Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Dec 9, 2009 11:08:33 EST

Two new studies seem to provide more evidence that post-traumatic stress disorder is a chemical change in the brain caused by trauma — and that it might be possible to diagnose, treat and predict susceptibility to it based on brain scans or blood tests.

In one study, Christine Marx, of the Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, wondered why PTSD, depression and pain often occur together.

Researchers already knew that people with PTSD show changes in their neurosteroids, which are brain chemicals thought to play a role in how the body responds to stress.

Previous animal studies showed that blood neurosteroid levels correlated to brain neurosteroid levels, so Marx measured the blood neurosteroid levels of 90 male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. She found that the neurosteroid levels correlated to symptom severity in PTSD, depression and pain issues, and that those levels might be used to predict how a person reacts to therapy as well as to help develop new therapies.

Marx is researching treatment for people with traumatic brain injuries using the same kind of brain chemical, and early results show that increasing a person’s neurosteroid level decreases his PTSD symptoms.

Marx’s work was funded by the Veterans Affairs Department, National Institutes of Health, the Defense Department and NARSAD, an organization that funds brain and behavior researcher.

A second study, conducted by Alexander Neumeister of Yale University School of Medicine, found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD along with another syndrome, such as depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse or suicidal ideation, had different brain images on a CT scan than did those who had been diagnosed only with PTSD.

Neumeister became curious after realizing that veterans dealing only with PTSD responded differently to treatment than did those with PTSD and another diagnosis.

He said the finding is important for two reasons.

First, these differences “can have huge implications for treatment,” he said in a statement issued by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, which released the two studies during its annual meeting this week.

For example, he said, treating a person with antidepressants addresses only the depression diagnosis — not the PTSD or the substance abuse issues. All of the issues need to be addressed, he said.

His second reason addresses the stigma behind seeking help for PTSD. Service members have said they fear being perceived as weak or cowardly, or their military careers will be hurt, if they seek help for mental health issues.

“Once veterans see this is a neurobiological disorder in which their brain acts differently in terms of circuitry and chemical function, oftentimes it motivates them to seek treatment,” he said.

In his report, Neumeister also said that depression with trauma is “biologically distinct” from depression without a history of severe trauma.

In other words, PTSD, depression and substance abuse can all be seen as a physical, chemical injury to the brain that occurs when the brain is exposed to trauma. As researchers work more with PTSD, they may be able to determine why some people are more susceptible to this chemical change than others, researchers said.

Neumeister’s work was funded by VA, NIH, NARSAD, the National Center for PTSD and the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation.

2 studies: PTSD is chemical change in brain


If they have found it is a chemical change do they know the right chemicals (drugs) to help us change back to the way we were before we (PTSD) affected veterans became the people we are now? Will they be able to help us get back our lives that we had before PTSD destroyed them, jobs with security, great benefits, our retirement security back? I have given up in ever becoming "whole" in total, just as long as my family is taken care of when I die, that is all I ask of the VA now, the past 35 years has been a living hell.......and nothing can make that "whole" no matter what they do

I still believe the sooner people affected by trauma seek help for their mental health the greater the chance they can avoid a life of "avoidance, denialand self destruction" learning coping methods and getting counseling is essential to easing the impact of PTSD telling victims of trauma to "man up" "men don't cry" "carry your load" do nothing to help the people at risk for PTSD, if nothing else all it does is bottle it up, the soldiers fear that asking for mental health care is an end to their career in the military or any prospect of a decent job with law enforcement, fire departments, any type of government jobs etc, if they are perceived as being weak, by asking for help dealing with the stress of war.

War is an abnormal act, stress of it is normal not abnormal and the sooner the military culture realizes this and mandate mental health visits for all soldiers at the 3rd month, 6 month and one year anniversary dates of returning home, then the military will be in a better position for themselves and their troops, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guardsman or women deployed to a hostile area.

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Eustis Woman Is a Crusader against Burn Pits

Eustis Woman Is a Crusader against Burn Pits

posted by eric on 7th, 2009
Story By: Michael Harris
Photo By: Anthony Rao

Jill Wilkins talks freely about her loss with anyone within earshot – and that may be over a cup of coffee in her dining room, sitting in her study and conversing with people over the Internet or in front of Congress if that is what is to be.

The Eustis resident calls the last year and a half an “adventure,” a ride that started in a tiny Veteran’s Administration office in Tavares where she felt absolutely sick after leaving that office just several months after her husband, USAF Major Kevin E. Wilkins, RN died of a brain tumor.

Her cause is one where she helps families of other Iraqi War soldiers make sure they collect their benefits and what is entitled to them as a possible result of exposure to toxic chemicals. The toxic chemicals are caused by burn pits – a waste-disposal system of KBR, the company contracted to provide services to the military bases overseas.

According to a lawsuit by the Washington law firm Burke O’Neil; their clients have seen batteries, unexploded ordnance, gas cans, mattresses, rocket pods, and plastic and medical waste (including body parts). The fumes contain carcinogenic dioxins, heavy metals and particulates, according to an Army–Air Force risk assessment, and they flow freely across bases.

It is believed that Kevin Wilkins died as a result of these toxins.

“When he died from the brain tumor, the Lt. Colonel Johnson who was there (at the hospital) really didn’t talk about anything because it happened (Kevin going into the hospital and his passing) in like five days,” Jill says. “Afterward, while I was signing the paperwork, I was chatting with the two (administrative assistants) from Patrick Air Force Base and they were the ones who said Colonel (Lewis) Neace had questioned them on when Kevin’s headaches started. I remember the doctor in the emergency room at Waterman asked if Kevin was around any toxic chemicals and he said, ‘oh yeah all kinds.’ And then Kevin started talking about the burn pits.”

In the end, Jill has received her benefits and what she was entitled to by the military by shear luck. A little-known statute by the VA states that if a soldier dies within a year of his or her tour, the family is automatically entitled to the benefits. Major Wilkins’ second tour ended on April 3, 2007, yet he died on April 1, 2008.

It is yet to be determined if the burn pits were the cause of Major Wilkins’ death and, like him, there are many other soldiers who suffered from chronic or unusual medical complications that never remotely had them prior to going to Iraq.

“My whole thing now is what else can I do to help other people?” she says. “I only got this far because other people helped me. I mean if all of these people didn’t help me, I would have given up after that first appointment at the VA office.”

Bound and determined

After Colonel Neace questioned how Major Wilkins had passed, Jill applied for her benefits through the VA citing his death as a possible result of the burn pits. The woman behind the desk turned her down without so much as a kind word, claiming she didn’t have enough evidence.

“It was a horrible experience,” Jill says. “She said I didn’t have enough information. I was just sick when I left there.”

Through research and making friends on the Internet, she began making headway through the VA office in St. Pete. Her story is the main subject of talks given by Deborah Crawford from Oregon aka Ms. Sparky. Ms. Sparky is a former KBR employee, who has returned and speaks out vehemently about the contracting company. Ms. Sparky and Jill have become very good friends.

But it was one of her Internet friends, who asked about the dates of Major Wilkins’ tour, which helped Jill the most. It was her friend Mike that pointed out that the Major had passed within a year of his tour ending and mentioned that Jill was entitled to benefits.
“It’s weird because nobody else knew about that and of course I didn’t know,” she says.

It was also about that time that Wolf Blitzer of CNN heard of Jill’s story about the burn pits and asked her to be on the show. That was last December and Jill did tell her story.

Three weeks later, she received her benefits from the VA.

Not Stopping

As she states, it could have ended at that point. But it didn’t – what of her friends she had made on the Internet? What about the other families who have come down with complications?

“My purpose now is to help other people,” Jill says. “Because really if some those people didn’t have a Web site and I wouldn’t have found it, then I wouldn’t have been connected to this other lady, Cheryl Harris, whose son was electrocuted in one of the showers over there which KBR did the wiring for. She’s still waiting on her benefits.”

It was earlier this year Jill was contacted by the Washington law firm of Burke O’Neil to help speak on a lawsuit against KBR.

“What scared me is when they said, ‘if you’re willing’ they would fly down that week and talk to me,” Jill recalls. “I wasn’t familiar with law firms and I was having trouble getting some health benefits. I said this is something I can’t do right now. Some of my friends on the email were showing me the lawsuit. But I had one friend who said I shouldn’t feel guilty about coming forward in the lawsuit. Really, he said ‘they need you and need your story because your husband already died and you had been through the VA department and he said they need you on this case.’ He said, ‘by you not joining the case would be weaker for others.’

“I ended up doing it because my case would help all of the other soldiers,” she added. “It seems like there are about 200 soldiers who were in this lawsuit.”

According to the Burke O’Neil Web site, the lawsuit is still going on.

In a Newsweek article from June, linked on the Burke O’Neil Web site, KBR won’t discuss burn pits while it reviews the suits. The article continued by saying a KBR spokeswoman e-mailed that KBR isn’t responsible for the Balad pit (Burke alleges it is) and that “any burn pit operated in Iraq or Afghanistan is done pursuant to Army guidelines.”

The article also mentions that Kevin Robbins, a former KBR employee who ran a pit near Al Kut, says he had no guidelines on what could be burned when he arrived.

A Hobby that’s More Than a Hobby

For Jill, with the loss of her husband always on her mind, the whole scene has been “a learning adventure.”

For the soldiers continuing a battle with the VA and through the lawsuit, it’s a financial burden. One example had Burke O’Neil’s suit carried onto Congress and one soldier couldn’t afford to get to Washington to speak on his behalf.

That’s another area where Jill has come in; she sponsored the soldier’s trip to Washington.

“It wasn’t that expensive. They already had a place to stay, so I flew him and his wife there, and his speech was awesome,” Jill says. “He included Kevin in it. So that was another thing I could do to help.”

She tells the story of the young soldier who was there as a weatherman who stayed in a tower. According to Jill, that soldier, Tony, has a blood disorder and has to take a chemotherapy pill every day.

She wants to keep in this fight for others because Jill came very close herself to being in the same boat as other soldiers and their families.

It’s not been determined if Kevin’s brain tumor was caused by the burn pits, but the fact he died within one year of his last tour made Jill very fortunate. If it had been as much as three days later, she wouldn’t have been.

“You know it’s not that I wouldn’t have got my benefits down the road, but it would have been a longer battle. I would have been with everybody else right now in the same group fighting.

“But I never got something that wasn’t (owed). I’m receiving everything that I can get.”

It was through friends that kept her going. She owes that to them and others, who will be returning home. In the future more and more cases, like Major Wilkins’, will be coming and challenges will occur, but Jill is ready to fight at home for our soldiers.

“I’ve already surpassed what I thought I could do because I put my story out there on CNN,” she says. “But then it started a snowball effect, because now people are questioning the burn pit, who was subjected to it and what’s happening now.

“You think after you get your benefits that you’re done, but then your Internet buddies get on there and they start talking about how you need to do this and speak out. I figured God gave me this ability to be comfortable in front of TV and it’s an adventure for me to do this. If they called me right now and said ‘will you speak in front of Congress?’ Oh yeah – in a heartbeat.”

For more information on Jill and her cause see:

To see Jill on The Situation Room with Wolf Biltzer:

To see burn pit photos go to:


Okay I am cheap and sleazy the bold part is about me this wonderful lady contacted me last year and asked me some questions, and all I did was share some information about how if a military person gets sick or dies within a year of service, that is related to something that happened while on active duty, the spouses and children are entitled to all of the benefits as if the person was 100% service connected at the time of their death, or if they become totally disabled.

It covers stuff like cancer, heart attacks, strokes, respiratory issues etc.

Jill going on CNN and the newspaper articles that was all her and she is my hero, she is still taking it to the military about the burn pits and I salute her for that.

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Veteran with cancer sued hospital for denied testing

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: Veteran had cancer, denied colonoscopy

Veteran with cancer sued hospital for denied testing

Legal news for New York Medical Malpractice attorneys–A war veteran was denied a colonoscopy when he had colon cancer, which caused him to file a lawsuit against hospital.

Buffalo, NY ( – A local war veteran is suing a New York VA hospital after being denied a colonoscopy, when he had a history of colon cancer, according to WIVB, on December 3, 2009.

The veteran, David Cohen, found out later that the hospitals rejection may have put him in a situation where cancer may claim this man’s life. The patriot, who proudly fought for his country in the U.S. Navy, now fights a personal battle of colon cancer.

Cohen was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in August 2009 in Buffalo’s VA hospital. He said that his history of colon cancer began with his grandmother, along with several other family members. Cohen, knowing that this deadly type of cancer ran in his bloodline, requested a colonoscopy and was denied several times.

Cohen’s prognosis states that he only has 26 months to live, but he plans on surpassing that time frame. He now shares the simple message with all people he meets that they should not take no for an answer and to go with your gut. Cohen filed a lawsuit against the VA hospital.

Veteran with cancer sued hospital for denied testing


There is something just wrong about this, the VA hospital where I go insists I have a colonscopy and I do not have a famiy hostory of colon cancer, I did serve in areas where Agent Orange was used, but none of the blood tests show any elevated rates, I think the test they use for pre colon cancer screening is called a PSAT and I have never raised any warning flags and I don't see any reason to go thru the colonoscopy. Why would this VA hospital deny a person who has a family history of it? Is it possible that he is not service connected for any medical problems to military service and his income is to high for him to be considred low income and thus eleigible for VA health care. Many people assume just because you are a veteran that you can go to the VA for healthcare, this is not true and thereare many obstacles to getting all of your health care from the VA.

In most cases the veteran has to have a service related medical problem rated higher than 50% or higher, the medical problem you are seeking treatment for is already service connected, or you have been under poverty level income for the previous year. This story sounds bad on the basis of this article but there are many questions not asked or answered here. I will not get upset until I learn more of the facts. I have received excellent treatment from the VA, and I am just a regular veteran, I have nothing in my past that makes me eligible for special treatment from the VA.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vets agency ripped for raises

Sunday, December 6, 2009 3:45 AM

By Barbara Carmen


The agency that Franklin County military veterans turn to for help has given its executives raises of 66 percent to 80 percent since 2005 -- unbudgeted increases that now are threatening to drain money away from veterans.

Leaders of the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission say the raises are justified.

"We're doing an outstanding job," said board member Carl W. Swisher, a Navy veteran who represents the American Legion.

The agency, based at Veterans Memorial, offers emergency help such as subsidies for rent, medical bills and food to military members, veterans and their dependents.

Veterans Service officers also help veterans apply for federal, state and local benefits such as disability payments.

But hundreds of frustrated veterans are pouring into agencies in neighboring counties for help that should be available at home.

Rebecca Lee, director of the Pickaway County agency, said one-third of her clients now come from Franklin County. Of the 3,452 people her office is helping, 1,087 are coming from Franklin County to get help.

"We have a $500,000 budget and five employees," she said, noting that Franklin County has a nearly $5 million budget and 20 employees. The state estimates that Pickaway County has about 5,000 veterans; Franklin County, 77,000.

Elected officials in Franklin County, who control the Veterans Service budget but not its operations, are outraged by these and a list of other complaints, including poor accounting controls that might have opened the door for abuses by two employees accused of theft.

"What I hear," county Commissioner John O'Grady said, "is that we've got employees under indictment, veterans who aren't being served, and they've got an administrative request for exorbitant raises that weren't budgeted."

He and other commissioners said they don't have the power to resolve veterans' complaints, but they are thinking about these issues as they plan the 2010 budget.

"I, for one, am not going to fund any questionable -- if not poor -- management decisions," O'Grady said.

The raises
Franklin County commissioners discovered only weeks ago that the Veterans Service had granted huge raises to top staff members; agency leaders came to them to say they'd exhausted the 2009 payroll account and were on the verge of being unable to issue paychecks.

Their plan to cover the shortage drew disbelief: They asked to take money from the account set up to provide food, rent subsidies and other emergency services to veterans.

Franklin County commissioners quickly transferred money from their own contingency account to cover most of the $128,424 payroll shortfall. But county leaders insisted that not a single dollar for big raises will come at the expense of needy veterans.

Some expenses, County Administrator Don L. Brown said, are "forgivable." The agency, for example, paid out $6,730 in overtime and spent $43,219 to hire an additional employee without notifying commissioners.

But $35,590 of this year's gap stems from raises for the three executives. Since 2005, the Veterans Commission has increased Director Douglas E. Lay's annual salary 66 percent, to $92,102. His financial officer, John Warrix, picked up a 69 percent raise during that period, to $72,823. And their administrative clerk-typist, Angela Cline, got an 80 percent raise, to $48,764.

This year, each picked up 12 percent raises, an unbudgeted outlay. Unionized employees got 3.5 percent negotiated raises.

Swisher said his board, not the executive staff, proposed the raises.

"We did this on our own," Swisher said. "We based it on other directors' salaries (in Ohio). We felt they deserved a raise because of the type of work they did."

Their office, which helped 17,000 veterans last year, is working harder, Veterans Service leaders said. The bad economy and a new batch of veterans from America's current wars have bumped up demand this year by 32 percent.

The director of Cuyahoga County's agency earns $120,783 a year, and Hamilton County's earns $94,279, according to officials there. Those agencies, however, have either much larger budgets or help nearly 50 percent more veterans than Franklin County's.

In 2006, the county had hired the Archer Group to determine appropriate pay scales; Veterans Service employees were underpaid at the time, it found. Each was brought up to scale by 2007, commissioners said. Now, however, all three are making more than 50 percent above the top of the scale the consultant proposed for 2009.

"They decided to go over their budget and then not tell us," county Commissioner Marilyn Brown said. "And, to cover their raises, they want to take the money out of (the fund for) services to veterans. That's what makes me so angry.

"I think that's the ultimate in irresponsibility."

Seeking help
While the Veterans Service wants to spend client-services money to cover their raises, veterans already are complaining that the agency isn't doing enough to help them.

"We're swamped with Franklin County veterans," said Lee, the Pickaway County official. She also is director of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.

"We used to see some, but honestly, in the last three to four years, it's become overwhelming. We'll help anyone who walks in the door, but we've had to start asking, 'Have you even made an effort to contact the Franklin County Veterans Service Office?'

"They tell us they're so frustrated because they're spinning their wheels down there" in Columbus.

Ed Mohler, director of the Fairfield County's veterans service agency, has heard similar complaints.

"The main complaint is that it takes so long to get in. They line up. They wait. They only take so many a day," Mohler said.

He said he doesn't count how many of his clients come from Franklin County.

Lay said he doesn't know why Franklin County veterans would drive elsewhere. His board members suggest that some simply are disgruntled because their requests for money have been rejected.

But Lee asked, "If Doug Lay is doing such a wonderful job, why are vets fleeing to other counties for help?"

Little oversight
The Veterans Service Commission, established by a Civil War-era law, is guaranteed a cut of county property taxes. But elected officials have little authority over the agency.

The Franklin County Common Pleas Court appoints the five commissioners, who represent military organizations and are appointed to five-year terms. The court can remove a commissioner "for cause" under Ohio law, but the judge must grant a hearing unless there is a criminal conviction involved.

Otherwise, "we have no oversight at all" after board members are appointed, said Judge Guy Reece, the court's administrative judge. Reece does meet with the group occasionally to urge them to follow policy and be consistent.

Judge Charles A. Schneider, who will become administrative judge in January, agreed: "We don't manage, and we have no control over the budget.

"Is that a good business model? Probably not."

Missing controls
The loss of stacks of grocery cards, meant to feed hungry veterans, points out what both Lay and Franklin County commissioners say are problems with safeguards and procedures in the agency.

Lay reported the thefts in August. But the cards were being taken for nearly a year, according to an indictment of one employee.

Gloria J. Woodard, a service officer whose job included helping veterans get emergency groceries, is accused of forging county records to steal Kroger gift cards.

"The amount alleged to have been taken through this scheme is $11,250," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

Woodard pleaded not guilty, and her trial is set for Feb. 9. Her attorney, Frederick Moses, declined to comment about the charges but said more information will come out.

"She has a very long history of service with the military and the Veterans Service Commission," Moses said. "And she is really a good person."

Lay said agency leaders are working to devise better safeguards. Until then, the cards have been removed from the agency's two neighborhood offices, 314 N. Wilson Rd. and 1055 Mount Vernon Rd. Veterans can get them only at the main office near Downtown.

O'Brien said theft-in-office charges for "a similar scheme" are pending against a second Franklin County Veteran Services Commission employee. That worker is on paid administrative leave.

Vets agency ripped for raises


Stealing food cards, huge raises, this is the type of behavior that makes people mad and think how the veterans who have been betrayed feel. Veterans should not be able to pick and choose which county office they go to, they should use the office where their home is, plain and simple.....

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Monday, December 7, 2009

For U.S., a record of neglect Agent Orange

For U.S., a record of neglect

Part 1 of 5: U.S. veterans exposed to Agent Orange face delays and a maddening bureaucracy as they seek compensation for related illnesses. In Vietnam, where untold numbers of people suffer from the same maladies and the chemicals continue to poison the environment, government officials wonder how the U.S. can ignore the ongoing effects of the defoliants.

Part 2: 'Insult to injury'
For many U.S. veterans, the bureaucratic fight to be compensated for health problems linked to Agent Orange amounts to a new and unexpected war, long after the shooting ended overseas

Part 3: Born into controversy
Coming Tuesday: The most contentious question surrounding the use of defoliants in the war is their impact on Vietnamese citizens, particularly the suspected link between the herbicides and birth defects.

Part 4: A poison still potent
Coming soon: New research finds former U.S. airbases in Vietnam remain polluted from defoliants, underscoring the urgency of a solvable problem. The U.S. has done little to clean up the hot spots.

Part 5: Danger not averted
Coming soon: The Tribune unearths documents showing that decisions by the U.S. military and chemical companies that manufactured the defoliants used in Vietnam made the spraying more dangerous than it had to be.

The lingering controversy over the herbicides on both sides of the Pacific Ocean provides a sobering reminder of the often unforeseen consequences of war at a time when the country is fighting protracted conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We do not know the answer to the question: What happened to Vietnam veterans?" said Jeanne Stellman, an epidemiologist who has spent decades studying Agent Orange for the American Legion and the National Academy of Sciences. "The government doesn't want to study this because of international liability and issues surrounding chemical warfare. And they're going to win because they're bigger and everybody's getting old and there are new wars to worry about."

The VA said in 2003 it would take the model under advisement. The agency is still evaluating it.

"I'm surprised that it hasn't been pursued more energetically," said Dr. David Savitz, a physician at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City who chaired the institute's review panel.

In September, the VA announced a broad, three-year study on Vietnam veterans' health, but it won't look specifically at defoliants like Agent Orange. Coming more than three decades after the war ended, the plan has many veterans believing the government is simply waiting for them to disappear.

"The mantra of the VA is delay, delay, delay until they all die," charged Paul Sutton, a Vietnam veteran and former chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America.

Retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, now the secretary of veterans affairs, has acknowledged the adversarial relationship between the VA and former soldiers. A Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat, Shinseki has vowed to be more of an advocate for those who serve the country.

Members of Congress say much of the foot-dragging on studying Agent Orange is tied to the bottom line.

"I don't think they really want to know the answer," said Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "The (financial costs) would be so high that they'd scare the hell out of everybody."

Rhis is the story that makes the average veteran mad as hell, it depends on WHO your friends are if the VA helps you in a quick mode, or if like most veterans filing claims, they die before the claim is ever adjudicated. Friends do matter like the old saying goes "it's not what you know, rather is it who you know" this article sums it up rather well old school ties and all.....
Jack Cooley delivered his final argument in a long, distinguished legal career from a hospital bed.

Four months before succumbing to multiple myeloma, the Chicago-area Vietnam veteran and federal magistrate judge wrote a 140-page claim for justice and filed it with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Cooley's message to the government was personal and direct: Agent Orange is killing me, and you need to take responsibility.

Cooley didn't know it last spring, but when the former Army artillery captain filed his disability claim, he was just entering a maddening bureaucratic maze many veterans know well. The VA would kick back Cooley's claim after a month, saying he lacked the required proof he'd served in Vietnam.

Cooley could have spent months navigating this convoluted path. But with Cooley's life fading, his family reached out to an old friend, a member of his West Point class of 1965. It was former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, recently appointed secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In short order the obstacles to Cooley's claim disappeared. The VA delivered three monthly disability checks for $2,700 before Cooley died July 21, at 65, in Evanston.

"This was insult to injury," said his daughter Christina. "If Gen. Shinseki was not ... a family friend and a West Point classmate, we would have never seen a dime. It makes me think about everybody else out there struggling without resources."

I am sad for Jack Cooley and his family but because of his friendship with General Shinseki and who is now in a position to help an old friend and his family, the red tape was cut and quick my claim took 7 years it appears his friends was done in days why? I think we all know the answer to that I was nothing but a Army veteran with no friends and who had made the local VA Regional Office mad and they made me pay by denials and appeals etc thanks to a decent BVA Judge I finally got my claim settled October 2002 - April 2009 thank god I lived long enough....

How many veterans don't?

Please read the entire series from the Chicago Tribune this should get a Pulitzer

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