, including automakers, and now they’re talking about, ‘Well maybe it’s better to let them go bankrupt,’” Key said. "Well, maybe we should have let them go bankrupt before we gave them the money.”
My response is NOT just to Oklahoma it is to all of the people that think you can secede from the United States, that issue was settled once and for all in 1865, in one of the worst wars this nation has ever seen, my grandfather and all of my great Uncles fought in that war, they all survived and one was seriously wounded and lost an arm. Our family was lucky. What these people advocating for seccession is callled treason, and for the life of me I can't see any good Americans committing treason knowingly, so my guess is that most of you don't know what you are asking for. Get new candidates and replace the ones who are not legislating the way you want, that is the Amrican way, not starting and advocating a new civil war.
My family like many of yours have served this nation in uniform my family has been here since 1635 when the ship Angel Gabriel brought the first "Bailey" to America from England. There has been a Bailey in every war this nation has fought, and I imagine they will continue to serve the United States of America, not a soverign state but a soveriegn "nation" of all 50 states and territories.
My guess is most people speaking of seccession have never worn the military uniform of the US, if they had they would not be talking about "quitting it". Mike Bailey
implications for OEF/OIF suicide prevention efforts
Journal of Mental Health Counseling , April, 2009 by Jeffery Martin, Marjan Ghahramanlou-Holloway, Kathryn Lou, Paulette Tucciarone
ShareEmailDiggFacebookTwitterGoogleDeliciousStumbleUponNewsvineLinkedInMy YahooTechnoratiRedditPrintRecommend0Suicide is a significant public health concern within the United States' military. Suicide may occur before, during, and after military deployment or service for a multitude of reasons that may or may not be directly related to deployment. Therefore, it is crucial that mental health counselors are trained to identify risk at an early stage so they can offer evidence-based practices to manage and reduce it. Enhanced understanding of the similarities and differences in suicide risk and protective factors for civilian and military individuals is crucial for counselors who work directly with Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) active-duty personnel, veterans, and family members. This review aims to educate counselors about the role of demographic, life event, psychopathology, and behavioral and psychological variables in exacerbating or alleviating the desire to die. The information presented is based on an electronic search of medical and psychological databases for terms related to suicide by military service members. Recommendations related to identification, prevention, and management of suicide risk in OEF/OIF service members and beneficiaries are presented.
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Public Health Significance of Suicide
Suicide is a serious public health problem throughout the world. Globally it accounts for nearly half of all violence-related deaths (World Health Organization [WHO], 2006). In the United States (U.S.) suicide is the 11th leading cause of death, with about 30,000 deaths annually (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2007). Among those aged 15-24 suicide is the third leading cause of death, at a rate of 10.3 per 100,000 (U.S Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2004). In the U.S. between 1999 and 2004, 54.6% of suicide deaths were attributed to firearms, 20.4% to suffocation, and 17.2% to poisoning (CDC). On average, more than 80 Americans die by suicide every day. Males are four times more likely to die by suicide than females (CDC, 2006). One common assumption for this disparity' is related to the method of suicide: males use firearms in 50-60% of cases (CDC, 2007).
The National Mental Health Association (2006) estimates that there are 500,000 nonfatal suicide events in the U.S. every year. In 2002 more than 90,000 hospitalizations and 324,000 emergency room evaluations were attributed to nonfatal suicide events (CDC, 2004). Moscicki (2001) found that 2-5% of the U.S. population has attempted suicide at some point. Of about 6,000 respondents aged 15-54 responding to the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), 13.5% had experienced suicide ideation, 3.9% had engaged in some type of preparatory behavior, and 4.6% had attempted suicide (Kessler, Borges, & Walters, 1999). Suicide death and injuries in the U.S. are estimated to result in over $25 billion annually in direct costs and such indirect costs as lost productivity (CDC, 2006).
The U.S. active-duty military is comprised predominantly of young male adults; about 50% are aged 17-26 (Eaton, Messer, Wilson, & Hoge, 2006). According to CDC data (2004), suicide is the third leading cause of death among this age group generally. In the U.S. military, suicide has historically ranked as the second leading cause after accidents (Ritchie, Keppler, & Rothberg, 2003). In 2005, the reported Department of Defense (DoD) average suicide rate was 11.4 per 100,000 (ranging from 8.9 for the Air Force to 13.7 for the Army). Carr, Hoge, Gardner, and Potter (2004) suggested that correcting reporting and classification mistakes might increase suicide rates in the military by as much as 21%. To date, there are no reliable data on suicide attempts in the military. Recent findings from the Post-Deployment Health Assessment survey (Hoge, Auchterlonie, & Milliken, 2006) indicated that of 222,620 soldiers and Marines returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), 1.1% (n = 2,411) reported "some" suicide ideation and 0.2% (n = 467) reported "a lot."
Purpose and Methodology of Current Review
The U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention identifies suicide as a "public health problem that is preventable." One of its goals is the development and promotion of effective clinical and professional practices (U.S. Public Health Service [USPHS], 2001, p. 46). The DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) have demonstrated their commitment to preventing suicide by funding research on military suicide, setting up groups like the DoD Suicide Prevention and Risk Reduction Committee, and providing training, such as the Military Suicide Prevention Conference.
Enhanced understanding of the similarities and differences in suicide risk and protective factors for civilian and military individuals is crucial for mental health counselors who work directly with Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and OIF active-duty personnel, veterans, and family members. Our review of the literature highlights unique assessment and treatment implications that need to be carefully considered when working with these clients. Because suicide behavior may occur before, during, and after deployment or service for a multitude of reasons that may or may not be directly related to deployment, it is crucial that we as counselors identify the risks early and offer evidence-based practices to manage and reduce them.
The article is 18 pages long I will not copy the entire article please click on the link above and go to the website and read it, if you are interested in this material. thank you Mike
Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. To truly appreciate military spouses, we should act as a nation as if their service in supporting and standing by their servicemember despite the hardships of military life (particularly to their own career and/or educational aspirations) is as valuable as the service as the servicemember they love and support--or close to it. The military demands nearly as much of the spouse as it does of the soldier yet does not provide comparable services, care, or treatment. The Obama Administration, particularly under Michelle's leadership and with the help of Congress, can change this.
1. Comparable dental and vision care.
2. Military spouse federal hiring preference (even after divorce if married longer than a certain number of years, say 5, 7, or 10).
3. Emergency psychiatric care for military families that does not require going to an emergency room.
4. Support and pass the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act.
Women in the Military and the Obama Administration
Posted on May 7th, 2009 |
by Carissa Picard in 2008 Election Coverage, All News, Iraq War, Op-ed, Texas News, The War on Terror, US Government News, US News, US Politics, Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC News, military
You may be thinking that I am talking about the female servicemember, but I am actually talking about her counterpart, the military spouse (of which approximately 93 percent are still women). According to the Rand Corporation, the research organization often used to conduct studies for the Department of Defense, although military spouses often have more education than their civilian counterparts, they are also often more frequently under-employed and under-paid than those same counterparts.
Frequently, military spouses end up on a de facto mommy track—even when they don’t have children. More than half of our military spouses have children, but without the support of the other parent, the difficulty of single parenting (in essence) turns many a working or studying spouse into a stay at home mom (or dad). For those without children, the frequent moves alone hurt career and educational goals and aspirations. I have met military spouses with college credits from four or more colleges (although the rise in credibility of on-line universities is changing this). For a spouse who obtains her educational goals, she then faces the fact that she either chooses a “portable” career (the Department of Defense encourages teaching, nursing, medical transcriptionists, etc…) or watches her own career deflate like a flan in the cupboard for too long. Not to mention that most military installations are in economically depressed areas and many employers do not want to invest in someone who could leave with little to no notice any time in the next six months to two years. As a result, many military spouses turn to working from home as an outlet for their career aspirations, starting their own small businesses if they can (hence the creation and success of organizations like the Military Spouse Business Association).
Former President Ronald Reagan declared the Friday before Mother’s Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Frankly, however, spouses need more than a day of appreciation. Military spouses endure nearly every hardship of military life (absent actually going to war) that servicemembers do and yet there is no formal recognition of it or support for them. Moreover, it never occurs to lawmakers or others that there should be. Benefits to ease the burdens of the multiple moves, such as being able to maintain one state of residency (this is the second year Congress is pondering the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act) and rewards for “serving” your country, such as the veterans preference in hiring for federal jobs, are not given to military spouses. Military spouses (and children for that matter), do not even have comparable dental and vision care. So long as they are stationed in the United States (as opposed to Germany, for example), military dependents are not allowed to received dental or vision care on post and have to pay into a limited dental and vision plan.
To illustrate the federal hiring preference, consider my own marriage. After six years and four military moves, including Germany, I have been on the aforementioned mommy track. If I were to apply for a federal job, I would discover that although I have spent the past six years moving to support my husband’s career (and subsequent promotions), there is no military spouse hiring preference comparable to the veterans hiring preference. Thus, while my husband has had no interruption in his own career to compensate for, he would automatically get a five point preference (over me) for an honorable discharge from service and a ten point preference if he had a ten percent service connected disability rating or higher. I do not begrudge that of our veterans and wounded warriors; in fact, I advocate it. But I also support equity in benefits for service and I believe that the sacrifices being made by spouses should be recognized in these hiring preferences, PARTICULARLY because of the obstacles faced by military spouses with regards to furthering their educations and/or careers.
When this presidential election came down to Senators Obama and McCain, there was a lot of talk about national service and what it means to “serve” your country. McCain and his supporters naturally felt they had the market covered with his military service during the Vietnam War (and subsequent years as a prisoner of war). Then-Senator Obama and his supporters countered that national service, or put differently, serving your country, can come in many shapes and forms—not solely that of a man in a uniform bearing arms. Echoing that theme of variegated national service and its value to this country in its diversity, was Angie Morgan, a military spouse and member of Blue Star Families for Obama that I interviewed at the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008 for Military Spouse Magazine. In that interview, Angie Morgan told me that as a military spouse she was “excited” by now President Obama’s vision of “active citizenship” whereby everyone serves this country in some capacity, albeit not necessarily by wearing a uniform (i.e., referencing volunteer work and other ways of being socially conscious and sensitive to the needs of your fellow Americans in your day to day decision making).
Michelle Obama made it known during the campaign that the welfare of military families was of particular importance to her. Since the election, she has held several events with military spouses and apparently will have a staff devoted to these issues. If we are going to recognize and reward the military service of the soldier, why not do the same for the spouse—the one person in the service who has been willing to sacrifice his or her career and/or educational aspirations to support the mission of the military by supporting the orders of the servicemember?
Meanwhile, here at Fort Hood, Texas, I have learned that they cannot give me figures on spouse suicides but they know that they see so many attempted suicides in the Emergency Room that the medical staff have become quite adept at handling them. My theory is that these spouses may have reached the point of needing emergency mental health care and this is the only way to receive it. As a military spouse, no matter what your circumstances, there is no emergency mental health care for you unless you end up in the ER. If you are a soldier here, of course, there is twenty four hour mental health care and a walk in “Rest and Resiliency” center (R and R center). The R and R center has its critics and its flaws, but it exists. There is no R and R center for families.
Finally, there is the issue of treating the post-traumatic stress of military spouses. We do not have any public service announcements about the trauma of being married in the military and to the military; to a man or woman who is sometimes permanently altered in ways that you never imagined when you married him or her. At least once or twice a month a soldier in Fort Hood housing is arrested for domestic violence. It is interesting that the Department of Defense likes to emphasize that deployments are not the cause of an increase in domestic violence but cannot refute that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is. While the Rand Corporation found that 1 in 5 soldiers will likely return with PTSD, the Veterans Administration has diagnosed 40 percent of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD. We have no studies and no figures for spousal PTSD.
I often tell people that after this last combat tour, my husband is NOT the only veteran in this marriage, but apparently I am the only person who believes this to be the case. Despite seven years of wars and deployments that have led to an alarming increase in Army divorce as well as partner violence (the latter is believed to be connected to the increase in post-traumatic stress disorder), the federal government doesn’t recognize the “service” of the military spouse. Will a Democratic Administration like the Obama’s and now, with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter’s recent move to the Democratic Party, a Democratic Congress change this?
Thursday, May 7, 2009
VA Recognized for Leadership in Federal Accountability
Last update: 6:43 p.m. EDT May 7, 2009
WASHINGTON, May 7, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) 2008 Performance and Accountability Report ranked second amongst the largest federal agencies according to a report issued by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. This independent research organization evaluates and ranks federal agency reports on how transparently they report their successes and failures, how well they document the tangible public benefits they produce, and whether they demonstrate that their leadership uses performance information to devise strategies for making program improvements.
The Government Accountability Project at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, Va., examined the federal agencies for its 10th Annual Performance Report Scorecard, ranking VA second highest behind the Labor Department for quality of disclosure in its annual performance and accountability reports. VA's report was also recognized as the government's best in the leadership category.
"These reports play a vital role in ensuring that federal agencies carry out their responsibility to inform the American public about how their tax dollars are used, the results we achieve, and the areas that require improvement," said VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich in remarks at the Mercatus Center awards ceremony yesterday.
"VA has made noteworthy progress developing, implementing, and using performance measures that are directly linked to the department's strategic goals and objectives," he added. "As we transform, we will re-examine ways to measure our success and report our results to Veterans, our stakeholders, and the American public."
The awards marked the 10th consecutive year that VA has been recognized by the Mercatus Center as one of the federal government's leaders in performance reporting.
VA's Fiscal Year 2008 Performance and Accountability Report is available at http://www.va.gov/budget/report/2008/index.htm. The Mercatus Center's full report analyzing the 24 federal agencies' reporting can be viewed at http://www.mercatus.org.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
To most disabled veterans this is the most ludicrous thing they have ever heard, no one at the VA seems to be accountable for anything. They have the "it's not my fault syndrome, down to a science" they have never seen a "buck" they can't pass and balme on someone else.
They accept no responsibility for their errors, their mishandling of veterans compensation claims, shady medical studies they use to refute claims for exposure to Agent Orange, Nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and drugs in human experimentation.
If real veterans and their families were not being hurt, emotionally and financially this would be hilarious, but the effects are disastrous for America's veterans and their families, so to read that they are one of the most respected federal agencies for transparecny, it scares the hell out of me about how much obscuring they are doing with other federal agencies and reports. I have seen and read about to many veterans that have been left nehind, and the people at the top, Congressman and Senators and high level VA officials will NOT listen to reason when we show them the evidecne that backs our reasoning, they just ignore it and act as if it does not exist and then claim to the world that we are just disgtuntled veterans or "crusaders' rather than address the medical studies or scientific work that substantiates what we claim.
I hope the VA officials do not hurt themselves patting themselves on the back over this bogus award.
Who Speaks For Veterans? By Robert McNultry
The United States Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a report early April suggesting that current political and economic conditions are energizing right-wing extremist groups, that many of these groups follow extremely conservative ideologies and that some may seek to recruit and “radicalize” veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many of us, as Vietnam veterans, can remember being demonized by the media upon our return and it’s hard not to see these type of reports as a furtherance of that period in our lives. It's 2009, and we now have a bunch of new veterans demonized once again, not just in the news or in television programs developed along the crazed Iraq veteran plot line, but by our Homeland Security Department.
According to a "For Official Use Only" DHS report, "right wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to recruit and exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat."
As could be predicted, some conservatives and some veterans groups reacted by throwing a fit, twisting the report’s meaning to imply that they, and more importantly our war heroes, were being vilified by a partisan document. Some will think that once again the anti-war crowd has decided to blame the troops. Many veterans misinterpreted that real world assessment as a blanket accusation that every service member or veteran should be placed on a terrorist watch list, or worse, are threats to the United States. Nowhere in the report does it say that veterans will become right wing extremists. It does say that veterans will be targeted by right wing extremists to join their cartel. That is a substantial difference.
The reality is that while only a tiny number of conservatives and veterans are members of hate groups, nearly all hate groups do indeed follow far-right ideology. And they covet members with military experience. Is that tarring everyone with the same brush or is that stating the obvious in a less than delicate fashion regardless of the risk of inflaming the veterans community?
A report issued last summer by former President Bush’s F.B.I. entitled “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11” said that “military experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement” and that these groups “have attempted to increase their recruitment of current and former U.S. military personnel.” It did not have the wide-spread distribution and therefore the response was muted in comparison to the latest report by DHS.
So, which soldiers are most vulnerable? According to the Homeland Security report, it would probably be those “facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities.” This could be a large group because far too many soldiers come back from war broken men. According to a RAND study released on April 17th, 2009 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reported some sign of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. The report indicated that only about half of those will seek help and only half of those seeking it will receive “minimally adequate” treatment.
These soldiers could prove fertile ground for men hoping to prey on their fear, loneliness and dispossession. According to the F.B.I. report, “although individuals with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, they frequently occupy leadership roles.” This means that extremist leaders may be able to connect more easily with some of these soldiers because many were soldiers themselves.
Because many know firsthand the value of military experience, they not only recruit those leaving the military, they send recruits into it. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Many white supremacists over the years have pushed their followers to join the military and enter either the Special Forces, where the training is judged to be the best in the world, or the infantry, where you will learn the skills necessary to fight the coming race war.” If they only recruit a few, that is still too many. Terrorists have shown the world time and again that a few well-trained men is all it takes.
Maybe the debate we should be having is about the best way to protect our newest veterans from falling prey to the significant challenges they face reintegrating into their communities. If this results in a reduction on the availability of potential recruits for hate groups or radicals or terrorists, great. The focus needs to be on increasing efforts to provide our returning men and women with all the care we can provide them in return for what we have asked them to undertake on our behalf.
Veterans returning from war are not new. Nor is the reintegration problem new. An August 1976 Washington Post article by (now) Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., summed up well the real plight of any veteran “I don't need to elaborate . . . how incredibly difficult it has been for the Vietnam veteran. His anonymity and lack of positive feedback about himself and his fellow veterans have intensified all the other difficulties he has faced, including those shared by nonveterans. With the exception of a few well-publicized disaster stories, he is invisible.”
It might make more sense to face the reality that there are a number of reports beyond the current DHS and FBI report that give rise to concern about the problems facing our nation. They are not the first and invariably more will follow. We can create a stink about them or we can use them as a clarion call to gather our veterans’ advocates to work together to ensure our veterans and military members get the care they need.
There is no reason to disregard trends and potential threats just because someone has worn a uniform or possesses a certain ideology? There is no reason to ignore facts. There is no reason to continue to promote the idea that we should not speak of situations that may rise to the concern of the security of our citizens just because those individuals at one time were in the armed forces.
By the same token, those who have defended our country should never be singled out as possible threats to its stability. Our veterans deserve the praise of a grateful nation, not its scorn.
We can argue that the DHS assessment report should have been better written, should have mentioned law enforcement professionals with paramilitary training, and did not question the service or patriotism of any veteran. It did point out that rightwing extremist groups want to recruit veterans and learn military tactics, something that did not surprise most of us.
Intelligence assessments are meant to address possible threats based on historical facts, current trends and potential scenarios. Such assessments cannot be restricted by political correctness or fear that someone's feelings may be hurt. In a press release, VFW National Commander Glen Gardner put it in context well when he noted the report proves that DHS is doing its job, which is to protect America and Americans. "A government that does not assess internal and external security threats would be negligent of a critical public responsibility," he said.
The mention of our veterans in this list of potential threats should be a wake-up call to the nation. Their service must be honored, and their return to civilian life should be eased by ensuring that the services, which they have earned, are available to them. Their wounds, both physical and mental, should be attended to as a top priority by the American people, and they should be given every help in reintegrating into American society.
No longer should they be forced to join the ranks of the homeless. No longer should they be haunted by the demons of PTSD or TBI from their experiences on the battlefield.
We can rattle our sabers about reports from DHS, the FBI, and the Southern Poverty Law Center; the list goes on and on. Why don’t we consider turning our attention to the unmet needs of our veterans, the broken promises that have continued to exist in regards to our veteran community, the unfinished work that needs to be completed so that we can declare that we have met the challenge to address the needs of those who have served and continued to serve our great nation. Rest assured it will involve more work than finding fault with the latest unprofessional report to come out of Washington.
It is not enough to apologize for slurring a group that should be receiving our highest praise. Our returning veterans should be our top priority. Only when they receive the respect and services that they have earned will an apology be accepted. Profiling is unacceptable to those who serve their country in harm’s way.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
V.A. Plans Review of Billing for Care in Sexual Assaults
V.A. Plans Review of Billing for Care in Sexual Assaults
Published: May 6, 2009
The Department of Veterans Affairs will review the billing practices of veterans health centers around the country amid concerns that some are improperly charging for care relating to sexual assault in the military, officials said Wednesday.
The department is required to provide free care, including counseling and prescription drugs, to veterans who were sexually harassed or assaulted while in military service. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape.
But the Office of Inspector General at the department found this year that an outpatient clinic in Austin, Tex., had repeatedly charged veterans, mostly women, for those services. Based on concerns that the practice may be more widespread, the office decided to expand its review to a sampling of veterans health care centers and clinics nationwide.
An official in the office declined to comment, saying it does not discuss pending reviews. The official said the review would be made public when it was completed, possibly by October.
In a statement, the Department of Veterans Affairs said the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, which oversees the Austin clinic, was reimbursing patients who had been improperly billed. “Patients seen for military sexual trauma should not be billed for payment,” the statement said. “We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”
Studies have found that male and female members of the military have reported high rates of sexual harassment and assault while in the service, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. A 2003 report by the department estimated that nearly a quarter of women in the National Guard or Reserve reported having been sexually assaulted.
Over half of the assaults were at a military base or worksite during duty hours, and in most cases, military personnel were the offenders, the report said.
The inspector general’s review was prompted by complaints from a woman in Texas who said the clinic in Austin had for years charged her for care relating to military sexual trauma, the department’s term for physical and psychological problems caused by sexual harassment or assault. Her complaints reached Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who requested the review.
“Disabilities resulting from military sexual trauma, physical or invisible, must be treated like other service-connected wounds: V.A. has an obligation to provide and pay for the care,” Mr. Akaka said in a statement.
Shades of Sarah Plain is Alaska make the victims pay for treatment...of course it should be stopped insult on top of injury it's just plain wrong
Record High Army Suicides Prompt Action
All Things Considered, May 6, 2009 · A U.S. soldier is now more likely than a civilian to take his own life. The Army crossed that threshold at the end of 2008 — a year in which 140 soldiers killed themselves — a record high. And the situation is getting worse, not better.
The Army counted 64 possible suicides in the first four months of this year, 11 of those were at Fort Campbell, Ky. — four suicides in January, three in February and four in March.
The stories from this sprawling post on the Tennessee-Kentucky line are tragic and disturbing. Sgt. Jeremy Duncan deployed from Fort Campbell to Iraq with a soldier who killed himself last year with a shotgun.
"And his fiance and his kids were there," Duncan says. He says he would never have known his friend was in trouble. "We don't know what his reasons were. He was like normal, daily life and just called it quits."
The Army has commissioned a $50 million study to help explain the rash of suicides. With so much unknown, officers have been pleading with soldiers to watch each other.
"Make sure they are in touch with that ground of reality, and that they're not thinking of doing something stupid, like killing themselves," says Chaplain Kevin Wilkinson to a briefing room full of 101st Airborne Division soldiers. He says the greatest deterrent to suicide is sitting beside the person as he struggles for a laugh at a pre-deployment briefing.
"Killing yourself is a bad thing. Really it is. It's not good," Wilkinson says.
Light-hearted pep talks like Wilkinson's haven't helped, so now the Army includes an interactive video in these briefings, where soldiers role play with an imaginary buddy in crisis.
Here's a scene at a bowling alley: Two friends home from Iraq, one hasn't been acting himself, and in the video he lashes out at his wife after she tells him to slow down on the drinks.
"I'll have another beer if I want to and I will have 15 more," the imaginary buddy says.
"Whoa. Things just got a little awkward," the announcer says. "And you think you should do something, but you're not sure just what. So…"
The scenario then prompts the service member to choose "ask your buddy if you could go with him to see a counselor" or "brush off the episode."
"You make the right decisions, you save his life. If you don't make the right decisions, you find yourself at his funeral," says Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who heads up the Army's new suicide task force. He's begun receiving in-depth reports on the actual suicide victims and what attempts were made to intervene.
"In some instances, you could tell by the commander's words that he wishes somebody had done something different, that they might have precluded it had somebody paid a little bit more attention," Chiarelli says. "Yet in other cases, the chain of command did everything absolutely perfect, absolutely perfect, yet the outcome was the same."
Missing The Signs
Markel Hanley sifts through the mementos of her husband, Spc. Timothy Hanley, who died in late 2007. Her husband's mementos, including a Purple Heart, are stashed in an antique china cabinet. That award came after a brush with death in Iraq. When her husband came home, she says, he wasn't the same — he'd fire guns in the house and get raging drunk. On a more subdued day, Hanley remembers a phone call.
"[He] gave me the phone and told me 'I'm going to go shoot myself in the f***ing head.' And he walks to the back to our bedroom. He shuts the bedroom door. Locks it. And a few seconds later, you hear a shot," Hanley says.
Though the young widow pieces together the warning signs now, she never suspected suicide. But, Hanley says, Fort Campbell counselors and psychologists, who regularly canceled appointments, didn't act too concerned either.
"They considered him to be depressed. They considered him to have problems with alcohol, but they never considered him to be suicidal," Hanley says. "They sent him home with some medication and told him to be good, basically."
Re-Examining Army Operations
The military's top brass admits to a growing shortage of qualified mental health professionals.
Gen. Chiarelli has new recommendations following an eight-day suicide tour to Fort Campbell, Fort Bragg, Fort Drum and others. He suggests moving counselors out of Army hospitals and into smaller clinics, and expanding a program that allows soldiers to meet confidentially with mental health professionals off post.
Chiarelli also endorses a marriage enrichment program offered by chaplains at some posts, which deals with a common thread in soldier suicides.
"Over 70 percent — 72 percent of the cases — you have one constant and that was a problem with a relationship," Chiarelli says.
But the Army is also depending on some relationships — that of those between soldiers.
The "buddy system" is nothing new, says Fort Campbell's suicide prevention coordinator Joe Varney, but it remains a soldier's greatest hope.
"The best thing we can do is be alert, to watch the guy next to us for any signs or symptoms of suicidal tendencies, and then be courageous enough to ask that person, 'Are you thinking about killing yourself?'" Varney says.
The point-blank question is just the start. The challenge then becomes tactfully guiding soldiers at their wit's end — each with a unique history and personality — to seek out help. And while the Army's prevention efforts have no-doubt had a positive effect, soldier suicides are on pace to hit a new record high this year.
*** NEWS RELEASE ***
Congress Makes it Official: No TRICARE Fee Hikes for 2009
SPRINGFIELD, VIRGINIA (10/02/08) – Military retirees and active duty servicemembers won another huge legislative
victory this week as Congress just said no to drastic increases in TRICARE fees and copayments, and rejected establishment of new fees for TRICARE For Life and TRICARE Standard beneficiaries in the fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The proposed increases and new fees, including increased prescription drug copayments for active duty dependents who purchase medications at retail pharmacies,
and doubling or even tripling of some TRICARE out-of-pocket costs for retirees, were being pushed for by the Pentagon, following the report of its own handpicked Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care.
The President of the National Association for Uniformed Services® (NAUS), MG Bill Matz, USA (Ret), along with NAUS Legislative Director Rick Jones, held firm to a member-supported position that any unwarranted increases in TRICARE costs violated the promises made to those who spend a career in uniformed service.
“Servicemembers have already paid a higher premium for their health care in the form of a career of sacrifice and service to country, often under arduous conditions,” said Matz. “I’m disappointed that the Administration fails to understand this, especially during a time of war, but am pleased by Congress’ action to protect this
important benefit by rejecting TRICARE cost increase every year for the past three years,” he added.
“This is a clear victory for our uniformed servicemembers and retirees,” said Jones, who had testified against TRICARE fee increases on Capitol Hill several times in the spring and summer leading up to passage of the NDAA. “Even as the resolve of some other military and veterans organizations has begun to crumble under the constant pressure by the Pentagon to unfairly increase these costs, the NAUS position against any TRICARE cost increases has once again been vindicated by our elected officials,” he added.
The fight against TRICARE fee increases will resume next year, as the Defense Department continues to use the report of its Task Force as the blueprint for shifting more of the costs of the military healthcare system to its beneficiaries, particularly retirees. “NAUS is sticking to our guns, and we’re ready to fight this issue again,” said Matz. “Our members, all of our retirees, and those serving today deserve and need a strong advocate on their behalf.”
NAUS is a nonprofit, non-partisan association dedicated to protecting the interests of - and benefits earned by - members of the uniformed services for themselves, their families and survivors. NAUS provides administrative support to the Society of Military Widows. For more information please contact Steve Hein, Director of Marketing, at 703-750-1342, x1009, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Association’s web site at www.naus.org.
Great News for this year for retirees....
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kawika Riley (Veterans’ Affairs)
May 6, 2009 (202) 224-9126
AKAKA CALLS FOR SWIFT CONFIRMATION OF VA LEADERSHIP TEAM AT HEARING
Chairman reviews President’s nominees to help lead VA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held a hearing today to review four of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): Roger W. Baker, to be Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology; Will A. Gunn, to be General Counsel; Jose D. Riojas, to be Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness; and John U. Sepulveda, to be Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration.
“The President’s nominees are fine candidates who have committed themselves to public service, and are now positioned to continue that service for the veterans of this nation. It is time to provide Secretary Shinseki with a confirmed leadership team capable of fulfilling his commitment to transform VA and provide veterans with the care and benefits they have earned. Confirmation of these four nominees will help him achieve that goal,” said Akaka.
Chairman Akaka’s full statement on the nominees, as well as their written testimony, is available here.
Veterans lose a leader and a pal
By Joe Marusak
Posted: Wednesday, May. 06, 2009
Richard Warren's (standing) Pat's Gourmet Coffee Shop in Mooresville was where some veterans found themselves March20, 2003, to discuss the start of the Iraq war. STAFF FILE PHOTO
Friends and fellow veterans will honor Richard Warren's life of service Thursday at Pat's Gourmet Coffee Shop, 166 N. Main St., Mooresville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the nonprofit friends say was his dream come true: Welcome Home Veterans Inc., 13817 Tributary Court, Davidson, NC28036.
Funeral services will be noon Friday at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home Chapel, 494 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Burial will follow at Salisbury National Cemetery. The family will receive friends 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
Honoring Richard Warren
Friends and fellow veterans will honor Richard Warren's life of service Thursday at Pat's Gourmet Coffee Shop, 166 N. Main St., Mooresville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the nonprofit friends say was his dream come true: Welcome Home Veterans Inc., 13817 Tributary Court, Davidson, NC28036.
Funeral services will be noon Friday at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home Chapel, 494 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Burial will follow at Salisbury National Cemetery. The family will receive friends 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
MOORESVILLE Richard Warren greeted every veteran the same way at his Pat's Gourmet Coffee Shop.
“Welcome home,” he'd say when they entered.
Richard Eugene Warren, 67, a Vietnam veteran whose shop became a haven for veterans of all wars since opening in 1995, died of an apparent heart attack at his Mooresville home Sunday, friends and family said.
Warren was an Army warrant officer and helicopter pilot in the 68th Attack Helicopter Company in Vietnam.
Scores of veterans have streamed into his shop to mourn the loss of a man they say never took credit for the help he gave his fellow vets, whether untangling VA red tape or serving up free coffee.
Uniforms, patches, photos, books and other mementos fill the shop's shelves and walls, donated by those who came to call Pat's Coffee a second home.
“I had no brothers,” said Rod MacFarquhar, 84, of Sherrills Ford, a World War II and Korean War Army veteran. “He'd be the man I'd be happy to call ‘brother.'”
“His personality was such that people just wanted to give him the shirt off their backs,” said Betty McConkey of Wesley Chapel, Fla., one of his five siblings. “He always felt they didn't get the credit they deserved. That was a reason for this shop, to welcome them home.”
Coffee shop regular Tommy Burchett of Mooresville remembers how Warren also welcomed occasional homeless visitors, saying they could pay him later, but never expecting a dime.
Orlando and Kissimmee had grown too crowded for Warren when he decided to pull up roots in Florida. He'd worked for an air conditioning company there, McConkey said. Driving from town to town, he came upon Mooresville and had a feeling it was the place for him, she said.
He was pursuing a lifelong love of cooking when he opened Pat's, his sister said. “When he was a kid, he'd make the biggest mess in the kitchen,” McConkey said with a smile of their days growing up in Urbana, Ill.
His shop in downtown Mooresville quickly became a veterans' hangout after two fellow Vietnam vets visited Warren one Thursday, with one pushing the other in a wheelchair.
The pair had so much fun they promised to return the next Thursday for more free coffee and conversation, said John Kirkman, who delivered mail to the shop and became a good friend of Warren. The pair of vets brought others, and word spread the coffee was free at Pat's each Thursday if you'd served your country.
About 5,000 veterans have since signed the coffee shop register, including such notables as former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, when he stumped for his wife, Elizabeth, during her failed re-election bid for U.S. senator from North Carolina last year.
Warren and other veterans would talk for hours at the shop about their war experiences and the importance of defending the United States and supporting the troops. The shop, named after Warren's then-wife, became an education and resource center, too. Visiting groups loved to meet the men and women who'd served their country, and veterans received help obtaining benefits.
Between hugs, kisses and tears Tuesday, Cheryl Ann Leiner, Warren's longtime assistant at the shop, recalled how Warren helped veterans find services and employment.
She said she hopes Warren's legacy will continue through the nonprofit he recently formed called Welcome Home Veterans Inc., which links veterans with each other and various services. Friends said they'll keep the nonprofit running, whether at the shop or elsewhere.
Kirkman said one thing other is for sure:
“The good Lord is finally telling him, ‘Welcome Home.'”
Joe Marusak: 704-351-2037
Veterans lose a leader and a pal
Thank you Joe for telling us of the passing of a GREAT veteran....his kind are few and far between
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Tragedy Leads Soldier, Wife to Activism
Kendra Gaddie's parents want to prevent as many children and families from having to experience the pain that they had to endure.
A little more than 13 months ago, Kendra was struck on the left side of her head while in the care of a home day care operator. The blow to the infant's head caused brain and retinal hemorrhaging, according to her parents and media reports.
The home day care operator has pleaded guilty to the felony charge of great bodily injury to a child, and she was sentenced to five years probation.
Kendra's parents, Staff Sgt. Patrick Gaddie, 171st Infantry Brigade, and wife Michelle, believe that because of the "heinous act," the convicted day care operator should have received jail time.
Since last March, the Gaddies have pushed South Carolina lawmakers to strengthen sentencing requirements for people convicted of child brutality. As of now, the jail sentence for a person charged and convicted of causing great bodily injury to a child is zero to 20 years.
"There are some cases and some crimes where probation should never be an option," said Michelle Gaddie.
The Gaddies said they are amazed and disappointed that such a lenient sentence could be applied to a case involving serious harm to a child. Following the incident, the then 6-month-old Kendra spent days in a hospital intensive care unit and she is undergoing months of developmental therapy.
"What we would like to see is that the minimum sentence is from two to 20 years. We want to make sure some jail time is served," Staff Sgt. Gaddie said.
The Gaddies have launched a "Justice for Kendra" Web site and have inspired Senate Bill 348, also known as "Kendra's Act." The bill calls for mandatory jail time for those who are convicted for crimes in which a child is seriously harmed. The mandatory sentence would be at least two years.
Some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the bill's requirement for mandatory minimum sentencing. It will likely be next year before, and if, the bill passes.
"We will see this through - however long it takes," said Michelle Gaddie.
The Gaddies said they have also filed a motion to have the home day care operator's probation-only sentence reconsidered. The case is being reviewed to determine whether there is a legal basis to change the sentence.
Michelle Gaddie said she is pleased the judge is taking the time to review the case and is examining all sides of the issue.
In addition to tougher sentencing in child injury cases, the Gaddies also hope that Kendra's Act makes it law for home day care workers to undergo yearly child care and safety training. Currently, there is no such requirement.
"There is a lot that needs to be done. The people who run these home day cares ... are only required to register with DSS. There are no requirements for training," Michelle Gaddie said.
Marilyn Matheus, a media relations staffer at the S.C. Department of Social Services, said home day care operators caring for six children or fewer, register with the agency via an application.
Those operators caring for more than six children are required to meet additional standards.
According to the DSS Child Care Services Web site, home day care operators with seven to 12 children must have some formal child development or child education training or at least three years of experience working in a registered and approved child care facility.
Every weekend, Staff Sgt. Gaddie said he and his wife travel out of town, visiting various communities, to spread the word about what happened to their now 19-month-old daughter and the need for better child care laws in South Carolina.
In addition to Kendra, the Gaddies have a 19-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
Another son, Patrick Jr., died about four years ago.
Staff Sgt. Gaddie said despite the hardships, his family is strong and hopeful. The weekend trips, sharing their story, have been good for all of them.
"It is therapeutic. It brings awareness (to other parents) about what's going on. Ninety-nine percent (of the people we talk to) are parents. We're letting people know victims have a voice," Staff Sgt. Gaddie said
I am really saddened by the fact that this happened in my home town, I live less than 15 minutes to Fort Jackson
GIs Told to Bring Afghans to Jesus
May 04, 2009
DOHA, Qatar -- U.S. Soldiers have been encouraged to spread the message of their Christian faith among Afghanistan's predominantly Muslim population, video footage obtained by Al Jazeera appears to show.
Military chaplains stationed in the U.S. air base at Bagram were also filmed with Bibles printed in the country's main Pashto and Dari languages.
In one recorded sermon, Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, the chief of the U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling Soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him".
"The special forces guys -- they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.
"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."
Local language Bibles
The footage, shot about a year ago by Brian Hughes, a documentary maker and former member of the U.S. military who spent several days in Bagram, was obtained by Al Jazeera's James Bays, who has covered Afghanistan extensively.
Bays also obtained from Hughes a Pashto-language copy of one of the books he picked up during a Bible study lesson he recorded at Bagram.
A Pashto speaker confirmed to Bays that it was a Bible.
In other footage captured at Bagram, Sgt. Jon Watt, a Soldier who is set to become a military chaplain, is seen giving thanks for the work that his church in the U.S. did in getting Bibles printed and sent to Afghanistan.
"I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out," he is heard saying during a Bible study class.
It is not clear that the Bibles were distributed to Afghans, but Hughes said that none of the people he recorded in a series of sermons and Bible study classes appeared to able to speak Pashto or Dari.
"They weren't talking about learning how to speak Dari or Pashto, by reading the Bible and using that as the tool for language lessons," Hughes said.
"The only reason they would have these documents there was to distribute them to the Afghan people. And I knew it was wrong, and I knew that filming it ... documenting it would be important."
Pentagon officials have so far not responded to a copy of the footage provided to them, but the distribution of Bibles in a place as politically sensitive as Afghanistan is bound to cause deep concern in Washington, our correspondent says.
It is not clear if the presence of the Bibles and exhortations for soldiers to be "witnesses" for Jesus continues, but they were filmed a year ago despite regulations by the U.S. military's Central Command that expressly forbid "proselytising of any religion, faith or practice".
But in another piece of footage taken by Hughes, the chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.
"Do we know what it means to proselytise?" Capt. Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.
"It is General Order Number One," an unidentified Soldier replies.
But Watt says "you can't proselytise but you can give gifts".
The footage also suggests U.S. Soldiers gave out Bibles in Iraq.
In his address to a Bible study group at Bagram, Afghanistan, Watt is recorded as saying: "I bought a carpet and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.
"The Bible wasn't to be 'hey, I'll give you this and I'll give you a better deal because that would be wrong', [but] the expressions that I got from the people in Iraq [were] just phenomenal, they were hungry for the word."
The footage has surfaced as President Barack Obama prepares to host Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, at a summit focusing on how to tackle al-Qaeda and Taliban bases dotted along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, will also take part in the talks in Washington, scheduled for May 5 and 6.
GIs Told to Bring Afghans to Jesus
It is against Army orders to pass out Bibles in Afghanistan and other Muslim nations, and military members can and will be in trouble under the UCMJ for attempting to convert muslims to christianity in Iarq and Afghanistan under Centcom orders, failure to obey a lawful order, military members give up "free speech" when they join the military and they must obey legal orders.
Boy, 6, Accepts Dad's Silver Star
May 01, 2009
Salt Lake Tribune
WEST HAVEN, Utah -- Often, when the skies above Kanesville Elementary School are clear, children on recess can look up and see a fighter jet from nearby Hill Air Force Base slicing a sharp white contrail into the blue.
Some of those jets have cut similar trails across Afghan skies. And that's as close as most of this suburban school's students will ever come to the ongoing battle in south Asia.
But the war flew much closer to home on Wednesday. In a morning assembly before hundreds of teary-eyed students, a stoic 6-year-old named Jase Spargur accepted the Silver Star -- the U.S. military's third-highest medal for valor -- on behalf of his fallen father.
1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), was one of nine Soldiers killed when hundreds of Taliban guerillas armed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars ambushed an Army outpost near the village of Wanat, near the Pakistani border, on July 13.
According to accounts from fellow Soldiers, the 24-year-old Army first lieutenant was responding to enemy fire from a relatively safe location when he learned that Soldiers in a nearby observation post were in trouble. He was killed while trying to ferry medical supplies and ammunition across a 100-yard stretch between the two positions.
Today, Jase's memories of his father are mostly just images. He recalls surfing together in Hawaii, where his father grew up. He remembers swimming together in the ocean. And he recollects playing video games together in the family's home.
"He used to throw me up into the air," Jase says. "We'd do all kinds of cool stuff like that."
Jase's mother, Lindsey Spargur, said her son has come to accept the death of his father, even if he still doesn't fully comprehend what happened. Wednesday's assembly, she said, gave her boy an opportunity to see their family isn't alone in the way they speak about his father -- or in the way they honor his sacrifice.
"Lieutenant Brostrom was a hero," said Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, commander of the Utah National Guard, who presented the medal to Jase in the school's gym. "And there are other heroes here with us today. Jase is one of them."
Principal Mel Hawkes said he didn't think twice when military officials approached him with an offer to present the award to Jase in front of the entire school. "We want our students to understand that this is not just something that happens on the news," he said. "This is something that affects us all."
Hawkes said all of the teachers in his school were asked to show their classes a video describing what had happened to Jase's father in preparation for the assembly. But as images of Jase and his father were projected onto a screen ahead of the presentation of the award, many of the students -- and their teachers -- broke into tears.
"That's good," Tarbet said. "I think it's good for them to understand."
For most, the assembly lasted a half-hour. For Jase, Tarbet noted, the loss will last his entire life.
That fact was not missed by 12-year-old Garrett Peterson.
Like most sixth graders, Peterson had never spent much time contemplating the nation's ongoing wars, let alone the cost. And he didn't know that a young boy from his own school had suffered the death of his father in battle.
"When I found out, I felt so bad for him, because I could understand how this would be so hard for me," Peterson said. "I couldn't live without my dad."
At least for a few moments, on Wednesday, the war had come home.
© Copyright 2009 Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
At least this six year old will have the memory of receiving his Dads Silver Star in front of his school mates and knowing that is father is a real bonafide "Hero" in a world where the use of the term "hero" has become an over used description since 9-11, In Vietnam Lt Bostrom might have received the medal of Honor for his actions, there have been few and far between in these wars for the past 8 years, who knows he might have been nominated for it, and the Army brass down graded the award to the Silver Star. But a Bonze Star for valor and any award higher than that, Silver star, DFC, DSC, Soldiers Medal are for "hero's" and this 6 year old may not have a living father any longer, but he will know he has a father who died a "real hero".
CHAIRMAN BOB FILNER
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
MEDIA ADVISORY - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Schedule for Week of May 4, 2009
Wednesday, May 6 at 10:15 a.m. – 334 Cannon House Office Building
Full Committee Markup
Markup of H.R. 23, H.R. 466, H.R. 1088, H.R. 1089, and H.R. 1170
H.R. 23 Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009 (Filner)
H.R. 466 Wounded Veteran Job Security Act (Doggett)
H.R. 1088 Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act of 2009 (Herseth Sandlin)
H.R. 1089 Veterans Employment Rights Realignment Act of 2009 (Herseth Sandlin)
H.R. 1170 To establish a grant program to encourage the development of new assistive technologies for specially adapted housing (Boozman)
Keep updated on the committee schedule here: HVAC Website
Good morning, Colonel Dan,
The VA has published the 2009 edition of the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors on April 27. I do not know if you already have this information and the publication. I have not yet seen it being announced anywhere (e.g., a VA press release, a VSO newsletter, etc.).
The entire publication can be viewed online and downloaded in Adobe Acrobat/Reader PDF format at the following direct web links:
PDF Download in English
PDF Download in Spanish
I have attached the English copy in PDF format to this note. I hope you will find this information helpful and pass it on to our VeteranIssues group members, other veterans, and their families.
Thank you for everything you do!
Chapter 353, MOPH
VeteranIssues Group Member
Thank you Tanya on behalf of all veterans
War-funding bill to OK retro stop-loss pay
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday May 4, 2009 17:11:12 EDT
By week’s end, about 170,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — many of them no longer in service — who were involuntarily kept on active duty by stop-loss orders before Oct. 1, 2008, could be cheering Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.
At Murtha’s urging, the 2009 emergency war funding bill that will be taken up Thursday by the House Appropriations Committee includes money and authority to retroactively pay $500 for each month someone served under stop-loss orders from Sept. 11, 2001 through Sept. 30, 2008.
The bill would extend benefits to those who were left out last fall when Congress ordered stop-loss payments that applied only to people held on active-duty after the bill became law.
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said the retroactive stop-loss allowances will cost about $734.4 million of the $81.6 billion included in the supplemental for defense and intelligence costs related to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
The $500 would apply to any month in which a person served as little as one day under stop loss. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the average period of stop loss was 6½ months, which means the average person who received stop-loss orders would get seven months of payments, or $3,500.
That would be tax-free for any month in which they were in a combat zone for any amount of time, and taxable for any month they were not.
While Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers make up the bulk of those who would be helped by the bill, people from every branch of the service would get money because all the services used stop loss orders to prevent retirements and separations after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
In addition to money for stop-loss allowances, the supplemental funding bill will include $44.8 billion for operations and personnel costs, $1.2 billion for defense health programs aimed specifically at military families and about $500 million for U.S. commanders to spend in Iraq and Afghanistan on humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects, Obey said.
War-funding bill to OK retro stop-loss pay
Good news for all those deprived veterans that were shafted
May 05, 2009 06:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Celebrate the U.S. Army Birthday, Tell Your Army Story
The U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Encourages All to Participate
ALEXANDRIA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This June, Soldiers, Veterans, families, and supporters will celebrate the U.S. Army turning 234 years strong. In keeping with the tradition of celebration, the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute, the Army’s official “Thank You” commendation program, is welcoming submissions of stories including accomplishments, memorable moments, and lessons learned, by those in the Army family.
The U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Web site, www.freedomteamsalute.com, will feature a selection of compelling submissions, which will also be included in the special e-salute U.S. Army Birthday edition.
“The Army has a long and proud history, one that is celebrated by installations and commands all over the world,” explained Colonel David Griffith, Director, U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute. “We are asking for story submissions so that we can capture the accomplishments and defining moments of our Soldiers, Veterans, families, and supporters.”
Submissions should be 500 words or less and submitted by Friday, June 5.
Topics can be (but are not limited to):
A defining moment in your Army life
A lesson learned from the Army
How the Army changed your life
The reason you decided to join the Army
Your most memorable Noncommissioned Officer
To submit a story, please go to:
U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute was established in 2005 by the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army to give the public the opportunity to thank all U.S. Army Veterans for their service by recognizing them with Commendations. The program also honors and recognizes the Parents, Spouses, Employers, and Supporters of Active Duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers. Commendations consist of a personalized letter and certificate signed by Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army, and General George W. Casey Jr., the Army Chief of Staff. Honorees also receive official Army lapel pins and The Salute, a quarterly newsletter that contains information on military history and today’s Army. To date, the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute program has honored over 1.9 million Army Veterans, Spouses, Parents, Supporters, and Employers.
For more information on U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute and honoring Supporters or Veterans, please visit www.freedomteamsalute.com.
U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute
Media Relations Manager
Monday, May 4, 2009
Military Update: Health record plan may open VA to all veterans
By Tom Philpott, Special to Stars and Stripes, Pacific edition, Saturday, April 25, 2009
President Obama’s ambitious plan to establish a lifetime electronic record for service members and veterans will improve delivery of benefits, speed processing of claims and, over time, open VA health care to any veteran, regardless of their medical condition or income level.VA Secretary Eric Shinseki first raised the idea of a more sophisticated electronic record system, and linked it to automatic enrollment by all veterans in the VA health system, during a House hearing in February.
This week, through a press spokeswoman, Shinseki confirmed that universal access to VA health care is integral to the administration’s plan to develop as quickly as possible a 21st Century electronic record system.“Secretary Shinseki and the whole [VA] team believe that ‘uniform registration’ ” in the VA health system “is an essential part of the lifetime virtual record,” said Katie Roberts, his press secretary, in an e-mail.Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were with the president April 9 in the Old Executive Office Building when Obama announced to an audience of veterans a “huge step toward modernizing the way VA health care is delivered and [VA] benefits are administered.”
Obama described a comprehensive electronic record system, to be developed and used jointly by the Department of Defense and VA, which would hold all service-related documents, administrative and medical, on individuals from the time they enter service until “they are laid to rest.”Members leaving service no longer would have to “hand carry” medical records to VA health facilities.
And VA health providers, like military counterparts, would have full electronic medical files on any member or veteran. VA claim processes likewise would have access to military administrative files, thereby reducing delays and mistakes for applicants.“And it would do all this,” the president said, “with the strictest and most rigorous standards of privacy and security so our veterans can have confidence that their medical records can only be shared at their direction.”
Shinseki, a retired four-star general and former Army chief of staff, told the House Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 4 that he already was discussing with Gates a joint electronic record system.“An individual enters the ranks as a youngster and stays for several years, or stays for 20, and comes to us as a veteran. Those records ought to be transferable…accurate and complete.
Not just medical records but personal records as well, because the personnel records are also part of the disability adjudication process. If we can get to this agreement on what an electronic medical record looks like, we will solve the challenges we’re wrestling with today where we have two different records,” Shinseki said.With regard to medical records, Shinseki said features of the VA Vista system were preferred, even by military doctors, to the more cumbersome AHLTA system used by the Defense Department.At the same hearing,
Shinseki said mandatory enrollment in the VA health care system should be part of any move to a joint electronic record.“That alone will force the two institutions to begin to move together on what records need to be handed off,” said Shinseki. Mandatory enrollment is significant because current access to VA health care is restricted. Since January 2003, veterans in Priority Group 8 – those who have no service-connected conditions and have incomes above certain government thresholds – have been barred from enrolling in the VA health care system.
About a half million Group 8s since then have applied.Congress has taken a first step to life that ban. By July, income thresholds on new Group 8 enrollments will be raised enough to allow in about 266,000 more veterans. The Obama administration announced plans to more than double that number by 2013. But if launch of the “Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record”, as VA officials have dubbed it, would occurs sooner, so too would the VA medical system to all veterans.
That’s important, Shinseki told lawmakers.“Even for those who may not have a disability claim” on separation, he said, “10 years down the road, who knows? Twenty years down the road we don’t want to be doing what we’re doing now, which is chasing details and records that are hidden away some place.”Shinseki assured Congress that he won’t allow the health system to become so crowded that access to care is choked off for the war disabled or veterans having service-connected disabilities.
Chuck Hume, deputy chief information officer in the Veterans Health Administration, said it’s too soon to predict when VA and DoD will be ready to launch a single electronic record system.“The president has stated that he wants us to pursue this as aggressively as possible and to get this vision realized for the benefit of our service member and veterans,” said Hume. “But it’s premature – without [a system] architecture, without a detailed plan – to forecast a timeline.” Linda Fischetti, VHA’s top health informatics officer, said the vision embraced here presents wonderful opportunities for veterans.
Electronic health records evolved, she said, to ease workloads within medical offices, then inside medical departments, across hospitals and then entire systems.What’s endorsed here, she said, is a system with a different purpose.“It’s not about the department. It’s not about the hospital. It’s about the person,” said Fischetti. “What do we need to move all of this information to support the best decisions and services for the person? How do we make this information available so they can partner in their health care?”
To comment, e-mail email@example.com, write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111 or visit: militaryupdate.com
Health record plan may open VA to all veterans
Subject: Government injected veterans with cocaine for drug addiction research
Veterans being used for guinea pigs again!
Government injecting veterans with cocaine for drug addiction research
By: Bill Myers
Examiner Staff Writer
04/29/09 9:05 PM
Drug-addicted veterans are being injected with cocaine by researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in taxpayer-funded studies, The Examiner has learned.
The study subjects are being given the injections as part of a search for medicines that researchers hope will block cocaine absorption in the body, said Timothy O'Leary, the VA's acting director of research and development.
All the subjects were recruited because they were addicted to cocaine, O'Leary said. About 40 volunteers -- most of them veterans -- are being given injections at VA labs in Kansas City and San Antonio, he added.
Hundreds of veterans have apparently been used as human subjects in the past decade, according to records and interviews with officials.
The VA has handed over several other abstracts from studies over the past decade, and O'Leary said his agency has been conducting such research for at least 25 years.
O'Leary said that the subjects' safety was paramount. But documents of a decade-old study that tested morphine on veterans found nearly 800 ''adverse events'' from anorexia to heart tremors.
Last month, The Examiner reported that the federal government had spent millions of taxpayer dollars to give addicts drugs such as crack and intravenous cocaine as well as morphine and other opiates in publicly funded clinical studies. The VA documents and interviews suggest that the programs have been even more widespread than previously suspected.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 6,000 licenses have been given to scientists to use otherwise illegal drugs in their experiments. DEA officials declined to hand over their records.
O'Leary said the studies were desperately needed to find ways to treat addiction. An estimated 140,000 vets suffer from drug addiction, according to VA officials.
''As you know, there are a lot of people out there who suffer from addictions. It's a huge societal problem,'' O'Leary said in a phone interview.
Critics say that experimenting on addicts runs contrary to ethical guidelines on ''informed consent.'' The doctrine requires that human laboratory subjects understand the risks of the experiment and can say no. For at least 20 years, scientists have recognized that addiction is a disease, which means that addicts can't simply say no.
Pressure is mounting on the government to come clean about its drug experiments.
''How many ways can the government get it wrong?'' Cato Institute scholar Tim Lynch asked The Examiner.
Compared with the CIA's former habit of testing dangerous drugs on unwilling volunteers, these programs are ''an improvement if the research deals with volunteers and full disclosure of the risks involved,'' Lynch said. ''But it is not clear to me why the government has to subsidize such research.''
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said through a spokesman that he was ''closely reviewing'' the matter.
O'Leary said that the cocaine injections in San Antonio and Kansas City were being given in ''extremely controlled conditions,'' but when asked to detail what he meant by that phrase, he said he wasn't familiar with those labs.
VA officials have not acted on a Freedom of Information Act request for access to their files.
This seems to much related to this mess I was involved in more than 35 years ago
Vietnam Veterans of America, et al. v. Central Intelligence Agency, et al. Case No. CV-09-0037-CW, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal. 2009)
What This Case Is About
Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief only – no monetary damages – and Plaintiffs seek redress for 25 years of diabolical experiments followed by over 30 years of neglect, including:
the use of troops to test nerve gas, psychochemicals, and thousands of other toxic chemical or biological substances and perhaps most gruesomely, the insertion of septal implants in the brains of subjects in a ghastly series of mind control experiments that went awry;
the failures to secure informed consent and other widespread failures to follow the precepts of U.S. and international law regarding the use of human subjects, including the 1953 Wilson Directive and the Nuremberg Code;
an almost fanatical refusal to satisfy their legal and moral obligations to locate the victims of their gruesome experiments or to provide health care or compensation to them;
the deliberate destruction of evidence and files documenting their illegal actions, actions which were punctuated by fraud, deception, and a callous disregard for the value of human life.
The Complaint asks the Court to determine that Defendants’ actions were illegal and that Defendants have a duty to notify all victims and to provide them with health care going forward.
Why does this nation seem to be determined to repeat the mistakes of the past and using veterans as "volunteers" is no different than using active duty soldiers as "volunteers" from 1953-1975 the doctors licenses need to be revokedSphere: Related Content