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Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taking a Break

I am going away for a mini-vacation. There will be few posts, if any, until October 21. After posting 7 days a week for years, I need this break!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Veteran Suicide "Prevention Bill" After Another Suicide

We Must Improve Anti-Suicide and Mental Health Care Programs at the VA
Huffington Post
Rep. John K. Delaney
U.S. Representative for Maryland's 6th Congressional District
Posted: 10/14/2014

America's men and women in uniform bravely defend our nation and our values. Their skill, dedication and valor are the envy of the world. When their time in uniform is over, they are entitled to world-class health care, a benefit they've earned and that their country is grateful to provide for them. We have to improve Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) services: wait times are too long, veterans don't have enough options and benefits paperwork takes too long to process, especially for veterans in Maryland that use the Baltimore VA. The bipartisan VA reform bill that was signed into law this summer is a good start -- providing more funding, more flexibility and more accountability -- but we still have work to do.

One of the most critical areas of need is improving our suicide prevention efforts. According to a study conducted by the VA, on average, 22 veterans a day commit suicide. That's one tragedy every 65 minutes and according to analysis done by CNN, that number could be even higher. This is an area where the American people are clearly united that we have to do more. To improve mental health care services for veterans and improve VA programs, Congress should pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act as soon as possible.

The legislation is named for an exceptional young man whose story deserves to be told. Clay Hunt was the kind of individual that has made America a great country. In 2005, when his country needed him, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Shot in Iraq, he earned a Purple Heart and after he recuperated, he graduated from Marine Corps Scout Sniper School and was deployed to Afghanistan. After leaving the military in 2009, he became an advocate for veterans and worked with Team Rubicon, a humanitarian aid organization.

However, Clay also struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and survivor's guilt as he transitioned to civilian life. He lost friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan and witnessed fellow soldiers being killed. But Clay received a low PTSD disability rating (30 percent) from the VA and struggled to receive adequate counseling and care. He had to wait months to see a psychiatrist and the bulk of his counseling was related to medications he was prescribed. Clay attempted to appeal his PTSD rating and dealt with the VA misplacing his paperwork. In 2011, Clay took his own life.
read more here
I had to leave this comment. Just totally fed up!
How many more years? How many more Bills? How much more money are you guys willing to allow before Congress finally gets this right? No one has been held accountable for any of this after all these years.

There are no new lessons to be learned especially when Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is still being funded and pushed no matter how suicides have increased.

The DOD can claim suicides are down in the military but they can't claim it without telling folks the number of enlisted personnel has also gone down. They cannot claim it is working when OEF and OIF veterans are still coming home after 5 years of CSF and killing themselves. They can't claim it works when families still blame themselves because no one told them what they needed to know leaving them to learn on their own when it is much too late to keep their veteran alive.


Clay Hunt deserved to still be alive and healing. So did the other 8,030 veterans ending their lives at home that year after surviving combat on foreign soil.

Australia: Increased number of PTSD veterans in prison

Concern post-traumatic stress leading to an increase in number of veterans in prison
ABC Australia
By Alex Mann
Updated about an hour ago

There are concerns post-traumatic stress among Australia's veterans is leading to an increase in the number of returned service people in prison.

One veterans' support group believes there could be as many 500 veterans in prisons across Australia.

But those figures are uncertain, as there is no agency keeping track of what happens to soldiers when they return home from war.

Beau King, 31, is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and was first on the scene when his friend Michael Lyddiard stepped on a mine.

"That was probably the biggest one for me," Mr King told the ABC's 7.30 program.

"That was literally the day that for me, [I thought] enough was enough.

"I couldn't physically take any more. I just ... that was it."

He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on his return to Australia, but did not seek any help.

Instead, he quit the army, returned to civilian life and his life spiralled out of control.
read more here

Oceanside shooting range where veteran put the gun to his head

When they ignored the veterans of Vietnam, no one cared.
It was easier to dismiss their pain than to explain why nothing was prepared.
When they walked the streets searching for a place to lay their head
it was easier to pretend to care when they were dead.
When they ignored the veterans of the Gulf War, no one cared.
It was easier to dismiss their pain than to explain why nothing was prepared.
When they walked the streets searching for a place to lay their head
it was easier to pretend to care when they were dead.
When we ignored the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, no one cared.
It was easier to dismiss their pain than to explain why nothing was prepared.
When they walked the streets searching for a place to lay their head
it was easier to pretend to care when they were dead.

We had decades to get this right but hey, it's a lot easier to pretend to care than to actually do something real. Make a stinking fuss over backlog of claims and some veterans dying waiting for appointments, then you get to walk away feeling oh so funking proud of "doing something" for the veterans you claim to care about.

Face it. When there are reports on suicides, everyone wants to read them but no one seems to be honest enough to say why they want to. Why does it piss me off? Because whenever someone has a chance to hear what can help, what can be done, people walk away. After all, then it would all be real and not just some story they read about a veteran in another part of the country.

When I had a chance to do something I did and so did a lot of other people but not enough. Most folks are too busy playing political games, taking sides as if one politician is any better than others when the truth is, we got what we deserved out of this jerks more interested in getting votes than earning them.

What good does it do to pay attention if you don't do anything with what you learn? What good does it do to support a charity when you don't have a clue what they do with the money and take no interest in making sure they actually do what they say they are doing?

There has never been a time when there has been more charities and more people claiming to be "addressing" the veterans needs. Congress has never spent so much money on "taking care of the veterans" and fixing the VA,,,,again. So why are we right back where we were when Vietnam veterans came home?

Nothing has changed! Nothing except there are more veterans committing suicide and more families grieving because no one cared enough to actually do something.
Did safety net fail suicidal Marine vet?
After multiple Iraq, Afghanistan tours, Jeremy Sears lost battle for benefits with the VA, then killed himself at Oceanside shooting range
UT San Diego
By Jeanette Steele
OCT. 14, 2014

Jeremy and Tami Sears— Facebook photo
Jeremy Sears is the kind of combat veteran that America desperately wants to help -- a Marine who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet the safety net designed to support returning troops seems to have failed in his case, according to his wife and veterans advocates.

After waiting 16 months in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs claims logjam, Sears was denied all disability payments and, untreated for trauma injuries and facing financial difficulties, took his own life.

The 35-year-old former Camp Pendleton infantryman killed himself last week, almost exactly two years after being discharged.

On Monday, Oct. 6, Sears went to an Oceanside shooting range and put the gun to his head.

Just days before, he first admitted to his wife that he might have “survivor’s guilt” -- sometimes seen as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
― Martin Niemöller

In the 90's when we were going through all of this we were told that for every 10 veterans putting in claims, 8 dropped out from frustration. They simply gave up. It took my husband's claim 6 years before it was finally approved. It happened to most veterans. Lives fall apart and it is easier to give up than to keep fighting even when you know you're right. Reporters didn't care about what was happening to them. They said it was "old news" and didn't matter.

History repeated itself and we let it happen. When do we actually write a new ending for these veterans after they come home?

Fort Bragg Soldier Returns From Afghanistan to Ransacked Home

FORT BRAGG SOLDIER'S HOME RANSACKED WHILE IN AFGHANISTAN
ABC 11 News
By Greg Barnes
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sgt. Ted Peplinski couldn't wait to get back home from Afghanistan. He returned last week, and when he walked back into his home he was sickened by what he saw.

"Everything was gone," said the 82nd Airborne Sgt. "My refrigerator, my washer, my dryer, stove, everything was missing."

Peplinski says every room was ransacked. What could be taken was.

"They entered my home, went through my stuff. I felt like it's a violation of my privacy, and then they came back and stole my car," he said, of his 2004 Ford Mustang that he had left parked in the driveway.

While he was in Afghanistan fighting terrorist, thieves back home cleaned him out. He says they literally took everything but the kitchen sink.

A neighbor, who kept his eye on the soldier's home, says he believes the thieves snuck in through a backyard privacy fence, and backed a trailer to the back door. Neighbor Aaron Willis says the crime has left him and other neighbors jumpy.
read more here

Storytelling Marine on FOX caught by This Ain't Hell

Former Marine Posing as Wounded Combat Veteran
Coral Spring Talk
By: Sharon Aron Baron
October 14, 2014

What started as a feel-good story about a wounded combat veteran and his service dog, turned out to be a pandora’s box of deceit as information was uncovered by military activists who found evidence that the veteran was lying about his service.

Coral Springs resident Jarrett Gimbl, claims that he was injured while on active duty overseas, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder while struggling with a traumatic brain injury.

Gimbl runs a Facebook page dedicated to Gunny, his service dog, which has over 12,000 followers. The story is that Gunny assisted him with the difficulty of adjusting to civilian life from his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The followers of the page are very involved with his story, offering him support and assistance.

After all, this was a man who sustained injuries while serving all of us.

It makes a fantastic story. Unfortunately, it is just that – a story.
When talking with Gimbl, I asked him what countries he served in and he refused to tell me. Then later in the conversation he said, “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan.” However, he would not disclose how or where he received his injuries. His Gunny-Service Dog Facebook page says that he was injured while on active duty. An article that was written about him in the New York Post also says that he was injured on duty in Iraq.

Jarrett Gimbl’s discharge papers tell another story entirely. His DD214 says Gimbl never served overseas.

After doing an online search, I spoke with Retired U.S. Army Infantry Platoon Sgt Jonn Lilyea who served in Desert Storm and is editor for This Ain’t Hell, a site that exposes military frauds. He provided me with discharge papers that he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Lilyeah said his readers became suspicious of Gimbl after seeing him on a segment on FOX News.

“A lot of my readers are standing in line at the VA,” said Lilyea. “People are revered now for their military service and people like him are taking advantage of that.”

read more here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Five Navy Warships Held In Philippine Port for Filipino Transgender Murder Investigation

Filipino transgender advocates call apparent killing a 'hate crime'
Navy ships being held in Philippine port as death investigation continues
Stars and Stripes
Seth Robson
October 14, 2014

Five Navy warships are being held in port in the Philippines while police investigate the killing of a Filipino transgender at Subic Bay.

The State Department said in an email Tuesday that a Marine, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., is a suspect in the death of Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer.

Laude, 26, was last seen entering the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City with a short-haired male foreigner, aged 25-30, around 10:55 p.m. on Saturday. Later, Laude’s naked body, partially covered with a blanket, was found in a bathroom at the hotel.

A State Department spokesperson said the suspect is being held onboard the USS Peleliu while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Philippine National Police investigate.

The Peleliu, USS Germantown, USNS Sacagawea, USNS Washington Chambers and the JHSV WestPac Express are staying in the Philippines, Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Col. Brad Bartelt said.
read more here

Veteran Marine Killed in Arkansas Tornado

Eddy Withem, Marine and Father of Three, Killed in Ashdown, Arkansas, Tornado
The Weather Channel
By Allie Goolrick
Published: Oct 14, 2014

Eddy Withem with his wife, Roxanne Oliver-Withem.
(Photo: Facebook/Eddy Withem)

An Arkansas Marine and father of three was killed early Monday morning after an EF2 tornado tore through Ashdown in the southwest corner of the state. Eddy Withem, 33, was killed when a twister hit his home around 5:30 a.m., KSLA reports. His wife, Roxanne Oliver-Withem, was critically injured.

Withem was in the home with his wife and their three children when the storm blew the couple outside, said Mike Seidel, meteorologist with The Weather Channel, as he reported from Ashdown.

Roxanne is in critical condition after having surgery at Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, Texas. The three children, ranging in age from seven to 13, sustained minor injuries and have been released to their grandparents.
read more here

Thank you to an Iraq war veteran, restored 65 Mustang

War veterans 1965 Mustang restored by strangers
BY WGN WEB DESK
OCTOBER 13, 2014

Some people in south suburban Houston had a surprising way to say thank you to an Iraq war veteran for his service.

Retired SSgt. Kelly Foster bought a 1965 Ford Mustang after his first tour in Iraq.

He’s been slowly paying to have the car restored little by little.

But when other people heard what he was doing, they took up a collection and had the rest of the work done.

The rest of the restoration cost about $20,000
go here for the rest of the story

Vietnam Veteran's Leg Stolen at NFL Game People Chased Theif

VETERAN'S STOLEN PROSTHETIC LEG FOUND ON SUBWAY TRAIN
ABC 6 News
Monday, October 13, 2014

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A stolen prosthetic leg, belonging to a well-known Philadelphia military veteran, has been found by SEPTA police on a subway train.

The victim is Sonny Forriest Jr., who is known for singing outside Eagles and Phillies games.

He says it was around 8:30 Sunday night in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field when a drunk woman in her 20's wearing Eagles gear ran up to him, jumped in his lap and broke his microphone.

She allegedly apologized and offered to pay for the microphone.

"She said, 'I will pay you for it.' I said, 'That's alright baby go ahead and have a good time,' and then she disappeared," said Forriest.

But, he says, the next thing he knew, she was cutting through cars with his prosthetic leg in hand.
read more here

Navy Marksmanship Team must pay for all expenses while representing the Navy?

Missing the mark: Top marksmen say Navy funding cut impairs team
Navy Times
By Meghann Myers
Staff writer
Oct. 12, 2014
Members of the Navy Marksmanship Team must pay for all expenses while representing the Navy, the result of budget cuts two years ago. Here, Chief Gunner's Mate Don Christenson fires his AR-15 rifle at a 2007 competition.
(MC3 Sean P. Lenahan / Navy)

Did you know the Navy has an official shooting team?

It does, but the team that’s been around since 1907 is in danger of falling apart after deep budget cuts two years ago, team members say. The Navy’s best marksmen foot the bill — amounting to thousands of dollars a year — for the lodging, transportation, fees, guns and ammo needed to represent the service at top competitions. And the cuts are making it hard to keep going, let alone recruit the next generation’s sharpshooters.

“We need equipment for the young shooters, to inspire them to get in the game,” said Senior Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EWS/SW/AW) David Walker. “Some of the old-timers are leaving, and who’s going to be next?”

Walker and some others can recall the time when their competitions and team expenses were wholly covered by the service, which stopped in 1977. But Naval Sea Systems Command still picked up some bills until two years ago, another team leader said.

“We have had some support, up until two years ago,” said Cmdr. Mick Glancey, the team’s officer-in-charge. “NAVSEA had been basically paying for weapons and maintenance, [but] they lost the funding to support the small-arms program, which paid for ammunition.”
read more here

Monday, October 13, 2014

Surge in PTSD Veterans Seeking Help at Fort Campbell

Counselors see surge of Fort Campbell war vets
The Leaf-Chronicle
Philip Grey
October 12, 2014

Clarksville’s SAFE harbor for soldiers, veterans and families experiencing its own surge

Soldiers, veterans and family members shared the songs they wrote recently during a healing songwriting retreat offered by Soldiers And Families Embraced, a Clarksville non-profit offering free counseling and retreats for anyone affected by war.
(Photo: LawrenceTaylor, SUBMITTED)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – With the military in drawdown-mode and combat deployments scaling back, a local nonprofit providing free counseling to former and current service members and their families is seeing a surge in clients.

“We aren’t positive what the cause of this surge in soldiers, veterans and their families seeking counseling is,” said the Rev. Jodi McCullah, executive director of SAFE (Soldiers and Families Embraced), “but we can guess. The cessation of back-to-back deployments and the drawdown have left too many soldiers and veterans with free time. No mission means time to reflect on pain, trauma, guilt and anger.

“For months, we have been seeing about 170 clients a week, but, last month, the number of active clients jumped to 220. We have averaged a dozen intake appointments a week all month, and, if this continues at this pace, our active client roster will reach 320 by end of the year, nearly doubling.”
read more here

Stop calling PTSD Veterans Victims and Worse

Here we go again! Treat veterans as if they are only interested in a monthly check and then we get to dismiss their suffering.

THEY ARE NOT VICTIMS! THEY ARE SURVIVORS!
The VA unwittingly scares PTSD victims
The News Journal
Marketta Davis and Rob Johnson
October 13, 2014

Doctors and mental health counselors face several frustrations in treating PTSD besides the malady itself, including government bureaucracy and the stigma surrounding the disease.
Doctors and mental health counselors say there are several effective treatments for the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagues military veterans, but a breakthrough to ease their fears about stepping forward to actually get therapy is elusive.

"I know I have had veterans ask us if they are at risk for losing their benefits if they undergo treatment," said Dr. Candace Drake, a psychologist at Pensacola's Joint Ambulatory Care Center, where hundreds of PTSD patients are treated. "And yes, I have to tell them, ethically."
read more of this stuff here
BULL! Ok, there are a few fakes interested in getting the paycheck and most of the time they are faking PTSD. You won't see this type going for treatment. Most don't go because they don't want to be doped and numbed out of their minds. They don't want to deal with the red tape of trying to have their claims approved. Those are the folks, almost half of the veterans needing help, not even trying to get it including filing a claim.

Then you have the folks doing all they can to make it day to day on this side of the earth instead of under it.

If you know any Vietnam veterans, they have been in treatment for decades. The goal for them is to keep from getting worse.

When we talk about healing it is a matter of making things less bad. Making sure that as PTSD spreads out into the nervous system and hearts, it does not take over. To show them how to calm down again, how to control their mood swings and reduce the power of nightmares and flashbacks.

We work on the spiritual part of them by helping them understand that their PTSD is different than what other people end up with. There is the trauma from the event that hits the psychological and the spiritual that hits their souls.

PTSD isn't one size fits all but some "experts" want to pretend it is all the same. It is far from it.

Great experts say that the nature of the trauma must be treated differently just as the cause came from different events.

If you ever wanted to understand why so many veterans are committing suicide it is because they have lost hope of healing. Plain, simple truth. The job of the therapist is to restore that hope, not slam the veterans.

Terrible Love "A bittersweet autopsy" of Combat PTSD and love

It doesn't have to end like this
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 13, 2014

First the good news. No relationship has to end just because they come home with PTSD. We've been married 30 years. The other good piece of news is, if I can learn what PTSD and the difference between what civilians get compared to what veterans end up with, anyone can. If I can learn what it is, why "he" has it but others didn't and what I can do to help him live a better life, anyone can.

All too often, it is not about how much we love them but more about what we are willing to do to make it work.

Terrible Love
About three years ago I received an odd phone call. His name is Christopher Thomas. He said he found my site while searching for information on PTSD. Christopher told me that while he never served, some of his friends did and he wanted to do something to help veterans. He wanted to tell their stories through their eyes. No Hollywood type looking to make a fast buck. This project meant something to him.

I put him to the test. I told him where he could find my videos. I told him to catch up and contact me with any questions he had. He did and he had plenty of them.

I still wasn't sure about him until I asked "What's your goal?" His answer was "To do whatever I can no matter what I have to do."

There were times over the years when the title of the movie was part of what he was going through, when it seemed as if this movie would never get made. He didn't give up. The script was done and redone. The done again. After that, it was a matter of finding the people. He just kept trying until he found the right actors, crew, places to film and people to lend a hand.

The day the movie was finished was not the end of the story. Much like the lives of our veterans when they come home. Their jobs while deployed are over. National Guardsmen take off their uniforms, go back to their families, friends and neighborhoods. Look forward to going back to work on their jobs, if they were lucky enough to still have one or start searching for a new one if not. The end of their service story is not done. It is never really finished. It becomes a part of them.

They can get lucky, have people surrounding them with a full understanding of what is going on with them even if they cannot feel it as well, or they can return to people pushing them away during a time when they need them the most.

Oh, it isn't always the fault of families or their friends. Most of the time it is a matter of no one told them anything they needed to understand to do anyone any good. They cared but they didn't know how to help. Now they may know just enough to change the conversation from what is wrong to what is right, what can heal and the reason they have PTSD.  They love.

They love the men and women they serve with to the point where they are prepared to die for their sake.  They love them enough to grieve so strongly it rips them apart but they push on those living on.

When people think about war, it is alway about the brutality of it forgetting about the strength of the human spirit.  Compassion and courage always pushed aside simply because they cannot understand where all that comes from. That is is that very basis within them that compels them to serve when they know they could die.  Some simply feel it all more strongly than  others and that means they feel the pain more strongly than others. Then it feels terrible to love.

Terrible Love is in the Austin Film Festival
"A bittersweet autopsy of mental illness and lost love, Terrible Love tells the story of Rufus, a wounded veteran returning home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his devoted wife Amy. They promised themselves never to leave each other, but that promise is put to the ultimate test when Rufus’ PTSD becomes violent. Terrible Love dives head first into the heart-breaking effects of PTSD, the relationships it hurts, and the lives it threatens."

One in three veterans come home with PTSD. Terrible Love tells the authentic story of the struggles, dangers and sacrifices of a life and a relationship threatened by PTSD. 

Here's our trailer, and if you're in Austin, come see the full film at the Austin Film Festival - October 23 and 26


Terrible Love - Trailer from Helmsman Studios on Vimeo.