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Author and former marine Anthony Swofford gets to the bottom of an epidemic.
I was sitting next to Melissa, a call responder at the VA Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y., when she looked at me and whispered, 'He just said he thinks he should walk out into traffic on Interstate 5 and end it all, that life is not worth living.'
They came from Walker Basin, a speck of a community at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest. From the farm town of Reedley, where a barber gives boys joining the military free haircuts before they ship out.
They came from San Francisco. Los Angeles. San Diego.
When they died, photos went up on post office walls in their hometowns. On Veterans Day, there are parades and charity golf tournaments. Buddies gather at graves to drink to the ones who are gone.
In the 11 years since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan, 725 service members from California have been killed.
Many died young -- 41% were not yet 22. Sixty-three were still teenagers.
They were fun-loving singles. Forty-seven were engaged. They were married, leaving behind 307 wives and husbands. They had children -- 432 sons and daughters.
By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
HOOVER, Ala.—Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.
These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.
When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."
War sunders some relationships and forges others. More than 6,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving gaping holes in families across the nation. Out of duty or kindness, guilt or need, the troops who survived often step forward to fill the voids their buddies left.
By Robert Weintraub
New York Times
September 22, 2012
When No. 10 Clemson plays at No. 4 Florida State on Saturday night, Daniel Rodriguez, a walk-on wide receiver, will be a member of the Tigers' kickoff coverage unit. The sure-to-be frenzied atmosphere is not likely to affect him much.
That is partly because, at 24, Rodriguez is older than most college players. And also because his service in Iraq and Afghanistan will probably leave him unfazed by the raucous cheering of Seminoles fans.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Rodriguez was deployed in Nuristan Province, in the far northeastern corner of Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. He was a sergeant and had experienced a year of fighting in Iraq. About 50 United States and Afghan soldiers manned Combat Outpost Keating, a forward operating base near the remote town of Kamdesh.
By Mike Mullen and Steven A. Cohen
Our nation is finally emerging from one of the worst recessions in American history, yet for our military veterans there is no recovery in sight. The nation's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. But the unemployment rate of our youngest military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers at a stunning 29 percent.
Saturday marked the first of what will be three days of Veterans Day commemorations across the United States.
The holiday falls on a Sunday, and the federal observance is on Monday. It's the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.
It's also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II — a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.
Critics warn that some schools are misleading veterans, giving them expensive educations with little chance of a job or credit transfer.
WASHINGTON -- After Moses Maddox left the Marine Corps in 2006, he took a sales job with the for-profit University of Phoenix, making up to 100 calls a day to persuade veterans to enroll using their GI Bill benefits.
Only after he enrolled himself did the former corporal discover that the state university he wanted to attend didn't accept the nine course credits he'd earned at Phoenix.
"Basically, I wasted my GI Bill benefits -- just like a lot of other veterans I talk to," said Maddox, who until recently was a veterans benefits counselor at Palomar College in San Diego County.
Even with an 8.2% unemployment rate, the United States has a massive problem with getting manufacturing positions filled in this country. This problem isn’t going away any time soon, but it looks like the Army is trying to do something about it:
On Monday, the Army launched a six-week pilot program, in coordination with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, to provide military-to-civilian engineering certification for the tens of thousands of servicemen/women who will be exiting the Army over the coming years as the U.S. winds down operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Summit on Mental Health. The aim of the conference and the public campaign that followed was, in part, to educate the media on the moral and ethical imperative related to dispelling the stigma associated with mental illness. In a radio address to announce the conference, Mr. Clinton said, "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."
In recent years, the Department of Defense has made unprecedented progress toward eliminating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues affecting service members. This cultural shift within the military is a sea change, as more and more of our service members are seeking and receiving the support they need and deserve from a grateful nation. In the face of that progress, itâ€™s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.
WASHINGTON – Although the Obama administration has stepped up efforts to process medical disability claims by U.S. veterans, a top Department of Veterans Affairs official is set to tell lawmakers Wednesday that the agency's backlog continues to grow.
Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the VA, said in written testimony submitted in advance of a hearing before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that the flow of VA claims has increased 48% over the past three years.
The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans fell dramatically in June despite an overall economy that produced few jobs and left the national unemployed rate unchanged.
The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans fell to 9.5 percent, down from 12.7 percent the previous month and from 13.3 percent in June 2011, according to the employment situation report released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For veterans of all generations, the June jobless rate was 7.4 percent, a slight improvement over the 7.8 percent rate for May.
WASHINGTON -- The roadside bomb that exploded outside Andrew Robinson's Humvee in Iraq six years ago broke the Marine staff sergeant's neck and left him without use of his legs. It also cast doubt on his ability to father a child, a gnawing emotional wound for a then-23-year-old who had planned to start a family with his wife of less than two years.
The catastrophic spinal cord injury meant the couple's best hope for children was in vitro fertilization, an expensive and time-consuming medical procedure whose cost isn't covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Robinson and his wife were forced to pay out of pocket, with help from a doctor's discount and drugs donated by other patients.
By David Wallis
FALLING asleep in a crowded lecture hall was never a problem for Adam Connell. Just the opposite.
As a freshman at the University of Iowa in fall 2010, he uneasily eyed his classmates. "I had feelings of bad anxiety," recalled Mr. Connell, 25, a Navy veteran. "When you pull into ports, because terrorism is so high, you are always super-vigilant at all times. In these 300-person lecture halls, you are just surrounded by people you don't know."
By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Most companies canvassed in a study published Monday say it's good business to hire veterans because of their leadership and teamwork skills, but some negative perceptions about veterans persist among business leaders.
Neither the Defense nor the Veterans Affairs department -- which operate the world’s largest electronic health records systems -- tracks treatments used for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report the Institute of Medicine issued last week. What’s more, Defense does not even know how many PTSD treatment programs it or the services provide.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to transform its broken disability claims process is yielding concrete results, despite a growing number of cases, a senior VA official told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee Wednesday.
Allison A. Hickey, undersecretary for benefits for the VA, said training initiatives and a new paperless system being introduced are yielding faster and more accurate decisions on pending claims.
Beefy trucks and trikes get these guys back on the road in style, feeling good
By Chris Woodyard, USA Today
Left a paraplegic by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan two years ago, retired Marine Jack Pierce vows not to let his disability leave him in life's slow lane.
Pierce applies that attitude to pretty much everything, including right now, his summer vacation.
By Andrew Tilghman
An Air Force B-2 Spirit pilot can fly across oceans carrying nuclear payloads, but he will need to apply for a civilian pilot's license before he can get a job shuttling businessmen from New York to Washington, D.C.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to hire 1,900 psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, clinicians and clerical employees, a 10 percent increase in its mental health staff. That's welcome progress for a system that is struggling to meet the needs of veterans. But there are questions about whether it will be enough â€” and whether the department is truly facing up to its problems.
A bill to put veterans to work preserving and restoring national parks and other federal, state and local lands has become mired in a political fight, facing a procedural vote Wednesday in the Senate that could leave the legislation's future in doubt.
Democratic sponsors charge that the Veterans Job Corps bill is being held up by Republicans who refuse to allow any legislative victories to the Obama administration. Republicans counter that a GOP version of the legislation would lower veterans' unemployment without deepening the deficit.
The Democrats' bill is based on a proposal for a $1 billion program outlined by President Obama during his State of the Union address, but has been amended to include a number of Republican-sponsored provisions, including measures that would improve veterans' access to Internet tools to find jobs, and make it easier for troops leaving military service to get transition training for civilian life.
Picture this: An applicant walks into a job interview, extends a firm handshake, looks the hiring manager straight in the eye, and begins to detail her impressive qualifications.
Her resume clearly shows a record of dependability and enthusiasm. It is evident that teamwork and commitment to the mission at hand are hardwired into her DNA. She has received world-class training from one of the most revered and demanding organizations in the world. And she has been tested, time and again, in pressure-cooker situations.
What's more, if she is hired, the company may receive a tax credit from the federal government of $5,600 or more.
By Nancy Benac, Associated Press
WASHINGTON--Michelle Obama has been everywhere from a West Point mess hall to a NASCAR speedway in the past year to drum up support for military families, and now she's capping the yearlong effort with a two-day, four-state tour to take stock of what's been done.
By Beth Brown
San Antonio Express-News
September 20, 2012
The transition into civilian life hasn't been easy for Michael Jenkins.After 23 years in the Army, he retired as a sergeant first class in February. He has been unemployed ever since.
Jenkins is not alone in his struggle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that while veterans have a nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, Gulf War-era II veterans — or those who have served in the military since Sept. 11, 2001 — have an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. The country's overall unemployment rate is about 8 percent.
By James Dao
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to be prescribed opioid pain killers than other veterans with pain problems and more likely to use the opioids in risky ways, according to a study published Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
44 percent polled say they are not ready to make civilian transition
Despite a continued drop in the unemployment rate among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans, a new survey reports that more than two-thirds of their post-9/11 generation believe that finding a job is the greatest challenge they face in making the transition to civilian life.
Among the most striking findings of the Veterans’ Employment Challenges study, released last week, is that 44 percent of veterans participating in the poll said they were not ready to make the transition to civilian life.
Many who served on battlefields seek refuge from and ways to cope with Fourth of July displays
He knows it's just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin's heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely.
The concussive booms sound like Iraq.
The 26-year-old Army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn't have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him.
This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Sabin will try to stay far away from fireworks displays. Fireworks take them back to combat, when the sound of explosions meant death and injury, not colorful rockets lighting the sky on a peaceful, happy holiday.
More than 244,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of brain injury over the past 12 years, according to Pentagon statistics.
They are the most common injuries among combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet little is known about how to treat these wounds or cure the illnesses that result from them, says Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general and former vice chief of the Army.
For a nation that takes pride in taking care of its wounded soldiers, he laments, it is a shame that the so-called invisible wounds of war get so little attention.
Back in the spring, close to 50 unemployed young veterans gathered in a state agency building in Richardson to learn how to rework their résumés and make themselves more attractive job candidates.
The first speaker was someone from the University of Phoenix, a mammoth for-profit college that does an overwhelming amount of its educating online, not in classrooms. She passed out brochures, then detailed why the veterans should use their generous education benefits at her school.
Jim DePaolo, laid off just weeks before, was stunned.
Over the next five years, more than one million military service members will return from active duty.
By Stan McChrystal
'Wanted for hire: Enterprising, reliable self-starter. Must work well in teams. Technological literacy and leadership experience a plus."
This notice could be posted by many businesses today as they look for employees to help them survive, and thrive, in difficult economic times.
Marine turned entrepreneur and filmmaker Zach Iscol on an extraordinary and undervalued talent pool.
Retired Master Sergeant Ken Holman was confused when Scott Miller and Paul Cotter approached him about applying for a job at Microsoft.
On Feb. 21, 2002, his vehicle flipped over during a training exercise. His seatbelt broke, flinging him against the windshield. He broke his neck in three places and shattered his lower vertebrae, leaving him partially paralyzed. He had to relearn how to talk, walk, read, and write.
He'd served 26 years in the Marines specializing in bulk fuel and later in acquisitions. Though he had run a 2:35 marathon, served as a drill instructor and as a Marine recruiter, he had zero IT background.
So why were they interested in hiring him?
MATT LAUER: It is a startling number. More than 244,000 U.S. troops have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries, an issue that is front and center for the NFL, a league dealing with the problem of concussions among many of its current and former players. The league is now teaming up with the U.S. Army and National Institutes of Health to research ways to limit these types of injuries. Roger Goodell is commissioner of the NFL. Dr. Story Landis is the director of the NIH's Neurology Institute, and General Odierno is the chief of staff of the Army. Good morning to all of you. It's nice to see you.
General, that's a huge number, 244,000 returning military personnel with these brain injuries. I know the seriousness of those injuries varies from person to person, but it's a problem that has to be addressed.
GEN. ODIERNO: Absolutely, and one of the problems we have are soldiers coming forward first to say I have a problem. And so one of the things we're really focusing on is making sure that the same qualities -- mental toughness,physical toughness,dedication to mission accomplishment -- does not impede people from saying "I have a problem and I need to get help." That's why this initiative is important to us. We're now putting sensors in helmets, our kevlar helmets for the first time. About 7,000 soldiers have those in their helmets. As we're collecting more and more data, we're learning more and more information, but we have a lot of work to do yet.
More than 20,000 men and women have left the Army and Marines in the last four years with other-than-honorable discharges, jeopardizing their benefits and leaving some of them struggling to find treatment for health problems.
Jarrid Starks, a troubled Army veteran who received the Bronze Star for Valor but was dismissed from service with an other-than-honorable discharge, has been granted health-care benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Starks was featured in an Aug. 12 Seattle Times story that examined the plight of veterans whose other-than-honorable discharges have put their veteran's benefits at risk.
Starks had been told that it might take a year or more for the VA to undertake a review to see if he is eligible for benefits.
By Jon Soltz, Co-Founder of VoteVets.org, Iraq War Veteran
Do Republicans care about keeping our promise to veterans?
Looking at the recently released GOP budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, it's hard to see how they do. In fact, looking at the nearly 100 page document, the word "veteran" doesn't appear once. Not once.
By Hugh Lessig
The Obama administration has selected the Hampton VA Medical Center and a site in San Antonio as launch points for a massive medical record-sharing program between the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.
LESTER HOLT: Tonight we're proud to announce our NBC News network-wide initiative in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help more than a million unemployed veterans get back into the workforce. Tonight we're focusing on unemployed women veterans and the mentors helping them realize their full potential.
The Social Security numbers of Army recipients of the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross were inadvertently posted online by a Pentagon contractor and were available to the public until they were discovered by a Vietnam veteran who researches military medal awards.
The Social Security numbers of 31 recipients of the military's top two awards for valor in combat were posted by a contractor conducting medals research for the Pentagon.
FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Access to care for U.S. military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must improve, says an Institute of Medicine report released Friday that also calls for better tracking of treatments and results.
The congressionally mandated report also said that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs should launch research programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their PTSD programs and make the findings widely available.
WASHINGTON — Tanya L. Towne was wearing her full “battle rattle” when she got injured preparing for war. Now the Pentagon must explain why that should be treated differently from a combat-related injury.
What happens next will put the Defense Department on the spot. It also could mean a lot to veterans other than Towne, who served 17 years in the New York Army National Guard before her 2009 medical discharge.
DENVER--Busy, tech-savvy and often miles from their peers, thousands of new veterans are going online to find camaraderie or get their questions answered -- forcing big changes in long-established veterans groups and inspiring entrepreneurs to launch new ones.
"We're going back to school, we have full-time jobs, we have families and kids," said Marco Bongioanni, 33, of New York, who deployed to Iraq twice while on active duty in the Army.
That leaves little time for what he calls "brick-and-mortar" groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Men 18-24 years old hit hardest; unemployment for veterans overall dips
By Steve Vogel
Unemployment among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans stood at 12.1 percent in 2011, a slight increase over the previous year, according to a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By comparison, the unemployment rate for non-veterans decreased from 9.4 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period.
By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Fayetteville (NC) Observer
Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick stood in front of 14,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg in February with a message:
"We have got to stop the violence."
Just weeks before, Helmick had closed out the combat mission in Iraq and brought the troops home. Now, as he congratulated them for a job well done, he could not ignore some disturbing numbers. In just the past six weeks, he knew of six suicides and 25 accusations of spousal abuse.
Since Helmick retired in May, the violence at home has only gotten worse.
Starting now: Personalized support for your post-service life
The 22-year-old Transition Assistance Program is getting a total makeover, aiming to make the classes and workshops more helpful for troops leaving the military and entering a struggling civilian economy.
The new program, unveiled by President Obama after heavy prodding from Congress and veterans groups, recognizes that troops don’t all have the same needs.
MANHATTAN, Kan.--The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday he wants to increase the national conversation about war veterans and how they're treated and regarded in society.
Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke to a large audience of soldiers, faculty and students at Kansas State University. He said he believes the nation has a positive image of its military men and women and that there is a conversation taking place about how to help veterans reintegrate with work, school and their families.
By Josh Rogin
The United States should not pay upwards of $5,000 for each truck Pakistan lets through to Afghanistan to aid the war effort, both leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee told The Cable today.
Caleb Getscher's new home means a lot to him.
The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal lost both of his legs and part of an arm while on duty in Afghanistan last year. His parents' home in Chaptico, where he spends weekends when he is not at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, was not easy to get around in a wheelchair or with prosthetic limbs.
Now he is able to live more comfortably in an addition built to that house, thanks to a program administered by Patuxent Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers and elected officials gathered at the house Aug. 25 to dedicate the new living space.
Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer is fighting for a new cause: helping veterans find jobs back home
With his marine unit caught in an ambush, Dakota Meyer knew what he had to do. In September 2009, Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez drove their Humvee into the thick of the action in the Afghan village of Ganjgal, stopping repeatedly under murderous fire so that Meyer could leave the vehicle to pick up stranded Afghan soldiers. Using a machine gun and grenade launcher to ward off the swarming Taliban militants, Meyer darted house to house searching for four missing Americans. They were dead, and while the precise details of the action have been a matter of controversy, an official review of the battle credited Meyer with saving the lives of numerous fellow marines and Afghan troops.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness released a report Thursday calling on the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate barriers to mental-health care and make better use of local care in the treatment of military service members, veterans and their families.
by: Rob Kane
Veterans have turned to psychology to become mental health professionals, and they’re filling in gaps in veteran care that government and civilian efforts have left open. And while they are still rare, programs to train them are slowly emerging at universities and nonprofit organizations around the United States.
There's no question that plenty of soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But exactly how many soldiers? That's a question that even top medical experts, not to mention military officials, still can't quite answer.
Now a new consortium, manned by some of the nation’s top scientists where PTSD is concerned, is hoping to develop an objective means of diagnosing the condition. In other words, the group hopes that the illness can — one day soon — be diagnosed using medical techniques like blood tests or brain scans, rather than self-reported symptoms.
Misplaced markers, interment mix-ups at 2 Calif. cemeteries
By Christian Davenport
The Department of Veterans Affairs has found more than 100 unmarked or mismarked graves at two more national cemeteries, adding to a mounting toll of problems at military burial grounds across the country.
Senator Calls For New Evaluations; Army investigating screening process
By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times staff reporter
The Army Medical Command has identified some 285 Madigan Army Medical Center patients whose diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder were reversed as they went through a screening process for possible medical retirements, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released a new report on post-traumatic stress disorder, showing that since 9/11, nearly 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Veterans advocates say the new V.A. report is the most damning evidence yet of the profound impact multiple deployments have had on American service men and women since 9/11. Troops who've been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for PTSD and major depression, according to a 2010 study published by the American Journal for Public Health.
The report, which revealed that 247,243 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have been diagnosed with PTSD, was buried on the V.A.'s website without fanfare.
Average case now drags on for more than a year
Five years after launching a combined effort to cut the time it takes to complete disability evaluations and begin paying benefits to wounded, injured and ill troops, it now takes the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments an average of 100 days longer to close a case.
The Integrated Disability Evaluation System was launched in 2008 to combine the separate DoD and VA systems into one and cut the time it takes to complete to 295 days for active-duty troops and 305 days for reserve-component members.
By Rick Maze, Staff writer
At a time when Congress is facing big questions that will affect military careers, the percentage of lawmakers who served in uniform has increased slightly and remains higher than the general population.
Colleges sign on for Joining Forces national initiative
With nurses often at the front lines of medical care, there's a movement in the Chicago area and across the country to ensure that nursing students are better trained to tend to a new generation of patients who are military veterans.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National League of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other industry groups are calling on nursing schools to take a pledge to do more to educate students on handling veterans and their families. The pledge is part of Joining Forces -- a campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support veterans. Hundreds of nursing schools have already signed on, according to nursing groups.
By Aamer Madhani, USA Today
WASHINGTON â€“ For months, President Obama and his surrogates have been spotlighting his efforts on behalf of military veterans â€” a group they think potentially could play an important role in determining who wins several battleground states in November.
Biden highlights drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, criticizes Romney during speech
By Amy Gardner and Scott Wilson
President Obama and the first lady will greet soldiers at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga., on Friday at a time when his reelection campaign is focused more intently than ever on a novel and potentially fruitful voter set: military families.
By Steve Vogel
The White House's personnel chief is calling on senior federal executives to ensure that National Guard and Reserve troops returning to their civilian federal jobs are not penalized for their military service.
By Dan Moran
NORTH CHICAGO â€” Standing in the nation's first facility that combines the medical services of the Navy and the Veterans Administration, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his VA counterpart, Eric Shinseki, outlined their commitments Monday to both the ongoing military presence in Afghanistan and the care that will be required for those returning from the mission.
By Elisabeth Bumiller
WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that runaway personnel costs at the Pentagon are "unsustainable," and on Monday he tried to put a big brake on the spending: Over the next five years the Defense Department plans to nearly quadruple the health insurance fees paid by many working-age military retirees.
Planned Invictus San Diego facility would treat veterans, and later civilians, who have had amputations or traumatic brain injuries
A group of military, veteran and community health care heavyweights began meeting last year in San Diego to think big about improving treatment for amputation and traumatic brain injury.
The plan that took shape is unlike any nationwide, organizers say: a community center offering medical treatment, family and mental health counseling, job placement and education services under one roof.
As GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for Monday's foreign policy debate, a new poll shows that members of the armed forces view veterans' unemployment as their top concern, and a majority think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Eighty-eight percent of military members think Iraq and Afghanistan war vet joblessness is a problem, according to the poll from non-partisan advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America and obtained by POLITICO.
For 22 years, Shirley Booze attributed her husband’s violent nightmares and depression to “mental fatigue.”
It was clearly more than just everyday stress that was affecting the Army veteran, but Booze had no other way to classify his emotional isolation.
“It was like he was in a foxhole and trying to protect himself,” she said.
The stress of readjusting to civilian life is a major reason some soldiers seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study finds.
Many veterans who require mental-health care do not receive it, and a great deal of previous research has focused on barriers to treatment. The new study was conducted to identify characteristics and factors that motivate veterans to seek mental-health treatment.
By Michael Melia, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn.--As a truck driver for the U.S. military in wartime Iraq, Ed Young racked up 7,000 miles, facing a constant threat of attack that left him struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Four years later, he is driving long hauls again, but now in the U.S. as one of a growing number of veterans turning entrepreneur. The Navy veteran who had seen his post-war life spiraling out of control says his Connecticut-based car transportation business has helped to put him on the road to recovery.
Republicans object to the $1-billion price tag and Obama's plan to pay for it. Other bills also appear doomed.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama's proposal to create a Veterans Jobs Corps to stem high unemployment among recent military veterans was shelved Wednesday after Senate Republicans balked at the five-year, $1-billion cost, giving both sides fresh ammunition for the November election.
The jobs bill was on Obama's to-do list for Congress, a set of initiatives that Republicans have largely rejected. The measure was designed to help veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by providing jobs on federal public lands projects and by building job training centers.
The jobless rate among post-Sept. 11 veterans was 10.9% in August, compared with 8.1 % in the general population.
By Sen. Kay Hagan
Ask a random American if they know someone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the answer is likely to be "no." That's not surprising. Nationwide, military service members account for only 1 percent of our population.
Petraeus -- Holly, that is -- makes mark on military by putting herself between soldiers and swindlers
By Rick Hampson, USA Today
When 18,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division flew back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in 2004 after a year in Iraq, Holly Petraeus was there to meet them, no matter the hour, the weather or her other duties.
by Vince Delvin
"Many military veterans who fought for your freedom now fight for their own â€“ a freedom from symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder that threatens to take over their lives and relationships."
"Sadly, suicide is not an uncommon escape for those with PTSD. Jesse Roods, director and chairman of XSports4Vets â€“ as well as a wildland firefighter who served as a Marine in Iraq â€“ says an average of 17 veterans commit suicide every day in America."
POLSON â€“ Brandon Bryant has done most of his flying from the inside of trailers.
The U.S. Air Force veteran piloted drones over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya during his seven years on active duty. He steered the unmanned combat air vehicles with his feet firmly planted on a floor and his eyes not on the skies so much as on banks of computer screens.
So this was a little different, last weekend, when Bryant slipped on a helmet and took off from the Polson Airport on the back of what amounts to an open-air two-seat tricycle with a wing attached, and a motor capable of propelling it all through the sky at speeds up to 90 mph.
New York Daily News
October 10, 2012
Be Our Guest
Anyone who believes that our country’s methods are adequate for helping veterans re-adapt to society as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down need look no further than at the following data: In the year 2012, 211 members of the United States Armed Forces took their own lives.
At least 53 of them committed suicide in July and August. That is more than the total number of battlefield deaths in those months. This is a crisis that has gone largely unaddressed in this political cycle, and it’s unacceptable.
In the first comprehensive review of the government's programs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder in service members and veterans, a panel of experts recommended on Friday that the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs expand access to services, particularly for people in rural areas, in the National Guard or Reserves, or in combat zones.
The report, by the Institute of Medicine, also concluded that the two departments need to improve their assessment of how well their many treatment programs work, as well as find better ways of coordinating care that can begin overseas and then continue on bases or in small towns across the country.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 91 in Tacoma have been raising money to help the wife and children of Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.
By Associated Press
TACOMA â€” A local veterans group has been raising money to support the wife and children of Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.
By Joseph Berger
After Eugene Ovsishcher returned from a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan, he experienced what his doctors called symptoms of post-traumatic stress: nightmares, flashbacks and a pervasive anxiety. A psychiatrist advised him to get a dog, and last August he did â€” a shaggy, mocha Shih Tzu puppy that Mr. Ovsishcher named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse.
For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide. It's time to broaden efforts against PTSD.
By Robert Morgenthau
Wall Street Journal
During the Civil War, they called it "soldier's heart." In World War I, doctors called it "shell shock." In World War II, the war I served in, we called it "battle fatigue." Now we know it as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The name may have changed, but one thing is clear: It is reaching epidemic proportions among our soldiers and veterans.
According to a Veterans Administration report released this March, current or former military personnel represent an estimated 20% of all known suicides in the United States—that's more than 7,000 veterans and service members each year. For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide.
Baltimore VA center offers help to victims of attacks and harassment in military
By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
Machele Fredericks had to face her attacker every day.
She was in the Air Force. He was a fellow service member on the base. And he said that if she told anyone what he'd done, he'd kill her.
"You didn't hear much of people getting raped in the military back then," Fredericks said. "At least I didn't. So, you know, it was like fear every day: 'I hope he's not at the gate today.'
But vets must take first step: seek help
The most common misconception about post-traumatic stress disorder is that there is no effective treatment.
Dr. Matthew Friedman, executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, is working to get the word out that it's "very treatable."
PTSD is more prevalent among service members today, with 17 percent to 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from it, he said. But studies have shown that 80 percent of those, given proper treatment, are without symptoms after five years.
By Tom Philpott
A House subcommittee expected to vote soon on whether to recommend raising retiree TRICARE fees sharply over the next five years heard some emphatic testimony against the move last week.
After leveling off in 2010 and 2011, suicides among U.S. service members have jumped to nearly one a day, catching many by surprise.
By Robert Burns, Associated Press
WASHINGTON â€” Suicides are surging among Americaâ€™s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year â€” the fastest pace in the nationâ€™s decade of war.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan â€” about 50 percent more â€” according to Pentagon statistics.
The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago.
By David Lerman, Bloomberg News
The unemployment rate for U.S. veterans who've served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increased last year, while the rate for non-veterans declined, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
For Johnnie Larmore, a veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam, living with post-traumatic stress disorder means bursts of anger followed by wells of depression.
Last week, the Port Angeles man left a recently expanded treatment program at VA Puget Sound American Lake Division in Lakewood. He calls it “the best staff and the best facility” he’s seen in his 41 years seeking help coping with Army combat-related PTSD.
By Agence France-Presse
The number of suicides in the US Army rose by 80 percent after the United States launched the war on Iraq, American military doctors reported on Thursday.
CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM
SCOTT PELLEY: Finally tonight, America of course owes a great debt to the men and women who have sacrificed so much in more than a decade of war. But it turns out many are forced to wait months, even years, to get disability benefits. David Martin has been investigating whatâ€™s behind the delay.
Need critical as PTSD cases rise
By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
As thousands of additional veterans seek mental health care every month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is short of psychiatrists, with 20% vacancy rates in much of the country served by VA hospitals, according to department data.
CNN Sunday Morning, 6:00 AM
RANDI KAYE: Thousands of U.S. troops are heading home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But now many of them are fighting a war after the war. We're talking about post-traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD. It is a term that we first started to talk about in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, but for today's troops, it is as relevant as ever. PTSD is a mental disorder that some get after seeing or living through a dangerous event such as war combat. A person may have a flashback or begin reliving the event. They may have bad memories or even nightmares. They might feel numb or become jittery, or always be on alert or on the lookout for danger.
Even knowing what PTSD does to a person, it's shocking that many veterans commit suicide in this country. How many? On average, as many as 18 every day. Mike Scotti is a former Marine lieutenant who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has recovered from PTSD. Good morning, Mike, thanks for joining us this morning.
By James Dao
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers.
Nonprofit grooms ex-military for jobs via service projects
Jeffrey Hall knows the look of an empty pantry.
“I do remember some days when we only had crackers in the house,” said Hall, 45, who recalled frequent trips to a food bank on the North Side. “A family of four, and crackers and water.”
Hall left Chicago to join the Navy, but he will return this week as a fellow with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group dedicated to involving veterans of recent wars in meaningful service projects. More than 100 veterans will gather in Chicago this weekend to prepare for six months of work at nonprofits across the country.
DENVER -- Exasperated veterans who work part-time for the Veterans Administration while attending college say their paychecks are sometimes weeks late, leaving them in trouble with bill collectors or having to borrow money to avoid eviction.
The two-week paycheck is typically about $360, and can be vital to veterans raising families and juggling expenses.
The unemployment rate for veterans who entered service after Sept. 11, 2001, fell to 8.9 percent in July, down from 9.5 percent the previous month and from 12.4 percent in July 2011, according to the latest monthly employment report released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
VA pursuing strategic, and some say lofty, goal of ending problem by 2015
WASHINGTON -- On a cold night in Monmouth County, N.J., a lone dishwasher stayed late, taking on extra work to buy time. The restaurant's owners, trying to close up, guessed the man had no place to go. And when they tried to find him one, they struck out.
The restaurant is owned by rock legend Jon Bon Jovi's foundation, and Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley, discovered that night that finding services for the homeless is no easy task. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is trying to tackle the problem of veterans' homelessness, figuring out how to make the task easier is a pivotal goal.
Report says department overstated how quickly it provided service
By Steve Vogel
The Department of Veterans Affairs has greatly overstated how quickly it provides mental-health care for veterans, according to an inspector general's report released Monday.
Civilian employers are reluctant to hire them, they say.
By David Zucchino
WASHINGTON -- Matt Pizzo has a law degree, can-do attitude, proven leadership skills, and expertise in communications and satellite technology from his four years in the Air Force.
Motorcycle rally marks 25th year of taking D.C. by storm
By Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times
For Walt Koren, it would be easier to know that his old friend is dead. Instead, he's lived with uncertainty for 41 years. Whether William Patrick Millner, an Army Air Cavalry pilot in Vietnam and high school classmate of Mr. Koren's, survived a crash landing in Laos in 1971, and whether he remains in captivity somewhere in Southeast Asia, are questions that haunt him to this day.
By Gopal Ratnam and Michelle Fay Cortez, Bloomberg News
No one knows better than Connie Chapman that almost 150 years since troops came home with "soldier's heart" after the Civil War, the U.S. military is still struggling to identify and treat what's now called PTSD.
The tragic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield concussion are all too evident. Even more alarming for researchers is emerging evidence that these newest American combat veterans -- former GIs and Marines in their 20s and 30s -- appear to be growing old before their time. Scientists see early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms and obesity -- maladies more common to middle age or later.
The Coming Homeâ„¢ Project is a non-profit organization devoted, since 2006, to providing expert, compassionate care, support, education, and stress management tools for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, service members, their families, and their service providers. We are an experienced team of psychotherapists, veterans and interfaith leaders committed to alleviating the unseen wounds of war. Our nationally recognized, evidence-based programs address the emotional, social, moral, and spiritual injuries and the family challenges experienced during all stages of deployment, especially reintegration.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America (IAVA) is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. With over 200,000 Member Veterans and supporters nationwide, IAVA strives to build the New Greatest Generation. Our programs empower our community online and offline, and include Smart Job Fairs, our signature New GI Bill calculator and Community of Veterans, a veterans only social network.
The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) is a national non-partisan partnership of organizations committed to working with and on behalf of all military, veterans, families, survivors and providers to strengthen the existing system of care and support for all those affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Check out Veterans Network, the first inter-television Network dedicated to the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our nation's Freedom.
The Veterans Network has 22 Channels, including: Veterans News, Veterans Legislation Ledger, Veterans Nation Archives, Eleven Bravo, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Channel, Homeward Bound, C-4, Veterans Helping Veterans, Beneath The Uniform, TV Hour, National Veterans Foundation, The Wounded Warrior Project, The Fisher House, Step to the Plate, World War II, and U.S. Vets.
The Veterans Nation video above is from the Veterans Network website. Great videos filled with valuable information for Veterans by Veterans.
Vets4Vets is a non-partisan organization dedicated to helping Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans to heal from the psychological injuries of war through the use of peer support.
Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes (CBS) did a great report on Stand Down - an annual encampment in San Diego where veterans can find hope, help and services. This is an informative report about how people help homeless veterans.
HELP USA, one of the largest nonprofit housing organizations for the homeless in the country, is taking steps to ensure an adequate safety net for soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The organization has specialized transitional and permanent supportive housing residences and employment services for veterans in NYC, Newark, Philadelphia and Las Vegas with projects in development in Washington DC and Maryland.
The organization today released a PSA film message featuring U.S. Ranger and Bronx native Robert LeBron, an Iraq war veteran who was forced to seek shelter in HELP USA's homeless shelter on Morris Avenue with his 14-year-old son.
A Backpack Journalist interns Hannah and Stacey spend a day at Turner Field Ball Park during the Memorial Day game to interview some interesting people who are dedicated to helping military families, including Gen. (RET) Peter Chiarelli, CEO of 1mind4research.org - a leading organization specializing in treating Post Traumatic Stress Injury.
WATCH as we talk with 10th combat Aviation Brigade Bravo Company 277th Aviation Support Battalion soldiers in Bagram Air Field Afghanistan where they work on aircraft and more. We talked with SPC Sean Ginn from Midwest, Wyoming, SGT Joshua Maidinbaam with six years of service including an infantry division deployment to Iraq and now to Afghanistan. He is from Marmora, NJ, SPC James Henderson with 4 years of service and from Azle, Texas, PFC Joseph Wheelihan from Belleglade, FL, SPC Thomas Tipton from Phoenix, AZ, SGT Donald Wilkins with 5 years of service and from Louisville, KY, They talk about Care Packages especially from SoldiersAngels.org and OperationShoebox.org. They all give Shouts Outs to Family and Friends back home!