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'We Pretend The Vets Don't Exist'

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.'

Posted in Veterans News

1,500 Veterans Hired Through New Mo. Program

By Associated Press

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The jobless rate for veterans remains high, but a Missouri program is working to help.

The program known as Show-Me Heroes launched in 2010. The Southeast Missourian reports that 1,500 veterans have been hired, and 1,834 companies have agreed to participate in the program.

Posted in Veterans News

2 Wars, 11 Years, 725 Fallen Californians

By Diana Marcum
Los Angeles Times
Pg. 1

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

A Marine's Death Brings Together His Dad And His Battlefield Buddy

By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
Pg. 1

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

A Purple Heart, A Bronze Star And Kickoff Coverage

By Robert Weintraub
New York Times
September 22, 2012
Pg. D2

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

A Tale of Two Diagnoses: Records Show How Army Doctors Downgrade PTSD

How does one doctor diagnose an Iraq war veteran with PTSD while another says the same soldier has a less severe condition called adjustment disorder? Medical records shared by one of the characters in our feature story this week offer some insight into the workings the controversial forensic psychiatry team at Madigan Army Medical Center.

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Posted in Veterans News

A War Veteran's Identity Crisis

July saw a record number of suicides in the Army and among recent veterans. I was nearly one of them.

I suffer from both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the two most common conditions of suicidal veterans. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming.

This summer, as has happened often before, I experienced severe depression, which leads to isolation. Then, when I was feeling most hopeless, I also started feeling tremendously reckless. I found myself feeling aggressive and impulsive, feelings that fuel erratic behavior. With each passing week of the summer, as I pushed yet another friend or family member away, it became easier to envision suicide as an option to break this insufferable tension.

Posted in Veterans News

A Welcome-Home Gift For Veterans: Jobs

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Across U.S., Veterans Day Commemorations Under Way

By Jessica Gresko and Kevin McGill, Associated Press

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Amazon Recruiting Veterans for Distribution Centers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — At Amazon's Chattanooga distribution center, military veteran Scot Newport is using his leadership skills developed over 27 years in the Army to help run the busy distribution center during the annual holiday busy season.

"It's a very exciting time of the year for Amazon," he said.

Newport told The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/XGl538 ) he joined the nation's No. 1 retailer, which has been named among the nation's top military friendly employers, because of the company's openness to veterans. He's a former U.S. Army colonel who now serves as senior operations manager for outbound shipping at the Chattanooga facility.

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Posted in Veterans News

An Army Ranger's Field Guide To Networking

By Mohana Ravindranath

Kelly Perdew has founded and led at least three Internet companies, won the second season of “The Apprentice,” served as the executive vice president of the Trump Foundation and is a former Army Ranger. He also has written a book on leadership principles learned from the military.

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Posted in Veterans News

Annual relief effort in San Diego focuses on providing veterans with dental care

SAN DIEGO -- Two dentists and two Navy dental corpsmen are working on the mouth of John Gardinier, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and now lives in Tijuana near the clinic where he can get methadone for his drug addiction.

"It's no good to have teeth that are rotten," Gardinier, 64, had said as he waited to be treated at the dental services area at the 25th annual Stand Down in San Diego for homeless and hard-luck military veterans. The relief effort brings together dozens of government agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide veterans with a variety of health and social services.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Changes PTSD Evaluations

Forensic Methods Led To Loss Of Pensions; Soldiers retested after problems at Madigan

The Army Surgeon General's Office has issued new guidelines for diagnosing PTSD that criticize an approach once routinely used at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The policy, obtained by The Seattle Times, specifically discounts tests used to determine whether soldiers are faking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It says that poor test results do not constitute malingering.

The written tests often were part of the Madigan screening process that overturned the PTSD diagnoses of more than 300 patients during the past five years.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Establishes Hotline

The Army Medical Command has a hotline available for soldiers and veterans who have been screened by forensic psychiatric teams since 2007 as part of the evaluation process for medical retirement. Soldiers and veterans with concerns about their diagnosis may call 800-984-8523.

Posted in Veterans News

Army Joins Veterans Affairs and Other Military Services in Standardizing PTSD Diagnosis and Treatment

USNavySeals.com

The Army, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other military services, is standardizing the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, otherwise known as post-traumatic stress disorder, in an attempt to increase the soldiers’ level of trust and fairness in the system.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army veterans start training for manufacturing jobs

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Big Dip In Unemployment Rate For Young Veterans

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Bill Would Expand Fertility Coverage For Veterans

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Coming Home From War To Hit The Books

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."

Posted in Veterans News

Defense And VA Can’t Track PTSD Treatments, Report Finds

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Disabled Vets Get Hot Wheels

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.

Posted in Veterans News

DoD Can Help Troops Get Civilian Credentials, Board Says

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.

Posted in Veterans News

DoD Panel Urges New, Single Health Agency

By Patricia Kime, Army Times

An internal Pentagon task force is recommending the creation of a single defense health agency that would have broader reach and responsibilities than the current Tricare Management Activity, but would leave command of military treatment facilities within the individual services.

Posted in Veterans News

Employment Bill For Veterans Caught In A Partisan Tug Of War

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Federal internship program helps wounded veterans find work, transition

In an effort to provide more opportunities for wounded veterans, multiple federal agencies discussed what they could do to employ veterans as they continue their medical recovery.

Wednesday's meeting was the first time many of the local agency representatives had heard about the program and what opportunities are available to them to provide extra training to wounded veterans and to get extra hands at their office. Those in attendance included a wide range of agencies, from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the National Weather Service.

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Posted in Veterans News

For Ex-GIs, Next Battle Is Finding Job

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

For Vets, Fireworks Can Stir Memories Of Gunfire

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Former Soldiers Battle Tuition Inconsistencies At State Colleges

Some former soldiers in North Carolina say they've had to fight inconsistencies in how University of North Carolina campuses grant in-state residency for lower tuition.

One soldier said she was accepted by Fayetteville State University as a North Carolina resident but classified as out-of-state by UNC-Pembroke.

At stake is thousands of dollars per semester. Veteran students have been scrambling since last year to prove they are in-state students since cost-cutting changes were imposed on the GI Bill, according to the N.C. Student Veterans Advocacy Group. A year ago, the GI Bill program quit paying out-of-state rates at public colleges and universities.

Posted in Veterans News

Former War Commander Fighting For Funds To Combat Brain Injuries

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.

Posted in Veterans News

For-Profit Schools Taking In Millions From GI Bill

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Gen. Odierno Discusses Army Efforts To Limit Traumatic Brain Injuries

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.

Posted in Veterans News

GI Bill To Benefit 99,000 Jobless Vets

New program provides extra year of training for those aged 35 to 60

By Rick Maze

A new veterans education benefit could help 99,000 unemployed veterans learn new skills in career fields forecast to have high job growth over the next decade, a senior Veterans Affairs Department official said.

Posted in Veterans News

Giving a hand up, not a hand out

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Homeless veterans in the local area may be just a little more comfortable thanks to the efforts of U.S. Army Reserve Command military and civilian employees.

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Posted in Veterans News

Good News For Veteran Discharged Without Benefits

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Hiring Our Heroes

NBC Nightly News, March 25, 6:35 PM

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Home Depot Foundation Program Helps Improve Veterans' Housing

Officials with the Home Depot Foundation on Thursday said the organization will donate $50 million over a three-year period to nonprofits that work with military veterans.

The money will be used primarily on housing initiatives across the nation, including in Atlanta.

Posted in Veterans News

Homeless Rural Vets Find A Place To Call Home

All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM

MELISSA BLOCK: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.

This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans in Connecticut will finally have a place to call their own, thanks to the American Legion. They'll stay at the legion's post in the small town of Jewett City. Lucy Nalpathanchil from member station WNPR reports.

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Posted in Veterans News

Honored Veterans' Privacy Violated

By David Zucchino

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Iraq War Veteran Challenges Military On Injury Benefits

By Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Iraq, Afghanistan Vets Are Congregating Online, And VA, Veterans Groups Are Following Them

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Is The Army Doing Enough To Help Soldiers Suffering From Mental Health Problems?

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Jobs After The Army

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Military PTSD: All-Star Scientists Start Mental Health Mega-Project

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.

Posted in Veterans News

More Problems Found At VA Burial Grounds

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Murray: 285 Madigan PTSD Diagnoses Reversed

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Nearly 30% Of Vets Treated By V.A. Have PTSD

Jamie Reno
TheDailyBeast.com

A new study by the Veterans Administration reveals nearly 30% of its patients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. Jamie Reno reports.

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

New Disability System Fails To Speed Claims

Average case now drags on for more than a year

By Patricia Kime

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Number Of Veterans In Congress Rises

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.

Posted in Veterans News

One Veteran's Heroic Quest

Doug Sterner has for 14 years been doing what the Pentagon has failed to do: catalog all 350,000 recipients of top medals of valor.

By David Zucchino
Los Angeles Times
October 4, 2012
Pg. 1

ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- Doug Sterner drives from his cluttered apartment here to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., carrying a portable photocopier and a belief in American heroes.

Inside the Navy archives, he flips through thousands of typed index cards detailing bravery in battle. Sterner pulls out a card and starts reading. He's mesmerized by this story:

Charles Valentine August, a Navy pilot who shot down two enemy planes in World War II, was later shot down himself and captured in North Africa. After escaping, August returned to combat and was shot down again and taken prisoner by the Japanese.

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Posted in Veterans News

Painful Chapter Ends For Kill Team Families

By Adam Ashton, Staff writer

At least the waiting is over.

That's small consolation for friends and family of 12 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker soldiers who spent much of the past two years ensnared in a sprawling war crimes investigation.

The trials tested families in ways they couldn't have imagined when their sons and husbands enlisted in the Army. Some couples broke apart. Others came away intact, but found themselves thousands of dollars in debt from legal fees.

Posted in Veterans News

Panetta: Care At Lovell Center 'Sacred Responsiblity'

By Dan Moran

NORTH CHICAGO — 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.

Posted in Veterans News

Planned Invictus San Diego facility would treat veterans, and later civilians, who have had amputations or traumatic brain injuries

By Gretel C. Kovach, U-T

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.

Posted in Veterans News

PTSD can harm families of veterans

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Raise TRICARE Fees Or Deepen Force Cuts, Top Doc Warns

By Tom Philpott

If Congress blocks Defense Department plans to raise TRICARE fees for military retirees and beneficiary co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base, the services will have to make even deeper cuts in force strength than now planned, the military's top health official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Posted in Veterans News

Readjustment Issues May Spur PTSD Treatment

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Remembering the Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails on Memorial Day

Despite a history of more than 150 years of courageous combat service, World War II left African-Americans serving in segregated units and primarily resulted in assignments to support functions instead of being allowed to fight. However, one unit specifically fought to prove the equal capability of African-Americans in combat -- the Tuskegee Airmen.

Trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Ala., 992 men graduated from pilot training, after which they were assigned to the all African-American 332nd Fighter Group in North Africa and Italy.

Posted in Veterans News

She's One Of Us

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Some Veterans Feeling Shorted By The Army College Fund

'Blatantly misleading' enlistment agreements acknowledged

At the time, the deal seemed irresistible to Eric Hickam: Give six years to the Army, a recruiter told him in 2003, and you can get a $50,000 "kicker" -- the Army College Fund.

When his payments started coming last fall, his first year at Columbia University in New York City, the amount fell far short of what Hickam had anticipated. He thought the college fund was a bonus on top of his GI Bill, worth about $35,000 at the time. The Army says the $50,000 figure was a total of all benefits. Last month, it denied Hickam's appeal seeking $50,000 more than what he's receiving for his GI Bill.

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Posted in Veterans News

Student Veterans Group Revokes Charters From 26 Schools

By Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today

A national advocacy group for student veterans, concerned that some for-profit colleges may be misrepresenting the organization to boost their image as military-friendly schools, has revoked chapter membership from 26 for-profit campuses and is reviewing compliance at its remaining 35 for-profit members.

Posted in Veterans News

Study To Examine If Fatty Acids Lower Veterans' Suicide Risk

By Harriet McLeod, Reuters
Reuters.com
October 8, 2012

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- A new $10 million, three-year study will investigate whether daily doses of a common dietary supplement could help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday.

The study, set to begin in South Carolina in January, is part of the Defense Department's heightened focus on suicide prevention as the number of service members attempting to take their own lives has risen.

Posted in Veterans News

Taking His Doctor's Advice Could Cost A Combat Veteran His Apartment

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 — a shaggy, mocha Shih Tzu puppy that Mr. Ovsishcher named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse.

Posted in Veterans News

TRICARE Debate Rages On

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Troops' Surge In Suicides Shocks Military Officials

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 — Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’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 — about 50 percent more — 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.

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Posted in Veterans News

U.S. Army Should Embrace, Not Repress, Soldiers' Ambition

By Elizabeth Samet

In his landmark 19th-century treatise "On War," Carl von Clausewitz asked "whether history has ever known a great general who was not ambitious; whether, indeed, such a figure is conceivable."

Clausewitz knew that ambition had gotten a bum rap: "Other emotions," he explained, "may be more common and more venerated -- patriotism, idealism, vengeance, enthusiasm of every kind --but they are no substitute for a thirst for fame and honor."

Posted in Veterans News

U.S. Seeks More Marines In Asia By Rotation: Panetta

By Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap

WASHINGTON -- The United States plans to expand the presence of its Marines in Asia in tandem with diplomatic initiatives towards the increasingly important region, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

Posted in Veterans News

U.S. Starts Campaign To Prevent Suicides

A new national strategy for reducing the number of suicides by better identifying and reaching out to those at risk was released Monday morning in Washington.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention report includes community-based approaches to curbing the incidence of suicide, details new ways to identify people at risk for suicide, and outlines national priorities for reducing the number of suicides over the next decade.

In conjunction with the report, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $55.6 million in new grants for suicide-prevention programs.

Posted in Veterans News

Updated PTSD Program Means Better Care For Vets

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

US Army Suicides Rose 80% After Start Of Iraq War: Study

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Say Late Pay From VA Cripples Their Finances

By Dan Elliott, Associated Press

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Unemployment Rate Improves Again In July

The job outlook for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans continues to brighten as the unemployment rate for the group fell for the sixth month in a row.

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Veterans' Homelessness High Priority For Agency

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.

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Posted in Veterans News

Vets Struggle To Go From War To Work

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Vets, Supporters Find Solace, Camaraderie In Rolling Thunder's Roar

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Wal-Mart Therapy Tried By Pentagon For Traumatized Troops

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.

Posted in Veterans News

War Might Be Making Young Bodies Old

BOSTON -- A litany of physical or emotional problems spill out as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make their way, one by one, to the 11th floor of a VA hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

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.

Posted in Veterans News

Warrior Transition Command Launches 'Hire a Veteran' Campaign

STORY SUBMITTED BY J.D. LEIPOLD, ARMY.MIL

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Army's Warrior Transition Command unveiled its three-pronged Hire a Veteran education campaign plan Monday.

The plan aims to help employers understand that wounded warriors can bring a wealth of leadership experience and skills to the table and to their bottom line.

"This campaign is about setting conditions, not just preparing our Soldiers for a new career as a veteran, but also preparing employers about this unique population who has so much to offer," said WTC Commander Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop in kicking off Warrior Care Month at the National Press Club.

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Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Soldiers Get Lesson In Resiliency

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer

Kyle Maynard implored Fort Bragg's wounded soldiers to set impossible goals for themselves and then strive to reach them.

When he had finished speaking, about 300 strong from Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion responded with a standing ovation.

Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Warriors Are Fighting A New Kind Of War

A wide-ranging inspection of Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion found that the program for physically and mentally wounded soldiers has shortcomings - notably a need for better leadership.

Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Warriors Face New Enemy: Overmedication

All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM

ROBERT SIEGEL: When sick or seriously wounded troops return home from combat duty, most are assigned to special units called Wounded Warrior battalions. These units aim to give thousands of soldiers and Marines the month they need to recover.

Posted in Veterans News

Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families

Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families provides help from a professional tutor anytime you need it.

Posted in Education

TBI Facts - US Army Website

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption of brain function resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury.

TBI FACTS:

  • TBIs can occur on the battlefield, on the football field, on the playground, in a car accident, and even at home.

  • There are four categories of TBI including mild, moderate, severe and penetrating.

  • A mild TBI (mTBI), which is also known as a concussion, is the most common form of TBI.

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Posted in PTSD / TBI

Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)

image for Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY (AFAS) is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force. It promotes the Air Force mission by helping "to relieve distress of Air Force members and their families and assisting them to finance their education". It is rooted in the original Army Air Corps and the World War II Army Air Forces, whose members wanted to "take care of their own." Through the years, AFAS has become increasingly effective in helping individuals with personal emergencies-- as well as extremely useful when used by commanders to help solve personnel problems in their units.

Posted in US Air Force

Army Soldier Records Branch Article

image for Army Soldier Records Branch Article

How to Access or Request Your Official Military Personnel File Documents

Accessing or Requesting Your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) Documents

There are two ways to obtain copies of specific document(s) or your entire OMPF:

  1. Accessing your OMPF electronically.
  2. Submitting a request to the appropriate Location of Military Personnel Records.

You may be able to access your OMPF electronically at no charge. Electronic access is an easy, fast, 24/7 way to view your OMPF, and it gives you the flexibility to print specific document(s) or download your entire OMPF.

Posted in US Army

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)

The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) is a U.S non-profit organization that was established to "help veterans and their families meet and overcome the challenges of blindness".

Services from BVA are available to all veterans who have become blind, either during or after active duty. The BVA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. BVA is a 503(c)(3) registered nonprofit; for the 2008-2009 Fiscal year, BVA's income was $4.2 million.

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

image for Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. These benefits are codified in Title 38 of the United States Code. This booklet contains a summary of these benefits effective Jan. 1, 2014. For additional information, visit www. va.gov/.

Veterans Farm and Adam Burke - 5 Hour Energy

image for Veterans Farm and Adam Burke - 5 Hour Energy
Adam Burke served a 16-month tour in Iraq and was injured in a mortar attack two weeks before coming home. "It really broke me down and it took years to recover from this injury," remembers Adam. The army vet currently suffers from PTSD and from migraines caused by a traumatic brain injury. He found farming helped him.

After running into a young homeless veteran at a mall, Adam decided there needed to be more programs out there to help vets reintegrate back into society.

In April 2010 he started Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Florida.

The farm trains veterans during six to nine month fellowships and gets them back on their feet. Fellow Shawn Rankin came to farm from Michigan after no one would employ him due to injuries sustained serving in the Navy. He was homeless and now has a house and is starting a farm.

Army Surgeon General on Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and Army Medicine is taking this time to increase awareness about it. Watch this video to see Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho's message to the soldiers about how the Army is leading the charge in care, education, and technology to treat those with traumatic brain injuries.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Army's Top Doctor Addresses Mental Health Awareness

Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho gives a public service announcement about the Army supporting the National Mental Health month in May.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Effects of Deployment on Military Children

Behavioral experts Anita Chandra, behavioral scientist, RAND Corp. and Leonard Wong, research professor, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College, testified about the effects of deployment on children from military families.

Posted in Veterans Videos

Still Serving - Bill Gray

These are the stories of true American Heroes, of men and women who served in the US Armed Forces - Veterans now, still serving their fellow Americans. Meet Bill Gray, an Army veteran, volunteer and the Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Commission for Montgomery County, Maryland - part of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Video - Take me out to the Ball Game! A Backpack Journalist Report

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.

1679 Views | 173 Likes | 0 Dislikes | 0 Comments


Posted in Veterans Videos