Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Iraq veteran and his family battle PTSD

10 years after Iraq, 40 years after Vietnam, nothing really changes for them or families. That is the most depressing thing of all. Ask a Vietnam veteran when he was there and he'll usually say, "last night" without lying.  He's there almost every night.
10 years after Iraq, Brainerd veteran and his family battle PTSD
Twin Cities.com
By Renee Richardson
Forum News Service
POSTED: 11/22/2014
Josh Heldt while serving in Iraq in 2004. (Courtesy photo)

BRAINERD, Minn. -- A decade after returning from Iraq, Josh Heldt's battle continues.

The 37-year-old Iraq veteran, who lives in Brainerd and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, isn't alone.

Bob Nelson, Crow Wing County director of veterans services, said a strong percentage of National Guard members have dealt with PTSD.

"More than I probably would have initially anticipated," Nelson said.

Often the veteran isn't the one who realizes the problem. Nelson said it can be hard to assess one's self, but family members can see the anger, the triggers, even rage.

"He doesn't realize how bad it is," Heldt's wife Marcie said this summer. They've know each other since high school and married after he returned from his tour. They share a house with three active young children ages 2 to 5 and a 13-year-old.

Everything in their lives revolves around PTSD, from what they eat to where they go to how they fall asleep. Loud sounds, food smells, a napkin left on a floor, a teenager walking into the house wearing headphones - all could set off the anger, which may be followed by days or weeks without talking.

He didn't want to be around people. He shut down. Decisions on social events had to include how many people might be there. Even when he was happy, his family would be tense not knowing when he would explode next. It was like walking on eggshells all the time, Marcie said. Even going to sleep meant an entire production of having things just right.
read more here

Veteran Charged With Crime of Getting Upset at the VA?

You just can't make this stuff up anymore when the truth is so much stranger than fiction.
Vet's conviction upheld for "loud and boisterous" conduct at Palo Alto VA hospital
Inside Bay Area.com
By Howard Mintz
POSTED: 11/21/2014

A Bay Area veteran has lost an unusual legal challenge to a seldom-used federal law that criminalizes "loud, boisterous and unusual noise" at Veterans Affairs facilities.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld Louis Agront Sr.'s 2013 conviction for disruptive conduct at the Palo Alto VA hospital, rejecting his lawyers' arguments that the law applied to the incident is so vague that it is unconstitutional.

"One may reasonably question the wisdom or necessity of the citation and of the prosecution that followed," 9th Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "But Agront has not shown it was unconstitutional."

The ruling stems from a 2011 confrontation at the Palo Alto VA hospital, where Agront's family brought him for treatment. The family, court papers say, told Agront he was being treated for an injured knee, but they actually wanted the hospital to examine him for "unusual behavior" and a sudden weight loss.

Once Agront consulted with VA staffers about his treatment, he grew upset and stormed out of the hospital, leading to a loud confrontation with his son outside, according to court records. A VA police officer tried to calm Agront, but he resisted and was arrested.

Federal prosecutors charged Agront with a misdemeanor for violating the VA "unusual noise" statute. He was sentenced to six months probation and a $50 fine, but a federal public defender challenged the constitutionality of the law.
read more here

Congress blaming the VA is like horse blaming the ground

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 22, 2014

You should get some Imodium before reading this. It has got to be the biggest load of crap I've ever heard! It comes from MedPageToday titled "Senate to VA: Save Our Suicidal Veterans" as if Congress had absolutely nothing to do with the processions of needlessly filled coffins for the last 40 years. Doesn't everyone get it is the job of our elected officials to actually earn their pay and benefits?
For Congress to blame the VA it is like a horse blaming the ground for the mess it left behind.

The list of members of the House and the Senate sitting on the Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Committees are responsible for all of this clusterfuck!

Sorry but I read a long time ago that profanity was a great stress relief and in the words of Ouiser Boudreaux "I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for the last 40 years!" but in my case, it has just been 30+ years.

One More Hearing

On Wednesday, the Committee on Veterans Affairs questioned directors of mental health and suicide prevention services at the VA about efforts to improve the quality and timeliness of mental health care.

During the hearing, senators criticized the VA for long wait times, limited access to mental health resources, and poor tracking of returning soldiers, particularly those diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Burr said VA officials had earlier told the Senate of its efforts to provide evidence-based care, but Burr said a review of VA outcomes raised serious questions about the validity of such care.

He cited an American Legion survey of around 3,100 veterans, the majority of whom felt that their symptoms were either not improving or worsening after psychotherapy or medication that was prescribe by the VA.

"If more than half of our nation's veterans don't think they're getting better, I believe the focus on whether evidence-based treatment is provided might be misguided."

They can have all the hearings they want but that in no way, shape or form, indicates they are actually listening or even understanding what people have been telling them for decades.

This was followed by even more bullshit!
More Problems Than Solutions

Kudler described a joint suicide data repository developed by the VA and the Department of Defense to track patterns of suicide among veterans and service members. He said that data could be used to identify and replicate the most effective suicide prevention programs.

Ritchie added, "If you come from working at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay or the detainment facilities in Bagram you don't necessarily get a whole lot of pats on the back, and we need to recognize that type of service as well."

Vincent Vanata, a retired master sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps and Combat Stress Recover Program participant with the Wounded Warrior Project from Cody, Wyo., said the VA's problem is a lack of outreach. "From my perspective the VA is not engaging with these returning veterans and letting them know what's available," he said.

If they don't actually understand what the fuck has been happening any more than they get how long it has been going on, then they need to decline the invitation to sit in the chair!

The problem is not lack of outreach. It is lack of getting what they needed to be prepared for the increase in wounded/disabled when troops were sent into Afghanistan and Iraq while there was already a waiting line at the VA of Gulf War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, WWII Veterans and remaining WWI Veterans! You know, the veterans sent into combat without the VA being ready for them either.

How do I know about the long lines? I saw it first hand with my Dad, a 100% disabled veteran and my husband another 100% disabled veteran. In other words, I spent my life witnessing what veterans had to go through to have their claims approved as well as really great care once they did from fantastic employees for the most part. Most of the time I was scratching my head wondering why all veterans didn't get what they needed or why things weren't ready for them when they needed it. My Dad had to go to the DAV for help with his claim in the 70's and so did my husband in the 90's. We had to fight for 6 years before it was approved making sure we met all the deadlines.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee put their behinds in the chair in 1946.
Legislation Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Veterans' measures generally.
Pensions of all the wars of the U.S., general and special.
Life insurance issued by the government on account of service in the Armed Forces.
Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans.
Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.
Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief.
Readjustment of servicemen to civilian life.
National Cemeteries.
Complete Jurisdiction of the Committee

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has been holding hearings as well as the House.
The Veterans' Affairs committee was created in 1970 to transfer responsibilities for veterans from the Finance and Labor committees to a single panel. From 1947 to 1970, matters relating to veterans compensation and veterans generally were referred to the Committee on Finance, while matters relating to the vocational rehabilitation, education, medical care, civil relief, and civilian readjustment of veterans were referred to the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.

To this day there have been members of Congress using the term of "public welfare" as a way of cutting the VA budgets and not having to acknowledge that in the case of veterans, they paid for it when they signed over the blank check up to and including their lives.

They got away with it because we have reporters with the national media more interested in the headline than the history behind it. I don't talk to them anymore when they call to make their lives easier. They never understand there is a long history of politicians getting away with pretending they care when the results prove they don't have the slightest interest in fixing anything.

Veterans groups have a totally different conversation going on than the public does because we don't rely on the press to tell us anything. We live it! We lament over funerals while they play political games pitting one group against another. Veterans risked their lives for each other no matter what party they belonged to so if one of them has been betrayed, they all feel it.

Civilians talk about celebrity news and reality TV shows. We talk about heroes and the reality of living as a veteran every day of the year while they turn Veterans Day into a pre-Christmas sales day. They don't understand that they actually sold out veterans a long time ago.

Unless they know someone in the military they can't even show up for the parade unless it happens to be covered on TV like in New York.

"That they receive the recognition and support they so richly deserve on this 95th anniversary of the Veterans Day Parade."

The VA has had problems for decades but no one in any of the congresses fixed the problems. They just spent money without knowing what was needed, what would work and then turned around awarding money to repeat the same mistakes. Year after year, family members sat in front of them telling their heartbreaking stories and year after year, they were followed by more and more families telling the same stories over and over again. Nothing has been fixed.

We have less than 4 million veterans compensated for disabilities yet more deserve it. They don't for help simply because they have heard all the horror stories and battles they have to fight to get what they earned fighting for the country while in their uniforms. First the DOD failed them then the VA was blamed for failing but the fault belonged to members of congress with the responsibility to ensure both lived up to their promises.

Watch the parade. Hear the words. Hear them talking about the new groups as if they were the only generation fighting for what they need. Millions a year collected to do what the DOD and the VA have been delivering for decades to all veterans and other groups fighting for all veterans equally because they know how long all of this have been going on. Veterans didn't fight for themselves in combat and they fight for each other afterwards.

While the OEF and OIF veterans get the attention of the press, older veterans have suffered longer waiting for the same care and attention the new veterans receive. Why? Why the hell should one group matter while other groups don't anymore?

Who decided to forget about Gulf War Veterans? Who decided to forget about Vietnam Veterans? Who decided to forget about Korean War, WWII and the lesser publicized battles fought by the men and women who came before?

Most of the established groups have been fighting for decades while they told members of congress exactly what was going on yet over and over again members of congress decided they had other placers to be so they walked out of the hearings that got them attention. Watch CSPAN videos and you'll see empty chairs.

We see them get up and leave. We see empty chairs at our tables when our veterans get up and leave their lives before they had to. We see the tears, trembling bodies and screams in the night. We see the hope vanish from their days as one day gets harder than easier. When one day it is harder to stay alive here than it was to fight the battles on foreign lands.

If you think losing more after combat than during it is a new thing, then think again because the majority of the veteran suicides are 50 and over.

We didn't get it right for them and we won't get it right for the newer veterans getting the attention today because Congress didn't get it right yesterday.

Veterans Equal Access Act Will Allow PTSD Veterans Medical Marijuana

While I cannot offer names of mental health professionals treating veterans with PTSD, most I know say they would rather write prescriptions for medical marijuana than most of the drugs they are giving their patients. Even if it is legal in the state where these veterans live, the VA doctors cannot prescribe it.

This is a good idea when other medications have failed miserably. In this case some members of congress got it right.
"Veterans Equal Access Act" would allow VA physicians to discuss medical marijuana with their patients without federal censure
Washington, DC – (ENEWSPF)
November 20, 2014

U.S. House Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with ten bipartisan Congressional cosponsors introduced the "Veterans Equal Access Act" (VEAA) today, marking a concerted federal effort to allow our country's veterans to become medical marijuana patients in states where it's legal. The VEAA would simply allow Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to their patients, a right enjoyed by physicians outside of the VA system.

"Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside," said Blumenauer, the bill's author. "Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran's family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It's shameful."

The VEAA is cosponsored by a balanced mix of ten members on each side of the aisle, as well as a range of members from states that have, and still have not, legalized marijuana for medical use: Dina Titus (D-NV), Justin Amash (R-MI), Paul Broun (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).
read more here

Problem Solvers Reporters Straighten Out VA for Vietnam Veteran

Vietnam veteran struggles to get transportation for medical care; Problem Solvers step in to help
Jamil Donith
Nov 21, 2014

WAGONER, Okla. - David Breman was just 17-years-old when he pre-in listed in the Marine Corps, and 37-years later he is still haunted by his past.

"I live with it, and I have lived with it a long time."

Three of his comrades were killed by the very bombs the U.S. used during the Vietnam War to destroy unwanted military equipment and the harmful chemical, Agent Orange.

Breman says he was off duty that day.

"I lost three, you know, and there are a lot of times I feel like that should have been me," he said.

Not only does the Vietnam Veteran live with post-traumatic stress disorder, doctors say he suffers severe pain from his exposure to Agent Orange.

"I get pressure in my head and it feels like it's going to explode," he said. "Terrible, terrible, ringing in my ears. Nothing relieves the pain."

To make it worse, he struggles to get medical treatment for his condition.

So he came to the 2NEWS Problem Solvers.

We took his complaints to the VA and asked them to look into his problem further. Just a month later, he got a call from a patient advocate at the VA. They set up an appointment on a day when he could get a ride and promised to take care of his transportation after his surgery.

"Twelve months and you all did it in a month," he said. "I'm really, really, appreciative, very, very, and thankful for the help."
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Family of Iraq Veteran-National Guardsman Seeks Probe After Police Shooting

We need to read what happened first on this story.
The police officers had responded to Reynoso’s home after reports that he had been screaming and acting strangely, and yelling “[expletive] kill people.’’ A mail carrier told the officers that Reynoso might have post-traumatic stress disorder. He had served in the US Army National Guard for eight years, including a tour in Iraq.

After the officers entered his home, Reynoso reportedly managed to grab Bernard’s gun from his holster and put it at Bernard’s head. He fired two shots during the ensuing struggle, barely missing the officers, according to Blodgett’s review.

Hilton warned both Reynoso and Bernard five times that he was going to shoot before he pulled the trigger, Blodgett’s report said.

Blodgett found that Reynoso was able to gain control of the gun because Bernard’s holster was “somewhat worn” and missing a screw, which permitted the gun to be “easily removed with all safety devices engaged.”

Reynoso’s 5-year-old son was in the living room during the confrontation.

Family of veteran killed by Lynn police seeks federal probe
Boston Globe
Milton J Valencia
Globe Staff
November 22, 2014

The family of an Iraq war veteran from Lynn who was shot and killed by a police officer last year asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the controversial shooting a day after Governor Deval Patrick honored the officer for bravery.

The sister of Denis Reynoso asked the federal agency’s civil rights division to independently review the circumstances of how the 30-year-old father was killed, after a bystander had alerted police officers that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yessenia Reynoso said her family was appalled by the governor’s decision to recognize the officer who shot her brother, and two other responding officers.

“They made our family relive the whole thing,” she said of Wednesday’s ceremony. “You deserve an award when you save lives, not when you kill.”

In the complaint filed Thursday, Yessenia Reynoso wrote: “The actions leading to his death seem to be caused by the lack of education and understanding by officers of the law and mentally ill.”
read more here

Military veteran killed in Lynn after police shoot him in altercation

National Guardsman dies after police shoot him in altercation in Lynn

PTSD on Trial: Oklahoma Iraq Veteran Marine

A woman was attacked and a veteran faces multiple charges. He didn't get the help he needed to heal so now PTSD goes on trial yet again.

Too many will find this story and think about what happened in this case, however, veterans are far more likely to harm themselves than someone else. There are over 22 million veterans in this country but while the vast majority of them do not make the news, the few committing crimes do. Guess no one really cares about veterans with PTSD healing and helping others, which happens most of the time.

In this case, no one seems to be saying he needs to be let off the hook. He does need to be treated the same way other people with mental illness do but time and time again, they go without treatment.

This is a sad indictment of a system where a young man joins the military to risk his life for others yet ends up being charged for crimes against someone else.

If you want to know who is responsible for all of this, there is a very long line beginning with the military failing them, the congress not doing their jobs, all the Presidents with the title of Commander-In-Chief and every citizen unwilling to take the time to care about any of this.
Family says former Marine facing serious criminal charges suffering in county jail
KOKM News Oklahoma
By: Phil Cross
Investigative Reporter
Posted: Nov 20, 2014
The family of a former Marine says he is facing a tortuous stay in a county jail because the court won't allow him the treatment he needs to face the serious charges against him.

Brian Fletcher is facing more than a dozen felony charges in Seminole County. The case against him is proceeding in court, but his parents say their plea is not to get him out of trouble; instead they say he needs treatment in order to face the charges against him.

“That's all we're asking is get him treatment and then deal with this other stuff after he gets where he can live a normal life,” Cary Fletcher, Brian's father told Fox 25.

Cary said his son joined the Marines after his 21st birthday. It was something he had wanted to do since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. His first deployment sent him to one of the most dangerous battlefields of the Iraq war.

“He was in the ‘Triangle of Death,' they call it,” Fletcher said noting it was months before they heard any word their son was safe in Iraq, “When we finally heard from him he was very distraught from what he had to do.”

After his tour was over, Brian Fletcher returned to his home in Oklahoma, but his family says it was clear he wasn't the same. “You could see that he was broken, he wasn't the Brian that he used to be,” Karen Fletcher recalled.

Fletcher sought treatment for Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, but was unable to keep all the appointments because of his work. “He wanted to support his family,” Karen said, “When you're a Marine…they tell you don't complain.”

“It got to the point where they were having to bring him home from work because he was going into panic attacks, having blackout attacks,” Cary said.
read more here

Veteran Facing Eviction Robbed Bank To Get Help

Homeless veteran accused of bank robbery wanted to go to jail; now getting help
Brian Entin
Nov 20, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Steven Bynes says he finally has hope.

Walking out of the VA Hospital in West Palm Beach, he isn't worried about getting evicted, going hungry, and having no medicine.

One week ago, it was a very different story.

Bynes says he walked into the Bank United on Okeechobee Boulevard and gave an employee a note demanding money.

Then he sat down and waited to get arrested.

"I figured that it would be simple...give them the note and they would put me in the backseat and take me to jail," Bynes said.

He says that was his plan for weeks.

"It was mainly about my health. I am trying to stay alive. At least in jail, I would be alive. But on the streets...I wouldn't have made it six months," Bynes said.
read more here

Forest Ranger Steps Up For Homeless Veteran With Puppies

Forest ranger helps homeless veteran caring for litter of puppies
FOX 43
NOVEMBER 20, 2014

A litter of German Shepard puppies owned by a homeless veteran and his wife were all staying in a tent in Perry County, until Tuscarora state forest ranger Steve Shaffer came by to check in on them.

Shaffer’s colleague Stephen Wacker, who is an assistant forest manager, said Shaffer “wanted to find out what the situation was and if they needed some help and obviously the change in the weather was pretty significant and a factor for them.”

With temperatures declining by the day Shaffer decided to post a Facebook message asking for help, which got more than six thousand shares. “Facebook does sort of take a life of its own. You get a story that resonates with people and gets shared and spreads around the world literally in minutes and in this case it did that very well,” said Wacker.

read more here

Only 13% of Civilian Therapist Trearing PTSD Understand Military Culture

Rand: Civilian mental health providers don't 'get' the military
Army Times
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
November 21, 2014
An Army psychiatrist listens as a soldier explains a problem. A new study of civilian mental health care providers suggests many of them lack the awareness of military culture necessary to help patients in uniform and their families.
(Photo: Army)

A new survey by an influential think tank finds that civilian mental health care specialists sorely lack an understanding of military culture and appropriate treatments for service-related health care needs.

A Rand Corp. survey of 522 psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers found that just 13 percent met the study's criteria for "cultural competency," meaning they understood military mores, language and background, and delivered appropriate care for illnesses unique to the military, such as combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The results are important, Rand researcher Terri Tanielian said, because insensitivity and unfamiliarity with proven treatments may keep troops and veterans from getting quality psychiatric care.

"These findings suggest that when service members, veterans or family members seek care from providers not affiliated with the Defense Department or Veterans Affairs, they may encounter providers who are not as well prepared to deliver culturally sensitive care," Tanielian and the other authors wrote.
read more here

US Navy: Suicides Higher Than Last Year

Here's a thought. Since suicides went up afterwards, it may be a better idea to actually discover why they are still committing suicide instead of trying to remove one means of doing it. OMG! Will they ever get it? It doesn't matter if they have access to guns or not. If they have lost so much hope they want to die, they will just find another way. The DOD and the VA need to do something to help them heal and know why so many don't.

The truth is, most veterans heal and then do whatever they can to help others. Why doesn't the Navy start to look at how they do it so they won't have to come up with excuses?

The article claims that "resiliency training" started 2 years ago. Hmm, that may be news to everyone else since this all started back in 2009 which was predicted to increase suicides and then experts came out and said without a doubt it was a bad move.

They were all right since suicides did go up after every branch started to "address it" without knowing they were all using the wrong address.
Navy: Store Guns of Sailors at Risk of Suicide
The Virginian-Pilot
by Corinne Reilly
Nov 21, 2014
Two years ago, the service created a task force charged with building sailors' resiliency, which research has linked to decreased suicide risk.

Still, suicide deaths have increased, from 41 among active duty sailors last year to 46 so far in 2014.

In hopes of stemming suicides, the Navy this week formally advised commanders to ask sailors thought to be at risk of harming themselves to voluntarily turn over personal firearms for temporary safekeeping.

The Navy stressed that no one will be required to give up a personal weapon, and the guidance shouldn't be seen as an attempt to infringe on sailors' rights.

Rather, officials said, the advice is a common-sense response to a three-year trend: More than half of Navy suicides involve guns.

The guidance follows an October report by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. It found that across the military from 2010-2012, firearms were the leading method of suicide in the United States and in combat zones, but that they accounted for only 5.4 percent of suicides among those stationed in Europe and Asia, where access to guns is more limited.

"Reducing access to lethal means has been proven to save lives," Capt. Mike Smith, head of the Navy Suicide Prevention Branch, said in a statement. "Just as a person should be willing to turn over the car keys when not fit to drive, one should be willing to turn over their firearm for safekeeping until he or she feels fit again."
read more here

Montford Point Marine Charles C. Payne Passed Away

Local Montford Point Marine dies at age 89
Times and Democrat
November 21, 2014

Charles C. Payne of Orangeburg was a quiet warrior of sorts, having served from 1942 to 1949 as one of the first African-Americans to enter the U.S. Marine Corps and then as a faithful mentor at a local elementary school.

The 89-year-old died at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia on Tuesday, leaving a legacy of which his community can be proud.

Payne served at Montford Point Camp, a segregated camp affiliated with Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was one of approximately 37 Montford Point Marines who gathered at the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington on Aug. 26, 2011, for a recognition program honoring the first African-Americans in the Marine Corps.

He went on in 2012 to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his World War II service.

Payne served as chaplain of the Greater Orangeburg Leathernecks No. 1259 Marine Corps League.
read more here

Friday, November 21, 2014

Marine with robotic leg braces to receive a Bronze Star

Marine With Robotic Leg Braces to Get Bronze Star
Associated Press SAN DIEGO
Nov 21, 2014

Capt. Derek Herrera wanted to remain on active duty after a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan left him paralyzed two years ago.

Now he plans to retire from the Marine Corps, but not before walking across a stage with robotic leg braces to receive a Bronze Star.

Herrera will be honored Friday at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, in a ceremony that will also mark his medical retirement after 8½ years in the military.

Herrera has vowed to retire while standing, like he did when he joined the Marine Corps.

"I could easily go and roll up in my wheelchair. But for me it's a mental and emotional goal that I set for myself: to stand up and walk out of the Marine Corps," said Herrera, who was the first American to purchase the ReWalk system recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The special operations officer is being honored with the Bronze Star for his actions on June 14, 2012, when the patrol he was leading came under heavy fire in Afghanistan. Herrera continued coordinating efforts while receiving treatment for his own spinal injury and collapsed left lung.

"The bravery and fortitude he displayed inspired his men to heroic feats as they valiantly fought to save the lives of their wounded team members and repel the enemy assault," wrote Maj. Gen. M.A. Clark in recommending Herrera be recognized with a Bronze Star.
read more here

Camp Pendleton Navy Corpsman To Be Awarded Navy Cross

Camp Pendleton Navy Corpsman To Be Awarded Navy Cross
By Beth Ford Roth
November 20, 2014

Navy Chief Petty Officer Justin Wilson

The commanding general of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) will award Navy Chief Petty Officer Justin Wilson the Navy Cross at a Camp Pendleton ceremony on Nov. 25.

The Military Times reports Wilson, 36, works as a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman assigned to MARSOC's 1st Marine Special Operation Battalion, which is based at Camp Pendleton.

Wilson was on his third deployment to Afghanistan, according to the Navy Cross citation, when, along with several members of Marine Special Operations Team 8113, he was injured by an explosion on Sept. 28, 2011.
read more here

Stop Passing Veterans Bills and BS!

I've gotten into a lot of conversations lately because of slamming congress over their veterans bills. Some want to pretend that congress should keep spending money because our veterans are worth every dime but in the process, it never seems to occur to enough folks that in this case, wasting money is also wasting their lives. What good does it do to continue to spend money when the results are worse than doing nothing?

I don't know about you, but our veterans deserve a congress that actually works to understand that issues and not just keep spending money on what has failed.

Sure it makes for a good soundbite on the nightly news to say they have yet another bill in response to yet another hearing for yet one more tragic tale of a veteran suffering instead of healing. Sure it all sounds good to have grieving parents sit in front of elected officials as if none of them had ever heard anything like it before but the truth is, we know the difference.

If you are new to Wounded Times, here's a little bit of background on what has been going on.

First the VA never had an appropriate budget. Not just during these wars, but from all wars going all the way back to the beginning. When veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq were coming home there was already a line of Gulf War veterans, behind Vietnam veterans, behind Korean War Veterans, behind WWII veterans the dwindling WWI veterans.

In 2006 Congress was pushing the Bush Administration to increase the VA budget, 5 years after sending troops into Afghanistan, because nothing was prepared for the wounded coming home or any other veteran already standing in line.

This is what they were up against.

Although the Bush administration expects the backlog to continue rising, its 2007 budget proposal calls for decreasing the staff that directly handles such cases - 149 fewer workers, from the current year's 6,574.

The VA has long wanted to reduce its backlog to less than 250,000 claims. But the department's most recent projections have it rising to nearly 400,000 by the end of 2007.

In addition, the average time to process claims, which the VA had said would drop to 145 days, or 125 days, or even 100 days, is projected to increase this year and next, to more than 180 days.

Nothing really new to veterans but what was new was that they also knew Marines were going hungry in Iraq. Just didn't fit in with the narrative of "support the troops" claim, so most folks ignored it.

The Providence Journal didn't ignore it.
The Iraq war has been the war fought on the cheap _ not enough body armor, not enough armor on vehicles, not enough night vision equipment.It has been the war in which packages from back home have had to fill some crucial needs.Now, we have chow call at the Greenwood Credit Union in Warwick, R.I. It's the latest in home-front intervention. It's partially in response to the unthinkable image of U.S. Marines approaching Iraqi citizens and asking for food because they do not have enough.

Bad enough but it was a lot worse than most folks thought. There was a nasty little trick being played other than stop-loss keeping troops deployed longer than they were supposed to be. They were redeploying troops already diagnosed with PTSD and sent back.

November 2007, 7 years ago, there was a battle going on in Washington. A battle for our veterans and promises to hold Congress accountable for what they failed to do. VoteVets put out a press release. Their link isn't working anymore so they may have forgotten all about this.
The largest political group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans today reacted angrily to news that the House of Representatives failed to get the 2/3 vote needed to override President Bush's veto of spending for military veterans.

"It is unconscionable, with estimates of problems veterans face getting worse every day that so many in Congress would fail to stand up to this President on behalf of our nation's veterans," said Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org.

People were upset. At least the people paying attention to all of this long past being appalled by what was going on. A veteran in Albany was talking about having a box full of medals and a head full of horrors
Albany -- The U.S. House could vote on an Iraq war-spending bill as soon as tomorrow. It would finance another four months of combat, at $50 billion.

As this war approaches its 5th year, thousands of veterans are back home, and now facing a different battle.

When Joseph Drennen talks about his service in the National Guard, he doesn't speak of it as though it were a burden, but more of an honor. "I got an opportunity in December of 2003 to be redeployed with Alpha company 115 signal battalion as a medic."

While deployed to Iraq, his knee was injured when his team was fired upon. He returned after 10 months in Iraq, but he brought home much more than a knee injury.

"I have a box here that I keep all my medals, ribbons and all that and that's what the American public sees."

But Drennen says there are invisible wounds that veterans like himself carry around. "What they don't see are the sleepless nights, the drugs we have to take to keep us functioning on a daily basis, the trauma that we go through. The nightmares, the flashbacks, the problems we have just getting by day to day."

By December came more testimonies from broken hearted parents. Tim Bowman's parents hoped the loss of their son would cause the congress to do something about saving others.
Mike and Kim Bowman are on the first of six panels of witnesses who were scheduled to testify at the hearing, which will focus on suicide prevention and treatment within the VA health care system.

Two authors of books about post-traumatic stress disorder also will testify, as will veterans’ advocates from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion and Disabled Veterans of America. After the testimony from other panelists, including officials from the VA’s Veterans Health Administration and inspector general’s office, the authors and veterans service organizations’ representatives will return to share their reflections on that testimony.

According to the committee, the Veterans Health Administration estimates there are about 1,000 suicides per year among veterans receiving care through VHA, and as many as 5,000 suicides per year among all living veterans.

Oh,yes but then Congress did something about all of this going on. More money, more promises and this is what they did.
By a vote of 409-4 the House today passed legislation funding the Department of Veterans Affairs for FY 2009. The bill (HR 6599) includes $3.8 billion for mental illness treatment and $584 million for substance abuse treatment in the VA, significant increases over current year funding. Overall, the Veterans Health Administration budget is set at $40.8 billion for FY 2009 -- $1.6 billion more than the President requested and $3.9 billion more than current levels. It is projected that the VA will serve 5.8 million veterans in 2009.

For homeless veterans, HR 6599 allocates $130 million for the homeless grants and per diem program, rejecting a proposal from the Bush Administration to cut the program by $8 million. This allocation also includes $32 million to hire additional personnel as part of the joint HUD-VA "VASH" program for veterans supportive housing. A separate bill funding the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriates an additional $75 million at HUD for rent subsidies, i.e. the housing side of this joint program.

The bill also includes $500 million for medical research at the VA, $38 million more than the President requested and $20 million more than was allocated in FY 2008.
If you don't read Wounded Times, I only track news reports and some of the links to the original stories are gone now, but mine are still up so use the links and then you can see where the original story came from at least.

Maybe it is a good time to take a look at the years and other parents who had to travel to Washington hoping that their story, their loss would make a difference. Really easy to find them considering that there are twice as many veterans committing suicide than the civilian population but all the press wants to talk about is the 22 a day, taken from 21 states as an average, when they bother to talk about any of this at all.

Private First Class Jason Scheuerman nailed a suicide note to his barracks closet in Iraq, stepped inside and shot himself. What the soldier's father, Chris, would learn about his son's final days would lead the retired Special Forces commando, who teaches at Fort Bragg, to take on the very institution he's spent his life serving — and ultimately prompt an investigation by the Army Inspector General's office.

Chris Dana came home from the war in Iraq in 2005 and slipped into a mental abyss so quietly that neither his family nor the Montana Army National Guard noticed.

He returned to his former life: a job at a Target store, nights in a trailer across the road from his father's house.

When he started to isolate himself, missing family events and football games, his father urged him to get counseling. When the National Guard called his father to say that he'd missed weekend duty, Gary Dana pushed his son to get in touch with his unit.

''I can't go back. I can't do it,'' Chris Dana responded.

Things went downhill from there. He blew through all his money, and last March 4, he shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. He was 23 years old.

As Gary Dana was collecting his dead son's belongings, he found a letter indicating that the National Guard was discharging his son under what are known as other-than-honorable conditions. The move was due to his skipping drills, which his family said was brought on by the mental strain of his service in Iraq.

The letter was in the trash, near a Wal-Mart receipt for .22-caliber rifle shells.

All across America, veterans such as Chris Dana are slipping through the cracks, left to languish by their military units and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
His story got so much attention that then Senator Obama, serving on the Veterans Affairs Committee went to meet with his step brother at the Montana National Guards.
Since Dana's death, his stepbrother Matt Kuntz has campaigned for more awareness of the costs of untreated post-traumatic stress syndrome in Iraq war veterans.

Wednesday, he was invited to meet with Sen. Barack Obama to share the message he's been spreading statewide for more than a year. At a quiet picnic table at Riverfront Park, Obama sat across from Kuntz, his wife, Sandy, and their infant daughter, Fiona.

But it isn't just "elected in Washington" addressing all this. State by state they have been doing the same thing.
For two years, Edward Robinson was stationed at a Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Va., helping treat wounded troops returning from battle in Iraq. The experience was so emotionally taxing that when Robinson moved home to Annapolis in 2006, his life started unraveling.

Robinson tried to kill himself four times, he said in emotional testimony before a panel of Maryland legislators yesterday. The 35-year-old told lawmakers that he was hospitalized five times, and his mental illnesses grew so bad that his wife recently left him.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has proposed legislation to close gaps in federal care for returning service members. The measures would establish a $3.5 million pilot program to help veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the federal system to obtain care for mental and behavioral health problems.

That was in 2008. My intention when I sat down to do this was to put up stories of the rest of the family members telling members of congress what happened to their veteran and why their heart ripped out caused them to do whatever they had to in order to prevent another family from suffering as well. The problem was when I started to review more and more of their stories, I was having a hard time seeing. Between tears and fury, there just doesn't seem to be a point in doing that since congress won't even review what CSPAN has recorded for history with all the other hearings. It isn't just the VA committees in the act but members of the Armed Services committees as well. They get to talk, pretend to care but not a single one of them have the balls to admit they absolutely suck at what they are getting paid to do.

It is their job to fix what is wrong and hold people accountable for screwing it up in the first place after taking taxpayer money to do a job they failed.

So no, they don't get a pass and this is why they do not deserve any kind of trust from any of us because we see graves filled as more and more parents/family members take chairs in front of congress trying to keep some graves empty. The trouble is, when you see the videos on CSPAN, you'll notice how many of the chairs are empty where elected officials are supposed to be.