Category Archives: The Kitchen Sink

Welcome to the utility drawer of my writings. Maybe I should’ve named it that. Anyway, if you are looking for purely military/veteran/defense/dependent stuff, you should by and large go back to the rest of the site.

Gov. Brown Creates California Interagency Council on Veterans

** Press release from Gov. Brown’s office issued 23 Aug. 2011.

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an Executive Order establishing the California Interagency Council on Veterans to improve how veterans’ services are coordinated across local, state and federal government.

“The California Interagency Council on Veterans gives everyone a seat at the table and ensures we’re working collaboratively to address the needs of the 30,000 servicemen and women who return to California each year,” Brown said. “We owe our veterans the best and when they come home, we must serve them the same way they so bravely served us.”

Governor Brown’s Executive Order directs the Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs to establish the Council, which will be tasked with identifying and prioritizing the needs of California’s veterans and coordinating the activities at all levels of government in addressing those needs.

“With so many combat veterans returning to California every year it is imperative that state agencies and departments coordinate our efforts to ensure these young men and women are connected to the services and benefits they need to successfully transition home,” said California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter J. Gravett.

This order is based on AB 557, authored by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez with Assemblymembers Paul Cook, Richard Pan, and Henry T. Perea.

“I’m very pleased the Governor has created the Interagency Council on Veterans Affairs because one of our most important duties is to keep faith with the men and women who have served the United States in uniform,” said Speaker Pérez. “I introduced legislation to create the Council early this session because we need to do more with less, and by creating this Council, we will bring new focus and new efficiency to provide needed services to California’s veterans. I’m very pleased the Governor has taken the proactive step of creating this Council by Executive Order so that it can begin its vital work immediately.”

Under the order, Speaker Pérez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are each expected to appoint a member to the Council from their respective houses. These appointees will join Secretaries and department heads of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, California Volunteers, Business Transportation and Housing Agency, Health and Human Services Agency, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Military Department, Employment Development Department, Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Rehabilitation and Department of Housing and Community Development.

Additionally, the Governor’s order requests that the Chief Justice of California, President of the University of California, Chancellor of California State University and Chancellor of California Community Colleges each appoint a member to the Council. The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs will also coordinate with Federal partners and external stakeholders to ensure both groups are active participants on the Council.

California’s veterans face many challenges as they transition back to civilian life, including:

·         The unemployment rate for Gulf War II veterans is 42 percent higher than it is for non-veterans.

·         Approximately 25 percent of Gulf War II veterans have a disability that is connected to their military service, compared with approximately 13 percent of all veterans.

·         Recent tests of returning troops show that 20 percent of infantry and 10 percent of other troops suffer from at least mild brain injury.

·         Over 35 percent of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, who have sought healthcare through the Veterans Administration, have been diagnosed with mental disorders.

·         California has the largest number of homeless veterans in the nation and 62 percent of all homeless veterans have been diagnosed with both substance abuse issues and serious mental health problems.

The text of the Executive Order is below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER B-9-11

WHEREAS more than 30,000 veterans return to California each year after leaving the United States Armed Services; and

WHEREAS many of these veterans face hardships while transitioning back into civilian life; and

WHEREAS the unemployment rate for Gulf War II veterans is 42 percent higher than it is for non-veterans; and

WHEREAS approximately 25 percent of Gulf War II veterans have a disability that is connected to their military service, compared with approximately 13 percent of all veterans; and

WHEREAS recent tests of returning troops show that 20 percent of infantry and 10 percent of other troops suffer from at least mild brain injury; and

WHEREAS over 35 percent of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, who have sought healthcare through the Veterans Administration, have been diagnosed with mental disorders; and

WHEREAS California has the largest number of homeless veterans in the nation; and

WHEREAS 62 percent of all homeless veterans have been diagnosed with both substance abuse issues and serious mental health problems; and

WHEREAS many federal, state, and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations receive and distribute funding targeted to address veteran needs from a variety of sources; and

WHEREAS California veterans can be better served with a more coordinated statewide effort.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, issue this Order to become effective immediately:

IT IS ORDERED that the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs establish the California Interagency Council on Veterans, whose purpose shall be to identify and prioritize the needs of California’s veterans, and to coordinate the activities at all levels of government in addressing those needs.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretaries of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, California Volunteers, the Business Transportation and Housing Agency, the Health and Human Services Agency, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Adjutant General of the Military Department, and the Directors of the Employment Development Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Rehabilitation, and the Department of Housing and Community Development are appointed as members of the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that each of those Secretaries and Directors designate a member of their management staff as their Ombudsman for Veterans’ Affairs who shall be that agency’s primary point of contact for veteran issues.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs invite federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U. S. Department of Labor, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the military services, and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Unit to participate in the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs  invite veteran stakeholders, such as the California Veterans Board, the California Association of County Veteran Service Officers, the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies, the California Commanders Council, the Employment Training Panel, the California Workforce Investment Board, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities to nominate a representative to participate in the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Labor and Workforce Development Agency provide staff support to the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS REQUESTED that the President pro Tem of the California Senate and Speaker of the California Assembly each appoint a member from their respective houses to represent the legislative branch as members of the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS FURTHER REQUESTED that the Chief Justice of California appoint a representative from the judicial branch as a member of California Interagency Council on Veterans.

IT IS FURTHER REQUESTED that the President, University of California, the Chancellor, California State University, and Chancellor California Community Colleges each appoint a representative from their respective systems to sit as members of the California Interagency Council on Veterans.

This Order is not intended to create, and does not create, any rights or benefits, whether substantive or procedural, or enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California or its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.

I FURTHER DIRECT that, as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this Order.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 23rd day of August 2011.

_________________________

EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

Governor of California

Keeping Tabs — 24 August

COMBAT, OPERATIONAL & POST DEPLOYMENT STRESS/PTSD/TBI

NATIONAL GUARD/RESERVES

  • How Providers Can Improve Care for Reserve Component Members: (DCEO) — Have you ever tried to communicate with a person who speaks a different language? No matter how clearly, or slowly, you speak, the other person just doesn’t seem to understand you. This sometimes happens when military culture and language collide with civilian providers, as when reserve component members seek behavioral health care post-deployment.http://www.dcoe.health.mil/blog/article.aspx?id=1&postid=279

SUICIDE

  • Marine Commits Suicide Following Hazing: (KNTV-TV, SFRO) — The suicide came moments after fellow Marines attacked Lew for repeatedly falling asleep on guard duty. An investigation shows Lew, from Santa Clara, was caught asleep at least four separate times in areas where “enemy attack was considered imminent.” Military records show Lew, who was on his first tour in Afghanistan, was first counseled then  disciplined by a sergeant for sleeping while on post. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/128243828.html

WOUNDED WARRIOR CARE/TREATMENT

  • Relocation nears of thousands of patients, staff at Navy Med in Bethesda: (MARYLAND GAZETTE) — Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is on schedule to formally open Sept. 15, as construction on campus winds down, staff begin training for their new daily routine and hundreds of patients move to Bethesda this month. The hospital will bring together the amputee services Walter Reed excelled in and the brain injury and research that thrive at Navy Med in a military medical facility that will more efficiently care for all an injured service members’ needs.  http://www.gazette.net/article/20110824/NEWS/708249668/1123/relocation-nears-of-thousands-of-patients-staff-at-navy-med-in&template=gazette

WOUNDED WARRIOR & FAMILY SUPPORT

  • White Sox righty Jake Peavy helps Marine bounce back after duty in Iraq: (SUN-TIMES, CHICAGO) — “I spent six months in a room,” he said of the severity of his post- traumatic stress disorder. “I’d take my meds and go to my room. It was me and my room. I didn’t want to be around people.”  He was being treated at the Marine base at Camp Pendleton near San Diego in 2008 when the invitation came for an annual spring- training event in Arizona sponsored by Strikeouts for Troops, a program started by San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito and boosted by Peavy.  http://www.suntimes.com/7222356-417/white-sox-righty-jake-peavy-helps-marine-bounce-back-after-duty-in-iraq.html
  • Palo Alto VA procures second Fisher House: (DAILY NEWS, PALO ALTO, CA) — With 21 suites, the Fisher House facility is almost constantly full and has been forced to turn away nearly 900 families since it opened.  But on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki gave the Palo Alto campus his approval to build a second Fisher House. That, according to Palo Alto VA spokeswoman Kerri Childress, makes the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System only the second in the nation to have two such facilities, along with the Houston campus.  http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_18745153

WOUNDED WARRIOR RECOVERY

HOMELESS VETERANS

OPINION/COMMENTARY

  • A Returning Soldier Answers the Inevitable Question: ‘Why?’: (NY TIMES) — Why do you want to go back?  Because I can help. And, in so doing, be helped myself. http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/a-returning-solider-answers-the-inevitable-question-why/
  • America must do much better job of taking care of returning veterans: (NEWS-TIMES, DANBURY, CT) — Our servicemen and women don’t have the luxury of telling the nation “I can’t help you right now” when called back for a third, fourth, fifth tour in the Middle East. How can the nation tell them “we can’t help you right now” when they come home and need services?  We must fund veterans’ services to meet the level of need. Yes, through more taxes if need be. It is the only moral response to what they have done for us.  http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/America-must-do-much-better-job-of-taking-care-of-2137776.php
  • America’s Veterans: Honorably Discharged and Unemployed: (CHRISTIAN POST) — “If there is one thing I’ve learned about the human condition from my tour in Kandahar, it’s that when you pitch something like a charity, it gets treated like a charity. If you pitch it like an investment, it gets treated like an investment. If we really want to initiate action on veteran unemployment, we need to change the discussion from a charitable approach to a utilitarian one.”  http://www.christianpost.com/news/americas-veterans-honorably-discharged-and-unemployed-54411/

Keeping Tabs — 23 August

COMBAT, OPERATIONAL & POST-DEPLOYMENT STRESS/PTSD/TBI

  • Doctors Imaging Brain to Diagnose Vets: (WRC-TV, DC) — [Video Only] — As the 2.5 million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans return home, experts are finding that thousands are facing combat-related health problems that can be hard to diagnose. Conditions like post-traumatic stress, depression and traumatic brain injuries. But now doctors are actually looking at the brain itself to figure out how to make a more accurate diagnosis.http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/health/Doctors_Imaging_Brain_To_Diagnose_Vets_Washington_DC-128208043.html
  • New Tool a More Accurate Predictor of PTSD: (MEDSCAPE) — The simple, 10-item prediction tool includes core PTSD symptoms plus depression symptoms, access to care status, sleep disturbance, and trauma history. It is highly successful in predicting PTSD after traumatic exposures in different clinical populations, including war veterans, injured people, and those experiencing domestic violence, Dr. Boscarino told Medscape Medical News.http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/748389
  • Vets with PTSD Require Family Education and Patience: (WUSF-NPR, TAMPA) — “There’s thousands of veterans who are misunderstood right now because of what they went through because of our policies in the Middle East,” Forsythe said. “We have to be honest with ourselves what war and combat does to human beings. It dehumanizes human beings.” http://www.wusf.usf.edu/news/2011/08/23/vets_with_ptsd_require_family_education_and_patience
  • A war at home: a soldier’s mission against PTSD: (KALW-NPR, SFRO) — Next month is the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and of the war in Afghanistan that followed. About 5,200 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in the initial months following the September 11 attacks; another 67,000 went to Iraq less than two years later. Over the years those troop levels have increased, and so has the number of soldiers who return home bearing the scars of those wars. http://kalwnews.org/audio/2011/08/22/war-home-soldier%E2%80%99s-mission-against-ptsd_1189310.html

SUICIDE

  • Widow blames husband’s suicide on 9th deployment: (KAYU-TV, SPOKANE, WA) — It’s a startling fact from the U.S. Pentagon — suicide is killing more U.S. soldiers than active combat.  One of the reasons is that experts said is could be because the military keeps redeploying soldiers with PTSD. That’s what happened to a Joint Base Lewis-McChord army ranger, his widow said he repeatedly asked for help, but it never came.  http://www.myfoxspokane.com/news/kcpq-widow-blames-husbands-suicide-on-9th-deployment-20110822,0,3874618.story
  • Suicide brings a decade of war home: (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) —Suicides by veterans like these once would have left people reeling in this military community. But troops and their families here these days call it the “new normal” for a US Army that’s spent a decade at war. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8289019

WOUNDED WARRIOR & FAMILY SUPPORT

WOUNDED WARRIOR CARE/TREATMENT

  • Belvoir, Bethesda Prep for Patient Influx: (MILITARY.COM) — Military medical leaders from around the National Capital Region met with media Thursday at the soon-to-be-operational Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, both to answer questions about the transformation process and to show off the sprawling new medical facility.  Navy Vice Adm. John Mateczun, commander for Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, said an especially high bar was set when it came to designing the new facilities both at Fort Belvoir and at the new Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. http://www.military.com/news/article/army-news/belvoir-bethesda-prep-for-patient-influx.html

“SEA OF GOOD WILL”

HOMELESS VETERANS

  • Group helps homeless veteran women: (KBAK-TV, BAKERSFIELD, CA) — They are among the most invisible population of the homeless. Veteran women who have returned from war, left traumatized and have difficulty returning to civilian life. And many end up homeless.  http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/128228248.html

VA

  • VA to build new medical campus at Fort McPherson: (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION) — The government plans to spend $40 million transforming 10 acres and six buildings at south Atlanta’s Fort McPherson into a healthcare campus that would expand services for veterans and relieve pressure on metro area clinics that now serve them.  http://www.ajc.com/news/va-to-build-new-1131136.html

LEGAL AFFAIRS

  • Defense blames PTSD for infant’s beating death (WRAL-TV, RALEIGH) — An Iraq war veteran facing a possible death sentence for the death of his 10-month-old stepdaughter was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was self-medicating with alcohol and prescription painkillers when he beat her to death inside their Raleigh home nearly two years ago, his defense attorney told jurors Monday. http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/10029945/

Keeping Tabs — 22 August

COMBAT, OPERATIONAL & POST-DEPLOYMENT STRESS/PTS/TBI

SUICIDE

WOUNDED WARRIOR CARE/TREATMENT

  • Our ‘New Normal’ Wounded Healthcare System: (ABC NEWS) — When wounded warriors are now sent to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center for treatment, whether missing a leg, an arm or having sustained a traumatic brain injury, they are introduced to a novel expression: “This is your new normal.” http://abcnews.go.com/Health/saving-us-healthcare-system-research-development-funding-key/story?id=14343836
  • Walter Reed Enters Final Phase with Patient Moves: (DOD NEWS) — About 200 outpatient wounded warriors are expected to move from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here this weekend to the nearby National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as the two hospitals move closer to becoming one. More than 100 inpatients will move from Walter Reed’s wards to Bethesda by ambulance Aug. 28, and the flag will be lowered for good at the 102-year-old Army hospital. http://www.defense.gov//News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=65093

WOUNDED WARRIOR & FAMILY SUPPORT

WOUNDED WARRIOR RECOVERY

  • Racing to Recovery: (WASHINGTON POST) — Real life keeps rolling, off camera. He’s planning to compete in a race next month: the Nation’s Triathlon, which loops past the monuments in Washington with a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-k bike ride and 10-k run.  Last week, he was the last person training at Walter Reed, which is closing, his coach Patrick Johnson said. He’s always already working out when Johnson arrives for a training session. “His discipline is better than any athlete I’ve worked with in 20 years,” and he’s someone other wounded service members look up to, Johnson said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/marine-from-lovettsville-stars-in-documentary-about-recovery/2011/08/19/gIQA1GKyUJ_story.html

“SEA OF GOOD WILL”

  • New Idaho-based Wyakin Warrior Foundation sends 5 young veterans to college: (IDAHO STATESMAN, BOISE) — As a young man, Watson wanted to be a policeman. “That seems unlikely, considering my injuries. This is ‘Plan B,’ ” he said.  Plan B is studying biology at the College of Western Idaho this fall, thanks to a new foundation created to educate wounded soldiers like Watson.  http://www.idahostatesman.com/2011/08/20/1766216/first-class-of-wounded-vets.html
  • FBI program helps wounded soldiers: (WTKR-TV, NORFOLK) — Now, the FBI’s Wounded Warrior Program, is helping to prepare him for life after 24 years in the Army by allowing him to develop new skills while also getting valuable work experience as he recovers.http://www.wtkr.com/news/wtkr-wounded-warrior-program,0,1339736.story
  • Veterans Get Help Shifting From Military To School: (NEWS-SENTINEL, FT. WAYNE, IN) — Allcock, a Purple Heart recipient, husband and father, returned to the “real world” when he retired from the Army National Guard in May. He said he’s been struggling financially ever since.  Two local colleges are helping hundreds of local veterans like Allcock with the academic transition.  http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110820/NEWS/108200324

HOMELESS VETERANS

  • A hero in Iraq faces eviction in Tustin: (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, CA) — It’s been a humiliating morning for James Hassell. Sorry, he was told at the first place he visited. Now he’s at Veterans First, in Santa Ana. After 10 years of war, many Americans forget that post-911 veterans often struggle with hypervigilence, depression, brain injuries and more. If he were a homeless vet, they could find him a bed. If he were a hungry vet, they could find him a meal. But Hassell, 28, is just an average veteran, with a wife and a 2-year-old daughter, running low on cash. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/hassell-313039-war-iraq.html
  • Vet helps other veterans get off the street: (HOUSTON CHRONICLE) — “You a vet?” he asks. It’s a question he and fellow outreach workers ask dozens of times a day. They work for United States Veterans Initiative, a nonprofit group trying to help as many as 3,500 homeless veterans in Houston and as many as 120,000 vets nationwide. The goal is to get veterans off the street, or pre-emptively, to stop their slide before they hit the pavement or the park.  http://www.chron.com/life/article/Vet-helps-other-veterans-get-off-the-street-2114389.php
  • Out of the Woods: Local program helps homeless veterans get their footing: (DAILY NEWS, LONGVIEW, WA) — Mike Szpakiewitz got an apartment last week. The simple act was monumental for the 58-year-old, who after 10 years in military service and years in custom cabinetry and car repair, had sunk into depression and homelessness.  http://tdn.com/lifestyles/article_0cfc3b4e-cb97-11e0-8b4c-001cc4c002e0.html

OPINION/COMMENTARY

  • The Wrong Way To Help Veterans: (NY TIMES) — Currently, for a disability determination, Veterans Affairs requires the claimant to go through a psychiatric exam, also known as a “comp and pension.” But the session typically lasts just 90 minutes and does not provide enough information for an examiner to make a firm decision about a veteran’s future function — that is, whether he or she will continue to be sick in a way that impairs the ability to work, and thus require compensation.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/opinion/the-wrong-way-to-help-veterans.html
  • More Excuses And Delays From The V.A.: ( NY TIMES) — The current crisis, they say, is not about federal judges meddling in specific decisions by the agency to grant or withhold some veterans’ benefits. It is about trying to compel the agency to fix a grossly deficient process for providing mental health care, a system that is failing nationwide. For veterans who are dying for lack of timely care, due process has been replaced by no process, or process with pervasive delays. These court delays are adding insult to those injuries. This cannot continue.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/opinion/more-excuses-and-delays-from-the-va.html

Keeping Tabs

COMBAT, OPERATIONAL & POST-DEPLOYMENT STRESS/PTS/TBI

  • Army vet with PTSD sought the treatment he needed by taking hostages – but got jail instead: (STARS & STRIPES) —  Quinones’ story is one of an ordinary soldier who went off to war, came home broken, and then went over the edge after the government didn’t do enough to fix him. Even the three soldiers held at the point of Quinones’ guns today express more empathy than animosity for their captor.  To them, what Quinones did that day was the ultimate cry for help.  http://www.stripes.com/army-vet-with-ptsd-sought-the-treatment-he-needed-by-taking-hostages-but-got-jail-instead-1.152525
  • After trauma, teaching hope: (CNN) — The resulting initiative, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, is a $145 million program made up of psychological fitness testing designed to measure emotional, familial, social and spiritual fitness and strengths; courses on post-traumatic growth; and a critical 10-day master resiliency training under which the Army’s 40,000 drill sergeants — effectively the Army’s teachers — are trained to help soldiers deal with high levels of sustained, everyday stress.  http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/17/resilience.after.trauma/
  • The effect of mental health issues on military families” (BRITISH FORCES NEWS) — [VIDEO ONLY] — In January 2005 Sgt Bob O’Connor was killed alongside nine other members of the crew of Hercules XV179 when it was shot down by enemy fire in the north west of Baghdad. His sister Sarah Chapman, a civilian intensive care nurse, struggled to cope with life after his death.  http://bfbs.com/news/uk/effect-mental-health-issues-military-families-50798.html

SUICIDE

WOUNDED WARRIOR CARE/TREATMENT

WOUNDED WARRIOR & FAMILY SUPPORT

WOUNDED WARRIOR RECOVERY

  • The new ‘greatest generation’: How new veterans are bringing their leadership lessons home: (CNN) —  [VIDEO ONLY] — There never seems to be enough good news about the men and women who serve this country. But Joe Klein writes in this week’s TIME magazine that this new generation of veterans is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. They’re infiltrating companies, politics and non-profits, bringing a sharper skillset than veterans of past wars. http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/18/the-new-greatest-generation-how-new-veterans-are-bringing-their-leadership-lessons-home/
  • The New Greatest Generation: (TIME) — [Access by DoD accounts only] — The returning veterans are bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now: crisp decisionmaking, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism (as opposed to self-righteous flag waving). Indeed, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required a new military skill set, far more sophisticated than for previous conflicts — and far different from the yes-sir, no-sir rote discipline that most civilians associate with the military. http://ebird.osd.mil/ebfiles/e20110819836857.html
  • Military Amputee Softball team is inspiring others: (WJHG-TV, PANAMA CITY, FL) — An 80 team military softball tournament features an exhibition team made up completely of wounded warriors.  The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team also known as “Body Parts” is made up of a special group of guys. http://www.wjhg.com/sports/headlines/Military_Amputee_Softball_team_playing_at_Frank_Brown_Park_128039473.html?ref=473

VA

  • Launched: Paralympic Program Website: (VANTAGE POINT-VA) — Motivating disabled Veterans to participate in adaptive sports supports their rehabilitation and recovery and contributes to their health and wellness. As the number of Veterans who become injured continues to grow, there is a need to reach out to them and provide the tools and resources they need to get started and stay fit. So, we launched the VA Paralympic Program website. We designed the site primarily for three groups – disabled Veterans and their families, VA clinical staff, and community-based sport programs. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/?p=4265

LEGAL AFFAIRS

  • Veterans to get own court here: (INTELLIGENCER JOURNAL, LANCASTER, PA) — A county judge believes some of those crimes deserve special attention and treatment. So Judge Jeffery Wright will soon begin hearing those cases in a specialty court for veterans.  In Veteran’s Court, eligible candidates will have the chance to stay out of jail while washing clean their criminal record. After the recent blessing of the county commissioners, Wright is hoping to hear the first cases in January.  http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/441787_Veterans-to-get-own-court-here.html

OPINION/COMMENTARY

  • The Face of the Next Greatest Generation: (MILITARY.COM) — Now, as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, TIME has unveiled a historic follow-up to that initial introduction – “The New Greatest Generation” – in recognition of a new 21st century veterans’ movement helping mold a stronger America. Various forces, people, and organizations have converged for one purpose – to better the lives of military veterans and their families, in honor of their service and dedication to our country. For Iraq and Afghanistan veterans everywhere, this is a game-changing moment. http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,234983,00.html
  • Letter to the Homefront: (COURIER-NEWS, ELGIN, IL) — As if the light switch had been slowly fumbled for, I awoke. Although I anticipated the images and thoughts to be haunting, they were peaceful memories, without sound or color. I’d been tossing and turning most of the night, sometimes giving in and staring at the ceiling, images slowly coming into focus. A tear. A smile. http://couriernews.suntimes.com/news/7006951-418/letter-to-the-homefront.html

Drugging Our Military and Veterans

***FYI: This story is from Citizens Commission on Human Rights Texas. The CCHR network was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus Dr. Thomas Szasz at a time when patients were being warehoused in institutions and stripped of all constitutional, civil and human rights.

Drugs and Suicides in the Armed Forces

In 2006, The Philadelphia Enquirer reported that soldiers and veterans groups had found drug use was an increasing problem in Iraq, especially because medics were generously handing out prescription medications that were being abused.[1]

Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic, said that in February 2009, “Americans heard about a dramatic rise in suicides among U.S. soldiers.” Army statistics, which include the Army Reserve and the National Guard, confirmed 128 suicides (with 15 more deaths under investigation). Suicides for the Marines also increased, with 41 in 2008, up from 33 in 2007 and 25 in 2006.[2]

In an article published by Best Syndication News on April 17, 2009, suicides among Iraq war soldiers were reported to be twice that of other wars.[3] The number of soldiers who committed suicide during January 2009 actually surpassed the number of soldiers who were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same time period, the article said.[4]

One of the suggested reasons for the high suicide rate is that with so many troops being labeled with “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD), many of them are prescribed drugs that didn’t exist during other wars, especially antidepressants known to cause suicidal thoughts and feelings.[5]

In March 2004, an FDA Public Health Advisory about these antidepressants, warned: “Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia[severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement, mild mania] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas]have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants…both psychiatric and non-psychiatric.”[6]

Dr. Levine pointed out: “While treatment for emotionally troubled soldiers increasingly consists of antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, recent investigations show that these drugs are no more effective than placebos and can actually increase suicidality.”[7]

California neurologist, Dr. Fred A. Baughman, Jr. investigated a series of veterans’ suicides in 2008 and believes that they actually died from psychiatric drugs inducing cardiac arrest. All seemed “normal” when they went to bed. All of them were prescribed a cocktail of antipsychotics and tranquilizers. On January 15 2009, the New England Journal of Medicinereported that antipsychotics double the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.[8]

It was reported in June 2008 that 89% of veterans labeled with “PTSD” are given antidepressants and 34% antipsychotics. “A third, then, are exposed to the additive potential to cause sudden death,” Baughman stated.[9]

“In order to prevent even more suicides, both the research and basic common sense instruct is that we need less psychiatric drugs and more political courage,” adds Dr. Levine.[10]

Further, as Dr. Levine stated: “For many mental health professionals, especially governmental ones, a ‘good treatment outcome’ consists of a troubled person adapting to a miserable, dehumanizing environment in a way that causes the least problems for the authorities…mental health professionals are far less likely to recommend a radical altering of an environment than they are to recommend a chemical-altering of the person suffering from it.”[11]

A change in environment is not as profitable as labeling and drugging those giving their all for their country.

PTSD Screening: A Conflict of Interest

Clearly, those on the front-lines of war are at risk—war and killing are not something that are inherently enjoyed. As Lt. Col. Robert L. Bateman, an infantryman, historian and a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) who has also taught military history at the U.S. Military Academy, wrote, “War is bad. We can agree on this. As both a practitioner and historian of war, I feel no compunctions about saying that and no reason to pretend otherwise. Some wars are Just, and some may be Unjust. Some wars may even be necessary, but they are all bad.” Further, “War affects those of us who have experienced it; there is no doubt about that.”[12]

When psychiatrists came up with the diagnosis PTSD, they took normal, yet disturbing—even paralyzing—responses to a bad experience, and cashed in on a whole new client basis. Voting PTSD for inclusion in the American Psychiatric Association’s “billing bible,” theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatrists were able to make millions billing government and private insurance companies to treat PTSD.[13]

Herb Kutchins, professor of Health and Human Services at California State University, Sacramento, and Stuart A. Kirk, Professor of Social Welfare, UCLA School of Public Affairs, authors of Making Us Crazy wrote: The DSM went “far beyond pathologizing the problems of war veterans.” It “has become the label for identifying the impact of adverse events on ordinary people. This means that normal responses to catastrophic events often have been interpreted as mental disorders. Moreover, people must demonstrate how ‘sick’ they are in order to get help; that is, assistance is offered to victims only after they demonstrate how mentally ill they have become. DSM is the vehicle for establishing this sickness.”[14]

Yet psychiatrists admit they do not know what causes any of the “sicknesses” they’ve included in the DSM, nor do they know how to cure them.

In fact, psychiatrist Norman Sartorius, former president of the World Psychiatric Association, declared as early as 1994, “The time when psychiatrists considered that they could cure the mentally ill is gone. In the future the mentally ill have to learn to live with their illness.”[15]

This is what psychiatrists expect many of the country’s troops to do—”live” with the aftermath of war, existing in a drugged-out haze. To achieve this, psychiatrists must first pathologize veterans’ experiences.

By 2005, 13% of all Veteran Administration mental health costs, or $274 million, were spent on treating “PTSD.” Estimates of how many soldiers suffer from it have soared from 196,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2009.[16] And the dollars going into psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry coffers because of it have soared commensurately.

They are making millions not only from this but also in conducting research into how drugs can best mask the unwanted reactions to war. In one Yale School of Medicine study, $6.9 million was allocated to study the “effectiveness” of an antipsychotic drug on PTSD.[17] Since 2001, there have been more than 20 worldwide drug regulatory warnings and studies issued about the dangers—often lethal effects—of antipsychotic drugs.

Army officials have now implemented a system for screening for depression and PTSD.[18] All soldiers are encouraged to complete a questionnaire when visiting a primary care doctor and based on their responses could be prescribed drugs—often antidepressants or antipsychotics—counseling or both.[19]

Questionnaires used include the “Patient Health Questionnaire” (PHQ) and the PCL (PTSD Checklist).[20] The free online depression-screening test is copyrighted to Pfizer, who manufactures the antidepressant Zoloft.[21] It also developed a PTSD questionnaire.

The PHQ questions include in the past two weeks, have you experienced “little interest or pleasure in doing things, trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much, feeling tired or having little energy, poor eating or overeating, feeling bad about yourself, or if you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down, had trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television” to name a few. The checklist arbitrarily assigns depression requiring 5 or more of the items to warrant a diagnosis.

Psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen of Harvard Medical School says that such questionnaires “may look scientific,” but “when one examines the questions asked and the scales used, they are utterly subjective measures….”[22]

Mother Jones exposed that Pfizer gained Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Zoloft’s use in treating PTSD in 1999, after which it funded the creation of a group called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Alliance (PTSDA) to convince Americans that PTSD was not just for combatants, but could affect anyone. The PTSDA was staffed by employees of Pfizer’s New York public-relations firm, the Chandler Chicco Agency, and operated out of the firm’s offices.

The group connected journalists up with “PTSD experts” such as Jerilyn Ross, president and CEO of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, a group heavily subsidized by Pfizer as well as GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and other drug-industry giants.

In the months following the launch of Pfizer’s campaign, media mentions of PTSD skyrocketed.[23]

Within about two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the PTSDA issued a statement warning that post-traumatic stress could affect anyone who has “witnessed a violent act” or experienced “distressing events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks.” According to the Psychiatric News, during the following month, Pfizer spent $5.6 million advertising the benefits of Zoloft in treating PTSD—25% more than it had spent, on average, from January to June.[24]

Other drug companies jumped on the bandwagon. As Mother Jones reported, “The biggest presence in TV drug advertising after September 11 was GlaxoSmithKline, which in October 2001 spent $16 million promoting Paxil—more than it had spent in the first six months of the year combined. In December, the company rolled out a series of new commercials, often broadcast during prime-time news programs and built around lines such as ‘I’m always thinking something terrible is going to happen’ and ‘It’s like a tape in my mind. It just goes over and over and over.’”

Today hundreds of subjective mental health-screening questionnaires are marketed—all based on the DSM and often copyrighted or patented by drug companies. The Signs of Suicide (SOS) screening program was introduced as a “self-assessment screening tool” provided free online. It is promoted for use in high schools, colleges, the workplace, and the military.

SOS claims to be the creation of the “nonprofit” corporation, Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) but the development of the firm’s screening programs was funded with millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.[25] Tax records for the SMH between 1996 and 2008 show drug companies had paid it more than $6 million, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Solvay, Abbot Labs, Forest Labs, and Wyeth, and GlaxoSmithKline.[26]

Covering Up Physical Causes

As long as the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry determines what the VA, insurance companies and the Government pays out for the needs of troops and returning vets, they will be at risk.

It was years before the VA and government acknowledged the effects of the highly toxic chemical Agent Orange on the health of troops during Vietnam. Sgt. David McGregor, said, “I remember, back in the 60?s, when I first came in the service, that people coming back from Vietnam were wringing Agent Orange out of their clothes—they were told they were under stress….”[27]Psychiatrists said they suffered from “post Vietnam syndrome,” the forerunner of PTSD.

Psychiatrists also claimed that Gulf War Syndrome was “all in the mind” and that soldiers were experiencing PTSD.[28]Staff Sgt. Steve Robertson, a Gulf War Veteran was referred to a psychiatrist who told him he was suffering from anger and simply needed to vent it.[29]

It would be 17 years before, on November 17, 2008, the federally mandated Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses finally exonerated the vets, with a 452-page report that confirmed that exposure to toxic chemicals during the war was the cause of the illness. The report stated that “scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans.”[30]

In the ongoing Iraq conflict, American and British forces have fired tens of thousands of shells and cannon rounds made of a toxic and radioactive material called depleted uranium, or D.U.[31] When DU hits its target, it burns at a high temperature, throwing off clouds of microscopic particles that poison a wide area and remain radioactive. If inhaled, these particles can lodge in lungs, other organs or bones, irradiating (radiating) tissue and causing cancers. Uranium is also a highly toxic heavy metal.[32]

All troops are also vaccinated against anthrax, which carries it own risks.[33] At least 1,200 military personnel who received the anthrax vaccine before going to Iraq have developed serious illnesses, according to an Army report released in May 2005.[34]

Meryl Nass, M.D., Director of the Military and Biodefense Vaccine Project (MBVP), said, “They are suffering with crippling, life-altering illnesses that are being swept under the rug. We know the anthrax vaccine is reactive and we suspect it is especially risky for those with hereditary and other risk factors that DOD [Department of Defense] refuses to investigate or acknowledge.”[35]

If it takes another decade to acknowledge the effects of today’s chemical warfare, hundreds of thousand of troops could be further falsely targeted as having PTSD, preventing their getting the proper medical care they need. Meanwhile, debilitating psychiatric drugs—both physically and mentally—could exacerbate their untreated medical condition.

“There is no such thing as an essential psychiatric drug,” Dr. Baughman says. “I call upon the military for an immediate embargo of all antipsychotics and antidepressants until there has been a complete, wholly public, clarification of the extent and causes of all this epidemic of probable sudden death.” And, it could be added, suicides that are antidepressant-induced.[36]

REFERENCES


[1] “Post; Soldiers Say Drug Use Is An Increasing Problem In Iraq,” Philadelphia Enquirer, 3 Dec. 2006.

[2] Bruce E. Levine, “Suicide Spike for U.S. Soldiers, Psychiatric or Political Solution?”Levine’s ZSpace page

[3] “Are VA Protocols Behind Iraq Soldier Suicides?” Best Syndication News, 17 Apr. 2009,http://www.bestsyndication.com/?q=20090413_vetrans_suicide_reasons.htm

[4] Bruce E. Levine, “Suicide Spike for U.S. Soldiers, Psychiatric or Political Solution?”Levine’s ZSpace page

[5] “Are VA Protocols Behind Iraq Soldier Suicides?” Best Syndication News, 17 Apr. 2009,http://www.bestsyndication.com/?q=20090413_vetrans_suicide_reasons.htm

[6] “Worsening Depression and Suicidality in Patients Being Treated with Antidepressant Medications,” US Food and Drug Administration Public Health Advisory, 22 Mar. 2004.

[7] Bruce E. Levine, “Suicide Spike for U.S. Soldiers, Psychiatric or Political Solution?”Levine’s ZSpace page

[8] “Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD Announces: Vets’ Sudden Cardiac Deaths Are Not Suicides or Overdoses,” PR Newswire, 19 May 2009.

[9] “Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD Announces: Vets’ Sudden Cardiac Deaths Are Not Suicides or Overdoses,” PR Newswire, 19 May 2009.

[10] Bruce E. Levine, “Suicide Spike for U.S. Soldiers, Psychiatric or Political Solution?”Levine’s ZSpace page

[11] Bruce E. Levine, “Suicide Spike for U.S. Soldiers, Psychiatric or Political Solution?”Levine’s ZSpace page

[12] Rob Bateman, http://www.concernedjournalists.org/bad-war-bad-science-bad-reporting-take-your-pick, 10 May 2008.

[13] Rob Bateman, http://www.concernedjournalists.org/bad-war-bad-science-bad-reporting-take-your-pick, 10 May 2008.

[14] Herb Kutchins, Stuart A. Kirk, Making Us Crazy, (The Free Press, New York, 2000), p. 125.

[15] Lars Boegeskov, “Mentally Ill have to have Help—Not to be Cured,” Politiken 19 Sept 1994

[16] “Yale Faculty to Direct $6.9 million VA Study of PTSD,” Medical News Today, 12 Sept. 2005.

[17] “Yale Faculty to Direct $6.9 million VA Study of PTSD,” Medical News Today, 12 Sept. 2005; “Project Courage Presentation,” http://www.slideshare.net/bcevents/project-courage-presentation-april…; 16 Apr. 2009.

[18] “R-E-S-P-E-C-T spells reduced stigma, more choices,” Army News Service, July 21, 2008. (Germany)

[19] “RESPECT-Mil: A Soldier’s Resource for Recovery,” Brochure.

[20] http://www.pdhealth.mil/respect-mil_impl.asp

[21] Evelyn Pringle, “Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move,” Scoop, 10 July 2006.

[22] Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., Prozac Backlash, (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000), p. 206.

[23] Brendon I Koerner, “Disorders made to order,” Mother Jones, July/Aug. 2002, pp. 58-63, 81.

[24] Brendon I Koerner, “Disorders made to order,” Mother Jones, July/Aug. 2002, pp. 58-63, 81.

[25] Evelyn Pringle, “Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move,” Scoop, 10 July 2006.

[26] http://www.signsof suicide.org/tax_records.htm

[27] What happened over there? Rules, Rules, Rules, Stupid Rules! Out of the Black Hole,ABC News Show 20/20, 14 Aug. 1992

[28] http://www.ccnr.org/bertell_book.html

[29] Gulf War Syndrome: Is It a Real Disease? The New York Times, 23 Nov. 1993.

[30] Gulf War Syndrome, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War_syndrome

[31] David Rose, “Is Gulf War syndrome—possibly caused by Pentagon ammunition—taking its toll on G.I.’s in Iraq?” Vanity Fair, Dec. 2004,http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2004/12/iraq200412 Weapons of Self-Destruction

[32] Dave Lindorff, “Radioactive Wounds of War: Tests on returning troops suggest serious health consequences of depleted uranium use in Iraq,” InTheseTimes, 25 Aug. 2005.

[33] Associated Press, “Anthrax Vaccinations to Resume,” 17 Oct. 2006http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,116977,00.html?ESRC=army-a.nl

[34] Jeff Donaldson, ” 1,200 Troops Who Had Anthrax Vaccine Now ‘Seriously,’”Las Vegas Sun, 19 June 2005. http://educate-yourself.org/cn/anthraxvaccineillnessafflictsmilitary19jun05.shtml

[35] “Anthrax Vaccine For Soldiers Serving In Iraq, Afghanistan And South Korea,” Medical News Today, 17 Oct. 2006, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=3519

[36] “Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD Announces: Vets’ Sudden Cardiac Deaths Are Not Suicides or Overdoses,” PR Newswire, 19 May 2009.

White House to Lift Ban on Military Suicide Condolences

The Obama administration has reversed a White House policy of not sending condolence letters to the next-of-kin of service members who commit suicide, a senior administration official confirmed in a statement to CNN.

The move comes nearly six weeks after a group of senators — 10 Democrats and one Republican — asked President Barack Obama to change what they called an “insensitive” policy that dates back several administrations and has been the subject of protest by some military families.

Read more here.

This Might Bring a Smile or a Tear

* Can’t vouch for the authenticity of this, but judging by the emails flying back and forth between San Diego and Minneapolis, it just might be legit. At any rate, it’s something to think about.

I received this from a retired Marine Colonel buddy back in North Carolina this morning. He had received it from a friend of his in Minnesota:

So, today was tiring.  I left the farm at nine for the Minneapolis VA, just shy of 220 miles south of here.  I walked into the clinic at exactly one, the prescribed sign-in time for my 1:15 appointment.  Of course, it is also 220 miles from the VA back  to the farm.  I got back just as President Obama began his Afghanistan speech.

Almost eight hours on the road.I get paid mileage for traveling POV.  To draw the pay, though, I have to get a travel chit from the appointment desk when my appointment is finished.  Nice lady, pretty quick on the paperwork.  A few minutes later I was at the authorization office.  I pulled a number from the red doohickey, #77, and looked up to see which number was being served – #70.  It shouldn’t take too long, right?Wrong.  70 was still at the desk ten minutes later.

I looked up to try and figure out what the hang-up was, and at first I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.70 was a twenty-something kid wearing a red USMC tee shirt, a pair of khaki shorts, and a black baseball cap with the letters USMC embroidered across the cap’s sizing strap.  The part in his dark hair ran straight up from his collar.  There was a black brace of some sort that began just below his right knee and crawled up his leg to disappear under the shorts.  Nothing unusual there.  Every other person at the VA wears some kind of prosthetic, right?But something wasn’t right, so I looked back up at his cap.  That part in his hair.  It was almost an inch wide, exposing very new, very pink skin.  He turned slightly to use his left hand to point out something for the clerk.  He had to use his left hand.

When he turned I could see his right hand was permanently curled into a loose, boney fist.  His thin right arm was frozen against his ribs, locked in that awkward 45-degree angle every medic recognizes immediately as the protective pose of one who has a fracture.  Those khaki shorts hitched up and snagged on the top of the brace revealing another pink scar, an angry, wide corkscrew running from his thigh to below the right knee.

I heard him say “no” to the clerk, that single syllable reminiscent of the nasal speech of a cleft-palate student I once tutored.  The right side of his face smiled at her as he tried one more time to explain why his mailing address was no longer the long-term VA dorm.He turned to the dozen of us waiting outside the door to say “Thorry,” then went back to the task of finishing his paperwork.

I mumbled something inane like “No sweat,” and one or two others mumbled something.  The tab machine recycled beyond 00 and was patiently waiting for someone to take 06.  Just like when we were back in uniform, there’s always a degree of grumbling when a line of crotchety disabled vets has to wait for something so simple as getting a piece of paper.  Not this time, though.  Not a whisper.It is going to take a lot of surgery to finish the reconstruction of the left side of his face.

A flap of skin has been sewn over his empty left eye socket.  There’s a crater where the left corner of his jaw used to be.  His nose looks like someone tried to smear it sideways with a hot iron.The office supervisor finally realized what kind of logjam was being created in the hall, so she fired up four more stations.  It was the station next to 70 that called my number.  I zipped through my paperwork and got mine just as 70 got his.

It had been twenty minutes for him, maybe two for me.  70 leaned to his left to jerk his right leg around so he could head for the door and make it to the pay window.“Thorry,” he said again.“No,” I said, “there’s nothing to be sorry about.  Thanks.”I softly patted his left shoulder; not knowing what kind of painful horror might be hidden under that red shirt, and waited for him to go ahead of me into the hall.

The next guy in line was a fat wheelchair driver who, according to his cap, was a Korean War Vet.  He huffed and grunted as he backed his extra-wide chair into the line at the door, pushing the others back so the kid could get by unhindered.“78,” one of the clerks called out.“Hold yer horses” hollered the fat guy.70 and I walked the fifty feet or so to the pay window where four others were lined up to take care of their pharmacy co-pays.  Two windows were open, one served by a fiftyish balding guy and the other by a beautiful young brunette.

The guy who would be next at the woman’s window was a tiny octogenarian wearing a WW II vet cap, and he watched 70 come down the hall.  When she asked for the old guy’s paperwork he pretended to fumble with his wallet, and then waved 70 to the window.The right side of 70’s face smiled brightly at the woman.

“You’re gorgeous,” 70 exclaimed.  The words were mauled by his injured mouth, but she understood.“So are you,” she said, not missing a beat as she took his paperwork and examined his ID card.  “And you look better now than you look in this picture.”He laughed.

She counted out the bills and change for him, he said “Thanks,” and then he walked jerkily away.He laughed.  He thanked people.  He apologized.

It was his outside they had destroyed with that IED, not his spirit.There is a moment the people in live theater call “the holy moment,” that brief pause between the end of a great performance and the beginning of an audience’s applause.  There was a holy moment as we watched him move down the hall in search of his ride home.We didn’t applaud or try to shake his withered right hand. I think I was the only person to actually speak to him or touch him, but as he walked past those of us still in line almost every one of us looked directly into his destroyed face, nodded a silent greeting, and smiled – and the right side of his face smiled back at every one of us.

Semper Fi
Dutch
U. S. Marines (Ret)


GAO: VA HEALTH CARE Actions Needed to Prevent Sexual Assaults and Other Safety Incidents

Read the GAO report here.

Sexual assault incidents within the Veterans Affairs system are not being reported up the chain, a new government audit has found.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, reported that of nearly 300 sexual assault incidents reported to VA Police from January 2007 through July 2010, “many” were not reported to VA leadership officials and the VA Inspector General’s Office.

The GAO report uses the term sexual assault incident to refer to “suspected, alleged, attempted, or confirmed cases of sexual assault.”

The 284 cases of sexual assault included rape, inappropriate touching, forceful medical examinations, forced or inappropriate oral sex, and other types of sexual assault incidents.

“When I first read this report, I was aghast,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. “It reminded me of a 1950s prison system — lawlessness, lack of security and reporting, and outright disregard for human dignity.”

Read more story here.