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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Psychiatrist blames pre-existing trauma on military suicides

Again they are linking pre-existing trauma to military suicides.

Once this rumor got started too many jumped on it. The DOD has mental health testing they do before troops are trained. They have been doing it for generations. They have also been looking for something else to blame for generations.

Here's a good question to start with.

If the DOD really believed that, then why would they have spent billions a year fighting something they didn't cause?

They wouldn't. They'd just push more out before they got in.

They wouldn't hand them a machine gun and deploy them off with thousands if they were already mentally ill.

This video only infuses the thought that it is their fault. No clue who these people are but it has been watched over 1,900 times and it just went up yesterday.

Published on Sep 1, 2014

More Military Suicides Than Combat Deaths. US Soldiers and Suicide - PTSD and Psychiatric Drugs

Psychiatrist Dr. Colin Ross discusses the issue of military men committing suicide. Is this really due to post traumatic stress disorder after combat is there a connection between the over drugging of your solider on psych drugs and suicide?

Suicide Prevention Takes Honesty, Not Slogans

This is what the DOD thinks will work,
Suicide Prevention Takes Courage, Communication, Official Says
Department of Defense
By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2014 – The Veterans Affairs Department has named September National Suicide Prevention Month, but the Defense Department continues its year-round, comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to address the issue of suicide in the military, a Pentagon official said Aug. 21.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, military deputy to the Undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said DoD will broaden suicide prevention programs and resources to increase awareness, prevention and understanding across the force.

Leadership focus
“Suicide prevention is about taking care of each other and that’s a responsibility leaders have to focus on year-round, daily, weekly, monthly … not just in the month of September,” Linnington said.

According to the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report, the 2012 suicide rate [expressed as a number per 100,000 service members] for the active component was 22.7 and for the reserve components was 24.2.

Across the services in 2012, 155 soldiers committed suicide, as did a total of 57 airmen, 59 sailors and 47 Marines.

DoD will focus on total force fitness programs to build mental, physical and spiritual resilience in service members and their families with a focus on training and education for leaders and teams across the military to proactively recognize suicide signs and encourage communication.

Access to medical care
Additionally, DoD will continue to direct efforts to enhance medical care, the general said. The department, he said, “has spent a tremendous amount of leader attention and resources on improving access to care, the quality of care and the ability of service members to seek care in an anonymous nature if that’s what they choose to do.”

Linnington stressed the importance of leaders understanding the array of medical and resilience resources and their entry points.

Help for service members
Military Crisis Line and Military OneSource, he noted, are among the many resources that demonstrate the partnership between DoD and the VA, and give service members an anonymous ability to call-in or engage in online chats to access immediate help.

Newer peer-to-peer networks such as Vets4Warriors have also emerged as valuable resources, he said. In many instances, however, the first people service members can go to for help can be members of the military family, the general said.

“Having walked in our shoes … I think it’s clear that service members are comfortable around those that serve with them and have shared experiences,” he said.

No stigma
There should be no stigma attached to seeking help, Linnington said.

“Getting help when you need it is not only a sign of strength, but it works,” he said. “Having the confidence to seek help when you need it is important.”

Linnington also championed positive, energetic, command climates at all levels.

Leadership support
“If leaders support the rehabilitation and resilience of their service members, then … that opens the door for service members to go out and seek help,” he said.

The general debunked the notion that seeking help could negatively impact a military career.

“One suicide is one too many and leaders throughout the military will do whatever it takes to prevent suicide,” he said.

This is what the troops, veterans and families say,

It doesn't work.

They don't know what PTSD is, why they have it or gain any hope of healing.

Too many they know have been bounced out of the service tied to medications they have been given to "treat" PTSD.

Too many lessons learned have been the wrong ones.

The worst message they received is that PTSD is a mental weakness. After all, that is what "resilience training" has told them for years. If they train to be resilient, then they'd be able to fight off PTSD.

Resilience Training, or Comprehensive Soldier Fitness does not work but they keep pushing it while more lives are lost to suicide in the military and long after they came home.

The DOD claims they are training families but families tell a different story. They have no clue what PTSD is or what they can do to help.
“One suicide is one too many and leaders throughout the military will do whatever it takes to prevent suicide,”

The DOD says those words but they have used the same words for over a decade. History has proven the DOD wrong. The first suicide should have been too many. It shouldn't have taken thousands more to learn their weapon to fight it has backfired.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day For Some Since 1636

When it comes to having a day off it is great to remember those who "labor" for our freedom everyday but are usually forgotten.
December 13th, 1636
When the National Guard's oldest regiments met for their first drill on the village green in Salem, Massachusetts, they were barely three months old, organized on December 13th, 1636, the date we now celebrate as the National Guard birthday.
"Without these "ready in a minute" men, our history may have been written in a very different way."

The Minutemen playing a crucial role not only in the Revolutionary War, but in earlier conflicts.

Although the terms militia and minutemen are sometimes used interchangeably today, in the 18th century there was a decided difference between the two. Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength.

Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle.

Although today Minutemen are thought of as connected to the Revolutionary War in America, their existence was conceived in Massachusetts during the mid-seventeenth century. As early as 1645, men were selected from the militia ranks to be dressed with matchlocks or pikes and accoutrements within half an hour of being warned. In 1689 another type of Minuteman company came into existence. Called Snowshoemen, each was to "provide himself with a good pair of snowshoes, one pair of moggisons, and one hatchet" and to be ready to march on a moment's warning. Minutemen also played a role in the French and Indian War in the 1750's.

A journal entry from Samuel Thompson, a Massachusetts militia officer, states, "...but when our men were gone, they sent eleven more at one minute's warning, with 3 days provision..." By the time of the Revolution, Minutemen had been a well-trained force for six generations in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Every town had maintained its 'training band'. The adversity that this region faced — Native-American uprisings, war with France, and potential for local insurrections, social unrest, and rioting — provided ample reason to adhere to a sound militia organization. In his recent book, perhaps David Hackett Fischer puts it best, "The muster of the Minutemen in 1775 was the product of many years of institutional was also the result of careful planning and collective effort." (p. 151). By the time of the Revolution, Massachusetts had been training, drilling, and improving their militia for well over a hundred years.

Coins stolen from MOH Marvin Shields' grave replaced with love

On Marvin Shields' tombstone it says
"He died as he lived, for his friends"
Veterans replace stolen coins at war hero’s grave
By Mark Miller
Published: Aug 31, 2014

GARDINER, Wash. – At a small cemetery in the town of Gardiner, a wrong has been made right.

“I feel very honored, very blessed, very loved at this point in time,” said Joan Shields, as she looked at the headstone of the man she lost to the Vietnam War.

On Sunday, veterans held a ceremony to replace the special military coins that were stolen from Marvin G. Shields’ graveside earlier this month.

The fallen Navy Seabee posthumously received the Medal of Honor for saving many lives during a battle in Don Zoai, South Vietnam in 1965.

Shields was 25 years old when he volunteered to take out a Viet Cong machine gun nest. He fought while wounded, rescued another wounded soldier, and kept fighting for hours. Shields later died of a gunshot wound.

He was the first member of the Navy to earn the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

“I'm pretty sure he’s sitting up there, you know, just grinning. He's gotta be grinning,” said retired Seabee Bill Pletcher, who led the effort to replace the stolen coins, and hold a ceremony to honor Marvin Shields and his family.

Bill decided to do something after seeing a KOMO4News Problems Solvers report on the theft of three challenge coins from the headstone.
read more here

Representative-Veteran Double Amputee Duckworth "thrilled" to be pregnant

Iraq veteran U.S. Rep. Duckworth 'thrilled' to be pregnant
Daily Herald
Mike Riopell
September 1, 2014

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth says she six months pregnant and expecting a daughter.

The Hoffman Estates Democrat, Iraq veteran and double amputee broke the news this morning on NBC's "Today" in a segment describing how four amputees who came home from the Iraq War are now pregnant or have recently had a baby.

Shortly after the news broke online, Duckworth posted a photo of a pink baby shirt with blue lettering saying "heli baby" and a plastic cup reading "Helicopter Pilot in Training."

"I am so thrilled I'm going to be a mother here in just four months," she told "Today."

Duckworth said the time she and other veterans have taken to start families speaks to the tough road faced by many soldiers who've come home from recent conflicts.

"We're the best-case scenario, and it's taken us 10 years to put our lives back together, to get into a good place where we could think about having children," she told the Daily Herald last week.
read more here

Veterans over 50 78% of veteran suicides

Hey, lets not talk about the truth behind the numbers. Lets not talk about how we suck at taking care of veterans after sending them off to fight our battles. Lets not talk about how what they have been going through for decades predicts the future of today's veterans unless we change right here, right now.
"Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide"
The military did psychological screenings all the way back to WWI and ever since then, they have managed to put the blame on everyone and everything else. PTSD WWI and WWII
War II. Prominent civil and military medical authorities pointed out that World War I had demonstrated the necessity and feasibility of psychiatric screening in eliminating overt and covert mental disorders prior to entry in the military service. Emphasized by these authorities, based upon the experience of World War I, was the inability of emotionally unstable or otherwise psychiatrically vulnerable persons to absorb training profitably, to tolerate stress, or otherwise to make any useful contribution to the military effort. Also cited as further evidence for the thorough screening out of even potential psychiatric problems was the high cost of mental disorders in war that included their deleterious effect on other soldiers, the increased requirements of medical personnel and facilities to care for these problems, disability pensions, and other veterans' benefits.

During World War II, almost one fourth of all American psychologists were involved in the military. In addition to the screening of recruits, military psychologists were involved in the development of instrument displays, protective gear and placement of controls in aircraft.

The use of psychological warfare and methods of deceiving the enemy were also areas that required the involvement of a military psychologist. In addition to finding ways to affect the enemy, a military psychologist would have been involved in methods to increase soldier morale and deal with any stress issues that the soldiers may face.

Unlike the time after World War I, military psychology did not disappear at the end of World War II. Various veterans' hospitals began training clinical psychologists who could understand the needs of a veteran as well as diagnose and treat other problems. Over fifty percent of all veterans in VA hospitals at that time were diagnosed with a psychological problem.

In a further development, the American Psychological Association organized the Society of Military Psychology in 1945. This society which was also known as Division 19 was one of the original divisions organized by the American Psychological Association.

During the Korean War, clinical psychologists began working overseas with soldiers and in the Vietnam War an increase in psychological problems associated with war was seen.

Post traumatic stress disorder became one of the leading problems faced by Vietnam vets.

Clinicians were deployed with the troops in Korea. As soon as a soldier was showing symptoms of a crisis, they were removed from combat, treated and for the most part, sent back to duty. With Vietnam they tried something new. DEROS, one year deployments. This decreased medical evacuations for psychiatric cases but on the flip side, increased the number of veterans with untreated PTSD.

The result is;
Older Vets Committing Suicide at Alarming Rate
by Bryant Jordan
Aug 31, 2014

Veteran suicide numbers have gone up in recent years with much of the attention focused on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan killing themselves. However, almost seven out of 10 veterans who have committed suicide were over the age of 50, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs study.

Even as the agency collects data to better understand the issue, independent experts acknowledge that finding all the answers won't be easy.

"Nobody knows anything about [why], but we suspect a combination of factors," said Dr. Tom Berger, a Navy corpsman in Vietnam and today executive director of the Veterans Health Council at Vietnam Veterans of America. "Certainly we share some of the risk factors with the younger guys," including post-traumatic stress disorder, high rates of depression and combat.

Older veterans are at an age when the structure they built into their lives starts to loosen up, he said.

"A lot of guys went in, and then they came out and became a workaholic rather than deal with depression and PTSD," he said. They covered over stresses born of service with work and family, but the stresses remain today and the vets are going into retirement and the family structure dissipates as children go or have gone their own ways.

For Korean War veterans it may even be worse. Many of these veterans would have been in their 40s before the VA - under pressure from Vietnam veterans and politicians - acknowledged PTSD was real and began providing services to veterans.

"The Korean guys don't talk about their service, and some of them were involved in the bloodiest battles ... in brutal, cold weather," Berger said.

The VA study found that the percentage of older veterans with a history of VA healthcare who committed suicide actually was higher than that of veterans not associated with VA care. Veterans over the age of 50 who had entered the VA healthcare system made up about 78 percent of the total number of veterans who committed suicide - 9 percentage points higher than the general pool.
read more here

What Good Did Suicide Prevention Month Do?

No more excuses, time for living awareness
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 1, 2014
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Vietnam Veterans of America
Yesterday a buddy of mine and long time reader of Wounded Times said he was sure I was ready to explode and the Bostonian Greek couldn't be held back much longer. I told him I felt like a bottle of Coke dropped on the floor, shaken, waiting to be opened. The twist top was released and I exploded higher than Mentos could have come close to achieving.

Suicide Prevention Month begins today for the troops and veterans but it seems the military leaders have been "SHAKE'n BAKE: an officer straight out of OCS (Officer Candidate School) without any combat experience" yet in charge of taking care of what they do not understand. Simply put, total FUBAR!
FUBAR: short for "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair" or "Recognition." To describe impossible situations, equipment, or persons as in, "It is (or they are) totally Fubar!"

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office for all branches of the military makes it seem as if raising awareness is enough but it isn't. All we have to do is read the suicide reports where year after year, more is done, while more suicides claim more lives.
BOHICA stands for bend over, here it comes again. It is an item of acronym slang which grew to regular use amongst the United States armed forces during the Vietnam War. It is used colloquially to indicate that an adverse situation is about to repeat itself, and that acquiescence is the wisest course of action.

Research by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health aims to reduce suicides among America's military and military veterans.

"The suicide rate among soldiers began to rise significantly in 2002, and reached record levels by 2007," says Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director. "The Army has been very proactive in addressing the crisis but, sadly, the suicide rate continues to rise."

In addition to the Army's attempts to reduce the suicide rate and address mental health issues, Dr. Insel notes that in 2008 the Army and the NIMH initiated the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience of Service Members (Army STARRS) to better understand the phenomenon. It is the largest study of its kind ever undertaken.

In addition to suicide, this study is targeting depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike typical research studies, which can take years, Dr. Insel says that data from Army STARRS will be reported at regular intervals throughout the five-year study period. The information will be used to tailor interventions so that the suicide rate drops and soldiers get the help they need as quickly as possible.

"No question. 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides," says Col. Christopher Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "We took wide-ranging measures to confront the problem, from servicewide prevention and teaching programs to the Army STARRS initiative with the National Institute of Mental Health."

In 2010, the Army plans to update its suicide prevention training and improve procedures to ensure that soldiers and their families receive the support they need when undergoing key transitions, such as moving to another duty station or separating from the Army.

"This will give us the data we need to better adjust and expand our programs so that we save more lives," adds Philbrick.

Yet more pain was delivered to families across the country when they blamed themselves. After all, how could they blame the military leaders when they were doing so much to prevent suicides?

Pretty much it failed leading up to 2012 with the highest number of suicides as well as attempted suicides. The DOD didn't learn the right lessons and their awareness of the issues facing the troops and veterans went over their heads. In 2012 Army Times had an article about what happened afterwards. New Suicide Prevention Strategy Make Debut
McHugh spoke alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, who released the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

The strategy has been updated for the first time since 2001. Its priorities include fostering positive public dialogue, countering shame, prejudice, and silence, and building public support for suicide prevention.

The strategy calls attention to the increasing numbers of suicides among troops and veterans, noting an increase in suicide rates in the military in 2006 was driven by the Army and Marine Corps.

In 2010, junior enlisted troops who were white and under 25 years old were at increased risk for suicide relative to those groups in the general population.

The report references efforts at the Defense Department and in the individual services, including the Army's Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, to prepare designated "gatekeepers" to recognize suicide risk and intervene.

The "gatekeepers" turned out to be bouncers. They bounced out troubled servicemembers with discharges instead of helping them heal.

Disposable Soldiers
Huffington Post
May 29, 2013

As PTSD cases in the military are skyrocketing, so too are discharges for misconduct, where a small infraction could lead to a lifetime loss of much needed benefits. We need to re-evaluate the military discharge system to match current challenges.

So much for promises. In 2013 the Army bounced out 11,000 along with other branches it was yet one more year of getting rid of them while using the word "intervene" covering for their own shameful conduct. By the end of 2013 NPR reported the number of bad conduct discharges in the last 10 years reached 100,000
BCD – Bad Conduct Discharge. Usually spoken as Big Chicken Dinner

Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good-conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle.

None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions."

Highfill, a 27-year-old Michigan native, says he got addicted to the painkillers he was taking for a knee injury. In the Navy's eyes, Highfill screwed up. He got a DUI, among other things, and so it kicked him out. And that means when he went to a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, it did the same.

"I went down to the Battle Creek [Mich.] VA and I spoke with the receptionist. She looked at my discharge and said, 'Well, you have a bad discharge. ... Congress does not recognize you as a veteran.' And they turned me away," Highfill says.

Highfill and more than 100,000 other troops left the armed services with "bad paper" over the past decade of war.

But they can't seem to figure out why what they've done hasn't worked?
SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fucked Up
Who are they trying to fool?

When they say that "most of the troops committing suicide" had not been deployed, that is intended to get us thinking they were already "damaged" and lately that is the message they have pushed harder.

The trouble with this is twofold. First, they evaluate recruits. Are they admitting their testing sucks so bad they couldn't identify recruits with "pre-existing" mental health issues before handing them weapons? Secondly there is the issue of their "resiliency training" not being able to keep "non-deployed" from committing suicide, thus totally inept when it came to preventing soldiers from taking their own lives after multiple deployments.
XIN LOI or XOINE LOI: pronounced by GIs as "Sin Loy," meaning 'too bad,' 'tough shit,' 'sorry bout that.' The literal translation is "excuse me."

By July we read the outcome.
Of the 162 confirmed or suspected suicides to date this year for both the active and reserve components, the service breakdown is Army, 71; Air Force, 34; Marine Corps, 21; and Navy, 36.

This time last year, the figures were Army, 85; Air Force, 25; Marine Corps, 26; and Navy, 24.

The Navy is well ahead of its pace at this time last year and in fact is already closing in on its total of 43 for all of 2013.

Now all that is suicide awareness since we are well aware of why they take their own lives.
ZULU: casualty report is never complete

Forget about what the military told you about PTSD since they have had decades of exposure to this simple fact of a soldier's life. Being willing to die for someone else does not come out of someone being mentally weak. It comes from being emotionally strong.

Think about it. Think about the kind of courage it takes to join the military but don't stop there. It also required an abundance of emotional ability to put everything on the line for the sake of someone else.

There was nothing weak about you or anyone you served with and there isn't anything weak about you now. Once you get that, understand where all that pain is coming from, then you begin to heal. Until then you are allowing PTSD to be on a Search and Destroy mission, not just hunting you but everyone in your life.

You can heal and path has already been laid for you. Vietnam veterans carried the tradition of walking point "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another" so if you can't find someone in your generation to explain stuff to you so you feel better instead of worse, find groups with Vietnam Veterans.

Being aware gives you the intel to defeat the last enemy so that you can cover the backs of other veterans searching for a way out of the pain. Heal and help them DEROS all the way home.

Enough bull has been passed down while wasting time filling heads and fueling the forsaken into hopelessness. Over 8,000 veterans succeed at killing themselves while over 12,000 attempt it. What if there were that many lost in Iraq or Afghanistan in a year? These are veterans from all wars, all trying to heal but not finding what they need to do it. On the flip side, thousands more found the way to not just heal for themselves or their families, but search for other veterans to help them.

You did not surrender to the pain you felt during your deployment. You pushed past it because you still had a duty to those you served side by side with. They are waiting for you to take the lead and show them how to survive surviving combat. Don't surrender now.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Military divorce can be a whole new battleground

When military and matrimony don't mix
By Kristi Tousignant
The (Baltimore, Md.) Daily Record/AP
Published: August 30, 2014

A move is underway to standardize custody rules for military families. The Uniform Law Commission approved language for a model Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act in July 2012. Under the model act, past deployment and "possible future" deployment cannot be used against a parent in a custody proceeding, although imminent deployment can be considered.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — For those in the armed forces, divorce can be a whole new battleground.

"It's ironic because these are trained fighters and they can find themselves in a battle they are not prepared for," said attorney Cynthia Hawkins Clark.

Although military family law cases go through civilian courts, they often present a unique set of challenges with deployments, military pensions and child custody, said Clark and Paula J. Peters, who practice at the Law Offices of Paula J. Peters P.A. in Annapolis.

And with Fort Detrick, Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Andrews Air Force Base, the Naval Academy and other bases in Maryland, there are many military members locally who need legal assistance, Clark and Peters said.

"I can't think of anything more satisfying," Clark said. "It's very hard not be invested in them. They are very good people."

The challenges of representing service members vary depending on whether they are on active duty or retired, attorneys said.

For active service members, the key issues often involve the couple's children. Long deployments mean long absences from that child's life, which can make it hard to get joint or shared custody.
read more here

Texas National Guardsmen Sent to Border Without Paychecks?

Texas National Guard: No evidence that soldiers have gone to food bank for help
Austin American-Statesman
By Jeremy Schwartz
Published: August 30, 2014
“Active duty soldiers being forced to turn to charities to get a meal is heartbreaking,” state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, said in a statement. “These brave men and women have apparently been sent on a mission without accommodating for their most basic needs. We need to find immediate solutions for these hungry soldiers.”

AUSTIN, Texas (MCT) — The Texas National Guard has identified 50 soldiers deployed to the Rio Grande Valley who might be in need of financial assistance — including food help — because of a gap in receiving their first paycheck since being activated, and Texas Democrats are seizing on the issue.

But neither a local food bank nor National Guard officials said they had evidence that any soldiers have sought food assistance.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” said Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy.

After Rio Grande Valley television station KGBT reported Thursday that needy troops “turned to” the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley for help, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, the Democratic nominee for governor, said she would visit the border Saturday to deliver food for the National Guard.

“It’s disgraceful that the men and women of our National Guard deployed to protect our border are forced to go to food banks,” Davis said in a statement.

According to Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a spokeswoman for the Texas National Guard, a “proactive” family assistance coordinator “contacted the Rio Grande Valley food bank to see what resources were potentially available.”

According to Guard officials, the 50 soldiers in question started their deployment to the border around Aug. 11, just after the cutoff for the next pay period, and would have to wait until Sept. 5 to receive their first paycheck. Their first week or so was spent at Camp Swift in Bastrop for training, and they received three meals a day there.
read more here

Philly VA guide to dealing with "Grouchy" Veterans

VA Head Orders Review After Oscar the Grouch Gaffe
Philadelphia Inquirer
by Tricia L. Nadolny
Aug 29, 2014

The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs has ordered a system-wide review of its training programs after a guide comparing veterans to Oscar the Grouch was used at the Philadelphia VA benefits office.

Secretary Robert McDonald apologized for the slideshow training guide and said its use has been discontinued. Unlike Diana Rubens, the director of the Philadelphia office, McDonald did not defend the materials as comparing employees, rather than veterans, to the cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a trash can.

"We apologize for the use of Oscar the Grouch in the presentation used to train employees at the Philadelphia Regional Benefits Office," McDonald said in a statement.

He said the "comparison is clearly contrary" to the VA's mission and the "kind of open culture we want in the new VA."

The training guide, reported by The Inquirer on Wednesday, was titled "What to Say to Oscar the Grouch -- Dealing With Veterans During Town Hall Claims Clinics." About a dozen of the 18 slides include pictures of the misanthropic Muppet in the can he calls home. In one, a sign reading "CRANKY" hangs from the rim.

In another, Oscar's face is flanked by the words "100% GROUCHY, DEAL WITH IT."
read more here

VA Training for "Grouchy" Veterans Using Oscar the Grouch?

Two Star General Retires Less of a Star

Army Knocks 2-Star Down to 1-Star Rank
Associated Press
by Robert Burns
Aug 27, 2014

WASHINGTON — A two-star Army general faulted for failing to properly investigate sexual assault and other accusations against a colonel on his staff will be retired at one-star rank, the Army announced Wednesday.

The decision by Army Secretary John M. McHugh comes more than a year after Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison was suspended from his duties as commander of U.S. Army forces in Japan.

His case has been cited as evidence of why sex-crime victims say they don't trust the military to protect them, despite efforts by senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to make commanders accountable.

In March the Pentagon turned back an effort in Congress to strip commanders of the authority to prosecute cases, especially those related to sexual assault, and hand the job to seasoned military lawyers.

An Army inspector general's investigation report released in April said that in March 2013, when a Japanese woman accused the unidentified colonel on Harrison's staff of sexually assaulting her, Harrison waited months to report it to criminal investigators. That was a violation of Army rules.
read more here

Army Strong but Veterans Stronger Together

Veterans Sacrificed and Survived
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 31, 2014

PTSD did not defeat you while you were deployed. You had your brothers right by your side. PTSD doesn't have to defeat you now since your brothers are from all branches of the military family tree and we call them VETERANS! Sacrificed because you loved, lived, survived and stronger together.

Sacrifice : the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

The top post on Wounded Times is, For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice

Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry, of 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Infantry Regiment, 1st Heavy Combat Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, who was injured in an improvised explosive device attack near Haji Ramuddin, is treated by flight medic Cpl. Amanda Mosher while being transported by medevac helicopter to the Role 3 hospital at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan on June 15, 2011. Laura Rauch/Stars and Stripes

There are a lot of current military and veterans with those words tattooed on their bodies but also engraved on their hearts.

PFC Aaron Toppen was killed in Afghanistan on June 9th at the age of 19. His pastor, Dr. Tim Harlow said this at his funeral.
"He had a tattoo on his chest that had a cross with dog tags draped across. It says, 'For those I love, I sacrifice,' an army motto. The dog tags were both his grandparents' dog tags," "I mean, that's who he was."

It is "who" they all are because no matter what some may say, it is the reason you were willing to sacrifice your lives for the sake of someone else.

In the military you are all serving this country however, you served separated by branches. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and National Guards. It is as veterans you are stronger because you come together with others from different branches and different wars.

You sacrificed much and were willing sacrifice everything. You survived combat. That may have seemed like the hardest part of your life but all too often it was just the start of the battles you'd have to fight. The hardest one is now.

No one comes home unchanged. For Heaven's sake, you are only human and everyone changes in one way or another.

Sometimes it can make you harder, colder, bitter and quick to get angry over little things. You may think those emotions are forever, but they are not. Sometimes it can make you sadder, depressed and worth less than you were while you were doing something that became a part of you.

It is never the same for anyone and how you feel is not the same as everyone else. The thing is, when all is said and done, when the boots come off and uniform is put away, everyone you served with are a part of your life.

The veterans in your community can be a part of your life as well. Far too often new veterans feel as if they are unable to fit back in with the rest of the population and they are absolutely correct but honestly, if you feel that way, you never really fit in before military service. Thank God you didn't or you would have been like everyone else unable to love so much you were willing to die. That kind of courage and emotional strength is so rare only about 7% of the population knows what the word "veteran" means. The rest can only guess.

By yourself with civilians, it can be lonely. Joining groups with other veterans is where you learn others have walked on the same path and will show you the least dangerous direction to take plus give you some shortcuts to save you years of searching for what they already found.

If you feel that you do not deserve to be happy again, consider this very simple point. Evil people do not grieve or weep for others because all they care about is themselves. They do not suffer emotional pain, they inflict it. For the roughly 66% of veterans living without PTSD, they understand for the most part because it is hard to find anyone not changed at all. A few are total jerks and you need to be aware of that simply because they also represent a fraction of the general population. Don't waste your time with them. You will gain nothing while they rob you of the opportunity to heal.

Everyone has heard the expression "Army Strong" but Veterans are in fact stronger together.

Pensacola News Journal Reporter Blames Veterans for rise in VA claims?

You'd think by now it would be clear that most of the Vietnam veterans finally getting compensated for what military service cost them was a good thing, but then again, along comes another one more attempt to blame veterans for the rise in claims because they are greedy. This is from the Pensacola News Journal article by Tom Phipott titled "Report explains rise in VA claims" but clearly should have included a disclaimer, "interpreted by."
"A greater factor has been liberalized laws and policies on "service connected" ailments, particularly decisions to compensate Vietnam War veterans for medical conditions of aging and lifestyle because of an "association" with possible exposure to herbicides used in that war."
Phipott then added this insult.
"Another factor of growth in VA claims has been a weak labor market, CBO says, which encourages out-of-work or underemployed veterans to apply for disability compensation. Current law allows them to do so at any age and as often as they like.Indeed, laws enacted in 2000 and 2008 required VA to strengthen the help given to veterans to apply for disability benefits and substantiate claims. VA also increased outreach to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and eased PTSD diagnostic requirements."

The best way to actually address these claims is by keeping it simple. Most veterans do not file claims. 21,973,000 project veteran population but less than 4 million receive VA Compensation

The other ugly truth is that the rest of us have never managed to take care of those we send to fight our battles equal to their pre-paid debit card they carry with the VA logo.

Soldier from Fort Carson Killed Walking Across Freeway

Fort Carson soldier killed while trying to walk across Colorado Springs freeway
The Gazette
By Stephen Hobbs
Published: August 31, 2014

A 23-year-old Fort Carson soldier died after he was struck by two cars on Interstate 25 near midnight Saturday, the Colorado State Patrol said.

The man was trying to cross northbound I-25, from the southbound lane near the South Academy Boulevard exit, troopers said.

A spokesman from Fort Carson confirmed he was a soldier there, but the post declined to give other details.

His name is being withheld until next of kin are notified, troopers said.
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