Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ret. Master Sergeant Memorial Day Speech All Should Read

A speech on the occasion of Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 
Harvard Press
by Master Sergeant (ret.) Dennis Lyddy
May 28, 2015

Master Sergeant (ret.) Dennis Lyddy. 
(Photo by Lisa Aciukewicz) 
Distinguished guests, honored brothers and sisters in arms, my family—Kelly, Patrick, Victor, Taylor, and Ashton—fellow citizens of America …

I am grateful to be standing before you this Memorial Day, May 25, 2015.

Memorial Day is the day citizens can still freely gather to honor those men and women, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister who sacrificed everything in this world, so that we can continue our American way of life each day: a way of life safe from the horror of suicide bombers; secure from the brutality of snipers, car bombers, and thoughtless mines; unthreatened by indiscriminate mortars and the savagery of IEDs—a way of life that provides opportunity to learn without terror, to worship without judgment, to nourish without want, to love without labels, and to speak without fear.

Each of us present today believes, acts, and teaches the continuum of noblesse oblige.



A simple question: Why so few?
Memorial Day is a day of acknowledgment.
A day of memories and emotions Memorial Day is a day of memories and emotions.

On August 27, 2003, a native son of Deerfield, Massachusetts, died in Al Hilla, Iraq.

A roadside bomb, detonated by cowards, murdered 24-year-old Sgt. Gregory Belanger—a chef, a son, a fellow citizen-soldier.

The chef could not prepare a four-star, candlelit, romantic meal for two in a cozy apartment for a broken-hearted fiancée. The son did not get the chance to pass on his winning smile and impish tricks to a child that would make grandparents laugh and carry on the family name.

The nation lost a generous citizen-soldier who shared his tent with me and willingly left behind school, family, the love of his life, when he heard the clarion.

On September 20, 2003, a brutal insurgent mortar attack targeting Iraqi prisoners killed 26-year-old Sgt. David Travis Friedrich. Travis Friedrich, the student, studied with fabled Dr. Henry Lee to become a forensic scientist.

Sgt. Friedrich, the citizen-soldier, blended his skills, discipline, and humanity to go after the biggest group of criminals since World War II. Travis’s light was prematurely snuffed out before his brilliance could illuminate the darkness of crime.

These are only two small stories about Americans killed in a combat zone. When will they end? On MassLive, reporter Fred Contrada wrote about U.S. Army Capt. Roselle M. Hoffmaster, a Smith College graduate. Hoffmaster, a surgeon assigned to Iraq, died under “non-combat-related” circumstances in September 2007, according to the army. Sixteen months later, a government report concluded that Roselle took her own life.

In a May 6, 2014, article, the Boston Globe reported that Jeffrey Lucey, a USMC veteran, committed suicide on June 22, 2004. The Globe also photographed members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America placing 1,892 flags representing veterans and service members who have died by suicide.

These are only two short stories about Americans dying in a safety zone. The statistics from various studies, government agencies, and independent researchers reveal that the suicide rate of veterans exceeds the suicide rate of civilians for the first time.

I simply ask: Why so many? read more here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Military-Civilian Police Officer Not Allowed in 7-11 on Memorial Day?

This story is in need of editing. Deitch is the veteran/owner and Sox is the dog. Hope they fix it.
Owner of 7-Eleven apologizes for kicking out veteran's service dog
New Jersey.com
By Dave Hutchinson
May 27, 2015
Deitch is both a military police and civilian police service dog, according to News 12.
PARSIPPANY — The owner of a Parsippany 7-Eleven has apologized to a veteran who was not allowed into the store on Memorial Day because of his service dog, according to News 12 New Jersey.

Veteran Michael Deitch said he was not allowed into the 7-Eleven on North Beverwyck Road because he had his service dog, Sox, with him, the report said. Sox, a 7-month-old lab-hound-mix, is federally protected under the American with Disabilities Act, the report said. read more here

Boston Homeless Veterans Center Getting Makeover

The New England Center for Homeless Veterans is very near to my heart. When I lived in Massachusetts I had a tour of the building and saw the work they do first hand. I sat with some of the veterans for a while and discovered what a difference it made to them to know they were cared about as well as cared for.
Boston homeless veterans center to get $31m upgrade
Boston Globe
By Steve Annear
GLOBE STAFF
MAY 27, 2015
The renovation project will include adding 200 transitional housing units and 38 permanent housing units to the center, as well as upgrades to the 59 permanent living spaces already in use.
Homeless veterans in Boston and surrounding communities will have better access to improved living accommodations, transitional services, and vocational programs, as a center dedicated to helping them begins work on a multimillion-dollar renovation downtown.

On Wednesday, the New England Center for Homeless Veterans will break ground on the $31 million, 18-month construction project to provide state-of-the art resources for its clients.

“The building is showing its age, so we are creating a facility that can be adaptable for veterans for decades to come,” said Andy McCawley, president and chief executive of the Court Street center. “These upgrades will get people into housing faster and more effectively, and offer a full array of services like case management support, vocational training, employment services, and wellness services.”

The project should be complete by the end of next year, said McCawley, a retired Navy officer, and will help aid the more than 1,500 homeless vets that the center assists annually.
read more here

Camp Lejeune Marine Court-martialed Over Bible Verse?

Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse 
FOX News
Todd Starnes
May 26, 2015
“This is a very scary time when you are not allowed to have a very small printed Bible verse in your own personal workspace because it might offend other Marines,” Sasser told me. “Our Marines are trained to deal with some of the most hostile people on the planet. I don’t think they are afraid of tiny words on a tiny piece of paper.”

A United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer – a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable – a member of the Armed Forces criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Sterling, who represented herself at trial, was convicted February 1, 2014 in a court-martial at Camp Lejune, North Carolina after she refused to obey orders from a staff sergeant to remove the Bible verses from her desk.

She was found guilty of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect toward a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer.

The Christian Marine was given a bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private.
read more here

Sailor's Death in Abu Dhabi Under Investigation

Sailor from Illinois dies overseas 
WGN News
BY TOM NEGOVAN
MAY 22, 2015

ABU DHABI– A sailor from Illinois has died overseas, according to the Department of Defense.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan D. Burris, 24, of Lisle, died May 21, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, of a non-combat related incident at Zayed Military City as he was helping to support Operation Inherent Resolve—that is the fight against ISIS.

He was temporarily assigned to the Crisis Response Element of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, Special Operations Command Central, U.S. Central Command, according to the Department of Defense. read more here

Restaurant Makes Amends After PTSD Veteran Turned Away

Restaurant manager fired after veteran, dog turned away
WGNO News
BY ANTHONY PERRUCCI
MAY 26, 2015
Hershey the Labradoodle was turned away from a restaurant in Illinois. (WGN)
ALGONQUIN, Ill. (WGN)— An Illinois veteran’s trip to a restaurant over the weekend caused an uproar and cost a restaurant manager her job.

Garrett Loughran of Huntley has served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And like a lot of veterans, Garrett uses a service dog to help with his PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hershey, a 5-year-old Labradoodle, helps keep him calm in crowds and adjust to civilian life. He’s no ordinary canine. In fact, he’s specially trained for this. By law, he’s allowed to go where Garrett does.

But Garrett’s mom wanted to take him to a pre-Memorial Day lunch at the Houlihan’s in nearby Algonquin. And that’s when things got a little touchy. The veteran, his mom and his dog were turned away.
Houlihan’s says the manager involved in turning Laura, Garrett and Hershey away has been fired and it’s donating $2,000 dollars to the organization Pets for Vets.
read more here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lake Nona VA Hospital Dedication

Published on May 26, 2015 Dedication of Lake Nona VA Hospital was this morning. VFW Post 4287 was there and the National Anthem was beautifully sung by a VA employee Sharon Stephens. As for the speeches, enough said.
Congressman Daniel Webster
Congressman Jeff Miller
Congressman Alan Grayson, late arrival
All the news crews blocking view of veterans behind them.
I left before the speeches but I am sure all those news crews managed to record every word said. You'll just have to try to figure out which ones actually have the coverage online.

Speakers, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Congressman Ron DeSantis, Congressman Bill Posey, Congressman Daniel Webster, Congressman John Mica, Congressman Alan Grayson, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Congressman Jeff Miller and Secretary Department Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald.

If the news stations don't have the speeches up, check their YouTube pages later.

Veterans Response To Tampa Bay Jeff Miller Report

Jeff Miller forgets that he has been head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee since 2011.
United States Representative Jeff Miller serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for authorization and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA.) VA is the second largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $150 billion.


But Miller has also been on the Committee since 2001! Yep! So who does he blame? He blames the VA.
After taking the oath of office in 2001, Congressman Miller was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He quickly established himself within Washington as a strong advocate for veterans' concerns and immediately supported changes to concurrent receipt and policy changes such as a greater co-sharing between the military and veterans' clinics.

In that video Miller asked for Veterans to give their thoughts,,,,,,Here's some thoughts from veterans right here in Florida. "We're not gonna take it anymore!"
A year after VA scandal, House veterans committee chairman wants more progress
Tampa Bay Times
William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
Monday, May 25, 2015
The scandal has lifted Mil­ler's profile as he has become a sought-after quote by journalists reporting on the agency's deficiencies. And Miller, 55, is considering a 2016 Senate run for the seat expected to open as Marco Rubio seeks the presidency.
SEMINOLE — Whenever U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller attends a public event, veterans and Department of Veterans Affairs employees find him for short, intense conversations about one VA issue after another.

It happened after his Memorial Day speech at the Bay Pines Veterans Cemetery, where a short line of people waited to get a minute with the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee.

This is life for one of the VA's biggest Capitol Hill critics, who told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday he remains frustrated by the slow pace of reform at an agency hit in the past year by the worst scandal in its history.

"The VA did not get into the situation that exists today overnight," Miller said. "And it's not going to be resolved in a year's time. It is going to take an entire culture change within the department. There has to be transparency and accountability."

And too often, he said, those two qualities are still lacking.

The Pensacola Republican has been in the forefront of debate since the VA scandal erupted in April 2014 when a doctor at a Phoenix VA hospital said that 40 veterans there had died after delays in care and that the hospital kept a secret patient waiting list to hide its shortcomings. What followed was a series of revelations about the VA's widespread tactic of manipulating hospital performance measures nationally, its retaliation against whistle-blowers and patients lost in VA red tape.
read more here

There is absolutely nothing that has happened at the VA that should have surprised Miller since all the reports have come out repeatedly since 2001....actually even before that, but admitting that would assume members of Congress have a conscience.

Memorial Day Event Remembered Deaths After War

Combat Deaths, Suicides Memorialized at Claquato Ceremony 
Remembering the Fallen: Annual Memorial Day Commemoration Draws Large Crowd
Chronicle
By Justyna Tomtas
May 25, 2015
Hawkins said the senseless deaths that continue after bullets stop flying are unnecessary. He urged everyone to remain beside the dying and injured on the “battlefield of life,” just as one would not leave those on an actual battlefield.
Pete Caster
Memorial Day at Claquato
People gather around the American flag at Claquato Cemetery
as the pay their respects to veterans on Monday morning in Adna.


CLAQUATO — Jeff Hawkins worked as a hospital corpsman for the Navy in the early 1990s.

Throughout his four years of service, he saw three deaths. One was in combat. The other two were suicides.

The pastor and Chehalis resident said Memorial Day is a time to give thanks to those who died protecting America’s values, and also a day for remembering those who are plagued by the atrocities of war long after leaving the battlefield.

Observers listened to the message, and others, Monday morning at an annual ceremony at Claquato Cemetery outside of Adna.

Hawkins spoke of the more than 1.3 million American military members who have given their lives service of the country since 1775, noting that number does not include those who later commited suicide after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

“A veteran is a person who wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including one's life, and there is no expiration date on that check,” Hawkins said, later adding that statistics show 22 veterans commit suicide each day. “We’re here this morning to pay tribute to those who died fighting for our country, but there are many discharged veterans who never left those battles. They are still losing those battles, and they are still dying.”
read more here

Iwo Jima Veteran Shows It Is Never Too Late For Help With PTSD

Iwo Jima Marine vet fights the demons of war
WIVB 4 News
By Rich Newberg, News 4 Senior Correspondent
Published: May 25, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Ted Drews. a World War II veteran of Iwo Jima, had witnessed five of his fellow Marines and a Navy Corpsman plant the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi, in Japanese territory.

He witnessed it from his strategic position on the water near the mountain.

“They were brave to be doing that out in the open,” he recalls.

While many are drawn to that iconic image that came to represent World War II, Drews continued to fight the demons of war long after the Japanese surrendered.

He was nineteen years old when he was shipped off to Guam, and then Iwo Jima.

His job was to carry supplies, and, if possible, transport the wounded and the dead.

The images he carried home with him in his head after the war, remained hidden from his family for the longest time.

“People aren’t buried with their arms across their chest,” he recalled. “They’re buried the way they’re found. Some are sitting up. Their arms and legs are extended, and it’s just awful to see the way these nice young guys died.”

So awful are some of the memories, that Ted would suffer from terrible depression. He sometimes withdraw from his family, and had fitful dreams. The condition would manifest itself has the month of February approached. That was the month in 1945 that the Battle of Iwo Jima began.
read more here

Veterans Dying of Suicide Have Mom Remembering Them

Mother creates memorial wall for veterans who died of suicide 
Janine Lutz creates memorial as way to honor son, others
Local 10 News Author: John Turchin, Crime Specialist
Published On: May 25 2015 Weston Florida
Not all who lost their lives serving the United States died in battle.

An astounding number of veterans commit suicide after they return home. The mother of one of them believes they deserve to be remembered and honored on Memorial Day.

Janine Lutz created an 8-foot-tall, 50-foot-long wall displaying the faces and stories of veterans who died of suicide.

"With every tick of the clock, we are losing veterans," Lutz told Local 10 News. "With every 65 minutes, another veteran is dying of suicide."

Lutz has named the memorial wall after her son, Lance Cpl. Janos Lutz. The 24-year-old committed suicide two years ago.
read more here
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Taking Care of Our Veterans More Like Impossible Dream

In 2010 I used "The Impossible Dream" by Luther Vandross for a memorial tribute.

I put it back up on YouTube in March. While it has the quote about how veterans are treated attributed to George Washington, back then I thought it was but I've discovered the quote was not his. It should be the quote from all of us. It seems more like an impossible dream to far too many of them to receive the care they deserve.

This is from 2010. The numbers are higher now and the debt we owe them has still not been paid yet. Music

Special Forces Soldier from Florida Died in Afghanistan

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Release No: NR-197-15
May 25, 2015

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Pablo A. Ruiz, 37, of Melbourne, Florida, died May 24, in Bagram, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

He was assigned to Group Support Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day at Brevard Veterans Memorial Center

Today at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center there was a fabulous Memorial Day event at this gorgeous combo center/museum.
Life size mannequins
I will have the video up on this sometime tomorrow after the Lake Nona VA event.
UPDATE here's the video